Archive for July, 2008

Fairness and rule of law got lost in last-minute flurry of election filing

July 29, 2008
I agree with the Star-Bulletin’s July 25 editorial “Eliminate candidates who didn’t file in time.” To preserve the integrity of state election laws and ensure fairness, Hawaii Republicans have challenged the nomination filing of Chrystn Eads to be a candidate for the Manoa seat in the House of Representatives. Eads, in violation of Hawaii’s candidate filing laws, filed her candidate papers for the Manoa House district after the deadline.

This situation came about on Tuesday, the filing deadline, when Rep. Kirk Caldwell unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy for re-election to the state House from his Manoa district so that he could run for the Honolulu City Council. Caldwell’s departure meant the Democrats needed to find a candidate to replace him right away. They settled on Chrystn Eads. In order to become a candidate, she had to obtain candidate papers, get the signatures of 15 registered voters who reside in the district and file those papers by 4:30 p.m Tuesday. She did not complete all of these tasks on time.

Eads got her nomination papers before the deadline. Although she legally pulled her papers, the Office of Elections staff had already locked the door preventing anyone from leaving or entering the office. Somehow, Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz persuaded the office staff members to “err on the side of more candidates” instead of erring on the side of the law. As a result, Eads was allowed to go outside and get the signatures of a handful of people who were there at 4:30 p.m. and the rest who were not there at the 4:30 p.m. deadline.

Hawaii’s state law specifically prohibits the actions that were taken by the elections office. Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 12-6 states that candidates for state office must file their nomination papers “not later than 4:30 p.m. on the

sixtieth calendar day prior to the primary.” According to the official Candidate Manual on the Office of Elections Web site, the deadline to file nomination papers was 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. It also says that “State law prohibits exceptions or extension to the filing deadline.” Yet, somehow, an exception was given to Eads. The procedural practice dealing with the filing deadline allows anyone who arrives and is ready to file at or before the filing deadline should be allowed to file their completed nomination packet. This is the same practice used on Election Day, which allows voters in line prior to poll closure to cast their vote.

The Democrats are defending Eads’ candidacy, stating that she was there before the deadline. However, she was only in line before the deadline to obtain papers. In order to become a candidate, she had to leave the office to get the signatures, and then come back to file the papers. Her return was after the deadline. The same privilege was not extended to potential Democratic candidate Philmund Lee of Manoa. He arrived before Eads, but was told he was unable to leave the room for signatures. Schatz did not stick around to advocate for Lee, though.

This is not fair to all the candidates from all parties who were diligent, followed the law and had their completed papers in time. If this decision is allowed to stand, this would allow the state Office of Elections to rewrite the law.

Republicans who attempted to defend the law were accused of “dragging the elections into the mud” by Schatz. Since when is it “mudslinging” to stand up for fairness and demand that the law be followed?

The Democratic Party chairman is also the state chairman of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Hawaii. Obama was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 because he challenged the filing process of his primary opponent, Alice Palmer. In that election, it was found that Palmer did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the Illinois ballot. Obama was defending Illinois election law. Somehow, I do not think Schatz would accuse Obama of dragging that election into the mud. Democratic Honolulu City Council candidate Duke Bainum also is set to challenge Caldwell’s filing process.

Everyone wants competitive elections, but they need to be done in accordance with the rule of law. Our election laws were created to ensure clean and legitimate elections. There should be no exception, nor should there is any favoritism. This is why Hawaii Republicans filed a challenge to Eads’ candidacy to defend the integrity and fairness of our election laws.

 

Rep. Lynn Finnegan
(R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village), is House minority leader.

House Republicans Support Taro Security and Purity Task Force

July 3, 2008

House Republicans support taro security and purity task force, decision to line-item veto funding because of tight economic times.

 

“While the purpose of the taro security and purity task force is a good one, the decision to line-item veto the funding for the task force because of the challenging budget outlook ahead is also a prudent one,” said House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan. 

 

Senate Bill 2915 establishes the taro security and purity task force within the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  The task force is made up of various representatives from the public and private sector, as well as taro farmers.  Senate Bill 2915 also appropriates $325,000 for the purposes of the task force, and must be matched by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs before release.

 

“We are all aware of how important this issue is to the community by the volume of testimony we received during the session.  Establishing the task force will allow those interested parties who are able to volunteer their time to help us move forward on the issues surrounding taro,” continued Representative Finnegan. 

 

Senate Bill 2915 was line-item vetoed earlier today.  The line-item veto only affects the appropriation portion of the bill.

Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss Governor Linda Lingle’s Vetoes

July 1, 2008
Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss Governor Linda Lingle’s list of 52 bills that she is considering for potential vetoes.
The Governor is required by statute to give the Legislature 10 days notice of any bill she is considering vetoing. This year the deadline to veto bills is July 8. Any bill on the potential veto list can still be signed by the Governor or allowed to become law without her signature. Placing the bills on the potential veto list allows the Governor additional time to deliberate, and provides additional opportunities for the public to voice their support or concern relating to the bills.
Governor Lingle pointed out that a number of bills on the list contain good programs; however, due to the State’s fiscal outlook and the fiscal impacts the programs would have on the State’s budget, she does not believe it would be prudent to implement them at this time. The Governor expressed optimism that the measures could be revisited when the state’s fiscal picture improves.
This year the Legislature passed 294 bills. Twelve bills were vetoed while the Legislature was still in session. For a complete list of bills that have become law this legislative session or to read the Governor’s statements of objections on bills already vetoed, visit the Governor’s Web site at: http://www.hawaii.gov/gov/leg/2008-session.
Public comments on the 52 bills being considered for vetoes on July 8 may be sent to the Governor’s office as follows:
Email: governor.lingle@hawaii.gov or gov.policy@hawaii.gov