Fall 1999 Home   Newsletters

Summer 2000

Council Edition 2000

State Council Meeting 2000
President's Message (Virginia Isbell)
Members Wanted for I & R Study Committee (Marian Wilkins)
Democracy Network (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Legislative Program 2000 (Jean Aoki)
Campaign Finance Reform Bill (Laure Dillon)
Raywid Busy on Education Front!
Access Room Celebrates 10th Anniversary! (Jean Aoki)
League Local News - Honolulu (Grace Furukawa)
League Local News - Big Island (Virginia Isbell)
League Local News - Kauai (Carol Bain)

Legislative Program 2000

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Our most intensive effort this legislative session has been on companion bills HB 1879 and SB 2149 which would provide for a pilot program of public financing for the 2002 Honolulu City Council elections. (See Laure Dillon's article on the major provisions of these bills.)

First of all, we had been mandated by Act 254 of the 1998 Legislature to work with the Campaign Spending Commission (CSC), Common Cause, HICLEAN, and other stake holders to do a feasibility study of public funding of election campaigns to present to the 2000 Legislature.

After repeated meetings with the CSC staff and several major revisions to our own proposals, the coalition and CSC staff had to agree to disagree, and this resulted in opposing bills being introduced in both the House and the Senate.

Both the House and the Senate rejected the CSC-sponsored bill which was a modified version of the current public matching funds program.

House Adopts HB 1879

The House adopted HB 1879 with some amendments which had clarified and strengthened the bill, including the name change from the "Clean Elections Pilot Program" to the "Public Financing Elections Pilot Program," but making other changes which we hope we can convince them to undo.

SB 2149 Hits Snag in Senate

While the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 2149, the companion bill to BB 1879 in the House, the Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs Cte. (TIA), Chair, Calvin Kawamoto recommended that the bill be deferred, which killed the bill.

At the Crossover when bills passed in the House cross over to the Senate for action and viceversa, HB 1879 was again referred to the joint Judiciary and TIA committees and to Ways and Means.

The Coalition went into high gear lobbying members of the TIA Cte to support the hearing and passage of this bill and gathered signatures from Senators on a support statement for the bill, including several members of the TIA Committee. You may have read about the press conference held in front of Senator Kawamoto's office by some members of the Coalition. League did not participate in this. But, this was all in vain. Senator Kawamoto refused to hear the bill, and the bill was dead.

HB 1879 Is Revived

Even while we met to do a postmortem on the bill, forces were moving to revive the bill using a method we had considered earlier -- replacing the contents of another bill with a related title with the contents of HB 1879.

We supported this move because SB 2666 which provided for the codification of policies already in practice by the Elections Office could be enacted the next year with no harm to the elections process. The amended SB 2666 passed the House Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs Committee unanimously. Once the bill is adopted by the House, it will go back to the Senate, and how and if it goes to conference will be Senate President Mizuguchis' call.

How You Can Help

Contact your senator and representative to speak up for and to support SB 2666, now the Public Financing Elections Pilot Program bill.

Other Campaign Finance Bills

There are quite a few bills proposing all kinds of reforms. Among those still alive are:

Alive. HB 1984 which require candidates who withdraw or cease to be candidates to return private contributions to donors within 4 years, and in the event of death, require residual contributions to be returned to donors or escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

SB 2147, SDI, which would limit campaign contributions to candidates for all offices to $2000 after the 2000 General Election. Currently the limits are $2000 for 2year term local elections, $4000 for 4-year non-statewide office, and $6000 for candidates running for 4-year statewide office.

HB 2088. A bill that would prohibit for a specified period, contributions to candidates and political parties by persons receiving professional services contracts and contracts that follow a request for bids. These require selections based not on lowest bid but performance records and other qualifications as well which are more subjective.

ACCESS & SUNSHINE

Dead. SB 2522 requires a board to publicly announce and to record in the minutes the specific reasons for closing a meeting to the public. It also requires a summary of any executive meeting to be included in the minutes and to be made public. Actions taken in willful violation of these requirements will be voidable.

