Saturday, March 13, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Senate gets silly in
exhausting session

By Craig Gima


Somewhere in the middle of a six-hour Senate session on Tuesday, Sen. Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua) got up to speak against the wrong bill.

"Erase those," he said once he realized his mistake.

A little while later, Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) made the same error and spoke on the wrong bill.

"It's contagious," he said.

When you're voting and discussing more than 300 bills, it helps to have a sense of humor even if the laugh is unintentional.

It's easy to get lost when some of the measures include such stimulating issues as:

bullet Whether to remove "noncultivatable and nonusuable lands in determining acreage assessments in irrigation district boundaries."

bullet Whether to "permit the visual monitoring of storm water runoff by motor carriers required to monitor by law."

A measure that would require blank votes be counted in deciding whether there should be a state Constitutional Convention brought a remark by Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua) who asked: "A blank vote is a blank vote. How can we count a blank vote when a vote is blank?"

Puzzlement among his colleagues soon turned to chuckles.

Sen. Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo), who has difficulty resisting animal puns, spoke on a bill that would add dangerous animals to the list of weapons in the robbery laws.

Matsunaga said there were four reasons dogs were like guns.

"No. 1: Both suffer from accidental discharge. No 2: Dogs tend to bank fleas and those with guns tend to flee from banks."

Despite groans from his colleagues, Matsunaga continued.

"No. 3: A dog is man's best friend, and at John Gotti's wedding, a gun was John's best man. No. 4: A heated gun indicates that it has been fired and a dog in heat indicates its about to be fired."

When it came time to adjourn, Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai) objected. "We're having so much fun -- can't we stay longer?" he deadpanned.

"You and Sen. Anderson (the other Republican in the Senate) can stay," said Senate President Norman Mizuguchi.

"In that case, I second the motion (to adjourn)," Slom said.


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