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Time for reapportionment, or redistricting


The Hawaii Legislature’s Public Access Room is offers some information on reapportionment, also known as redistricting:

You’re sure to hear more about this in the coming months, so it’s a good idea to review some of the basics.

The Senate and House district boundaries are revisited every 10 years, to review census data and to ensure appropriate and fair representation.

According to the Hawaii State Constitution (Article IV) and the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS 25-1 ), are apportionment commission has to be constituted by May 1, and the members will stay on it until a general election is held under the commission’s reapportionment plan.

Their task? To reapportion the House and Senate seats on the basis, method and criteria prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and Article IV of the Hawaii State Constitution. The commission also redraws the State’s congressional district lines from which members of the U.S.House of Representatives are elected.

Guidance on how this is accomplished is found in the Hawaii State Constitution and the HRS. In the HRS, Chapter 25 addresses the duties, powers and compensation of the reapportionment commission and the island advisory councils. Part and parcel of the process are public hearings, so that you can provide input.

The Hawaii Revised Statutes is pretty specific about when this all needs to happen – the commission is required to have public hearings, re-consider the plan and report on the final plan within certain time frames.

The final plan stays in effect for the election of the next five legislatures (which translates to 10 years).

The nine-member commission can summon people and information in the course of their work and can ask people to testify under oath. Members receive compensation for their service — $50 per meeting, but not to exceed $1,000 per month.

Every department, division, board, bureau, commission or other agency of the state is directed to cooperate and provide assistance as requested to the commission in the performance of its duties.

The commission is directed to keep a written record of its meetings and hearings and to submit a written report to the Legislature, “20 days prior to the regular session next convening” (which translates to December 2011 for this year’s commission).

The chief election officer serves as the non-voting secretary of the commission and, under the direction of the commission, furnishes all necessary technical services. The Legislature appropriates funds to enable the commission to carry out its duties.

Meanwhile, there are also apportionment advisory councils – one for each of the basic island units. (HRS 25-7) These councils serve in an advisory capacity to the reapportionment commission on matters that affect the basic island unit and are made up of registered voters from the area. Advisory council members also receive compensation for their service – $50 per meeting, but not to exceed $500 per month.

Who decides who will serve on the commission and the councils? According to the Hawaii Constitution (Article IV, Section 2), the Senate President and House Speaker each name two members of the commission.

The minority members of the Senate and of the House each designate one of their members to select two additional members of the commission.

Those eight members then name the ninth member and chairperson through a vote of at least six members.

The Senate President, House Speaker, and the two Minority legislators named to designate commission members will also each designate a member to serve on each basic island unit advisory council.

Want to take a look at the source documents? Visit the “Hawaii Revised Statutes” link on the Legislature’s website at

Click the “Browse the HRS Sections” button. Then, select Volume 1, and navigate to the Hawaii Constitution or HRSChapter 25.

Need help? Call or email PAR: 808/587-0478 or

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