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Tuesday, February 4, 2020
SB42: Block AG's Investigation of Telescope Protesters Funding
By Andrew Walden @ 4:23 PM :: 3442 Views :: Ethics, Greenmail, OHA

by Andrew Walden

A 2019 shell bill introduced by Sen J Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English is being rewritten in an attempt to prohibit the Attorney General from investigating nonprofits involved in illegal civil disobedience.

The Hawaii Attorney General has subpoenaed records of anti-telescope activist group KAHEA.  First Circuit Court Judge James Ashford is expected to rule February 7, 2020, on a motion to quash the subpoena.

(UPDATE: Attorney General gets go-ahead to subpoena anti-TMT nonprofit Kahea.)

The Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs (HWN) is set to hear SB42 SD1 February 4, 2020, at 1:19pm

UPDATE: HWN approved SB42 'with amendments' 3-0 with 2 excused.  HWN is now set to "reconsider its previous decision on 02-04-20 and will hold a public decision making on 02-06-20 1:15PM in conference room 016."

2nd UPDATE: After HWN approved SB42 SD1, Senate leadership re-referred the amended bill to HWN and the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees (JDC/WAM).   HWN has scheduled a public hearing on 02-11-20 1:16PM in conference room 016.

SB42: Text, Status

The proposed version reads:

SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that private nonprofit organizations sometimes oppose governmental programs, practices, and policies and are sometimes investigated by the attorney general to insure compliance with business regulations and tax exemptions.  The investigation can be intimidating and could be deemed to be retaliatory when the nonprofit engages in nonviolent civil disobedience against a government program, practice, or policy.

The legislature further finds that the constitutional right to free speech and assembly extends to nonprofit organizations and that nonprofit organizations should not be penalized for expressing their opinions, including engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience activity.  The legislature further finds that non-profits may also promote constitutionally established rights regarding traditional Hawaiian customs and practices.  These rights established by article XII, section 7 of the state constitution are no less worthy of protection and preservation as the rights to free speech and to assemble for the purpose of non-violent civil disobedience.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to prohibit the attorney general from investigating nonprofit organizations for exercising their constitutional right to free speech and assembly or protecting constitutional grants of rights, such as the traditional and customary Hawaiian cultural rights expressly protected under article XII, section 7 of the state constitution, with exceptions.

SECTION 2. Section 28-2.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a)  The attorney general shall investigate alleged violations of the law when directed to do so by the governor, or when the attorney general determines that an investigation would be in the public interest[.]; provided that no investigation shall be conducted in connection with and under circumstances during a period of time in which it is clear that the person is exercising rights by nonviolent civil disobedience that are protected and granted under the Constitution or state constitution, unless the investigation is of an alleged crime as described in the criminal laws of the State directly connected with the person's exercise of protected rights and preceded by the allegation of the criminal act supported by probable cause."

As a shell bill, SB42 had only the single committee referral. 

read … Full Text SB42SD1 (proposed)

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