Chair Luke, Vice-Chairs Nishimoto and Johanson, Members of the Committee:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports the provisions of HB1700 that would appropriate funds for the continued operation of the Campaign Spending Commission and the Office of Elections. The League supports adequate public funding in furtherance of the mission of these important state entities, both tasked with overseeing essential functions in our state election system, thus ensuring unfettered access to the democratic process for all citizens of Hawaii.
An adequate funding source is critical to the work of the Campaign Spending Commission, to ensure that political campaigns conform to the law. For this reason, The League reiterates its support for the Commission’s efforts to create a stable funding source by paying for the operating costs of the Commission from the General Fund each year, rather than through a voluntary State income tax check off to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.
Additionally, the League supports continued funding of the Office of Information Practices (OIP) through its budget request in HB 1700. OIP serves an essential function by administering the state’s open access laws requiring government business to be conducted as transparently as possible. Further, we believe that the operational costs for training of board and commission members on laws governing public agency meeting, ethics, and information practices (as would be required in the proposed HB 2378, HD1) should be paid through the General Fund.
The League reiterates its support for public financing of House elections for the 2016 electoral races, as described in proposed legislation such as HB 2533,HD2.
We also support an appropriation from the General Fund for the purpose of implementing late voter registration including any additional costs as may be incurred by the County Clerks, under the proposed HB 2590, HD1.
We urge you to approve the budget request from the Campaign Spending Commission, Office of Information Practices, and Office of Elections, agencies charged with the responsibility to enhance our public elections system, open access, and government accountability. Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony.