Monday, March 27, 2006


The House is hoodwinking you even as you read this

The sky was clear over Honolulu for most of the afternoon on this Monday holiday. Welcome sunlight dried up some of the puddles and made pedestrian life possible once again after this month of unusual rain.

There's no sign of sunshine in the State Capitol, though.

The House Committee on Water, Land and Ocean Resources has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday March 28 at 10:30 am on a single bill, SB1015. I received an email tip to check out this bill. Here's what I found: We're being cheated again as yet another House committee hides its actions from the public.

SB1015 was revived from the 2005 session probably to be used for another purpose. It's text is posted on the Capitol website here. If you've been following along on this blog, you'll suspect of course that the committee will be doing something "creative" with this bill, and you'd be right.

On Friday afternoon the committee sent out a hearing notice for Tuesday. The notice says "PROPOSED HD1 available in room 432." It looks like this "amendment" goes something like this:
Gives BLNR up to 12/31/07, the authorization to reinstate a 999-year homestead lease that was canceled due to nonpayment of arrearages; provided, among other things, that the tenant-at-will has continually occupied the land and has cured all arrearages.
Ok, I have no idea what this is about. It's clearly designed for some special situation.

I'm not likely to find out, of course, until Tuesday morning, and only if I choose to run over to the Capitol just before the hearing. Today is Kuhio Day, a state holiday. For three days since the notice was issued, the text of this proposed amendment has been unavailable. I couldn't prepare testimony even if I wanted to.

What's most troubling is that Tuesday is its first and last public hearing, and you can bet the chair's recommendation to his committee will be to pass it. The public will not have participated at all in the making of this new law.

What good is public notice when the public has no access whatsoever to the bill that will be heard and won't get to peek at it until a couple of hours before the hearing?

If you live on Neighbor Islands, forget it. That's the idea, actually--this House committee chair, Rep. Ezra R. Kanoho, joins his fellow chairpersons of darkness in employing this technique that locks the public out of the democratic process.

The repetition of this abuse demonstrates that committee chairs and House leadership are quite happy to trample on the public's right to participate in the making of its laws. It should have been stopped when it was first used, and it shouldn't be allowed now.

The hearing should be canceled. This abuse should be prohibited.


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