HAWAII LEGISLATORS' HANDBOOK
The Senate is a body of twenty-five elected by qualified voters of the respective senatorial districts. Senators serve for a term of four years beginning with their election and ending on the day of the second general election after their election. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ßß2, 4)
House of Representatives
The fifty-one members of the House of Representatives are also elected by qualified voters of the respective representative districts. Representatives, however, serve for a term of two years beginning with their election and ending on the day of the next general election. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ßß3, 4)
Reapportionment and Reapportionment Years (Hawaii Const. art. IV; HRS ßß25-1 to 25-8)
The year 1981 and every tenth year thereafter are reapportionment years for the Legislature. A Reapportionment Commission is constituted on March 1 of each reapportionment year and when required by a court order.
The Reapportionment Commission consists of nine members. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House each select two members of the Commission. The minority members of each house designate one of their members each to select two members of the Commission. The eight members selected and certified with the chief election officer then have thirty days to select, by a vote of six members, and certify with the chief election officer the ninth member, who serves as chairperson of the Commission.
In addition, the four designated selecting authorities also select one person from each basic island unit (county) to an Apportionment Advisory Council. The Apportionment Advisory Councils serve in an advisory capacity to the Commission on matters relating to their county. Each Council remains in existence for the life of the Commission.
Any vacancy in the Commission or a council is to be filled by the initial appointing authority. If any positions or vacancies are not filled within the specified times, they are to be filled by the Supreme Court, as happened with the Chairperson of the 1981 Reapportionment Commission.
The Commission acts by majority vote of its membership and establishes its own operating procedures except where provided for by law. The Commission is required to submit to the chief election officer a final legislative reapportionment plan within one hundred fifty days, and a final congressional reapportionment plan within eighty days, of the date all members of the Commission are certified. The chief election officer is then required to publish a final plan in a newspaper of general circulation within ten days and, upon such publication, that plan becomes effective on the date of filing and will govern the election of members for the next five succeeding legislatures and congresses.
1982 Reapportionment Court Case
On September 28, 1981, the 1981 Reapportionment Commission completed and filed its plan with the Lieutenant Governor. The plan, which provided for small multi-member districts, was based on the number of registered voters in the last preceding general election in accordance with state constitutional requirements. (Hawaii Const. art. IV, ß4) The plan was challenged in court and in March, 1982, the United States District Court invalidated the Commission's reapportionment plan on the basis that the use of a registered voter base resulted in an apportionment plan which did not comport with federal constitutional requirements. (Travis et al. v. King, 552 F. Supp. 554 (D.C. Haw., 1982)) Since it was impossible for the Commission to develop a new plan in time for the 1982 elections, the court, in May, 1982, adopted a reapportionment plan developed by a panel of court-appointed masters. The court plan divided the State into twenty-five single-member senatorial districts and fifty-one single-member representative districts. The court plan was based on total population less nonresident military personnel and their dependents. The court plan was intended only as an interim plan and the court retained jurisdiction over the reapportionment case until the State adopted a valid permanent plan.
On January 9, 1984, the Reapportionment Commission submitted its adopted plan to the Lieutenant Governor. Like the interim court plan, the Commission's plan established single-member districts. The Commission's final plan has been used for all elections from 1984 to 1992. For the 1994 and 1996 elections, the House and Senate members were elected from districts delineated by the 1991 Reapportionment Commission.
1991 Reapportionment Commission Results
The 1991 Reapportionment Commission filed its final reapportionment plan containing the House and Senate districting plans with the chief election officer on July 27, 1991 and submitted its Final Report and Reapportionment Plan to the Sixteenth Legislature, Regular Session of 1992.
The Commission's final legislative plan was based upon a permanent resident population base, using the April 1, 1991 census figures from the 1990 census with an adjustment to subtract the number of nonresident military personnel and dependents.
The House districting plan created fifty-one single-member representative districts and the Senate districting plan created twenty-five single-member senatorial districts. There was a "canoe" district (a single district covering portions of more than one island) for Kauai and Maui in the House and another canoe district in the Senate made up of a portion of a district in North Kauai and East Maui.
