HI – Campaign Finance/Lobby Law Changes
On Monday April 3, 2023 Hawaii Governor Josh Green signed six pieces of legislation affecting campaign finance and lobbying in the State – HB 90, 93, 99, 132 HD-1, 140, and 142. While several of the bills simply clarify existing practices, there are key substantive changes that organizations active in the State must now be mindful of. You can find a breakdown of the campaign finance and lobbying changes under this legislative package below.
On the campaign finance side, the definition of “fundraiser” has been altered to remove the de minimis threshold of $25 and include all events where any price is charged or any contribution is suggested for attending. (HB 90/H.R.S. § 11-342(d).) Each fundraiser must be noticed to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission and no fundraiser may be held during legislative session. (H.R.S. §§ 11-342(a)-(c).)
Additionally, candidates and committees must now issue a receipt and keep records of all cash contributions and may only accept up to $100 in the aggregate in cash contributions from a single person per election period. (HB 99/ H.R.S. § 11-351(b).) In Hawaii, an election period begins the day after a general election and ends on the date of the next general election that the candidate is seeking office, whether that be two or four years away or in a special election. (H.R.S. § 11-302.)
Lastly, the Campaign Spending Commission will now publish the names of all candidate and non-candidate committees that fail to either timely file their organizational reports or fail to correct one within two weeks of the Commission providing a notice to correct. (HB 93/H.R.S. §§ 11-322(c), 323(c).)
All of these campaign finance measures take immediate effect.
On the lobbying side, the most substantive changes take effect on January 1, 2025 and require registrants to now not simply identify the subject area of their activities, but the specific items that they are lobbying or commenting on and identify them by their relevant bill, resolution, budget cost, or program identification number or similar identifier. (HB 137 HD-1/H.R.S. § 97-3(c).)
Additionally, existing law is clarified to prohibit registrants from providing gifts to legislators or employees that are prohibited under H.R.S. § 84-11, including those given under circumstances where it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence the legislator or employee’s performance of or reward them for any official action on their part. (HB 147/H.R.S. §§ 97-[ ], 84-11.) A violation of this to-be-codified measure has also been added to the list of penalties that may result in administrative fines under H.R.S. § 97-7, which is clarified to also apply to registered entities as well as persons. (HB 147/ H.R.S. § 97-7(a).)
Lastly, minor changes are made to existing record keeping laws that permit the State Ethics Commission to keep all lobbying disclosure and government employee financial disclosure records beyond six years. (HB 140/ H.R.S. §§ 84-17.5(a),(b), 97-4(2).)
While the first mentioned change to the lobby law takes effect in 2025, the latter two are immediately effective.
If you have any questions about these changes, please do not hesitate to reach out us.
Disclaimer: Politicom Law LLP makes this information available for educational purposes only to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this page, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and Politicom Law LLP. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.