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The U.S. Senate this week backed a mechanism to better document the residences of deployed service members.
An amendment introduced by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate on Monday, directing the U.S. Census Bureau to count deployed service members at the residence of their last duty station.
Local officials expressed support for the amendment Tuesday, saying it would more accurately reflect a community’s population.
“I think it’s justified,” Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker said.
Walkersaid the mechanism would add to Elizabethtown’s population and paint an accurate picture of where those who serve call home.
“They should be counted in whatever community they live in,” Walker said.
Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said the failure by the census to count deployed service members where they reside is an “injustice” because they are not considered an official part of the community they have chosen to live in.
“They were living here before they deployed or right after deployment,” Berry said. “… They need to be counted here.”
Berrysaid Hardin County takes pride in the relationship with its military population and an efficient census count would correctly mirror the county’s population. Berry said census numbers directly affect the amount of federal and state funding local governments receive to provide services to their residents.
Radcliff has had its differences with the census since the release of the 2010 census count. Those numbers recorded a reduction in the city’s population since the last count in 2000.
Mayor J.J. Duvall said the city has significant numbers of soldiers in its community being the closest community to post, but those residents are not recorded.
Duvall said the mechanism would portray a more precise number of residents for the city’s demographics and improve Radcliff’s standing. As of now, Duvall said, Radcliff’s transient population has been considered too transient for inclusion in census tallies.
“It would definitely improve our count,” Duvall said.
Paul in a statement said the amendment is needed to document service members, calling it a “consistent and logical method” to count those deployed overseas.
“Under the Census Bureau’s current method of counting, family members are counted at the base, but only the deployed service member is not,” Paul said in the statement. “The passage of my amendment today ensures the appropriate representation and resources are provided to the communities of our service members, who have given so much for our country and should be recognized in the communities they live in.”
Should the amendment gain full passage, it would not affect a service member’s tax, residence or voting status, according to Paul’s office.
Paul added the amendment to the NDAA, a federal law adopted each year authorizing appropriations for the Department of Defense, for military construction and for defense activities of the Department of Energy among other purposes. New provisions to the act are considered each year.
Paul had threatened to filibuster the NDAA in recent weeks because of his opposition to a controversial clause in the act authorizing the indefinite detention of American citizens accused of terrorism or acts against the U.S without a jury trial. Paul said the lack of a jury trial for Americans violates the Constitution and removes the sanctity from the Bill of Rights.
The Senate ultimately voted down the clause.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.