Chairs Nishimoto and Mizuno, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii opposes SB848, SD1. The original bill set a meaningful and reasonable disclosure standard, requiring a state employee or legislator to disclose every source of yearly income that is $25,000 or more, or that represents 25% or
more of the person’s annual income.
But the bill was amended so that employees or legislators would only have to disclose income from lobbyists who de facto “employ” them by giving them more than the employee or legislator’s annual public salary.
Amending the bill to state that only sources of annual income that total more than the employee or legislator’s annual salary works against the intent of the bill. As revised it would be possible, for example, for one individual lobbyist with an outcome in legislation to contribute $48,000 to the legislator (an amount that is almost the
same as the current legislative salary of $48,708) without the legislator disclosing this source of income. It would be possible for two individual lobbyists who have the same interest in the outcome of legislation to each contribute $25,000, without the legislator disclosing this source of income. Yet together these contributions ($50,000) would exceed the legislator’s current salary of $48,708. These situations would surely be seen by members of the public as
substantial and important in determining if the legislator has a conflict
of interest when considering related measures.
The original bill was a step to enhance ethics in government, and it properly applied to both State employees and legislators. Knowing the employer of a public officials helps citizens judge the quality of decision-making taking place. For government to work properly
people must have faith in the integrity of its officials.
We ask you to amend this bill again to make it correspond with the original SB 848 language. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.