From the Hawaii Standard:
Joan Conrow posted
some thoughts yesterday on some possible back room politics within the State House of Representatives to bring the OHA settlement bill back to life. Conrow cites an email circulated by Andre Perez. [Full disclosure: Andre is a colleague and friend.]
Apparently, according to Andre’s email, HB1201, a bill carried over from last year, is being used as a shell for a settlement bill drafted by OHA: HB1201 HD1 SD1 CD1 PROPOSED.
The email goes on to say:
Rep. Kirk Caldwell is calling for a conference to discuss HB1201 HD1 SD1 CD1 PROPOSED (OHA's Proposed Version) with the intention of removing OHA's proposed language and inserting HB266 HD2 language (Ceded Land Settlement legislation that was held in Senate Committees). There is a lot of back door maneuvering.
If this is true, it would seem to violate conference rules
The authority of the Conference Committee shall be limited to resolving differences between the Senate and House drafts of a bill ... a Conference Committee shall not amend a bill or resolution by inserting into the bill or resolution any unrelated or new subject matter.
I've left a message on Kirk Caldwell's answering machine to verify this story. I'll post a follow-up if I do get a call back.
Why new conferees?
Also of note is the placement of new legislators on the conference committee. According to the legislature's website, House leadership has replaced Pono Chong and Karen Leinani Awana with Jon Riki Karamatsu and Gene Ward. It's worth asking why the two previous legislators are being replaced at all, regardless of what plans the House leadership has for this bill.
But beyond that, if this bill is indeed going to become a vehicle for any iteration of the settlement legislation, why aren't Ken Ito and Tommy Waters, the chairs of the House committees which originally heard the bill, on this conference committee?
It would be a blow to public faith in the legislative process if Caldwell and others in leadership positions make any move to resuscitate a bill which had such resounding (and unified) opposition, and which obviously represented a lack of consensus in the Hawaiian community.