February 18, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Hawaii, The Aloha State

Aloha! Welcome to this week’s episode of statehouse series. Today, as you might be able to guess, we are exploring the statehouse of Hawaii. As the last state to enter the United States, it is appropriate that Hawaii also has […]

Hawaii_state_capitol_from_the_south-eastAloha! Welcome to this week’s episode of statehouse series. Today, as you might be able to guess, we are exploring the statehouse of Hawaii.

As the last state to enter the United States, it is appropriate that Hawaii also has one of the newest statehouses. It was completed in 1969 in the Hawaiian international style, which emphasizes clean lines and neutral colors. This style was influenced by the famous German Bahaus movement, but Hawaii made this style its own with the construction of the statehouse. It includes local koa wood, and the dome is designed to look like a volcano. The number eight is incorporated throughout the building and its architecture to symbolize the eight Hawaiian Islands, usually with the grouping of columns. The statehouse complex also includes a reflecting pool, a metaphor of the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii State Capitol interiorThe old statehouse, Iolani Palace, is now a museum. It was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani and was home to Hawaii’s final monarchs. The palace now holds quilting classes and free concerts every week. The museum is always searching for new artifacts to include for the purpose of restoring the palace to its original state. The Pulama Ia Program allows individuals or organizations to sponsor a partial or complete restoration of an object. These objects usually go into the permanent exhibits, which include historic photos, glassware, and silver. Both the current statehouse and the Iolani Palace convey Hawaii’s rich history.

Thank you for taking the time to journey with us across the country to Hawaii. We hope you enjoyed this episode, and please be sure to return again ready to explore some more!

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January 30, 2015 •

Director of Hawaii State Ethics Commission Testifies Before House Committee

Susan Yoza, Associate Director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, testified in support of House Bill 180 before the House Committee on Judiciary on Friday, January 30. HB 180 clarifies reporting requirements for lobbyists and organizations engaging in lobbying activities […]

Seal of the State of Hawaii.svgSusan Yoza, Associate Director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, testified in support of House Bill 180 before the House Committee on Judiciary on Friday, January 30. HB 180 clarifies reporting requirements for lobbyists and organizations engaging in lobbying activities during a special legislative session.

Last year, Act 224 required lobbyist reporting within 30 days of adjournment sine die of any special session. The Commission believes the legislature did not intend to require filing of reports following such a session if lobbyists and organizations did not lobby on any matters considered during the special session.

HB 180 clarifies the legislative intent and provides for special session reports only for those persons who engage in lobbying activities relating to matters considered during the session. Furthermore, it would prevent duplicative reporting, as those activities reported on a special session report will not need to be reported on any subsequent lobbying reports.

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December 12, 2014 •

Ethics Commission to Review Interpretation of Hawaii Conflict of Interest Provisions

At its December 17 meeting, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission will consider amending its interpretation of certain conflict of interest provisions. Legislators and employees are prohibited from assisting or representing any person or business for compensation on matters in which […]

Seal of the State of Hawaii.svgAt its December 17 meeting, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission will consider amending its interpretation of certain conflict of interest provisions. Legislators and employees are prohibited from assisting or representing any person or business for compensation on matters in which they have participated or will participate in their state capacities, or on matters before their own state agencies. They are also subject to similar post-employment restrictions.

Currently, with regard to sections 84-14(B), (C), and (D) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the Commission interprets the phrase “any person or business” to mean a third party; it does not include the legislator, employee, former legislator, or former employee.

Because the Commission’s current interpretation appears inconsistent with the plain meaning and underlying purpose of the law, however, the Commission’s staff recommends the Commission amend its interpretation. Under the new interpretation, “any person or business” will also include the legislator, employee, former legislator, or former employee.

If revised, the new interpretation will be effective July 1, 2015.

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November 21, 2014 •

Hawaii’s Gubernatorial Inauguration Scheduled for December 1

Hawaii’s Governor-Elect, David Ige, is scheduled to be inaugurated on December 1, 2014. There are several things to keep in mind if you are considering involvement in inaugural events. In Hawaii neither lobbyists nor non-lobbyists are permitted to provide event […]

Office of the GovernorHawaii’s Governor-Elect, David Ige, is scheduled to be inaugurated on December 1, 2014. There are several things to keep in mind if you are considering involvement in inaugural events.

