Poinography!

August 29, 2010

Public comments for Acts 30 thru 128 are catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:54 pm

If you take a look at the latest version of the document index you’ll find that I made a lot of progress in the past week. I’d estimate I’m now only about halfway through the box of records. Whew.

So, what’s in this batch of records pertaining to legislation that passed the 2009 regular session? Among the more notable subjects: mortgage broker regulation, renewable energy matters, increasing cigarette taxation (to include messages from Grover Norquist reminding the Governor of her anti-tax pledge), increasing conveyance taxation for properties valued over $2M, increasing transient accommodations taxation, a hugely popular bill to protect manta rays, various special purpose revenue bonds, and timeshare regulation. Also of note is that many of the cigarette tax bill opponents were sent hand-signed responses from the Governor [and a waffling response, at that], which made that bill unique among all the other legislation (or at least among all the records I’ve scanned so far).

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[substituting the asterisks with the four-digit document number you want, using leading zeros as needed]. For example, here is the link to view the first page of this latest batch of public comments. REMINDER: all of the contents of this site (to include the uploaded documents) are published under a Creative Commons license. Please, respect the terms of that license.

META: The Senate Clerk has politely declined my request for these records to be hosted at the Capitol.hawaii.gov website. Disappointing. They choose to limit their site to “created by the legislature” documents, rejecting a more-expansive “relating to legislation documents” context. Or so I’m told. I believe that they are afraid these records are somehow “more political” than the testimony already available on their website. In rejecting me, they suggest that I ask the Governor to host these records. As if she’d ever agree to that after fighting with me tooth and nail for over a year…

August 28, 2010

The nonpartisan primary election hurdle

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics,Neighbor Island Politics — Doug @ 8:41 am

According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, a nonpartisan candidate for House District 4 has complained to the Office of Elections about the primary election process and the burdens it places on nonpartisan candidates in order to advance to the general election. It’s an interesting story, especially this:

[In a letter to the Chief Elections Officer the candidate] says that no nonpartisan candidate in Hawaii’s history has ever advanced to public office in a partisan race.

However, that is not the same as arguing that “no nonpartisan candidate in Hawaii’s history has ever advanced to the general election,” which, in my opinion, more accurately describes the crux of the candidate’s complaint. I was unsure if that had ever happened, so I started looking through the general election results from the Office of Elections.

As it turns out, in 2006, at the General Election there was a nonpartisan candidate on the ballot for House District 30. That candidate received only 3.0% of the votes cast, trailing the Republican, the Democrat, and “blank votes.” (But beating the Green Party candidate.) What is more interesting, however, is that in reviewing the 2006 primary election you’ll find that the nonpartisan candidate only got 6(!) votes. According to the law, in failing to get at least 10% of the votes cast at the primary election for that race or, alternatively, failing to get at least as many votes as any partisan candidate in that primary race, that nonpartisan candidate should not have advanced to the general election. Weird. UPDATE: Actually, not so weird. See the comment from Dave Smith.

Those oddities aside, I am sympathetic to the argument that the process is too burdensome for nonpartisan candidates. I’m not so sure what legal argument the complainant intends to make for a claim of the process being unconstitutional, though. The “case notes” in the HRS section cited above don’t bode well for that…

This disparity partially explains the “Free Energy,” “Natural Law,” “Best Party,” and other fringe parties we occasionally seen on the ballot. All it takes to start a political party is a petition, at least for the first time out. After that “free ride” election, such parties face disqualification if they don’t field candidates and get enough votes. But, at least for the first election, candidates of such fringe parties are guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot.

August 16, 2010

UIPA follies

Filed under: General,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:33 pm

A few fun observations I made while working tonight to catalog more records:

Rule 1. If you’re going to redact an email address, then try to use a marker that is truly opaque. Especially true if this redaction is intended to obscure the Governor’s personal email address. Ooops!

Rule 2. If you’re going to redact information from a letterhead and/or a signature block, such redaction is more effective if the same information is not disclosed in another part of the same record.

Rule 3. Printing emails on the back side of other documents to conserve paper within the office is all well and good, but … printing those emails on the back of a random crackpot right-wing conspiracy theory and then making double-sided copies in response to a record request is poor form.

August 15, 2010

Public comments for Acts 1 thru 29 are catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 12:36 pm

I noticed after I was already several hours into working on this batch that I am not following the plan I had made to deal first with all the bills that were approved, then the veto overrides, and then the vetoed measures not overridden. It turns out that I collated the veto overrides along with the approved bills (the records had been bundled by Act number, and I forgot that veto overrides are also numbered (re-)starting at one). It’s really not a big deal, so I am continuing with that organization scheme. Besides, the newly-updated document index still reflects the nature of each record; my document numbering system is purely arbitrary, of course.

So, what’s in this batch of records pertaining to legislation that passed the 2009 regular session? Among the more notable subjects: the so-called “card check” legislation (with, hard to believe, zero public comments received in support?), medical marijuana, naturopathy regulation, and workers compensation. Dig in! Leave a comment if any of this is useful or interesting to you, please.

