Hawaiʻi House Speaker Scott Saiki filed the “Clean Elections” legislation for the full public financing of elections in the state House, Tuesday.
The legislation, titled “Related to public financing for candidates for elected office,” is aimed at helping to level the playing field for working class candidates and people of all backgrounds, to create a more fair elections system and help reduce the influence of private money in elections.
A companion bill to HB2321 was introduced in the Senate by the bill’s author, Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads as SB2381.
Last year the legislation was introduced in part in response to the various corruption scandals in the islands including the convictions of former Senator J. Kalani English and former Representative Ty Cullen. Last year’s legislation died at the end of session conference after failing to receive final approval from the Ways and Means and Finance Chairs.
“We want to extend a mahalo nui to Speaker Saiki for his decision to lead on this critical Clean Elections legislation in the House this year,” said Camron Hurt, Program Manager for Common Cause Hawaiʻi and co-coordinator of the Clean Elections Hawaiʻi Coalition. “Last year, Speaker Saiki showed responsive leadership in response to public outcry about corruption by standing up the House Committee to Improve Standards of Conduct, and passing meaningful reform legislation from it. If he succeeds in building upon that accomplishment by passing transformative legislation for the full public financing of elections, he will cement a legacy as a transformative good government reformer, and help us begin our journey towards a government truly of, by, and for all the people of Hawai‘i.”
Bill backers say the introduction of the legislation this year “reinforces the idea that addressing Maui recovery is not contradictory with addressing other priorities, including government reform, and that in fact, the two can and should go hand in hand.”
“When we look at the path forward for Lahaina after fire recovery, we know that who is in office and making decisions — and who has padded those peoples’ pockets — matters deeply. This legislation will help ensure true representation in office from communities, not beholden to corporations, for when the next fire or disaster hits,” said Jordan Ruidas, Lahaina Strong organizer. “Lahaina Strong proudly supports this urgent effort for Clean Elections, and extends a deep mahalo to Speaker Saiki for joining Senator Rhoads in introducing it this year.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i Circulated its legislative priorities to all legislators today, which were adopted unanimously by the State Central Committee of the Party in a vote on Jan. 13, which listed “Establishing a clean elections program for Hawai’i” as the top priority.
“It’s time to ensure that Hawai’i’s elections are beholden to the public interest, not special interests,” said Kris Coffield, Co-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i Legislative Committee. “Establishing a clean elections program for our state would place our government in the hands of everyday citizens, not wealthy donors who corrupt our campaign system with high-dollar contributions.”