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Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Mayor signs bill limiting gifts to City employees
By News Release @ 1:40 AM :: 447 Views :: Honolulu County, Ethics

Honolulu Ethics Commission’s Long-Awaited Gift Bill Signed into Law

News Release from Honolulu Ethics Commission June 27, 2024

HONOLULU – In a significant move to bolster government accountability and ethics, Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed the city’s revised gift bill into law on Tuesday. The updated law, championed by the Honolulu Ethics Commission, introduces measures aimed at curbing undue influence on public officials through gift giving.

In April 2024, Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia’āina reintroduced the measure as Bill 23 (2024) after a prior version of the bill expired. True to her commitment, Kia’āina ensured the City Council adopted the measure before the fiscal year’s end on June 30, 2024.

David Monk, Chair of the Ethics Commission, said, "This act provides much-needed updates and clarity to the City and County's gift law. Ethics commissioners and staff worked long and hard to make this a reality, but it wouldn't have been possible without the full support of the City Council and Mayor Blangiardi. The Ethics Commission stands ready to offer advice to city officials and staff who have questions about particular situations, and our mandatory training for all will emphasize the tight restrictions on accepting gifts. The public can rest assured that this is an important advance in promoting clean local government."

The new law categorizes lobbyists, grant recipients, contractors, concessionaires, vendors, consultants, and others who receive city funds as a “prohibited source” and automatically prevents city officers and employees from soliciting or receiving gifts from them. Additionally, the annual gift cap for prohibited sources has been reduced from $200 to $50, further limiting the potential for undue influence through gift giving.

The Ethics Commission will deploy specialized training on the new gift law to ensure broad scale compliance by city officers and employees. In the future, the Commission plans to introduce additional ethics reforms on financial disclosure, conflicts of interest, and lobbying laws. These measures are essential for creating a more transparent and accountable city government, as well as building public trust in its integrity.

The full text of Ordinance 24-21 is available at https://hnldoc.ehawaii.gov/hnldoc/documentdownload?id=21726 

- PAU -

Mayor signs bill limiting gifts to City employees

News release from Office of the Mayor, July 1, 2024

HONOLULU – In a ceremony held at Honolulu Hale on Monday, Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed Bill 23 (2024) into law, prohibiting gifts to City officers and employees valued at more than $50. Previously, gifts to City officers and employees worth up to $200 were allowed during a single fiscal year.

“We have said from day one that we want to rebuild trust and confidence in local government,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “Signing this bill is one more step we are taking toward restoring that trust.”

Bill 23’s primary purpose is to prohibit City employees from soliciting, accepting or receiving gifts from lobbyists or any person with a financial relationship with the City. However, the bill also further strengthens and clarifies City gift laws to prevent confusion among City employees and the public at large.

“The City and County of Honolulu shall maintain the integrity of its officers and employees and assure the public that such officers and employees are above reproach and not subject to influence by City vendors, clients, or others,” the bill reads. “They, as agents of public purpose, shall faithfully discharge their duties regardless of personal considerations and with no expectation of gift, gratuity, reward, or other thing of value, unless exempted.”

There are some exceptions to the gift-giving rules, including gifts from family members, flowers to express condolences, lei, or gifts received during diplomatic exchanges between cities, counties, states or countries.

The Honolulu Ethics Commission originally drafted this legislation and, in June of 2024, the Honolulu City Council passed the bill in a unanimous 9-0 vote.

—PAU--- 

HNN: Mayor signs bill further limiting value of gifts city employees can accept 

 

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