16. HAWAI`I: Board of Ethics
QUESTION: Shall the Charter of the County of Hawai`i be amended to clarify that the rules of procedure of the Board of Ethics shall have the force of law and grant the Board of Ethics authority to impose civil fines for violations of the Code of Ethics?To see the proposed language changes and Fiscal Impact Statements prepared by the County of Hawai`i Department of Finance, go to https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/Home/Components/News/News/2444/.CHARTER COMMISSION SUMMARY: This proposal would address staggered terms of board members, clarify the force and effect of law of the board's rules of procedure, provide for imposition of civil fines for violations of the code of ethics, and remove transitional language. Elements of the proposal have been brought forth by the board of ethics. The commission finds that the board of ethics needs to have remedies available to it to both handle and deter violations of the code of ethics. Also, the removal of the transitional phrasing is mitigated by the clarifying of the need for staggered terms. Finally, language regarding the board's rules of procedure affirms that the rules have the force and effect of law.FISCAL IMPACT: The imposition of civil fines could increase revenues if the fines are collected. The amount is unknown until the Board of Ethics' rules are adopted.WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS: A "YES" vote means that you are IN FAVOR of the amendment and the Charter of the County of Hawai`i will be changed as proposed. A "NO" vote means that you are AGAINST the amendment and the Charter of the County of Hawai`i will not be changed as proposed.ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR: -The proposed change would strengthen the Board of Ethics' authority and independence by clarifying that the Board's rules of procedure have the force of law and by including the imposition of civil fines for violators in the Hawai`i County Charter. -The Board would be allowed to designate its opinions as "advisory" or "formal," which would clarify whether or not an opinion is a violation. -Obsolete language from the Charter of the County of Hawai`i is removed to clarify that Board members serve staggered terms of five years.ARGUMENTS AGAINST: [No arguments against the proposal were found in the minutes of the Hawai`i County Charter Commission.]
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