Back at the beginning of July, my weekly column at CivilBeat.com was about Kauai County’s failure to regulate lobbyists (“Hawaii Monitor: Kauai’s Free Range Lobbyists“).
Thirty-five years ago, Hawaii voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution strengthening the regulation of ethics, and requiring state and county ethics codes to meet certain minimum standards, including the registration and regulation of lobbyists.
But Kauai County apparently never got the message. Kauai still has no system for regulating lobbyists, and county officials seem blissfully unaware they have been ignoring a key constitutional provision for decades.
This week, the Kauai County Council will take the first step towards correcting the decades-long oversight. From the council’s agenda for Wednesday, August 28:
Communication (08/20/2013) from Council Chair Furfaro, transmitting for Council consideration, a Bill for an Ordinance to Amend the Kaua’i County Code 1987, as amended, by Adding a New Article to Chapter 4, relating to the Registration and Regulation of Lobbyists. (See Proposed Draft Bill (No. 2497))
You can find the text of the draft measure using the council’s document system.
The bill will hopefully kickstart a discussion of lobbying and how to best regulate the practice. And, yes, it give me a little glow of accomplishment, however modest.
But the bill, if it were to pass in its original form, would represent a missed opportunity.
The bill is largely a rewrite of the state’s lobbyist law (Chapter 97 HRS).
It will require lobbyists to register with the county and to publicly disclose their spending for the purposes of lobbying. All that is good.
But it incorporates all of the ambiguities, loopholes, and limitations that have become so obvious with the state law that have created so much wiggle room in the current statute.
There are several private discussions of problems in the lobbying law currently underway, and it would be wonderful if Kauai were able to draw on some of the lessons to refine their proposal as the bill moves forward.