Chair Keith-Agaran, Vice-Chair Shimabukuro, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports SB 626 which clarifies that legislators are not prohibited by the State Ethics Code from taking action in the exercise of the legislator’s functions; however, they are exempt from the fair treatment law “only in the exercise of the legislator’s functions.”
In 2012 the Legislature passed a bill amending our State Ethics Code to exempt members of temporary task forces (except those who are already state employees) from sections of the Code. However, in seeking to create an exemption for task force members, Act 208 inadvertently created a broad exemption to the fair treatment law for legislators. It “exempted legislators from section 84-13, Hawaii Revised Statutes, allowing legislators, in their official capacity, to use their position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages, or treatment for themselves or others . . . .”
SB 626 will close this loophole and clear up any uncertainty about what’s expected from our legislators when it comes to the State Ethics Code.
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii urges you to pass SB 626. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.