“So are you saying that 90% of the House incumbents basically suck?” Question received in response to a recent blog post – at https://garyhooser.blog
“A fair question. Basically, I think that a majority either look at the world through a different lens and/or are too meek to speak out.” I replied.
Readers are invited to grade the State House and Senate themselves. Here are the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s top Legislative Priorities for 2019. Guess how many have been accomplished? Remember, Hawaii’s legislature is composed overwhelmingly of individuals who ran for office and were elected to office under the banner of the Democratic Party. And remember also, this is “pre-COVID-19.”
Tier One – Top Priorities
* Raising the Minimum Wage & Establishing a Living Wage
* Increasing Funding for Public Education
* Legalizing Recreational Cannabis
Tier Two – Important Policies That Need Action
*Establishing Collective Bargaining for Graduate Students
*Investing in Veterans Treatment Court
*Developing Neighbor Island Video Conferencing for Public Hearings
*Establishing Single-Payer Health Care (Medicare for All) in Hawaii
Tier Three – Issues To Begin Working Towards
*Improving Access to Behavioral Health Services
*Reforming our Criminal Justice and Bail System
*Establishing Publicly Funded Elections
The reality is that nothing on this list has been accomplished and barely any meaningful movement at all has occurred. Not in the 2019 session, not in the 2020 regular session and not in the 2020 session now underway. Nada, zip, nothing –
Yes, both the Senate and the House are responsible for the ongoing failure to support the priorities of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, but the House under the leadership of its Speaker, Representative Scott Saiki, has stood out as the #1 culprit in preventing the #1 Party priority from passing into law. In 2019 the Senate was poised to agree to a $15 minimum wage, the Governor had expressed his support for a $15 minimum wage – and House Leadership killed it in conference committee. Meanwhile, the minimum wage sits at $10.10 per hour while the cost to merely subsist, exceeds $17.
So back to the original question: “Do 90% of the House incumbents basically suck?
The answer is clearly no. Are a majority in the House far too timid in their approach to supporting the very basic and straightforward issue priorities put forth by their own political party? The answer here would be yes, and too often that timidity looks and feels like negligence.
Fortunately, there are a handful of champions in the House willing to speak out, who support an actual living wage, who passionately fight for environmental protections, who believe in fully funding education, and that healthcare for all is a human right. And thankfully there are many others who also serve in the legislature that while less bold in their advocacy, would do the right thing and vote the right way IF their leadership actually led the way.
This all begs the question: How do we build a legislative body that has a majority who actually believes in this stuff (economic, environmental and social justice) – and is willing to fight hard for it?
The upcoming Primary Election on August 8th (with ballots being mailed out in less than 3 weeks), is the most urgent and obvious next step toward this goal. Statewide, there are at least 17 candidates running for election to the State House who do believe in this stuff and are willing to fight for it.
The other important part that does not go away regardless of who is elected and who is not – is the ongoing need for basic civic engagement. Each of us must be involved and make paying attention to our government – a permanent requirement of our personal citizenship.
Please take action today, research the candidates running in your district and around the state. Find a candidate or candidates that you like and support them. Get informed, submit testimony, attend the hearings, write letters to the editor and talk to your friends and neighbors about the issues.
We have 3 weeks to meaningfully engage the electoral process statewide, and a lifetime to own our personal civic responsibility.
The choice is ours to make. We can remain complacent and accept the status quo, or fully engage the opportunity before us – and win.
Note: If your values place people and the planet above corporate profits, here is a list of 17 candidates to the Hawaii State House of Representatives you might like. Please support them if you can! https://garyhooser.blog/2020/06/14/rebuilding-the-house-an-almost-complete-list-of-phi-endorsed-candidates/
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