STAND. COM. REP. NO. 974
RE: S.B. No. 1543
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirty-Second State Legislature
Regular Session of 2023
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred S.B. No. 1543, S.D. 1, entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC FINANCING FOR CANDIDATES TO ELECTED OFFICE,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to facilitate the public funding of candidate campaigns for elected office.
Specifically, the measure:
(1) Establishes a comprehensive system of public financing for all candidates seeking election to state and county public offices, beginning with the 2024 general election year;
(2) Requires the Campaign Spending Commission to submit to the Legislature two reports to facilitate the implementation of the measure; and
(3) Appropriates moneys into and out of the Hawaii election campaign fund.
Your Committee received written comments in support of this measure from the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, a member of the Hawaii County Council, Common Cause Hawaii, Kauai Women's Caucus, the Friends of Makakilo, Kauhako Ohana Association, Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Chamber Of Sustainable Commerce, Sierra Club of Hawaii, 350Hawaii, Democratic Party of Hawaii Education Caucus, Imua Alliance, League of Women Voters of Hawaii, Pono Hawaii Initiative, Our Revolution Hawaii, Global HOPE, LGF Consulting Hawaii, Hawaii Workers Center, HOPE Services Hawaii, Kihei Community Association, Hui Aloha Aina Women's Patriotic League, Free Access Coalition, Huli PAC, and numerous individuals.
Your Committee received written comments in opposition to this measure from one individual.
Your Committee received written comments on this measure from the Campaign Spending Commission, Our Hawaii, and Clean the Pacific.
Your Committee recognizes that the current campaign finance system is widely perceived to be favorable to wealthy donors who use campaign donations to unduly influence candidates and elected officials. Your Committee finds that a comprehensive system of public financing, as proposed by this measure, may help increase public confidence in the integrity of candidates and public office holders.
Your Committee has amended this measure by:
(1) Postponing the commencement of the comprehensive system of public financing until the 2026 general election year;
(2) For candidates for the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs:
(A) Increasing from fifty to one hundred the number of qualifying contributions;
(B) Increasing from $20,000 to $40,000 the amount of comprehensive public funds distributed to each qualifying candidate for each election cycle;
(C) Changing from $13,400 to an unspecified sum the amount of comprehensive public funds distributed to each qualifying candidate for a primary election; and
(D) Changing from $6,600 to an unspecified sum the amount of comprehensive public funds distributed to each qualifying candidate for a general election;
(3) For candidates for the Office of Prosecuting Attorney of a county with a population of not less than one hundred fifty thousand but not more than 194,999:
(A) Establishing an unspecified number of qualifying contributions; and
(B) Establishing unspecified sums for the comprehensive public funds distributed to each qualifying candidate for each election cycle;
(4) Providing that if a certified candidate is successful in the general election, the certified candidate shall return to the Hawaii election campaign fund all unexpended public funds within thirty days after the general election;
(5) Postponing by two years the submission dates of the Campaign Spending Commission's two reports to the Legislature;
(6) Changing the appropriations to unspecified amounts to facilitate further discussion on the measure; and
(7) Making technical nonsubstantive changes for purposes of clarity, consistency, and style.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Ways and Means that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 1543, S.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Third Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 1543, S.D. 2.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means,
DONOVAN M. DELA CRUZ, Chair