Senator halts bill to ease
state contract restrictions

Cal Kawamoto shelves a vote
after lawmakers protest efforts
to limit bans on contractors

A key state lawmaker has backed down on a proposal that would have watered down efforts to punish contractors who break state campaign spending laws.

Legislature 2004
Star-Bulletin Legislature Database
Star-Bulletin Legislature Guide
(PDF, 2.4 MB)
State Legislature: Bills
& Hawaii Revised Statutes

During a Senate meeting yesterday, Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) agreed to shelve a vote on his bill that would have permitted the state procurement officer to initiate proceedings to ban contractors from state and county contracts only if the contractors were convicted of criminal wrongdoing.

The bill would have altered new administrative rules that allow the state to ban contractors from receiving government work if they are convicted of a criminal charge, provide shoddy work or are fined more than $5,000 for making illegal political donations.

Kawamoto's move yesterday came after several legislators opposed the bill.

"This is a thinly veiled attempt to undo the modicum of brief reform that we enacted," said Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai).

Since 2000, the state Campaign Spending Commission has issued more than $1 million in fines to more than 70 major government contractors for making illegal political donations to local candidates. The contractors have received tens of millions of dollars in nonbid state and county contracts during the past decade.

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she was concerned about the bill's potential impact on campaign spending laws. She said the bill was never referred to her committee before it was sent to the Senate floor yesterday.

Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli) said the bill will be recommitted to Kawamoto's committee and will be referred to her committee before it can go to the full Senate for a vote.

The deadline for passing the bill out of the Senate is Friday.

"I believe that it is unwise for the Legislature ... to allow the most egregious violators of the state's campaign spending laws to be exempt from this process and therefore be allowed to get government contracts," added Sen. Les Ihara (D, Kaimuki).

Kawamoto, chairman of the Senate Transportation, Military Affairs and Government Operations Committee, is a target of a Campaign Spending Commission investigation into alleged improper campaign expenditures.

In the committee report for the bill, Kawamoto and other members of his committee said campaign spending fines do not "rise to the level of a serious deviation from the standards of honesty such as would warrant debarment or suspension from bidding on government contracts."

"The concern is the vagueness, the fairness and the clear definition of what the requirements are," Kawamoto said yesterday.

During a Feb. 4 hearing, members of the General Contractors Association of Hawaii and the local chapter of the American Public Works Association testified in favor of the bill.

The measure was opposed by the Department of Accounting and General Services and state Procurement Officer Aaron Fujioka, who said the bill limits the state's ability to act when faced with poor work quality or any other serious deficiencies on a contractor's part.

"This proposed bill restricts the ability to fulfill our responsibilities," Fujioka said.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --