“David A. Pendleton Image”

Last week House Democrats in their speeches and in media reports spoke of change, openness and collaboration. We now know these were only words. In today’s session, the House Democrats, including their freshmen who campaigned on change and openness, had before them their very first opportunity to vote for real change. Instead of embracing it, they reverted to their old ways and demonstrated that their campaign themes were just that: campaign themes, not genuine commitments.

House Republicans moved to amend the House Rules to allow the Minority to select their Minority representatives on House Conference Committees.

Presently the Speaker, who is a member of the Majority, selects the Minority members after “consulting” the Minority but can by the rules disregard Minority wishes.

House Republicans also sought to make the same change to the Interim Committees.

Perhaps most significant was the House Republican attempt to make more fair the bill referral process in the House. Presently the chair of a standing committee, who is always a member of the Majority, “may appeal the referral to the Speaker. …” This appeal then goes to a Review Panel comprised exclusively of Majority party leadership.

House Republicans sought to enable both the Majority and the Minority Leaders to appeal the bill referral to a bi-partisan panel, which would still be controlled by the Majority but would benefit from having Minority members.

The current process, which the Democrat Majority favors, doesn’t pass the “Tutu Test.”

If I told my grandmother that an appeal could only be brought by one party and that the review panel hearing the appeal was comprised solely of members of that one party, she would wonder how we could ever think that was fair. But that’s what we have and that’s why on behalf of the people of Hawaii we tried to change it.

These changes are not radical or outlandish. They are reasonable, fair, and equitable changes to the House Rules which are in keeping with our Opening Day tone of openness, fairness and collaboration. Here, in this party line vote we are being sent a signal by the Majority Democrats contrary to openness. Are Democrats now showing their true colors?

”’Representative David A. Pendleton (R- Kailua/Kaneohe) was first elected in 1996, is an attorney, serves on the House Judiciary Committee and is the Assistant Minority Leader for the Hawaii House of Representatives.”’

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