2018 Legislative Priorities

Legislative session is fast paced. For more frequent updates, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

If you’d like to help us by submitting testimony, please email hawaii@commoncause.org for more information.

(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.

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