2018 Legislative Priorities

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(As of March 5, 2018)

We’re at the the midway point for the 2018 Hawaii State Legislative session. Crossover is the deadline for bills to pass 3rd reading and “crossover” to the other chamber (House to Senate and vice versa), where we start the hearing process all over again. Read on to learn how our bills are doing.

PRIORITIES

Learn more about the need for and how to take action in support of Modern Elections Hawaii here.

Vote By Mail: a ballot is mailed to every registered voter, no request or application is necessary. Voters are then able to return their ballot via mail or at a drop-off location; or cast their vote in person at early voting centers or service centers on Election Day.

          HB2541 HD1 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020, and allows any election to be conducted by mail prior to the 2020 primary election, in whole or in part, as determined by the chief election officer or county clerk, as appropriate. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail—in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the office of elections to submit a report to the legislature prior to the convening of each regular session from 2019 through 2023, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system. Effective 7/1/2050. (Crossover to Senate)

          HB1401 HD1 SD1 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020, and allows any election to be conducted by mail prior to the 2020 primary election, in whole or in part, as determined by the chief election officer or county clerk, as appropriate. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the office of elections to submit a report to the legislature prior to the convening of each regular session from 2018 through 2023, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system. Takes effect on 1/1/2020. (Was originally heard in 2017, made it to conference committee and can still be picked up where they left off.)

          SB2292 / SB3015 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the office of elections to submit a report to the legislature prior to the convening of each regular session from 2019 through 2023, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system. Takes effect on 1/1/2020. (Dead for 2018)

Automatic Voter Registration: is a small technical change that would automatically register eligible citizens who apply for/renew their Hawaii Drivers’ License/State ID unless they choose to opt out. Information would be electronically transferred from the licensing agency to election officials, ensuring the registration process is convenient, accurate, and secure.

Unfortunately, these proposals are dead for 2018, as legislators are prioritizing Vote By Mail. While we would have preferred to pass AVR this year, this will give the Department of Transportation and the Office of Elections time to follow through on their agreement and implement a data transfer system that will allow the two agencies to share information electronically.

          HB2552 / SB2232 Establishes an automatic voter registration system in Hawaii by allowing all applicants for a driver's license, provisional license, instruction permit, or civil identification card to either clearly decline to register to vote or fill out the voter affidavit on their application at the time their application is processed. (Dead for 2018)

          SB2210 Beginning on January 1, 2019, 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, limited purpose driver's license, limited purpose provisional driver's license, limited purpose instruction permit, or identification card shall be automatically registered to vote if that person is not already registered to vote; provided that upon receipt of notification from the respective county clerk the applicant shall have twenty-one calendar days to opt-out of automatic voter registration. Makes an appropriation. (Dead for 2018)

STRONG SUPPORT

Redistricting: The 2020 census is fast approaching, which is followed by reapportionment-when election districts are redrawn. To ensure there would be a partisan balance our constitution requires the Senate minority party to appoint members to the Redistricting Commission. Currently there is no minority party in the Senate. We support solutions to maintain this partisan balance to ensure fair maps for all.

            SB2044 Ensures participation of all political parties on the Reapportionment Commission by providing that if there are no members belonging to a minority party in a house of the legislature, the presiding officer of the respective house of the legislature, after consulting with the chair of a minority party, shall be given the authority to designate persons who are members of a minority party to serve on the reapportionment commission. (Dead for 2018)

Ethics: Trust in government is more important than ever. Strong ethics laws help to foster this.

            HB2420 Establishes restrictions on the participation in political activities of certain state employees and officers. (Crossover to Senate)

            HB1854 / HB1738 / SB2142 Amends the lobbyists law to eliminate outdated references to criminal violations and to clarify that the State Ethics Commission may require payment of an administrative fine or restitution pursuant to a settlement agreement. (SB2141 crossover to House; HB1854 & HB1738 dead for 2018)

Access: The public expects and deserves timely resolutions to complaints when trying to access public records. We should also be using technology to increase access and civic engagement.

