The Sunshine Blog: Crossing Over, And Another Green Nominee May Be In Trouble - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, observations and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

And when we get behind closed doors: At least 31 sunshine bills survived Thursday’s second-crossover deadline and are now headed for that black hole of the Hawaii legislative session known as conference committee.

This is when representatives of the House and Senate attempt to reconcile their differing versions of the measures. Legislators chosen by the Senate president and House speaker mostly disappear from public view as they negotiate which bills will stay alive and which will die.

We’ll find out who the “conferees” are for various bills over the next few days. For some measures they may not be chosen at all — just one of the ways legislative leaders can kill bills at this point in the session.

Sound confusing? It is. But the ever-helpful Public Access Room produced a primer on the process in 2021. The Legislature’s website also contains a whole section on conference committees, including House and Senate “action sheets” listing the bills.

A excerpt from the Public Access Room’s guide to conference committee at the Hawaii Legislature. (Screenshot/2023)

And of course you can continue to monitor the progress of sunshine bills with the Civil Beat tracker.

The heart of the effort to make state government more ethical and transparent is at stake here. Measures headed to conference committee include Senate Bill 1543, which could lead to a comprehensive system of public financing for all candidates seeking election to state and county office as early as 2026.

The brainchild of Senate Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads, SB 1543 could cost an estimated $30 million for two years of public financing, so you can bet the money chairs will have something to say about this — and you can also bet those discussions won’t happen in public.

  • A Special Commentary Project

Some of the other sunshine bills include:

  • House Bill 719 caps the charges for reproducing government records, and the latest Senate version allows some draft documents to be kept secret until a decision is made.
  • House Bill 707 makes it a class C felony to make false, fictitious or fraudulent claims against the government. The Senate version would disqualify a person convicted from holding elected office for five years for that crime, while the House version would make a person ineligible for public campaign financing for 10 years.
  • House Bill 711 creates the offense of fraud as a class B felony. The Senate version would disqualify those convicted from holding elected office for 10 years, while the House version, would make them ineligible for public campaign financing for 10 years.
  • House Bill 986 establishes a class C felony offense of official misconduct to prohibit someone in their official capacity acting in a way that benefits the official.
  • House Bill 710 makes clear that obstruction of justice includes intentionally trying to influence the due administration of justice including by coercion or threat of force.
  • House Bill 126 proposes that a person convicted of bribery must pay a fine of up to $250,000 in addition to imprisonment or probation.
  • House Bill 141 requires legislators to include in their financial disclosures the names of lobbyists they have financial ties to.
  • House Bill 724 amends the ban against contributions to candidates and noncandidate committees by state and county contractors to include grantees and the owners, officers and immediate family members of those same contractors and grantees.
  • House Bill 717 blocks state employees from hiring or promoting relatives and household members.
  • Senate Bill 1493 puts a stop to before-, during- and after-legislative session contributions by lobbyists to elected officials, candidates and noncandidate committees.
  • House Bill 1294 requires candidates to use their legal names.
  • Senate Bill 1076 calls for the Hawaii Office of Elections to prepare a digital voter information guide.
  • Senate Bill 1189 forces candidates to file a preliminary campaign finance report on Feb. 28 in general election years, months earlier than is now required.

“In the name of equity”: Also heading to conference committee is Senate Bill 47, which would randomize the listing of candidates on ballots in time for the 2026 election.

At the recommendation of Rep. David Tarnas, the House on Thursday tweaked the bill so that it no longer has an effective date — that is, the date the bill would become law if approved by the governor, in this case July 1 of this year. Now it’s June 30, 3000, the “defective” date that is all the rage at the House this year.

Only two people voted against SB 47: Republicans David Alcos III and Diamond Garcia. In his remarks on the House floor Garcia bemoaned the rearranging of names on ballots “in the name of equity. I firmly believe that this will confuse the voters of Hawaii and will certainly add doubt and skepticism to the election process.”

Garcia told his colleagues that America has been voting for 247 years and Hawaii for 62 “and it’s always been alphabetically and it’s worked.”

The bill is needed, say supporters, because alphabetizing has actually worked best for candidates whose last names start with letters at the beginning.

Decision making at last: Is Gov. Josh Green’s nominee to lead the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in trouble? That’s what some state Capitol denizens are asking, as Nadine Ando’s confirmation hearing has been scheduled and deferred several times.

Given what happened to three other Green picks that were rejected by the Senate this session, one might well wonder if the new gov will see a fourth Cabinet official go down in flames.

Jarrett Keohokalole, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, explains that Ando’s hearing has been in flux in part because he and his colleagues decided that they had more questions for the nominee.

Detail from the legislative status of Nadine Ando’s nomination. (Screenshot/2023)

A committee vote was deferred at a second hearing because time ran out. Ando also had a prescheduled mainland trip for family reasons, and Keohokalole had to reschedule for personal reasons.

Decision making on Ando is now set for Wednesday, which Keohokalole acknowledged is “tricky,” as it falls right smack in the middle of conference committee.

Ando is an attorney who has worked on commercial litigation, real estate transactions, professional liability law and insurance coverage for a half-dozen local law firms. They include McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon and Sullivan Meheula Lee. Ando is a former commissioner with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Read this next:

Bluer Skies Or Continued Cloudiness? Legislators Are About To Choose

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

House Bill 126 - instead of using the words " up to" for the fine it should read "beginning at" $250,000 and include addition to imprisonment or probation.There has to be a major deterrence to stop all this from happening, the slap on the wrist and forcing the violator to write " I'm Sorry" on the blackboard 5 millions times mentality doesn't work, find something that will.

unclebob61 · 7 months ago

Wish they would in zero pensions for those convicted of a felony and anyone found guilty of any ethics violations should never be allowed to run for political office at all.

Concernedtaxpayer · 7 months ago

Senate bill 1493 is extremely important legislation. Only by prohibiting special interest financing of politicians can we stop governance by whomever contributes the most money to influcence politicians and control decisions in making laws that affect us all.

TroyP · 7 months ago

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