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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 20, 2010

Flag bill gets new hearing

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Rida Cabanilla

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Responding to public pressure from military veterans, the state House Housing Committee will hold another public hearing next week on a bill that would allow residents of planned communities to erect flagpoles and display the American and state flags.

"There's a lot of passion. And I think there's a lot of people that want to be able to come forward and say their piece," said state Rep. Rida Cabanilla, D-42nd (Waipahu, Honouliuli, 'Ewa), the committee's chairwoman.

Cabanilla, who still favors a task force to study flag displays, said she wants to give veterans another chance to testify for the bill on Wednesday. She deferred the bill earlier this session after no one came before the committee in person to speak and only a few people sent written testimony.

She also said she hopes representatives from community associations will testify.

"You know what? Lessons learned," Cabanilla, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, said of the outrage among some veterans who have accused her of being against flag displays. "And this is a very bitter lesson for me."

The bill has missed an internal deadline. But House leaders said they would consider how to proceed after the new hearing, including whether to waive referral guidelines next month to cross over to the state Senate.

A motion to recall the bill from Cabanilla's committee failed in the House on Thursday, but a video of the floor session suggests that there may have been enough votes for the recall to succeed.

The House rejected a request by Republicans for a roll call vote, so the House clerk counted the votes for the recall from a show of hands. The clerk and her staff counted 14 votes, three shy of the one-third or 17 required for the recall.

But a video taken by state Rep. Kymberly Pine's staff suggests that 17 lawmakers raised their hands. The Advertiser confirmed yesterday that 16 lawmakers believed they voted for the recall, while one said through her staff that she was opposed, even though the video shows her raising her hand just as the clerk is calling the outcome.

Pine, R-43rd ('Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu'uloa), the bill's sponsor, described Cabanilla's decision to hold a new hearing as "an incredible victory for veterans and for democracy."

Pine said she would not rule out another recall attempt or any other procedural tactic to advance the bill this session. "I'm excited to know that we did have enough votes, and saddened that the referee did not see what we saw," she said.

State House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, D-33rd ('Āiea, Hālawa Valley, 'Āiea Heights), said the recall vote is official.

"This isn't football," Oshiro said of video replays of a referee's call on the field. "We don't do videos."