Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Gambling bill died. But you guessed it, it’s alive again. Never bet a bill will stay dead.
by Larry Geller
If you’ve got clout at the Senate—which leaves most ordinary citizens out—they’ll bend or break the rules for you.
The gambling folks and their lobbyists have clout. Yet legislators know that many (most?) of their constituents oppose legalizing gambling in Hawaii. So SB2893, which would establish a gambling task force, missed the first lateral deadline and was dead. Dead dead. Which means nothing anymore, it seems.
Of course, if it were a bill without big money, big influence, big lobbyists behind it, we ordinary folks would be told, “Gee, I’m sorry, your bill didn’t make it this session. Try again next year.”
So SB2893 walks the halls of the State Capitol once gain. It will have a hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10:15 a.m. The hearing notice is here. Two committees will hear it at once, and that will be it for the Senate. They’ll sprinkle it with holy water and it will freshen up and cross over to the House.
You can easily submit testimony, or even call or email members of the two committees (WAM and EDT). To submit testimony, go to the link for the bill. At the top is a box you check, and then you can type in your testimony.
Zombie bills are hard to kill. If the Senate leadership wants it to live again, they want it passed. It takes lots of testimony to drive a stake into the heart of a bad bill if the leadership is insistent.
Just as an example, the testimony not to cut funding for public access television was overwhelming, yet the House Finance Committee passed it anyway. See: Another “zombie” bill brought back to life over the weekend and aimed at public access tv funding (2/26/2012). Thanks to all the readers who sent in testimony! Heck, it might have worked. Please don’t be discouraged.
I’ve been asked if it is legal to bring back these bills from the dead. It appears to be legal, if sneaky and underhanded. The Senate makes its own rules, and it can break its own rules. Some things are protected by the Hawaii State Constitution, but not the revival of dead bills. If they want to mess around with us, they can.