Saturday, April 27, 2013
“The monster is dead” but the process raises a question of legislative ethics
“Several sources said [Senator Malama] Solomon would kill about a half-dozen measures that she had control over if the House did not agree to HB 252”
by Larry Geller
The pull-quote above is from an article posted on Civil Beat’s website by Chad Blair. If he checked with several sources, I trust that his report is factual.
So the good news is that the “Frankenbill” HB252 is likely dead. This is the bill that originally concerned the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission but into which totally unrelated language was inserted (hence “Frankenbill”) concerning geothermal development. Actually, Blair’s story of the final hours of this bill is very clear, dramatic even, and worth reading: check it out here: House Kills Geothermal 'FrankenBill' Favored By Hawaii Senate (Civil Beat, 4/26/2013).
The bad news is the undemocratic nature of Hawaii’s state legislative process that that the article reveals. The half-dozen measures that Sen. Solomon would kill, apparently motivated by revenge against the House conferees, were not identified, but presumably they advanced through the usual process of committee hearings, testimony, and votes. They should live or die depending on their merits, not as sacrifices to Sen. Solomon’s anger.
The fact that she felt she could make such a threat also reflects on Senate leadership. Or has “leadership” lost its meaning in the current session? Can one senator be granted enough leeway to arbitrarily kill a half-dozen bills without suffering negotiable consequences?
There are standards of ethical conduct that are not codified into law, and threatening unrelated bills is arguably a disservice greater than creating a “Frankenbill” in the first place.
The people of Hawaii are owed, IMHO, an apology that they likely will never get.
Nice opinion on how this went down, Larry, and particularly the focus on leadership and that is the concern.
If there is nowhere to seek remedy and recourse (in Senate leadership) then what has occurred is more similar to racketeering (only without the broken bones), judging from the pattern.