Hawaii House Passes Fair Elections Legislation
The Hawaii House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday, HB 1481 HD2, to establish a Fair Elections program for state House and Senate candidates. The bill passed on a vote of 48-3 and now heads to the Senate.
Under the system, candidates who voluntarily opt in to the program would have to collect a set number of signatures and qualifying contributions to show broad-based community support. Once qualified, candidates would receive a public grant to fund their campaigns.
Candidates would be freed from the non-stop chase for campaign cash and accountable solely to their constituents that elected them instead of big money donors. Candidates who don't have access to big money donors or party insiders would be able to run competitive campaigns for office.
As the Star-Advertiser explained in a recent editorial:
House candidates would need 250 signatures from district registered voters, each accompanied by a $5 donation; signatures from 350 voters, each donating $5, would be required for Senate candidates.
The bill based the amount of public funds for candidates who qualify on an average of amounts spent in conventional campaigns for those seats, once the three lowest and the three highest spenders are eliminated. This middling figure comes to $34,800 for each House candidate and $68,000 for the Senate.
A similar program has been in place for Hawaii County City Council candidates for two election cycles. Hundreds of candidates have run and won under similar systems in states like Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, and North Carolina.
More details to come. Stay tuned.
Update: Here's a quote from Voter-Owned Hawaii's Kory Payne:
"We applaud the House for passing this law and we are counting on them to help get it to the Governor's desk. Special interests have cornered the market on elections and the public is not invited to the party. This program will allow legislators to spend less time raising money, and more time solving problems"