The Hawaii State Legislature convenes each regular session on the third Wednesday of January at 10 a.m. This January 20th will mark the start of the second regular session of the 28th Hawaii State Legislature. Thousands of new bills will be introduced in the House and Senate, some of which are revised versions of bills that did not pass in the first session.
Residents might be surprised to learn that the bills failing to pass up to the Governor last year did not die, but are carried over for possible action this year. Few bills are ever revived in the second regular session, but it does occasionally happen. Sometimes additional work is done during the intersession and the bill is ready to move forward with amendments. Sometimes an old bill is dusted off for the infamous “gut and replace.”
Gut and replace is the practice of removing all content, except the title, from a bill, and inserting language that is completely unrelated to the intent of the original bill. This practice is usually ridiculed as an abuse of process, but it can come in handy when an emergency arises and legislative deadlines for passing new legislation have passed.
One notorious use of gut and replace occurred with SB755 in 2011 and 2012. The original bill passed out of the Senate as a tax credit to incentivize back to school purchases. The House amended the bill to legalize gambling and the bill stalled in 2011. Midway through the 2012 Session, SB755 was again gutted and replaced to exempt certain government projects from environmental review. The authors each argued that their proposed legislation met the intent of the title, “Relating to Economic Development.” The twice gutted and replaced bill moved back to the Senate, but was not accepted and finally died as the Legislature adjourned.
A useful gut and replace, in my opinion, saved the Turtle Bay Conservation deal last year. SB284, Relating to Transient Accommodation Tax, was severely modified and approved by the Senate before passing over to the House, where additional refinements were made. Finally, the bill passed both chambers through agreement in Conference, and the Governor signed it into law on June 6, 2015. Without this bill, the Turtle Bay deal would not have been completed in time and would probably have fallen apart.
To help inform residents in our district about what to expect this year, I am hosting a series of Town Hall Meetings to 1) Preview this year’s proposed legislation; 2) Show how residents can effectively participate in the legislative process, and: 3) Provide a forum to discuss district issues. I hope you can join us from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at any or all of these meetings:
January 25, at Ahuimanu Elementary School
January 27, at Hauula Elementary School
January 28, at Waialua Elementary School