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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006

Last chance for more 'sunshine' at Capitol


Contact information for individual legislators can be found at www.capitol.hawaii.gov. Or contact the state government operator at 586-2211 or the Public Access Room at the Legislature at 587-0478.

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Hawai'i taxpayers and voters have a last-ditch opportunity today to convince state legislators that government business is the people's business and it should be as open and transparent as possible.

That opportunity comes in letting lawmakers know that we will not accept the argument that simple convenience or past practices trump the public's right to know. That's just wrong.

Today is an important deadline for the 2006 Legislature. If a bill does not come to the full floor of the state House or Senate by today, it is almost assuredly dead for the session.

So if you believe any of the measures fostering more openness in government mentioned below have merit, let your legislative leaders know how you feel. Key players are Senate President Robert Bunda, House Speaker Calvin Say and the two Judiciary chairs, Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Sylvia Luke.

One of the most important bills (and the one least likely to pass), is Senate Bill 1062, which would embed into the law a modest list of "sunshine" principles that would apply to the Legislature itself, rather than allowing lawmakers to operate under rules they adopt yearly. That bill has been held in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Other bills unlikely to move forward without a strong public push include:

  • Senate Bill 1549, which would bring temporary boards, commissions and other groups formed by the government under the open-meeting and records requirements of the Sunshine Law.

  • Senate Bill 2366 and House Bill 2403 and Senate Bill 2365 and House Bill 2402, nearly identical bills designed to empower the Office of Information Practices to file a lawsuit in court when an agency ignores its ruling.

    Today, only an aggrieved citizen can file a lawsuit.

    If you believe government has an obligation to be as open as possible with you, give your legislator a call or send an e-mail saying you want to see action, now. Or risk being left in the dark.