Taxpayer campaign financing fails again
Surviving bills concern election day sign-ups and absentee ballots
A bill to publicly fund political campaigns died for the eighth year in a row, but measures to allow same-day voter registration and voters to automatically receive absentee ballots were advancing in the state Legislature's final days.
Yesterday afternoon, Rep. Tommy Waters and Sen. Clayton Hee, chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, announced that they were unable to agree on the campaign financing measure, which would have used public money to fund political campaigns.
Hee said there were unanswered concerns about how much the campaigns would cost the state.
The decision was criticized by the citizens group Hawaii Clean Elections, which has been lobbying for almost a decade to remove the influence of private money from public campaigning by financing political campaigns only with public funds.
Ira Rohter, spokesman for the Clean Elections group, said the Legislature was not listening to the public.
"For the majority Democrats, their self-interest trumps democracy and legislating for the public good," Rohter said.
The House-Senate conference committee has approved House Bill 1130, which expands the reporting requirements so that political action committees have to file reports electronically, allowing the Campaign Spending Commission to put the reports on the Internet.
Barbara Wong, Campaign Spending Commission executive director, said the changes will make it easier to track the donations that interest groups make to politicians.
House Bill 1133 allows a person to register to vote on election day by showing identification and proof of residency.
The other measure, Senate Bill 156, would let voters request permanent absentee ballot status, which would allow election officials to automatically send them absentee ballots.
Waters said he was attempting to make it easier for voters to participate in elections.
Both the voter mail-in bill and the same-day registration measure were awaiting final approval by conference committees last night. If they win approval, both bills would have to pass both Houses of the Legislature before it adjourns Thursday.