Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, April 12, 2004

Dispute over 2 bills spills
into news conference

During a recess of Wednesday's floor session, House Democrats learned their Republican counterparts were having a news conference to protest House Judiciary Committee actions on two Lingle administration constitutional amendment proposals.

Senate Bill 2846, SD1, would toughen laws that prohibit the use of victims' prior sexual histories by their accusers in trial, and Senate Bill 2843, SD1, would make it easier for the state to reopen the Sex Offender Registry Web site. The coalition of Hawaii police chiefs and prosecutors endorse the bills.

The Republicans complained the Judiciary Committee weakened the proposals.

The lawmakers were supposed to be meeting in their respective caucuses at the time of the scheduled news conference.

Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Waimalu-Pearl City) told his fellow Democrats they should take part in the news conference to defend their actions on the two bills.

Rep. Joe Souki (D, Kahakuloa-Kahului) suggested the Democrats counter with their own news conference.

Former news reporter Rep. Glenn Wakai (D, Moanalua Valley-Salt Lake) urged his colleagues to take the opportunity to state their position sooner, citing the unpredictability of news. He said a shark attack, like the one that claimed the life of a Maui resident that morning, for example, could overshadow a news conference held the next day.

Five members of the Democratic leadership promptly crashed the GOP gathering, turning the news conference into a debate.

Republican members of the Judiciary Committee later submitted dissenting committee reports on the two bills.

Star-Bulletin staff

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