Chair Tokioka, Vice Chair Oshiro, and members,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB 196 to reduce the required level for gift reporting by a legislator or government employee, or the spouse or dependent child of a legislator or government employee from $200 to $100. This lower amount is a reasonable threshold that is not burdensome, especially in view of the associated condition that the source of the gift(s) has interests that may be affected by official action or lack of action by the legislator or employee.
As a point of reference, Department of Defense (DoD) rules concerning gifts from outside sources generally prohibit DoD employees from accepting gifts from a prohibited source or a gift that is offered because of the recipient’s official position. A prohibited source is someone who does business with the employee’s agency, seeks to do business with the agency, conducts activities regulated by the agency; or is an organization, a majority of whose members are prohibited sources. An exception for a “prohibited source gift” is one with “a market value of $20 or less; less than $50 in a calendar year from any one source.” Even if an exception applies, the rules specify that “If the intent behind a gift is to buy influence, it is a bribe, and no exception applies.”
Tightening the reporting rule should also increase accountability. And in these times of greatly eroded public trust, it may help to enhance confidence in the integrity of public servants.
We urge you to pass HB 196. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.