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Ethics reform bills heading to governor’s desk

LIHU‘E — A trio of ethics reform bills are heading to Gov. Josh Green for approval after the three pieces of legislation cleared the state House and Senate.

The bills, which target campaign contributions, gifts and lobbying, were transmitted to Green on March 20 after clearing the Senate on the same day.

Each of the bills — House Bill 99, House Bill 137 and House Bill 142 — were approved on 23-0 votes in the Senate.

“We appreciate our Senate colleagues in their swift passage of these bills, which demonstrates our unwavering commitment to increasing transparency and accountability in the legislative process,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki in a statement. He introduced the three bills. “We anticipate that these bills will be signed into law.”

The bills stem from recommendations made by the seven member Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, which was established by the House in 2022.

House Bill 99 limits the total amount of cash to $100 that a candidate, candidate committee or non-candidate committee can accept from a single person during each election period.

“This bill would make certain campaign finance law violations easier to detect and thus prevent,” said Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao in testimony to the Senate Committee on Judiciary on March 7.

House Bill 137 establishes a requirement, starting Jan. 1, 2025, that lobbyists who file a statement of expenditures must also include certain information. That information extends to the identity of the Legislature or administrative action that was commented on, supported by, or opposed by the individual during the statement period.

“By requiring lobbyists to identify the matters they lobbied on, this measure increases transparency and accountability in the lobbying process by providing more detailed information about the interests being represented and the issues being influenced,” said the State Ethics Commission in testimony to the Committee on Judiciary on March 9.

House Bill 142 bars lobbyists from making gifts that are prohibited under state ethics law to legislators.

“The measure implements a recommendation made by the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct,” said Saiki in a statement. “It doesn’t alter Hawai‘i’s existing gift law, but by imposing a gifting restriction on lobbyists, we fully support furthering transparency in the legislative process.”

The state gift law “requires state officials and employees to report gifts from a donor valued singly or in the aggregate in excess of $200 if the source of the gift or gifts has interests that may be affected by discretionary action or lack of discretionary action by a state official or employee.”

Some acceptable gifts are lei and inexpensive tokens of aloha or appreciation.


Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or
Source: The Garden Island

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