Isle GOP should be more cooperative, not critical
SEVERAL groundbreaking accomplishments marked the 2007 legislative session. Hawaii's Keiki Care Bill ensures a future in which no child of this land needs to be without health care. The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill puts our state in the national forefront of efforts to halt global warming.
Yet, rather than pursue a strategy of bridge-building, Gov. Linda Lingle's senior policy adviser, Linda Smith, has chosen to bemoan, belittle, demean and denigrate ("Lawmakers talked big but did little," Star-Bulletin, May 13).
We should endeavor to raise the level of public policy dialogue to a place of respect in our community rather than lower it to the gutter, and ultimately demean the institution, the public and the policy as has recently been the case. We need to use language that is positive and productive, not negative and destructive. Words matter.
As Senate majority leader, I see first hand the dedication and commitment to public service put forth by our members and their staff. I can say without hesitation that the Senate majority takes their work, their responsibility and their individual votes very seriously.
The Keiki Care and Greenhouse Gas Emissions bills were not the only strong initiatives passed during the 2007 session. We approved nearly $500 million to support education. Schools all over our state will benefit from an increase in funding for repair, maintenance and electrical upgrades.
On the business side, changes to the unemployment insurance law benefit both employees and employers.
Targeted tax relief for low- and middle-income residents combined with a reduction in the tax on gasoline also will benefit our community.
Affordable housing, elderly care, renewable energy, technology, health care, prisons--all received support by legislation passed during the 2007 session.
Could we have done more? Absolutely. Did we make everyone happy? Of course not. We propose legislation, we review the materials that come before us, and we study the issues. We conduct hearings, we listen to the views of those concerned and we ask hard questions. We make amendments and then we vote. There are people and special interests on every side of every issue, and there is always someone who wishes the result went a different way. But that is how laws are made.
We considered more than 380 nominations for boards, commissions, judgeships and directors. We disapproved only three.
We reviewed more than 2,000 pieces of legislation and approved and passed over to the governor 325 bills. To date, she has vetoed 15, and the Legislature has over-ridden eight of those vetoes.
Perhaps it is the natural and expected position of the minority party and the governor's office to throw stones. After all, it is easy to criticize and even easier to point out what was not passed, what was not funded and what appointments were not approved. It is far more difficult to engage the process, grapple with the hard choices, and make the tough and sometimes controversial decisions.
Effective leadership calls on us to take action where we can, restrain ourselves when we should and foster a continuing focus on what is best for our community. While some in the minority are quick to take cheap shots at the Democratic majority, they would be better off -- and the public would be better off -- if they would simply build a bridge and get over it.
Gary Hooser is the state Senate majority leader. He represents Kauai and Niihau.