Capitol View

By Richard Borreca

Wednesday, April 14, 1999

It could be worse
at Legislature

TIME to pull back. We have been too hard on our Legislature. Really. They have been hectored, bullied and scared. We have whined and complained, snarled and dissed them no end. It is time we appreciated them.

Maybe we can't say much about their accomplishments, which have been slight, but look around the nation to see how they measure up.

How would you feel if we had elected the legislature like the one West Virginia got? Last year they made their own meals-on-wheels program by legalizing the eating of road kill.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature One state senator figured that with 40,000 animal-car collisions per year some help was needed in cleaning up the roads. Under the old law, drivers could keep road kill only after they had contacted authorities, a "process that can take hours and the meat is spoiled by then."

Whew. Think "Baywatch" would come here if our Legislature did that?

Let us also be thankful that we didn't elect the Arizona legislature, which last week passed a budget only after the doors to the state Senate were chained and the Senate parking lot blockaded with capitol security forces.

"Good thing these guys are legislators and not hostage negotiators. Otherwise, everyone would be dead," one House member observed.

We are fully capable of something like that. It could have been us.

Texas, always a fountainhead for bizarre legislative antics, a few years ago enacted a law requiring school teachers annually to pass an eighth-grade reading test.

Outraged teachers stormed the office of one Democratic state senator, hollering that legislators should be required to take IQ tests.

"I said, 'If we got all the ignorance out of the legislature, it would no longer be a representative body.' I found she did not have a sense of humor," the legislator, now retired, said.

Another Texan found humor in death.

Ben Dodson Atwell, longtime former chairman of the House tax committee, designed his own tombstone with the inscription "Legislator-lawyer. Author of tax bill."

Perhaps that should serve as a warning to Hawaii's elected. A couple of stunts like that and we wouldn't need a convention center.

Sometime the strain of making the big decisions gets to the elected ones.

Just last week in New Mexico, for instance, the legislature cast its eyes north and issued a challenge to newly elected Minnesota governor and former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura.

Calling their governor, Gary Johnson, "a true athlete" they challenged Ventura to a no-holds-barred wrestling match.

If Johnson, a triathlete, who has raced in Hawaii and is an expert skier, wins, "the great state of Minnesota shall transfer and deliver to the great state of New Mexico all of its 10,000 lakes," the legislature declared.

Ventura, obviously with his sense of humor in a hammerlock, complained that legislators in New Mexico had nothing to do.

Think quick: Do you know where your state representative is? Without adult supervision, he or she could be drawing up a challenge to Konishiki, right now.

Finally, consider what the school board in Hillsborough, N.J., did last year when faced with the problem of students giving a religious connotation to (St.) Valentine's Day. They promptly dubbed the holiday "Special Person Day."

Makes Sen. David Matsuura's office door battle pale in comparison.

Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes
Legislature Bills

Richard Borreca reports on Hawaii's politics every Wednesday.
He can be reached by e-mail at

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin