The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HR No. 277 but does have reservations about one of the suggested amendments to the Rules of the House of Representatives.
We support the amendment to House Rule 11.5, subparagraph (1), which provides that in the calculation of the forty-eight hour rule for notices of hearings and decision-making sessions, weekends and holidays shall not be taken into account. It also provides that the posting of notices should be done no later than 4:00 p.m. on the last work day of the week.
From time to time, we are unaware that an important blll is up for a hearing on Monday or early Tuesday, and if we need to do some research or checking on data before writing the testimony,
we find it difficult to submit the testimony on time. If there happens to be several bills on that same agenda, it can make it very difficult for us.
What the amendments to House Rule 12, paragraph (16) do is to provide for more inclusion of minority party participation in the decision-making on financial matters. Our feeling is that while the competition for votes between the parties can be rough during election campaigns, if politics can be set aside while laws are being enacted to solve some of our problems, of improving services to our citizens, of setting priorities for the allocation of finite funds etc., the objectives should be the same for both parties even though the means of achieving the desired ends may differ. To the extent that both sides can work together, the citizens of this state stand to benefit from their efforts.
We have always been strong supporters of what is proposed as a new Rule, 16.6, which would read as follows: “To report a measure out of Conference Committee in an amended form (CD), a majority of the quorum of House Committee managers must vote in favor of the proposed amendments.”
We’ve always claimed that while in a body such as the legislature, leadership positions which of course carry with them more power as well as responsibility are necessary for the efficient functioning of the body, when it comes to the vote, “one person, one vote” must prevail. We cannot have the representatives of some districts have votes that carry more weight than the representatives of other districts.
The amendment which gives us pause is the one that deals with “special committees dealing with ethical issues or investigations of members.” Yes, it seems logical to split the committee evenly between the members of the two major parties. However, experience shows us that very often what results is a dysfunctional committee which deadlocks on decisions on substantive matters. That leads to no action at all. We’ve seen it in boards, commissions, committees, etc. You only have to look at the Ethics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives for an example of this.
One possible solution might be to get one member from the outside, but that might create problems of its own in a committee that deals with such a sensitive matter as corruption for example.
Even under an even split, if the rest of the members of the House were unified in their resolve to give the committee the respect, the space, the independence to work without pressure or interference, it could still work It would all be up to the commitment of members of the whole House, Democrats and Republicans to make it work so that the legitimacy of such a committee and therefore, the credibility of the whole institution is enhanced.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this resolution.