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Wednesday, May 3, 2000




By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, right, and Sen. Jan Yagi Buen
work yesterday on the final day of the regular session
of the Legislature.



Legislators
wrap up with
no home runs

One lawmaker calls it a small
step for the Democratic majority,
'one giant leap for Gary Rodrigues,'
the United Public Workers leader

What passed, what failed
Most to seek re-election
Hemmeter Building sale slips in
Progress seen on women's rights

By Richard Borreca
and Crystal Kua
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

With little controversy and with few issues resolved, Hawaii's first Legislature of the 21st century ended last night, failing to hit any home runs.

Legislature 2000 As Republican Sen. Sam Slom said about the progress made on the key civil service reform bill: "The batter got hit by the ball and went to first."

Criticism by the Senate minority Republicans was mild, but colleagues in the House said public employee unions won big.

"It's one small step for the Democratic majority. But it's one giant leap for Gary Rodrigues," said Rep. Jim Rath (R, North Kona), referring to the leader of the United Public Workers union, who brokered the final civil service bill.

The major cheering was left to the legislative leaders.

"We have shaped good public policy," Senate President Norman Mizuguchi said.

The Legislature ended business just after 10 p.m. when the House wrapped up a 12-hour session. The Senate finished its work several hours earlier.


By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Sen. Sam Slom raises his hand yesterday on the
final day of the Senate's regular session.



Several of the issues addressed this year were leftovers from last year.

The bill to regulate fireworks, for instance, has been under discussion for three years and in a House-Senate conference committee for more than a year. It passed yesterday. It will increase penalties for illegal aerial fireworks and will require a $25 permit for anyone who wants to buy fireworks for major holidays. Each permit will allow the purchase of 5,000 firecrackers.

Critics say the high cost of the permit and the low number of firecrackers allowed will lead to a fireworks black market. Supporters of the law say it will dramatically cut the smoky New Year's celebrations.

Rep. Nestor Garcia (D, Waipahu) said the fireworks debate touched him personally after a 25-year-old cousin was killed in an aerial fireworks accident on New Year's Eve. Garcia supported the bill.

"I think his death will not go in vain," Garcia said. "He helped to galvanize the debate of what we needed to do with respect to this issue."

While statewide fireworks control passed, one of the biggest issues dropped was the firearms re-registration bill.

After both the House and Senate had approved measures calling for the periodic re-registration of guns and requiring only registered gun owners to be able to buy ammunition, the Legislature dropped the issue.

Instead, lawmakers called for an "action task force" to spend several years working on the problems of gun violence, and for increased instructions for police to pick up the weapons of convicted felons.

Both lawmakers and Gov. Ben Cayetano had called for more support for public education, and legislators say they responded with $18 million more for the Department of Education budget, $45 million to repair dilapidated schools and $3 million for playground equipment.

The Legislature also reduced class size in grades K, 1 and 2 with a student-to-teacher ratio of 20-1 and it established new rules to hold teachers and schools accountable for producing quality education.

While Democrats hailed the accountability bill as a major step toward education reform, Rep. Galen Fox (R, Waikiki) said the measure was "closer to the status quo than real, meaningful change."

Lawmakers also established by law the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, appropriating money for additional positions to help create lessons and funding of $90,000 for bus transportation for the students.

A bill giving the University of Hawaii greater autonomy over its affairs was also approved.

Cayetano had hoped civil service reform would be the lasting contribution of his administration this year, pushing for proposals to make state government more flexible, responsive and efficient.

But, legislators said it was too much for them to accomplish.

"This year he wanted a total transformation of the system," Sen. Bob Nakata, Labor Committee chairman said.

"It was a monumental task that cannot be accomplished in one session," he said.

His counterpart in the House agreed.

"It is not over," Rep. Terry Nui Yoshinaga (D, Moiliili), House Labor Committee chairwoman.

"The governor's proposal to reform civil service is visionary, but such a vision cannot be implemented with a sweep of a hand."

Rather, Nakata said, they did a lot of pruning and trimming.

With strong pressure from the public employee unions, legislators compromised on the construction and operation of a new prison.

Cayetano originally wanted a private prison built on the Mainland, but later agreed to approving the construction of a locally built, privately-run prison.

In the end, the Legislature offered up a possible Big Island prison site, but said operation would be through managed competition, in other words, both private industry and the public unions would be allowed to bid on operating the prison.



Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes


Highlights of what passed,
what failed this session

Tapa

School Reform

Bullet Educational accountability: Requires DOE to implement educational accountability system for public schools

PASS

Bullet Teacher evaluation: Evaluation by students once each semester of each school year

FAIL

Bullet Merit pay: Establish an incentive or merit pay program for principals if school shows improvement in performance

FAIL

Bullet New century charter schools: Allows group of teachers to form charter schools without funding

PASS

Bullet Criminal history checks: Requires employer to conduct criminal history checks for teachers

PASS

Bullet Teacher ratios: Appropriate funds to lower the student-teacher ratio for the grades K-2 to 20-1

PASS

Bullet Shipboard gambling: Allows shipboard casino gaming in state waters; percentage of revenues to education programs

FAIL

Economic Development

Bullet Resort construction excise tax exemption: Allows tax exemptions of up to 20 percent for hotel/resort construction & remodeling

PASS

Bullet Resort construction income tax: Allows four percent hotel construction and remodeling income tax credit

PASS

Bullet Airline lease tax credit: Tax credit for lease of new, less noisy aircraft

PASS

Bullet Earned income tax credit: Authorizes an earned income tax credit for low-income taxpayers with dependents

FAIL

Bullet Minimum wage increase: Raises minimum wage to $5.75

FAIL

Bullet Hawaii Television and Film Development Special Fund: Creates Hawaii television and film development loan guarantee program

