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State’s gay union hearing stretches into its fourth day

November 5, 2013
By OSKAR GARCIA , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Two Hawaii House committees considering a bill to legalize gay marriage are tightening rules on testimony at a joint hearing after some people used a registration list to speak for others.

Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, told reporters Monday that the judiciary and finance committees were allowing people to testify only for themselves and checking identifications.

The tighter regulations come after a speaker registration list went missing from outside the auditorium late Saturday, then was used by some people to testify for registrants who were called but not present, Luke said.

Among other hiccups, that led to some people testifying more than once.

"People were being encouraged to trade numbers or testify on other people's behalf," Luke said. "The whole point of oral testimony is for legislators to ask the individual testifier questions. If you're testifying on behalf of somebody else, it's difficult to ask that person questions."

Testimony entered its fourth day Monday. When they started, lawmakers had already heard 41 hours of testimony and called 4,600 people of 5,181 who had signed up. The committees plan to call the nearly 600 people left, then go back and call anyone who missed their number the first time around.

The bill passed the state Senate last week. It could pass two more readings in the House and be signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as early as this week.



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