By Derrick DePledge
State Rep. Sylvia Luke said Monday that the state House has tightened screening procedures for testimony on a marriage equality bill.
The House has committed to hearing from the 5,184 people who had signed up, but opponents have used the process to delay the marathon hearing.
Luke said the House Judiciary Committee and the House Finance Committee would not allow people to give proxy testimony for those who have signed up to testify but are not present.
She said that photo identification would be enforced to ensure people are indeed registered to testify. Lawmakers -- and the news media -- noticed irregularities where some people's registration numbers did not match their names.
"We really want to discourage individuals from telling others that they can come and give other people's names or talk on behalf of other people, because that's really going to be wasting that person's time, and they're being misled into thinking that's being allowed here," Luke told reporters. "That's not being allowed."
Luke, the chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, also noted that she has conducted her own committee hearings differently, cutting off testimony once it becomes repetitive.
"The way I run my hearings, this would not have happened," Luke said. "The way I run my hearings is, if there's duplication -- if people are saying the same thing -- I would automatically cut it off."
Luke said that at this point in the gay marriage hearing, "90 percent of the information is duplicative, but we made a commitment to hear testimony, because this is a serious issue, and this is important for a lot of people.
"We're allowing as many people to testify as much as we can. And that's why we want to stress again. Please refrain from trading numbers, because that doesn't help the process. I think we've shown goodwill, and we are here to hear the public, but if people are trying to get other people -- or trying to testify on behalf of other people -- then that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having this hearing."
*Update: Rep. Marcus Oshiro, in a memo Monday to Luke and Rhoads, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, challenged them to cite the rule that allows them to ask people for valid identification before they testify or restrict testimony by proxy.
"I have grave concerns that these reports, if found accurate, taints the fairness of these proceedings and taints the validity of any committee action resulting from them," Oshiro wrote.
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said the committees have discretion over how to accept public testimony and conduct hearings.
Oshiro, who has been urging people to exercise their First Amendment right to be heard, set up a table near the entrance to the Capitol auditorium with a small sign that read: "Ask Me."