At the beginning of this legislative session, Common Cause Hawaii and 13 other local organizations asked new leadership in both houses to rein in various abuses of the legislative process by promulgating new legislative rules that would increase transparency and public confidence in the legislature.
Based on results, we can assume that applying improved legislative rules to increase transparency was not important enough to the Hawaii State Senate. The current attempt to by-pass the public (and also perhaps legislators), is but one of several high-handed actions by various Senate committees.
As of cross-over, the Senate had already "gutted and replaced" 6 bills. That is, the original language of six bills were removed, and replaced with unrelated content. "Gut and replace" is a much-deplored practice by which a bill which has been progressing in the Legislature is hi-jacked by Legislative leaders to serve a different purpose. The number and title of the bill are left unchanged, but without public notice the original content of the bill is gutted and replaced by new content. Often the public and even some legislators are unaware of the change until it's too late to do anything about it.
Similarly and most recently, it has come to our attention that the Senate Judiciary & Labor and Tourism & Hawaiian Affairs Committees, in a joint hearing, have inserted language into HB252 that has nothing to do with the original purpose of the bill. This was done without a hearing on the amended version or any prior notice to the public.
The purpose of the original HB252, entitled Relating to Government, was to make certain amendments to the statutes on the Native Hawaii Roll Commission. The amendment incorporates most of HB932, entitled Relating to Mineral Resources, the purpose of which was to amend statutory material with respect to geothermal exploration and development and make other amendments with respect to mineral resource exploration and development. Various provisions of HB932 brought sufficient public objections to result in HB932 being deferred.
Please help us hold the Senate accountable. Contact Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and ask her to:
1. Remove HB252 SD1 from the agenda for the third reading tomorrow, April 9.
2. Take whatever action is necessary to remove the amendment, before allowing a vote on the bill.
Senate President Donna Mercado Kim: senkim@Capitol.hawaii.gov, 808-587-7200
Cartoon by: Will Caron, Kanu Hawaii
Office: Common Cause Hawaii