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Summer 2004

President's Message (Maile Bay)
Openness in the Courts (Jackie Parnell)
Our Comprehensive (Full) Public Funding Bill 2004 (Grace Furukawa)
Public Funding of Presidential Primary and General Election
Where Has Our Democracy Gone? (Grace Furukawa)
Ray of Sunshine (Jean Aoki)
Local League News - Honolulu
Local League News - Hawaii (Lois Cecil)
Local League News - Kauai (Carol Bain)
What is the Act 190 Task Force and Who Cares? (Jaurene Judy)
NBC to Televise Democratic Presidential Primary Debate... LWVUS

Our Comprehensive (Full) Public Funding Bill 2004

The primary focus of the Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition remains establishing the public funding of the election campaigns option for Hawaii voters, through the passage of a bill based on the successful "clean elections" act passed in Maine.

From here on, the phrase that will be used for public funding is "comprehensive public funding" to distinguish this new way of financing campaigns from the existing program which we shall refer to as "partial public funding".

Hawaii Clean Election Coalition and the Hawaii Elections Project have received three significant grants -- one from the Pohaku Fund, which will be used to hire our lobbyist, one from an anonymous donor, and one from the Piper Fund which together will be used largely to hire a public relations and publicity professional, acquire educational materials, hire radio ads and various techniques to educate the public and legislators, and garner support. It will be an all-out effort at the Hawaii Legislature during the 2004 session.

The purpose of the proposed bill is to provide sufficient public funds for up to three candidates in each state House race in 2006 to run a strong, competitive, and successful election campaign. Unlike our earlier efforts relating to the Honolulu City Council races, this program will be a permanent program, so long as sufficient funding exists.

The core process is the same. Prospective candidates may gather up to $3,000 in seed money to "test the waters" to see if they have the community support to run. If yes, the next step is to gather what are called "district qualifying campaign contributions" of $3.00 and signatures from 1-1/2% of the voters who voted in the last election to prove their community support - a very necessary step because this is public money. If certified by the Office of Elections as having met the criteria, the prospective candidate becomes a comprehensive publicly funded candidate and receives sufficient funds to run for office without fundraising. If grossly outspent by an opponent, the comprehensive publicly funded candidate can get an additional amount of money equal to 100% of the original outlay. This is called "equalizing funds."

There are rules, regulations and details implementing this program. The most important condition is that comprehensively publicly funded candidates cannot accept private campaign contributions/gifts for the duration of the campaign, nor during their tenure in office, up to a few months before the beginning of the next campaign period.

Crucial to success in 2004 is the willingness of the House to introduce and pass this bill for the fifth time in a row. Our challenge is to get the House approved bill, when passed along to the Senate, to be placed appropriately in the Senate Judiciary committee, where election bills belong, and not in Senator Cal Kawamoto's TMG (Transportation, Military Affairs, and Government Operations) Committee where it has been repeatedly killed.

We do plan to visit the neighbor islands to discuss the bill with as many members and others who can be gathered together. More than ever we will need the support of all our League members to actively contact their legislators during this effort. When the call goes out we beg you to respond. Mahalo.

Grace Furukawa

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