Hawaii's reapportionment commission

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – The Hawaii State Reapportionment Commission rushed to redraw the state election map after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled on January 4 the commission had not removed enough non-resident military, military dependents and non-resident students from the final population count and invalidated the 2011 Reapportionment Plan for the state legislature. The candidate filing deadline was February 1.

Yesterday, the commission voted to accept the newly redrawn map, which extracts more than 100,000 non-residents from the U.S. Census total count, and transfers a fourth senate seat to the Big Island from Oahu.

Many people testifying were dissatisfied with the proposal. But Commissioner Dylan Nonaka defended the redrawn map saying the plan was the best they could offer under time constraints that came as a result of the two lawsuits filed against the commission by Big Island residents.

Rep. Kymberly Pine (R-Ewa Beach), the only sitting House member to testify before the commission, said: “While I am one of the lucky ones who still has a favorable district boundary, I am extremely concerned by the rushed process that took place to determine the next decade of leadership in Hawaii.  What happened today was the result of a horrible lawsuit that sought to tell our brave men and women in the military that they don’t matter to us. From this, a rushed process to make a deadline occurred and the people who lost out were good local people whose communities are split up in ways we would have never imagined.”

Pine said she believes members of the commission “did the best they could with this complicated task” but more time is needed to solve the “unfortunate situation.”

The way the districts are redrawn, several lawmakers will be pitted against one another, including Senate incumbents Brian Taniguchi and Carol Taniguchi, both long time legislators from Oahu.

Three Oahu House seats will also be impacted and force Republican incumbents Kymberly Pine, Gil Riviere and Barbara Marumoto to run against Democrat incumbents Rida Cabanilla, Jessica Wooley and Mark Jun Hashem, should they opt to run again.

The commissioners will hold two meetings on the revised plan on the Big Island and Oahu before taking a final vote. More information can be found at the commission website.

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Malia Zimmerman is the editor and co-founder of Hawaii Reporter. She has worked as a consultant and contributor to several dozen media outlets including ABC 20/20, FOX News, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, UPI and the Washington Times. Malia has been listed as one of the nation’s top "Web Proficients, Virtuosi, and Masters" and "Hawaii's new media thought leader" by http://www.thewebstersdictionary.com Reach her at Malia@hawaiireporter.com