Spring 2007 Home   Newsletters

May 2007

September 2007

President's Message
Convention (Mary Anne Raywid)
Con Con 2010 - Yes or No? (Jean Aoki)
Newly-Elected 2007 State Board (JoAnn Maruoka)
Traveler's Alert (Grace Furukawa)
Fundraiser Proposal for League (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Elections News (Jean Aoki)
Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (Grace Furukawa & Judy Rantala)
Contributors to Our 2007 Non-Event
At the Legislature (Jean Aoki & JoAnn Maruoka)
Vetoes and Veto Overrides (Jean Aoki, JoAnn Maruoka & Jackie Parnell)
Design a Non-Event Fundraiser!
Chapter Reports - Hawaii (Leilani Bronson-Crelly & Sue Dursin)
Chapter Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Reports - Kauai (Carol Bain)

At the Legislature

As the 2007 Hawaii State Legislature closed on May 3, the results of proposed legislation on good government were something of a mixed bag. The good news is that some bills we've advocated through our testimony passed, and some that we opposed didn't pass. On the other hand, there were a number of bills in areas of interest that died in committee or made it through the committees but weren't funded. That calls for a redoubling of our efforts during next year's session to monitor and testify on those that are reintroduced and other new bills that support our positions, including a few that we hope to introduce. All of League's testimony can be found on our website at www.lwv-hawaii.com .

In the area of Access and Transparency, the Sunshine Law continues without "fixes" that would have resulted in more private communications among board or commission members outside their respective meetings. And we saw defeat of proposals to exempt contracts providing public, educational, and government cable access services from following the state procurement code (see the Spring 2007 issue of Ka Leo Hana for details on this bill). Unfortunately, due to non-funding, we won't see Legislative proceedings on the internet (streaming media or webcasting); neither will all state capitol conference rooms used for public hearings, the capitol auditorium, and both chambers be wired to allow video broadcasts; nor will each legislator's voting record be available online on every measure on which a vote is taken in committee or on the floor. We will continue to advocate for these much-needed and important means to enhance public access.

Despite vigorous work by the League, as part of the Women's Coalition, to focus high interest in the critical areas of Drug Policy, Human Resources and Health, the bills were not passed. These included funding for a state study needed to develop a comprehensive drug policy; funding for the Bridge to Hope education in the Department of Human Services program and its effort to maintain post-secondary education for all its clients; funding for family planning clinical and contraceptive services, education and outreach services, and funding for access and availability of Emergency Room contraception. Certainly, we will continue to strongly push these bills.

Elections legislation that passed will prohibit candidates for public office from appearing in public service announcements from the time of filing nomination papers until the person is no longer a candidate; and significantly increase financial penalties against those found guilty of an election fraud. We believe both of these emphasize the importance of clean and fair practices in elections. Bills that did not pass include funding for the Elections Commission, which oversees the work of the Office of Elections, which we think is a serious error; Election Day registration; and all-mail voting, on which we were silent. However, a Senate resolution was passed that requests the Office of Elections to study the feasibility of conducting all elections by mail.

In the matter of Campaign Finance, a bill for public funding of campaigns that among other things increases the maximum amount of partial public funding now available to all candidates, passed and is awaiting the Governor's signature. The issue of campaign finance reform, particularly the public funding of election campaigns, is an important and increasingly widespread demand of the public, concerned with extensive influence and control of the public sector by big-money interests. This will certainly be a major area next year nationally, and we hope, in Hawaii.

The Ethics legislation we supported to provide selection standards for county ethics commissioners to ensure their impartiality and independence is pending the governor's action. Other ethics legislation that we supported on public financial disclosure by members of boards or commissions responsible for decisions or advice on contractual issues, rulings, rule-making or contested case hearings, passed the legislature but was vetoed by the Governor. As for legislative standards of conduct, a matter on which we testified on both proposed bills and resolutions, the outcome is a House resolution to establish a bipartisan interim task force to evaluate the propriety, merits, and, if found needed, possible procedures for a standards of conduct committee to handle potential conflicts of interest and other breaches of the standards of conduct by members of the house of representatives.

We're disappointed that the bill to address the insidious "pull tabs" sweepstakes game to sneak around Gambling prohibitions got through three readings, only to get hung up by disagreements between the houses on amendments and no conference committee meetings being convened to resolve the differences. The game apparently will continue to sneak under the wire of what is defined as gambling, so will surely be an urgent matter for next session.

In keeping with National League positions, we also testified in favor of bills and resolutions involving international relations, global climate change, and social policy. The Governor has signed the bill that establishes Peace Day on September 21st of each year (not a state holiday) to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace. A House Resolution was adopted that endorses the Earth Charter and its central principles as part of the framework for sustainable planning and development. And legislation that, in the interest of humankind and to demonstrate Hawaii's opposition to the humanitarian crisis presently occurring in the Darfur Region of Sudan, prohibits the employees' retirement system from acquiring securities of companies that have active business operations with Sudan has gone forward to the Governor and is awaiting her action. Unfortunately, the bill to extend the same rights and responsibilities as spouses to partners in a civil union was deferred in committee and did not move forward. We certainly anticipate this and other critical social policy issues will need to be addressed in the next session.

The Education bill the League actively supported to improve the public charter school system by clarifying the functions, duties, and roles of the Charter School Review Panel and the Board of Education in the administration and operations of the charter schools in the State, has gone forward to the Governor for her action -- albeit considerably weaker than it started out. Charter school advocates are concerned that it does not remove these schools far enough from BOE control, while some on the other side have already expressed the view that it is unconstitutional in replacing Board control at all.

Jean Aoki
JoAnn Maruoka
Legislative Committee

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