Title: We should all be so lucky as the residents of Kailua are today

Natalia Hussey-Burdick has announced her candidacy for the State House of Representatives and we all, regardless of where we live, should send her our aloha, our mahalo, and our kōkua.

Natalia is one of those verifiably awesome community leaders who work hard every single day to make our collective home a better place.

She is what I call a “blue chip”.

She helps people.

And this is why she is running. Not for the title and fancy office, and certainly not as a stepping stone for her ego. She is running simply because she knows it is her kuleana to help her community – the place where she was born and raised.

That place is Kailua – Kāne’ohe on the windward side of Oʻahu, House District #50 in political speak, but to Natalia, it’s simply home.

The residents of Kailua – Kāne’ohe face the same daily challenges every community in Hawai’i is facing: The pressures of unrestrained tourism, the non-existence of affordable housing for local residents, the continued degradation of our natural environment, and a government that is too often unresponsive to community needs.

Natalia feels the same urgency of the moment shared by each of us, and she is determined to do something about it.

She has hands-on experience working within the legislative environment, she is respected by policy-makers and community leaders across the state, and she is relentless in her pursuit of making our planet a better place.

So please take a few moments today, regardless of where you live, to reach out to Natalia and let her know that you have her back.

She can be reached at nataliaforhawaii@gmail.com

Offer to help if you can.

Perhaps make an online donation to her campaign.

Please. Any tangible gesture will add fuel to her fire, of that I am sure.

gary

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Which candidates should be supported?

I’m getting this question fairly frequently and am thinking it’s important to describe the exact criteria I use that impact my personal decisions, as well as the basis for Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative endorsements – and likely most individuals and organizations who support and endorse candidates.

1) First of all the candidate needs to be on the radar. They need to actually have filed their papers to run. They also need to proactively express an interest in actually receiving support.

A surprising number of candidates do not even reach out to introduce themselves, let alone ask for support.

Once a candidate is “on the radar”, I do some basic googling and FaceBook research, and normally meet with them in person. I then step back and ask myself a few fundamental questions.

2) Can I trust that they will not lie, cheat, or steal?
3) Do they share my basic core values?
4) Are they receptive to learning and growing, or do they already know everything?

5) What do other friends and associates who have more direct experience with the individual have to say about them?

6) If they are elected can I trust them to vote for our shared values?

This is a tricky one. Each and every candidate is different. An issue important to me, may not always be important to them and I do not expect any candidate to be a rubber stamp, always voting as I might vote.

So, I look for litmus test issues/votes:

This years SB2510 relating to renewable energy (tree burning so-called firm renewable mandate) is one such issue. This measure was opposed by just about every single credible advocate who has made lowering energy costs, the reduction of carbon emissions, and climate change their #1 issue. Who was willing to vote NO on this bad, bad, bad, bill? If you were willing to vote NO, then you are one of the good guys – IMHO

Another litmus test from 2021 was HB444 relating to lease extensions on public lands. This measure was opposed by just about every environmental and native Hawaiian organization across all islands. A NO vote opposing HB444 is clearly a vote that tells the whole world whose side you are on.

Both of these votes are what I consider “crunch time votes” and are clear measures of character, dependability, and values – at least with regards to those values pertaining to environmental protection, public trust land rights, and climate change.

7) What issues have non-incumbent challengers publicly supported or opposed via testimony and other public means (letters to the editor etc)?

Once it seems clear that a candidate has the right stuff in terms of values and character, then the question is one of electability.

8) Are they willing to do the hard work it takes to win? Do they have roots in the district? Can they put a team together to help them win? Are they willing and able to raise the basic funds needed to launch a campaign (signs, banners, walking pieces etc)?

9) Can they win? Sometimes, winning isn’t everything and merely challenging the incumbent corporatist is sufficient reason to support a candidate. Taking a “bad” guy down a notch or two, and preparing the challenger to win “next time”, can be considered winning.

Another huge factor:

10) Who is the opposition? Are they running against a powerful incumbent who continuously blocks legislation that is important to our core values?

Supporting a candidate who shares our values, who can win, and who is willing to challenge a “bad” incumbent – is perhaps the best situation.

A candidate’s willingness to speak up and speak out on important issues, AND to push back when needed against the big dogs in House and Senate leadership – are also key factors that make a candidate more attractive.

