Summary of Common Cause Hawaii Activities During the 2020 Hawaii State Legislative session

What CCHI worked on during the 2020 Legislative Session, that ended on 10 July

CCHI priorities as the session opened on January 15th included: 1) Legislation strengthening our ethics laws and campaign finance reform to get money out of politics, 2) Automatic Voter Registration, 3) Improving our Vote By Mail law for the 2020 Elections, 4) Transparency and accountability through remote testimony at the legislature, and 5) Stopping Article V Constitutional Convention

Even with COVID-19 impacting the 2020 Hawaii State Legislative session, Common Cause Hawaii chalked up some major wins!  And, it was all due to supporters, activists, and advocates like you, who submitted testimony, testified in person, and called elected officials on measures important to securing our democracy! Mahalo for taking action!


  • Strengthening our Ethics Laws
    • Emoluments – HB361 will prohibit the governor and each county mayor, beginning November 11, 2022, while holding those offices, to maintain any other employment, maintain a controlling interest in a business, or receive any emolument, beginning on the sixty-first calendar day after their election or appointment to office.Common Cause Hawaii has supported this measure on the principle that the highest officials in the executive branch should be fully attentive to the demanding responsibilities of their offices. They should not be distracted by other professional duties or be choosing which job’s priorities come first.
    • Police Officers’ Disciplinary Records – HB285 requires county police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon an officer’s suspension or discharge and amends the Uniform Information Practices Act to allow for public access to information about suspended officers. Again, Common Cause Hawaii has supported this measure for a number of sessions. The public needs access to prior police disciplinary records for full transparency and accountability.
    • Lobbying – HB2124 prohibits certain former State employees and everyone who has to file a financial disclosure under Hawaii Revised Statutes § 84-17(d) from representing certain interests in a legislative or administrative action before the State for twelve months after the termination from their respective positions. Common Cause Hawaii supports this measure, which prohibits lobbying by former legislators and executive-branch employees through instituting a twelve (12) month “cooling-off” period at the administrative level. Due to Common Cause Hawaii efforts, the individuals covered by this measure were expanded from the original version of the bill!
    • Disclosure of clients assisted – HB2125 requires that candidates for state elective offices, including candidates for election to the constitutional convention, shall only be required to disclose their own financial interestsand financial interests  include the names of clients assisted or represented before state agencies, except in ministerial matters, for a fee or compensation during the disclosure period and the names of the state agencies involved. Common Cause Hawaii supported this measure to improve transparency. Candidates for elective offices will be required to report any clients assisted or represented before state agencies.


  • Stopping Article V Constitutional Convention – We were able to prevent any resolution in favor of an Article V constitutional convention from even getting a hearing in the 2020 Hawaii State Legislative session!


  • Automatic Voter Registration – We had two bills (one in the House and one in the Senate) both supporting AVR, which both failed. The COVID interrupted session halted momentum for the bills in the legislature.  We, however, are not deterred and will try again next session!
  • Improving our Vote By Mail process – As you know, the 2020 elections are the first year that Hawaii will be an all mail-in state.  For voting by mail to succeed, it must be complemented with a sufficient number of voter service centers to support those who need in-person voting assistance.  This is because voting by mail does not work for everyone, especially not in a pandemic.  Hawaii will only be opening 8 voter service centers for the very first time that we will all be voting by mail in 2020, and this just is not enough in case there are any problems. We had many bills moving to try to open more voter service centers, but none was successful.
  • Remote Testimony – We were trying multiple ways to have remote testimony at the Legislature – pilot legislative committees, pilot boards and commissions, etc.  The COVID interrupted session disrupted momentum for the remote testimony bills in the legislature.  We will try again next session!
  • Campaign Finance Reform – We were involved in many bills in 2020 to improve disclosure and transparency with our Campaign Finance laws and to increase public funding of our elections. And, again, COVID interrupted momentum for the bills in the legislature.  We will continue to work on campaign finance reform next session!


As the saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson goes, “Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” We’re not going to give up and we’re going to continue to press on for the betterment of our democracy. Don’t forget to vote-by-mail in the 2020 Elections! We’re holding a How To Vote By Mail Webinar if you want to spread the news and share the flyer (registration link embedded).

Mahalo again for all you’ve done. I’m looking forwarded to working with you all again soon!  Please be safe and well and feel free to contact me if you have any matters to discuss!




Sandy Ma