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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Legislative Maneuver Sends PLDC to Secret Conference Committee
By Selected News Articles @ 5:14 PM :: 4514 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Land Use

Prolonging the Agony

 

by Sen. Laura Thielen March 19, 2013  

It’s like she can’t help herself.  

The Senate supports a clean repeal of the PLDC.  We passed a repeal bill in the first half of session.  But since our bill title didn’t match the contents, we have to pass the House bill to repeal the PLDC.  

So there we are in committee today listening to the PLDC repeal bill.  We have more testimony in support of this bill than I have seen on any other bill this session.  All we have to do is pass the bill unamended, and we can move the PLDC repeal along to the final step. 

And then Senator Solomon announces she want to amend the bill.  

What? 

An amendment means the bill has to go back to the House, and possibly to conference committee (the graveyard of many a bill).  

Why?, I ask.  

The first reason I’m given is to protect the three people working for the PLDC.  The House bill doesn’t transfer their positions to DLNR, and she wants to do that.  

“No problem,” I say.  All three positions are “Exempt” positions.  That means they have no civil service protections.  I’ll skip the boring technical stuff, but what that means is you can transfer the positions in the budget.  You don’t need to amend the bill.  No one misses a day of work; no one loses anything; we can pass the House bill and move the repeal out right away.  No threat of conference committee, no prolonging the agony, no more uncertainty.  

That’s when the Chair says she thinks the bill may need to go to conference committee.  

What?  

Why? I ask again.  

Some random dialogue ensures, then a minute later she says she wants to amend the bill to “protect the Senate position.”  I have no idea what that means.  

At that point, I made a motion to adopt the House bill as written, which was seconded by one Senator.  The Chair gavels me out of order, and tempters flare further.  Suffice to say, being Irish has its disadvantages.  

Not to prolong readers’ agony, the ultimate result is the Committee did not support overruling the Chair’s recommendation.  We adopted an amendment that replaced the House bill with the contents of the Senate bill repealing the PLDC.  One fellow Senator and I voted yes with reservations.  Reservations about any amendment, but “yes” because this bill is the only PLDC repeal vehicle remaining this session.  

So now the PLDC repeal bill has to go back to the House.  The House can accept the changes, or the bill goes to conference committee, where it awaits an uncertain fate.  If the bill goes to conference committee, the Chair of Water Land will be the Chair of the Senate conference committee.  If we’ve seen this kind of bad behavior when in open session, imagine what will take place behind the conference committee doors.  

Out of all that unprecedented amount of testimony we received, only one single testifier supported keeping the PLDC.  One.  EVERY OTHER TESTIFYER SUPPORTED PASSING THE BILL.  

Either this tomfoolery is a last gasp at trying to retain some leverage in conference committee, or some bewildering attempt to salvage something out of the PLDC despite overwhelming opposition.  

Readers, please voice your opinions.  You have made a big difference this session.  As I’ve repeatedly said, it ain’t over till the job is done.  And today’s tricks have prolonged the job.  

Write in and tell Senators what you think, and (respectfully) ask that the majority get this repeal finished now, without letting this Chair make more trouble in conference committee.  

---30---

 

PR: Procedural drama

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