YOUR GOVERNMENT — State lobbying laws to be amended

To renew confidence in the legislative process and to ensure public integrity, Senators Gary L. Hooser, D-7th District, and Shan S. Tsutsui, D-4th District, recently announced a review of existing regulation and selective proposed amendments to existing laws governing lobbying in the State of Hawai‘i.

Following the Abramoff-Scalon lobbying scandal, the Senators believe that it is important for the Hawai‘i State Legislature to review the ways in which lobbying is regulated in Hawai‘i. By taking decisive efforts to increase public disclosure by lobbyists in Hawai‘i, the Senators believe the public will be afforded additional information as to the source of lobbying monies and where the monies are spent.

“In light of recent events in Washington, this is a good time to review Hawai‘i’s legislation and increase standards,” said Sen. Hooser. In reviewing Hawai‘i’s record, the Senators found the state to be relatively scandal-free in recent years, but they noted that Hawai‘i ranked only 36 out of 50 in a national survey on state lobby disclosure requirements. To affirm a commitment to greater public disclosure the Senators reviewed the requirements of the Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission and identified areas needing additional improvement. “Requiring public officials and lobbyists to provide greater disclosure is an opportunity for Hawai‘i to be a leader in open government,” said Sen. Tsutsui.

The proposed legislation would require lobbyists to:

• Report gifts or spending on household members of public officials,

• Report direct business associations with public officials,

• Require lobbyists to disclose campaign contributions,

• Require lobbyists to disclose their positions on bills and list the exact bill numbers, they are lobbying for or against on their lobbying reports.

In addition, the proposed legislation would require the oversight agency, the Hawai‘i State Ethics Commission, to perform the following services:

• Provide lobbyists/employers with electronic/on-line registration,

• Provide lobbyists/employers with electronic/on-line spending report filing,

• Publish a list of delinquent filers either on the Web or in a printed document that is made available to the public.

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