There’s still time to submit quick testimony in favor of HB1132, which would move the deadline for filing of legislators’ annual financial disclosures with the State Ethics Commission from the current May 31 to January 31.
The existing May 31 deadline allows legislators to go through the full legislative session without having to update their disclosures, eliminating opportunities for the public to be aware of potential conflicts involving bills or interests before the legislature.
According to the committee report by the House Legislative Management Committee:
The purpose of this measure is to improve openness, transparency, and confidence in state government by requiring each legislator to annually file a disclosure of financial interests statement between January 1 and January 31.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear the bill as part of its 3 p.m. agenda. The agenda also provides a link for submitting brief testimony in support.
HB1132 was introduced by freshman Representative Takashi Ohno, whose district includes Nuuanu, Puunui, Liliha and Alewa Heights.
Financial disclosures provide just one example in which public interest provisions are watered down by deadlines that are less than timely. My cynical take is that the late deadline offered a way for legislators to say they voted for public disclosure, while at the same time deferring to opponents of disclosure by setting the annual deadline well after the end of the legislative session.