So there’s no mystery to the process and criteria. The above 10 points pretty much lay it out. Does a candidate need to hit all 10? Frankly, it’s rare, as candidates are people and people are imperfect.

At the end of the day, the totality of the 10 factors, combined with other inputs and the overall direction of the naʻau – will ultimately drive the decision.

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Kauai Councilmembers vote to keep TVR room rates lower and postpone new investments in affordable housing

Words suitable for a family audience cannot express my reaction upon reading Guthrie Scrimgeour’s piece in Sunday’s TGI which started out: “By a 4 – 3 vote, the County Council voted down a measure Friday that would have increased the tax rate on vacation rental units and used the funding for affordable housing.”

According to the article Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro justified his opposition by saying, “It’s money that’s not necessarily needed at the time…When the county really needs the money, then we can increase the tax rates.”

Then I took the time to actually watch the Council meeting and listen to the arguments made by the 4 Councilmembers who spoke against raising $4.5 million for affordable housing and in favor of protecting the interests of tourists and their innkeepers.

It was appalling really.

Councilmembers Carvalho, Cowden, and DeCosta joined Chair Kaneshiro in refusing to support the additional funding for affordable housing, either mimicking Kaneshiro’s argument (we don’t really need the money) or talking in circles, grasping at straws only tangentially related to the core issue.

A majority of our Councilmembers believe we don’t need the money?

What world are they living in?

Each and every affordable housing project on the island has a waiting list. We have people sleeping in the bushes at the side of the road. Our homeless shelters are full.

I know personally people who are working full time, and who live in their cars because they cannot find an affordable place to rent. They drive from beach park to beach park every night seeking a safe quiet place to spend the night.

Transient Vacation Rentals (TVRs) are houses or condos that are operated as hotels. In addition to taking long-term rentals away from local residents, TVRs add to the overall burden of the tourism industry on County parks and roads.

Councilmember Luke Evslin proposed the measure, which would have generated $4.5 million in new revenue by increasing the TVR tax rate by $1 to $10.85 per $1,000 of taxable income, bringing it even with the rate for resorts and hotels. Armed with the facts, he obviously had done his homework and did an excellent job articulating the need and justifying the ask.

Councilmember Kuali‘i and Vice-Chair Chock were both passionate and articulate in their support as well.

TVRs on Kauai should pay a property tax rate equal to or even exceeding that of hotels – just like they do on Maui.

The Maui County Council recently approved their property tax rates, setting the TVR rate on Maui at $11.85, slightly more than their hotel/resort rate of $11.75 – (per $1,000 of value), and not one single Maui Councilmember voted no.

Unfortunately here on Kauai, Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro along with Councilmember Carvalho, Cowden, and DeCosta all said no.

We don’t need the money they said. Maybe at some point in the future, we might need it, but for the moment we are fine, was the message justifying their votes.

We don’t need an additional $4.5 million that could have been used for affordable housing, homelessness, open space acquisition, and other vital services – and paid for by tourists.

$4.5 million annually is what we are talking about.

$4.5 million annually that could leverage municipal bond funding to pay for the infrastructure needed for thousands of new housing units.

$4.5 million annually that would have been paid for by people on vacation, who don’t live here, who choke our roads, beaches, and trails daily, and whose very presence on our island drives up the costs and take away much-needed housing for local residents.

I encourage all to watch the Council meeting yourself and make up your own mind on this.
Start at around 2:40. Check out their attitudes and listen closely to their words.

Then, please contact the Councilmembers directly and share your thoughts. You can use councilmembers@kauai.gov to reach all of them with one message or send each one an individual note.

Please be courteous and professional.

Those 4 who voted against increasing the tax on TVRs and using the money for affordable housing:
Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro – ajkaneshiro@kauai.gov
Councilmember Bernard Carvalho – bcarvalho@kauai.gov
Councilmember Felicia Cowden – fcowden@kauai.gov
Councilmember Bill DeCosta – bdecosta@kauai.gov

Those 3 who voted in favor of increasing the tax on TVRs and using the money for affordable housing:
Council Vice-Chair Mason Chock – mchock@kauai.gov
Councilmember Luke Evslin – levslin@kauai.gov
Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i – kkualii@kauai.gov

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Hawaii’s next governor won’t dance

Be aware when the SuperPacs again bring out their long knives – Kai Kahele will not dance and he clearly can win. Therefore the big money forces will be fighting him tooth and nail, day and night, for the next 90 days.

