House leaders have
They've met five times sinceBy Mike Yuen
May to discuss key issues for the
next legislative session
House leaders and Gov. Ben Cayetano have learned they are in general agreement that bolstering the economy, and reforming civil service and the public school system need to be key issues when the next legislative session convenes in January, House Majority Leader Ed Case said.
"We basically contacted the governor after the session and said we want to have a very productive interim," the Manoa Democrat said yesterday.
Case said House leaders told Cayetano they want to work with him "as a separate and co-equal branch of government because it makes no sense for us to not be working together. Where we have legitimate disagreements, let's talk through the interim and see what we can agree on."
So far, House leaders and Cayetano have met five times since late May, and last week's meeting was the most recent.
Senate leaders have not made a similar overture, so Cayetano has not met with Senate leaders to discuss interim work, said the governor's spokeswoman, Kathleen Racuya-Markrich.
The relationship between the Cayetano and the Senate has been chilly, even hostile, since the Senate in late April denied Margery Bronster and Earl Anzai second terms as attorney general and budget director, respectively. Last week, Cayetano shocked the Senate by nominating Anzai as attorney general.
Even though Anzai's selection has complicated the Cayetano-Senate relationship, Case said he is confident that Cayetano and the Senate "will get on with life and get to work. The bottom line is we all need to work together."
He added that as a legislator he feels a lot of pressure to do a good job in the upcoming election-year session.
'Public confidence in the
Legislature is shaken at
REP. ED CASE
House Majority leader
"Public confidence in the Legislature is shaken at the moment," Case conceded.
Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea), Vice President Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei) and Majority Leader Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kaimuki) were unavailable yesterday to discuss their interim plans.
But Mizuguchi has said work will include seeking ways to improve the state's public school system and recasting several bills that Cayetano rejected so that they can avoid another veto when the measures re-emerge.
Case said one of the challenges in drawing up a plan for downsizing government has been the "not-in-my-back-yard" attitude.
Lawmakers advocate cuts to government as long as their pet projects are spared, Case said. Business officials push for the deregulation of business as long as whatever gives them some protection in their business remains regulated, Case added.
House Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) has assigned himself and 15 other members to head bipartisan efforts to look at key issues during the interim and suggest possible remedies.
For example, Economic Development Chairman Robert Herkes (D, Volcano) is examining business regulation. Vice Speaker Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa) and Labor Vice Chairwoman Iris Ikeda Catalani (D, Ahuimanu) are looking at collective bargaining.
Meanwhile, a joint House-Senate panel is studying how to make long-term care available to people not eligible for Medicaid, said Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Liliha).
Joint committees are also at work on how to implement a system of early childhood care and education in Hawaii and how to support and monitor the Felix consent decree for school-based health and education services for children with special needs, Chun Oakland said.