Testimony on HB 1084 Relating to the Legislature
House Committee on Legislative Management
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 2:00 pm
Conference Room 423
Testifier: Jean Aoki, chair, LWV Legislative Committee
Chair Magaoay, Vice Chair Tokioka, members,
The League of Women Voters opposes HB 1084. Of course we believe that any employee of our Governments at all levels should be subject to the State Code of Ethics. However, the enactment of this bill gives legitimacy to the practice of having employees of corporations and other organizations, non-profit and profit, paid by their employers or on leave from the organizations, to serve as interns or additions to the staff in the offices of the Legislature.
The conflicts of interest or at least the perception of conflicts inherent in an arrangement where businesses and non-profit organizations who have interest in issues before the legislature are allowed to lend their employees to work in the offices of the legislature lead us to believe that this practice should not be continued. It is not difficult to see them as “embedded lobbyists” as some have called them.
The League of Women Voters believes in providing adequate resources to government to do its job properly including sufficient staff. The staffing needed should be paid for by government. What expertise these business interns have to share can be shared with legislative committees through the normal avenues of lobbying and testifying at hearings or participating in informational briefings. Of course, student interns who may work for no pay or for small stipends to cover costs are not at issue.
While “business interns” may seem beneficial to government in terms of their sharing of certain expertise in needed areas and the savings in staff costs, the price is too high if it means added advantages to certain groups and the erosion of people’s confidence in the integrity of government. Thank you