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News Release... Ethics

LWV-Hawaii - January. 1972

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii registered strong opposition to recent eves to exempt the legislators from coverage by the State Ethics Code. Rather. the league supports the Governor's MB 54 (H. D. 1), which would extend the legislators' present coverage under the Code to the sections on conflict of interest and transactions involving the State.

The reason for the league stand is that an Ethics Code for all elected and appointed government officials protects and informs both the public and the public servant and provides fair and equal treatment to all.

In 1967 the 4th State legislature passed MB 6 which became Act 263, popularly known as the State Ethics Code. All preliminary drafts provided that legislators would be prohibited from representing private interests in transactions with state agencies. The legislators never were included in the conflict of interest section.

When the final copy of the adopted bill became available, the public learned for the first time that legislators were no longer included in the provision. All public references since that time have perpetuated the myth that this omission was a typographical error.

However, pages 544 and 548 of the 1967 General Session's Senate Journal--61st Day indicate the legislators deliberately removed themselves from this coverage in the Ethics bill. After 60 days the legislature is in extended session.

Page 544 of the Senate Journal records an oral motion to amend Section 9 of the Ethics Bill "deleting therefrom the phrase 'legislators or'." The motion was seconded. Then the Senate had no objection to deferring action on the amendment to the end of the calendar.

On page 548. the Senate Journal takes up matters that were deferred to the end of the calendar and shows the amendment to the Ethics Bill was adopted. The Journal does not indicate how many Senators voted for and against the amendment. The amended Ethics Bill was unanimously passed.

In 1970 HE 111 passed both houses of the legislature unanimously. However it was vetoed by Governor Burns who was quoted in the "Report on the 1970 Conference Ethics in Government" as saying, "that amendment (H.B, No. 111) sought to expand the standards of conduct provisions of the law to include legislators and their associates with reference to appearances before State agencies. Where such appearances could be inferred to give him undue advantage would have boon made a crime -- a misdemeanor, Iit should be emphasized that I am in agreement with the intent of the proposed amendment to broaden coverage under our ethics law. However, there was a legal flaw in that the amendment failed to define what constitutes 'undue advantage.'"

Before the Senate this session is pending-HB 54. again designed to broaden the scope of the Ethics Bill in regard to legislators' activities. It is the administration bill, approved by the Governor and Attorney General and passed unanimously by the House in 1971.

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