HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

716

THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to elections.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the house of representatives adopted House Resolution No. 9 (2022) to establish the commission to improve standards of conduct. The resolution requests the commission ensure state laws and rules relating to standards of conduct of public officers and employees contain clear standards, enforcement, and penalties and provide recommendations to increase awareness of, compliance with, and deterrent effects of the code of ethics, lobbying laws, campaign finance laws, and other relevant laws and rules.

Pursuant to House Resolution No. 9, the commission to improve standards of conduct convened regularly throughout 2022 to diligently review, discuss, and consider the issues presented, submitted an interim report to the house of representatives outlining areas of immediate and long-term focus, then continued its work with input from the public and invited individuals and agencies to issue a final report with various recommendations and accompanying proposed legislation.

The legislature also finds that the strength and stability of our democratic government rely upon the public's trust in government institutions, including the expectation that officers act ethically with prudence, integrity, and sound judgement. Therefore, an essential goal of the commission was to provide recommendations that would help restore public trust in state government and increase the level of transparency in its operations and accountability of individuals.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to implement recommendations of the commission to improve standards of conduct relating to educating the electorate on candidates and ballot questions.

SECTION 2. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to part VIII to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"11-    Voter information guide. (a) The office of elections shall prepare, and post on its website, a voter information guide. A physical copy of the voter information guide shall be made available upon the request by a voter. The office of elections shall provide a translation of the voter information guide on its website in Olelo Hawaii, Chinese, Ilocano, and Tagalog, and any other language as required by federal or state law. The voter information guide shall be posted in a screen reader-accessible format for voters with special needs who are unable to read standard print due to disability.

(b) The voter information guide shall include:

(1) A short statement of no more than one hundred fifty words for each candidate running for public office, to be prepared by the candidate; provided that the office of elections may uniformly limit the number of words for the candidate statement by applicable public office;

(2) The statement and arguments prepared by the attorney general, in consultation with the legislative reference bureau, pursuant to section 11-118.5(b);

(3) A clear and concise statement, prepared by the appropriate county corporation counsel or county attorney, in consultation with the office of county council services, that indicates the purpose, limitations, and effects for each proposed county charter amendment, proposed initiative, and proposed referendum issue; and

(4) Arguments submitted by the public to the appropriate county corporation counsel or county attorney and office of county council services for and against each proposed county charter amendment, proposed initiative, and proposed referendum issue. The office of county council services shall establish a process to solicit arguments from the public, which may include a word limit.

(c) The office of elections shall prepare and mail with each ballot for a primary election or special election a notice to voters that the voter information guide is available on the office of elections website. The notice shall be sent by electronic mail to all voters with special needs who have registered to receive alternate format ballots.

(d) Information made available over the Internet pursuant to this section shall meet or exceed the most current, ratified standards under section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 adopted by the World Wide Consortium for accessibility."

SECTION 3. Section 11-118.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:

"(b) The attorney general, in consultation with the legislative reference bureau, shall prepare [a]:

(1) A statement in English and Hawaiian for each proposed constitutional amendment in language that is clear and that indicates the purpose, limitations, and effects of the proposed amendment[.]; and

(2) Arguments submitted by the public for and against the proposed constitutional amendment. The legislative reference bureau shall establish a process to solicit arguments from the public, which may include a word limit.

The attorney general shall distribute each statement and the arguments to the state office of elections and all county clerks for further distribution. The office of elections and county clerks shall make the statement and arguments available to the public at all polling places in the State and on a website operated by the office of elections."

SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for the preparation of the statement and arguments for the voter information guide.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of the attorney general for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 5. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for the preparation and distribution of voter information guides.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the office of elections for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 6. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for preparation of the statement and arguments for the voter information guide.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the legislative reference bureau for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 7. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for the preparation of the statement and arguments for the voter information guide as follows:

2023-2024 2024-2025

County of Hawaii $           $          

County of Kauai $           $          

County of Maui $           $          

City and county $           $          

of Honolulu

The sums appropriated to each county shall be expended by each county for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 8. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 9. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2023.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________


 


 

 

Report Title:

Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct; Elections; Voter Information Guide; Candidate Statements; Explanations; Appropriations

 

Description:

Requires the office of elections to prepare a voter information guide that includes candidate statements and statements on ballot questions. Appropriates funds to the department of the attorney general, legislative reference bureau, and counties for the preparation of the ballot analyses. Appropriates funds to the office of elections for the preparation and distribution of the voter information guides.

 

 

 

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