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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Legislative Playbook: Whack-a-Mole With Bad Bills
By News Release @ 1:37 PM :: 4182 Views :: Hawaii State Government

Legislative Session Playbook

News Release from Senator Laura Thielen, March 23, 2014


Last year I commented on how sometimes the Legislature feels like a Whack-a-Mole game, where you knock down a bad bill, only to find the contents pop up again in another bill.

This year I’m starting to see a pattern to the “pop-ups.”  Once you know the pattern, you can better identify which bills you need to pay attention to.

To keep it simple, imagine the Legislative Session is broken into four quarters, with Conference Committee being “Sudden Death Overtime.”

First Quarter

  • Watch Short Form Bills.  These are used to bring forward a new idea after the bill cutoff.  But they may also be used as an attempt to bypass the referral given to an existing bill, as we saw earlier this year.
  • Watch hearing notices for “Proposed SD1.”  This should be posted when the Chair is proposing a wholesale change in a bill, so people have advance notice (allows a “gut and replace,” but with transparency).  Note it “should be posted,” but sometimes is not (at least that’s what I’ve witnessed with one Committee I sit on).
  • Watch amendments that add new Parts to a bill (formerly bill about “X.”  After amendment, Bill Part I about “X,” Part II about “Y.”

Second Quarter

  • Watch re-referrals where bills with consecutive hearings are changed to concurrent hearings.  This is done because the initial bill didn’t meet the lateral deadline.  Which could be because there wasn’t support for the idea earlier.
  • If this is the second year in Legislative Biennium, watch for hearing notices on holdover bills from the prior year.  This signals either a resurrection of something that didn’t move last year, or an attempt to find a bill with a specific Title, that will be amended.  Take care to note that a holdover House bill sitting in the Senate can be passed by the Senate in the first half of session, and go straight to the Governor for signature.  Pay close attention to holdover bills that are effective upon adoption.
  • Continue watching Short Form Bills, proposed SD1 (or 2 or 3, depending on prior amendments), and amendments adding new Parts to a bill.


  • In second half, Short Form bills are no longer in play, because each Chamber is no longer dealing with their bills.  The Senate Bills will all be in the House, and vice-versa.

Third Quarter

  • Watch for wholesale amendments to the House bills that come over to Senate (and vice-versa).  This usually a sign that the Chair wants to ensure something we passed in the first half of session gets to Conference Committee.  This is usually done by Proposed SDs, gut and replace, new Parts, and resurrection of holdover bills.

Fourth Quarter

  • Continue watching re-referrals, holdover bills, Proposed SDs, gut and replace, new Parts.

I’m sure I missed some points.  If you’ve seen other ways that people have moved legislation, add it to the comment section, below.

I’ll be watching Conference Committee closer this year, to see if I can discern any patterns there.


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