             HB2652 / SB2578 / SB3092 Requires the office of information practices to resolve all public complaints about noncompliance with chapter 92F and part I of chapter 92 within six months from the date the office of information practices receives the complaint. (Dead for 2018; Read Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest’s report; OIP’s response; and Star Advertiser’s coverage (pay wall) to learn more.)

            HB1734 Requires each chamber of the legislature to establish rules that enable oral testimony through audiovisual videoconferencing technology. Appropriates funds for audiovisual technology in conference rooms. (Dead for 2018, but we are working to use technology to breakdown barriers.)

            SB2735 SD1 Statutorily establishes the Office of Information Practices' Director's term for six years and thereafter until a successor is appointed, and sets the salary equivalent to the salary of a tier-one deputy department director as recommended by the commission on salaries. Makes an appropriation to the Office of Information Practices. Effective 7/1/2035. (Crossover to House)

Campaign Spending: We support the Campaign Spending Commission’s 2018 legislative package. These “housekeeping” bills will close loopholes and make needed updates that are long overdue.

            HB1656 HD1 Increases the amount of the fine that may be assessed against a noncandidate committee making only independent expenditures for campaign spending violations. Allows the Campaign Spending Commission to order that a fine assessed against a noncandidate committee, or any portion thereof, be paid from the personal funds of officers of the noncandidate committee. (Crossover to Senate)

            HB1661 HD1 Requires a candidate committee or noncandidate committee to inform the Campaign Spending Commission if the candidate committee or noncandidate committee does not intend to receive or spend contributions and expenditures that aggregate more than $1,000 in an election period. (Crossover to Senate)

            SB2153 Repeals the requirement that candidate committee organizational reports include the name and address of each contributor who contributed an aggregate amount of more than $100 to the candidate committee since the last election. (Crossover to House.)

THREATS TO GOOD GOVERNMENT

Bills that aim to decrease transparency and public access to information.

            HB1793 / SB2161  Amends the Sunshine Law, part I, chapter 92, HRS, to clarify the ability of board members to attend and speak at community, educational, or informational meetings that are open to the public; and to provide that the limitation on the number of attendees shall not apply to members of a county council. (Dead for 2018.)

            HB1768 HD1 Permits public inspection and duplication of salary ranges, rather than exact compensation, for legislative employees. (Crossover to Senate; companion SB2870 SD1 dead for 2018. Read Civil Beat’s coverage to learn more.)

Threats to Judicial Independence.

            HB2563 / SB3039 Proposes amendments to the Constitution of the State of Hawaii relating to the appointment and retention of justices and judges. Authorizes the senate to approve or reject subsequent terms of office for supreme court justices. Changes the required time frames from 30 to 90 days for the process to appoint and consent to a justice or judge. Harmonizes the senate consent procedures for district court judgeship nominees to mirror the senate consent procedures relating to supreme court justices and intermediate court of appeals and circuit court judges. (Dead for 2018.)

Procedural Issues.

            In addition to bills we’ve identified that fall within our purview, we also keep an eye out for procedural issues, like “gut and replace” and “Frankenstein” practices (inserting contents of unrelated bills). Using these questionable practices and shortcuts, decreases the opportunity for the public to weigh in, and for legislators to discuss and deliberate. If you see any of these, please let us know, email us at hawaii@commoncause.org.


(As of February 2, 2018)

The Hawaii State Legislature runs on a biennial system, meaning that bills introduced in odd number years are technically still “alive” and are “carried over” into even number years. This means bills introduced in 2017 can be picked up at the point it “died” during the 2018 legislative session. While this doesn’t occur that often, we’re keeping an eye on those bills just in case. Click here to read about our 2017 priorities.

Once again, the dedicated Common Cause Hawaii team poured over the thousands of bills that were introduced. Below are our top priorities for 2018, some of the bills we support, and bills that are potential threats to our democracy.

PRIORITIES

Learn more about the need for and how to take action in support of Modern Elections Hawaii here.

Automatic Voter Registration: is a small technical change that would automatically register eligible citizens who apply for/renew their Hawaii Drivers’ License/State ID unless they choose to opt out. Information would be electronically transferred from the licensing agency to election officials, ensuring the registration process is convenient, accurate, and secure.

