Outdoors groups hit lawmaker with ethics complaint
HONOLULU — Rock climbers, mountain bikers and other outdoors enthusiasts filed an ethics complaint Thursday against a Hawaii House lawmaker over changes her committee made to a trails bill.
The proposal would have guarded the state from lawsuits if hikers, paragliders and others get hurt on state-owned land.
Outdoors enthusiasts supported the measure, hoping it would allow Hawaii to reopen lands that were closed after accidents led to the state being sued for millions of dollars.
Rep. Sylvia Luke, a Democrat representing Maikiki, moved a stripped-down version of the bill out of the House Finance Committee, removing some major provisions. The House passed the amended version Tuesday as even fellow Democrats criticized the changes.
The complaint filed Thursday says Luke’s work as a personal injury attorney affected her decisions as committee chairwoman.
Luke said she had no conflict on the decision because the solution she prefers — having people sign waivers before attempting risky recreation on public land — would better protect the state from lawsuits.
“It’s taking a front-end approach,” Luke said. “The end result would be making sure we have great access to public lands but ensuring the state have full immunity — not like what was in the bill.”
Beyond recreational enthusiasts, the attorney general’s office and the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources also testified in support of the bill (SB 1007).
“The state shouldn’t be liable,” said Mike Richardson, a signatory to the complaint and the owner of Climb Aloha, a rock-climbing shop in Honolulu. “People are going to do these things whether we warn or not.”
One of the provisions removed said warning signs would be sufficient to protect the state from lawsuits over man-made features of unimproved land, such as rock-climbing holes or mountain bike ramps.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.