FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2002
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
HOUSE DEMOCRATS TO ANNOUNCE MAJOR POLITICAL REFORM BILLS
House Democrats leading the effort to reform political campaign financing and to plug holes in a system that allows public officials to receive benefits even after criminal convictions have called a news conference tomorrow to discuss their package of proposed legislation, according to Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro, House Majority Leader.
The news conference will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room 423 of the State Capitol and will cover four major areas -- campaign finance reform, vote recounts, criminal actions, and ethics, Oshiro said.
Rep. Brian Schatz, Majority Whip, will discuss a measure, co-authored by Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Blake Oshiro, to reform campaign financing laws by prohibiting corporations from making political contributions.
"This will certainly be controversial and I expect opponents to argue that it infringes on their freedom to express themselves, but we absolutely have to do something about the excessive influence of big money in politics," Schatz said.
A second measure would require an automatic vote recount in any close election. The bill's sponsor, House Vice Speaker Sylvia Luke, said "there must be absolute and immediate public confidence in election results. What happened in Florida during the last presidential election was a national embarrassment and should not be repeated -- in any U.S. election anywhere."
Rep. Blake Oshiro will also introduce a bill that would correct State law allowing public and other government officials to receive their pensions and other benefits even after a criminal conviction. "This really is a no-brainer," said Blake Oshiro. "Any reasonable person can see that if a public official breaches the public trust, they should lose any right to continue benefiting from public funds. This bill addresses that loophole."
The fourth measure, to be introduced by Rep. Willie Espero, would require all public officials to undergo ethics training. "With so many overlapping statutes, rules and governing authorities, public officials are hard-pressed to keep up with the changes," Espero said.
Mandatory ethics training would at least provide every public official with a framework to understand this growing and complex area, he added.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro said he plans to attend the news conference and will encourage other supportive House Democrats to participate.