Thursday, April 30, 1998

Legislature '98

House urged to agree
on pay cap for trustees

'If they duck this, there are going
to be dire political consequences'

By Pat Omandam


Critics of the management of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate have warned House lawmakers to agree with the Senate on legislation to set trustee compensation before today's legislative deadline.

"If they duck this, there are going to be dire political consequences from it," says Beadie Kanahele Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Alii Pauahi.

House conferees, however, insist they'd rather study the issue for a year than agree with legislation that may trigger lawsuits by Hawaii's charitable trusts.

House Judiciary Vice Chairman Brian Y. Yamane (D, Diamond Head-Kapahulu) rebuffed persistent efforts by Senate conferees yesterday evening to set trustee pay at the same level as Hawaii's chief justice, which is $94,780 a year. The plan allows trustees to seek additional pay if deemed reasonable by the Probate Court.

Instead, Yamane proposed a conference draft for a six-member task force to review all state laws on the issue and report next year with recommendations. The House has refused to compromise.

But Senate Judiciary Co-Chairman Matt Matsunaga (Kahala-Palolo) believes there's nothing a task force can come up with that lawmakers can't do now. He argued the Probate Court would appoint an independent investigator to determine any pay that exceeds the chief justice's, thereby alleviating concerns about fairness.

Lawmakers have until midnight today to agree on nonfiscal bills so they can be ready for a vote in both chambers.

Local trust-law expert and "Broken Trust" author Randall W. Roth said Yamane's defense of a task force study tells the public that something "terribly inappropriate" is going on behind the scenes.

"The Senate is proposing an approach that is supported by the governor, the attorney general, the Na Pua group, 'Broken Trust' authors and, quite frankly, every other individual I've talked to about this," Roth said.

Conferees near accord
on domestic violence bill

By Craig Gima


House and Senate conferees appear ready to agree to a bill today that would increase legal protections against domestic violence and mandate fines for people who violate temporary restraining orders.

The money from the fines of between $150 to $1,000 would go to the spouse and child abuse special fund to pay for domestic violence programs.

The bill would also:

Bullet Allow victims to keep renewing protective orders indefinitely.

Bullet Allow up to two years probation so those convicted of domestic violence can be monitored.

Bullet Disallow deferred acceptance of guilty or defered acceptance of no contest pleas in domestic violence cases that do not involve divorce.

Bullet Make domestic violence a felony on the third conviction for domestic violence within two years.

Bullet Expand domestic violence laws to include people who have a child in common but are not necessarily living together.

"We think it will make some significant improvements in access to safety," said Nanci Kreidman of the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse. "The system is going in the right direction."

The House and Senate disagree on other provisions.

House Judiciary Chairman Terrance Tom (D, Kaneohe) is opposed to a Senate proposal to allow police to search for guns not in plain sight when responding to domestic violence situations.

"Guns and domestic violence simply do not mix," Sen. Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo) told Tom.

But Tom said the language proposed by the Senate is overly broad and current law already gives police the authority to seize firearms in plain sight and if there is consensual search.

The lieutenant governor
may oversee sunshine laws

By Pat Omandam


House and Senate conferees have agreed the Office of Information Practices would be better off in the lieutenant governor's office, where it would oversee state open-meeting as well as open-records laws.

It currently is housed in the state attorney general's office.

Senate conferees yesterday acquiesced to a House plan to administratively place the government watchdog agency with the lieutenant governor, even though the Senate had wanted it in the state Judiciary.

Senate Consumer Protection Co-Chairman Wayne Metcalf (D, South Hilo-Puna) said the House raised concerns about the separation of government powers if the agency was put in the Judiciary. He said the office, as an administrative function, is best served in the executive branch.

A conference draft of Senate Bill 2983, SD 2, HD 2, will be forwarded to the House and Senate for a final vote next Tuesday. The bill would take effect upon the governor's approval.

The bill -- supported by Common Cause Hawaii, the Honolulu Community-Media Council, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii and others -- also would combine administration of open-meeting and open-records laws in the office.

The office would be required to handle all complaints under the Chapter 92 open-meeting law, known commonly as the sunshine law, and file a report of the complaints and any resolution to the state Legislature 20 days before each regular session.

All sunshine law complaints must be sent to the lieutenant governor, who may forward unresolved ones to the attorney general or prosecuting attorney for enforcement.

Jean Aoki, president of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, has said moving the office would help remove any perception of conflict of interest that may exist in having those complaints go to the attorney general's office.

OIP Director Moya Davenport Gray said in earlier testimony that the bill benefits the public without adding additional costs. She said the office will be able to handle the additional workload.


Legislature '98

A calendar of tomorrow'shearings -- to be held at the state Capitol, 415 S. Beretania St., unless noted:


Bullet None scheduled.


Bullet Economic Development: Hearing on resolution requesting arrangements to host the national Quarterback Awards dinner in Hawaii during the week of the Pro Bowl. Decision-making to follow if time permits, 2:30 p.m., Room 212.


Bullet None scheduled.

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