Representative Cynthia Thielen Comments on Medical Liability

“Unless we have the doctors here in Hawaii, we will have many more victims, meaning people that won’t be able to get health care,” said Rep. Cynthia Thielen. 

The Judiciary Chair, Representative Tommy Waters would not hear the Medical Reform bill. “So I think it’s very short-sighted. Thielen says she is committed to helping physicians stay in Hawaii.

“We have an emergency situation. Physicians know what to do when there’s an emergency; you act,” Thielen said.  “I wish legislators would get the same message. We need to act and we need to act now.” 

Representative Thielen and Marumoto Said House Bill 2847 Erodes DUI Laws

This afternoon, over the objections of myself and my colleague, Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R-19th District), the House Judiciary committee voted to pass out House Bill 2847 from committee.

 House Bill 2847 provides a further exception to our drivers’ license revocation rules by allowing those who have had their licenses revoked for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or narcotics to get conditional license permits for personal medical or dental care or to assist in the care of another person who is unable to drive.  While I am sympathetic to caregivers and those with legitimate medical needs, this exception further erodes our DUI laws. 

With an exception this broad, this proposed legislation is like Swiss cheese with even larger holes.  As the House is moving a proposal for ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders and as I and my Republican colleagues continue to push for tougher sanctions against those who drive under the influence, this type of legislation does little to keep our streets safer and reduce the death toll on our roads.

Representative Cynthia Thielen

(R-50th District, Kailua-Kaneohe Bay)

Representative Lynn Finnegan Comments on HB 2849 House Draft 1

This bill (HB2849 House Draft 1 –  Employees’ Retirement System; Police Radio Dispatchers) is an opportunity to acknowledge, reward, and help recruit police dispatchers by enhancing their retirement benefits. This is something that I want to support but the other side of the coin is this.

 Last year the legislature passed a law to establish a policy framework to enable the employees’ retirement system to eventually eliminate its 5.1 billion dollar unfunded liability. This body put a three year moratorium on retirement benefit enhancements including any reduction of retirement age when there is an unfunded accrued liability.  A 5.1 billion dollar unfunded liability threatens the retirement benefits for future retirees whom we have already made retirement benefit promises to. We can not continue to make promises without fulfilling the ones we have already made.

 Finance Chair and Speaker have periodically warned us about the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) requirements. Thanks to the hard work of our leadership, healthy interest earnings, and the state and county employers, what once was a 43 year estimated time to become fully funded is now reduced to approximately 25 years. 

 So what will this look like in dollar terms? State and county employers’ contributions are currently 489 million for this fiscal year. Starting June of this year it will be increased by 72 million per year thus totaling 561 million. This is a substantial increase in future expenditures.

 I believe that these groups of workers deserve enhanced retirement benefits, but the moratorium was set in law for a reason. Disregarding it is schizophrenic and not fiscally responsible to taxpayers and future retirees.

 Past legislatures have made conscious choices to put our retirement system into disrepair like our school buildings and university facilities. Let’s keep our promise to our state and county workers. Look around you, look around the state departments, these hard workers deserve to have security of the retirement benefits that they have already been promised.   

Representative Barbara Marumoto Explains Hawaii Primary Caucus

February 19, 2008

Dear Honolulu Advertiser Editor: 

What a surprise to see my name (as well as other Republicans) on a list of “Hawaii’s Democratic Caucuses Today”.  True, voters very often identify their House districts by the representative rather than the number, but we got 7 calls by 9 am asking exactly where “our” Democrat caucus, or “your meeting” will take place.  Even though it was political, we gave out directions.

 The real reason I’m writing is to point out that the 19th District description is off.  Yes, while Waialae Iki, Kalani Valley and Kahala are in the district, so is Kaimuki from 6th to 20thAvenue!  It’s bounded on the mauka side by Waialae Avenue and the makai side by Alohea – the heart of this wonderful community.  Two other great neighborhoods you might want to add while you’re at it, Waialae Nui Valley and Ridgeline.

 Proud to represent the whole 19th District, Barbara Marumoto 

Hawaii House Republicans Discuss Cruise Industry

Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss the cruise industry in Hawaii and purposed changes to rulings by the Departmen Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss the cruise industry in Hawaii and purposed changes to rulings by the Department of Homeland Security.House Concurrent Resolution 79 requests the United States Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Boarder Protection, to reconsider the proposed rule amendment USCBP-2007-2008, Hawaii Coastwise Cruises. The resolution has been referred to the Tourism and culture (TAC) committee and the Public Safety and Military Affairs (PSM) committee.

With 2 of 3 NCL cruise ships leaving, federal rule change would kill local cruise industry. House Republicans introduced a resolution today calling for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to reconsider their proposed rule change that would affect coastwise cruises in Hawaii.

