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“Gut and Replace” Held Unconstitutional

Nov. 4, 2021 — The Hawaii Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, dealt a serious blow to the Legislature’s “gut and replace” tactic.  It held that a bill that started off as a bill to require annual reporting of recidivism statistics by the State, but then morphed into a bill regarding hurricane shelter space in State buildings, was unconstitutional because it, in its hurricane shelter space incarnation, did not receive the required number of readings in the Senate.  The State and the Legislature thought that the bill was justifiable because both versions of the bill related to the bill’s title, “A Bill for an Act Relating to Public Safety.”

The court recognized it was stating a new rule and limited its decision to the case before it and future cases only.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii had submitted an amicus curiae brief noting that most of the winners of appellants’ “Rusty Scalpel Award” in the past were tax bills.

Here are links to the opinion and the dissent.

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