HB 2742 is dead

The fight for the people’s right to know notched another victory Tuesday when the chair of the House Judiciary Committee killed HB 2742 (see previous post) by indefinite deferral. 

Here’s the verdict according to two of BIPC’s charter members, including one who serves on the House Judiciary committee. From an e-mail by Hugh Clark:

Clift Tsuji called about 5:30 p.m to say HB 2742 was “deferred indefinitely” by house judiciary chair so no vote was taken. He said he told committee chair he was prepared to vote no as he left for his own Ag Committee hearing. He said he appreciated the input from here and that no Big Island source submitted testimony in favor. League of Women voters here and on Oahu helped, too.

BIPC wishes to thank all who sent in testimony against this bill, and there are too many to name individually. The only voices in favor of such a bill came from the people who probably proposed it, members of the Maui County Council.

Rod Thompson’s testimony, as an individual, was even quoted in a news account by West Hawaii Today (and reprinted in the Tribune-Herald).

BIPC board members sent in their own memo of opposition. This is not the first time we have sent testimony via letter to the House, and it will probably not be the last time, either:

Dear Chair Keith-Agaran,

The Big Island Press Club condemns and opposes House Bill 2742 as an inexcusable effort to weaken the public’s right to know.

We wish to remind your committee about the purpose and need of Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 92, Section 1, commonly known as the Sunshine Law:

(1) It is the intent of this part to protect the people’s right to know;

(2) The provisions requiring open meetings shall be liberally construed; and

(3) The provisions providing for exceptions to the open meeting requirements shall be strictly construed against closed meetings.

There is no justification to exempt the county councils of Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai and Maui from HRS 92-1, as proposed. The people of these counties would be ill-served by the passage of this bill into law. It is a bad bill that would lead to bad policy.