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”Campaign Spending Bills to Curb Questionable Behavior of Politicians Already at Death’s Door”

Key bills that are backed by both the governor and the state Campaign Commission have little or no chance of passing this session because chairs in the House and Senate government affairs committees will not hear the bills.

State Campaign Spending Executive Director Bob Watada says the bills would prevent those bidding on government contracts from making political contributions before and after the job is awarded.

He says this legislation would be key in breaking the clear link between campaign contributions to county mayors, the governor and others in charge of procurement from contractors seeking favor in the bidding process, something for which Mayor Jeremy Harris’ and his administration are currently being investigated.

Sen. Cal Kawamoto, D-Waipahu, has all but killed the bills because they have not received a hearing, which needs to be held in his committee. Kawamoto passed a similar bill out of his committee last year with several amendments including exempting legislators from the contribution ban. The bill passed the full Senate and House, but was vetoed by then Gov. Benjamin Cayetano. This year, rather than back the bill again, Kawamoto is refusing to even hear it. Meanwhile he has introduced legislation to dramatically increase the contribution limit to Senators from $4,000 to $24,000 per election cycle.

In the House, Eric Hamakawa, D-Hilo, also has blocked the campaign spending reform bills from moving forward. Those close to the situation say Hamakawa and other House Democrats are motivated to block many of the governor’s bills because they are trying to render her ineffective for the 2006 gubernatorial campaign and are putting the passage of good legislation at a lower priority than that of politics and power.

”Important Ethics Bills Get Hearing Today”

There are a number of ethics rules that legislators impose on other government officials, but exclude themselves from.

Typically any chance to reform these exclusions dies in the Legislature. However, the House Legislative Management Committee will hear three extremely important ethics bills today at 2:30 p.m. in the state Capitol room 423 that would help dramatically in curbing government corruption. Those are:

*Legislative ethics: HB 1529 (LMG, JUD) sets up legislative ethics committees to deal with legislator conflicts of interest, and requires new disclosures for large business clients, family members, and fundraisers during session. Remarkably, the legislature has not adopted a conflict of interest rule since it exempted itself in 1972 from the state ethics code’s conflict of interest section, as required by the state constitution.
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb1529_.htm
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB1529

*Legislative newsletters: HB 751 (LMG) prohibits legislators from mailing legislative newsletters closer than 60 days before an election in which the legislator is a candidate.
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb751_.htm
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB751

*Legislators conflicts of interest: HB 1609 (LMG, JUD) prohibits legislators from taking any official action directly affecting a business or other undertaking in which the legislator has a substantial financial interest or a private undertaking in which the legislator is an agent and prohibits legislators from acquiring a financial interest in certain undertakings.
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb1609_.htm
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB1609

”Governor Promises to Veto Long-Term Care Tax

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