Monday, March 30, 2015

 

Senator Kim, Senator Tokuda: Let the public weigh in on “Frankenbill”



Rule 23 Public Hearings on Bills.

(4) If a bill:

(B) Contains any significant or substantial amendment made by a committee other than the last standing committee to which the bill has been referred; and

(C) The public has not been provided with an opportunity to submit testimony on the significant or substantial amendment;

then, prior to reporting the bill out of the last standing committee, the last standing committee to which the bill was referred shall hold a public hearing to provide the public with the opportunity to testify on the bill.


by Larry Geller

Dear Senate President Kim, WAM Chair Tokuda:

It may seem strange to have Disappeared News read back a rule to you, but somebody’s gotta do it.

We have a state constitution and each House of the Legislature has rules that serve to protect the public interest. When committee chairs either ignore or skirt as closely as they can to flouting the rules, it’s time for a correction.

This session has seen “Frankenbills,” “Zombies,” and waivers of notice that don’t just shortchange the public, they short circuit the democratic process.

This is to ask that rules be followed with regard to HB1180. Senator Dela Cruz inserted language lifted from SB1228 SD2, a bill which relates to public-private partnerships, into HB1180 which requires the state procurement office to establish a database to record inadequate past performance by contractors on public works projects. One has nothing to do with the other. So a “Frankenbill” has been created. This “Frankenbill” has been referred to Ways and Means for its final hearing in the Senate.

The rule kicks in because the language was inserted by Government Operations Chair Senator Dela Cruz at the time of decisionmaking – that is, the language had not been presented to the public at all.

There are, of course, several issues at play here. Inserting the new language into this bill seems highly questionable to start with, but perhaps the most important issue at hand is that the public be afforded a chance to weigh in on the substantial amendments that were snuck in by the Government Operations committee chair.

There are many other bills that have been modified so as to short-circuit the proper process. I’m a bit backlogged in posting the information on Disappeared News but will catch up on a few. It would be a shame if creating these bills became standard operating procedure in either the Senate or the House.

So just to let you know that some of us are watching and hoping the Senate will do the right thing.

All the time, preferably.



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