Archive for April, 2011

HOUSE REPUBLICANS OPPOSE ATTEMPT TO RESURRECT GAMBLING

April 29, 2011

The House Republican Caucus is demanding that a last minute “gut and replace” trick to legalize gambling in Hawaii be stopped.

“We strongly object to a clumsy attempt to hi-jack a bill relating to the Aloha Tower Development Corporation (SB 1247) and turn it into a bill to establish a casino in Waikiki,” Republican Policy Leader Rep. Barbara Marumoto stated.

The bill in question was proposed yesterday in the conference committee on transportation.  The draft replaces the contents of Senate Bill 1247, which initially related to Aloha Tower Development Corporation, with language establishing a casino in Waikiki.

“This bill will forever change Hawaii from a beautiful family destination into just another place to gamble,” Rep. George Fontaine of South Maui pointed out.   “The legislation appears to violate Article III of the State Constitution which requires that each bill embrace one topic expressed in its title.”

The Rules of the House of Representatives also require that conference committees resolve differences between current versions of legislation.  The rules explicitly forbid inserting a new or unrelated subject.  (See Rules 16.4 and 16.5)

This attempt to replace a bill with a pro-gambling measure is not the first made this session.  In March two House committees voted to replace a bill that created a tax holiday for school supplies with a bill allowing peer-to-peer gambling.

The House Republican Caucus has taken a strong stance against gambling in Hawaii, successfully defeating two similar measures this session.

“An attempt to sneak gaming into the final hours of the 2011 Legislative session in a totally unrelated bill is wrong and must be opposed,” added Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson of Moanalua Gardens and Foster Village.

Efforts by pro-gambling lobbyists have increased in the last few days.  Constituents have reported receiving automated phone calls telling them they need to choose between gambling and increased taxes.

“This is simply not true and clearly is a desperate effort by gambling interests to push through a self-serving proposal in the final hours of the Legislature,” House Republican Leader Gene Ward stated.  “These robo-calls demonstrate the desperation of the gambling lobby.   It is a sad and inappropriate attempt to pass their legislation by demoralizing our constituents and making them believe they have no choice.”

The House Republicans have recently issued a biennium budget that closes Hawaii’s budget gap without raising taxes or relying on gambling revenues.

The conference committee considering the gambling version of SB 1247 will reconvene today for a vote.

“The backroom dealing must stop.  We urge our Senate colleagues to reject this legally flawed bill and return to the task of completing the budget and passing final legislation prior to our May 5th adjournment,” Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Kailua concluded.

The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere.

Hawaii State Budget Summit with Rep. Ward Part 1

April 29, 2011

Representative Gene Ward, introduces the balanced budget summit Representative Aaron Ling Johanson discusses the guiding principles for a vibrant economy in Hawaii. Representative Gil Riviere discusses first steps in revamping government in Hawaii.

Hawaii State Budget Summit with Rep. Ward Part 2

April 29, 2011

Part 2 Balanced Budget Summit with Rep. Gene Ward with a demonstration of the Republican Caucus on-line budget at: http://www.hawaiistatebudgetonline.com; and Jonathan Williams, director, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task force member from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); and Rep. Pine gives closing remarks to the summit

Rep. Kymberly Pine Discusses Emergency Preparedness Part 1

April 28, 2011

Part 1 Representative Kymberly Pine speaks with Louis Shiraishi and Wailana Kamauu

1. HECO power outage and tsunami warning; 2.How to get reimbursement from HECO; 3. Emergency Preparedness Town Hall meeting;4. Importance of getting prepared at an ultra-local level / 3-tiers: planning outline
SLIDE 2: (Step 1) Individual and Family Preparedness
SLIDE 3: (Step 2) Preparedness among Friends and Neighbors
SLIDE 4: (Step 3) Preparedness with Community Leaders

Rep. Kymberly Pine Discusses Emergency Preparedness Part 2

April 28, 2011

Part 2 Representative Kymberly Pine speaks with Louis Shiraishi and Wailana Kamauu

1. HECO power outage and tsunami warning; 2.How to get reimbursement from HECO; 3. Emergency Preparedness Town Hall meeting;4. Importance of getting prepared at an ultra-local level / 3-tiers: planning outline
SLIDE 2: (Step 1) Individual and Family Preparedness
SLIDE 3: (Step 2) Preparedness among Friends and Neighbors
SLIDE 4: (Step 3) Preparedness with Community Leaders

Rep. Riviere Discusses North Shore Water Supply with Alluvion, Inc. Part 1

April 28, 2011

Part 1 Representative Gil Riviere is joined by Susan Matsushima, Alluvion, Inc. Owner and CEO Their goals:
1. Educate viewers on the sources of our water supply.
2. Motive viewers to preserve our water supply & support measures that protect it.
3. Buy local

Rep. Riviere Discusses North Shore Water Supply with Alluvion, Inc. Part 2

April 28, 2011

Part 2 Representative Gil Riviere is joined by Susan Matsushima, Alluvion, Inc. Owner and CEO Their goals:
1. Educate viewers on the sources of our water supply.
2. Motive viewers to preserve our water supply & support measures that protect it.
3. Buy local

Alternative Budget, Pension Tax, Higher GE Tax, Production Studio Credits by Rep. George Fontaine

April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011 

The most critical issue facing the state is the budget deficit. Hawai‘i is looking at a current deficit of $1.2 billion dollars over the next two years. At the same time, the state constitution requires that the legislature balance the budget. This means lawmakers are facing difficult decisions regarding cutting expenses and raising revenues in order to balance the state budget.

