Senator Shimabukuro Amends SB42 (CB 2/11/20)

Lawmakers Limit Scope of Bill Banning AG’s Probe of Hawaiian Nonprofit
By Blaze Lovell, Civil Beat, 11 Feb. 2020

A key Senate panel unanimously voted Tuesday to narrow the extent to which the state Attorney General’s Office can investigate certain nonprofits.

The Hawaiian Affairs Committee amended Senate Bill 42 to prohibit AG investigations from conflicting with Native Hawaiian cultural rights protected under the state constitution.

The proposal in front of lawmakers is a reaction to the AG’s probe of KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance. The state subpoenaed financial documents related to the nonprofit’s support of protests that have halted the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

The bill originally would have prohibited the AG from investigating any nonprofit that engages in acts of civil disobedience, which state lawyers raised objections to because it could essentially tie the state’s hands in investigating any nonprofit.

“Our intent is not to hinder the AG from doing its job,” said Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

Shimabukuro introduced the measure by putting its contents into a blank bill last week. She amended the bill to include the narrower language involving conflicts, which was put forward by University of Hawaii law professor Ken Lawson.

In KAHEA’s case, the state is conflicted, Lawson said, because it has an interest in seeing TMT built on Mauna Kea, a mountain considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians.  Continue reading