You are aware already I am sure that Congressman Kai Kahele has officially announced he’s running for Governor. Watch his announcement speech – you will be impressed.

If you read my piece from last week, Dancing with the devil – money and politics in Hawaiʻi, you know that Kai is my guy (and why he won’t dance).

He has made a commitment to cap campaign contributions at $100 per person. That’s it, $100. The legal limit for a Governor’s race is $6,000, but Kahele says $100 is the most he will accept from anyone.

He’s saying it’s time to get big money out of politics.

As a candidate myself in 10 elections over a 20-year period, I can tell you firsthand how exhausting and sometimes demeaning fundraising can be.

True Confessions: Over the years I’ve solicited and accepted campaign contributions from corporations, unions, and high net worth individuals – each of whom, either implicitly or explicitly, sought and expected my support for their particular policy agenda.

I’d like to think I’ve maintained my integrity along the way, but it should be no surprise that this is why people, corporations, and unions make large contributions to campaigns.

It’s about influence, and too often those with the most money have the most influence.

Fundraising is a huge roadblock to entry for new candidates and is an inherently corrupting influence on the political culture.

Kai Kahele is saying no to this culture and is making campaign finance reform a #1 priority. Imagine that. A top-tier candidate running for Governor saying no to big money and big influence. Wow. Just wow.

Needless to say, I made my online contribution of $100 as soon as I saw his announcement. And I hope you will too. Please join me in support of a guy who is saying out loud, that Hawaiʻi is not for sale.  $100 bucks. That’s it. Of course, $20, $30, or $50 will also help!

Want to know more about where Kai Kahele stands on the issues? It’s all here on the campaign website – take the time please to read it.

Yes, Kai is my guy and I’ve sent him my $100. It feels good actually to know that I will be one of his top donors 😉 And it feels good to support a candidate that’s willing to walk the talk against big money and big influence.

A recent Twitter/Text poll done by KITV4 says Kahele can win and is in fact winning. Be aware of this when the SuperPacs again bring out their long knives.

Kai Kahele will not dance and he clearly can win. Therefore the big money forces will be fighting him tooth and nail, day and night, for the next 90 days.

Let’s turn up our own heat and help this guy. Send him a small online contribution, join as a volunteer, and share his candidacy with friends and neighbors.

Let them know that Kai won’t dance, and that’s why we must make sure he wins.

Sincerely,
Gary Hooser
Former State Senator and Majority Leader

*If you have not already done so, please read – Dancing with the devil – money and politics in Hawaiʻi…it will help connect the dots.

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Who really deserves credit for the $18 minimum wage increase?

Assuming Governor Ige’s approval, Hawaii’s minimum wage will increase from $10.10 per hour to $12 in October, then phased increases will continue until it reaches $18 in 2028. In addition working families should celebrate the fact that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was also made permanent and refundable.

Credit for this win goes first to those in the community who took the time to call, send email, and offer testimony in support – over and over and over again for the past 4 years. It is those who stayed the course, who stood in the hot sun holding signs, wrote letters to the editor, and reached out directly to their district legislators – who should be applauded first for this victory.

Sending those countless emails and making those telephone calls, does in fact make a difference.

Also to be recognized and thanked is retiring State Senator Brian Taniguchi who year after year has been a champion for this issue. He is the legislator who has kept the effort to increase the minimum wage alive and ultimately ensured its passage.

While House Speaker Scott Saiki and his leadership faction will claim the credit, this group has actually been the greatest impediment to increasing the minimum wage and denying workers a pay increase over the past 4 years.

While they publicly have professed support, Saiki and his team have effectively blocked all increases that have been proposed and supported by the Senate, year after year.

This year is different because each and every legislator is up for reelection. With few exceptions, each and every legislator wants to keep their job. It’s a natural impulse and not inherently a bad thing.

Speaker Saiki came within 167 votes of losing his 2020 reelection to Kim Coco Iwamoto, who is challenging him again this year. Kim Coco made Saiki’s failure to increase the minimum wage and his lack of support for working people, a primary pillar of her campaign.

And voila! Speaker of the House Scott Saiki changes from being the main roadblock of increasing the minimum wage to literally its loudest cheerleader.

Fear of losing your next election is a powerful motivator. That fear, combined with the relentless collective actions of many individual advocates from across all the islands – is what made this win possible.

When legislators run unopposed they too often become unresponsive to community concerns. But when someone throws their hat in the ring to run against them, that tune quickly changes.

