Category Archives: Legislature

Check these Legislative Reference Bureau resources

If you haven’t browsed the various resources available through the Legislative Reference Bureau recently, I think you’ll find a lot of interest.

Here are a few:

iClips, Headlines to your desktop.

A very handy daily compilation of the top local, national, and sometimes international news. This is one that should be bookmarked for regular visits.

LRB Library Reference Desk.

Lots of good links here to journals, organizations, etc. Definitely worth browsing for future reference.

Magazine Sites.

Quite a range, from the Congressional Quarterly and Monthly Labor Review to publications of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Yale Law Journal, and plenty in between.

LRB on Twitter (@LRBlibrary).

Interesting tidbits find their way here. You might as well be among those who see them.

In any case, you’re paying for these resources, so might as well make good use of them!

Columnist also folded when evaluating the legislative session

I was sorry to read Lee Cataluna’s column in Sunday’s Star-Advertiser (“Fold against adversity, just like the Legislature“). Using humor as a weapon, she blasts the Legislature for what she describes as “giving up” when faced with complicated issues.

It’s the kind of column that contributes to public estrangement from the political process, an attitude that trickles down to the state’s abysmal voter turnout and lack of participation in public affairs.

Catalina doesn’t name the issues she believes were given up on prematurely, or that were simply not worked on hard enough to craft solutions. Identifying those issues would have allowed those who disagree with her stance to chime in with alternate, perhaps less cynical, interpretations. Instead, she tees off on a generalized, nebulous straw man. A cheap shot, in my view.

The legislative process is incredibly complex, requiring somehow harnessing 76 potential conflicting personalities and political aspirations in a process of crafting legislation and steering it over hurdles through a process of open discussion, private negotiations and bargaining, balancing or steering past special interest groups and their lobbyists, community groups focusing on a single issue, headlines in the media that often reflect another political agenda, all within a deadline of 60 working days.

By the way, that time crunch is, at least in part, a result of the public’s disinterest in paying for a year-round legislature where additional time would be available to deal with those nasty, complicated issues.

It would seem that the lack of agreement on rail was one of the “failures” that prompted Cataluna’s diatribe.

But this is one of those cases where the disagreements between legislators and factions simply reflect the conflicting views in the broader community. There aren’t easy answers. There probably aren’t even any good answers. Past city administrations have left us with such a colossal mess that a few months of legislative attention, while juggling the thousands of other bills and issues pending during the session, had little chance of reaching a clear decision.

Here once again, Cataluna could have been specific and provided details of where she thinks the process failed, what facts or factors were overlooked or overvalued, and where she believes it should have led. But that didn’t happen.

Overall, I just wish Cataluna had deployed her wit and writing skills to describe the legislative process in a way that would draw people in rather than drive them away from public issues.

Young Progressives group calls legislative session a failure

Here’s an interesting perspective on the 2017 legislative session from a group of young activists.

The list (at the bottom of this post) appears on the Facebook page of Young Progressives Demanding Action, which shows over 1,000 members in its Facebook group.

The group is also backing a “Feel the Fourth” demonstration on Thursday morning (May 4), the final day of this year’s legislative session.

Here’s some of what they have to say:

Unfortunately, a great number of bills that would have helped Hawaii’s workers and families died this session because our legislative body continues to play politics with the future of our people rather than serving the best interests of our communities.

Bills that would have increased the minumum wage and provided workers with paid family leave; bills that would have protected against domestic violence in our communities, discrimination in our healthcare access, captive labor in our fishing fleets; bills that would have protected public health and the resiliancy of our environment; bills that would have funded programs to help our houseless brothers and sisters get back on their feet; bills that would have provided funding for our public schools; bills that would have supported native Hawaiian land access rights; and more all failed to be advanced this year, despite strong public support and the best efforts of organizing groups.

So it’s time for us to unite as a community and let our legislators feel the will of the people with a strong showing of community power. Thursday May 4, from 7 – 8:30 a.m. (the last day of session), concerned citizens will line Miller Street holding signs condemning the legislature’s failure, once again, to support the people. Miller Street is the lane that leads directly into the capitol building parking garage. Legislators will have to drive past their constituents and see their messages reminding our elected officials of their duty to the electorate.

This action is to let our elected officials know that their continued failure to work for the people will not be tolerated. It is intended to put them on notice that we are watching and we are mobilizing our community to take charge of our own future.

(Note: While YPDA is hosting this event on Facebook, this is a community-driven event fueled by our collective people power.)

It’s great to see another generation engaged in the issues!

Legislature 2017

Red flags surround bill on public land redevelopment

I received this information yesterday about a bill that morphed into something potentially quite dangerous. In the worst case, it would allow the privatization of public lands through perpetual leases.

HB 1469 started out as a way to redevelop the hotels on Banyan Drive – urban lands classified for resort development that do need to be redeveloped.

But somewhere along the way, it morphed into a sweetheart deal for existing tenants on any state land, including UH and TMT.

Under existing law, leases of state lands can’t exceed 65 years. Then they need to go back out for auction. The policy is that any lease longer for 65 years is essentially a sale of land. So to be fair, you put it up for auction to allow new parties to bid.

The conference committee just signed off on a final version of the bill that amends the section of the law that governs all state leases – and eliminates the 65-year limit on any new or existing lease on any state lands. Basically, it’s turning tenants into potential owners of state land.

It also eliminates the Land Board’s rights to access certain information from lessees (making it optional) who sell, assign or sublease state land. Which means an existing tenant can get an extension of a lease, turn around and sell it or sublease it for a profit, and the state can’t necessarily take action.

Then some language that specifically applies to the TMT lease was added:

· Allows the Land Board to extend a lease in perpetuity to any person or entity, including any school, government entity or non profit organization upon approval of a development agreement proposed by the lessee to make substantial improvements or construct new improvements. (pp. 20-21). No auction or separate public process needed.

So the Land Board could extend the UH and/or TMT lease at the same time it approves the construction or agreement to improve the area.

This bill raises all kinds of red flags. While the new authority to expend leases without limits likely wouldn’t be abused routinely, it opens the door to special sweetheart deals that will essentially privatize certain state lands, including ceded lands.

It is scheduled to be up for final floor votes in House and Senate Tuesday, May 2. It will be buried in the long list of bills awaiting final approval.