Hawaii House of Representatives Minority Caucus Introductions 2015

In order of appearance:
Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang – Minority Leader; Representative Feki Pouha, Representative,  Representative Cynthia Thielen, Representative Lauren Matsumoto, Representative Gene Ward, Representative Bob McDermott and
Representative Andria Tupola  Floor Leader

RFC opening day

Left to Right: Representatives Bob McDermott, Feki Pouha, Gene Ward, Andria Tupola, Beth Fukumoto Chang, Lauren Matasumoto and Cynthia Thielen

Contact: repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov; reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov; repmatumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov; repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov; reppouha@capitol.hawaii.gov; repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov and repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Reps. Fukumoto CHang, McDermott, Tupola and Ward address SB 979 Office of Youth Services

RELATING TO YOUTH.
Report Title:  Office of Youth Services; Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program; Appropriation ($)
Description:  Requires the office of youth services to coordinate a safe places for youth pilot program until 6/30/2021 to establish a network of safe places where youth in crisis can access safety and services. Establishes the position of safe places for youth program coordinator. Allows youth in crisis who are at least 14 but under 18 years of age to consent to services in the safe places program under certain circumstances. Makes an appropriation. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD2)  /24/2015 H Passed Second Reading and referred to the committee(s) on FIN with none voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Fukumoto Chang, Matsumoto, McDermott, Pouha, Tupola, Ward voting no (6) and Representative(s) Har, Ing, Takumi excused (3).

VTS_01_1Contact: repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov, reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov or reward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Excerpt from Capitol TV

House and Senate Republicans Join Forces on Legislation

Hawaii reporter Logo February 19, 2015

The Hawaii Senate and House of Representatives Minority Caucuses have joined forces this year and introduced several pieces of companion legislation, in an effort to relieve the burdens on Hawaii citizens.  A top priority for the Minority Caucus is reducing the rising cost of living in Hawaii, where expenses like rent, home prices, taxes, groceries, fuel, child care and education carry a steep price tag compared to the rest of the country.

Senator Sam Slom said, “People in Hawaii are struggling, and I have yet to see the legislature or the executive really address the needs of those people who are holding multiple jobs, sacrificing time with their families, and just barely making ends meet.  Those are the people we lawmakers have to think of when we are asked to extend this tax or increase that tax.  So far there has not been any real action to reduce taxes or to bring the cost of living down.  So, early in this session my colleagues in the House and I met and discussed our goals for 2015, and what we could do to make a real impact.  We realized early in our discussion that we had several common objectives that were important to us. It just made sense for both the House and Senate Minorities to work together.”

Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang said, “The Minority Caucuses in both chambers have always been in favor of lowering the cost-of-living and creating job opportunities for the people of Hawaii. We know that the economy is always an important issue for our constituents and the Legislature doesn’t always do enough to help. These ideas are meant to help alleviate financial burdens and improve the quality of life for our residents.”

Other important initiatives the Minority Caucuses introduced this year are bills promoting citizen empowerment, protection of our keiki, and education reform.  The Minority Caucus’s companion bills include:

Cost of Living

  • SB956/HB469 amends the Historic Preservation Act to alleviate some of the costs associated with maintenance and renovation of historic property and encourage collaboration between the state and private owners.
  • SB957/HB477 exempts food purchased for home consumption from the state general excise tax (GET).  According to the US Department of Agriculture, Hawaii families spend significantly more on groceries for the home than families on the mainland.  An exemption could save Hawaii families hundreds of dollars off their grocery expenses every year.
  • SB958/HB470 repeals the corporate income tax.  With this bill, the Minority Caucuses hope to alleviate Hawaii businesses of some of their tax burden, improve Hawaii’s business climate and promote job growth.
  • SB959/HB476 does away with estate and inheritance taxes, deemed by the Minority Caucuses as a form of double taxation on individuals.

 

Citizen Empowerment

  • SB 951/HB474 amends the Hawaii Constitution by providing for recall, empowering citizens of Hawaii with the ability to remove a public official from office.
  • Similarly, SB952/HB472 would provide for referendum, enabling Hawaii voters to invalidate an act of the legislature, as long as the act is not related to levying taxes.

Child Protection

  • SB953/HB475 has to do with criminal court calendars and protection of child victims, and allows judges to prioritize criminal cases involving minor victims upon written request by the minor’s parent, guardian or other advocate.  The measure is an effort to minimize the trauma inherent in having to prepare a child victim for trial only to be delayed.

