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Saturday, April 1, 2023
Green signs seven “Good Government” bills into law
By News Release @ 5:27 AM :: 1433 Views :: Ethics

New Hawaii laws limit campaign contributions, lobbyists gifts

by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, April 4, 2023

(The Center Square) - Hawaii candidates will face new rules in coming elections, including one that caps campaign contributions per person at $100 each election cycle.

Candidates are required to offer a receipt to the contributors according to House Bill 99. It takes effect immediately. 

Lawmakers approved six bills relating to campaign finance and lobbying during this legislative session. 

Another law changes the definition of a fundraiser to include any event held to benefit a candidate or committee, no matter how much the price or suggested contribution is. 

House Bill 93 requires the Campaign Spending Commission to publish anyone not in compliance with filing requirements on its website. 

Other laws target lobbyists. House Bill 142 prohibits lobbyists from offering banned gifts to lawmakers or they could face a fine. That bill took effect Friday when it was signed into law by Green.

A second bill that requires lobbyists to report how much they spent campaigning for legislation takes effect in January 2025. 

The State Ethics Commission will have the freedom to decide if it wants to keep records past the six-year statutory requirement. House Bill 104 was effective after Green's signature and is retroactive. 

The State Campaign Spending Commission, the State Ethics Commission and the State Office of Elections recommended the bills, which House Speaker Scott Saiki introduced.

Green said the bills provide a "transparent and accountable government."

"I said it during my time as lieutenant governor, I said it during my campaign, and I have repeated it many times, including in my State of the State address, because I believe it is a critical part of effective government that delivers for our people," Green said in a statement. "The bills I have signed into law today were crafted by many great and collaborative minds and will allow even more sunshine into the executive and legislative branches of government."

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Office of the Governor Press Release, Mar 31, 2023

HONOLULU, HI  ̶  Governor Josh Green, M.D. today signed seven “Good Government” bills into law, to advance the goals of ethics, lobbying, and campaign spending laws in Hawai‘i.

“The people of Hawaiʻi deserve a transparent and accountable government. I said it during my time as Lt. Governor, I said it during my campaign, and I have repeated it many times, including in my State of the State address, because I believe it is a critical part of effective government that delivers for our people,” said Gov. Green.

“The bills I have signed into law today were crafted by many great and collaborative minds and will allow even more sunshine into the executive and legislative branches of government. They will increase our transparency and accountability to our residents,” he said.

The legislation was proposed by the State Campaign Spending Commission, the State Ethics Commission, and the State Office of Elections; and the bills were introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki by request of the entities. Details are included below.

In addition to Gov. Green, legislative leaders, including Rep. David Tarnas, House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee chair, and Sen. Karl Rhoads, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, addressed reporters and the livestreaming audience. Their remarks can be found here. Photos from the event also are available.

Bill proposers and collaborators also attended the momentous bill signing event today, including retired judge Daniel Foley, who served as Chair of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct; Robert Harris, executive director of the State Ethics Commission; Kristin Izumi-Nitao, executive director of the Campaign Spending Commission, and Janet Mason, member of the League of Women Voters of Hawaiʻi Legislative Committee, among others.

HB90, Relating to committee fundraisers1

Amends the definition of “fundraiser” under Election Laws to include all functions held for the benefit of candidates, candidate committees, and noncandidate committees, regardless of the price or suggested contribution for attending the function.

Furthers public transparency and improves public confidence in campaigns by requiring a notice of intent to hold a fundraiser for which any price is charged or any contribution is suggested for attendance. 

HB93, Relating to organizational reports1

Requires the Campaign Spending Commission to publish on its website the names of candidate and persons who qualify as noncandidate committees who fail to file an organizational report or a corrected organizational report with the Commission.

Improves compliance with filing requirements and brings awareness of noncompliance to the public.  Publishing the names of noncandidate committees who fail to file an organizational report will motivate these committees to do so. 

HB99, Relating to limiting a campaign’s acceptance of cash contributions1

Limits to $100 the total amount of cash a candidate, candidate committee, or noncandidate committee may accept from a single person during each election period.

Imposes limitations similar to those placed on anonymous cash contributions, thereby making violations of campaign finance law easier to detect and prevent. 

HB130, HD1, Relating to validation of ballots2

Shortens the deadline for the validation of ballots following an election.

Aligns the deadline by which voters must cure any deficiency with the return envelope with the deadline for the county election divisions to validate ballots. 

HB137, HD1, Relating to lobbyists3

Beginning 1/1/2025, requires the statement of expenditures filed by lobbyists and other persons who engage in lobbying activities to include certain information on the identity of the legislative or administrative action that was commented on, supported by, or opposed by the person filing the statement during the statement period.

Provides greater transparency on lobbying activities by requiring specific information on the legislative or administrative action lobbied on, instead of a broad subject area.

HB140, Relating to record disposition3

Provides the State Ethics Commission with the discretion to maintain or destroy records of financial disclosure statements beyond the current six-year statutory requirement.  Applies retroactively to applicable disclosures that are in the Commission’s possession and control.

Provides the State Ethics Commission with greater flexibility in determining when to destroy or maintain its records after the mandatory retentions period has lapsed.

HB142, Relating to gifts from lobbyists3

Prohibits lobbyists from making gifts that are prohibited under state ethics law.

Improves standards of conduct by prohibiting lobbyists from making certain gifts to legislators and state employees.  Lessens the number of situations where a legislator or state employee must refuse a prohibited gift.

Campaign Spending Commission
Office of Elections
State Ethics Commission

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