2016 Legislative Session

Update: May 6, 2016

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: A STRONG DEFENSE

In 2016, Common Cause Hawaii’s legislative strategy was “defense” heavy, while still advocating for bills that would have reformed our government and democracy further.

Legislative session has ended, and with it, the death of many bills that would have compromised our democracy.

We are proud to have had a hand in stopping:

  • Bills that protect private interests, instead of the public’s:

HB 1532 / SB 2080 - Protects from public disclosure the financial disclosure statements of the UH Board of Regents that are filed with the State Ethics Commission.

HB 1565 SB 2042 - Removes a record of complaint as a type of information that is subject to disclosure as a public document. (Note: with this bill, complaints against law enforcement officers could become confidential)

  • Bills that aim to cloud our sunshine laws, potentially allowing lawmakers to deliberate on issues “off the record”


Included: HB 1644 - Permits members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at a community, educational, or informational meeting or presentation; provided the meeting or presentation is open to the public.

  • Bills that threatened fair and impartial courts

SB 2238 - Requires the judiciary, office of elections, and campaign spending commission to study appropriate methods of implementing a judicial election system in the State and submit a written report, including proposed legislation, to the legislature. Takes effect on 1/7/2059. (SD1)

SB 2239 - Proposes a constitutional amendment to require justices and judges be elected to serve six-year terms and be subject to the consent of the senate for subsequent judicial terms, authorize the governor and chief justice be authorized to make interim appointments for vacancies in the offices of the chief justice, supreme court, intermediate appellate court, and circuit courts, or district courts, respectively, and repeal the judicial selection commission. Ratification upon general election of 2018.

  • Bills that would have undermined the Ethics Commission and exempt state employees from portions of the state ethics laws.

HB 1713 - Exempts extracurricular service of employees from the state ethics code if certain conditions are met. Defines detached remuneration and extracurricular service. (SD2)

HB 2431 - Exempts teachers, counselors, administrators, coaches, or other employees employed by the Department of Education or a public charter school involved in educational trips from certain ethics code provisions. (HB2431 HD1)

SB 2600 - Requires state ethics commission advisory opinions to be approved and signed by a majority of the commission members. Takes effect on 1/7/2059. (SD1)

While Common Cause Hawaii’s reform bills did not ultimately survive the session, we are proud that these nasty bills were defeated. With the defeat of these bills, public trust in government has been preserved which is key to increasing civic participation.


Update: March 3, 2016

PRIORITY

1. Ensuring a sustainable Campaign Spending Commission  – Both are moving forward
HB 2156 / SB 2438 - Replaces the Hawaii election campaign fund with the general revenues of the State as the funding source for the operating expenses of the campaign spending commission. Appropriates moneys to the commission for operating expenses.

2. Videoconferencing Testimony – moving forward
HB 1595 - Establishes the Remote Testimony Task Force to develop procedures for the public to testify remotely via the Internet during legislative proceedings. Requires a report.

3. Automatic Voter Registration – only HB 1652 is moving forward
HB1652 + HB 401 establishes this streamlined voter registration process where the DMV “automatically” registers eligible voters to vote, while allowing them the opportunity to opt out of the process if they so choose.

STRONGLY SUPPORT

  • Fair Treatment  – moving forward
    Reverses legislators’ exemption of a portion of the state ethics code that specifies that legislators cannot use their elected title for personal gain.

HB 813 - Clarifies the fair treatment law by separating out certain limitations placed on task force members from those placed on legislators. Makes clear that legislators are not prohibited from making statements or taking action in the exercise of their legislative functions. (HB813 HD3)

  • Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) – moving forward

Sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), describes a voting method that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference and then uses those rankings to elect a candidate who combines strong support with broad support by simulating a series of runoff elections in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the initial count.

HB 2019 - Establishes instant runoff voting procedures for elections in which no primary election is held and for special elections.

  • Last 4 Digits of a Social Security Number  – moving forward

Hawaii is one of a handful of states left that still requires a person’s full social security number in order to register to vote. We advocate for the best practice in requiring only the last four digits of one’s SSN if one’s driver’s license or state ID number is not readily available.

HB 1055 - Requires on an application to register to vote, a Hawaii driver's license number or a Hawaii state identification card number or, if no license or identification card has been issued, the last four digits of the applicant's social security number. If the applicant does not have a social security number, requires the State to assign the applicant a unique number for voter registration purposes.

