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Bill Loosening State Ethics Dies; E Cigarette Regulation Bill Passes Senate After 70 Percent Tax Increase Removed

HAWAII STATE CAPITOL Photo: Emily Metcalf

A bill that would have loosened ethical prohibitions against gift-giving to state officials has died a quiet death in the state House of Representatives.

Another measure restricting and taxing sales of “electronic cigarettes” has been substantially amended but is still alive.

The ethics measure, HB2457, was introduced by Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration.

It would have allowed charities to give state officials, including legislators, invitations of unlimited value to fundraising events, even when the overt purpose of the gifts was to influence decisions of the gift recipients.

The state Ethics Commission spoke pout against the measure, as did groups including the League of Women Votes and Common Cause.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee decided Thursday to shelve the bill.

The e-cigarettes bill, SB2233, was passed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee today after members voted to delete language imposing the 70% tobacco tax on the devices.

The other main portion of the bill, restricting sales of e-cigarettes to minors, remains intact.

Opponents of the taxing idea said the devices, which deliver vaporized nicotine to users, do not contain tobacco, do not emit hazardous or noxious smoke, and actually help customers break smoking habits.

 

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