Bottom line: We need to identify and support qualified candidates to step up to challenge those incumbent legislators who have become complacent, unresponsive, and unwilling to make the sometimes tough policy changes needed.

As a Democrat I believe we need to “primary” incumbent Democrats who block people and the planet first policy initiatives, or just as worse – those that just sit there and do nothing.

We need change-makers, not just placeholders. We shouldn’t have to bludgeon our lawmakers with daily onslaughts of email and phone calls just to get them to move off the dime and do the right thing.

A strong mahalo is due to the many in our community and around the state who have taken the time to take action these past 4 months, and these past 4 years – in support of increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage.

We won and it would not have happened without the individual actions of many, and you know who you are. It also wouldn’t have happened without the help and support of Senator Brian Taniguchi, Senate leadership including Senate President Ron Kouchi, and a handful of strong outspoken progressives in the House.

Mahalo to all of you for this win. Mahalo especially to Kim Coco Iwamoto for stepping up to challenge the most powerful Representative in the House. Imua 2022!

Please encourage friends and networks to sign up for my email at https://policy-and-politics.mailchimpsites.com

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Why I was there, why I am here: In 549 words or 3 minutes

I had 3 minutes. The group I was speaking to was a new organization, formed to support candidates whose values supported people and the ʻāina. The question I was asked to speak to was: Why are we here?

The question both on a superficial and existential level is of course a relevant one. The answer is a much-needed reminder to those of us engaged in the world of policy and politics.

So, I did my best in my 3 minutes to explain briefly at least why I was there, standing in front of a room of about 25 people and a virtual streaming audience of many more.

In short, I was there because I am afraid for our future, determined to fight back to make it better, and hopeful because of the many others who share that same commitment to making positive change happen.

I was there because we are losing our coastlines to global warming, our mountain streams to corporate ownership, and our natural environment is under assault daily from the impacts of tourism.

I was there because 42% of our friends and neighbors struggle daily simply to survive. We have families living under bridges, in cars, and in encampments far back in the kiawe – just a short distance away from luxury homes sitting empty, rented to foreign tourists, or occupied by the 1%.

Yes, I was there together with many others because we feel a deep sense of urgency and are committed to making our community and our world a better place.

Sounds like a grand idea, but really it’s not.

It’s basic kuleana. It’s being responsible for our children’s future, and it’s a refusal to let the bullies win.

We know there are solutions to our many challenges. We know that with a stroke of a pen, with the passage of new forward-thinking public policy initiatives, accompanied by the funding and political will to implement and support those policies – we can in fact protect our natural environment, expand income equality, and protect the most vulnerable in our community.

And we know that to make the positive changes needed requires community and political leadership that understands the urgency, is willing to push back against those profiting from the status quo, and put ʻāina and the people first.

The organization I was speaking to on this day is called Huli-Pac https://www.hulihi.com . They are a Hawai’i Island grass-roots organization formed to identify, support, and help elect new political leadership in their community. HULI stands for “Help Uplift Leaders with Integrity”. Its mission says “We endorse and support candidates and officeholders of integrity who serve ʻāina and the people of Hawai’i Island.”

Similar organizations and citizen-based groups exist also in Maui County. My hope is that this fever to support positive change will spread, and similar groups will form here on Kaua`i and on Oahu as well.

We in fact have good people stepping up to run for office. Individuals with roots in the community, who share our sense of urgency, and who are willing to put people and the planet above corporate profits, are stepping forward – and we must help them.

That’s the reason I am here, and the reason I was there.

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Dancing with the devil – money and politics in Hawaiʻi’

I’m hoping Congressman Kai Kahele does in fact run to be Hawaiʻi’s next governor. We should be so lucky.

As a former Kauai Councilmember, State Senator, and Majority Leader, I’ve seen lots of politicians come and go. I can say without reservation that Kahele is someone we can count on, someone who shares our collective values, and someone who will go to the wall to protect the ʻāina and support working men and women across all Hawaiʻi.

I’ve worked closely in the past with L.G. Josh Green (when he was in the Senate), former Mayor Caldwell (when he was Majority Leader in the House), and with Congressman Kai Kahele. While we have met briefly in the past, I do not know former First Lady Vickie Cayetano well at all.

Am I concerned about the recent dust-up regarding “proxy voting” and the fact that he is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines and sitting on the Transportation Committee?

