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Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Legislature 2000

While some choose
other paths, most
incumbents will
seek re-election

No home runs
What passed, what failed
Hemmeter Building sale slips in
Progress seen on women's rights

By Pat Omandam


Let the musical chairs begin.

With the 2000 legislative session under their belts, state lawmakers now turn their sights toward this fall's primary and general elections, when the entire 51-member House and 13 of the 25 members of the Senate are up for re-election.

At least three House incumbents will not seek another two-year term while other representatives are considering retirement, running for seats in the Senate or on the Honolulu City Council.

In the Senate, Randy Iwase (D, Mililani) vacates his seat to begin his 10-year term as chairman of the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board on July 1. While Iwase was not up for re-election this year, most of the senators whose terms are ending are expected to run again.

"I think everybody will run," said Sen. Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua).

The deadline to file papers to run for the House or Senate is July 25. The state primary election is Sept. 23. The general election is Nov. 7.

Over the past five months, state Reps. Alex Santiago (D, Pupukea) and Bob Herkes (D, Volcano) announced they won't seek re-election. Santiago served 10 years, including time as chairman of the House Health Committee. As of Friday, seven people had taken out election papers to run for his seat. They include several North Shore neighborhood board members, as well as Board of Education member Marilee Lyons.

Herkes, who represents South Kona, has said he plans to expand his role working for Kamehameha Investment Corp. in Kona. The five who have filed as candidates to replace him are Green Party member Virginia Aste, Democrats Bill Eger and Helene Hale, and Republicans Kathleen A. Gamber and Robert I. Reed, who has lost to Herkes in past elections.

The third person leaving the House is state Rep. David Stegmaier. The Hawaii Kai resident said yesterday he needs to take care of his parents on the East Coast and plans to move his family there for a while. The 12-year Democratic legislator said they will someday return to Hawaii, where they have spent the past 25 years.

"This is home for us," Stegmaier said.

State Rep. Romy Cachola (D, Kalihi) said he is "95 percent certain" he will run this fall for the Honolulu City Council seat now held by Donna Mercado Kim, who has declared her intentions to run for the state Senate.

Cachola said he is waiting for Kim to officially file as a Senate candidate, which would legally open up her Kalihi-to-Aiea seat. He plans to send a mailer to notify district residents that he will begin campaigning for the seat.

After 16 years in the House, Cachola said there are a lot of issues he wants to address at the county level to help district residents, as well as the rest of Oahu.

"It's a new challenge," said Cachola, who added that one possible contender for his vacant House seat may be Dennis Nakasato, a former state senator.

Undecided House members

An informal poll yesterday showed many House members plan to run for re-election. But a few, such as Reps. Bob Nakasone (D, Kahului) and Ezra Kanoho (D, Lihue) said they haven't decided yet. Kanoho said he will take the next few weeks to consider whether he will retire from public office. Kanoho said his office staff this week gave him an aloha party "just in case."

State Rep. Tom Okamura (D, Aiea) missed all of the floor votes this session except for one day while he battled chronic fatigue syndrome. It is uncertain whether he will run for his district again.

The governor must appoint someone to serve in Iwase's place until the election, when voters will pick a senator to finish his term. Lawmakers said the leading contender to complete Iwase's Senate term is Rep. Ron Menor (D, Mililani). Menor acknowledged he is a possible Senate appointee and said yesterday he will run for re-election if he does not receive the senatorial nod.

And some hint at a possible Senate seat race between House Majority Leader Ed Case (D, Manoa) and incumbent Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa).

Challenges springing up

Other legislative races shaping up this fall include one between incumbent Democrat Rep. Roy M. Takumi and Democratic challenger Alex M. Sonson. In 1998, Sonson lost to Takumi by nine votes for the Pearl City district seat. Sonson challenged the election results but the Hawaii Supreme Court denied a recount or a new election.

In the race to represent growing Kapolei, incumbent Republican Mark Moses faces another stiff challenge from area neighborhood board Chairwoman Maeda Timson, who lost to Moses by less than 250 votes in 1998.

Other challengers who are official candidates for the legislature include Republican Flordeline B. Vila for the Lanai seat held by Rep. Sol Kahoohalahala; Republican Wayne W. Gau for the Palolo seat held by House Speaker Calvin Say; and Republican Eve G. Anderson, a former state representative, who will run again for the Waimanalo House seat held by Rep. Kenny Goodenow.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea), who will face a strong challenge from Councilwoman Kim, said yesterday it is too early to discuss whether he will seek another term in office. The Senate is expected to reconvene in August to take up three judicial confirmations.

Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Approval of Hemmeter
Center purchase slips in
under ‘Rule 13’

By Richard Borreca


After voting to approve the state budget Thursday, senators found out Friday that Senate President Norman Mizuguchi and state House leaders had tucked into the bill a special authorization for the Cayetano administration to buy the Hemmeter Center, the luxury office building next to the state Capitol.

The state already leases most of the building for executive offices. Gov. Ben Cayetano had proposed buying the building for $22 million, but the Legislature rejected it.

Then Cayetano proposed using the $2.1 million in annual office rental to finance the purchase, and that plan was put in the budget at the behest of the House and Mizuguchi.

Sen. Andy Levin, Ways and Means co-chairman, condemned the move but found himself helpless to stop it.

"The standard rule is that if there isn't agreement between the House and Senate, it doesn't go in the budget. There was not agreement on this. The House wanted it, the Senate did not," Levin said.

"But the Senate president capitulated, and I don't think it was appropriate."

Levin added there is an informal "Rule 13"-- in other words, if the Senate president has a majority of 13 of 25 votes "he can do as he damn well pleases."

"He invoked Rule 13 and the president shouldn't do that," Levin said.

Mizuguchi said he pushed the measure "in the interests of harmony."

Other lawmakers, who asked to remain anonymous, said Mizuguchi hopes to persuade Cayetano to restore funding for the $27 million Kapolei sports complex Mizuguchi has been pushing for more than a decade.

Cayetano last year declined to fund it, and Mizuguchi said it was political retaliation after the Senate rejected the nominations of Margery Bronster as attorney general and Earl Anzai as budget director.

Mizuguchi was unavailable last night for comment.

Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Women’s rights took
a step forward this
session, reports
their Legislative Caucus

By Rosemarie Bernardo


Female equity and rights took a step forward at this year's Legislature, say members of the Women's Legislative Caucus and community members who worked to pass 15 bills and resolutions approved by the Legislature.

House Bill 2774 House Bill 2774 makes it legal for women to breast-feed in public places such as stores, restaurants and parks. The bill allows women who breast-feed to take alleged violators of their rights to District Court. A judge could levy a $100 fine against the violator, award attorney's fees and costs to the complainant and issue an order requiring compliance.

Another bill prohibits discrimination in athletics on the basis of sex in public schools. Senate Bill 2475 requires the Superintendent of Education to develop a strategic plan for gender equity. The bill also sets an advisory commission to determine if a public school does not show substantial progress toward compliance with a law requiring female equity in schools receiving federal funding. The superintendent has until the end of the year to submit a compliance report.

Development of a task force in Senate Bill 2074 will target planning to increase the availability of gender appropriate programming in the criminal justice system. The bill acknowledges the lack of increase in range and quality of programming offered to female adult and juvenile offenders in comparison to the increased rate of incarcerated females in Hawaii. The bill makes the director of public safety chairman of the task force. The task force has until the next legislative session to develop a plan and address the needs of female offenders.

Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

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