Lobbying Lessons: What Hawaii Can Learn From Other States

Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat

Editor's Note: It's been nearly a year since Civil Beat published Hawaii's part in the national State Integrity Investigation, a nationwide project that looked at how accountable state governments are to their citizens. Hawaii received a D- for lobbying disclosure, one of 14 measures used to rank states in a national scorecard of sorts. Now, a small group of Hawaii community leaders is spearheading an effort, possibly in time for this year's legislative session, to try to bring that score up.

This is the last of a three-part series that examines Hawaii's lobbying disclosure law and looks at what we can learn from how other states handle oversight of lobbyists.

Part 1: Is It Time To Beef Up Hawaii's Lax Lobbying Law?

Part 2: Lobbying Reform Is A Tough Sell In Hawaii's Legislature

Hawaii's efforts to strengthen its lobbying laws have consistently fallen victim to a resistant Legislature.

A Civil Beat review of laws in other states suggests lawmakers' reluctance to pass laws cracking down on themselves is pretty common.

But in many states, citizens have prevailed and pushed through tougher laws with more transparency through an initiative process that allows citizens to gather signatures on petitions and refer questions to the ballot.

Hawaii is one of about 25 states that doesn't have a citizen initiative or referendum process. Here, the Legislature or counties can send measures to the ballot, but not the public.

As a result, changing Hawaii laws means convincing state lawmakers it’s a good idea. That’s a tough task when it comes to the lobbying law.

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