League of Women Voters and Common Cause v. State — The Documents
by Tom Yamachika, Tax Foundation Hawaii
This case was brought by the nonprofit organizations League of Women Voters – Hawaii and Common Cause / Hawaii. These two organizations sponsor the Rusty Scalpel Award for legislation that leaves the Legislature in a form drastically different from that in which it started. In 2018, they sued the State of Hawaii, arguing that their 2018 Rusty Scalpel winner was enacted unconstitutionally. S.B. 2858 started as a bill requiring annual recidivism reports by the State Department of Public Safety. At the end of session, S.B. 2858 required the State to consider hurricane shelter space when designing new public schools. The sole connection between the two bills was the bill number and title, “Relating to Public Safety.”
The Foundation is participating because, although S.B. 2858 (2018) does not involve tax, it turns out that three of the six Rusty Scalpel winners were tax bills. The precedent that this case sets undoubtedly will apply to tax bills. In our proposed brief, we bring up the three tax winners as additional examples of the gut-and-replace methodology that the lawsuit is trying to end.
LINK: The Documents
PDF: ORDER Granting Application for Transfer (filed Dec. 18, 2019)
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Hawaii Supreme Court to decide 'gut and replace' case
NEWS RELEASE: from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii applauds the effort to stop this undemocratic practice
HONOLULU, Dec. 19, 2019 >> Keli’i Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, today applauded the news that the Hawaii Supreme Court will weigh in on the controversial legislative practice known as “gut and replace.”
On Dec. 18, the court approved the transfer of "League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause v. Hawaii," which challenges the constitutionality of a legislative process that has been widely criticized as an undemocratic violation of government transparency.
Under the practice, the language of a bill is removed entirely after being passed by multiple legislative committees and replaced with new, entirely unrelated language before final approval by the Legislature. Known as “gut and replace,” it subverts the state Constitution’s requirement that a bill pass three readings in each house before passage.
The Grassroot Institute filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, explaining that the lack of transparency and undemocratic nature of "gut and replace" are eroding public trust in government.
“It’s good to see that the Hawaii Supreme Court is treating this issue with the gravity it deserves,” Akina said. “Every year, we see 'gut and replace' used as a legislative shortcut that frustrates the intent of the state constitution.”
Akina concluded: “The practice of 'gut and replace' not only undermines the democratic process, it erodes the public's faith in the Legislature. 'Gut and replace' goes far beyond ordinary amendments and compromises. It is the definition of non-transparent government, and prevents 'the People' from having their say on pending legislation. I hope the Hawaii Supreme Court will see the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments and send a clear message to the Legislature that 'gut and replace' must come to an end.”
Dec 3, 2019: Former UH regent sues state over ‘gut and replace’ maneuver to push him off board
Aug 5, 2019: Common Cause -- Unfortunately, the lower court did not agree with us. Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Honolulu have appealed the dismissal of our “gut and replace” litigation to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals.
July 30, 2019: $350M Stadium Bill: "Abusive Gut and Replace" Scheme being Challenged in Court