 “The potential losses to our economy are staggering”, said House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan.   “According to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s estimates, this rule change could decrease sales by $155 million, decrease labor earnings by $44.4 million, and cost Hawaii almost 1,500 jobs,” she continued.  “Given the recent business decisions by Norwegian Cruise Lines to pull Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii from the local cruise market due to increased competition, we can ill afford to lose foreign cruise vessels as well,” Finnegan explained.

 “Given the projected reduction in economic growth, I don’t think our economy can afford another $200 million dollar hit,” added House Minority Floor Leader Colleen Meyer (R-47th District), who is a member of the House Finance committee.  “And the loss of even more jobs through so many sectors of our economy is certainly undesirable,” continued Representative Meyer.  The proposed rule would make foreign flagged cruise vessels travelling between U.S. ports stop at a foreign port for at least 48 hours.

  “This rule change will likely end most interisland cruises originating outside of Hawaii, leaving only Pride of America and this is not conducive to growing a local cruise industry,” commented Representative Barbara Marumoto (R-19th District ), member of the House committees on Economic Development & Business and Tourism, Arts & Culture.  “As has been reported in local media, without the boost in visitorship provided by all interisland cruises, tourism would have been flat for the past 4 years,” said Representative Marumoto.

“It makes no sense”, added Rep. Gene Ward (R-17th District), also a member of the House Finance committee.  “This rule change is so damaging to our tourism industry and economy.  Every other state that is home to a port city that deals with the cruise industry opposes this change – Alaska, California, Washington, Maryland, and more.  Politicians from those states have testified against this rule change, but our Congressional delegation supports it.  Even Senator Inouye’s good friend from Alaska, Sen. Ted Stevens, is opposed to this.  Why is our Congressional delegation trying to further damage our economy?

  In public commentary on the proposed rule change, the Hawaii Tourism Authority stated, “Hawaii’s cruise line industry provides great economic benefits to all affected islands, including generating business for tour and attraction operators, transportation providers, retailers, stevedoring and tug companies and may other residents and businesses providing goods and services to ships, passengers and crew.  On Hawaii island, Kauai and Maui, the economic benefits from Hawaii’s cruise line industry has an even greater impact on the smaller island communities.”  They further add that the “adoption of this item could mean the withdrawal of all international cruise business in Hawaii, and result in significant economic losses for our entire state. 

Besides the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the county of Hawaii, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Hawaii Pilots Association, and the Governor, among others, have submitted public comments in opposition to the rule change.

Representative Thielen Questioned House Bill 1972

Representative Cynthia Thielen voiced her opposition to House Bill 1972, which requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish and operate a county-wide highway traffic advisory radio system to advise motorists of updated current traffic conditions in any county having a population of greater than 300,000. 

 Representative Thielen voted no on the chamber floor and stated, “Why do we need to use taxpayer’s money to operate a new radio station when Perry and Price on KSSK do such an excellent job?”  ” They have traffic reports every ten minutes,” said Representative Thielen. The Perry and Price morning show has maintained its position as the top-rated “morning-drive show” since 1983. 

House Bill 1972 passed its Second Reading and has been referred to the committee(s) on Finance (FIN) with Representative(s) Thielen voting no (1) and Representative(s) Herkes, Manahan, Nakasone, M. Oshiro, Pine, Takumi excused (6). To oppose House Bill 1972 send your testimony to Representative Marcus Oshiro, Chair of FIN at reposhiro@capitol.hawaii.gov or to Representative Marilyn Lee, Vice Chair of FIN at replee@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Rep. Pine Presents $66,883,000 Check To Ewa Beach Students

Representative Kymberly Pine presented a $66,883,000 mock check to Ewa Beach Elementary School students for a new middle school that will be constructed just miles away.   “Governor Linda Lingle has released the funds giving contractors the money they need to build the project in a timely manner,” said Representative Pine  “This is a big deal for the children of Ewa Beach because they are going to get the finest state of the art middle school in the entire state,” Pine explained.

  Governor Linda Lingle has released $66 million to construct the new ‘Ewa Makai Middle School, which will help alleviate overcrowding at ‘Ilima Intermediate School and the seven elementary schools in the Department of Education’s (DOE) Campbell Area Complex. The DOE is proposing to open the school during the 2010-2011 school year.

  “Building new schools are among the best investments we can make in growing areas like the ‘Ewa Plain to improve residents’ quality of life,” said Governor Lingle. “The new ‘Ewa Makai Middle School will provide the students with quality facilities and at the same time help to relieve overcrowding at several other schools in ‘Ewa Beach,” the Governor continued.