- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A lawsuit brought by six voters in Palolo can’t challenge the residency of state Rep. Calvin Say, a state judge said Tuesday.

Circuit Court Judge Karen Nakasone ruled that the state House has the exclusive power to determine qualifications of its members, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1vwXHDG) reported.

If courts interfere before the House investigates a complaint against Say or exercises its power, it “would not only be unconstitutional, but also premature, unwise and inefficacious,” Nakasone said.

The Palolo voters claimed Say does not live in the district he has represented since 1976. The Hawaii Constitution requires lawmakers to be qualified voters who live in districts they represent.

Say has said his primary residence is Palolo but that he spends time with family in Pauoa Valley. Three previous residency challenges were also unsuccessful.

Say, a Democrat and former House speaker, and the state House argued that only the House has the jurisdiction.

“I am pleased with the court’s decision today,” Say said in a prepared statement. “I have long maintained that I am a lifelong resident of the district and have had the privilege of serving the district since 1976. Hopefully today’s ruling will put a conclusion to this debate so we can focus on the many issues facing the state.”

Attorney Lance Collins said the six voters will probably appeal.

“I think that she erred,” he said of the judge. “And my clients want their day in court.”

Nakasone previously ruled that Say’s residency should be decided by the city clerk, who oversees voter registration. The state Intermediate Court of Appeals in April ruled that the courts have jurisdiction over the constitutional question of lawmaker qualifications and sent the challenge back to Nakasone.

Nakasone ruled courts have jurisdiction to interpret constitutional provisions but that the current case was a political matter exempt from judicial review.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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