            HB2552 / SB2232 Establishes an automatic voter registration system in Hawaii by allowing all applicants for a driver's license, provisional license, instruction permit, or civil identification card to either clearly decline to register to vote or fill out the voter affidavit on their application at the time their application is processed.

Vote By Mail: a ballot is mailed to every registered voter, no request or application is necessary. Voters are then able to return their ballot via mail or at a drop-off location; or cast their vote in person at early voting centers or service centers on Election Day.

            HB2541 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020, and allows any election to be conducted by mail prior to the 2020 primary election, in whole or in part, as determined by the chief election officer or county clerk, as appropriate. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail—in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the office of elections to submit a report to the legislature prior to the convening of each regular session from 2019 through 2023, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system.

            SB2292 / SB3015 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program. Requires the office of elections to submit a report to the legislature prior to the convening of each regular session from 2019 through 2023, regarding the implementation of a vote by mail system. Takes effect on 1/1/2020.

STRONG SUPPORT

Redistricting: The 2020 census is fast approaching, which is followed by reapportionment-when election districts are redrawn. To ensure there would be a partisan balance our constitution requires the Senate minority party to appoint members to the Redistricting Commission. Currently there is no minority party in the Senate. We support solutions to maintain this partisan balance to ensure fair maps for all.

            SB2044 Ensures participation of all political parties on the Reapportionment Commission by providing that if there are no members belonging to a minority party in a house of the legislature, the presiding officer of the respective house of the legislature, after consulting with the chair of a minority party, shall be given the authority to designate persons who are members of a minority party to serve on the reapportionment commission.

Ethics: Trust in government is more important than ever. Strong ethics laws help to foster this.

            HB2420 Establishes restrictions on the participation in political activities of certain state employees and officers.

            HB1854 / HB1738 / SB2142 Amends the lobbyists law to eliminate outdated references to criminal violations and to clarify that the State Ethics Commission may require payment of an administrative fine or restitution pursuant to a settlement agreement.

Elections: In addition to Automatic Voter Registration and Vote By Mail, we also support:

            HB2444 Provides for instant runoff voting for all elective offices.

            Learn more about the need for and how to take action in support of Modern Elections Hawaii here.

Access: The public expects and deserves timely resolutions to complaints when trying to access public records. We should also be using technology to increase access and civic engagement.

             HB2652 / SB2578 / SB3092 Requires the office of information practices to resolve all public complaints about noncompliance with chapter 92F and part I of chapter 92 within six months from the date the office of information practices receives the complaint.

            HB1734 Requires each chamber of the legislature to establish rules that enable oral testimony through audiovisual videoconferencing technology. Appropriates funds for audiovisual technology in conference rooms.

Campaign Spending: We support the Campaign Spending Commission’s 2018 legislative package. These “housekeeping” bills will close loopholes and make needed updates that are long overdue.

THREATS TO GOOD GOVERNMENT

Bills that aim to cloud our Sunshine a.k.a. Open Meetings Laws.

            HB1793 / SB2161  Amends the Sunshine Law, part I, chapter 92, HRS, to clarify the ability of board members to attend and speak at community, educational, or informational meetings that are open to the public; and to provide that the limitation on the number of attendees shall not apply to members of a county council.

Threats to Judicial Independence.

            HB2563 / SB3039 Proposes amendments to the Constitution of the State of Hawaii relating to the appointment and retention of justices and judges. Authorizes the senate to approve or reject subsequent terms of office for supreme court justices. Changes the required time frames from 30 to 90 days for the process to appoint and consent to a justice or judge. Harmonizes the senate consent procedures for district court judgeship nominees to mirror the senate consent procedures relating to supreme court justices and intermediate court of appeals and circuit court judges.

Procedural Issues.

            In addition to bills we’ve identified that fall within our purview, we also keep an eye out for procedural issues, like “gut and replace” and “Frankenstein” practices. Using these questionable practices and shortcuts, decreases the opportunity for the public to weigh in, and for legislators to discuss and deliberate.

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