 

Education Reform

  • SB954/HB468 allows homeschooled children to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school the child would otherwise be required to attend.
  • SB960/HB471 calls for the State Office of the Auditor to conduct a managerial, financial and program audit of the Department of Education.  The bill also prompts the DOE to present findings and recommendations to the legislature before the start of the 2016 legislative session.

Finally, the Minority Caucuses will seek to preserve the state’s shooting ranges as resources for the public, military and local law enforcement by introducing SB 955/HB473, to protect shooting range operators from burdensome regulations and frivolous lawsuits over noise pollution.

Of the 10 companion bills introduced, three got unanimous support from the House Minority: HB477 (exempting food from the GET), HB475 (court calendar priority for child victims) and HB471 (calling for audit of DOE).

Senator Slom said, “I am very pleased to see that Rep. Fukumoto Chang has taken a more proactive, pragmatic approach as House Minority leader than her predecessor, and has shown real commitment to working together with her House Minority colleagues and the Senate Minority on important issues for the betterment of Hawaii.”

Causus Pic # 3The House Minority Caucus is comprised of Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang, Minority Floor Leader Andria P.L. Tupola, Minority Leader Emeritus Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Whip Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto, Minority Whip Rep. Feki Pouha, Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Bob McDermott, and Assistant Minority Floor Leader Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

Senator Sam Slom 2Senator Sam Slom represents the Senate Minority.

House Republicans oppose fast-tracking of GET increase

Hawaii reporter LogoFebruary 19, 2015

The House Republican caucus raised concerns that a bill to increase the general excise tax (GET) was fast-tracked when the House re-referred it to a single committee. The action would allow House bill 1240, which includes a 0.25 percent GET increase in addition to an extension of the 0.5 percent county surcharge, to have one public hearing instead of the two that were previously required.
“Any increase to the GET would negatively impact Hawaii’s working families and increase our already high cost-of-living. Our caucus has long opposed any increase to the GET, and it’s alarming to see this bill fast-tracked in any way,” said veteran Republican Rep. Cynthia Thielen.
A 0.25 percent increase in Hawaii’s GET could raise the state approximately $185 million. As drafted, this money would be a dedicated source for education. A similar bill from 2013 (House bill 1368) would have raised the GET for education, but in committee, the money was moved to an unspecified account. House bill 1368 passed second reading with the support of 42 House members, but it did not advance in Finance.
“Governor Ige rightfully pointed out that our state is currently spending more than we can afford, but a GET increase isn’t a silver bullet. A measure like this would hurt way more than it helps, and we need to balance the budget without hurting families and small businesses,” said Rep. Gene Ward, another veteran Republican.
House bill 1368 (2013) was also re-referred to bypass the House Committee on Education after the contents of the measure changed to remove references to education. House bill 1240, the current GET increase measure, will also bypass the House Committee on Education and be referred solely to the House Committee on Finance.
Causus Pic # 3The House Minority Caucus is comprised of Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang, Minority Floor Leader Andria P.L. Tupola, Minority Leader Emeritus Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Whip Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto, Minority Whip Rep. Feki Pouha, Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Bob McDermott, and Assistant Minority Floor Leader Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

2015 House Minority Caucus Package

2015 Minority Caucus Package Bill List

2015 Minority Caucus Package Booklet

# 2 Ward gallery Feb 2015

Minority Press conference

Left to right:  Representatives Andria Tupola, Gene Ward,  Beth Fukumoto Chang,  Cynthia Thielen, Feki Pouha and Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto

Reps. McDermott, Ward, Tupola and Fukumoto Chang Comments on Proposed Army closures

Representatives McDermott, Ward, Tupola and Fukumoto Chang address a House Concurrent Resolution to strongly oppose the U.S. Army’s proposed force  reduction of Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter Bases.

beth mil-1Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov, repward@capitol.hawaii.gov, reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov and repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Click to read  the House Concurrent Resolution

Excerpt from Capitol TV

House Republican Caucus releases 2014 legislative package

Empowering Hawaii’s People to Improve Our Quality of Life”


Image

Left to right:  Representatives Aaron Ling Johanson, Gene Ward, Beth Fukumoto, Cynthia Thielen, Richard Fale, Bob McDermott

The House Republican Caucus released its 2014 legislative package today, aiming to empower everyday people and advocate for solutions that improve quality of life. The proposals would lower Hawaii’s cost of living, strengthen education, protect people and improve access to government.

