Legislators have failed
to act on concerns of
I have sent numerous testimonies to the various committees at the state Legislature this year supportive of the business community's concerns. To date, the process has left me questioning the motives of our lawmakers. The long hours that many business owners and business groups spend at the Legislature are not having any impact on the legislative process. A number of senior legislators keep lecturing the business community to show up if we want change. We show up, but no one is listening.
I was under the impression that our senators and representatives are to represent ALL of Hawaii; however, it seems they are paying heed to only a very few interest groups. "All of Hawaii" includes our residents and resident-owned businesses. It has become painfully clear that this Legislature's agenda is to prioritize the wish list of select special interest groups and to show the current administration who is running this state.
The losers are the majority of our citizens and businesses. A good example is workers' compensation reform. Though at least a dozen reform bills were introduced, I heard early on that word came down from key legislators that no workers' compensation bills would pass this session.
Sure enough, the only bill still "alive" related to workers' compensation is designed to strip the state director of labor of his powers, thus ensuring that Hawaii's workers' compensation system will remain cumbersome, antiquated and one of the most expensive in the nation.
(Curiously, the Senate version reinstates the director's powers in the year 2011, and the House version reinstates the powers in 2007. The senators must figure that Governor Lingle will be re-elected in 2006; however, the representatives seem to be more pessimistic about that -- pessimistic or optimistic, I guess it depends on how you look at it.)
From a small-business owner's perspective, the Legislature is once again demonstrating that its members listen only to certain labor groups while continuing to hammer away at the powers of the administration. It certainly would be a novel idea for the legislators to get back to the job they were elected to do, rather than to be the puppets of labor groups and to care only about power instead of doing their job of representing ALL of Hawaii.
Denny Sadowski is a small-business owner in Honolulu.