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”Democrat Majority Opposes Open, Fair Government, Critics Say”

A number of citizens in favor of open government are furious that the majority party leaders in the Hawaii State Legislature have again ignored repeatedly their calls to end the undemocratic chair veto rule for their all-powerful conference committees.

On Feb. 10, rules were issued for these committees, which meet in the final weeks of the 60-day legislative session to negotiate final language on bills. Rather than diluting the power of the chairs, allowing a more fair process, the Democrat majority leaders instead decided to give chairs iron-clad powers to outvote committee members. That means that if even one chair on the conference committee decided to kill the bill, that chair can, even if the bill was voted for unanimously by all 76 legislators and is being supported by all the conference committee members, including other chairs.

This will be the fourth year that Hawaii will conduct its Legislature using rules that violate the principle of one-person, one-vote. One lawmaker opposed to this tradition says the 50th state stands alone with this distinction.

The public has two months before legislative conference committees gear up, which gives residents enough time to mobilize and persuade legislators to vote for a repeal of the chair veto rule.

For more information on the chair veto rule, see http://www.newhawaii.org To discuss this policy with those who implemented it, call the majority leaders in the House and Senate who oppose open, balanced government.

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