Take a guess what's going on at Capitol
NO MATTER what Germany's first chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck said, there are times when we want to see both sausages and laws being made.
While the federal Department of Agriculture worries about the amount of filler going into the morning Jimmy Deans, here at the Capitol we are entering the time of seen and unseen miracles.
A "Yes" vote becomes "No, with reservations," and members of the Legislature announce they are voting a "conditional yes" on a bill.
I'm not making up those votes; they are direct quotes from living state senators.
Watching the business practices of the Legislature can make you wish for an immediate tour of the local sausage emporium.
For instance, the Senate last week passed a resolution, SCR 77, with a title that asked the education department to study the need for teacher housing. But Sen. Norman Sakamoto's education committee then used that resolution to launch into a hearing on the needs of people from Micronesia and Palau living in Hawaii.
Sakamoto put the worries about teachers' housing into another resolution, SCR 169, even though its title was asking for an investigation of whether school dress codes "ensure the full protection and guarantee of all civil rights of students."
Amazingly, another Sakamoto resolution, SCR 112, was not amended and stayed right on topic. That one asked the Department of Education "to undertake a study to determine the most effective medium between 'One size fits all' and 'To each his own.'"
The real concern with the Legislature is the unseen. The biggest question mark is the budget, House Bill 500.
There is a House version. There is a Senate version. And there is a real version, the conference draft put together by the House and Senate budget committees.
Doug Boswell, the late Star-Bulletin editor and reporter, described the process of the House and Senate budget committees coming together as "two whales mating." This year there has been a lot of tail flapping and water spouts, but we don't know what they are doing under the surface.
For instance, both the House and Senate say they want to see a campus built in Leeward Oahu, the University of Hawaii-West Oahu. The House tucked $31 million into the budget for West Oahu. The money was removed by the Senate. Last year, the Senate put the money in and the House took it out. It is anybody's guess if that means there will be wooden portables or bricks and mortar 10 years from now.
The final item to guess about is the many proposed changes to the state tax law. Hawaii's taxes appear good at collecting money -- we are running a $740 million surplus -- but which ones will be raised and which ones lowered?
The answer comes when the real Legislature, the conference committee, meets and decides.