MINORITY 'DISAPPOINTED' BY GUT-AND REPLACE RULING
From House Republican Caucus, January 25, 2019
HONOLULU, HI – Representative Gene Ward (R-17, Hawaii Kai to Kalama Valley) expressed his disappointment to the Court's decision to uphold the legislative practice of "gut-and-replace" and wants to assure the public that he and the Minority Caucus will stay in pursuit of a just outcome.
"This decision will ultimately hurt the people of Hawaii. It compromises transparency within the Legislature and gives a green light to this kind of shady dealing. Our citizens deserve to know exactly what a bill intends, and they have a right to be heard before our votes are cast," says Ward.
"It legitimizes a practice born in smoke-filled rooms, out of the public's eye and is an insult to the openness we brag about in the Hawaii State Legislature."
Gut-and-replace is the fraudulent practice of 'gutting' a bill's original content and 'replacing' it with entirely different and unrelated content. This is done at the 11th hour and changes go un-noticed as the bill goes to final voting.
Representative Lauren Matsumoto (R-45) condemns the tactic saying "This reduces government accountability and leaves no room for the voices of the people of Hawaii. We need to build trust with the community, and gut-and-replace does the opposite."
The League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause Hawaii sued the State last month on that very basis. They argued the practice didn't give the public a proper chance to weigh-in on legislation.
Specifically, the lawsuit named Senate Bill 2858 (2018), which became Act 84, that started as a bill regarding annual reports on performance measures but ended up being a mandate to hurricane proof schools. Circuit Court Judge Gary Chang found that the final bill's contents were still germane because of the broad title "Relating to Public Safety".
"It was disappointing to say the least," Ward adds, "but it has increased the resolve of the House Republicans to remain staunchly alert and be the watchdogs who will let the public know when this ugly practice raises its head before we adjourn this May."
Lawyers representing the case plan to appeal.