Wednesday, March 04, 2009


House Finance committee pulls an all-nighter, defers campaign finance bill at 04:25 a.m. for another day

by Larry Geller

These folks do have a dedication that is to be admired. Truly. They adjourned this morning at about 5 a.m. I think they started yesterday at 10 a.m. That’s really hard work.

I am saying this now, because when HB215 is finally released to the world, I don’t think I’ll be saying much complementary, if it raises corporate contribution limits as is likely. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will. When exactly do we find out? At 4:25 a.m. tomorrow morning?

Grumble, grumble.

Here’s a snap from the Olelo video I ran overnight. It says that it was 04:25 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4, as Chair Oshiro said that HB215 will be deferred to the end of today’s (Wednesday’s) calendar. Why not first thing Wednesday? It keeps getting pushed back each day.

0425 at the State Capitol

The bill was scheduled for the 4:30 p.m. agenda on Tuesday. Though the Finance committee pulled an all-nighter, the public didn’t, of course.

While I sincerely commend the committee for pushing through the backlog this way, this situation should raise questions about the need to run the legislative session differently. Maybe make it longer or all-year ‘round. It’s not really a machine to grind out sausage—many of the bills considered overnight were really important. Ok, they got them done, I suppose that’s the most important thing. But how good is the reasoning when it’s getting near the time to wake up already?

Here’s the view of the peanut gallery just after. There’s one brave soul still there. Just one. As democracy rolled on, it did so pretty much without witnesses. The public, if they had taken the trouble to set up a Media Center PC or other large capacity capture device, could have reviewed it later.

One hardy soul still there

Among the bills were one to extend the Superferry large capacity ferry vessel law, Act 2, and one about red light cameras. The one on the screen above would require the administration to award Medicaid contracts to non-profit entities. Important stuff. And there was much, much more that slipped by while I snored.

Before I left my computer, DLNR chief Laura Thielen was explaining something about cabins being in such poor condition they could burn down. Or something like that. It was related to state parks. Which they may have to close some of. I’m not at my best after staring at a screen for a couple of hours until after midnight. This is probably not exactly right. Vision blurry, hungry, sleepy… need… to… turn… this… screen… off…

I was thinking, though, that here we go again, not maintaining things in this state. The testimony was long. The hour was late. I’m not sure I want to go back to it. Heck with it. I just hope no one gets burned if another cabin catches fire, if that’s what it was.

So now we wait again to find out if House members will do the right thing, or possibly Hawaii will become the first state to go backwards on corporate campaign contributions. Someone on my DailyKos post a couple of days ago said Hawaii would not be the first, but so far it looks like it will be.

Different states have different limits, but 23 states, including Hawaii, have bans or near-bans on corporate donations. If Hawaii increases its limits on corporate donations, it would be the first state of the 23 to do so. It would undo the years of hard work of clean election advocates.

Raising the limit would not bring us better medical care, improved highways or schools, or anything else. It would just benefit our state legislators. If they raise the limits, they are the only beneficiaries of the legislation. And we pay a price for it. When corporations or their lobbyists have better access to lawmakers than citizens do, the result is not better government. Of course not.

So once again, I’ll ask that if you have not yet sent an email to House members, please do do. . It’s easy to do. The bill number is HB215. Tell them not to raise limits on corporate contributions. You can tell ‘em. After all, they work for us. Now they do, anyway. Please email right away. Thanks very much.


So that's how bad legislation moves forward. Now I know how bad bills can become law. That's like an all night cram when a college student gets behind in their studies. I'm glad this isn't the final word on some of these bills. Some might view that as great stamina, to me it just looks like bad judgement from Legislators no less.

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