to the Editor

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Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Lawmakers kept busy with variety of issues

Wow. What an incredibly productive Legislature. Landmark legislation included the bottle bill, gas price regulation, prescription drug help, oversight of Hawaii Medical Service Association, and campaign finance reform.

The lawmakers gored special interests. Much credit for this goes to the young, reformist leadership of the House: Reps. Brian Schatz, Mina Morita and Scott Saiki.

But if the House had selected Joe Souki instead of Ken Hiraki as chairman of the House Committee on Consumer Protection, consumers might have had less to cheer about this year. It was a fateful day two years ago, when by the narrowest of margins House Democrats chose Hiraki over Souki.

For the sake of consumers, let's hope that Hiraki remains chairman of this important committee.

David Kimo Frankel

Death debate brought out best in lawmakers

At last Thursday's hearing on the death-with-dignity bill, a packed gallery witnessed what may have been our Legislature's finest hour ("Senate kills death-with-dignity bill," Star-Bulletin, May 2). The debate from both sides was sincere, heartfelt and devoid of the occasionally caustic rhetoric that marred some of the earlier hearings.

Sen. David Matsuura (D, South Hilo-Puna) should be recognized for voting to pull the bill from his own Health and Human Services committee so it could go to the floor for consideration. He took a lot of heat over the past few months, but in the end he rightfully decided the issue warranted a full hearing.

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae-Maili-Makaha) both stressed that death with dignity boiled down to the right of personal choice, and recognized that the proposed law is a natural next step to the existing Health Care Decisions Act. She also eliminated many of the misconceptions concerning the physician's level of involvement in the process.

I was impressed by Sen. Bob Nakata's (D, Kaneohe-Kahuku- Heeia) quiet but eloquent analysis of how medical and technological advances are making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between earthly and divine intervention. And even though he ultimately voted against the bill, I acknowledge Sen. Bob Hogue's (R, Kaneohe- Enchanted Lake) soul-searching effort that resulted in switching his vote at the last minute.

Regardless of where they stood on the issue, I applaud all of the senators who gave their full and thorough consideration to the bill.

I urge everyone to continue discussing the issue, make sure that you fully understand your present options (including advanced directives) and let your elected officials know where you stand, regardless of whether you believe in death with dignity.

Roland L. Halpern
Social Justice Council
First Unitarian Church of Honolulu

Other vehicle laws should be enforced

Now that the van cams are history, there are other problems that also should be done away with, in accordance with the law.

Some license plates are beyond reading, which could very well be a detriment in identifying a vehicle. Forget about the speeders for the moment, and think of what the consequences would be if there were a hit-and-run incident and the license could not be deciphered. I have seen some blurred plates that are difficult to read even when the vehicle is only a few feet away. Then there are those who take the front plate and put it on the dashboard.

It's time for the drivers to take responsibility for careless driving and think about safety.

N. Jeffs

Van cameras weren't so bad, after all

It is funny how I first disliked the van-camera system, but after seeing how it affected driving conditions, I believe the system would be very effective here with a little adjustment.

Keep the Honolulu Police Department out of it. Raise the speed limit threshold to 11-plus miles per hour before a ticket is issued. Fines should start at about $100 and go up $25 for every mile an hour above that. Violations should not affect car owners' insurance premiums. Red-light cameras should be implemented. The Department of Transportation should issue a press release indicating that registered owners of vehicles will be responsible for citations.

That should do it.

Lyle Kawakami
Volcano, Hawaii

Where is outrage about virtual porn?

A few weeks ago I woke up to the story of the freighter Insiko, which had caught fire off the coast of Hawaii. A day or so later, the story broke that the cruise ship had left behind the Insiko's 2-year-old dog, Hok Get. This began a public outcry from pet lovers across the country. Before we knew it, $50,000 had been spent in efforts to save Hok Get, and the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard and the Humane Society joined the rescue effort.

During the same period, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision concerning the free speech of those who produce and sell "virtual" child pornography. As I read the court's decision, I was outraged that we as a nation would allow the exploitation of children for sexual gratification to be protected as free speech. I was sure that the next day there would be a great moral outcry against the decision. But there was no outcry. Where were our clergy, our political leaders, the abuse shelter directors?

It is imperative that we as a nation show the same moral outrage about the inhumane treatment and exploitation of children as we are over the inhumane treatment of Hok Get.

The Rev. Kevin M. Doll
Living Waters Recovery Ministry

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