UPDATED This is how a good government bill dies at the Hawaii Legislature:

A measure supported by a majority of House and Senate members makes it through both chambers, but the two bodies can’t agree on language.

Then, during the conference committee period at end of session — when the public cannot testify directly on proposed drafts to legislation — one chamber suggests changes to the bill that the other chamber doesn’t like.

Such was the case of Senate Bill 66, which called for making public the financial disclosure statements of members of powerful state boards and commissions. It’s one of the so-called FrankenBills that Civil Beat reported on Wednesday.

Despite the death of SB 66, which was deferred indefinitely (although it could still be revived … just like Frankenstein), several good government measures remained alive as lawmakers faced deadlines Thursday and Friday.

Fair Treatment Exemptions

What happened to SB 66?

Currently, only the financial disclosure statements of the governor, lieutenant governor, legislators and state department directors and their deputies are public records. SB 66 suggested adding members of the Land Use Commission, the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and the Commission on Water Resource Management.

The measure received testimony in support from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, Life of the Land, Americans for Democratic Action of Hawaii and 27 individuals. Only the General Contractors Association of Hawaii and one individual submitted opposition testimony.

But on Thursday, House and Senate conferees could not come to agreement on exactly which boards and commissions the law would apply to, and on language that proposed changes to how the fair treatment section of the state Ethics Code applies to legislators.

The fair treatment section states that no legislator or state employee can use their office or official position to somehow benefit themselves and others, such as through awarding contracts, soliciting compensation or engaging in improper financial transactions.

Rep. Angus McKelvey, the House conference committee chair, said his members felt “pretty strong” about sticking with previous language in the bill, the version they had earlier voted on. But Sen. Clayton Hee responded that the bill would have to be “deferred indefinitely.”

SB 66 could still be pulled to the Senate floor for a vote next week, and may yet survive. And there is always next session.

Alive, Dead, In Transit

Good government measures that remain alive at the 2013 Legislature include House Bill 1132, which requires legislators to file a disclosure of financial interests with the Ethics Commission between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 each year rather than in late May, when the legislative session is over.

The idea is to let the public see whether their lawmakers have any obvious conflict of interest with legislation that they are voting on.

Also alive is Senate Bill 827, which prohibits employers, unions and candidates from assisting voters with completing absentee ballots. SB 827 is intended to ensure voters are not intimidated into selecting candidates they don’t want to vote for.


Another measure intended to protect ballot integrity, House Bill 1027, didn’t make it; it wanted absentee ballot voters to sign a statement saying no one attempted to influence their vote. Fortunately, that language was inserted into SB 827.

Here’s yet another good measure moving along: Senate Bill 31, which would require PACs to disclose top contributors.

These four measures await Friday votes:

House Bill 1481, which sets up partial public funding of state House races.

Senate Bill 381, which changes the public funding formula for Big Isle county elections.

House Bill 632, which makes electronic government data available to the public.

House Bill 321, which allows for absentee polling place voter registration and on election day.

But Senate Bill 848, which requires a state employee or legislator to disclose all annual income that totals more than their annual salary if that source is a registered lobbyist or lobbying organization, died.

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