The Legislature’s Flood Of Bills

Larry Price
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Wednesday - February 16, 2011
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This legislative session hasn’t wasted any time in baffling taxpayers. Just about everyone is waiting for the battle to begin over a balanced budget and accounting for a $866 million shortfall.

More than 3,200 bills are being proposed at the Big Square Building on South Beretania Street. About 300 or so will become law, leaving a lot of special-interest groups either happy or disgruntled. The new administration wasted no time raiding the Hurricane Fund for money to end the furlough program. Not much reaction by the taxpayers.

Some wondered what happens if a hurricane hits the state, although that’s not a concern now, since hurricane season ends in November.

What has not gone away is our huge budget deficit. In true negotiating theory, you almost always talk money last, and that seems to be what’s going on. The promise to create civil unions for same-sex partners heads the list. A couple of the bills granting some sort of rights to same-sex couples glided through both houses without authorizing marriage itself.

There were four hours of emotional testimony in the Senate Health Committee on a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii. It was killed there.

Other eye-catching bills involved a concern with loud boom boxes. Don’t have to worry about that one too much, mainly because it’s unenforceable. The problem is irritating, but one person’s loud is another person’s groove.

Ideas about gambling in Hawaii’s resorts always surfaces whenever revenues are in question. Many taxpayers believe that gambling might help the economy, but there is little chance of that bill prevailing.

Another interesting bill to surface has to do with banning the sale of toy guns. The DOE believes that they are disruptive to classroom management. These toy guns are not “squirt” guns. They come with ammo clips, laser aiming technology and look very real. The vendors who sell them are naturally against the bill because it will put a dent in their sales. There is no real telling how far this bill will go, and it’s not impossible that if the Legislature allows it to become law, it may demand the toy pistols be registered with all law enforcement agencies.

There are two popular thoughts about our current Legislature. One is that it has lost its way, and the other is that this is a “dry run” for the newly crowned administration.

Let’s face it, there is a steep learning curve for any incoming administration. For that reason I think the public should hang on to their wallets and savings and wait for the real show to begin.

There was a little light shed on the matter last week when the governor finally appointed labor leader Neil Dietz as the state’s chief negotiator.

This is good news for the unions, because Mr. Dietz will have to leave his post as a port agent for the Seafarers International Union in Honolulu, where he was responsible for the union’s daily operations.

It’s good news for the unionized work force because they have someone who understands their plight.

The real question is, will he represent union members or management?

Relax, people ask stupid questions for a reason.

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