October 25, 2001
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
Tel.: 586-8520

GOP: Martial Law Bill is Dangerous, Unconstitutional

Over Republican opposition, Democrats moved to give martial law powers to Governor.

Democrat legislators moved to render the Legislature irrelevant yesterday by passing a “King Ben” bill, which would give the governor martial law powers over Hawaii's citizens. The bill provides the Governor the right to "suspend any regulatory statute, tax statute, or statute relating to the conduct of state business.”

"The legislature, seemingly in a state of panic, is handing control of our state government to one man," said Galen Fox, House Republican Leader. "Granting the governor martial law powers is dangerous, unprecedented, and totally wrong," said Fox.

Rep. Charles Djou said the bill has potential legal problems. "The legislature’s attempt to give away its authority raises constitutional questions, since we are supposed to have three functioning branches," noted Djou. "Every person and business hurt by the passage of the King Ben bill will be headed for court, and that may be the last resort to save democracy in Hawaii."

Djou stated that the bill seems the only meaningful action to come out of the current special legislative session. "Asked to deal with the serious crisis Hawaii faces, the legislature has responded with a total cop out, instead throwing the problem back to the Governor to handle himself," Djou added. And Fox concluded, "the people elected the Governor and 76 legislators to come together to solve Hawaii's problems. It's unacceptable for the legislature to quit on the duties it was elected to perform."