“We want people to have a sense of ownership of their government and to explore solutions that are most important to them,” said Representative Aaron Ling Johanson. “These are proposals that can actually improve our quality of life.”

“People deserve a government that works for them. Our priorities this year reflect what the public is most concerned about, because people are at the center of everything we do,” said Representative Beth Fukumoto.

More detail about the proposals can be found in the attached PDF and the video at this link: http://youtu.be/pOoQo3rlcGY.

Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson serves as the House Minority Leader and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Finance. He represents the 31st House District covering Moanalua, Foster Village and Aiea. Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang serves as the House Minority Floor Leader and represents the 36th House District covering Mililani and Mililani Mauka.

Representatives Question Former Senator Sakamoto on Same Sex Marriage Issue

Former Senator Norman Sakamoto served as a Democratic member of the Hawaii Senate from 1996 to 2010. He testified for the committee on JUD/FIN Capitol Auditorium. RELATING TO EQUAL RIGHTS.
Report Title: Equal Rights
Description: Recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex. Extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive. Effective 11/18/13.

Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov or repward@capitol.hawaii.gov or repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Excerpt from Capitol TV Nov. 1, 2013

Former Senator Norman Sakamoto testifies on JUD/FIN Committee

Former Senator Norman Sakamoto served as a Democratic member of the Hawaii Senate from 1996 to 2010. He testified for the committee on JUD/FIN Capitol Auditorium. RELATING TO EQUAL RIGHTS.
Report Title: Equal Rights
Description: Recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex. Extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive. Effective 11/18/13.

Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov or repward@capitol.hawaii.gov or repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Excerpt from Capitol TV Nov. 1, 2013

Public deserves time to be heard

Image  September 15, 2013

By Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Rep. Richard Lee Fale and Rep. Lauren (Cheape) Matsumoto

http://www.staradvertiser.com/editorialspremium/20130915_Public_deserves_time_to_be_heard.html?id=223764931&c=n

ImageThe heart of a strong democracy is built on a commitment to provide people the opportunity to voice their opinions. The same democratic system that gives legislators a platform to debate is designed to provide at least that level of opportunity to the very people government is intended to serve. But the upcoming special session to address same-sex marriage will likely deny that opportunity to many.

No matter where public opinion lies, every person who wants to have a say in his or her government should be given a chance to be heard. Yet, the governor’s proposed bill may only be heard in a single joint committee, and the public will not have time to fully and openly debate this complex issue. Perhaps conversations will take place behind closed doors, but that’s not what democracy is supposed to be. This should worry anyone who hopes for a better future for Hawaii.

As legislators age 33 and younger, who come from a generation disenchanted with politics, we believe that openness, transparency and maximum public debate are the only way to restore faith in the democratic process.

When our generation looks to government, large numbers of young people feel disenfranchised or apathetic because they see too much happening behind closed doors. They wonder whether government is listening to them and whether they can actually make a difference. They routinely question whether the policy decisions made by government are merely a foregone conclusion. A truncated session will only reaffirm that notion.

One of the foremost reasons that all of us ran as Republicans, largely against the status quo, was to ensure that there was some guarantee of open, transparent debate in our state government. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, open and public debate on any issue that affects us all is in everyone’s best interest.

Proponents have argued that this issue has already been debated for 20 years and that everything that there is to discuss has already been discussed. Though this issue may be settled in the minds of many politicians, the volume of calls and emails to our offices would indicate that the issue is not settled in the minds of the public.

It should be noted that much of the public and many current legislators were children when this debate began. In fact, only one of us was eligible to vote in 1998 when a constitutional amendment on this issue was considered. The voices of our generation should matter, too.

As young representatives of our districts and our generation, we want to be fair to the public by ensuring that government serves its people both thoughtfully and responsively. We were inspired to run for office by a deep desire to see everyday people more involved in a transparent process and will continue to advocate for openness on this and many other important issues.

Whether or not same-sex marriage draws sufficient support to pass, people of all ages and backgrounds should be welcomed to participate.

Despite what established politicians have tried to conclude, this issue has not been settled. The public deserves ample time and respect from the system whose sole purpose is to serve them.