On March 4, the Hawaii House passed HB 2533, to greatly expand the public financing program. However, on March 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against the bill, so it won’t pass in this legislative session.
Hawaii already has public funding, but the amounts that qualifying candidates can receive are small. Candidates for Governor can only receive an amount equal to 10% of the expenditure limit for that office, and candidates for the legislature can only receive 15%. In 2012, only ten candidates for the legislature participated in the program, and none of them received as much as $2,000.
The bill would have provided that any candidate for the State House who receives $5 contributions from at least 200 registered votes in his or her district can receive approximately $33,000. One reason the bill was defeated in the Senate Committee was the need to hire additional state employees to administer the program, including checking to see whether donors are registered voters in the correct district. Thanks to the Center for Competitive Progress for news about the bill.