Government Reform Is Happening At The Legislature - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Daniel Foley

Daniel Foley is a former associate justice on the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals and a prominent attorney known for his civil rights record.

All of a House commission’s recommendations are moving except for a bill on term limits.

When I was appointed last year to head the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, there was (and still is) skepticism on the part of many that the Hawaii Legislature was serious about making state and county government more transparent and accountable.

Take my word for it, the Legislature is serious.

On Dec. 1 the commission made 31 recommendations to improve laws and rules on ethics, campaign finances, lobbying and related matters. With the sole exception of term limits, all the commission recommendations are moving through the Legislature.

The commission’s recommendations were based on nine months of hard work by an outstanding group of Commissioners: Robert Harris of the State Ethics Commission, Kristin Izumi-Nitao of the State Campaign Spending Commission, Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters, Nikos Leverenz of Common Cause, Florence Nakakuni former U.S. attorney and Honolulu deputy prosecutor, former Republican state legislator Barbara Marumoto and me, a retired judge and civil rights attorney.

Rretired Judge Dan Foley testifying remotely before the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee on Feb. 22. (Screenshot/2023)

The commission conducted extensive public hearings, receiving input from the public, community leaders, state and county officials, experts in ethics, campaign finance, lobbying, elections, investigation and prosecution of wrongdoing and corruption in government, among others.

The commission’s 396-page report posted on the state House of Representative’s webpage, under special committees, contains a summary of the commission’s work, recommendations and proposed bills (now moving through the Legislature) and minutes from the commission’s meetings.

That webpage also contains links to notices with videos of commission meetings and testimony and documents presented to the commission.

I am hopeful this regular session will prove to be a transformative.

My experience with legislators holding hearings on commission bills this regular session is that legislators have thoroughly reviewed and considered the commission’s report, recommendations and related documents, prior to holding public hearings and making decisions on the commission’s proposed bills.

Some of these bills are the same or similar to bills recommended by the State Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions and the state and county law enforcement coalition.

As we move into the second half of the Legislature’s regular session, I am grateful for the time and consideration legislators have given to the commission’s recommendations and am hopeful this regular session will prove to be a transformative one in increasing transparency and accountability in state and county government.

  • A Special Commentary Project

If you are reading this article, you are a member of the general public that has been reading the extensive coverage Civil Beat has given to the commission’s work and the Legislature’s response. I am grateful for Civil Beat performing this public service of keeping the public informed so members of the public can follow and participate in the legislative process this session.

Please continue to be engaged and encourage you family and friends to join you. This session is a unique opportunity for government reform.

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About the Author

Daniel Foley

Daniel Foley is a former associate justice on the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals and a prominent attorney known for his civil rights record.

Latest Comments (0)

🤞🏼but I'm not holding my breath...

Scotty_Poppins · 6 months ago

"With the sole exception of term limits, all the commission recommendations are moving through the Legislature." This should be an initiative the voters should be allowed to decide since the voters are the ones electing the political leaders. It is quite apparent the politicians that are opposing the term limits are the ones that should be replaced. Not sure how this can be accomplished but I think it would be a very important step towards cleaning up all the malfeasement in government. What works for the Governor, Lt. Governor, Mayor, and City Council positions should work for all of government offices.

Ken · 6 months ago

· 6 months ago

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