Bills at Legislature cover soup to nuts


POSTED: Monday, February 02, 2009

For nearly 50 years, Hawaii plodded as one of only nine states without a state insect, but this year, thanks to the Hawaii state Legislature, that might be resolved.

  ;  Rep. Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa) and others have introduced House Bill 135 designating the Kamehameha butterfly as the state insect.

Over the years, Hawaii's lawmakers have designated a state bird, mammal, marine mammal, fish, flower, gem, song, dance and slogan.

The Legislature has introduced 3,523 bills this year. Some observers note there seem to be more bills than usual of less than global importance.

“;It makes me close to tears,”; says Lowell Kalapa, executive director of the Hawaii Tax Foundation, who has been either working for or observing the Legislature for nearly 40 years. “;They just don't get it. We have more dumb-dumb bills this year than ever.”;

Another bill, HB 352, introduced by Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Waianae-Makua), would make Aug. 4 Barack Obama Day and declare it a state holiday. Obama was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961.

“;Do they not know the financial implications of another state holiday? They just don't know what it costs to run government,”; Kalapa said.

Rick Kahle, former state tax director, who has worked as assistant director of the Legislative Reference Bureau and as an attorney for the Senate, says the staff is stuck when asked to write up an uncoventional bill.

“;As the drafter, I do my best to make sure it is legal and will do whatever it is they intend to do,”; Kahle says.

But he adds, “;Where else can you have so much fun listening to this stuff?”;

Here are some of the other bills introduced this year:

» Liability of rooster owners: Makes it illegal for a rooster to escape or be removed from its owner's property while wearing a sharp object. HB 80 was introduced by Rep. Cindy Evans (D, Makalawena-Waimea).

» Unspecified appropriation for a State Commission on Fatherhood to hire an executive director and staff to complete statewide analysis of services available to fathers, develop policy on best practices for serving fathers via state agencies and publish an annual report on the status of fatherhood issues in Hawaii. Senate Bill 800 was introduced by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Kalihi-Liliha).

» Add a state law regarding the breeding and selling of dogs and cats to require that animal owners get a breeding permit before allowing their dog or cat to breed, and forbid the seller of a mixed-breed dog or cat to charge more than $500 for the offspring. It was introduced by request by Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua).

» Several bills proposing a constitutional amendment so that the Legislature will not convene during the week that the U.S. president is inaugurated. HB 61 was offered by Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City), and SB 1625 by Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kauai).

» All state residents between the ages of 16 and 20 would be required to serve a minimum of 500 hours of community service. For this they would get $3 an hour from the state to be put in a scholarship for their education. SB 1203 was introduced by Sen. Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului).

» Set up an Office of Military Affairs in the Governor's Office. HB 535 was introduced by Rep. Calvin Say (D, St. Louis-Palolo) and others.

» Set up both Religious Freedom Day (second Saturday in July)—HB 1282 by Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kalihi)—and change the name of Ocean Day to World Ocean Day—HB 1328 by Rep. Lyla Berg (D, Hahaione-Aina Haina).

» Get ready for the 10th anniversary of Peace Day in 2017 by setting up a commission “;to plan, develop and implement a peace mission.”; HB 1315 was offered by Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu (D, Waipahu-Waikele).

» Tax-free day would be designated one day a month for residents and businesses to “;sell goods and certificates for services without any income tax consequences.”; It was sponsored by Chun Oakland.