President's Message: Thoughts on State Council 2006 (Sue Irvine)
Florida League Takes on Frightening Legislation (Mary Anne Raywid)
Why Don't More Good Candidates Run? (Carol Bain)
Violence Prevention Committee to Meet (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Helene Hale's Legacy (David Shapiro)
Legislative Report (Jean Aoki)
League Goals and Objectives (Jackie Parnell)
Fate of Full Public Funding of Campaigns (Kory Payne)
Women's Suffrage (Jean Aoki)
Chapter Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Reports - Kauai
Chapter Reports: Hawaii (Marianna Scheffer)
The Fate of Full Public Funding of Campaigns
Voter Owned Hawaii and its coalition partners entered the 2006 legislative session hopeful of passing a Clean Elections bill that would update and streamline the existing publicly funded elections campaign program. This program was originally approved by voters in 1978 as a constitutional amendment. Despite considerable support from the public, media, and many members of the Senate and House, the majority faction effectively killed any consideration of a bill that would alter the present special-interest-based donor system.
In response, coalition volunteers began a widespread public education effort across the islands to make it loud and clear to Legislators that they wanted the Clean Elections bill to pass. Walking in neighborhoods on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, volunteers distributed literature detailing which special-interests gave donations to their legislators, they gathered petitions, held sign-waving events, and attended community meetings. Signs included "Pass Clean Elections Now!", "Put island interests over mainland money", and "Level the playing field so average people have a voice."
Although these messages were heard, majority House members opposed significant campaign spending reform, and so killed a Clean Elections bill for the seventh year in a row.
There were some grounds for celebration in the end, however, when a wide-ranging grassroots coalition was able to defeat a bill which would have allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts of money to political action committees. Currently, Act 203 limits special-interest contributions to PACs at $1,000 in total. It was only because of a last-minute flurry of emails and phone calls that the coalition was able to stop the undermining of Act 203 by stopping SB 2922.
The staff of Voter Owned Elections extends it Mahalo to everyone who participated in hosting house parties, making phone calls, canvassing, sign-waving, and meeting with legislators.
The momentum the coalition has gathered is now stronger than ever: Resolutions in support of Clean Elections were just passed at the Oahu County and State Democratic Conventions. The Coalition for Clean Elections will be taking part in days of action to get Clean Elections passed at the federal level, where there is passionate debate heating up about the issue of publicly funded election s. Over 120 organizations will be invited to the Grassroots Groups Roundtable to occur at the end of June. And house parties, regional action meetings, canvassing, and sign waving will be coming to a neighborhood near you as VOE launches its summer public education campaign.