Senators kill measure on free flying of flag


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Limits on American flag displays in planned communities remain after state senators turned away legislation yesterday that would have let it fly unfettered.

The Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee instead passed a resolution supporting flag-flying but preserving the right of neighborhood associations to decide on the height and location of flagpoles.

Veterans gave their military service ribbons and an American flag to state senators to show them the importance of the issue.

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“;Old Glory represents not just a piece of cloth, but a symbol of the greatest gift ever bestowed to a country: our freedom,”; said Harold Alejandro, a veteran whose Ewa community rules prevented him from hanging an American flag on a staff outside his front door in memory of two airmen killed in Iraq.

Senators were reluctant to pass a new state flag law because federal law already ensures the right of individuals to display the flag on residential property, said committee chairwoman Sen. Roz Baker.

“;This bill is superfluous and unnecessary,”; said Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena). “;You have to abide by the rules, and you need to know what they are, and if those are not suitable, then maybe people shouldn't be part of those communities.”;

Like the federal law, the state legislation would have allowed “;reasonable restrictions”; on the placement and size of flagpoles.

That means a new state law wouldn't have given homeowners any more protection than they already have, Baker said.

The veterans wanted the state to step in because existing law isn't doing the job, testified Bill Littell as he presented a folded American flag.

“;A resolution means very little. We need a law to protect the flag,”; Littell said. “;Respect the right of all Americans to fly the flag anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”;

The measure, which has passed the House, could be revived, said Rep. Kymberly Pine (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point). She wants to insert the language of the original legislation into another bill that has already passed the Senate and is still alive in the House.