A Question For The Ballot Box – Paying For Education

The legislature and the public has been playing a game of “whack a mole” for a long, long time, effectively dodging the question and responsibility of properly funding Hawaii’s public education system. They say no to increasing the General Excise Tax (GET), they say no to raising tourist taxes (except for rail of course), they say no to taxing sugar drinks, and they say no to legalizing and taxing cannabis. In the past they have said no to taxing retirement income and casino gambling and/or a lottery (all bad ideas IMHO) have never gotten off the ground.

Whack the mole, pass the buck, and kick the can down the road is how our state has dealt with funding public education, and we all should be a little ashamed of ourselves for letting that happen.

Hawaii teachers are the lowest paid in the country, when the cost of living in Hawaii is factored in.  To attract and retain qualified teachers they must be paid properly, and currently that is not the case.  According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) each year over 1,000 teacher positions remain vacant, and positions are often filled by uncertified and unqualified long term substitutes.  In addition to low teacher pay, small class sizes which have been proven to increase student learning also require a public investment.  The list of funding needs for public education is long, and the neglect by the legislature to adequately funding those needs extends even longer.

Somebody has to pay for underfunding our public education system. Right now the teachers and students are effectively paying this cost through low wages and crowded classrooms, and they have been for years.

But the public will soon be given a chance to reverse the neglectful trend.

On November 6, 2018 Hawaii voters will be asked,  “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

My vote will be a strong yes.

If approved by the voters this change to the Hawaii Constitution will allow the State legislature to then pass legislation essentially adding an “education tax or surcharge” on investment real estate. Investment real estate is generally defined as real estate that is not owner occupied.  The enabling legislation, will clarify the definition and establish which properties will be subject to the new surcharge/tax and how much that tax will be.

The legislative intent as expressed in the public record, is to levy the surcharge on luxury homes and condominiums that are used as second homes, vacation rentals and or simply sit vacant as investment properties.

As someone who has served at both the County and the State level, I know how difficult politically it is to raise taxes.  I also know that there are numerous exemptions and other mechanisms that can and will be put into place to protect local families and the local rental market.  The political pressure on the legislature to do so will be tremendous, of that you can be sure.

This conversation has been happening now for many years. There is no right way to raise taxes that pleases everyone, so the result is nothing happens.

Few if any legislators nor members of the public who are familiar with the issue will say that Hawaii’s teachers are paid adequately.  Most will agree also that small class size is important and that our students deserve much more than they are getting.  These same individuals will agree that to achieve these goals requires an additional investment in our public education system.

But at this point is where the conversation historically collapses.  No one it seems wants to pay for it.  Instead, we force our teachers to subsidize our education system by working for substandard wages, and our students and community as a whole pays the societal costs.

Any tax increase will gore someones ox, and thus all increases are always opposed (except for rail).

For those whose response is “someone else should pay”, I ask who?

The issue is complex and yet it is not. To attract and retain qualified teachers they must be paid properly, and currently that is not the case. Small class sizes have been proven to increase student learning and this also costs money. No amount of streamlining or decentralization or other rearranging of the deck chairs will achieve these objectives.

This is a crazy cycle of neglect, with real consequences and it must stop.

The constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this coming November, allows the public to choose to increase the funding for public education via a surcharge on investment properties, or the public can choose to do nothing and just keep whacking the mole.

First published in The Garden Island Newspaper on May 23, 2018.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

2018 Kauai Election & Hard Choices Ahead (5/18/18 candidate update)

With less than three weeks left until the filing deadline, the latest Office of Elections Candidate Filing Report of Friday May 18, makes for interesting reading and rife speculation.

At the top of the ticket for the County is the Mayor’s race and the contenders so far remain unchanged.  Derek Kawakami, Debra Kekaualua, Leonard Rapozo Jr., Melvin Rapozo, and Clint Yago have all pulled papers and filed.

Councilmember and former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura who has announced her candidacy for this seat, and whose signs have been popping up around the island, has not yet taken out nomination papers to run.   All candidates have until June 5th to formally file their nomination papers.

Kauai Senator Ronald Kouchi and Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar are both in the middle of 4 year terms and not up for re-election.

The list of candidates for the Kauai County Council continues to grow.  Twenty-four individuals have “pulled papers” indicating an interest in running, with fourteen of these (indicated in bold) having “filed” indicating they are in active campaign mode.

