Power Plays at the Capitol

From Kat:
CAPWATCHAloha Justice Advocates!

Sorry to be out of touch. The merger hearings are now over, so I can devote my energy to the legislature. I have been pouring through bills and committee reports and yesterday I was at the floor sessions for Third Reading of bills before cross over to the other chamber. I will be sending out the updated list in a couple of days with info on how the bills have morphed.

Yesterday, the voting for incarcerated folks was up for Third Reading in the House (it was amended to include only non-violent lawbreakers and a few other caveats) and it created quite a firestorm on the floor.  First Rep. Johanson spoke against the bill saying that incarcerated individuals broke the social contract and therefore should be denied the right to vote. Then others spoke out against the bill: Reps. Ichiyama, Takayama (Chair of the Public Safety Committee – quite revealing), Ward, DeCoite and to my surprise and disappointment, LoPresti, who is generally progressive. Reps. Ing (author of the bill) and Rhoads (Chair of Judiciary) gave good speeches in favor of the bill.

It seems the legislature does not want to go near the racism that first disenfranchised a certain group of people. In 2014, former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder said, “In many states, felony disenfranchisement laws are still on the books. And the current scope of these policies is not only too significant to ignore – it is also too unjust to tolerate… And although well over a century has passed since post-Reconstruction states used these measures to strip African Americans of their most fundamental rights, the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable. Throughout America, 2.2 million black citizens – or nearly one in 13 African-American adults – are banned from voting because of these laws. In three states – Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia – that ratio climbs to one in five.”

When it appeared that there would be a contentious debate, a recess was called and then the bill was “recommitted to the Judiciary Committee”. There was no roll call vote (where Reps. individually vote and state their position); only a “voice vote” was taken and now the bill is dead. No fingerprints! Is this democracy????

Next is a story in todayʻs Civil Beat by Ian Lind about some other deals being brokered in the back rooms of the legislature.

Lawmakers Return To The Bad Old Days Of Backroom Deals
A political fight over funding for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has unfairly ensnared the judicial system.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 · By Ian Lind

This is OUR government, the people making policy are elected by the community. The fact that the Republicans in Hawai`i support Donald Trump is a huge wake up call about where we are going. Please register to vote. WE CAN CHANGE THE POWER DYNAMICS AND WE MUST – this is unacceptable!

 

“It is not by the consolidation, or concentration of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected.”

Thomas Jefferson

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