HONOLULU — Two Hawaii House committees considering a bill to legalize gay marriage are tightening rules on testimony at a joint hearing after some people used a registration list to speak for others.
Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, told reporters Monday that the judiciary and finance committees were allowing people to only testify for themselves and checking identifications.
The tighter regulations come after a speaker registration list went missing from outside the auditorium late Saturday, then was used by some people to testify for registrants who were called but not present, Luke said.
Among other hiccups, that led to some people testifying more than once.
"People were being encouraged to trade numbers or testify on other people's behalf," Luke said. "The whole point of oral testimony is for legislators to ask the individual testifier questions. If you're testifying on behalf of somebody else, it's difficult to ask that person questions."
Testimony entered its fourth day on Monday. When they started, lawmakers had already heard 41 hours of testimony and called 4,600 people of 5,181 signed up. The committees plan to call the nearly 600 people left, then go back and call anyone who missed their number the first time around.
The bill passed the state Senate last week. It could pass two more readings in the House and be signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as early as this week.
Some opponents of the bill have encouraged prolonging the hearings as much as possible through social media posts and other means, hoping to show forceful public pressure and sway lawmakers who might be less than firm in their support for the bill. The measure passed easily in the Senate but is expected to be amended and see a closer vote in the House, which has seven Republicans and some Democrats who do not support gay marriage.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
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