Dominic Acain, Arthur Brun, Bob Cariffe, Mason Chock Sr., Felicia Cowden, Bill Decosta, Norma Doctor Sparks, Luke Evslin, Victoria Franks,  Richard Fukushima, John Hoff, Cecelia Hoffman, Shaylene Iseri, Joseph Kaauwai Jr., Ross Kagawa, Arryl Kaneshiro, Kipukai Kualii, Nelson Mukai, Wally Nishimura, Adam Roversi, Roy Saito, Shirley Simbre-Medeiros, Milo Spint and Harold Vidinha.

Projecting forward, the field of Kauai County Council candidates is destined to be a large one.  With fourteen candidates having already filed, plus the high likelihood that all  incumbents (in italics) will eventually file, translates to 17 confirmed candidates with 17 days still remaining for new candidates to jump in.  Clearly the fact there are 3 “empty seats” up for grabs due to the departure of three incumbents, continues to motivate new candidates and this in my opinion is a good thing.

For the State House of Representatives, the three incumbents: District #14 Nadine Nakamura, District #15 James Tokioka and District #16 Daynette “Dee” Morikawa are so far running unopposed.  Most students of government and politics would say that competition is a good thing, and it is likely that at least one of these incumbents will have a serious challenger.

The final day for filing papers as a candidate in any and all races is not until June 5, and consequently all of the above is subject to change.

There remains a sense of dissatisfaction among many with the candidate choices available so far.  This feeling seems strongest among those citizens concerned about the impacts of unrestrained growth.  The unrelenting traffic, the astronomical rents and the crowded beach parks are constant reminders of the unavoidable impact the visitor industry has on our island.  Yet there is little mention of this issue by most candidates, let alone proposals for potential solutions.  The “M word” is avoided like the plague with incumbents and challengers alike sticking to the premise that there is little the County can do and that a moratorium on growth is outside the realm of County options.

There are of course options the County could pursue to aggressively address all three core issues of traffic, affordable housing and degrading public facilities at our beach parks.  There are also strategies the County could pursue to limit growth, based on the availability of infrastructure and thus force new growth into existing urban areas.

These are not new problems but they have now reached a tipping point, where the publics frustration is at a peak, and where political action is therefore possible.  In the world of public policy and politics, most would say the issue of growth management is “ripe” for political action.  Actually, it is over-ripe and will soon begin to reek with the odor of rotting vegetables.  I digress.

This ripeness of the issue presents an opportunity for new candidates especially, to distinguish themselves.  Those who are willing to discuss the issue and who demonstrate a willingness to consider the tough choices necessary to begin managing our islands growth, are in my opinion the candidates to watch and support.

Election years always represent an opportunity for change.  Now is the time when residents must obtain commitments from those seeking their votes.  Now is the time for residents to frame the debate, force a public discussion on the issues that matter most to us, and then select those candidates, committed to working on solutions.

The challenges and impacts of seemingly unrestrained growth compounded with an infrastructure that is woefully inadequate, must become the defining issue of this election.  Trust me on this one.  When the people lead, government will follow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s not about the chemical companies, it’s about elections

As I am sure you already know, it is really not about the chemical companies.  Nor is it about affordable housing or raising the minimum wage, or protecting water and the environment.  It’s about interests, not issues.  And it is about elections.

It’s about electing political leaders who care deeply about protecting and enhancing the public’s interest, the interests of people and the environment.

The issues are only symptoms, and too often victims of a much deeper problem. Our political institutions operate today in a manner clearly biased toward serving the interests of those in positions of wealth and power.  This fundamental truth is not unique to Hawaii, but I believe we in Hawaii have the people power and the momentum in place, to flip the power structure on its head and be a model for communities everywhere.

So today, we pivot and attack with vengeance, commitment and unrelenting perseverance, our next monumental task.

We have before us an opportunity to elect into public office a new generation of civic leaders who understand the importance of integrity based decision making and who are committed to putting public benefits and protections, ahead corporate power and entitlement.

The Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) of which I am the executive director, is working in collaboration with other organizations on each island to support candidates statewide who represent these values and if elected to public office have the capacity to change the very nature of the way government works in Hawaii.

I offer you today my personal pledge to put every ounce of my energy into this effort, and ask you to join me.  Collectively, we as a community have fought hard for change and justice, and  have taken on many important tasks and battles over the years.  And yes, when we put our heart and soul into the effort, we win.

