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A Quick Summary of “Ballot Proposals” at Polling Booths

November 6, 2012, 10:54 AM HST
* Updated November 6, 11:17 AM
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It’s that time again, folks.

Election day is upon us, and as usual the State of Hawaii and Hawaii County Council have a slew of “Ballot Proposals” for us to navigate before we can make our escape from the polling booth.

These things are usually pretty dry reading, so we take a moment to break all six of them down into digestible chunks. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit.

Hawaii County Proposal 1: Records and Meetings Open to the Public

Under current county law, special meetings of the council, boards and commissions require 24 hours of notice in print media or radio spots.

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This proposal would abolish those rules and bring them in lockstep with state laws. Under state “sunshine” law, regular and special meetings require an agenda to be posted six days prior to the meeting.

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Under the new rules, if a board finds that an “imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare” exists, it will be able to call a meeting on a specific topic without advance notice to the public.

The open space preservation fund would see its revenue double under a new measure. Image of Kealakekua Bay.

Hawaii County Proposal 2: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund

As you read this, 1% of all your property taxes go toward a fund for purchasing land to be held in the public interest.

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Proposal 2 would allocate twice the amount (2%) of your property taxes toward that end, and mandate that the lands or easements purchased with that money could never be sold, mortgaged or traded.

Hawaii County Proposal 3: Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources

Preservation Maintenance Fund

So, remember all those lands that might be purchased under proposal number 2? Well, someone’s got to maintain them. Proposal 3 is the county’s attempt to find funding for the upkeep of all that open space it plans to purchase.

Proposal 3 would require that 0.25% (one-quarter of one-percent) of property tax revenue be set aside to maintain lands purchased for the public interest.

Hawaii County Proposal 4: Establishing Special Funds

Currently, to establish “special funds” in the Hawaii County budget, the council must first get the recommendation of the mayor.

This proposal ditches that requirement, and lets the council fly solo when it comes to carving out special funds. Oh, and it also gives the council the power to kill those funds, sans-mayor.

Hawaii County Proposal 5: Eligibility for Redistricting Commissioners to be Candidates for County Council

Redistricting is usually a messy business, and this proposal prevents the commissioners in charge of carving up electoral districts from running for office in the first election after their handy work is complete.

As written though, it appears that those commissioners with a little patience would be able to run for office soon enough.

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A game management advisory commission would serve to offer guidance to state, federal, and county agencies. DLNR photo.

Hawaii County Proposal 6: Establishing a Game Management Advisory Commission

This proposal creates a commission consisting of nine members, one from each district, appointed by the mayor (and confirmed by the council).

The commission would advise county, state, and federal agencies over the preservation of subsistence hunting/fishing, traditional gathering, and management of aquatic wildlife resources.

The key word here is advise. The commission appears to serve strictly for the purpose of providing recommendations.

Dam and Reservoir Owners Assistance Amendment:

A state measure, this amendment would let the state issue revenue bonds to assist owners of these facilities in meeting current safety standards

Appointment of Retired Judges Amendment:

In the state of Hawaii, judges must retire from the bench by age 70. This amendment authorizes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint retired judges to temporary stations.

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