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Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, January 22, 2001

Lingle helps national
committeewoman win
GOP western caucus seat

Republican Linda Lingle went to Washington for President George W. Bush's inauguration and wound up running a political campaign.

She managed the campaign waged by Miriam Hellreich, GOP national committeewoman, for a seat on the Republican National Committee's western region executive caucus.

Micah Kane, state GOP executive director, reported from Washington that Hellreich won easily after the opposing candidate from Utah withdrew "after they saw how many votes Miriam was going to get."

Kane, Hellreich and Lingle, GOP chairwoman, were also planning to meet with Bush's political team to discuss possible GOP appointments for U.S. attorney and U.S. marshall for Hawaii.

HOUSE RULES: If the first few days of the state Legislature are any indication, there will be some long days ahead for those in the House.

On the second day of session last Thursday, the 19-member House Republican caucus wasted no time and pushed the 32-member Democratic majority for a public hearing on a normally routine resolution that spells out the rules of the House.

State Rep. Paul Whalen (R, Kona) told House Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) that Republicans want a hearing so they can amend the way committees handle their internal funding. Say, however, said such an amendment hasn't been proposed and the rules can be done internally under the state Constitution.

The debate about rules lasted about 15 minutes before the resolution finally passed.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Charles K. Djou (R, Kahaluu-Kaneohe) fired off a stinging letter last Friday to House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa).

Djou took issue with Oshiro's opening day comments, in which Oshiro said the majority caucus is Hawaii -- "That looks like its people, lives like its people, and represents all the people."

Djou wrote: "All of us in the minority feel that the use of prejudicial code words and implied discriminatory bias should never enter the discourse of public dialogue in the Hawaii Legislature.

"Like the majority, the minority is a diverse group of legislators proud to be a part of Hawaii and proud to look like and represent all of Hawaii's residents regardless of race," he said.

Small Biz: "Inclusiveness" is the watchword for the legislative Small Business Caucus as it draws up its 2001 platform of small-business reforms.

The bipartisan caucus, headed by Sens. Sam Slom and Norman Sakamoto and Reps. Colleen Meyer and Michael Magaoay, sent a survey Friday to their 72 colleagues to find out where they're likely to drum up the most support on taxation, workers' compensation, tort reform, collective bargaining and the like.

The group has a rapport with community, business and professional groups. "When we're talking about small-business issues, there's no Republican and Democratic small-business issues, they're just issues," said Slom (R, Hawaii Kai). "We don't pretend to have any more knowledge than anybody else."

In 1998, the caucus sponsored as much as 30 bills, but this year will narrow its focus to about a half-dozen bills, Slom said.

North Shore Rep. Magaoay, vice chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business Concerns, said that as the session progresses, the caucus will remind lawmakers to "watch those bills (they've sponsored) and make sure they don't die."

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Winners & Losers

Bullet Robert Bunda: Cat herders have it easy compared to the Senate president, who has to keep track of three factions and Senate opportunists -- but he survives the first week.

Bullet HGEA: While Gov. Ben Cayetano is saying no raise, Senate leaders and others in the House are ready to vote in favor of the union's pay raise.

Bullet GOP: After eight years in the Siberia of political patronage, Hawaii Republicans have some clout in Washington, D.C.

Bullet Kakaako Aquarium: Republicans are calling it "The Governor's Fish Tank"; Democrats are privately discarding Cayetano's plans for a state-of-the-art aquarium.

Bullet Paul LeMahieu: Audit of the state's compliance with the Felix consent decree slaps the departments of Education and Health, but the superintendent's schools will have to deal with it.

Bullet Gambling lobbyists: House Speaker Calvin Say proposes legalized gambling to pay for long-term care insurance, then declares it has no chance of passing.

This feature by Richard Borreca runs Mondays
throughout the legislative session.

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