Hawaii bill to ban candidates for insurrection passes first hearing

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Feb. 7—Senate Bill 2392—introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads—passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, during its initial hearing. It would exclude political candidates who are disqualified by a constitutional or statutory provision.

A bill that could bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on November's Hawaii election ballot received considerable pushback Tuesday from his supporters, some of whom came to the state Capitol dressed in patriotic wear.

Senate Bill 2392—introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads (D, Nuuanu ­-Downtown-Iwilei )—passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Rhoads chairs, during its initial hearing. It would exclude political candidates who are disqualified by a constitutional or statutory provision.

Trump's name does not appear on SB 2392, but his supporters invoked his name repeatedly during the hearing.

Alexandria Lum, a Native Hawaiian woman, said, "We all know what this bill is about, and it's about one person in particular."

Rhoads told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after the hearing that Trump "has been indicted for his activities on Jan. 6 and leading up to it, so it's hard to ignore the elephant in the room."

He said SB 2392 would apply to all political candidates.

"If Joe Biden participates in an insurrection, it would apply to him, too, " Rhoads said.

Blanca Larson showed up at the state Capitol wearing an American flag-printed dress, a red, blue and white lei and carried an American flag-printed bag filled with American hand flags. She sat next to a woman who wore a white T-shirt with Trump's face and a "Make America Great Again !" slogan and red MAGA hat.

In written testimony opposing SB 2392, Larson wrote, "This bill not only restricts Donald Trump from the ballot but also prohibits the electors and alternates from voting for their candidate."

She said that "bias and hate for Trump aren't good reasons to change our US Constitution."

Rhoads told the Star-­Advertiser that most people believe the U.S. Constitution should be followed, including age and residency requirements and other regulations under the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that a person who has taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and becomes involved in insurrection cannot hold government office.

"I'm confident that the opinion expressed by the MAGA guys is not the majority opinion in Hawaii, " Rhoads said.

Michael Golojuch Jr. testified for the Stonewall Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii in support of SB 2392.

"It's something that should've been in the books already, " he said. "You violate the Constitution, you do insurrections, you attack our government, you do not get to be on our ballots and run our government."

Abby Simmons, co-chair of the legislative committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, also testified in support.

"We believe government officials should be held to the highest ethical standards as required by Article 14 of the Hawaii State Constitution, " Simmons said.

Article XIV of the state Constitution requires the Legislature, each political subdivision and the constitutional convention to adopt a code of ethics that applies to appointed and elected officers and employees of the state or members of state boards or commissions.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii said in written testimony that it believes "citizens deserve the right to clean and transparent elections, where public serv ­ants meet the require ­‑

ments of the United States and State of Hawaii Constitutions."

Otherwise, most of the people who showed up in person Tuesday or submitted written testimony opposed SB 2392.

Many received applause and cheers following their two minutes of testimony.

"This bill negatively affects us all—the hardcore MAGA people and even the never-Trumpers, " Lum said. "People from both sides will be stripped of their right to vote or not vote for the candidate of their choice."

Lum said that SB 2392 could be used as a "weapon " to unjustly win an election.

"Some people will do anything to make sure their side wins, " she said. "A righteous win has to be done in a fair and righteous way. Any other way is not pono."

Some people who testified grew emotional.

One cried. Another, Edward Odquina, raised his voice and swore at Rhoads.

Odquina said he grew up on Oahu a mile from the state Capitol.

"Do you know our state motto right now ?" Oquina asked Rhoads, using a profanity. "Can you say it ? ... Do you know it ? You don't. You're not even from here."

Odquina acknowledged Trump has a slim chance of winning Hawaii votes. But he's "frustrated " that legislators are "taking away our rights to vote."

Rami Donahoe said she can "guarantee " that Republican Trump will not win in a blue state like Hawaii.

"It seems like Sen. Rhoads may believe that Mr. Trump has a huge chance of winning, " she said.

Donahoe said that the only reason Rhoads would introduce SB 2392 is for "his own relevancy."

She speculated that Rhoads "may need some type of validation."