June 10, 2014 •
Hawaii State Ethics Commission to Consider Guidance for Legislative Allowances
At its June 18 meeting, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission will consider whether to issue guidance to state legislators regarding the use of their annual legislative allowance. The state Constitution provides the allowance for each legislator to cover incidental expenses connected with legislative duties. The funds may not be used for any personal expenses including, but not limited to, gifts, campaign contributions, or food and beverages related to social activities and events.
Several legislators filed complaints with the commission accusing colleagues of using the annual allowance for personal reasons. After reviewing information provided by Senate and House clerks, commission staff identified several disbursements appearing unrelated to a legislator’s official duties.
Congressional leadership argues the responsibility for monitoring the use of the legislative allowance rests with the Legislature. Commission staff, on the other hand, believes monitoring the use and sanctioning the misuse of the allowance falls within the reach of the State Ethics Code.
A detailed list of recommendations for discussion can be found on the Ethics Commission website. Because legislative allowance funds are public funds, the Commission will accept public comments and testimony concerning the use of said funds.
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