Monday, March 13, 2006


Sunshine law under attack during Sunshine Week

Tuesday, May 14 is the day of the annual Freedom of Information Day Luncheon in Honolulu which will be attended by many advocates of access to information and the Sunshine Law. It seems that this very law will be under attack at the Legislature while advocates are celebrating it and unable to attend the hearing.

This is something we read about happening in Washington, DC, not in Hawaii.

Further, the text of the proposed bill has just been made available to this writer. The hearing is tomorrow. While the legislature has a 48-hour rule, clearly the rule has been circumvented by withholding the text until the day before. The hearing notice was sent out at 4:15:28 p.m. on Friday, and stated that the text of the proposed draft would be available in "Room 302", which turns out to be the office of Rep. Sylvia Luke, who chairs the committee hearing the bill on Tuesday. Problem is, the office was closed until about 8:00 a.m. this morning.

The original text of SB1061 was a bill that was advancing through the Legislature that would have prohibited lobbyist contributions during the session. That text is now completely gone from the new bill. Lobbyists and legislators might rejoice, but the hijacking of this bill is not good news for voters and advocates of clean elections in Hawaii.

This hijacking should be undone. The original text of the bill should be restored.

If it is not, then I hope that advocates at the FOI luncheon will take the opportunity to raise the issue and see that the public is informed about the actions of the Judiciary Committee and its chair. It will also be interesting to review political contributions that might have influenced their decision to protect lobbyists at a time when public concern about the influence of money in government is at an all-time high.


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