PHI will be supporting the campaigns of at least 12 candidates for election to the House and Senate, and as many as another 10 Council candidates (representing each County).  We have in place the administrative structure, the experience and the relationships with other organizations around the State to can make this happen.

To support these candidates and win, will take money and people, but frankly at this point money is the most important element.  Absentee voting for the all-important primary election will begin within 60 days.  This means we must move ahead quickly to finalize strategies, produce materials (media etc) and begin extending support to candidates.

Our goal is to extend the maximum support possible to each candidate we endorse.  Please help today if you can. Donations of any amount to PHI whether $20, $200, $2,000 or $20,000 are welcome and very much needed.  I cannot over-emphasize the need for your help with this today, and if at all possible prior to May 11, when important strategic decisions must be made.

Donations can be made here: https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/donate/

Volunteers are welcome and needed also: https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/join/

Our entire official endorsement slate will be announced soon, but for starters below are 4 candidates who when elected, I know will change the world as we know it in Hawaii politics.

As always, I am more than happy to meet in person with anyone, on any island who is interested in actively supporting our effort to make positive change happen for Hawaii in 2018.  To those with the capacity to give, we need your help now.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser – Executive Director Pono Hawaii Initiative

 

4 wahine candidatesleft to right in photo

Amy Perruso https://www.amyperruso.com/  State House District #46 Wahiawa

Tiare Lawrence https://www.tiare4maui.com/  State House District #12 Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului

Natalia Hussey-Burdick https://www.nataliaforhawaii.com/about State House District #49 Kaneohe, Maunawili and Olomana

Tina Wildberger https://www.tinawildberger.com/ State House District #11 Kihei, Wailea, Makena

* Each of these candidates is of high integrity, and will represent their district and the entire state of Hawaii in a manner in which we can be proud, of this I am certain.  And yes, I encourage you also to make donations directly to these candidates as well as to PHI, if you have the capacity to do so.  gh

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Regulating The AgroChemical Industry – A Five Year Journey

The passage yesterday of SB3095CD1 marks an auspicious moment in the legislative history surrounding pesticide regulation in Hawaii. Now on its way to the desk of Governor David Ige, SB3095CD1 contains a “first in the nation” ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, phased in gradually over 4 years.  Chlorpyrifos is a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP), a neurotoxin that was originally developed to be used as a nerve gas in World War II and is highly dangerous to children and pregnant women. Chlorpyrifos is used through-out Hawaii in industrial agriculture.  In addition the measure contains a statewide RUP reporting mandate and other important protections.

These two components, a ban on chlorpyrifos and robust reporting of RUP usage alone represent a dramatic improvement to existing Hawai’i laws.

A bit of history and context is in order.  As most who follow this issue already know, after several years of mounting health concerns, school children getting sick, sea urchins dying and community lawsuits being filed, on June 26, 2013 Bill 2491 was placed on the Kauai County Council’s agenda.  Bill 2491 required the disclosure of RUP’s, buffer zones around sensitive areas, and a health and environmental impact study. In the interest of full disclosure, Bill 2491 was co-introduced by myself and Councilmember Timothy Bynum (now deceased).

Without exaggeration, Bill 2491 generated more testimony and more public participation in the process than any measure ever proposed in the history of Kauai County. It was passed into law with a 6 – 1 vote by the Council, then vetoed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho and then overrode by the Council, becoming Kauai County Ordinance 960 on November 16th, 2013.

Rather than comply with the new County ordinance requiring full disclosure of their RUP use and modest buffer zones around schools and other sensitive areas, the large chemical companies based on Kauai at the time (Syngenta, DOW Chemical, DuPont and BASF) quickly filed a law suit against Kauai County.

On August 25, 2014 the courts struck down Kauai County Ordinance 960 with U.S. District Court Judge Barry M. Kurren ruling that it unlawfully preempts state law governing pesticide use.

“This decision in no way diminishes the health and environmental concerns of the people of Kauai,” Kurren wrote. “The Court’s ruling simply recognizes that the State of Hawaii has established a comprehensive framework for addressing the application of restricted use pesticides and the planting of GMO crops, which presently precludes local regulation by the County.” – Civil Beat.

