Chair Hee, Vice Chair Shimabukuro, members of the Committee on Judiciary and Labor,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports SB 1187 which proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Hawaii to provide for an elected attorney general.
League has always felt that Hawaii's Attorney General should be viewed as someone who would be the counsel for the state government as well as the state's chief law enforcement officer and
administrator of the Office of the Attorney General. When the governor is given the power to appoint the attorney general, whether it is true in practice or not, the perception that the attorney general is the Governor's counsel persists. Of course, the AG is counsel to the governor, but is also the counsel for the whole state government.
Attorney Generals are elected in 43 states, all listed as Democrats or Republicans. Five AGs are appointed by their states' governors, one by their legislature, and one by the Supreme Court.
The nonpartisan nature of the position as provided by SB 1187 makes it less political in nature.
We should consider another provision to keep the position free of any obligations to those who would contribute campaign funds to the candidates and provide for public funding for qualified candidates.
The enactment of laws that remain true to the principles in our constitution, and guided and enforced by a nonpartisan elected Attorney General would put Hawaii in the right direction for enlightened governance.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in favor of SB 1187.