Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee To Investigate The State's Efforts To Comply With The Felix Consent Decree

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

State Capitol

Opening Statement

Senator Colleen Hanabusa

For many years now, the State Auditor, on the Legislature's behalf, has been monitoring the expenditure of state funds appropriated to meet the mandates of the Felix Consent Decree. The Auditor's findings are troubling and they form the basis for the subject matter and scope of this Joint Committee. We have arrived at the point where Legislature's questions can only be answered in an investigative setting. The information compiled by the Auditor will guide this investigation and help determine who should be compelled to come before this Joint Committee to testify and what documents must be produced.

The Joint Committee was established pursuant to Chapter 21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, which authorizes the Legislature to compel the production of records and the attendance of witnesses, and take testimony of witnesses under oath. All proceedings of the Joint Committee will be strictly conducted in accordance with Chapter 21, the specifications in Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 65, SD1, HD1, and the committee rules that this Joint Committee will be adopting today.

To ensure that the constitutional rights of those called to produce records or testify, the proceedings will be formal. Subpoenas will be served and witnesses will be given ten days' notice to appear. Unlike other hearings of the legislature, only those subpoenaed by the Joint Committee will testify…members of the public will not be allowed to testify. The questioning will be of witnesses who will be sworn under oath to tell the truth, witnesses will be allowed to bring an attorney, and a court reporter will record the proceedings. The Clerk of the House of Representatives will serve as the official repository of the Committee's records. Representative Saiki and I as Co-Chairs, will preside over the hearings. The proceedings will be open to the public, unless it is necessary to close the hearing to protect the privacy rights of individuals and to meet on matters requiring confidentiality.

Today, the Joint Committee will adopt rules of procedure, authorize the issuance of subpoenas, name the first set of witnesses who will be appearing before the Committee at its next hearing, and discuss the Joint Committee's schedule of meetings and hearings.