  • Public Funding Program – dead for the 2016 session

HB 2552 - Creates a comprehensive public funding program for candidates for election to the state House of Representatives. Repeals those candidates' eligibility for partial public funding under the existing partial public funding program. Appropriates funds to the Campaign Spending Commission.

Shareholder Disclosure

HB 2183 - Prohibits corporations from making election contributions, expenditures, or independent expenditures except in accordance with the majority vote of the corporation's shareholders. Requires corporations to provide notices to shareholders and on their publicly accessible websites within forty-eight hours of making a contribution, expenditure, or independent expenditure. dead for the 2016 session

HB 2560/ SB 2721 - Requires domestic and foreign corporations to provide their shareholders with reports of independent expenditures and political contributions. – only HB 2560 is moving forward

OPPOSE

Bills that protect private interests, instead of the public’s

HB 1532 / SB2080 - Protects from public disclosure the financial disclosure statements of the UH Board of Regents that are filed with the State Ethics Commission. – both are dead for the 2016 session

HB 1565 / SB 2042 - Removes a record of complaint as a type of information that is subject to disclosure as a public document. (Note: with this bill, complaints against law enforcement officers could become confidential) – both are dead for the 2016 session

Bills that aim to cloud our sunshine laws, giving potential for lawmakers to deliberate on issues “off the record”

HB 1644 / SB 2121 - Permits members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at a community, educational, or informational meeting or presentation; provided the meeting or presentation is open to the public. – both are dead for the 2016 session

SB 2221 - Allows for county council members to jointly attend and speak at particular types of meetings.  – MOVING FORWARD; AMENDED by inserting language to permanently retain 2014 amendments from HB 2139, CD 1 (which otherwise would have "sunsetted" on June 30, 2016). In other words, the bill was amended to keep Sunshine-related safeguards

Threatens fair and impartial courts

SB 2238 - Makes conforming amendments to implement a constitutional amendment that establishes judicial elections. Requires the judiciary, office of elections, and campaign spending commission to study appropriate methods of implementing a judicial election system in the State and submit a written report, including proposed legislation, to the legislature. –dead for the 2016 session

SB 2239 - Proposes a constitutional amendment to require justices and judges be elected to serve six-year terms and be subject to the consent of the senate for subsequent judicial terms, authorize the governor and chief justice be authorized to make interim appointments for vacancies in the offices of the chief justice, supreme court, intermediate appellate court, and circuit courts, or district courts, respectively, and repeal the judicial selection commission. Ratification upon general election of 2018. –dead for the 2016 session

Ethics Exemptions/ Undermines the Ethics Commission

HB 1713 - Exempts extracurricular service of employees from the prohibition on gift receipt in the State Ethics Code if certain conditions are met. Repeals section relating to statutory interpretation of the State Ethics Code. – moving forward

HB 2431 - Exempts teachers, counselors, administrators, coaches, or other employees employed by the Department of Education or a public charter school involved in educational trips from certain ethics code provisions. – moving forward

SB 2600 - Requires state ethics commission advisory opinions to be approved and signed by a majority of the commission members. – moving forward


Rev. January 29, 2016

Read on to find out what Common Cause Hawaii’s priority bills are, along with what we’ll strongly support and oppose during the 2016 Legislative Session.

PRIORITY

Ensuring the viability of the Campaign Spending Commission and Hawaii's Partial Public Financing Program: The Campaign Spending Commission is the watchdog state agency that works to safeguard the integrity and transparency of state and local political campaigns in Hawaii. Partial Public Financing is a voluntary program, where qualified candidates running for elective office raise small amounts of money from the public which the state then matches, up to a certain amount. Both the Commission and the Partial Public Financing Program are funded by the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, which is overburdened and now in danger of being depleted, jeopardizing the future of both the Commission and the Partial Public Financing Program.

HB 2156 / SB 2438 - Replaces the Hawaii election campaign fund with the general revenues of the State as the funding source for the operating expenses of the campaign spending commission. Appropriates moneys to the commission for operating expenses.

Read our OpEd for more info.

Establish video-conferencing mechanisms to allow citizens to submit live-oral testimony remotely: Legislative session is fast-paced, and public hearings are scheduled at a moment’s notice. Currently, only written testimony and live, in person testimony can be submitted. It becomes challenging for people who live and work outside of downtown Honolulu to participate in the lawmaking process (Ewa residents, and Neighbor Island residents, we hear you). A video-conferencing mechanism would make it more convenient for citizens to productively engage in civic dialog with lawmakers on pressing issues they are concerned about.

