First Quarter Edition 2000 Home   Newsletters

Spring 2001

Summer 2001

State League Convention
Flawed Process (Jean Aoki)
Money and Politics (Nikki Love)
President's Message (Maile Bay)
Judiciary Study Committee Receives Grant (Jean Aoki)
Campaign Finance Reform Legislation (Laure Dillon)
Education Committee Report (Mary Anne Raywid)
Health Care Laws and Domestic Violence
Local League News - Honolulu
Local League News - Kauai
Local League News - Hawaii
Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (Grace Furukawa)
Programs Recommended by the Board of Directors
Studies Planned by Local Leagues for 2001-2002
Report of the Nominating Committee

President's Message

The time for talking is past; it is time to act. We can call our Legislators and demand that they not let this happen once again. League representatives to the Hawaii Clean Elections, a coalition of many public interest groups, Jean Aoki, and Grace Furukawa continue to work diligently pushing for campaign reform in Hawaii, and Leaguer Laure Dillon, as president of Hawaii Clean Elections (HI-CLEAN), leads the effort to establish the voluntary program of public funding of election campaigns and other campaign finance reforms. We all remain alarmed at the common thread regarding the initiatives in this year's session: lack of response by our leaders to reforming Hawaii's election system to bring confidence back to the voters.

Too many people don't vote because they feel that their votes do not count, believing that special interests with money carry the day. With voter participation at a level too low for comfort, (below 50% of eligible voters) and distrust of government ever growing, democracy is in danger. Unless something is done to bring all citizens into the process with equal access to influencing government policies, we can abandon all pretense of being a democracy.

Our legislative leadership could remedy this situation, but continues not to act on measures that can change this picture. On Friday, March 23rd, State Senate leaders could have ensured the health of our political system by hearing and passing two campaign finance reforms. The first measure would have established a pilot program of public funding for the Honolulu City Council's campaign for 2002, when all 9 seats will be vacant. It was heard but blocked by The Senate Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Cal Kawamoto who killed a similar bill last year, and the chairs of two other committees participating in the joint hearing.

The second bill, HB 170, was loaded with some excellent campaign finance items. This bill would have solved a good part of the problem by, among other things:

  • cutting contribution limits in half (the League supports "reasonable limits");
  • prohibiting state and national banks, corporations, and labor organizations from contributing to campaigns; and
  • requiring clear, audible or legible, prominent disclaimers containing specific information about who paid for campaign advertisements.

The League supports most of the bill, except for a few provisions including that allowing unlimited use of contributions from campaign funds for nonprofit community service, educational, youth, recreational, charitable, scientific, literary, or civic organizations. Although these organizations are worthy of support, using campaign funds should be limited to actual campaign expenses. The record shows that almost half of some campaign funds are used for donations, raising serious concerns about the purpose of such donations.

In states such as Arizona, Maine, and Vermont, which have adopted public funding of campaigns, there is more competition and more legislators are elected without ties to special interests. Hurdles remain not just for Hawaii but for other states where the fox watches the hen coop. In 1998, Massachusetts passed a Clean Elections Law, but legislators delayed implementation of the law and are considering delaying it even further. Many legislators were relieved by no longer having to raise funds to run for election but, according to the Massachusetts Voter, they found the prospect of facing new, and possibly first-time-ever, opposition sobering. In this past election, Massachusetts had the second highest rate of uncontested races in the country, at 71 percent.

In Hawaii, fourteen candidates for the Senate and the House were elected in the primary without opponents. Still others had no competition in the primary, facing competition until the general election. We should have a choice of candidates in ALL of our elections; campaign reform will open those doors to let democracy shine in.

We challenged Senate and House leaders to be bold and to pass both bills this session, possibly with some amendments, but the Senate has disappointed us again. Please call your Senator and Representative today to express your support for these efforts so that we can once again restore confidence to our voters. Big Island Mayor Harry Kim won even though he voluntarily limited his campaign contributions to $10 – and he had plenty of competition for the position of mayor.

Maile Bay

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Meade

LWV - Hawaii

Maile Bay - President
(vacant) - Vice President
Grace Furukawa - Secretary
Jacqueline Parnell - Treasurer

Annelle Amaral
Jean Aoki
Carol Bain
Dorothy Bobilin
Laure Dillon
Pearl Johnson
Suzanne Meisenzahl
Mary Anne Raywid
Marian Wilkins

Publication Editors
Suzanne Meisenzahl

First Quarter Edition 2000 Home   Newsletters Summer 2001