PASS

Bullet Pay-at-the-pump insurance: Increase in gasoline prices to pay for "pay-at-the-pump" car insurance

FAIL

Environmental Protection

Bullet Renewable energy: Requires a percentage of power come from renewable sources

FAIL

Bullet Prohibit shark finning: Strictly limits harvesting and landing of shark fins

PASS

Bullet Water tax: Assess surcharge for 1,000 gallons of water used to finance Hawaii's watershed areas

FAIL

Bullet Tourism EIS exemption: Exempt Hawaii Tourism Authority from the requirement of an assessment to promote tourism

FAIL

Bullet Cultural impact disclosure: Require impact statements for developments to consider effects on cultural practices

PASS

Bullet Solar tax credit: Extend tax credits for solar hot water heaters until 2010

FAIL

Bullet Environmental response fund: Expands use of environmental response revolving fund for environmental protection

FAIL

Bullet Tire tax: Imposes $1 tax on each tire sold to cover disposal and recycling of tires

PASS

Bullet Oil tax: Increase oil tax to five cents per barrel to finance environmental response fund

FAIL

Bullet Pollution lawsuits: Authorizes citizen suits in water pollution enforcement

FAIL

Bullet Halt "automatic approvals": Block automatic approval of applications for land use or business permits when a tie vote of the board occurs

FAIL

Health Care

Bullet Fluoridation: Fluoridate drinking water systems to prevent tooth decay in children

FAIL

Bullet Medical marijuana: Allows for cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes

PASS

Bullet Emergency funding for state hospitals: Appropriate $14 million in emergency funding for State Hospital for mentally ill

PASS

Bullet Tobacco settlement money: Provides funds received by Health Department from tobacco settlement for health education

PASS

Bullet Tobacco: Prohibit possession of any amount of tobacco by a minor

FAIL

Bullet Bicycle helmets: Requires bicycle riders under 16 to wear bicycle helmets

PASS

Bullet Diabetes health coverage: Mandates coverage for diabetes outpatient self-management training, education, supplies

PASS

Bullet Cigarette tax stamp: Establishes a system for imposing the tax upon cigarettes through the use of stamp

PASS

Bullet Seat belts for back seat: Requires backseat passengers between ages of 4 and 17 to use seat belts

PASS

Bullet CPR certification tax credit: Allows an income tax credit for obtaining CPR certification

FAIL

Bullet Body piercing: Prohibits body piercing of a minor without parental consent

FAIL

Bullet Liquor and tobacco tax increases: Raising alcohol and tobacco taxes to pay for drug treatment services

FAIL

Government Reform

Bullet Employee buyouts: Provides early retirement and voluntary separation incentive payments to workforce restructuring alternatives

PASS

Bullet Employer-union health trust fund: Creates subordinate union health benefit trust funds under a single employer-union trust fund

FAIL

Bullet Separate negotiations: Allow each county, University of Hawaii, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and state Judiciary to negotiate separately with the unions

FAIL

Bullet Conflict of interest: Prohibit legislators from working as lobbyists or representation of special interests

FAIL

Bullet Reduce public workers' vacation, sick leave: Reduce public workers' vacation and sick leave from 21 days to 14 days

FAIL

Bullet End to binding arbitration: Limits collection of any arbitration award to the applicable liability policy limit

FAIL

Bullet Managed competition: Establish a system of state and county managers identifying areas of privatization

FAIL

Bullet Drug testing: Allow termination of public workers after two failed drug tests

FAIL

Bullet Overtime for pensions: Eliminates overtime compensation of public workers' retirement benefits

FAIL

Bullet Eliminate free medical coverage for retirees: Eliminate free medical coverage for retired public workers and dependents and future county workers

FAIL

Bullet Snacks and naps: Requires employers to provide snacks and allow a 10-minute nap time

FAIL

Bullet Managers' merit pay: Establish a program awarding merit pay to managers not represented by the public worker unions

PASS

Bullet Campaign contribution pilot program: Provide public financing to candidates in 2002 Honolulu City Council elections

FAIL

Bullet OHA appointments: Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees appointed by the governor

FAIL

Bullet Hawaiian voting: Open voting for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees to all voters

FAIL

Bullet Privatize Ala Wai and Keehi Harbors: Permit commercial operators to run the state harbors

FAIL

High-Tech

Bullet Internet Portal: Establishment of Hawaii Access Committee

PASS

Bullet Computer access by minors: Limit access to online pornography by kids in public schools and libraries

FAIL

Bullet High-tech/new economy: Allows tax credits for new high-tech companies

PASS

Crime Control

Bullet Increase prostitution-free zones: Expands prohibition of prostitution in Waikiki to other areas

PASS

Bullet New prison/privately operated prison: Allowing a private company to build and operate a prison in Hawaii

PASS

Bullet Firearms re-registration: Allow police to seize firearms from gun owners due to violent crime convictions

FAIL

Bullet Hate crimes: Establishes civil cause of action and enhance criminal penalties for hate crimes

FAIL

Miscellaneous

Bullet Budget: Appropriates $6.3 billion for state budget, representing a 1 percent increase

PASS

Bullet Fireworks regulation: Permits sale and purchase of fireworks for cultural purposes and increases certain penalties

PASS

Bullet Required no-fault coverage: Increase in required legal minimum bodily injury liability coverage

FAIL

Bullet Buy Hemmeter Building: Authorizes Gov. Ben Cayetano to purchase building for $22.3 million

PASS

Bullet Unlicensed contractors: Authorizes forfeiture of tools used in unlicensed contracting activities

PASS

Bullet Breast-feeding: Allows women to breast-feed in public places

PASS



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