Last Tuesday marked the first major deadline in the Hawaii Legislature for all bills. The “First Crossover Deadline” is the final day that a bill can pass its third reading, and cross chambers. (1) On a personal note, I apologize for the relative silence of the past two or three weeks, as free time that is normally devoted to writing for this blog was spent to track the flurry of hearings and legislation the First Crossover deadline has approached.
It is important to note that the Hawaii State Legislature can be a place of great evil and many dark rituals. Gamesmanship that exploit House and Senate rules allow for measures that were previously dead to be included in the future. In that respect, is important to note that the metaphorical “fat lady” has yet to sing. The following is an update of how legislation that I have flagged fared during the days before First Crossover:
SB2358 escaped the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Military and International Affairs after SB2733 was not advanced by the Senate. SB2358 would have “decriminalized” possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and would instead punish the same offense with a civil fine. Please bear in mind that “decriminalization” is the same as “legalization” and represents just one step on the path to the full legalization of marijuana. (2) The same progressives that sought passage of same-sex marriage are also looking to legalize marijuana in the State of Hawaii, similar to Colorado and Washington (state).
HB2533 has been informally named “Karl Rhoads’ Golden Parachute” because the measure would ensure that an unpopular representative like Karl Rhoads (or Sylvia Luke, who allowed the passage of SB1 during the 2013 special session) would have $30,000 to spend during their next election. Additionally, this bill would allow money collected from taxpayers to fund candidates that they may not agree with.
House liberals were able to withstand intense floor debate that lasted close to an hour during third reading to move this unpopular legislation over to the Senate for consideration. Interestingly, the bill is intended to improve the quality of elected officials to ensure that campaign contributions do not become a barrier for “good” candidates to be competitive in an election. If the bill were truly this altruistic, it would equally apply to all state offices, including the senate seats and the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor.
HB1499 proposes an equally meaningless and confusing constitutional amendment for consideration during the 2014 elections. The Attorney General has made clear in testimony before both the House Judiciary and Finance Committees that the proposed ConAm would confuse voters to believe that it would have a meaningful effect on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision informally titled as “Citizens United”. In short, the SCOTUS decision considers campaign contributions of SuperPACs as a form of “free speech” and consequently cannot be restricted. While Judiciary Char Karl Rhoads considers HB1499 “symbolic”, it is clearly deceptive in its intent and in its callous disregard for testimony from the Attorney General.
In light of the deception of both chambers of the Legislature and the governor, it is inappropriate for both entities to trivialize their ability to list amendments to the state constitution. In 1998, voters were lead to believe that their vote on the 1998 constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage mattered. However, the governor in McDermott v. Abercrombie argued that the 1998 ConAm did not matter, and succeeded in doing so. It is the view of this blog that both the Legislature and the governor, as part of this grand deception, have forfeited all public trust on amendments to the state constitution, and that the only proper venue to consider amendments to the state constitution is a constitutional convention, similar to the one held in 1978.
This measure passed third reading in the House of Representatives and has crossed over to the Senate for consideration. Representative Marcus Oshiro has instead proposed a resolution that would have the same “symbolic” force of HB1499 without the sinister ramifications. HCR142 has yet to be referred to relevant House committees by the House Majority Leader (Scott Saiki).
After much introspection and consultation, I have chosen to flag this bill for consideration. The intent of the bill is to create a “safe haven” of sorts for minors that might be victims of hostile domestic environments. Minors that might otherwise be victims of domestic violence could seek treatment and other forms of recourse at these “safe havens”. As it is currently written, the bill places the minor’s word on equal footing as a parent or guardian. In more extreme scenarios, the “safe havens” could provide shelter for teenage runaways who simply seek escape from the custody of their parents or guardians without any extenuating circumstances such as sexual exploitation or domestic violence.
The bill is silent on what steps a “safe haven” must take to guard parental rights. For these reasons, I have SB2211 for consideration. The bill currently resides with the House Committee on Health for consideration.
(1) Crossover details: A bill must be “read” three times before the full chamber (either Senate or House of Representatives) in order to “crossover”. A bill that passes First Crossover will move from the chamber of its origination to the opposing chamber. House bills will crossover to the Senate, and vice versa. After first crossover, the bill must pass three more readings by the full chamber before it passes Second Crossover. At this point, the details of each measure become much more complicated. This is the subject of a future post.
(2) The same tactic was used to ensure the legalization of same-sex marriage by proponents. When the 1998 Constitutional Amendment failed, many smaller steps were undertaken by proponents to make the ratification of same-sex marriage in 2013 possible. This included the recognition of reciprocal beneficiaries and civil unions. The incremental approach was a public relations tactic used by proponents to gain social acceptance of same-sex relationships that made the passage of same-sex marriage much easier in 2013 than it was in 1998.