HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO ETHICS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that strong and consistent enforcement of Hawaii's ethics laws is necessary to maintain the public's trust in government officials. The legislature further finds that the administrative fines that the state ethics commission may impose upon individuals for failing to timely file financial disclosure statements have not been adjusted for inflation in decades. The fine currently imposed upon a state legislator, employee, or constitutional convention delegate for failing to timely file a financial disclosure statement was set in 1997 at $50; an equivalent fine would be over $79 in 2016 dollars. This Act increases the fine to $75 to account for inflation. The fine currently imposed upon a candidate for state elective office for failing to timely file a financial disclosure statement was set in 1995 at $25; an equivalent fine would be approximately $40 in 2016 dollars. This Act increases the fine to $50.
The legislature also finds that, in 2016, pursuant to existing law, the state ethics commission sent nearly one hundred letters by registered mail, return receipt requested, to notify individuals of their failure to timely file financial disclosure statements. The state ethics commission paid more than $1,000 for postage for those letters, at a cost of $14.87 per letter. The legislature further finds that the expense of sending the notification letters by registered mail, return receipt requested, is no longer justified, and that it is sufficient for the state ethics commission to send these notifications to users' state e-mail accounts or by first-class mail.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to provide additional clarity and consistency in the administration and enforcement of Hawaii's ethics laws, and to promote integrity in state government, by:
(1) Increasing fines for failure to timely file financial disclosure statements;
(2) Allowing the state ethics commission to notify, by e‑mail or first-class mail rather than by registered mail with return receipt requested, those individuals who fail to timely file their financial disclosure statements; and
(3) Directing the state ethics commission to publish the names of individuals who fail to file their financial disclosure statements by the statutory deadline.
SECTION 2. Section 84-17, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (i) and (j) to read as follows:
"(i) Failure of a legislator, a delegate
to the constitutional convention, or employee to file a disclosure of financial
interests as required by this section shall be a violation of this chapter.
Any legislator, delegate to a constitutional convention, or employee who fails
to file a disclosure of financial interests when due shall be assessed an
administrative fine of [
$50.] $75. The commission, upon the
expiration of the time allowed for filing, shall release to the public a list
of all persons who have failed to file financial disclosure statements.
The [ state ethics] commission shall notify a person, by [ registered
mail, return receipt requested,] electronic mail to the person's state
e-mail address or first-class mail, of the failure to file, and the
disclosure of financial interests shall be submitted to the commission not
later than 4:30 p.m. on the tenth day after notification of the failure to file
has been mailed to the person. If a disclosure of financial interests has not
been filed within ten days of the due date, an additional administrative fine
of $10 for each day a disclosure remains unfiled shall be added to the
administrative fine. All administrative fines collected under this section
shall be deposited in the State's general fund. Any administrative fine for
late filing shall be in addition to any other action the commission may take
under this chapter for violations of the state ethics code. The commission may
waive any administrative fines assessed under this subsection for good cause
(j) The chief election officer, upon receipt
of the nomination paper of any person seeking a state elective office,
including the office of delegate to the constitutional convention, shall notify
the ethics commission of the name of the candidate for state office and the
date on which the person filed the nomination paper. The [
commission, upon the expiration of the time allowed for filing, shall release
to the public a list of all candidates who have failed to file financial
disclosure statements and shall immediately assess a late filing penalty fee
against those candidates of [ $25] $50, which shall be collected
by the [ state ethics] commission and deposited into the general fund.
The [ ethics] commission may investigate, initiate, or receive charges as
to whether a candidate's financial disclosure statement discloses the financial
interests required to be disclosed. After proceeding in conformance with
section 84-31, the [ ethics] commission may issue a decision as to
whether a candidate has complied with section 84-17(f) and this decision shall
be a matter of public record."
SECTION 3. The state ethics commission, in its discretion, may make any changes that it deems necessary to internal procedures or forms to aid in the implementation of this Act.
SECTION 4. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.
SECTION 5. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.
State Ethics Commission; Financial Disclosure Statements; Fines
Increases fines for failures to timely file financial disclosure statements. Allows the state ethics commission to use e‑mail or first-class mail to notify those individuals who fail to timely file their financial disclosure statements. Directs the commission to publish the names of individuals who fail to file their financial disclosure statements by the statutory deadline. (HB852 HD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.