Sneaky Legislative Tactic of the Day
From Hawaii's Senate Informer, March 20, 2014
They're at it again! They deferred HB 2554 (Requires OHA to hold Kakaako hearings) again in Hawaiian Affairs, when they realized they did not have the correct senators for the desired outcome!
Yesterday, the Health Committee purposefully took the vote on HB 1849 (Cigar Tax) BEFORE other members could show up, which would have killed the bill. Later, the Hawaiian Affairs Committee deferred voting on bill HB 2554 till today, even though they had enough senators for a quorum, because if the vote was taken at that moment, the measure would have died.
This tactic happens often on potentially controversial measures. Committee Chairs will only call senators to come vote if they know the senator will vote YES. If they do not have the votes, they will keep deferring the bill until they get the right mix of senators to pass the bill.
This undermines the legislative process. If you have a 5 person committee, you need 3 people to be present before you can vote. Imagine the senators stand 3 opposed, 2 in favor of a controversial bill. The committee chair can keep deferring the bill until he or she has the 2 in favor, and only 1 opposed, passing the bill out of committee, even though most of the senators oppose it.
Meanwhile, community members who are interested in the outcome of the bill have to take ANOTHER day off of work or make time out of their schedule to come to ANOTHER hearing.