Flag resolution moving in Senate
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
State senators are moving a resolution that would urge community associations to follow a federal law that allows residents to display American flags, but several military veterans are upset because the resolution does not have the full force of state law.
Those veterans prefer a bill, passed by the state House, that would allow residents of planned communities to erect flagpoles and display the American and state flags. Two veterans were so disappointed with the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee yesterday that they left their military decorations and an American flag on the committee room table in protest.
State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-5th (W. Maui, S. Maui), the committee's chairwoman, said the bill has a "noble objective" but is unnecessary because of the federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act.
The federal law prohibits community associations from preventing residents from displaying American flags. Community associations, however, are allowed to impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place or manner of the displays.
Baker said the bill the protesting veterans want would also allow community associations to impose reasonable restrictions on flag displays, so it would not resolve their complaints that such restrictions are too onerous.
The bill, she said, also may have a constitutional defect since it limits displays to only the American and state flags.
Baker said a resolution is a more appropriate way to urge community associations to comply with the federal law.
Bob Smith, a pastor and Navy veteran who lives in Mākaha, said he could not understand why there appeared to be what he contended is more legal protection for burning an American flag than displaying one.
"It just looks awful funny to me that you folks don't believe that something that they passed should even be heard," he said of the House bill.
Harold Alejandro, an Air Force and Army veteran whose disputes with 'Ewa By Gentry over a flag display prompted the bill, said residents of planned communities should not have to endure fees or restrictions to fly American flags. He said lawmakers should at the very least give flag displays the same state protection as the entitlement to hang clotheslines, which the Legislature approved last year to encourage energy conservation.
State Rep. Kymberly Pine, R-43rd ('Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu'uloa), who sponsored the bill, said afterward she will try to insert the language of the bill into legislation that is still alive.
Baker said she would hold on to the military decorations and the flag in case the veterans want them back.