Not really.

Attending meetings remotely and voting remotely has been the norm in Hawaiʻi for the past two years. Building relationships with lobbyists in DC is certainly not something I see as a priority and as we all know, this too can be done via Zoom.

I’d much rather see our Representatives hanging here in the islands listening to regular people talking about real issues rather than schmoozing at swanky DC restaurants with lobbyists, big funders, and lifetime politicians.

When comparing the votes and actions of CD2 Representative Kai Kahele who spends much of his time in Hawaiʻi, with CD1 Representative Ed Case who is embedded in DC full-time – Most of us I believe will agree that Kahele’s votes and actions win hands-down over those of the self-identified blue dog Ed Case.

As to a pilot sitting on the transportation committee: So long as there is no direct conflict or personal benefit and the employer relationship is disclosed, don’t we want people with real experience sitting on these committees? Are the critics saying that no doctor should sit on the health committee and no farmer on the agricultural committee?

Let’s cut to the chase. These political hits don’t happen by accident. These stories are more often than not, planted by opposing candidates and/or their related SuperPacs. No doubt they are deemed newsworthy and accurate by the publishers, but the stories are almost always instigated by political operatives.

This is big money and big development trying to keep Kai Kahele out of the governor’s race.

They know he won’t dance. They know he has already cost Alexander & Baldwin $60 plus million dollars when he wouldn’t play their game in the East Maui Water issue. They know he is the strongest voice of all the gubernatorial contenders on protecting Red Hill, and that his default position is to protect the āina and the people.

No. Kahele won’t dance and those with the money are scared he might actually win.

Do you remember what the Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP) SuperPac did to former Governor Ben Cayetano in the 2012 Honolulu Mayor’s race?

They spent $3.6 million and shredded him in the media day after day raising questions about his personal integrity. It was so sleazy that he took them to court and actually won a defamation lawsuit against them. But of course, it was too late and the election was over.

Now, do you remember that another PRP-related Super PAC “Be Change Now” supported Josh Green’s election to Lieutenant Governor with over $1.1 million?

And exactly who is the Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP)? From their website “We represent the Hawaiʻi Regional Council of Carpenters, the largest construction union in the state, and over 240 diverse contractors…We’re the backbone of Hawaii’s construction industry.”

Just a tad more history. Immediately after winning the LG race, Green hired a top PRP/Carpenters Union insider to be his chief of staff.

Read Green’s recent affordable housing piece and you will see that 3 of his 10 suggestions are PRP talking points – fast track development, eliminate red tape, streamline the process. In other words, eliminate the Land Use Commission, reduce community input, and weaken environmental protections (though he says not).

Actually, the story and the speculation now get a bit more convoluted. PRP attacked Cayetano to ensure that Caldwell would win because Cayetano was unabashedly anti-rail. Then PRP swung behind Green to defeat former Senator Jill Tokuda in the LG race. Now both candidates who PRP has strongly supported, Green and Caldwell – are running against each other.

So who is PRP supporting for Governor?

Well, we know for sure that it’s not Kai Kahele.

Because he doesn’t dance.

And that’s why I like him.

Note: Since writing this on April 29th, Kirk Caldwell has dropped out of the race and Kahele has officially entered it.

Gary Hooser
http://www.garyhooser.com

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Your action paid off. Minimum wage is scheduled!

Update: HB2510 Passed! $18 in 2028, increases tip penalty BUT makes permanent refundable EITC – it’s a win but should not have taken 4 years. Mahalo to all for the emails/calls, for standing in hot sun holding signs. Mahalo Kim Coco Iwamoto for holding Speaker Saiki accountable. Imua! more to come in an upcoming post….

This would not have happened without the hundreds of emails and telephone calls that poured into the offices of House Speaker Scott Saiki and Senate President Ron Kouchi – over the past 24 hours. And the thousands that have been made over the past 4 months.

Of this I am sure. Mahalo to all.

At the very last minute, HB2510 SD1 increasing the minimum wage in Hawaii from $10.10 to $18 per hour has been scheduled for 3:01pm today! A copy of the hearing notice with information on how to view the hearing is here: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/hearingnotices/CONF_LAT_04-29-22_2_.HTM

The legislators sitting on the committee are:
House Conferees: Representatives Onishi/Nishimoto, Co-Chairs; Ilagan, Okimoto
Senate Conferees: Senators Taniguchi, Chair; Kidani, Co-Chair; Fevella

What is likely to happen?

