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Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, February 5, 2001

Thielen proving energetic
on energy issues

In a flurry of news releases, Republican Rep. Cynthia Thielen is proving she's a busy legislator.

Be it topics of wind, wave, solar or even the Hurricane Relief Fund, Thielen is hard at work.

In a seven-day span, her list of legislative items included "green power," which would have utilities disclose exactly how dependent consumers are on fossil fuels; and wave power, which would have the state research tidal power as a renewable energy source.

Thielen, one of the Legislature's strongest proponents of industrial use of hemp, has given no word yet on any pro-hemp bills.

DOT DIET:

Donna Mercado Kim wants to put the state Department of Transportation on a diet.

The senator is suggesting the state fork over its highway duties and funding to the counties.

The transfer would alleviate "public confusion created by multijurisidictional responsibilities," said Kim (D, Fort Shafter-Aiea).

Kim's proposal includes a "warm body" policy in which no currently employed workers would lose their jobs.

TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT:

GOP Rep. Charles Djou doesn't want to increase the size of government in Hawaii.

Or does he?

A member of the Finance Committee, Djou voted "aye" on Wednesday to increase the Legislature's budget bill by 4 percent -- even approving an added $300,000 to what the Senate had already passed.

In an about-face two days later, Djou chastised the increase on the floor of the House, bemoaning it as increasing the size of a state government that's already the nation's largest.

The Windward representative argued: "With the state struggling to find pay raises for teachers and other worthy programs, it sends the wrong message that the first act of the 2001 Legislature is to increase its own budget."

WINNERS

Bullet Joe Blanco: Back on track on the information superhighway, this time getting favorable reaction to his pitch for $50 million to modernize and streamline government operations through computers and the Internet.

Bullet Dogs: Dogged by the Hawaiian Humane Society, the Senate may let the dogs out. It is considering a bill to allow dogs on leashes to be permitted in state parks.

Bullet House staffers: More bucks -- 4 percent more -- for state House staffers in a new $12.7 million legislative budget.

LOSERS

Bullet HGEA: More bad news for the state's largest government workers union, which thought it had a contract ready for approval. It now faces a Legislature that says it may not have enough money to cover the contract.

Bullet Tourists: May have to open their wallets wider -- if an Office of Hawaiian Affairs committee has its way. The panel is proposing that tourists would have to pay a special entry or exit fee to visit Hawaii.

Bullet GOP: Decked in Round 1 in the battle to cut taxes, when the controlling Democratic majority spiked a series of bills aimed at dropping state taxes on food and health services.

This feature by Richard Borreca runs Mondays throughout the legislative session.



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