Categorized | Government, News

Bill on elections public funding option still alive


Advocates for campaign finance reform were pleased last week when the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed House Bill 1481. The bill would create a law that would modernize Hawaii’s outdated partial public funding program for elections.

The original public funding program was implemented during the 1978 Constitutional Convention, but has become ineffective over time. In the 2012 election cycle, only one house candidate used the program. Advocates in favor of House Bill 1481 say it is now time to upgrade the old program.

“Delegates in 1978 fought hard to implement this important program, and we owe it to them to modernize it to make it useful once again,” said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii, a non-partisan non profit organization working to pass the bill.

This proposed policy has been gaining national attention also. Public Campaign is a non-partisan, non-profit that works on federal legislation for publicly funded elections and has been supporting organizations locally. According to Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign, “States are the true laboratories of democracy and Hawaii has the chance to be a national leader in addressing the growing influence of special interests in our political system.”

“We’re delighted with this bill’s passage, and excited about the prospect of leveling the playing field for House candidates,” said Janet Mason, Vice President of League of Women Voters, Hawaii.

In 2008, Voter Owned Hawaii led and effort to implement a similar program for Big Island County elections. That program ran in the 2010 and 2012 elections and was deemed successful.

Currently, five out of nine Big Isle councilors were elected without accepting money from special interests.

Payne says the program is intended to serve taxpayers.

“Special interests donate to politicians to get a return on their investment, and right now they’ve cornered the market on elections and the public is not invited to the party. Publicly funded elections will save taxpayer money by allowing politicians to make decisions based upon what’s best for the people instead of campaign donors,” he said.

Voter Owned Hawaii is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to upgrade and modernize Hawaii’s outdated partial public funding program for elections.

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