Following passage of the Kauai Bill 2491 on November 16th, 2013, – Hawaii County (via County Council action) on December 5, 2013 and Maui County (via citizen ballot initiative) on November 4th, 2014 both also passed County ordinances attempting to regulate the large agrochemical/GMO companies.  The industry quickly filed suit against both Hawaii County and Maui County as well, with the Courts eventually ruling that the Counties did not have jurisdiction in this area.

Thus began the past 4 years of effort attempting to pass state legislation regulating the use of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP’s), culminating yesterday in the vote to approve SB3095CD1.

For those of us who have been working hard on this issue over the past 5 years or more, yesterday’s vote marks a significant milestone in our efforts.

SB3095CD1 contains 6 main components:

1A ban on the use of the RUP and neurotoxin chlorpyrifos. This ban takes effect immediately however temporary permits will be granted allowing continued use for up to 4 years, at which time no new permits will be issued and no chlorpyrifos will be allowed in the State of Hawaii. The practical expected impact of the ban’s 4 year implementation will be a gradual decline in use, culminating in a complete ban after 4 years.

2The mandatory statewide reporting of annual RUP use to the State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) that includes: RUP product used, amount of RUP used, and the date and location of the usage.

3Annual Public Summary Reports of statewide RUP usage by County reporting the types, amounts and area of the applications.

4A prohibition against using RUP’s within 100 feet of school grounds during school hours (excluding termite fumigation).

5The SDOA will conduct a pesticide drift monitoring study to evaluate pesticide drift at three schools within the State.

6Approximately $700,000 in general funds are being added to the SDOA annual budget, plus two additional positions. These are intended to support the increased pesticide oversight and the drift monitoring studies.

While many of us who have been working hard on this issue for the past years would have preferred various aspects to be stronger, it is without question that the sum total of the above components represent a strong and meaningful step forward in securing increased health and environmental protections.

The ban on chlorpyrifos alone will have tangible health implications and the statewide reporting provisions have the potential to generate long term, consistent data necessary for those seeking to research the issue to determine specific impacts. The summary data by County will allow residents the information needed to make a more informed decision as to where they choose to live, work, play or go to school. Clearly the 100 feet buffer zone around schools is inadequate and must be expanded in the future but it is more than we have in place now, which is zero. The drift monitoring study if done correctly has the potential to yield much needed data but for its results to be credible will require significant forethought and careful planning. Of course the additional financial and personnel resources provided to the SDOA will be hugely helpful in their efforts to properly manage the use of RUP’s while protecting health and the environment.

The multi year effort needed to accomplish the task of bringing SB3095CD1 this far has been daunting and there are many, many people that deserve to be thanked and recognized for their work.

Most of all we must thank the people in the community who stepped up to tell their stories year after year, share their concerns and insist that lawmakers do what they were elected to do: keep bad things from happening to the community. Without their hard work and persistence, we would not have reached this milestone in protecting the health of our families and the fragile environment in which we live.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not recognize and thank Representative Dee Morikawa, as this would not have happened without her personal effort and diligent work that resulted in bringing the various stakeholders and legislators together.

Gary Hooser     http://www.garyhooser.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We had a huge win at the legislature this past Friday.

SB3095CD1 was passed unanimously by the Senate/House Conference Committee!

We still must pass floor votes in both the House and the Senate tomorrow Tuesday May 1, starting at around 10am in the Senate and 9am in the House.  The next and final step of course is the desk of Governor David Ige.

But today we celebrate our win and give thanks to all who have helped.  The list is long and I will not attempt to list them here at this moment.

But you know who you are.  Every one of you who called, sent an email, showed up to testify in person, walked the halls at the Capitol, wrote a letter to the newspaper or showed up at a rally or march.  You are the ones who deserve credit for this win.

And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Please relish this moment of success, and then take a moment to thank your District Representative and Senator (contact info is below)

They each will vote again on this issue, Tuesday morning and you can be sure between now and then the Hawai’i Crop Improvement Association (HCIA) will be lobbying them heavily doing everything they can to stop or reverse this vote.

This is the first time ever the Hawaii legislature has gone against the wishes of the HCIA (Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Syngenta/Hartung etc) and you can bet, they are working around the clock at this very moment strategizing on how to beat us.  FWIW: Dow Chemical is the primary manufacturer and seller of chlorpyrifos.

