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March 2009

September 2009

President's Message for Spring
Come to the Biennial Convention May 30!
Public Funding of Election Campaigns (Kory Payne)
Bills Relating to Health Care (Joy Marshall & Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Election Day Registration (Jean Aoki)
Housing (Jackie Parnell)
Major Challenges for 2010 Elections (Jean Aoki)
Civil Unions (Jean Aoki)
My Favorite Testimony
Proposed Budget June 1, 2009 - May 31, 2010 (Susan Miller)
Voting Rights, Incarcerated Persons (Jean Aoki)
Withrdawals and Nominations (Jean Aoki)
Corporate Donations (Jean Aoki)
Mahalo to All the Contributors to Our Big Non-Event!
Campaign to Stop Legalized Gambling Successful (Grace Furukawa & Pearl Johnson)
Local Legue Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Local League Reports - Hawaii (Leilani Bronson-Crelly & Susan Dursin)
Local League Reports - Kauai

Corporate Donations

HB 539, HD1 would have allowed corporations to make unlimited contributions to their Political Action Committees (PACs). It would also have preempted an expected court opinion by clarifying the present law which limits the contributions of corporations to their PACs to $1000 per election.

HB 539 was amended and passed by only one committee, Judiciary (JUD). Public resistance in the House killed the bill.

However, the House Finance Committee (FIN), inserted the pertinent language from HB 539 into HB 215, HD1, which originally reorganized and clarified all of the campaign finance laws which, through years of constant amending, had become disorganized. The House JUD had left two important sub sections blank. One had to do with raising the maximum limit on corporate contributions to PACs and the other dealt with a 20% cap on contributions from out of state donors. The intent of the latter was to either raise that cap or to eliminate that cap.

The Finance Committee filled in one space by raising the cap on corporate PAC contributions to $50,000 per two-year election period and on individual contributions to non candidate committees to $2,000. In the other space, it left the 20% cap pretty much unchanged.

But again as in HB 539, HD1, the bill was recommitted to FIN and died

But wait! This cat has more lives. We expect at least one more try at reviving the corporate contribution limit increase. SB 93 was a sensible bill providing a grace period during which campaigns could return to donors any excessive out-of-state contributions, clarifying “electioneering communication” etc. But in the SD1 version, a section was dropped and the 20% cap on out-of-state contributions was left blank. This is the perfect vehicle for amending any section of campaign finance law

Why is banning corporate contributions so important?

Consider a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article by Nicholas Kristoff who concluded that for the sake of faster-growing hogs, we're empowering microbes that endanger our food supply and threaten our lives, referring to MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. People often get this infection in hospitals, but a new strain is emerging on modern hog farms. Research at the University of Minnesota, suggests that 25% - 39% of American hogs carry MRSA. Hogs are fed antibiotics so stay healthy he said. Knowing all this, why are we allowing the use of antibiotics in feed? Says Mr. Kristoff, “The answer is simple - politics. Legislation to ban the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture has always been blocked by agribusiness interests”. He adds that the Agriculture Department has functioned mostly as a protector of agribusiness interest.

Action needed. Let legislators know that you oppose corporate contributions to election campaigns. Let their members make contributions the way we do, from our own pockets.

Jean Aoki

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