Reapportionment Battles

Because the 8-member Hawaii reapportionment commission, appointed by Democrat and Republican legislative leaders, was unable to reach an agreement on a ninth member and chairman for the group, by statute, the Hawaii State Supreme Court stepped in and today will announce the selection of the ninth member. There is no further legislative or confirmation process required.

Republicans say that the four Democrat appointees to the commission – two by the President of the Senate and two by the Speaker of the House – advanced names that were clearly identified as partisan political activists and substantial contributors to the governor and other Democrat campaigns.

The four Republicans, two each appointed by the Senate minority and House minority leaders, on the other hand, say they presented several names for consideration – even members of the majority Democrat party. Both sides were reach a compromise.

The Supreme Court last week issued an invitation for people to apply for the ninth position by a Tuesday deadline.

It is possible that the Supreme Court could choose from applications received or still go back to any one of the names floated by the two factions of the existing reapportionment commissioners.

The reapportionment commission is selected every 10 years after the US census is issued. The state commission is charged with redrawing the boundaries according to population growth for two congressional districts and all 25 members of the state Senate and 51 members of the House. A separate city reapportionment will redraw the nine city council districts.

Reapportionment is important because it determines by number of voters in an area which political party may have an advantage due to the numbers of voters within that district. Until 10 years ago, Hawaii had what was known as canoe districts, which actually had some legislators representing some parts of one island and some parts of another island in order to balance out the one-man, one-vote federal election requirement.

However, 10 years ago the canoe districts were ended resulting in some unusual redistricting particularly on oahu where traditional georgraphoc landmarks were changed and where in certain neighborhoods one side of a street may be on district and the other side, another district. Of particular interest to congressional candidates would be any major changes and realignment of Oahu’s two congressional districts traditionally urban Oahu vs. rural Oahu and all neighbor islands.

The commission is autonomous and independent and can draw those lines as the nine members see fit. Expenditures for the commission, however, including materials, software, election office salaries (commissioners get no salary) and meeting and travel expenses, must still come from the legislature. And the bill to pay for this year’s commission has not yet passed.

Controversial DUI Proposal Killed

A bill amended in the legislature would have put habitual drunk drivers back on the road without an interlock breathalyzer system in their automobiles, but that bill died this week.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which helped strengthen DUI laws in Hawaii, fought against the proposal, saying it would make Hawaii roads more dangerous.

Plan to Rename Discoverers Day as Indigenous People’s Day Won’t Move Forward

The House killed a resolution that would have renamed Discoverers’ Day in Hawaii as Indigenous Peoples Day. House Republicans headed up the effort to get the Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. Maile Shimabukuru, killed.

The resolution starts of reading: “WHEREAS, the basic concept of discovery established Christian dominion over non-Christian nations and peoples and allowed for the colonization and seizure of their lands … and continues “WHEREAS, the recognition of Discoverers’ Day in Hawaii is synonymous with Columbus Day because of the inhumane nature of the concept of discovery.”

Rep. Cynthia Thielen said it was “very poorly worded and very inappropriate resolution.”

The resolution came of out the Senate Hawaiian Affairs committee and passed the full Senate with just opposing vote by Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai.

Animal Lover Alert

Kittens and puppies have long brought joy to the people of Hawaii, but they may be more difficult to come by in Hawaii.

A bill to force pet shop owners to sell only dogs and cats that have been sterilized has moved forward in the legislature.

The bill must pass the House and Senate on final reading – which it is expected to do – before going to the governor for his signature.

The bill has pet shop owners, breeders and many in the general public angered because they want the freedom to allow their dog to have puppies and their cats to have kittens. It also impacts pet shops and breeders financially.

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