Monday, February 27, 2012

 

Here we go again, the reapportionment bill to be heard this morning by JDL is another “trojan horse” deception


by Larry Geller

This morning at 9:30 the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB212, a bill that is intended to correct a problem with the state reapportionment plan. The problem is, while saying he will hear SB212, instead the chair will present the committee with the guts of SB2615, a different bill, introduced by Senator Slom,  The public record will show that SB212 was heard and voted upon.

Why is this substitution important to know about? It involves the counting of non-residents in election redistricting, which has been extremely controversial and that has embroiled the Reapportionment Commission in legal action.

If the Senate wants to hear SB2615, it should just schedule it and hear it. Instead, SB212 is being used to stage another subterfuge.

Clayton HeeDo you remember the deception perpetrated last year by chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Clayton Hee, in gutting and replacing SB671? The state legislature’s attempt to grab free meals and endless junkets made news in Hawaii, the Mainland, and strangely enough, on a website in Italy.

The original bill was intended to close loopholes in lobbyist disclosures, but instead was warped into lining legislators’ campaign fund pockets.

The original bill appears to have been used by Senator Hee as a “Trojan horse” to push through a questionable gut-and-replace measure bearing no resemblance to the bill put forth to the public. Even now, the Senate’s status page for SB671 continues the deception. It states: “The committee(s) on JDL recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS.” The truth is that the original bill was not heard nor was it debated. There is still no committee report, and the public record, as of this writing, misrepresents what happened in the hearing room. The only debate was on the proposed “amendment,” which was a possibly unconstitutional gut-and-replace.

The process was deceitful and disrespectful of the public, and clearly self-serving on the part of legislators. Surely they are paid enough that they don’t need to sell influence in exchange for handouts at non-profit fundraising events. Even if the intent of the legislator is fully honorable, there’s no reason why the legislator could not have supported the non-profit by purchasing a ticket like everyone else.

[The duplicity behind the SB671 ethics bill caper, 3/2/2011]

This year’s caper is much more subtle. Even after reading it a few times you might not get the switch. Which makes it doubly bad.

Again, if Sen. Hee wants to hear SB2615, why deceive the public? Why not just hear that bill as well as SB212?



Comments:

Thnnks, Larry. I went into the hearing thinking the bill had been a joint-effort of Slom and Ihara, as indicated by the status sheet for the original SB212. I was wondering what Ihara may have been thinking to agree to the amendments in SD 1. After the hearing, I stopped by Senator Ihara's office and learned from his staff that he had had no role in the gutting of his bill and the insertion of Slom's language.

I remain a bit bewildered by what Senator Hee hopes to accomplish by passing out this bill. It is clearly an attempt to amend the state constitution by statute rather than the legal approach of proposing a constitutional amendment. Even if there may be some ambiguity in the phrase "permanent resident," the intent of the amendment to exclude non-resident military, their dependents and non-resident students is unambiguous from the legislative record, the information provided voters at the polling place and public debate over the amendment as reflected in news accounts at the time.

Senators Hee and Slom authored SD 1 and Senators Maile Shimabukuro and Mike Gabbard voted for its passage. If these senators believe the state constitution should be amended, they should be forthright and propose a constitutional amendment instead of pushing this defective bill. I have little doubt it will be defeated in the House. But maybe Hee and Slom understood that and are engaging in some sort of political theater with this hearing. And wasting our time.
 

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