OPENING DAY SPEECH BY HAWAII HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MINORITY LEADER, REP. GENE WARD Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aloha Mai Kakou, Aloha!
Welcome to the People’s House–Your House of Representatives…the one I like to call the Market Place of Ideas.
Speaker Say, Governor Abercrombie, Lt. Governor Schatz, Chief Justice, my fellow Colleagues, former Governors, special guests, ladies and gentlemen and the people of the great state of Hawaii.
Mahalo for taking your valuable time to join us on this very important day of the year.  When the business of, by, and for the people of Hawaii begins.
Today marks a very critical juncture in our state’s history. We have a $800 million state deficit to fill, jobs to create, and an economy to turn around and a new system of educational governance to establish. It is going to be a busy andintense session, but I am confident, optimistic and quite positive – if we work together, it will be a very good session.
Mr. Speaker, colleagues, we walked into this chamber through the same doors. As a collective body of 51, we can, and we should work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of all our residents.
The public is counting on us to deliver results, not rhetoric.
And I pledge this caucus’ support to that end.
RECOGNIZING THE THREE FRESHMEN:
Before I speak briefly about specific legislation, I would like to introduce three people who are going to make a difference this session, and they are the freshmen members of our Caucus.
I am proud to recognize the addition of Rep.George Fontaine from Maui – a retired Maui Police Captain who has the passion, expertise and 25 years of experience inpublic safety, law and justice. (George-please stand and be recognized).
Also new to the Caucus is a graduate of Yale University who went on to work at the White House and US Mint before returning home. He is a graduate of Moanalua High School.. Please welcome- Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson. (Aaron please stand and be recognized.)
Our last new member is from the North Shore of Oahu and is widely known for his work in “Keeping the Country Country” and was a key player in bringing anoutdated EIS to the Hawaii Supreme Court and winning – please welcome Rep. Gil Riviere -“Mr. Keep the Country Country! (Gil please stand and be recognized.)

WHY INTRODUCTIONS?
Mr. Speaker I’ve introduced these three freshman not just so our members and the public can get to know them better, but because they- along with the 5 other Republican veterans – collectively represent the voices of almost a quarter millionpeople in the state of Hawaii who reside in their districts.
In addition to this large number of people, please know that we also represent the core values held in the majority of State Legislatures in this nation as well as the US Congress.
And we will speak of these core values regularly on this Floor.
OUR CORE VALUES
And what are these core values that I speak of?
· First, you will hear our voices loud and clear in this Chamber NOT TO RAISE
TAXES, especially the G.E.T. tax!
· Second, we will be the watchdogs for fiscal discipline and controlling
government spending;
· Thirdly, we will tirelessly labor to create a better economic environment to
help local small businesses thrive and create new jobs;
· Fourth, we will insist on a more open and accountable government, especially
when it comes to finances and education; and
· Lastly, we will speak out loud and clear on this floor about EDUCATION
EXCELLENCE and stimulating and accelerating student achievement.

HOLDING THE LINE ON TAXES
Let’s look at the first of these core values: NO NEW TAXES. Mr. Speaker, we will be submitting legislation that requires a super-majority to increase both taxes AND FEES during these hard economic times for the families of Hawaii.

Mr. Speaker, our Caucus is very pleased that both you and Governor
Abercrombie have promised the people of Hawaii that you will not increase the G.E.T. tax. We stand with you in this promise and look forward to working together with you to fulfill it. Thank you Governor and Speaker for boldly speaking out early on this issue.
However, Governor Abercrombie has said (or implied) that he will not furlough government workers, or send prisoners to the mainland, or cut back on invasive species workers, or withhold or delay state income tax return refunds, just to name a few promises made in the last 12 months.
While promises made should be promises kept, the economic realities that face us today are daunting, but not insurmountable, but must be dealt with realistically.

ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION
Now regarding our core value to create a better economic environment to help our small businesses thrive and create new jobs;

Our Caucus wants to stimulate the creation of thousands of new green jobs by be pushing for legislation that puts photovoltaic systems on every roof in the state with no upfront costs. We have the capacity to do implement this important bill.
In this regard I would like to welcome back Governor Lingle to this Chamber and thank her for her service to the people of Hawaii for the past 8 years and especially for her development and implementation of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative – whereby we will be clean energy self-sufficient in 20 years.

We must continue to think and act as world leaders in this area and reject all forms of mediocrity when it comes to harnessing the sun, the wind, geo-thermal, ocean temperature inversion, and yes, even Rep. Thielen’s favorite, wave energy sources! Mr. Speaker and colleagues, 2011 is our opportunity to excel in this area and achieve new heights in energy self-sufficiency. We must not think small – we must think big in this area!
EDUCATION IS KEY
But, Mr. Speaker even though we have the potential to lead the world, we need to trim some deadweight we are carrying. I submit that the one thing that could hold us back from world greatness (and APEC is coming up soon ) is our educational system. Putting it bluntly, Hawaii has lived off of its good looks for too long, and now its time we start living off our brains.