While the 1991 Commission recognized that "the 1968 Constitutional Convention had devised the allocation of legislative seats among the basic island units based on the method of equal proportions to preserve the integrity of the basic island units and confine all districts within the respective basic island units, the commission was not able to carry out the mandate in a manner as would withstand federal constitutional muster". The Commission calculated the theoretical number of House and Senate seats which might be assigned to each basic island unit by the statewide average number of permanent residents per representative and per senator. This theoretical assignment resulted in an allocation of fractions of a seat among basic island units. Previously, in Burns v. Gill, 316 F. Supp. 1285 (1970), the federal district court ruled that such fractional voting was invalid and constitutionally impermissible.
In order to be consistent with the equal protection principle, the Commission determined that "a canoe district for the House and a canoe district for the Senate, each shared between the basic island units of Maui and Kauai, would do the least violence to the integrity of the basic island units".
Three constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature in 1992 were all ratified by the voters on November 3, 1992:
(a) First, to constitute the Reapportionment Commission on or before May 1 instead of March 1 of each reapportionment year.
(b) Second, to require the reapportionment commission to use the total number of permanent residents instead of the number of registered voters as the reapportionment base.
(c) Third, to repeal the constitutional provision for holdover senators so that the terms of all senators will end at the general election at which a new apportionment plan becomes effective and the assignment of staggered terms is recomputed as of that general election.
(See Appendix B for the maps and descriptions of the districts.)
Senate Staggered Terms
The 1978 Constitutional Convention added a new provision to the Hawaii Constitution to stagger the terms of members of the Senate. The staggered terms were established in the 1978 general election by dividing the members of the Senate into two classes. The first class consisted of the senators elected with the highest number of votes in their district. The twelve members of the first class held office for four years. The thirteen members of the second class held office for two years and ran for office again in 1980 for a four-year term. (Hawaii Const. art. XVIII, ß2) The 1978 Constitutional Convention also added a provision to the Hawaii Constitution allowing senators to complete their term of office after reapportionment. (Hawaii Const. art. IV, ß7) This "holdover" provision authorizes the Reapportionment Commission to designate in its reapportionment plan the senatorial district a senator is to represent for the remaining period of the senator's term, if the senator is serving a term which extends past the general election at which the reapportionment plan becomes effective. Under the constitutional provision, a senator need not live in the senatorial district to which the senator is designated as representing during the remainder of the term.
In accordance with the constitutional provision, the Reapportionment Commission, as part of its final plan adopted in 1992, designated those senatorial districts represented by senators with terms extending beyond the 1992 elections as holdovers not subject to election in 1992. Since that holdover designation, the senatorial districts subject to elections on a staggered basis have been as follows:
1994, 1998 1996, 2000Qualifications of Legislators
Senatorial District # 1 Senatorial District # 2 Senatorial District # 4 Senatorial District # 3 Senatorial District # 6 Senatorial District # 5 Senatorial District # 7 Senatorial District # 8 Senatorial District #10 Senatorial District # 9 Senatorial District #13 Senatorial District #11 Senatorial District #17 Senatorial District #12 Senatorial District #18 Senatorial District #14 Senatorial District #19 Senatorial District #15 Senatorial District #21 Senatorial District #16 Senatorial District #22 Senatorial District #20 Senatorial District #23 Senatorial District #24 Senatorial District #25
To be eligible to serve as a member of the Senate, a person must have attained the age of majority. A senator must also be an American citizen, a resident of the State for not less than three years, and a qualified voter of the senatorial district from which elected. A representative must be similarly qualified except that the representative must be a qualified voter of the representative district from which elected. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß6) The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii has ruled that candidates for legislative offices must meet the qualifications of the office by the date of the general election. (Hayes v. Gill, 52 H. 251, 473 P.2d 872 (1970))
Disqualification of Members
No legislator shall hold any other public office under the State nor shall the legislator, during the term of office, be elected to or appointed to any public office or employment which has been created or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such term. The term "public office" does not include notaries public, reserve police officers, or officers of emergency organizations for civilian defense or disaster relief. A legislator may be disqualified for such other circumstances as may be prescribed by the Legislature. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß8)
Any vacancy in the legislature shall be filled for the unexpired term in such manner as may be provided by law, or, if no provision be made by law, by appointment by the governor for the unexpired term. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß5)
Whenever there is a vacancy in the membership of the Senate, the term of which ends at the next general election, the Governor shall make an appointment to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. The appointee must be of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person the appointee succeeds. (HRS ß17-3) In the case of a vacancy occurring in the Senate, the term of which does not end at the next general election:
(1) If the vacancy occurs not later than on the tenth day prior to the close of filing for the next primary election, the vacancy is filled for the unexpired term at the next general election. Pending the election, the Governor makes a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy with a person of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person succeeded.
