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Your Views for March 15

Complaint had no merit

Tuesday’s article (March 11, Tribune-Herald) about the introduction of a bill on sustainable living, SB2274, is unfortunate in that it focuses on a baseless ethics complaint instead of the issues at hand, and spreads misinformation about the legislative process.

The article focused on a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission against me for introducing a measure on behalf of a constituent.

To clarify, the job of a legislator is to voice the concerns of constituents who seek change in their community. Organizations and individuals of all stripes take their ideas to their representatives, who may introduce a bill on their behalf even if they don’t fully agree with the idea.

This is what I did with SB2274, which I see as a good bill that could strengthen efforts toward sustainability in Hawaii.

Surely in Puna, where alternative lifestyles are so widespread, they deserve a path to legality.

Any new bill goes through a vigorous process of hearings in which its merits or shortcomings are discussed and public input considered. If the bill is seen to have merit, it moves on. Those who oppose the measure have ample opportunity to testify against it or suggest amendments.

In this case, rather than participating in the legislative process to improve the bill or oppose it through testimony, a small but vocal minority chose to file a complaint to the Ethics Commission in an effort to intimidate me into pulling the bill. I choose not to respond to such intimidation because I am doing my job honestly and fairly.

A preliminary review by the Ethics Commission found no basis for the complaint.

While it’s understandable some citizens might misunderstand the process, I am disappointed the article implied a genuine ethics concern, when a basic understanding of the legislative process would show the complaint is without merit.

It is my hope we can put such unnecessary contentiousness aside and let bills work their way through the legislative process, with constructive public input, as intended.

Russell Ruderman

State senator for Puna and Ka‘u


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