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Thursday, May 3, 2012
Ethics, Foreclosures, and Workers Comp: House Republicans Speak Out
By Video @ 1:16 AM :: 5945 Views :: Energy, Environment

Rep. Johanson addresses HB 2175 - Task Force Members - State Ethics Commission


Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 46-12 H.B. No. 2175, H.D. 2, S.D. 1, C.D. 1 RELATING TO ETHICS.(Task Force Members; Ethics Code) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING

The purpose of this bill is to allow persons with knowledge and expertise necessary to the State to serve as members of a task force that is convened on a temporary basis by the legislative or executive branch to study an issue, make recommendations, or offer advice on a specific subject, by clarifying that these members are exempt from the requirements, restrictions, and prohibitions of the State's code of ethics, unless they would be considered a state employee for a reason other than their service with the task force.

HD2, the current draft, deletes the contents of HB 2175 HD1 and, in response to the AG's request, replaces them with contents almost identical to the narower HB 2455 HD1. The current draft amends HRS §84-3, definitions in the State Ethics Code.

HI State Ethics Commissioner Leslie Kondo testified that the ethics code involves more than just conflicts of interest. Amending the code's definition of "employee" to exempt task force members will exempt them from ALL ethics code rules, including the gift law. The is a negative result: given the purpose of the ethics code, task force members should not be able to profit from the privilege of serving on a task force. Additionally, the lack of definitions for "task force", "working group", or "other similar entity" could result in any legislative group being exempt from the code. HD2 addresses the latter concern because it adequately defines "task force".

Americans for Democratic Action testified that HB 2175 HD1 is unnecessarily broad in scope: it applies a meat axe where only a scalpel is needed. Exempting task force members from the ethics code means that the members could accept gifts intended to influence their recommendations; disclose confidential information to the public or use it for personal gain; accept a contract with a state agency without going through the bid process, etc. HD2 does not address this concern.

League of Women Voters asked why task force members should be exempted from the conflict of interest law in HRS §84-14 (also part of the Ethics Code). Although HD2 does not amend §84-14 directly, when putting together the bill's amended definition of "employee" and §84-14, it would appear that HD2 still exempts task force members from the ethics code.

Opponents of HB 2175 HD1: State Ethics Commission, Americans for Democratic Action, League of Women Voters, Choon James of Country Talk Story.

Contact: excerpt from Capitol TV:


Rep. Thielen addresses HB 2175 - Task Force Members -State Ethics Commission:

* * * * *


Rep. Marumoto address HB 2099 - Workers' Compensation;


Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 50-12 H.B. No. 2099, H.D. 1, S.D. 1, C.D. 1 RELATING TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION.(Workers' Compensation; Attorney's Fees; Costs) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING

Description: The purpose of this bill is "to improve the efficiency of the workers' compensation system by allowing attorney's fees to be included in costs that may be assessed against a party who brings, prosecutes, or defends a workers' compensation claim without reasonable grounds".

The current (HD1) draft:

  • Amends HRS 386-93(a) to include the phrase "including reasonable attorney's fees".
  • Is effective July 1, 2112 (to promote further discussion).

The original draft, unlike the current draft:

  • Had technical issues, which the HD1 corrects.
  • Had an "upon approval" effective date.

One might be concerned about the impact of this bill, given the fact that ILWU and quite a few worker/plaintiff lawyers support it.

Hawaii Insurers Council, while not opposing bill as a whole, asked for an amendment to allow compensation for "the whole costs of the proceedings and reasonable attorney's fees" instead of for "the whole costs of the proceedings including reasonable attorney's fees". This is because attorney costs do not necessarily include attorney fees.

Opponents: Hawaii Insurers Council (only opposed part of the language with regard to attorney fees or attorney costs.)

Contact: Excerpt from Capitol TV:

Rep. Ching addresses HB 2099 - Workers' Compensation:

* * * * *

Rep. Riviere Addresses HB 1875 - Mortgage Foreclosures


Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 63-12 H.B. No. 1875, H.D. 2, S.D. 2, C.D. 1

RELATING TO FORECLOSURES. (Mortgage Foreclosures; Homeowner Association Liens and Assessments) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii: They oppose HD1 because it would repeal HRS §667-60 which states that any violation of the mortgage foreclosure laws an automatic UDAP violation. This waters down protections for consumers; they prefer the original version.

Hawaii Bankers' Association (HBA): Repeal of HRS §667-60 should be permanent, not temporary; allowing filing of an action to void the foreclosure sale, up to 6 months after the sale is recorded, will chill the real estate market; the provision requiring lenders to hold 2 open houses is unrealistic, as the lender does not have any legal right to take possession of the property and could be liable for trying to do so.

Requesting amendments (1) during non-judicial foreclosure process, we are required to do 2 open houses---please strike this. (2) planned community association. The documents suggested that they have priority over everyone else . We've come up with wording to address this.

Community Associations Institute Legislative Action Committee: Condominium associations perform quasi-governmental services. It would be detrimental to prohibit foreclosure based on nonpayment of association fees; associations need money to maintain their level of services to homeowners. Paying homeowners would need to pay more, to make up for the delinquent homeowners' share.

Contact: Excerpt from Capitol TV:

Rep. Marumoto addresses HB1875 - Mortgage Foreclosures;


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