Vote by Mail Study
State League Convention
High Cost of the Initiative Process
Local League News - Hawaii County (Marian Wilkins)
Local League News - Honolulu (Grace Furukawa)
Local League News - Kauai County (Carol Bain)
Membership Survey on Domestic Partnerships
Education Committee Report (Mary Anne Raywid)
League Office Now Wired
Millennium Young People's Conference
PLCO-Hawaii Still Recruiting
Proposed LWV Budget FY 1999-2000
The POC Coalition decided that it would be in our best interest to lobby legislators to not address the marriage issue or the domestic partnership issue this session. But if the legislature chose to take action on the newly adopted amendment to the constitution giving the legislature the authority to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples, we should insist that it be linked to domestic partnerships. Fortunately, the legislature did not report out such bills.
This year, we concentrated much of our attention to election and campaign reform bills. Many of the provisions were those pursued unsuccessfully last session.
The Senate and the House approved resolutions to recount the ballots in the 1998 General Election because of doubts raised by the malfunctioning of seven of the counting machines. SCR 31 and SR 11 called for a complete manual recount. We testified against a manual recount, emphasizing the tediousness of a manual tally, and the probability of many errors. We suggested that all the ballots be counted twice by two sets of machines and the manual audit of ballots from selected precincts be done.
Some of the bills that were passed out of at least one house are:
HB 164 which requires that a candidate to the House or Senate be a qualified voter in the district the candidate seeks to represent prior to fling nomination papers for the primary election. At present, the candidate only needs to be a resident of that district before the General Election. A similar bill failed in the last session.
SB 914 specifies that ballots cast includes blank ballots and overvotes in a question for a constitutional convention.
SB 631 makes it easier for smaller and newer political parties to qualify to be placed on the ballot.
Campaign Finance Reform
There are quite a few campaign finance reform bills that have been passed by one or both houses. They deal with prompt disclosures of late contributions, disclosures of contributions to committees set up to oppose or support ballot issues, deleting the provision allowing a candidate to withdraw the affidavit of compliance with voluntary spending limits which qualities the candidate for partial public funding of his/her campaign, etc.
An interesting provision that was deleted from the new draft of a bill was the restriction on building up a war chest for the future. Surplus funds after an election would have had to be returned within 90 days of an election to donors, or donated to charitable and other community organizations except for specified amounts that could be set aside for the paying of "ordinary and necessary" expenses of office, and specified amounts to be held by campaign committees for the next election. After 90 days. any' surplus funds that exceeded the allowable amounts would have escheated to the Hawaii Election Campaign fund. We heartily endorsed this provision because, among other things, it is very intimidating for a challenger to have to face an incumbent's war chest built up over many years. It also gives an unfair advantage to those incumbents in positions that attract donations from businesses, industries, unions, etc. We guess this idea will have to wait for another day.
SB 1502 requires disclosures of disbursements for "electioneering communications" over a $5,000 annual threshold. Electioneering communications is defined as any paid advertising broadcast from a television or radio broadcast station, or published in any periodical or newspaper, or sent by mail at a bulk rate, which refers to clearly identifiable candidates and is made within a specified time frame. This addresses the issue of sham issue advocacy which really targets candidates.
We continue to monitor issues that impact violence against women. We testified on two bills, SB 1029 Relating to Vital Record Fees and SB 829 Relating to Hawaii Rules of Evidence.
SB 1029 Relating to Vital Record Fees and its companion in the House, provides for continued funding of the Domestic Violence Special fund which is administered by the Dept. of Health to provide funding for prevention education in the area on domestic violence and sexual assault.
In our testimony, we described the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic and Sexual Violence and the limited monies for prevention in this area. We urged the committee to continue to fund prevention programs stating unless we begin to work with greater intentionally in the area of prevention, we will simply be playing "catch up" in the area of violence against women and will never effect true systemic changes."
In SB 829 Relating to Hawaii Rules of Evidence, its purpose is to establish procedures which would prevent the introduction of the most evidence relating to the sexual history of a victim of sexual harassment and permit the introduction of evidence of past sexual assault by the defendant in civil cases of sex assault of a child.
We represent the League on the Coalition Against Sexual Assault, presently sit on the Data Sub-committee with the intention of identifying the types of data being collected on sex assault incidents. It is our hope that once we have an adequate data base, we can better identify prevention programs needed as well as the funds needed to support victim services.
In addition, we are still trying to effect a coordinated effort among domestic violence agencies to enhance services to victims. To date, we have not had another meeting of all service providers, but hope to do so in the near future. Presently, many of us are distracted with the legislative proceedings and unable to attend many meetings. We will keep the members informed as we proceed.
All bills identified as "gambling" or "gaming" are dead for this session. However, vigilance cannot be relaxed for there is always the possibility that something could be added to existing bills.
The cockfighting bill, SB 15642 was passed by the Senate Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee earlier in the session. The Attorney General's Office, the HPD, Animal Rights Hawaii, Hawaii Humane Society and our coalition HCALG were snookered (the Bill was entitled "Relating to Franchises"), and we weren't there to testify against it, according to Dot Bobilin, Chairperson of HCALG.
But, there were others there to testify for it, including the introduction of the petition with more than 300 names in favor. (Dot says half of these were from last year's petition.)
The bill passed second reading on the Senate floor and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee which did not pass it out. Of course, before that, HCALG and all opponents of this bill had gone into high gear calling and writing to members of the senate to kill the bill.
Dot, as busy as she is preparing for a community forum (see flyer), has her antenna raised to sniff out any other bills with implications for gambling enabling activities, e.g. infrastructure construction.
On gambling bills she says, "We have lobbied daily at the capitol trying to prevent the bills from being heard, talking with legislators, legislative aides and committee clerks, networking with other organizations, attending hearing, talking with people in the halls, elevators and even restrooms. Presents has been important.