HB 1595 - Establishes the Remote Testimony Task Force to develop procedures for the public to testify remotely via the Internet during legislative proceedings. Requires a report.

Automatic Voter Registration: This is a process by which the government, rather than the individual, takes the initiative to register eligible voters to vote; the government uploads information on eligible voters obtained through its agencies and then registers them to vote, allowing them the opportunity to opt out of the process if they so choose.

SB 2165 - Requires that any person who is eligible to vote and applies for a new or renewed motor vehicle driver's license, provisional license, instruction permit, or identification card shall be automatically registered to vote if that person is not already registered to vote; provided that the applicant did not affirmatively opt-out of automatic voter registration on the application form.

STRONGLY SUPPORT

Fair Treatment: Reverses legislators’ exemption of a portion of the state ethics code that specifies that legislators cannot use their elected title for personal gain.

HB 813 - Clarifies the fair treatment law by separating out certain limitations placed on task force members from those placed on legislators. Makes clear that legislators are not prohibited from making statements or taking action in the exercise of their legislative functions. (HB813 HD3)

Last 4 Digits of a Social Security Number: Hawaii is one of a handful of states left that still requires a person’s full social security number in order to register to vote. We advocate for the best practice in requiring only the last four digits of one’s SSN if one’s driver’s license or state ID number is not readily available.

HB 1055 - Requires on an application to register to vote, a Hawaii driver's license number or a Hawaii state identification card number or, if no license or identification card has been issued, the last four digits of the applicant's social security number.

Vote by Mail: It is important that methods of empowering the voting public be maximized to counter the perceived voter apathy and other factors that have led to a decrease in voter participation in recent years. We believe that “Vote-by-Mail” establishes that goal in numerous ways; the first of which being the basic voter preference for Vote-by-Mail (VBM). 83% of the early voters from the 2014 Hawaii primary election opted to vote by mail-in absentee ballot!

SB 2116 - Incrementally phases in statewide elections by mail by the 2022 primary election. Assigns responsibilities between the State and counties for expenses related to mail elections for federal, state, and county offices. Requires clerks to send qualified voters their ballots forty-five days before an election. Establishes standards regarding hours of operation for absentee polling places. Specifies procedures for the counting of ballots. Makes an appropriation.

Instant Runoff Voting: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting, describes a voting method that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference and then uses those rankings to elect a candidate who combines strong support with broad support by simulating a series of runoff elections in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the initial count.

HB 2019 - Establishes instant runoff voting procedures for elections in which no primary election is held and for special elections.

Public Funding for House of Representatives: A public funding option for the brave souls running for a House of Representatives seat would give political candidates (both new and incumbents) a choice to spend less time fundraising, and instead to spend that time working with constituents and solving problems. This plan would let political candidates who “opt-in” to the program, break their dependence on big dollar contributors by providing them with enough public money to run competitive races for office.

HB 2552 - Creates a comprehensive public funding program for candidates for election to the state House of Representatives. Repeals those candidates' eligibility for partial public funding under the existing partial public funding program. Appropriates funds to the Campaign Spending Commission.

JUST PLAIN SKETCHY (A.K.A. WE OPPOSE THESE!)

Bills that protect private interests, instead of the public’s:

HB 1532 / SB 2080 - Protects from public disclosure the financial disclosure statements of the UH Board of Regents that are filed with the State Ethics Commission.

HB 1565 / SB 2042 - Removes a record of complaint as a type of information that is subject to disclosure as a public document. (Note: with this bill, complaints against law enforcement officers could become confidential)

Shady bills that aim to cloud our sunshine laws, giving potential for lawmakers to deliberate on issues “off the record”

HB 1644 / SB 2121 - Permits members of a county council to jointly attend and speak at a community, educational, or informational meeting or presentation; provided the meeting or presentation is open to the public.

SB 2221 - Allows for county council members to jointly attend and speak at particular types of meetings.

Threatens fair and impartial courts

SB 2238 - Makes conforming amendments to implement a constitutional amendment that establishes judicial elections. Requires the judiciary, office of elections, and campaign spending commission to study appropriate methods of implementing a judicial election system in the State and submit a written report, including proposed legislation, to the legislature.




Take Action

The Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Tell Congress to fix the court’s bad decision!

Take action.

Donate

Give Today

Join the Community

Find Common Cause Activists in your area.

Add Me to the Map