While it does not appear to be online yet, the County of Hawaii County Council passed a resolution, No. 98-09, on Monday, April 13th, supporting the passage of House Bill 345, relating to the postponement of a comprehensive public funding program for the County of Hawaii Council Elections.
House Bill 345 essentially delays the pilot project for public funding of Hawaii county council elections to the general election in the year 2014. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jerry Chang, passed the House and crossed over to the Senate. However, it stalled when the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations committee did not schedule it for hearing. As the bill is not currently moving in the Legislature, the pilot project is scheduled to begin in the 2010 elections.
The pilot project, established through Act 244, 2008 Session Laws of Hawaii, allows any candidate for a Hawaii County Council office to apply for public funding, up to $300,000 from the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, provided that the person obtains 200 signatures and a nominal $5 contribution from each signer.
Included in the various WHEREAS statements, the resolution states that the public funding program "may create a frenzy of potential candidates applying for the funds and potential legal challenges relating to who should receive the limited funds." It states that the concept of "equalization funds" has been challenged in Arizona, and that US District Judge Roslyn Silver recently ruled that a key provision of Arizona's public campaign financing system violates constitutional free speech rights.
Also included in the WHEREAS clauses, the resolution points to the expense of the program and that "the Hawaii State Campaign Commission stated that the Hawaii fund would be bankrupt within the first year of a statewide program, and the additional check-off would not generate anywhere near the required funds to maintain a viable program." The council believes that unless adequate funding can be provided, the project should be delayed.
The Council of the County of Hawaii is therefore asking the legislature to postpone the implementation of the public funding pilot program. The Council contends that a "true pilot program will encompass all counties, not just Hawaii County, to determine if such a program could be feasible on a statewide basis and urges the Legislature to further amend Act 244 to include all county elections, notwithstanding elections for mayor and prosecutor."
The resolution was introduced by Council member Greenwell. The vote was 6-3. Ayes: Enriques, Greenwell, Ikeda, Naeole, Onishi, Yoshimoto. Noes: Ford, Hoffmann, Yagong.