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What is Capitol Watch?
Nikki Love is the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to promote citizen participation in the political process and hold government accountable to the public interest. She is active in many community organizations and previously served on the Sierra Club Oahu Group Executive Committee. Nikki was born and raised in Honolulu, and has a bachelor's degree in political science from Stanford University and a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University.
Join us for a special discussion this Wednesday! Democracy Under the Influence is a series of monthly meetups to explore the connection between money, influence, and politics in Hawaii, how it affects us all, and what we can do about it. This month, Democracy Under the Influence is celebrating Earth Day with a discussion on money in politics, special interests, and the environment. Our guest speakers are Robert Harris of Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter and Henry Curtis of Life of the Land. Here are the details....
Great news! HB2174 - transparency for campaign spending - has been scheduled for a hearing. Thank you for contacting the Senate JDL Committee and making it happen! The hearing is this Monday 4/2 at 10AM in State Capitol Room 016. Please submit your testimony in support!
HB2174 HD1 is a big step to improve transparency after Citizens United v. FEC and other court decisions. The bill would create a searchable database of Hawaii campaign data, improve reporting by PACs and SuperPACs, require reporting of late expenditures, and require disclosure of donors for campaign advertisements. This bill provides a critical update to Hawaii's campaign finance laws and helps voters find out who is spending big money to influence our elections.
Help us follow the money in Hawaii's campaigns! HB2174 -- the bill to ensure transparency for campaign spending -- needs a hearing in the Senate JDL Committee.
As we've written earlier, this bill is a big step to improve transparency after Citizens United v. FEC and other court decisions opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in campaigns. The bill would create a searchable database of Hawaii campaign data, improve reporting by noncandidate committees (PACs and SuperPACs), require disclosure of late expenditures, and bolster disclosure for campaign advertisements. This bill is our best chance this year to make significant improvements in disclosure in Hawaii's campaigns. We the voters deserve to know who is spending big money to influence our elections.
This bill successfully made it through the House (thanks to you!) and now it's in the Senate Judiciary & Labor Committee. It needs a hearing ASAP to move forward! Please contact Senate JDL Chair Clayton Hee and ask him to schedule a hearing for HB2174.
It's Sunshine Week! Celebrate open government and public access to information with friends at Common Cause Hawaii, Media Council Hawaii, Kanu Hawaii and League of Women Voters of Hawaii. Check out these two special events -- "Sunshine and the Social Web: Citizen Power through New Media Tools" on Tuesday at 6PM and "Democracy Under the Influence: Sunshine Workshop" on Wednesday at 5:30PM. Read on for details and how to RSVP....
Want to help get money out of politics? HB 2700 HD1 - critical improvements for publicly-funded elections - needs your help right now. It hasn't been scheduled for a hearing in House Finance yet and the deadline is this Friday! Contact Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro and House Speaker Calvin Say TODAY and ask them to keep this bill alive.
About the bill: A pilot program for publicly-funded "clean elections" was successfully launched for Hawaii County Council races in 2010. Since that time, court decisions elsewhere have affected elements of similar programs. Also, redistricting will change the council districts, so the public funding amounts for candidates need to be adjusted. Bottom line: We need to upgrade the program now to keep it working properly. HB2700 replaces the equalizing funds with a 4-to-1 match for small donations, improves the calculation of funding amounts, and makes other improvements to the program.
Please call FIN Chair Rep. Oshiro at 586-6200 and Speaker Say at 586-6100 today.
URGENT! This Tuesday 2/21, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 2742. This bill would exempt all county councils from the Sunshine Law -- our very important law that requires meetings to be open to the public and prohibits members from secret discussions about official business.
If this bill passes, it means that county councils would no longer be required to post meeting notices 6 days in advance to inform citizens. Council members would be able to meet secretly on official business and make major decisions behind closed doors, away from the watchful eyes of the public.
First, a huge MAHALO to the many people who answered our call to submit testimony last week on important good-government measures. Last Thursday the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, passed out two good measures -- HB2174, which increases transparency for independent expenditures in campaigns, and HB2700, which makes improvements to the publicly-funded elections pilot program. (Last week we also wrote about HB2376, regarding transparency in campaigns, and it sounds like some of that bill's elements will be included in the new version of HB2174.)
Next up: We need to make sure some good Senate bills survive past the First Lateral deadline this week. Please contact Senator Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Judiciary & Labor (JDL) Committee, and ask him to hear the following bills:
As you know, as a result of the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, the big issue in 2012 is unlimited corporate spending in campaigns via independent expenditures and Super PACs. Help us follow the money and support publicly funded elections with these important bills Thursday February 2 in House JUD at 2PM in Capitol Room 325.
Transparency for Independent Campaign Expenditures. HB2376 is a big step in improving transparency for money in politics. We know this is going to be a big year for campaign spending, and here in Hawaii, corporations and Super PACs are already registering for 2012. Unfortunately Hawaii's disclosure laws are out of date in the new post-Citizens United v. FEC era, and we deserve to know where all this money is coming from and where it is going. This bill will require more "persons" to report their campaign spending, improve the reporting by noncandidate committees (PACs and SuperPACs), add late expenditure reports to shine light on money spent just before an election, and improve the disclosures at the end of campaign advertisements. Please ask the committee to PASS this bill. Link to HB2376 here.
Welcome back to the Good Governance section of Capitol Watch! 2012 is going to be an exciting year at the legislature and in Hawaii politics.
I recently found a compelling op-ed by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, in which he outlines the problem of closed government processes and money in politics. Here is an excerpt:
"Fighting this pipeline over the last few months has given me new insight into D.C. When the battle is out in the open -- when people are hearing from scientists explaining that heavily tapping the Canadian tar sands would mean it was 'essentially game over' for the climate -- we have a chance to prevail. But when the action disappears behind closed doors in Congress, money rules.