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House committee defers proposal for a vote on free speech protections

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The state House Judiciary Committee on Thursday deferred a bill that would have asked voters to decide whether only people, and not corporations, should be entitled to free speech protections.

The proposed state constitutional amendment was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, which held that corporations and labor unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on independent political speech.

Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who had introduced the bill, said he liked the bill but doubted the effort required to move it forward would match the gain.

The state Attorney General’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii had said the state amendment would not have any legal impact because it would conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

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