In short we must help our students accelerate their learning capacity. To do this end we will introducing legislation that will enable high school students in 11th grade who pass the SAT and AP tests, and qualify to get into UH, can skip 12th grade.

This “Study Hard and Skip A Grade Program” also comes with a scholarship to the University of Hawaii. The scholarship would be 50% of the $10,000 that taxpayers pay for each student per year in our public school education system. Half of this amount, or $5,000 would go to the student in the UH system, and the other half, yes, Mr. Speaker, goes into the General Fund.
Skipping the 11th grade in our Accelerated Student Learning bill is a win-win-win for our students, our overall education system, as well as the state budget. Mr. Speaker and colleagues I hope you will join us in this leapfrogging effort to get more of Hawaii’s student into college and excited about their futures.

We have made great strides in recent years with STEM education, especially robotics. Now is the time to build on this effort. Now is the time to incentivize student learning. Now is our time to assist our future leaders solve real-worldchallenges.

In summary, your House Republicans have a bold, comprehensive agenda for this session.

We want to ensure taxes are not raised; more jobs are created, our public school students will excel, while at the same time maintaining a fiscally responsible government that is open and accountable.
We are laser-focused on achieving this, and we look forward to working with single person in this chamber

Imua and Aloha! May God Bless this House, the people of Hawaii, and our great nation!

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HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS 2011 LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

The residents of the State of Hawai`i have called on the House Republican caucus (HRC) to ensure their taxes are not raised, control government spending, maintain fiscal discipline, increase government accountability, reduce the size and scope of government, stimulate and accelerate student learning and create an economic environment that will help local businesses thrive, create jobs and attract international investments.

For the benefit of the over 250,000 residents the caucus represents as well as the entire State of Hawai`i, the HRC has developed a comprehensive legislative package that heeds the call of its constituents. Together, based on the core values of the electorate, veteran legislators and freshman colleagues have created a dynamic initiative which links residents knowledge and ideas with sound, common-sense policies that will increase Hawai`i’s competitiveness in today’s ever expanding global economy.

More than ever, the House Republican Caucus is laser-focused on achieving meaningful solutions that position our state for long-term prosperity because it’s not just about who we are now; it’s about investing in the future and ensuring the success of all Hawai`i’s children for decades to come.


Meet the House Republican Caucus

Representative Gene Ward, Minority Leader (District 17: Kalama Valley, Queen’s Gate, Hawaii Kai) Areas of Influence include: Economic Revitalization, International Affairs and Small Business Development

Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Floor Leader (District 43: Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Puuloa) Areas of Influence include: Community Crime Reduction, Victim’s Rights and Traffic Relief Systems

Representative Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Minority Leader (District 50: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) Areas of Influence include: Renewable Energy, Protection of Natural Resources, Developed Legislative Road Show and Kanu Project, a native tree planting program, for schools in the 50th District

Representative Corinne W.L. Ching, Assistant Minority Floor Leader (District 27: Nuuanu, Puunui, Liliha, Alewa Heights) Areas of Influence include: Small Business Development, Historical Preservation, Health Awareness and Diversified Agriculture

Representative Barbara C. Marumoto, Minority Policy Leader (District 19: Kaimuki, Waialae, Kahala) Areas of Influence include: Economic Revitalization, Judiciary and Consumer Protection

Representative George Fontaine, Minority Whip (District 11: Makena, Wailea, Kihei) Areas of Influence include: Public Safety and Human Services

Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, Minority Whip (District 32: Lower Pearlridge, Aiea, Halawa, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Moanalua Gardens) Areas of Influence include: Areas of Influence include: Hawai`i Public Schools, Higher Education Administration, Oversight of Hawai`i’s ARRA Federal Stimulus Funds and Federal Government Leadership Structures

Representative Gil Riviere, Minority Whip (District 46: Kaena Point, Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Waimea, Pupukea, Sunset, Kahuku, Kunia Camp, Poamoho, Wheeler, Laie) Areas of influence include: Agriculture and Economic Revitalization


2011 Comprehensive Legislative Package

Ensure taxes are not raised

  • CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT; TAXATION: This amendment would require a supermajority or two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to raise or create taxes and fees. An increase in the number of votes needed to raise or create taxes and fees will necessitate further collaboration and agreement between legislators and the public on any increases to the cost-of-living in Hawai`i.