(2) If the vacancy occurs later than on the tenth day prior to the close of filing for the next primary election but not later than on the thirtieth day prior to the next primary election, or if there are no qualified candidates for any party or nonpartisan candidates qualified for the primary election ballot, nominations for the unexpired term may be filed not later than on the thirtieth day prior to the next primary election. Pending the election, the governor shall make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy with a person of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person succeeded.
(3) If the vacancy occurs after the thirtieth day prior to the next primary but not later than on the thirtieth day prior to the next general election, or if there are no qualified candidates for any party or nonpartisan candidates in the primary election, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term at the next general election. In this situation, party candidates for the unexpired term are nominated by the county committees of the parties not later than on the thirtieth day prior to the general election, and nonpartisan candidates may similarly file. However, the nonpartisan candidate who is to be nominated is to be decided by lot under the supervision of the chief election officer. Pending the election, the Governor makes a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy with a person of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person succeeded.
(4) If the vacancy occurs after the thirtieth day prior to the next general election, or no candidates are nominated, the Governor fills the vacancy for the unexpired term by appointment. The appointee must be of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person succeeded.
Any vacancy in the membership of the House of Representatives is filled by the Governor, who makes an appointment for the unexpired term. The appointee must be of the same political party or nonpartisanship as the person the appointee succeeds. (HRS ß17-4)
Constitutional Provisions. Under Article III, Section 9, of the Hawaii Constitution, members of the Legislature are authorized to receive allowances reasonably related to expenses.
As mandated by Article III, Section 9, of the Hawaii Constitution, in 1978 and every eighth year after that, the Governor shall appoint a Commission on Legislative Salary on or before November 30. The Commission is to submit to the Legislature and the Governor, not later than the fortieth legislative day, recommendations for a salary plan for the members of the Legislature. After submitting its recommendations for a salary plan, the Commission dissolves. The salary plan becomes effective as provided in the plan unless the Legislature disapproves the plan by adopting a concurrent resolution before the adjournment sine die of the legislative session to which the plan is submitted or unless the Governor disapproves the plan by a message of disapproval transmitted to the Legislature before such adjournment. Any change in salary which becomes effective does not apply to the Legislature to which the recommendation for the change in salary was submitted.
The 1994 Commission on Legislative Salary examined six different scenarios for determining legislative salaries in 1997. Its final choice recommended that:
(1) No salary increase be given in 1997, to reflect the state of the economy and the prevailing sentiment of the general public;
(2) Legislative pay raises be based on the average percentage increase in those collective bargaining unit contracts negotiated by the Office of Collective Bargaining within the Governor's Office; and
(3) Any such increase be added to the current salary of members of the Legislature, which is $37,000 for the Senate President and House Speaker, and $32,000 for the remaining members of the legislature.
The rationale was that appropriate raises would be justifiable when the State's economy recovered.
The Commission also made several non-binding recommendations:
(1) That the Legislature review the possibility of having some form of legislative salary review more often than every eight years. This would require a constitutional amendment to Article III, Section 9; (2) That the Legislature review the amount of per diem allotted to legislators in that prices have continued to rise, while the per diem has remained constant; and
(3) That the Legislature review the necessity and appropriateness of the so-called "high three" pension formula.
