Chair Hee, Vice-Chair Shimabukuro, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii opposes SB893, SD1 which proposes to grant exemptions from the State’s conflict of interest and confidentiality laws for “task force members and designees or representatives of members of any task force that existed on or after June 3, 2010.“
Under Chapter 84, “task force” includes any group convened for a limited, specified period by legislative or executive act or order, or by invitation of a state officer for the purpose of studying a subject or issue, making recommendations, or advising state officials. But only since July 1, 2012 have such task force members been exempt from the conflict of interest and confidentiality provisions of the State Ethics Code.
The League of Women Voters and many other public interest organizations adamantly opposed these 2012 exemptions for task forces because we were gravely concerned about the inherent risk of actual or perceived conflicts of interest that could arise during the normal course of a task force assignment. We also cautioned that while the stated purpose of last year’s law was to exempt those on a task force from the conflict of interest and confidentiality laws, such an exemption may have unintended consequences, such as totally excluding task force members from the state ethics code.
Now we are left dumbfounded about why this measure should be retroactive to June 3, 2010, when the 2012 conference committee specifically amended last year’s bill to make the measure effective July 1, 2012.
We want all those who participate in the formulation of public policy, laws and rules to be held to a high standard. The purpose in having a Code of Ethics is to prevent corruption in government. We urge you to hold the bill in committee. We urge you to vote down this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.