Governor Josh Green, M.D., signed 18 “Good Government” bills on Friday, enacting laws governing ethics, lobbying, campaign spending, and other activities that aim to provide greater transparency and accountability.
In April, Governor Green signed seven bills into law that worked to further the goals of creating more transparency in government. Friday’s bill signings further his commitment to rebuilding public trust, according to an update.
“The good government and transparency bills that were passed by the legislature reflect the cumulative efforts of many in our community,” said Governor Green in a news release. “The input of the public, elected leaders, and other stakeholders throughout our state came together to collaborate on these multi-faceted efforts to give the people of Hawaiʻi the kind of government they want and deserve.”
“I firmly believe in holding elected officials to the highest standards of ethical conduct, beginning with the time they are running for office,” Governor Green said. “Campaign spending and disclosure requirements are crucial for a transparent electoral process. Candid, honest disclosure of all candidates’ funding sources for advertising and other campaign activities can help to inform voters and rebuild public trust in the process.”
Senator Les Ihara, majority policy leader (District 10 – Pālolo, St. Louis Heights, Maunalani Heights, Ala Wai mauka, portions of Kaimukī, Kapahulu, Mō‘ili‘ili, McCully), appreciated the sweeping support of fellow lawmakers and the public. “I’ve introduced many political reform bills in the past that have failed, but this year many have caught a huge wave of public sentiment caused by the unfortunate corrupt actions of colleagues,” he said. “I appreciate the hard work of both judiciary committee chairs. Let’s keep build a wave large enough to address the issue of money in politics and core public ethics issues.”
“The bills that Governor Green is signing today demonstrate the legislature’s commitment to strengthening campaign financing laws, reforming election procedures, and improving transparency and accountability within government,” said Representative David Tarnas, chair of the House Committee on Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs (D-8, North and South Kohala). “We appreciate the collaboration of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, State Ethics Commission, Campaign Spending Commission, and community advocates for helping us advance legislation that will improve the way government operates,” he said.
Retired Judge Dan Foley, former chair of the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, said the bills Governor Green signed will make government more transparent and accountable.
“I deeply appreciate the Governor and Legislature’s responses to bills recommended by the commission, to give the people of Hawaiʻi a more open and honest government,” Foley said. “This is the second set of good government bills to be signed by Governor Green and there are more bills to come. Our work is not finished, but we are making significant strides in addressing misconduct in government and elections with the hope of restoring public trust that has been lost in the last few years.”
Among the other bills Governor Green has signed, HB1502 that he said will “right a 10-year-old wrong,” when the state’s Shield Law for journalists was allowed to sunset.
“Originally, the Hawaiʻi Shield Law of 2008 was nationally recognized and was viewed as model legislation that protected a fundamental component of the First Amendment and that is, freedom of the press. It is my pleasure to support our local journalists with the stroke of a pen,” Governor Green said.
- Act 127 (SB51) will increase the amount of fines that may be assessed against noncandidate committees for violations of organizational report and advertisement disclosure requirements. This bill will increase compliance with the reporting laws and help restore public trust in state government.
- Act 128 (SB1493) prohibits lobbyist contributions and expenditures, and promises of contributions or expenditures, to any elected official, candidate, candidate committee, or individual who is required to file an organizational report with the Campaign Spending Comission during legislative sessions. This bill will help reduce undue influence and its appearance.
- Act 129 (SB182) amends the filing deadline, the penalty for the unauthorized release of confidential financial disclosure information, and the fines imposed and procedures relating to disclosures of financial interests. By doing so, this bill will make the enforcement process for financial disclosure penalties more efficient, while also maintaining accountability.
- Act 130 (HB986) enhances the criminal penalties for offenses involving public corruption. This bill establishes the criminal offense of official misconduct as a Class C felony. The new offense will prohibit a public servant from acting or refraining from performing an official duty with the intent to obtain a benefit other than the person’s lawful compensation, or submitting or inviting reliance on any false statement, document, or record. This bill will help build the public’s faith in government and provide law enforcement with a tool to deter and punish public corruption.
Additional bills signed by Governor Green on June 23 included the following:
- SB19 HD1 CD1, Relating to Cast Ballots (Act 113)
- SB141 SD1 HD1 CD1, Relating to Elections (Act 114)
- SB1076 SD2 HD2 CD1, Relating to Elections (Act 115)
- SB1541 HD1, Relating to Voting More Than Once During an Election (Act 116)
- HB1294 HD1 SD1 CD1, Relating to Elections (Act 117)
- SB203 SD1 HD1 CD1, Relating to Complaints Alleging Violations of Campaign Spending Laws (Act 118)
- SB1189 SD1 HD1 CD1, Relating to Campaign Finance (Act 119)
- HB91 HD1 SD1, Relating to Orders of the Campaign Spending Commission (Act 120)
- HB92 SD1, Relating to Violations of Campaign Finance Law (Act 121)
- HB463 SD1 CD1, Relating to Elections (Act 122)
- HB141 HD1 SD1, Relating to Financial Disclosures (Act 123)
- HB983 SD2, Relating to Time Limitations (Act 124)
- HB712 HD1 SD1, Relating to Recordings of Public Meetings (Act 125)
- HB1502 HD1 SD1 CD1, Relating to Evidence (Act 126)