Spring 1992 Home   Newsletters

Winter 1992

February 1993

President's Message (Evelyn Bender)
Health Care Study - Phase 2
Board of Directors Meeting
Members of the Hawaii Firearms Coalition
Report from the National Convention (Evelyn Bender)
LWVHI Extends its Appreciation for Contributions
1992 Legislative Session (Evelyn Bender)
State Council 1992
Historical Perspectives of Home Rule in Hawaii (Frank F. Fasi)
75th Anniversary
Important Dates for 1992-93
Leasehold Questions
League on the Light Side

1992 Legislative Session

The League made several gains in the 1992 legislative session but we also lost on a couple of issues. The Bad News first - we were unable to get any changes in the campaign financing laws and we were again stymied on initiative. The Good News - all the following measures, except for those noted, have been enacted into law. Proposed constitutional amendments do not have to be approved by the governor.

Election Laws -- Several hearings were held to discuss various aspects of Hawaii's election procedures and laws. While we did not attain all of our goals, we did achieve a few. Registered voters, who move from one precinct to another and fail to change their address with election officials, will be able to register at their new precinct on Election Day and vote immediately. Passed by the legislature, but vetoed by the governor, was an omnibus election bill clearing up several procedural matters regarding election districts, filling of ballot vacancies after involuntary withdrawals, precinct officials, and allowing absentee voting in precincts of less than 100 registered voters. The most important feature of this measure was the purging of the voter lists if no voting activity occurred in the previous two consecutive election years rather than after one cycle as now. Since this was not the governor's objection to the bill, we will attempt to get this provision enacted next year.

Ethics -- Legislators and employees now will be required to file a yearly disclosure statement for any gift or gifts, valued singly or in aggregate in excess of $200, from one source. Legislation also passed making a person guilty of perjury for intentionally or knowingly filing a false charge against any state official, state employee, or other person (such as a candidate for office) with the State Ethics Commission.

Firearms Control -- The passage of four bills, in this area was not only a legislative victory for the League, other members of the Firearms Control Coalition, and the people of Hawaii but a great moral victory because we defeated the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA sent large sums of money and people from the mainland to conduct its intensive lobbying efforts. The main, and most important, piece of legislation passed bans future sales and importation of semi-automatic pistols and limits the number of rounds of ammunition in a gun clip. The NRA will probably take this matter to court.

In, an attempt to prevent children from being involved in unintentional shootings, a measure was passed requiring gun owners to store their firearms in a securely locked container so that minors cannot gain access to them. Violation of this criminally negligent storage of a firearm law is a misdemeanor. We had wanted it to be a felony but had to compromise or lose the bill.

We were also successful in extending the waiting period for obtaining a gun permit from 10 to 14 days and getting the penalty for the theft of a firearm increased to a Class B felony. We were not successful in the attempt to require the registration of all firearms. Presently persons only need one permit a year to acquire as many shotguns and rifles as they want. As a result, police have no actual record of how many guns a person owns or any mechanism to trace the ownership of firearms that are stolen or recovered.

Legislative Vacancies -- The third year was the charm. While the legislature passed bills in 1990 and 1991 to require the governor to fill midterm legislative vacancies within 60 days of the vacancy, the governor vetoed it each year. This year the Legislature and the Governor's Office worked out language agreeable to all concerned and it was enacted into law. This action was the direct culmination of the League's position formulated in the 1989 legislative vacancy study.

Reapportionment -- The Legislature passed several bills and proposals for constitutional amendments making changes to the operations of the Reapportionment Commission such as changing the starting date to May 1 and providing for a continuation of the Commission in the event of a successful court challenge of a reapportionment plan. They also delete the requirement that the Commission redistrict on separate "basic island units" and, most importantly, sets up "permanent residents" as the population base for the apportionment of congressional and legislative districts. The proposed constitutional amendments will be on the ballot this fall. The League will be working for their passage.

Reproductive Rights -- The Legislature adopted resolutions urging the President and Congress to support the availability of the antiprogesterone steroid mifepristone, known as RU-486, and other related agents for appropriate research and clinical trials in the United States. The present Federal Drug Administration ban on RU-486, the so-called French abortion bill, for personal use has essentially halted all research in this country on this drug. The drug has shown promising results for the treatment of cancer, Cushing's Syndrome, AIDS, and other diseases.

Education - Pending the outcome of a court challenge, two proposed constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot in the September primary election. The one receiving the most votes will appear on the ballot in the November election for final action.

Both amendments would limit the Board of Education's power to formulating policy, setting goals, and establishing standards for the public school system and call for the governor to appoint the superintendent of education with the advice and consent of the Senate. The difference between the two amendments is that one calls for an elected Board of Education while the second calls for the governor to appoint the Board with the advice and consent of the Senate. The League will oppose both of these amendments because they both call for the -governor to appoint the superintendent of education. We also oppose the governor appointing the Board of Education.

Other Legislative Activities -- We monitored the areas of leasehold and home rule as well as others of interest to the League. All meaningful legislation in Leasehold was held in order not to interfere with the pending court suit brought by Bishop Estate against the City and County of Honolulu. While there were several attempts to interfere with the home rule of the counties, most were defeated. Those that did succeed will be examined more fully by the Home Rule Study Committee. We also continued our efforts to make the legislative more accessible to the public and to keep the public informed.

Lobbyists and legislative observers for the League are urgently needed. Please volunteer.

Evelyn Bender

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