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Hawaii Senate panel passes ban on fundraisers during session

HONOLULU (AP) –The Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban lawmaker fundraisers during the legislative session, one of several measures aimed at addressing corruption after two former legislators pleaded guilty in connection with a bribery scandal.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, which prohibits legislators or their representatives from holding fundraisers during a regular or special legislative session. The measure now goes before the full Senate for consideration.

More than 80 individuals and organizations submitted testimony supporting the bill. Some urged lawmakers to go further and prohibit soliciting or accepting donations during the session.

Gary Hooser, a former state senator, said allowing solicitation would permit committee chairs and others to ask people affected by legislation to give them money.

Sen. Karl Rhoads, the committee’s chairperson, said prohibiting all donations could give lawmakers little time to raise money during an election year when lawmakers face a primary in August shortly after the legislation session ends in May.

Rhoads said he understood those who want to go further. He said the bill wasn’t a “silver bullet” but was an important step “in delinking our fundraising activities from our legislative activities.”

The committee also passed legislation aimed at revealing the source of “dark money” behind election advertisements. It does so by requiring those acting as conduits for $10,000 or more in a two-year election period to keep track of large donations they receive and disclose where the money came from.

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