Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, September 14, 2018
End 'gut and replace'
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 1:59 PM :: 1615 Views :: Ethics

End 'gut and replace'

From Grassroot Institute, September 14, 2018

What’s in a title? If you’re a member of the Hawaii Legislature, opportunity.

When you read a bill, you’ll notice that the title is often frustratingly vague. The language of the bill may be long and technical, but the title might be just “Relating to Taxation/Education/Licensing.”

Yes, the bill’s author could have come up with a more descriptive name. But that vagueness can serve a second purpose.

The Hawaii Constitution states that the subject of a bill must be set out in its title. But it doesn’t require that the subject be precise, nor does it limit how much a bill can change throughout the legislative process. On paper, that makes sense — the process is about compromise, after all, and legislators need to be able to make amendments and fine-tune bills as they pass through each chamber.

Except that legislators sometimes take advantage of the process to do something called “gut and replace.” They take a bill with a nice, vague title that has passed through a committee or two (or even one of the two chambers), then submit an amended version that replaces the language of the bill with something completely unrelated.

For example, in 2017, House Bill 375 began life as a measure that would have amended income tax rates. When it got to the Senate, it became a bill about the refundable food/excise tax credit. And then it was gutted again in conference committee, becoming a $1 million appropriation for the Hawaii Tourism Authority to address homelessness. This was the version that was signed by Gov. David Ige. The title of the bill? “Relating to Taxation.”

Government watchdog groups like the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii have criticized “gut and replace” for years. The tactic short-circuits the democratic process, denying the public the chance to testify on the amended bill, and disrespects those who spent the time and energy to testify on the previous versions. But despite widespread disapproval, the practice continues.

Fortunately, there is an effort to stop “gut and replace.” The League of Woman Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have filed suit over Act 84, the most notorious “gut and replace” example from the 2018 legislative session.

Act 84 started out as Senate Bill 2858 (“Relating to Public Safety”). When it was introduced, it sought annual reports about inmate recidivism and rehabilitation. The version of SB 2858 eventually signed into law required new state buildings to be designed with hurricane shelters

The objection to “gut and replace” has nothing to do with how worthy a particular law may be. Rather it’s a concern about the rights of the public and transparency in the legislative process. The new lawsuit claims that the way in which Act 84 was passed violates the state Constitution.

Time will tell whether Hawaii courts are willing to draw a line between reasonable amendments and “gut and replace” tactics, declaring the latter unconstitutional. In the meantime, the Legislature could take action to prevent judicial second-guessing by enacting its own rules to end “gut and replace” and safeguard the democratic process.

Not only would that show that the Legislature respects public input and transparency, it would give the legislative branch a chance to exercise self-restraint.

Who knows? It might even become a habit.

E hana kākou! (Let’s work together!) 

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.


Related: Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Laws Written by 'Gut n Replace' Method


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii