FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Soldiers from Fort Campbell who are sent overseas for temporary operations could be counted as residents of the region surrounding the base beginning in 2020.
According to the Kentucky New Era, the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday published a proposed rule change on the Federal Registry for criteria it plans to use in the next decennial census.
The rule change is expected to more accurately reflect the number of soldiers who live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and other communities surrounding the Army installation, including those in Tennessee.
“We’ve been working on this for several years,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told the newspaper.
Hopkinsville officials have argued the local population number is inaccurate because the census fails to count a significant number of soldiers and dependents.
In the 2010 census, thousands of soldiers who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan were not counted as residents of local communities. The Census Bureau’s policy has been to count them as residents of the town they listed when they joined the military.
Paul, R-Kentucky, introduced legislation last year that would require the Census Bureau to count soldiers in the communities where they lived just before deployment. But his proposal hasn’t gained enough support for passage.
Paul said he hasn’t decided if he’ll continue to seek a rule change through legislation. For now, he’s satisfied with the Census Bureau’s proposed rule change. It is the same language he sought in legislation.
In a news release from Paul’s office, Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks and Christian County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelli Pendleton thanked the senator for his work on the census policy.
Hendricks called the rule change “critical, as these are the very communities that provide the support necessary for the men and women of the U.S. Army to succeed in their mission at hand when they deploy.”
The Clarksville, Tennessee area also stands to benefit from the rule change. Clarksville, population 142,357, has more soldier residents than Hopkinsville, population 32,582.