Action on Ending Gut-and-Replace in 2021

Common Cause Hawaii Webinar on “Gut and Replace” Legislation – December 09, 2021 

Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii’s Executive Director hosted a one-hour webinar on December 9th to share with participants the issues associated with this less-than-transparent tactic too often employed by Hawaii’s State Legislature. Attorney Brian Black of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest and Tom Yamachika of the Tax Foundation of Hawai’i shared their expertise on how good government advocates can deal with this practice. For a video recording of this important Zoom session, please click here.

Honolulu Civil Beat – November 04, 2021 – Hawaii Supreme Court Ends Legislature’s Gut-And-Replace Tactic.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Legislature should not be allowed to gut the contents of a bill and replace it with new provisions, sometimes unrelated to the original bill, because the practice “discourages public confidence and participation.”

It’s a significant ruling, putting an end to a long-held legislative maneuver just months before lawmakers are set to reconvene in January.

News of the ruling was welcome to Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The ruling “gives guidelines and guide rails for the Legislature going forward,” Ma said

Joint Press Release by Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii – June 21, 2021 – House Bill 862 Awarded Annual Rusty Scalpel Award By Good Government Groups.

This award is given to state legislature’s most dishonest “gut and replace” legislation, and today, Common Cause Hawaii and The League of Women Voters of Hawaii announced that this year’s Rusty Scalpel Award for most unconstitutional state legislation was given to HB 862 “Relating to State Government,” for its overly-broad scope, ever-changing intent, and lack of transparency throughout the bill-to-law process.

To read the entire press release, click here.




The Hawaii State Constitution sets procedures for enactment of new laws. The purpose of these procedures is to facilitate public participation and to discourage deceptive practices and “logrolling”.

Article III, Section 14 provides in relevant part, “Each law shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed in its title.”

Article III, Section 15 provides in relevant part that “No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each out on separate days.”

In plain English, our Legislature is not supposed to pass a bill which addresses 2 or more unrelated subjects, and is not supposed to pass a bill whose subject has not had 3 separate readings in the State House and 3 separate readings in the State Senate. The purpose is to ensure a fair process, where the public and legislators have time to review and comment on proposed legislation.

Unfortunately, legislators use deceptive practices such as “gut and replace”, when a bill is stripped of its original content and replaced with an unrelated bill’s contents, and “Frankenstein bills” which is when bills encompassing various subjects are cobbled together into one bill.

Common Cause Hawaii opposes these practices as it deprives the public of any meaningful voice in the legislative process and deprives legislators adequate notice and time to thoroughly review the consequences of proposed legislation before making a decision.

Further, in order to expose and curb the widespread use of “gut and replace” and “Frankenstein bills”, we have partnered with the League of Women Voters of Hawaii to create the “Rusty Scalpel” award.

Read about previous Rusty Scalpel winners:

2019 Rusty Scalpel HB 1586

2018 Rusty Scalpel SB2858 

2017 Rusty Scalpel HB375 

2016 Rusty Scalpel HB1689

2015 Rusty Scalpel HB15

2014 Rusty Scalpel HB2434