Alternative Budget – The minority caucus in the House has worked hard this year to create and propose an alternative budget that does not raise taxes. This budget can be viewed and downloaded at www.hawaiistatebudgetonline.com. The public is invited to download the minority caucus budget and interactively work with it.

Unfortunately, there are a number of bills still alive that will raise your taxes:

Pension Tax – HB 1092 HD1 SD will tax pensions. The current amended bill begins to tax “a taxpayer’s pension income in excess of $100,000.” Although this may not affect a high percentage of retirees presently, the public needs to be aware that this opens the door to the pension taxation for all citizens of Hawai‘i. This is problematic for the seniors in our state, since most retirees do not have the option to go back to work to make up lost income.

Higher GE Tax – HB 793 SD1, in its earlier version, would have raised the general excise (GE) tax by one percent. In the present form, this bill suspends certain GE tax credits. Keep an eye on this one, because there could be an effort to raise the GE tax again. The GE tax is a pyramiding tax that affects everyone in our society, including the poor. An increase in the GE tax is bad for the economy because some businesses may have to lay off employees. Many businesses will also have to increase their prices to cover the increase in the tax.

On a positive note, there is a bill that encourages investment and jobs on Maui.

Production Studio Credits – HB 1551 HD2 provides a tax credit for qualified media infrastructure projects. This bill will provide a 20 percent tax credit for studios related to film and TV production on the Neighbor Islands. This is a way to increase film industry investment in Hawai‘i. Maui County has a real opportunity to attract film and television production company investment, which would mean more jobs and more spending to help our local economy.

If you need to contact me with any issues or concerns regarding South Maui, please call my office at (808) 586-8525 or email repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov.

To receive an electronic version of our newsletter, visit www.repfontaine.ning.com.

Sentencing reform creates liability issue

April 18, 2011

Letters to the Editor

For Monday,

April 18, 2011

In a recent editorial there was discussion regarding Senate Bill 106 SD1 HD1, which would require the state Judiciary to change all multiple sentences to be served simultaneously (“Legislature steps over judicial line,” Our View, Star-Advertiser, April 14).

This means that a person with two or more sentences would remain incarcerated only for the amount of time of the longest sentence.

This bill is seriously flawed. For example, if a prisoner is currently serving two consecutive 10-year sentences and has completed 14 years (of a 20-year sentence), the prisoner will now be released. Will the state then be liable for the four years that this person was incarcerated beyond the term? How will the state manage hundreds or thousands of potential lawsuits?

The retroactive aspect of this bill exposes the state to potential liability.

Finally, this bill micromanages judges by converting sentences of criminals serving consecutive terms for more heinous crimes.

Judges should be allowed to do their jobs without interference from the Legislature.

Rep. George R. Fontaine
House District 11 (Kihei, Wailea, Makena)

GOVERNMENT WORKERS GET PAID TO STAY HOME THREE MONTHS

April 14, 2011

Governor Abercrombie’s new agreement with the HGEA will give state employees up to 64 days a year of time off with pay, House Representatives Barbara Marumoto, Cynthia Thielen and Gene Ward announced.  That is equal to almost three months absent from work.

State government workers currently get 13 paid holidays, 21 days of paid vacation and 21 days of sick leave each year.  And in 2012 they will get 14 days vacation—since government workers don’t have to work on election day.

“On top of these 55 paid days off a year, Gov. Abercrombie has given HGEA workers 9 more days of paid administrative leave,” Rep Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai pointed out.  “This equals 64 days, or almost three months a year.”

“The agreement automatically entitles HGEA members to higher pay rates negotiated by other unions, leaving us in the dark on the actual cost of this deal,” Rep. Cynthia Thielen of Kaneohe Bay and Kailua stated.  “It is bad policy and with many Hawaii residents working two jobs to make ends meet, we can hardly afford to pay for government workers to stay home.”

While not all employees use all of their sick leave and vacation leave each year, this leave time can be accumulated and is paid out when the employee exits from government or becomes part of their retirement calculations.  Giving HGEA 9 more paid days off means state workers will accumulate more vacation and sick time that adds to the State’s financial liabilities.

Labor costs make up almost 70% of our State budget.  “Paying people to stay home is wrong, especially when some of our offices are short-handed and the public is experiencing delays and backlogs,” Rep. Barbara Marumoto of Kaimuki, Kahala and Waialae noted.  “Taxpayers will receive less service and pay for the nine days of extra vacation.”