By BJ Reyes
A proposal to count military members and their dependents in the total population base used for reapportionment and redistricting is likely dead at the Legislature.
The measure, Senate Bill 286, was deferred indefinitely on Thursday.
Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), the Senate judiciary and labor chairman, said the conference committee received a letter from the deputy attorney general stating that the bill would not have the desired effect.
SB286 would require reapportionment to be based in part on population data of the total number of permanent residents in the state and it defines "permanent resident" as any individual counted as a "usual resident" in the last preceding U.S. Census.
The state constitution requires reapportionment to be based on the total number of "permanent residents" in the state, but it does not define the term. Because the requirement is set in the constitution, Hee said, the letter from the deputy AG states that a constitutional amendment is required to change the definition to include usual residents.
Based on that, lawmakers shelved the bill.
Last year, after many delays and two lawsuits, the state Reapportionment Commission ultimately set new districts and boundaries based on a population count that excluded about 108,000 "non-permanent" residents, defined as military members and their dependents along with non-resident students. Those residents had initially been included in the base.
Their exclusion shifted a seat in the state Senate to the Big Island, giving it four Senators. Oahu lost a Senate seat.