Here are three excellent reports on what happened on Friday and further describe the content of SB3095CD1.

http://www.thegardenisland.com/2018/04/28/hawaii-news/committee-oks-pesticide-bill/

http://hawaiiindependent.net/story/hawaii-could-become-the-first-state-to-ban-chlorpyrifos

http://www.civilbeat.org/2018/04/pesticide-compromise-reached-as-conference-committee-time-expires/

Here is contact info for the entire Senate (by District):
https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/members/legislators.aspx?chamber=S

Here is contact info for the entire House (by District):
https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/members/legislators.aspx?chamber=H

Please make the effort to identify and thank specifically YOUR DISTRICT Senate and House member.

Please also if you can give a special shout out of thanks to:

*Senator Russell Ruderman the Bills primary introducer

*Kauai Representative Dee Morikawa who played an essential role in bringing key legislators to the table allowing a meaningful measure to emerge.

*Senator Mike Gabbard who is Chair of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, and has been steadfast in his leadership and commitment in passing the Bill.

*Representative Chris Lee who has been with us year after year, and whose leadership on this and on so many issues relating to environmental protection is invaluable.

*Representative Richard Creagan (MD), whose initiative and advocacy resulted in the ban on chlorpyrifos being a critical part of the Bill.

And of course, Speaker of the House Representative Scott Saiki, Senate President Ronald Kouchi, House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz who recognize the importance of the issue, and that this measure at this time, deserved to be passed into law.

Mahalo to all!

Gary Hooser
http://www.garyhooser.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kauai – The Pain And Suffering Is Real

Our friends and neighbors on Kauai are hurting and need help. Now is the time for us all to work together, and to set politics aside. The pain and suffering is real, whether your house is large or small, whether rich or poor, or whether you are born here, moved here or visiting here.

Those of us not directly hit by the traumatic flooding that slammed our island this past weekend cannot possibly imagine its devastating impact. It is no exaggeration to say that the lives of many have been changed forever.

We should pray hard and offer personal help as we are able for those individuals and families most affected.

And we must deeply thank those many volunteers, first responders, and others who are working around the clock to protect life and property and to eventually restore some sense of normalcy to what must feel like a surreal nightmare to many.

Many parts of the island were hit hard.  The south and east side were not spared, but it is without question that our neighbors living from Anahola to Haena were hit the very hardest.

For those living north of the Hanalei Bridge, restoring “normalcy” will take many months. For those in the hardest hit areas, it may very well take years. And the reality for others who may have already been living on the edge financially or personally, this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

While the public focus is on the dramatic pictures of flooding and property damage, government at the state and county level is scrambling to mobilize people and resources to ensure public safety, make emergency repairs to impassable roadways, inspect and repair the numerous bridges, and deal with a myriad of other public infrastructure challenges.

Our community must brace for the islandwide impacts that will now unfold, and respond with support and empathy.

During the emergency repair phase now underway, both public and private entities are rushing to protect property from further damage, and to repair roads and homes so residents can return to their homes and begin the arduous job of cleaning up and long term reconstruction.

It is that pivot from emergency repairs to long term reconstruction, where both further challenges, tremendous opportunity and many questions reside.

Our already stressed housing inventory has instantly just shrunk by hundreds of housing units.

The impacted families need affordable shelter now, and that need will continue.

As follows every natural disaster, the immediate need for carpenters, and other building trades professionals will have a ripple effect in the public and private sector.

The County Planning and Building Departments, already maxed out on many levels, will be put under even more pressure.

From a public policy perspective we must learn from the past experience of Hurricane Iniki, and the “post disaster” experience of others.

But that discussion can wait until another time. For now, we must keep reaching out to help with immediacy, compassion and generosity for our friends and neighbors during this heart-wrenching time of need.

Please give what you can to help rebuild and restore the lives of our Kauai North Shore Ohana.

Donations are being accepted by:

Malama Kauai – Excellent resource for current information on needs of the community.  Local and on the ground:  http://www.malamakauai.org/mk/kauai-flood-relief/

The Hawai’i Community FoundationThe largest, oldest and most credible manager of philanthropy in Hawaii.  https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/kauairelief

There are numerous other Go Fund Me efforts and other organizations also that are engaged in the huge effort relief effort.

Flood impact and volunteer efforts in picture here: http://www.thegardenisland.com/2018/04/18/photo-galleries/april-2018-flooding/

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Conference Committee & Plausible Deniability

The 2018 legislative session is coming to a close with the final day of the legislative session being Thursday May 3, or “sine die”.

