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President's Message (Evelyn Bender)
Campaign Finance Reform -- A Hot Issue
League Position on Campaign Finance
Board Meeting Notes
Bylaw Changes Proposed
Why Americans Hate Politics - Book Review (Anne Borgen)
Telephone Reference Unit Begins
LWVHI Proposed Budget 1993-1994
Big Island LWV Reports
The 1993 legislative session is at its midpoint as this is being written. All the bills that are still alive have "crossed over" from the House to the Senate and the Senate to the House.
Prior to the session, the League decided to concentrate its efforts in the areas of campaign finance, elections, and legislative access. Apparently so did many of the legislators as 40-50 bills were heard on these topics. The League provided testimony on most of these bills as well as on several in the areas of firearms control, reproductive rights, discrimination, education, and initiative. We monitored the other areas on the state and national program as time and woman power permitted.
A brief outline of the bills of interest to the League follows:
Campaign Finance. Both the House and Senate have chosen to combine several of the bills into their version of an omnibus campaign finance reform bill (HB 150 and SB 15). In addition, several other individual bills clarifying financial reporting forms, public inspection of final disclosure statements, reporting of gifts, and a study of public financing of campaigns are still alive.
The Senate's omnibus bill (SB 15) is more comprehensive than the one from the House (HB 150) and contains several improvements supported by the League regarding the reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures; limitations on the political activities of the members of the Campaign Spending Commission; limitations on the amounts a member of a candidate's family can contribute and loan to a candidate's campaign, etc.
However, both the Senate and the House bills appear to delete restrictions on the number of fundraisers a candidate can hold and the amount that can be charged for them as well as raising the amount a person or entity can contribute in an election cycle to a candidate running for a four-year term. The League has and will continue to oppose these changes.
Elections. As one would expect most of the bills in this area dealt with measures to encourage greater voter participation in elections. These measures would ease absentee voting requirements; make voter registration application forms available at public agencies and sent out with income tax forms; educate students in the public and private schools on the electoral process and voter registration requirements; solicit proposals for voter information pamphlets; allow write-in voting in certain instances; and provide a category "none of the above" on the ballot.
One very important break though is the bill that would allow voters whose names had been purged from the voting list because they did not vote in the last election cycle to reregister and vote on election day. We were not successful in getting same day registration and voting on election day for other non-registered voters.
Both the House and Senate have similar proposals which would remove the Lt. Governor as chief elections officer and assign these duties to an appointed official called the "Chief Elections Officer." The Task Force on the Duties of the Lt. Governor, set up by the 1992 Legislature, found that although the present elections system incorporates a multitude of safeguards, there remains the appearance of a possible conflict of interest on the part of the Lt. Governor, who is an elected official. Therefore, the Task Force recommended that the duties be transferred to a chief elections officer appointed by a bipartisan appointment panel.
Legislative Access. We supported bills which would require public hearings on the appointments of the auditor, ombudsman, and the director of the Legislative Research Bureau. Presently there is no such requirement allowing the public to be privy to these deliberations and most of these appointments have been made behind closed doors.
Firearms Control. After our substantial gains in this area last session, it was decided to support only three bills. Two have passed the Senate and are now in the House.
The first would require the court to issue an order to defendants who have been convicted of a felony to dispose of their firearms and ammunition. While the present law prohibits persons convicted of a felony from owning or possessing firearms, many defendants are unaware of the law. This bill would make the court part of the process of disarming the person.
The second bill precludes persons who have been restrained by court order (TRO) from contacting, threatening, or physically abusing a person from possessing or controlling a firearm or ammunition so long as the protective order is in effect. This would allow police to confiscate the firearms prior to conviction and hopefully better protect the person or persons who had obtained the TRO.
The House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee killed the third bill which would have permitted a $25 fee to be charged for each firearm permit application. Presently there is no fee charged to cover the expenses the police departments incur in making background checks, etc.
The League opposed the bill, which would have repealed the limitation on the number of rounds in ammunition clips for semi-automatic pistols. This would weaken the law which was enacted last session. Although we are not too happy, we did agree to a compromise which would allow clips of 20 rounds or less as long as they fit into the grip of the firearm and do not extend beyond the end of the pistol grip. This affects relatively few of the banned semiautomatic pistols. This compromise passed the Senate and is now in the House.
One interesting bill passed by the House would require retailers to exercise good faith and place a warning label on war toys or look-alike weapon toys saying that they could increase anger or violence. The retailer who does not do this could be fined $100.
Reproductive Rights. The Senate passed a League-supported bill allowing a health insurance subscriber whose health plan covers other pregnancy related services and prohibits the inclusion of contraceptives from drug plans, to have the option to obtain these services as part of their plans. It is felt that access to this preventive service would result in more effective family planning and be cost effective in the long run.
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