Saturday, March 11, 2006


Disappeared bill: "Abramoff" at work in Hawaii?

Strange things happen at the Legislature. One of them may be in progress at this very moment.

Senate bill SB1061 originally concerned:
The purpose of this measure is to prohibit lobbyists who lobby the legislature, the principal, client, or agent of such a lobbyist, and a political action committee on which the lobbyist sits from making a contribution to a member of the legislature, the governor, and lieutenant governor while the legislature is in session.
A fine bill, you would think, and testimony was in favor of passage.

I can imagine that lobbyists would not like it too much, it hogties them and threatens their effectiveness. The rest of us, of course should applaud.

Well, a mysterious thing happened to this bill on Friday afternoon. A hearing notice was emailed at 4:15 p.m. which contains this information:
SB 1061 Proposed HD1

Copies available in Room 302


Establishes a task force for the purpose of reviewing the scope, procedures, compliance with and enforcement of Chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statues (the "Sunshine Law").
Voila! Lobbyists livelihoods may be saved, since that language is probably deleted from the bill. Have lobbyists lobbied to save their own skins? Did Sylvia Luke, chair of the Judiciary Committee, get a visit from an "Abramoff" about that bill?

"Room 302" is indeed Luke's office and it's closed, so no copies can be obtained until most likely Monday morning. The hearing is the very next day.

We won't know till then what changes in the Sunshine law, which has recently been under attack from the city councils and elsewhere, is being contemplated. And we won't know if the lobbyist language is still in there (wanna bet is has been removed?).

This kind of political shenanigans happens often enough. Never mind that the original bill went through public hearings and received positive testimony. Never mind that the sunshine language has been plucked from a hat and inserted without public hearings up to this point. We don't know if it's good or bad, just that something magically appeared over the weekend that's being kept from us, the public.

Rep. Luke's phone is 586-8530 and her fax is 586-8534. Why not call or fax and ask to have a copy of this proposed draft faxed to you. If you liked the idea of prohibiting lobbyist contributions, here's a chance to insist that the prohibition be retained.

Tune in right here for more information as it becomes available.


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