Most of the thousands of Bills that started the process in January are by now already dead, having never been scheduled for a hearing, and or being heard and then deferred into oblivion. Those measures that remain alive have two paths open to them: (1) the House or Senate can “Agree” to a particular draft, put an end to further discussions and amendments, have final votes on the floor and send the approved Bill to the Governor for approval or veto, or (2) the House or Senate can “Disagree” and force the Bill into what is called a Conference Committee, for further discussion and possible amendment, or to simply die a quiet death in the back rooms of the Capitol.

At the risk of increasing the readers cynisism and distaste for politics and the political lawmaking process, my thought is that a dose of reality is in order.

Any time a Bill is passed into law, someone’s ox is gored. There is always some stakeholder, some interest group, or some individual constituent who does not like the Bill and wants it killed.

Consequently, these next 20 days represent the final home stretch when attempts are made to kill various Bills, while advocates scramble to protect those same measures and get them passed into law.

Of course, legislators who are working on behalf of those interests groups seeking to kill the various measures also face repercussions if they are “found out” and it is discovered that they are responsible for killing a Bill that so many have worked so hard to pass. Needless to say the process is fraught with political land-mines and as a result there is endless creativity in the manner in which something is killed, and the degree of stealth and denial of the legislative assassin.

Here is a brief list of common ways a legislator might attempt to kill a Bill and come out smelling like a rose, or at the minimum with plausible deniability.

1) The Poison Pill – The introduction of amendments framed as “strengthening the Bill” but in effect will make the measure unpalatable to the greater majority, and thus cause the Bill to die. In this case, the legislator can/will claim that they were a champion and only trying to support the cause, but in reality they were sabotaging the Bill and attempting to gain favor with both opponents and advocates.

2)  The Floor Fallacy – A commitment to vote in support of a measure “if it gets to the floor”. The unvarnished truth is that 95% of Bills that get to the floor will pass. The support that is needed from legislators is help in “getting it to the floor”, as once it does get there almost everyone will vote in support. Many legislators will beg off with the rationale that “I’m not on the committee…” however each has a voice and each can speak out on the issue, lobby the committee chair, it’s members, and leadership of the body.

3)  Conference Committee –  Conference Committee is the final legislative destination where Bills that successfully navigate all the other committees in both the House and the Senate often end up. This “joint House/Senate committee” is where the “differences” between the “House and Senate versions” are supposed to be resolved.

ALL OF THE SERIOUS DISCUSSION THAT OCCURS IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE IS DONE IN PRIVATE, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

* Because the discussions in Conference Committee are done behind closed doors, it is impossible to determine responsibility for any negative outcome.

* Any of the “Chairs” on either side (of which their could be 3 or 4 on each side (House/Senate), can block the process simply by not signing a hearing notice, thus not allowing a hearing to be scheduled.

* The “Poison Pill” strategy is often used here so those desiring to kill the measure can claim the high moral ground when they know perfectly well the opposing side will not accept the changes.

* There is no obligation by rule that the two sides must reach agreement, so either side can just continue to find areas to “disagree” and thus never reach a conclusion.

* Either the House or Senate leadership can simply refuse to appoint members to the conference committee, their position being “take it or leave it”.

* No public testimony is allowed. However, for those that have open lines of communications with the legislators, there are private and back door channels.

  • The rules of the House/Senate indicate “Chairs shall provide 24 hours public notice for the first meeting of the Conference Committee…”. Once the first meeting is scheduled, “public notice” might be a little as a few hours or even less for subsequent meetings. This process effectively prohibits 1/2 of the state’s population who reside outside of Honolulu from participating in any meaningful way, as even a witness to the process and in my opinion, is unconstitutional.

Legal Note: The Hawaii State Constitution – Article 3, Section 12 states in part:

“Every meeting of a committee in either house or of a committee comprised of a member or members from both houses held for the purpose of making decision on matters referred to the committee shall be open to the public.” Obviously a process that gives only 24 hours notice and allows private meetings between legislators to discuss “decision making on matters referred to their committee” does not meet this provision of the Hawai’i State Constitution.

Further info:

https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2018/docs/2018_Joint_House-Senate__Conference_Procedures.pdf

bill2law copy

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment