Friday, June 15, 2001

Commission has 2 weeks
to adjust isle population

By Pat Omandam

The chairman of a state commission that will redraw Hawaii's political districts this fall wants the panel to decide on a population base by June 28, the first major step needed toward redistricting.

Wayne Minami, chairman of the 2001 state Reapportionment Commission, said he wants members by then to decide on the number of sentenced felons, nonresident military and their spouses, nonresident students and aliens so they can be excluded from Hawaii's 1,211,537 population as found in Census 2000.

An adjusted population base is needed so state legislative districts can be equally divided. Hawaii's two congressional districts will be split based on the unadjusted census population.

Minami has also proposed forming a public information committee to decide what information gets put on the commission's Web site so people can follow the process.

"The key is to get input from the public and to let them know what we're doing so it doesn't come as a surprise," said Minami, who was chosen as chairman by the bipartisan board and sworn in yesterday.

The commission has set a deadline of Aug. 9 to complete a preliminary reapportionment plan that it will take to statewide public hearings throughout September.

The entire redistricting process must be done by mid-November or 150 days after the commission begins its work.

"It's a heavy responsibility and lots of work," Minami said.

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