On Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 1:30pm, the State Legislature’s House Committee on Finance is holding a hearing on SB266. Why is this important and why have you not heard about this before?
To make a long story short, back on March 16th, when no one was looking Representative Linda Ichiyama, Chair of the House Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Committee, “inserted the contents of HB1286 into a new Part 2 of SB266.” With no public notice, no public testimony, and no public discussion whatsoever, Representative Ichiyama supported by House Leadership, did an “end around” circumventing the normal legislative process.
The contents of HB1286 removes the ability of individual County’s to establish their own COVID travel rules. HB1286 was recently deferred in the Senate after a triple/joint committee hearing. This normally means it’s “dead” and a pretty strong signal that the Senate wants no part of it.
In summary, HB1286 was killed in the State Senate and resurrected by the House via a back door maneuver in the form of an amendment to SB266.
Unfortunately, House Leadership continues to play fast and loose with the rules, the law, and the intent of the State Constitution.
State Constitution Article II.
Section 14. No law shall be passed except by bill. Each law shall embrace but one subject.
NOTE: HB266 clearly embraces more than one subject. For 2/3 of the process it deals only with COVID appropriations. Then it’s amended to include another subject which relates to COVID travel rules and County authority.
Section 15. No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.
NOTE: HB266 containing its true substantive content has not received its required three readings in the Senate.
The Committee Report issued by the Chair Rep. Ichiyama states clearly, “The purpose of this measure is to appropriate funds for COVID-19 response programs and activities.”
Toward the end of the report it states, “Your Committee further finds…Your Committee believes that having a uniform law regarding mandatory self-quarantine will allow the State to welcome more people, thereby stimulating the economy and improving the quality of life for its citizens…”
How can Rep. Ichiyama claim, “Your Committee further finds…” when there was no testimony, no discussion, and no mention of COVID travel rules whatsoever during the Committee hearing? Watch the video tape please. There is nothing.
The audacity and arrogance of the Chair and House Leadership is appalling.
To their credit, this maneuver is perversely clever. It’s sneaky, and likely unconstitutional, but yes it’s clever and yes it’s subterfuge. By tying HB1286 to SB266 (which is a COVID appropriations measure), the House ensures that if this measures survives the Conference Committee process intact, the Governor will be prevented from vetoing the bill without risking urgently needed COVID-related emergency funding.
State law and rules should represent a floor and not a ceiling. If a County due to its own particular circumstances wants to be more protective and have stricter rules and regulations, they should not be prevented from doing so. AND emergency rules governing a pandemic should not be frozen in law and unable to rapidly adapt to changing conditions.
This move by the State House, represents bad policy, bad politics, and bad process.
Please take a moment to contact your District Representative and let them know your thoughts on this issue. Locate them on the Capitol website using the “Find Your Legislator” function https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/fyl/
Call or email your Representative AND please submit testimony on SB266. Visit https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov , register (it’s easy) and just follow the easy steps to submit testimony. The hearing is scheduled for 03-31-21 at 1:30PM. Ideally testimony is due 24 hours in advance, but late testimony is also acceptable.
Read SB266 and see it’s legislative history here: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=266&year=2021
If you have time, please also contact the Finance Committee Members individually;