United front


POSTED: Thursday, February 25, 2010

A vocal group of military veterans and others who opposed restrictions on flying the U.S. flag in planned communities has succeeded in keeping a bill alive that would grant their wishes.

House Bill 2311 advanced out of the House Housing Committee yesterday a week after it appeared dead for the 2010 session.

“;If there's a group of people that's difficult to say no to, it's the veterans,”; said Housing Chairwoman Rida Cabanilla, herself a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. “;We do honor them. We respect their contributions to society.”;

The committee amended the proposal to stipulate that community associations may not bar residents from flying flags or charge fees to allow the practice. Cabanilla (D, Waipahu-Ewa) also seeks to have veterans groups work with community associations to develop clear guidelines for the practice of flying the flag.

The measure still faces a final vote by the full House and approval from the Senate before going to Gov. Linda Lingle for consideration.

;[Preview]  State lawmakers advance flag bill

Lawmakers advanced a bill to prohibit planned community associations from restricting American flag waving.

Watch ]


Several veterans and their supporters—some carrying flags and others dressed in red, white and blue—came to the Legislature to testify in support of HB2311. The Housing Committee also received several dozen submissions of written testimony in favor of the measure, with a fair amount of opposition included.

The amount of testimony was in pointed contrast to a hearing on Feb. 3, when the same measure was heard. Based on the absence of testimony at that hearing, Cabanilla deferred the bill.

Last week, the primary Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Kymberly Pine, unsuccessfully attempted a motion to pull the bill to the floor for a vote by the House.

Veterans groups packed the House gallery that day, loudly applauding supporters of the recall and at times shouting catcalls at opponents.

The vocal show of support prompted Cabanilla to hold the second hearing.

Veterans who showed up yesterday said they did not attend the Feb. 3 hearing because they did not have enough time to adjust their work schedules and prepare testimony.

Pine said she received notice that the bill would be heard just 48 hours in advance, which is standard legislative practice on all bills.

She denied that the show of support from veterans, organized by the GOP caucus, was an attempt to bully majority Democrats into a legislative do-over.

“;I'm only doing what my constituents have asked me to do,”; said Pine (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point). “;I think it's very clear, at least from talking to many of the veterans, that the process here does not encourage them to take part.

“;The process we have of 48 hours (notice) does not encourage democracy. That's what this whole thing became about,”; Pine said.