In Hawaii neither lobbyists nor non-lobbyists are permitted to provide event tickets to state legislators or employees.

If you intend to make a contribution to defray inaugural expenses, keep in mind contributions made or accepted for that purpose are subject to ordinary contribution limits. Individuals, partnerships, noncandidate committees, parties, associations, corporations, business entities, organizations, and labor unions may contribute up to $6,000 per election period to a candidate for a four-year statewide office.

For the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, the four-year contribution period ended on election day. Contributions made to a candidate’s committee on or after November 5, 2014, will count towards the 2018 election period limits.

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October 24, 2014 •

Hawaii Senate Adjourns Special Session Sine Die

The Hawaii State Senate convened a special session on Wednesday, October 22, to consider judicial appointments to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit and to the District Court of the Third Circuit. Private attorney Jeffrey Crabtree and Family Court […]

Hawaii State CapitolThe Hawaii State Senate convened a special session on Wednesday, October 22, to consider judicial appointments to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit and to the District Court of the Third Circuit.

Private attorney Jeffrey Crabtree and Family Court Judge Christine Kuriyama were both confirmed for 10-year appointments on the Circuit Court. Margaret Masunaga, a former deputy attorney general and private attorney, was confirmed for a six-year County District Court term.

Following the confirmations the Senate adjourned sine die on Thursday, October 23.

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August 13, 2014 •

Polls to Open Friday for Hawaii Precincts Affected by Iselle

A special election will be held on Friday, August 15, for residents of the rural Puna region. Two voting precincts in the region were closed during Saturday’s primary as Tropical Storm Iselle battered the Big Island. Roughly 8,000 registered voters […]

Seal of the State of Hawaii.svgA special election will be held on Friday, August 15, for residents of the rural Puna region. Two voting precincts in the region were closed during Saturday’s primary as Tropical Storm Iselle battered the Big Island.

Roughly 8,000 registered voters who were unable to cast ballots will likely decide the outcome of the hotly contested Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The race between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa remains too close to call.

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July 25, 2014 •

Hawaii Ethics Commission Changes Interpretation of Financial Disclosure Law

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission voted Wednesday to withhold from the public all financial disclosure statements filed by public officials prior to July 8. The decision came in response to a new law expanding the list of financial disclosure statements […]

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission voted Wednesday to withhold from the public all financial disclosure statements filed by public officials prior to July 8. The decision came in response to a new law expanding the list of financial disclosure statements to be made publicly available.

More than two dozen volunteer board members resigned since the bill’s passing, citing privacy concerns over the release of information regarding income, investments, real estate holdings, and business interests of members, their spouses, and their dependent children.

Les Kondo, executive director of the Ethics Commission, initially interpreted the law as requiring public disclosure of statements already on file. A state deputy attorney general recently found retroactive application of the law to be inappropriate; the financial information of those who resigned will remain confidential and active members’ statements will not be made public until filing again in 2015.

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July 21, 2014 •

Hawaii State Board Members Resign Due to New Financial Disclosure Bill

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is seeking candidates and recently expediting appointments for various state boards and commissions. More than two dozen volunteer members resigned following the enactment of Senate Bill 2682, a bill requiring them to make their financial disclosure […]

HawaiiHawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is seeking candidates and recently expediting appointments for various state boards and commissions. More than two dozen volunteer members resigned following the enactment of Senate Bill 2682, a bill requiring them to make their financial disclosure statements available to the public as well as to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Originally on his list of bills to veto, Abercrombie allowed the financial disclosure bill to become law without his signature.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, the State Land Use Commission, the Agribusiness Development Corporation, the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents are among those having lost members as an unintended consequence of the bill aimed at increasing transparency. Some were forced to cancel meetings because they lacked enough members for a quorum.

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July 9, 2014 •

Hawaii Lobbyists to Report Expenditures within 30 Days of Special Session

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2629 on Monday, July 7, amending Section 97-3 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Effective immediately, registered lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and certain individuals are required to file statements of expenditures with the state ethics commission […]

Seal of the State of Hawaii.svgGov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2629 on Monday, July 7, amending Section 97-3 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Effective immediately, registered lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and certain individuals are required to file statements of expenditures with the state ethics commission within 30 days of adjournment sine die of any special session of the Legislature.

Individuals who are not lobbyists or lobbyist employers must only file if spending $750 or more in any six month period for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action, or a ballot issue, by communicating with public officials or engaging in grassroots activity.

The report must cover the period from May 1 through adjournment sine die of the special session and applies to and includes only those expenditures and contributions relating to legislative action considered during said special session.

The special report is an addition to, but does not take the place of, all other reporting requirements.

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June 26, 2014 •

Hawaii State Ethics Commission Approves Guidelines for Lawmakers

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission, in a 3-2 vote on June 18, approved new guidelines for lawmakers to follow in an effort to regulate the spending of their annual allowance. Each legislator receives almost $12,000 each year to cover incidental […]

Seal of the State of Hawaii.svgThe Hawaii State Ethics Commission, in a 3-2 vote on June 18, approved new guidelines for lawmakers to follow in an effort to regulate the spending of their annual allowance.

Each legislator receives almost $12,000 each year to cover incidental expenses related to legislative duties.

The legislative leadership welcomed the recommendations and will consider revising their current rules, despite failing to acknowledge the commission’s jurisdiction with regard to the matter.

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June 26, 2014 •

Honolulu Ethics Commission Confronts Caldwell Administration

In an ongoing battle for independence, the Honolulu Ethics Commission sent a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell highlighting the latest affront by corporation counsel and asking the administration to demonstrate its commitment to a strong ethics program. The letter mentioned […]

Honolulu HaleIn an ongoing battle for independence, the Honolulu Ethics Commission sent a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell highlighting the latest affront by corporation counsel and asking the administration to demonstrate its commitment to a strong ethics program.

The letter mentioned commission plans to investigate city employees suspected of getting paid for work they did not do. The suspected fraud is estimated to cost the city a quarter of a million dollars per year, and the commission requested authority to purchase a $600 GPS tracking device to use as part of its investigation. Donna Leong, the city’s corporation counsel, took five weeks to conditionally approve the purchase, by which time the investigative window had closed.

The Caldwell administration did not respond or comment on the letter; it will likely be discussed at the June 26 Ethics Commission meeting.

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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 […]

HawaiiAt 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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May 1, 2014 •

Hawaii Senate Bill 2120 Signed into Law

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2120 into law April 25. Immediately effective upon executive approval, the legislation corrects a mistaken reference to a section of the Hawaii Revised Code meant to exempt contributions from a candidate’s immediate family […]

Hawaii

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2120 into law April 25. Immediately effective upon executive approval, the legislation corrects a mistaken reference to a section of the Hawaii Revised Code meant to exempt contributions from a candidate’s immediate family from general statutory contribution limits.

Contributions from immediate family are now limited in the aggregate to $50,000 in any election period, provided the aggregate amount of loans and contributions received from said family does not exceed $50,000 during an election period.

 

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February 10, 2014 •

Hawaii State Ethics Commission Concerned About SB 2423

On February 7, the Senate Committee on Education reviewed testimony from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission regarding its concerns about SB 2423. Introduced in January, the bill authorizes the Department of Education to accept gifts or donations based on criteria […]

Hawaii

On February 7, the Senate Committee on Education reviewed testimony from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission regarding its concerns about SB 2423. Introduced in January, the bill authorizes the Department of Education to accept gifts or donations based on criteria established by the Board of Education. The commission maintains all state agencies and departments should be held to the same standards and codes of conduct; furthermore, it would be unnecessary and imprudent to allow the department to accept gifts contrary to the state ethics code.

SB 2423 also permits schools to participate in charitable fundraising activities in conjunction with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Though perhaps well-intended, the bill is extremely broad and raises numerous concerns in terms of application and oversight.

During its testimony, the commission urged the committee to defer the bill until after the Commission has an opportunity to thoroughly consider the issues involved.

 

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