Alive. SB 2924 would allow agencies to hold meetings by video conferencing without going through the laborious process of adopting rules. We testified in support because we feel that the requirements as stated in Section 92-3.5 of the HRS assures citizen access to the various conference sites and maintains the openness of the meetings.

HB 2193 would add a second year-round staff position in Access Room.

HB 2194, SB 2354 would fund pilot audio streaming project which would allow showing of legislative sessions via the internet, accessible to viewers at a time convenient to them; establishes a childcare pilot program to allow mothers of small children to testify before the legislature, among other provisions.

Uncertain. SB 2353 makes the Office of Information Practices a permanent agency and attaches it to the Ombudsman's office.

FIREARMS CONTROL
Suzanne Meisenzahl

Re-registration of firearms Alive. HB 1880 provides for county police to conduct mental health and criminal history inquiries on registered firearms owners every 5 years. Provides for firearms registry update by affidavit every 5 years.

SB 2151 provides for re-registration by mail every 5 years. Firearm owner identification cards issued upon registration. Identification cards required to purchase ammunition. Owners would submit waivers allowing chief of police of respective counties to access any records that have a bearing on the mental health of the owners.

Dead. Bills requiring safe storage of firearms. Deemed too difficult to enforce.

ENVIRONMENT
Maile Bay

Alive. HB 1883 implements a "renewable portfolio standard" that requires electric utility companies to purchase or supply a set percentage of renewable energy.

HB 2539 expands the Department of Health's environmental response revolving fund and allows it to be used for other programs in the environmental health branch that are underfunded.

Dead. HB 2245 exempts the Hawaii Tourism Authority from having to submit an environmental assessment of its marketing plan calling for a growth in tourism. The bill attempts to thwart the Sierra Club lawsuit requesting that the HTA comply with Chapter 343, HRS, requiring an environment- al assessment for the use of the public funds.

League opposed this bill.

EDUCATION
Mary Anne Raywid

Dead. HB 3035 on Schools-Within Schools which proposed modifications in the governance arrangements. We supported this bill.

We opposed SB 3034, inaptly named "School Choice." It was very similar to the exemptions already permitted which do not constitute a genuine or desirable school choice arrangement.

ELECTIONS

Alive. HB 164 proposes an amendment to the constitution to require that candidates be residents of the district they wish to represent prior to the primary election. Currently, they do not have to establish residency until the day of the general election. Originally, this bill required residency in the district prior to filing nomination papers.

ETHICS

Dead. Several bills dealing with the University did not survive. One would have removed employees of UH from the purview of the State Ethics Commission except for the Board of Regents and the University President and required the University to develop and enforce its own code of ethics.

Others would have amended the section of HRS that deals with conflicts of interests to provide that collaborative projects between the UH faculty and private entities, the participation by university personnel in private startup enterprises, and the allocation of intellectual property developed at the university are not precluded under the state ethics code.

We opposed these bills on the grounds that the State Ethics Commission has issued advisories that have interpreted the ethics code quite liberally to encourage entrepreneurial activities of UH personnel and yet stay within the spirit of the code, and that we should not have separate codes for different groups of public employees.

Probably Dead. SB 2674. Public employee organizations are allowed to hold meetings of not more than two hours every three months during work hours for informational and educational briefings. This bill stipulates that such meetings may not be used for partisan political activity unless the unions reimburse the state for the total cost of state salaries and fringe benefits.

CIVIL RIGHTS

Dead. SB 2430 would have protect the civil rights of all people by prohibiting discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation.

Dead. HB 1877 establishes the Hawaii Information Privacy Act that provides standards for the protection of personal information in those portions of the business community that are not already subject to privacy laws and regulations. A companion bill in the senate was held in the Judiciary Committee.

HB 2192 Strengthens the protections provided by Hawaii's Whistleblowers' Protection Act by expanding areas of protected conduct and strengthening the remedies available to whistleblowers and the penalties for violators.

Jean Aoki
Chair Legislative Committee

Fall 1999 Home   Newsletters Council Edition 2000