Legislative Ethics; Jt. Comm.

Creates a joint committee on legislative ethics.

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           2524
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that there is a need to
 2 ensure that the legislative process remains fair, open, and free
 3 from influence peddling, in order to protect the integrity of the
 4 legislature from potential and actual abuses by lawmakers,
 5 regardless of their intent.
 6      The legislature finds that various private individuals and
 7 entities, including the former trustees of Kamehameha Schools
 8 Bishop Estate, have been alleged to have engaged in influence
 9 peddling in the legislature.  For example, there have been
10 allegations that the former Bishop Estate trustees directed a
11 scheme in which over $49,000 in illegal campaign contributions
12 were paid to a current and former state senator.  While the
13 current senator acknowledged that the attorney general's office
14 informed him that he was a target in connection with former
15 attorney general Margery Bronster's investigation of Bishop
16 Estate, that senator nevertheless failed to recuse himself in
17 voting on Bronster's confirmation for a second term as attorney
18 general, despite an apparent conflict of interest.
19      Although numerous other instances have occurred in which a

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 1 lawmaker has been faced with the decision whether or not to
 2 recuse himself or herself from voting on a matter on the basis of
 3 an actual or apparent conflict of interest, there is little
 4 guidance from state law on this issue.  While section 84-14(d),
 5 Hawaii Revised Statutes ("conflicts of interests") in the state
 6 code of ethics prohibits a legislator from acting "in a
 7 representative capacity for a fee or other compensation to secure
 8 passage of a bill or to obtain a contract, claim, or other
 9 transaction or proposal in which he has participated or will
10 participate as a legislator...", the ethics code does not address
11 the numerous other instances of actual and perceived conflicts of
12 interest that legislators face on a regular basis.
13      As a practical matter, the fact that the Hawaii legislature
14 is not a full-time legislature, but is in session for several
15 months of the year, means that many lawmakers also have full- or
16 part-time employment that they pursue during the interim between
17 legislative sessions.  The nature of their job activities and
18 responsibilities may necessarily require a closer examination of
19 their interests before voting on any matter that may affect their
20 private employers.  However, the absence of procedures and rules
21 in this often "gray" area leaves many lawmakers confused as to
22 their responsibilities and increases public cynicism about the

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 1 underlying reasons for any particular vote.
 2      The purpose of this Act is therefore to create a joint
 3 committee on legislative ethics as an internal joint rulemaking
 4 body charged with the development of policies, procedures, and
 5 rules to address situations involving conflict of interest issues
 6 and related ethical situations involving legislators.  The
 7 legislature finds that this Act will help to restore the public's
 8 faith in the integrity of the legislative process and the
 9 public's confidence in their elected officials.
10      SECTION 2.  The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding
11 a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as
12 follows:
13                             "CHAPTER
15         -1 Definitions.  As used in this chapter, unless the
16 context otherwise requires:
17      "Committee" means the joint committee on legislative ethics
18 established under this chapter.
19      "Member" means a member of the joint committee on
20 legislative ethics.
21         -2 Establishment of the joint committee on legislative
22 ethics; members; terms; vacancies.(a)  There is established

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 1 within the legislature a bipartisan joint committee on
 2 legislative ethics to develop policy, procedures, and rules to
 3 address situations involving conflict of interest issues and
 4 related ethical situations involving legislators.
 5      (b)  The committee shall consist of ten members:  five shall
 6 be representatives appointed by the speaker of the house of
 7 representatives, including at least one member of the minority
 8 party, and five shall be senators appointed by the president of
 9 the senate, including at least one member of the minority party.
10 The appointing authority of each house shall make and announce
11 the appointment or reappointment of members of the committee no
12 later than fifteen days after the convening of the first regular
13 session of each legislature.  The members of the committee shall
14 select one member of the house of representatives and one member
15 of the senate to serve as co-chairs of the committee.
16      (c)  Members shall serve for the duration of the legislature
17 during which they are appointed.  In the event the appointing
18 authority of either house has not appointed or reappointed
19 members of the committee within fifteen days after the convening
20 of the first regular session of the legislature, the incumbent
21 members shall continue serving on the committee until successors
22 are appointed.  When a member of the committee files a

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 1 declaration of candidacy for an elective office other than that
 2 of member of either house of the legislature, and the member has
 3 not resigned from membership on the committee, the member's
 4 committee membership shall terminate on the date of filing.
 5      (d)  When a vacancy occurs in the membership of the
 6 committee, the appointing authority of the house incurring the
 7 vacancy shall fill the vacancy within thirty days.  A legislator
 8 appointed to fill a vacancy shall be a member of the same
 9 political party as the member vacating the seat.
10      (e)  Members of the committee shall serve without pay, but
11 shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses,
12 including travel expenses incurred in carrying out their duties.
13      (f)  The house of representatives and the senate shall
14 provide staff support to the joint committee.
15         -3 Meetings and attendance of quorum.  The members of
16 the committee shall meet at times and places as specified by a
17 call of the co-chairs or a majority of the committee.  The
18 committee shall prescribe rules for its own management and
19 government.  Six members of the committee shall constitute a
20 quorum, and a quorum may exercise all the power and authority
21 conferred on the committee.
22         -4 Duties.  The committee shall:

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 1      (1)  Adopt policies, procedures, and rules with respect to:
 2           (A)  Ways to resolve situations involving legislators
 3                who have a conflict of interest, but who refuse to
 4                recuse themselves from voting;
 5           (B)  Handling ethical situations in which the best
 6                interests of the legislature as an institution
 7                must be balanced against a legislator's right to
 8                vote; and
 9           (C)  Appropriate forms of punishment for legislators
10                who violate ethical norms or standards, including
11                censure or other disciplinary action;
12           provided that the policies, procedures, and rules
13           adopted by the committee shall have no binding effect
14           on any member unless either house adopts such a policy,
15           procedure, or rule on its own initiative;
16      (2)  Meet at times as it may determine to carry out its
17           policy-making duties;
18      (3)  Adopt rules as necessary for the purposes of this
19           chapter; and
20      (4)  Do all things necessary and proper to carry out the
21           purposes of this chapter."

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 1      SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
 3                           INTRODUCED BY:_________________________