Create an economic environment to help local businesses thrive, create jobs and attract international investment

  • RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES: This bill puts the “SEE” Hawai`i Work program, which has been successfully operated out of the Department of Human Services, into statute. “SEE” (Supporting Employment Empowerment) Hawai`i Work is a program focused on transitioning welfare recipients into the workforce by subsidizing companies up to the minimum wage when they hire welfare recipients as employees.
  • RELATING TO TORTS: This bill works to lower the costs of medical practice in Hawai`i in an effort to limit doctor shortages and avoid further increases in the costs of health insurance in Hawai`i by placing a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that may be recovered in medical malpractice actions in Hawai’i.  The cap is contingent on the compliance of all professional liability insurers in Hawai’i with the premium rate limitations also set in this bill.
  • RELATING TO TORTS: Protect our farmers by exempting them from liability if a trespasser injures themselves on the agricultural land.
  • RELATING TO TAXATION: This bill would extend a temporary tax credit to those businesses involved in the manufacture and export of goods from the State.  The credit would be limited to businesses that are new or not currently engaged in the export of manufactured goods from the State, and would not be allowed after 2017.
  • RELATING TO CLEAN ENERGY BONDS: This bill would establish a clean energy bond loan program for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements in an effort to stimulate enterprises in the clean energy sector of Hawai`i’s economy and help the State reach its clean energy targets.
  • RELATING TO FOSSIL FUELS: This bill would prohibit the construction or operation of new facilities that produce energy solely from fossil fuels. Currently, the State of Hawa`i exports billions of dollars each year for fossil fuels, and a fossil fuel ban would benefit both the economy  and the environment, encouraging local and renewable energy sources.
  • RELATING TO PAYCHECK PROTECTION: This bill would disallow public employers from withholding any portion of an employee’s paycheck for a political contribution unless the employee has submitted a specific written request.
  • A resolution urging the Governor of the State of Hawai`i to invite all participating APEC countries to establish honorary consuls in Hawaii before the summit convenes.
  • A resolution urging Congress and the Department of State to host more international conferences in Hawai`i.

Stimulate and accelerate student learning

  • RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: This bill calls for a periodic, independent, and comprehensive review of the Department of Education, to increase accountability and encourage efficiency in the largest of our state programs. It would consist of, at a minimum, a financial and management review.
  • RELATING TO EDUCATION GOVERNANCE: This bill would enable the appointment of Board of Education members by the Governor, as required by the State Constitution, to increase accountability in education governance. These appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate and are also drawn from each of the four counties to guarantee representation of all counties.
  • RELATING TO EDUCATION: This bill establishes the rights of a teacher or driver in charge to exclude from the teacher’s classroom or the driver’s school bus any pupil who is disorderly, interferes with an orderly educational process or threatens school employees.
  • RELATING TO EDUCATION: This bill provides for more of the education budget to be expended at the school level, allowing principals more control over their budgets. This bill, which will ultimately ensure that 90 percent of funds be spent at the school-level, will be gradually implemented, beginning with the 2013-2015 fiscal biennium to allow the Department of Education time to prepare and adjust.
  • RELATING TO EDUCATION: This bill would provide college tuition money for accelerated student learners who can finish their high school education, complete the SAT and/or AP tests successfully before the 12th grade, and are accepted into the University of Hawai’i system.
  • A resolution urging the Department of Education to create an incentive for schools to develop new methods of teaching and learning that will better benefit students in the digital age.
  • A resolution in support of Teach for America.
  • A resolution urging the Department of Education and the Hawai`i public school system to establish STEM/Robotics curriculum or, at a minimum, an extracurricular activity, in every school.
  • A resolution to create a legislative committee to collaboratively work with the Charter School Network to raise the cap on charter schools as well as strengthen charter school laws.

Control government spending and maintain fiscal accountability

  • CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT; GENERAL FUND EXPENDITURE CEILING: This amendment would repeal the two-thirds vote requirement by which the general fund expenditure ceiling can be circumvented, requiring the Governor and the Legislature to limit spending by removing the loophole that allows these bodies to overspend.
  • RELATING TO FISCAL NOTES: This bill would require all bills with a fiscal impact to include an estimate of the impact of the bill on state revenues and taxpayers. These price tags would encourage good decision-making and increase transparency by allowing every legislator and the public easy-access and understanding of the costs and benefits of each piece of legislation.

Reduce the size and scope of government and increase government accountability

  • RELATING TO THE COMMISSION ON SALARIES: This bill would make any salary increases for legislators recommended by the Commission on Salaries subject to public hearings.
  • A resolution urging the amending of the House rules to provide for the extension of the advance notice for a public hearing from forty-eight to seventy-two hours, excluding the hours on weekends and requiring a vote by the full house of representatives for there to be waiver in the hearing notice requirement.
  • A resolution urging the Legislature to post all amendments made to bills and resolutions online immediately in instances when hard copies of the amendments or amended legislation are distributed at committee hearings.
  • A resolution requesting the House of Representatives to broadcast more legislative proceedings and post them on the legislative website.
  • A resolution to change House rules to require that the Speaker of the Hawai`i House of Representatives be conditionally selected at least 45 days prior to the start of the legislative session. In the event that new leadership is not established by the requisite date, the Representative with the most proportional votes in the General Election would become Speaker, thereby preventing a stalemate.