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Saturday, April 8, 2000

Legislature 2000

Medical groups,
unions top lobbies

Legislative lobbyists spent
$610,000 in a two-month period

By Richard Borreca
and Rosemarie Bernardo


In the first two months of the year, groups ranging from small trade associations to large medical and financial organizations reported spending $610,000 to lobby the state Legislature.

The two biggest groups were unions and health concerns including hospitals, HMOs and drug manufacturers.

The information was reported by the organizations to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

State law requires organizations lobbying the Legislature to report how much they spend to hire lobbyists, buy meals and entertainment for lawmakers and buy gifts for legislators.

Few reports itemize the actual amounts spent, with most groups noting only if they paid lobbyists to represent them.

In the last three years, lawyers and insurance companies -- locked in battles over tort or insurance reform -- have given way to unions and representatives of the health care industry as the groups spending the most money at the Legislature.

In the first two months of this year, for instance, the insurance industry, including State Farm Insurance and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, reported spending a total of $39,000 on lobbying, but they were outpaced by the health industry, which spent $108,000.

Nearly all the money reported goes to pay for lobbyists at the Legislature.

For instance, former state Sen. Donna Ikeda is a lobbyist for the Hawaii Dental Association and is paid $15,000 for her efforts, according to the HDA report.

Unions spent the most, with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly being responsible for more than half the charges.

But John Radcliffe, assistant executive director of UHPA, says an amended report will be filed to take out $81,000 listed to broadcast a half-hour documentary about the financial plight of the university.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, which is opposing Gov. Ben Cayetano's proposals to reform state civil service laws, reported spending almost $14,000.

Representatives of Hawaii's resort industry reported spending more than $37,000 in pleading their case before the Legislature.

Included in that was $16,000 spent by the Hawaii Hotel Association.

The hotel group gave each of the 76 legislators a framed painting of the opening of the Legislature, valued at $166 each.

The transportation industry spent $19,000 lobbying, with $15,900 of that coming from Hawaiian Airlines which is asking for an exemption from tax charges levied against planes leased from the Mainland.

Groups that didn't fall into a single classification, such as the Sierra Club ($6,200), the Humane Society ($560) and Hawaii Clean Elections ($2,062), are among the miscellaneous groups lobbying.

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