Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Both state House and Senate to adopt rules banning "embedded lobbyists"

With the announcement yesterday by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa that:
...The senate is adopting a rule which prohibits interms from the private sector. We are only permitting students interns from the University of Hawaii who are part of an established program.
and the banning of all interns from the House by Speaker Calvin Say, this questionable practice has come to an end in Hawaii's state legislature.

The "announcement" was actually discovered in the middle of the Honolulu Advertiser's Hot Seat live blog yesterday. Nevermind. In this digital age, why not announce something in a blog.

Since these reforms will be implemented as rule changes, they can of course be simply undone in the future. But let's be content with the victory, for that's what it was. It's a victory for the people because it helps remove corporate influence from the decisionmaking process at the legislature.

Last session Hawaii employees lost the important protection of health care premium regulation, raising the issue of whether an HMSA Foundation executive working as an intern in Rep. Bob Herkes' office might have played a role in the defeat of that legislation. The Ethics Commission has not settled the issue, but nevertheless, the presence of these corporate people within legislative offices was a questionable practice from several points of view.

In the same blog comment, Sen. Hanabusa denied that she has a staff member who works for the Hawaiian Electric Company in her office.

Now that corporations cannot place "interns" at the legislature, look for them to try to find ways around the new rule. We'll need to be vigilant to uncover employees who take leaves of absence to work at the legislature for a session and then go back to their companies, for example.

There are also other reforms that need to be implemented before we have Democracy fully implemented in our state legislature. Stay tuned for more on this.


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