Maui News

Hawaiʻi House and Senate take steps to rebuild public trust

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The state House and Senate are taking steps to improve standards of conduct and rebuild public trust as a bribery and corruption case brought against two former lawmakers makes its way through the court system.

Former State Senator J. Kalani English and former State Representative Ty Cullen both pleaded guilty to a single count each of honest services wire fraud last week. They are accused of taking bribes and receiving payment for actions involving cesspool legislation.

State House adopts resolution establishing Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct

The state House of Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution 9, Establishing a Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct. HR 9 was introduced by 45 members of the House of Representatives.  

The Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct will include the following seven members:  

  • Judge Daniel R. Foley (Ret.), who will serve as Chair;  
  • Robert D. Harris, Executive Director of the State Ethics Commission;  
  • Kristin E. Izumi-Nitao, Executive Director of the Campaign Spending Commission; 
  • Sandy Ma, Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaiʻi;  
  • Barbara C. Marumoto, Former State Representative; 
  • Janet Mason, League of Women Voters; and 
  • Florence T. Nakakuni, Former US Attorney for the District of Hawaiʻi. 
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The Commission’s mission is to review and assess existing state laws and rules relating to standards of conduct of public officers and employees; ensure that the laws and rules contain clear standards, enforcement, and penalties; and provide recommendations to increase awareness of, compliance with, and deterrent effects.  

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The Commission is requested to submit an interim report of findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, by March 31, 2022. This will enable the 2022 Legislature to adopt proposals. A final report is due by Dec. 1, 2022.  

Senate to hold hearing on measure to ban political fundraisers during legislative session

The Senate Committee on Judiciary posted a hearing notice for a bill that would prohibit legislators from holding fundraisers during legislative sessions.  

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SB 555 was introduced by Senator Les Ihara and the proposed amended bill was drafted by Senator Karl Rhoads, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. 

“The Senate is committed to taking the necessary steps to rebuild the public’s trust. As part of that effort, we need to reevaluate the influence that money has on our political processes,” said Senator Karl Rhoads. “I look forward to engaging with the public on this matter during the upcoming committee hearing next week.” 

The hearing for this bill will take place on Tuesday, Feb, 22 at 9:30 a.m. via Zoom. 

For more information and to submit testimony on the bill, visit the Legislature’s website and search for SB 555.  

To view the hearing notice, paste the following URL in your browser: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/hearingnotices/HEARING_JDC_02-22-22_.HTM. 

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