Following the footsteps of Maryland and Rhode Island, the Hawai’i State Legislature passed a bill (all three links are to PDFs) on Friday that would restore the authority of state legislators to set procurement policy in trade agreements, instead of the governor. This is the second year in a row that Hawai’in legislators are demanding a more democratic way of negotiating trade agreements. Last year they passed a similar bill, which Gov. Lingle (R) vetoed.
This year, the stakes are even higher. The Lieutenant Governor put out a nasty op-ed in the Honolulu Advertiser singling out the bill’s potential to be “restrictive and damaging to Hawai’i’s economy” and claiming it would “improperly curtail the executive authority of the governor.” Fortunately, the legislature wasn’t scared off by these bogus claims and voted to restore their authority over procurement policy.
With the Fast Track expiration on the horizon, states have clearly showed their opposition for these failed trade policies through bills and resolutions calling for both state and federal-level reforms to this archaic trade policy mechanism. Legislatures in five states have passed these resolutions, and there are more to come. Let’s hope that Congress gets the picture and starts including states in the trade negotiating process.