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[substituting the asterisks with the four-digit document number you want, using leading zeros as needed]. For example, here is the link to view the first page of public comments. REMINDER: all of the contents of this site (to include the uploaded documents) are published under a Creative Commons license. Please, respect the terms of that license.

META: Senator Ihara told me six days ago that the Senate Clerk would contact me regarding hosting these records at the Capitol website. So far, I haven’t heard a peep from her, though. I’ve completed over 1000 records, and there are at least that many more to be catalogued, scanned, and uploaded. I have spare time to only do a few hundred records per week. Have patience, please.

August 13, 2010

Was Bunda resigned before running for LG? Ask the Senate President.

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:33 pm

Okay, it was mildly interesting when Larry Geller first raised the topic. I submitted a few comments on his post and, honestly, I thought it was a non-issue. It became slightly more interesting when a lawsuit was filed. And soon (if not already) it will be in the mainstream media, since it has already appeared in the Star-Advertiser’s blog twice.

The question is, did Senator Bunda resign from the Senate before filing to run for Lieutenant Governor? As reported by Geller, Senator Bunda submitted a letter July 14th where he described his “intent” to resign. According to DePledge’s blog, Bunda has vacated his office, initiated his retirement, turned in his keys, etc. The lawsuit, however, argues that without an (unspecified) explicit act of resignation , Bunda is not resigned and, thus, he is ineligible to run for LG. Implicitly, then, the argument is that Bunda is still a member of the Senate.

Allow me to gently point out that the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government. This matters greatly here.

In the Caldwell fiasco, the Office of Elections was answering a question of whether Caldwell had properly withdrawn as a candidate for re-election to the House before filing as a candidate for election to the Honolulu City Council, the Office of Elections was not addressing a question regarding resignation from elected office. The Office of Elections has no authority to decide if a candidate is in fact resigned from office. If the candidate affirms that he or she is eligible to be a candidate, then the Office of Elections has no statutory means to dispute the affirmation.

Likewise, the Judiciary is not (nor should it be) empowered to resolve what is essentially a question of Senate resignation policy, i.e. a “rule of [Senate] proceedings.” Not to put too fine a tip on it, but the Senate runs its own shop and the Judiciary does not have to like it.

Therefore, the President of the Senate (not a judge, and not the Chief Elections Officer) should rule whether any Senate rule was violated, and/or if Bunda’s resignation was in effect on July 16. So far as I can tell, the Senate rules do not proscribe any official resignation procedure, leaving the Senate President with wide latitude to rule on the matter. Whatever is decided by the President, if the Senate then wished to challenge that ruling, regular parliamentary procedure would allow for a majority vote.

August 8, 2010

Privilege logs for vetoed and overridden veto measures are catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 3:40 pm

That is it for the more banal of the records I received. Next up: the actual comments about legislation that passed the 2009 legislature which were received and sent by the Governor’s office! For lack of any better strategy, I reckon I’ll attack those in numerical order by Act; regular session measures first, then special session.

I followed the same routine for this batch of privilege logs: to assist in your browsing, the document index has been updated to reflect the latest uploads. That spreadsheet is closing in on 3000(!) rows already, and I have not even begun with the bulk of the records. Wow.

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[substituting the asterisks with the four-digit document number you want, using leading zeros as needed]. For example, here is the link to view the first page of the newest batch of uploads. REMINDER: all of the contents of this site (to include the uploaded documents) are published under a Creative Commons license. Please, respect the terms of that license.

August 5, 2010

Privilege Logs for Acts 110 thru 198 catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:38 pm

Okay, that completes the indexing, scanning, and uploading of the privilege logs for bills from the 2009 regular session which became law with the Governor’s signature. What’s left are the privilege logs from the veto overrides, and the privilege logs from the vetoed measures not overridden. I’ll try to get those final privilege logs done this weekend. Then it will be on to the actual public comments!

One interesting record popped out as I chugged my way through these documents. Take a look at the last entry on document 658. The sender information for that document is not disclosed, and the document description reads “executive summary and presentation material, market and economic impact analysis, two casinos on the island of Oahu (working draft, not for publication).” Although the sender is not disclosed, a government agency created that document. Because if the document came from a non-government source it would have (legally, anyway) been released among the non-privileged documents. Hmmmm…. I have followed up with a request for this document and/or for more information about it.

There are probably additional interesting nuggets, but my eyes glaze over after a few hours. :) Once everything is indexed and uploaded I can take a much more thorough pass through the documents.

To assist in your browsing, the document index has been updated to reflect the latest uploads.

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[substituting the asterisks with the four-digit document number you want, using leading zeros as needed]. For example, here is the link to view the first page of the newest batch of uploads. REMINDER: all of the contents of this site (to include the uploaded documents) are published under a Creative Commons license. Please, respect the terms of that license.

META: I have yet to hear back from Senator Ihara and/or the Senate Clerk about hosting these documents on the Capitol.hawaii.gov website. I suppose the Senate has bigger fish (and judicial nominees) to fry…

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