I am predicting that the key members of the committee have already met and worked out a deal/compromise. The committee will convene, announce the deal and then adjourn the meeting.

This is common practice for a Conference Committee where historically most/all of the negotiations is done in private – in violation of the Constitution which states in Article III – Section 12: “Every meeting of a committee in either house or of a committee comprised of a member or members of both houses held for the purpose of making a decision on matters referred to the committee shall be open to the public.”

The other possibility is that the committee will simply “gavel in” and the Chairs announce that they still have not reached a decision, and then adjourn until a later time.

Important Note: The House is the main roadblock here. While Big Island Rep. Richard Onishi is Chair of the Labor Committee and theoretically in charge of making decisions for the House – Speaker Scott Saiki represents the Majority and is the person most responsible.

Another option, if they cannot come to an agreement with the Senate in Conference Committee – the House can simply “accept the Senate position”. This can happen instantly with support from Speaker Saiki or action can be taken by House members directly.

So – do not accept statements from individual Representatives that “there is nothing they can do” or “this is up to Rep Onishi” – Individual members can take independent actions contrary to that of the Speaker or the Chair. They simply have to stand up in the House Chamber, make the proper motion, get a second to that motion, and proceed to debate and ultimately vote. A series of motions would need to be made and voted on, but the process is available for individual members to take action on the floor.

If Conference Committee fails, and the Speaker fails to take action, direct action on the floor by individual members will be the only path left for working people to win a long, long overdue increase.

The hearing notice has links to view the hearing, read the bill, see past testimony etc. Unfortunately, the legislature does not allow testimony for Conference Committee hearings. But if you can contact the legislators directly to share your thoughts.
https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/hearingnotices/CONF_LAT_04-29-22_2_.HTM

My apology for grammatical or other errors as I am rushing to get this out today. gh

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Minimum wage increase will die today unless….

Minimum wage workers and all Hawaiʻi will lose if HB2510 SD1 is not scheduled today and approved by Monday.

Please call and email today House Speaker Scott Saiki and Senate President Ron Kouchi (scroll down for contact info).

These two men can either bring their teams together today in support of working people, or they can continue the gamesmanship and kill the hopes of Hawaiʻi’s lowest-paid workers.

Top executives of the largest Hawaiʻi publicly traded companies received an average pay increase of more than $750,000 in 2021. Their average annual take-home pay is $4.5 million (HNN).

Hawaii legislators themselves will receive a 10% pay raise this coming year.

Most if not all public workers have also had their pay increases approved.

Yet the Hawaiʻi minimum wage of $10.10 has not increased since 2014. Since then, top legislative leaders have talked about an increase, said that they supported an increase, and promised an increase – and broken those promises every year.

Economic studies produced by the State of Hawaii Department of Business and Economic Development in 2021 state that a single adult needs to earn about $19 per hour today, just to survive. That’s about 94.4% above the current state minimum wage level and 178.1% above the federal poverty threshold for Hawaii.

On January 28 the Senate passed SB2018 , proposing a phased-in minimum wage increase reaching $18 per hour by 2026. Governor Ige offered written testimony in support and the Senate vote was only one short of being unanimous.

The House refused to even grant SB2018 a hearing.

Instead, they preferred to hear only “their bill” HB2510 , which was inferior in many ways, contained too many moving parts, and did not reach the $18 mark until 2030.

The Senate as the only adult in the room, dutifully scheduled, amended and passed HB2510 SD1 . The measure now contains the $18 by 2026 provision and removes entirely the “tip penalty” that allows restaurants to pay a sub-minimum wage to their workers.

The House then rejected the amendments presented by the Senate.

Both of these bills are “ready to go and clean”, both achieve the $18 threshold in 2026, and both have been rejected by the House.

To be clear Speaker of the House Scott Saiki is calling the shots on this and so far has refused to allow a vote on either measure by the entire House of Representatives.

The Senate has already passed $18 by 2026 almost unanimously. It stands to reason that the House would do similarly IF Speaker Saiki would allow them to vote.

But no, the Speaker is not allowing a vote and instead is forcing the issue into the Conference Committee process where it can be negotiated (weakened or killed) behind closed doors.

During the Conference Committee process the House and Senate “Conferees” will meet in public at a scheduled time where they announce and formally convene. They will then recess and meet in private behind closed doors.