The salary plan as recommended by the Commission was rejected by the Legislature in 1995. (SCR No. 162, 1995) Statutory Provisions. In addition to the annual salary, each legislator receives an allowance for personal expenses while attending any session of the Legislature. Each legislator receives an annual allowance of $5,000 to cover incidental expenses connected with legislative duties. (HRS ß24-1) Neighbor island legislators receive an additional allowance of $80 a day to cover lodging and incidental expenses, excluding travel expenses. This allowance is paid for each day, from the first to the last day of session, including Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and days in recess pursuant to a concurrent resolution, except when the Legislature is recessed for more than three days pursuant to a concurrent resolution, or for days of unexcused absence. (HRS ß24-2) During a legislative session, legislators receive an allowance for expenses while traveling on official business within the State. Legislators required to remain away from the island of their legal residence overnight or longer while on official legislative business during a session, when authorized by the respective presiding officer, receive an allowance for personal expenses, excluding travel expenses. The allowance is equal to the maximum allowance for such expenses payable to any public officer or employee ($80 a day). This allowance is in addition to the allowance neighbor island legislators receive for attendance at a session of the Legislature on Oahu. (HRS ß24-3) Legislators, in addition, receive an allowance for expenses while on official legislative business during periods of recess for more than three days pursuant to a concurrent resolution or for any interim official legislative business. When authorized by the presiding officer of their respective house, legislators receive an allowance of $10 a day for personal expenses while on the island of legal residence during these periods. Legislators, who during these periods are on official legislative business within the State but away from their island of legal residence, when authorized by the respective presiding officer, receive an allowance for personal expenses when required to stay overnight or longer. The allowance is $80 a day. (HRS ß24-4) While on official legislative business out of the State authorized by their respective presiding officer, legislators receive an allowance for personal expenses, excluding travel expenses. The allowance is equal to the maximum allowance for such expenses payable to any public officer or employee ($130 a day). (HRS ß24-5)
Travel expenses connected with official legislative business are allowed with the approval of the presiding officer of the respective house. (HRS ß24-6) The Senate and the House of Representatives each have a contingency fund for their expenses. Moneys in the contingency fund are used to cover the expenses of social occasions hosted by each house as a whole and other social occasions as authorized by the presiding officer of the respective house. (HRS ß24-7)
Legislative Compensation and Allowances
Annual SalaryRetirement Benefits
Effective January 1, 1993
Presiding Officers............................ $37,000
Annual allowance for incidental expenses........... $ 5,000
Neighbor island legislators additional
allowance during session......................... $80/day
While on official legislative business
authorized by presiding officer during
recess and interim periods:
If on island of residence..................... $10/day
If on another island.......................... $80/day
To another island while on official
legislative business............................. $80/day
Out-of-state while on official
At the legislator's option, a legislator may become a member of the Employees' Retirement System of the State of Hawaii and, upon retirement, receive benefits jointly financed by the legislator's contributions and the State. Members of the Legislature first became eligible for membership on July 1, 1951. All service performed as a legislator since July 1, 1951 (plus prior service recognized under rules of the trustees of the system), may be included in computing the term of membership in the system. No member may receive any pension or retirement allowance from any other retirement system supported wholly or in part by the State or any county, except as provided by Title II of the Federal Social Security Act. (HRS ßß88-42, 88-52)
Privileges of Members
No member of the Legislature can be held to answer before any tribunal for any statement made or action taken in the exercise of legislative functions; and in all cases, except felony or breach of peace, legislative members are privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from the same. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß7; see Abercrombie v. McClung, 55 H. 595, 525 P. 2d 594 (1974))
Discipline, Decorum, and Rules
Each house of the Legislature has the power to punish its own members for misconduct, disorderly behavior, or neglect of duty. The members may vote to censure the offender or, by a two- thirds vote of the members of the particular house, may suspend or expel the offender. Each house of the Legislature chooses its own officers, drafts and adopts its own rules of proceedings, and keeps a journal. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß12; House Rule 27; Senate Rule 72) Persons who are not legislators may be punished by either house for disrespect; "disorderly or contemptuous behavior in its presence or that of any committee thereof"; for harming or threatening to harm any legislator; or for assaulting, arresting, or detaining any witness or other person ordered to attend either house. The punishment which may be imposed is a fine or imprisonment up to thirty days. A person charged with an offense must be informed in writing of the charge and be granted an opportunity to present evidence and be heard in the person's own defense. (Hawaii Const. art. III, ß18)
Threats and Attempted Bribery
An attempt to obstruct the performance of a legislator by using or threatening to use violence, force, or physical interference or obstacle is a petty misdemeanor. (HRS ß710-1010) Bribery of any officer or employee of any branch of government or acceptance of a bribe is a class C felony. (HRS ß710-1040)
|Table of Contents||LRB Library HomePage||LRB Reports|