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Abercrombie to let financial disclosure bill become law

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 5:52 p.m. HST, Jun 30, 2014

One week after signaling his intent to veto a bill that would add members of 15 state boards and commissions to the list of public officials whose financial interests are publicly disclosed, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday he will allow the measure to become law without his signature.

Under Senate Bill 2682, which unanimously passed both chambers of the Legislature, the annual financial disclosure statements of members of the University of Hawaii's Board of Regents, the state Ethics Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Hawaii Community Development Authority, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Land Use Commission and others would become public records and available on the Ethics Commission's website.

The forms contain such financial information as income sources and amounts, investments, debts, ownership or interests in businesses, and real estate holdings for themselves, their spouse and dependent children.

The disclosures are intended to help the Ethics Commission identify potential conflicts of interest, but the commission said in supporting testimony that its ability to do so is limited because of the large volume of statements filed and its small staff.

Volunteer members of some of the affected boards and agencies had asked the governor to veto the bill, citing privacy issues.

Two UH regents -- John Dean and Saedene Ota -- resigned from the university's governing board in June over concerns about the bill becoming law.

The measure was among 10 bills the governor told lawmakers last week he is considering rejecting.

But in a letter on Monday to the state Senate president and House speaker, Abercrombie said after reviewing the merits of the bill, it "seems reasonable" to allow it to become law. 

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