The Friends of the Aina Haina Public Library sought assistance from my office at the beginning of this legislative session in January. This fine 50-year old non-profit volunteer organization, was being intimidated by the “Big” Friends of the Hawaii State Library, and the State Librarian, Mr. Richard Burns, who told them they could not continue their fundraising on library (state) property unless they were part of the FHSL.
There are other Friends’ groups who also were threatened. All they wanted to do was remain independent and continue to support their libraries. My bill, SB 2994, allowed them to do just that.
Unfortunately, there has been an orchestrated campaign of misinformation—and sometimes nasty innuendo— against the independent Friends and legislation to keep them from remaining independent.
This small bill, has grown into a major legislative issue, involving the Senate and the House. Hearings and rulings by the State Attorney General have shown that the State Librarian has been acting outside his scope of authority and that the FHSL, a monopoly organization, can not control non-profit groups.
A full information briefing with the Attorney General and Legislative Auditor, is scheduled by the Senate Education Committee next week.
Meanwhile, my bill was deferred in the House and HB 1054 was amended with the same contents. The Senate passed the bill out with a vote of 22 to 3. HB 1054 is being worked out in conference with a Proposed CD1 in the works. My original bill has spawned this bill and 4 resolutions.
Photo: Some of the core volunteers from the Aina Haina Friends of the Library organization at the Hawaii State Senate gallery. The ladies have been quite vigilant in monitoring the progress of the library bills.