Rusty Scalpel Award

The "Rusty Scalpel" award recognizes enactment of a bill whose subject has been substantially amended without opportunity for legislative review as required by the Hawaii Constitution.

Last year’s Rusty Scalpel was won by a bill first proposing amending income tax rates to negate any income tax liability for those at or below poverty thresholds. The Senate Ways and Means Committee was the first to drastically amend the bill, gutting its contents, and replacing it with provisions to repeal the sunset date for the refundable food/excise tax credit. Then during Conference Committee, the bill was drastically altered to appropriate $1 million, subject to a dollar for dollar match by the private sector, to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, working in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, for projects to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas. The final version of this bill does not pass the relatively “low bar” of having the bill’s subject match the bill’s title.

The 2016 Rusty Scalpel was awarded to a bill that started out as a measure that affords tax credits to producers of renewable fuels. When it went to conference committee, the renewable fuels tax credit bill had morphed into an organic food tax credit bill. It was passed without a single public hearing.