The commission is charged with redrawing Hawaii’s boundaries for 51 House districts, 25 Senate districts and 2 congressional districts based on population changes documented in the current U.S. Census.
A separate city reapportionment commission redraws the lines for the City & County of Honolulu’s 9 council districts.
While the Senate and House district drafts passed unanimously, the battle was over the lines for Congressional District 1.
One of the versions is favorable to Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa because it pushes the congressional boundaries west.
Another version, which did not get adopted, favors a Republican challenger, such as former Congressman Charles Djou.
The vote was 4 to 4 along party lines with Chair Victoria Marks, a former state judge, siding with Democrats.
An issue still in contention is the counting of military personnel. The commission last month voted 8 to 1 to include military personnel and their dependents in the count as is the federal procedure and the practice of 48 other states.
Kansas has certain limitations on the counting of military. The issue is important because in 1992, the voters of Hawaii approved a state constitutional amendment excluding certain military personnel when counting for reapportionment purposes only. The specific issue is the definition of “permanent residence.”
In its vote last month, the commission defined permanent residents to include those military residents previously excluded.
The majority of these personnel are on Oahu. The significance is overall population growth would favor the addition of one state senator on the island of Hawaii and a loss of one senator on the island of Oahu. But if the military component estimated at more than 70,000 is added this time, Oahu would retain its senate seat and Hawaii would not gain.
Neighbor island representatives and advisory commission members would like to continue the exclusion of the military for reapportionment purposes. The commission is seeking an attorney general’s opinion, but the decision from the attorney general has not been made public.
When the draft maps go to statewide public meetings, there is sure to be a call to overturn the commissions’ previous decision on military inclusion.
If this were to occur then all draft maps passed on Friday would have to be redrawn.
Opponents of the military inclusion have indicated they might sue the commission over its decision.
Behind closed doors, the commissioners reportedly are discussing their fears over legal action and a possible second vote on the military inclusion issue.