By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have added a question to voters’ 2014 ballots asking whether should be stricter residency requirements for candidates who want to run for the state Legislature.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Karl Rhoads says he learned Friday afternoon that the House Finance Committee decided not to fund the proposal.
Friday is the deadline for lawmakers to submit the final wording of constitutional amendment proposals to the governor. The bills would still need to pass each chamber by a two-thirds vote.
Rhoads says he’s disappointed about the death of the measure he introduced, which would have asked voters whether senators and representatives should be required to live in their districts for at least one year before being elected.
Advocates say the bill would help ensure candidates have basic knowledge about their districts. But critics say that raising eligibility requirements decreases democratic participation and limits voter choice.
The bill’s death leaves just one constitutional amendment proposal still working its way through the Legislature, a bill that would allow the state to fund private institutions providing preschool education.
The proposal has been a centerpiece of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s legislative agenda. A conference committee agreed to the final draft on Thursday but the bill still needs to pass each chamber by a two-thirds vote.
Earlier this session, lawmakers passed a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices from 70 to 80. The attorney general says that the current system is outdated because judges and justices can live longer and healthier lives compared to when the constitution was adopted in 1959. The American Civil Liberties Union says the limit is a form of age discrimination.
The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of Honolulu opposed the measure, saying that the age limit provides an opportunity for change and fresh ideas.