Sunshine Laws (passed by the Legislature) require at least five days of notice before any hearing for any state- or county-level agency to provide the public (and especially stakeholders) with ample notice of a hearing. This is intended to ensure rigorous debate, transparency and oversight to engender trust in government. The very same state legislature that passed these Sunshine Laws, though, exempted themselves from the requirement and instead impose 48-hour notice requirements for all hearings via rule-making. House Rules in particular are very clear about this:
Meetings, including decision-making sessions, of standing committees shall be public. Notice shall be publicly posted or announced on the House floor at least forty-eight hours prior to the meeting.
During floor session today (March 5th, 2015) after 1:00 PM, House Finance Chair stood up and requested a waiver of the 48-hour requirement to hear an agenda of bills with just one hour of notice.
In her verbal request to the Speaker of the House, Luke failed to demonstrate any “good cause” to request the waiver – a clear violation of House Rule 11.1. The slate of bills can be found at the bottom of this post.
Of particular note is HB527, which is at the top of the list of bills to be heard today. HB527 was supposed to receive two public hearings in the House. The dead bill was resurrected quietly with procedural motions and one of its two hearings were waived. To reiterate, the requirement for HB527’s first hearing was waived, and the second hearing was done with only one hour’s notice.
There effectively was no public hearing on this bill.
The last minute motions are just another indication of the sloppy workmanship done by the House Finance Committee. The same committee that is charged with overseeing the judicious spending of our tax dollars took Monday off – a day when these seven bills could have been heard. The same committee mysteriously forgot to account for $60-million in last year’s budget. Six of the bills (indicated with a “$” on the table below) on this agenda have funding requirements that will require your tax dollars.
Quite clearly, Sunshine Laws do not apply to the state legislature. The same rules that they impose on themselves are less like “rules” and more like “loose guidelines”. It is also apparent that “transparency and good governance” are also just empty populist platitudes used to fill the audible void behind the microphone to distract the public from a vacuous House Majority package of bills.
Liberal Democrats have not missed an opportunity to walk in the exact opposite direction of good government – it is no wonder that the public has no trust in elected officials. It was Sylvia Luke of all people who altered a bill that to create civil litigation against the State that would benefit her law firm – and in doing so famously noted that the rules do not apply to her.
This total eclipse of Sunshine Laws at the State Capitol begs any observer to wonder – Is the House Finance Committee working hard or are they hardly working?
|HB527||($) Appropriates funds for salaries and benefits for lifeguards for Kua bay, Kekaha Kai state park, on the island of Hawaii, an area under the jurisdiction of DLNR.||Evans|
|HB749||($) Imposes on wholesalers and dealers a beach clean-up cigarette fee per cigarette sold, used, or possessed. Establishes and allocates moneys generated to the Beach Clean-Up Special Fund for litter removal from beach land.||Brower|
|HB971||To change the membership of the Board of Directors of the Aloha Tower Development Corporation.||Souki, BR|
|HB775 HD1||($) Appropriates funds to the department of business, economic development, and tourism for marketing Hawaii’s higher education institutions to international students. (HB775 HD1)||Kawakami|
|HB1329 HD1||($) Authorizes the issuance of SPRBs to four separate projects of Paradise Ohana, Automotive Training & Education, LLC. (HB1329 HD1)||Souki|
|HB1345 HD1||($) Appropriates funds for the operation, repair, maintenance, and improvement of the East Kauai Water Users’ Cooperative irrigation systems. (HB1345 HD1)||Kawakami|
|HB1453 HD1||($) Appropriates funds for land acquisition, plans, design, and construction of a new well, alternative energy development to power the well, and a post-harvest facility at Moloa‘a on the island of Kauai. (HB1453 HD1)||Kawakami|