Behind closed doors the two sides will attempt to “leverage” the other side, using the political volatility of the minimum wage bill as a wedge to force action on other bills. They will essentially say, “I will not pass this minimum wage bill unless you pass (or don’t pass, or weaken, or amend in some specific way) some other bill that may or may not be related to the minimum wage issue.”

But as of the date and time of this blog post, no Conference Committee meeting has yet been scheduled, and as a result, the minimum wage increase is about to die.

It’s a game legislators play. Too often, it’s a game driven by ego and personal grudges.

It’s pathetic really. Grown men responsible for looking out for us, preferring instead to play their macho games of one-upmanship.

Your action is urgently needed TODAY.

Please call and email today: Speaker of the House Scott Saiki at 808-586-6100 and repsaiki@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Please also call and email today: Senate President Ron Kouchi at 808-586-6030 and senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov

Tell them both to end the games, strike a deal that workers can celebrate, and take the vote – TODAY.

Please copy your district Senator and Representative also.

If Saiki and Kouchi cannot bring their respective teams to an agreement, working people will end up with nothing. Nothing that is, except more broken promises from more broken politicians.

Please do this. Today is the last day when it will matter. Every single telephone call and email is important.

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Raise The Rage – Time To Take Action On Minimum Wage

Top executives of Hawaii’s largest publicly traded companies received an average pay increase of more than $750,000 in 2021. Their average take-home pay:$4.5 million (HNN).

Hawaii legislators themselves will receive a 10% pay raise this coming year, and most if not all public workers have also had their pay increases approved.

Yet Hawaii’s minimum wage of $10.10 has not increased since 2014. Since then, top legislative leaders have talked about an increase, said that they supported an increase, and promised an increase – and broken those promises every year.

Economic studies produced by the State of Hawaii Department of Business and Economic Development state that while each county is slightly different, “In 2020, a single adult on Kauai with no children needed to earn an hourly wage of $19.33 to be economically self-sufficient. That was 94.4% above the state minimum wage level and 178.1% above the federal poverty threshold for Hawaii.”

On January 28 the Senate passed SB2018, proposing a phased-in minimum wage increase reaching $18 per hour by 2026. Governor Ige offered written testimony in support and the Senate vote was only one short of being unanimous.

The House refused to even grant SB2018 a hearing.

Instead, they preferred to hear only “their bill” HB2510, which was inferior in many ways, contained too many moving parts and did not reach the $18 mark until 2030.

The Senate as the only adult in the room, dutifully scheduled, amended, and passed HB2510 SD1. The measure now contains the $18 by 2026 provision and removes entirely the “tip penalty” that allows restaurants to pay a sub-minimum wage to their workers.

The House then rejected the amendments presented by the Senate.

Both of these bills are “ready to go and clean”, both achieve the $18 threshold in 2026, and both have been rejected by the House.

To be clear Speaker of the House Scott Saiki is calling the shots on this and so far has refused to allow a vote on either measure by the entire House of Representatives.

The Senate has already passed $18 by 2026 almost unanimously. It stands to reason that the House would do similarly IF Speaker Saiki would allow them to vote on it.

But no, the Speaker is not allowing a vote and instead is forcing the issue into the Conference Committee process where it will be negotiated (weakened or killed) behind closed doors.

During the Conference Committee process the House and Senate “Conferees” will meet in public at a scheduled time where they announce and formally convene. They will then recess and meet in private behind closed doors.

Behind closed doors the two sides will attempt to “leverage” the other side, using the political volatility of the minimum wage bill as a wedge to force action on other bills. They will essentially say, “I will not pass this minimum wage bill unless you pass (or don’t pass, or weaken, or amend in some specific way) some other bill that may or may not be related to the minimum wage issue.”

It’s a game legislators play. Too often, it’s a game driven by ego and personal grudges.

It’s pathetic really. Grown men responsible for looking out for us, preferring instead to play their macho games of one-upmanship.

Please call and email today: Speaker of the House Scott Saiki (McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown Honolulu) at 808-586-6100 and repsaiki@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Please also call and email today: Senate President Ron Kouchi (Kauai) at 808-586-6030 and senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov

Tell them both to end the games, strike a deal that workers can celebrate, and take the vote.

Please copy your district Senator and Representative also.

If Saiki and Kouchi cannot bring their respective teams to an agreement, working people will end up with nothing. Nothing that is, except more broken promises from more broken politicians.

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