Chair Tokioka, Vice Chair Oshiro, and members,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB 853 to require legislators to file their annual financial interests disclosures between January 1 and January 31, rather than between January 1 and May 31 of each year. Recognizing that a specific income amount from the preceding calendar year may not be known in January, the bill very reasonably provides for an interim good-faith estimate that would require an amendment solely for this portion to be filed by May 31.
As the State Ethics Commission has explained, this bill is important because legislators are not subject to the conflict-of-interests law set forth in the State Ethics Code, and the purpose of legislators filing public financial interests disclosure forms is to give the public information about the financial interests a legislator may have. Obviously, allowing disclosures to be filed after the end of the legislative session does not support the citizens’ right to information, especially on potential conflicts for legislators. This lack of timely information can lead to doubt and distrust, which the requirements of this bill will help to overcome. It is also to the legislators’ benefit in that it helps to demonstrate their understanding of and actual support for transparency.
HB 853 is sound and smart legislation, and we urge you to pass it. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.