House Republicans Press Conference – January 19, 2018

House Republicans Announce Session Agenda to Make Hawaii More Affordable, Accountable, and Accessible

HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI (January 19, 2018) –  The Minority Caucus released their bill package today highlighting bills and resolutions that will make Hawaii more affordable, accountable, and accessible.

“Our charter schools are unique, creative, and out-of-the-box; they have different ideas. We’ve seen the trend in our state towards school choice as the charter school enrollment increased by 5%.  HR 5 will help make our government more accessible to students and families who are seeking different public modes of education,” said Representative Andria Tupola, Minority Leader.

Representative Cynthia Thielen (District 50) used an acronym to describe HB 1732, “I’d like to take BITE out of food, Better If Tax Eliminated. Your family loses about $650 a year from taxes on food. We are standing with working families to keep their hard-earned money.”

“We are introducing a bill that will offer equal opportunity for everyone in our state to have their voices heard whether they live on the neighbor islands or in rural areas,” said Representative Lauren Matsumoto (District 45). “About 30% of Hawaii’s population lives on the neighbor islands and does not have the opportunity to testify in person. Offering audio and video technology to the neighbor islands would increase participation in our government and give us a perspective we have not heard in a long time.”

For more on the press conference, please see the attached dropbox link. For more on the bill package, please see the attached press packet. The Minority Caucus will be hosting a response to the Governor’s State of the State Address on Monday at 11am in the State Capitol Rotunda.

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Bob McDermott: Pass The GET Surcharge And Finish Rail 15 We can’t afford to be distracted by raising the hotel tax or by giving up and stopping the line at Middle Street.

It’s time for Hawaii’s political leadership to face reality: we need to finish building our rail system. It’s past time for Gov. David Ige to demonstrate leadership by calling the Legislature into a special session — immediately — so we can pass an extension of the GET surcharge and get the rail completed.

If we fail to act now to provide stable funding, this project is going to cost all of us more money—a lot more. We need a special session now. Not to debate rail, not to consider other taxes, not for more talk about other transit options, but to take action: pass the extension now, and complete the project.

The numbers are compelling. In construction, like any business, time is money. For every month that passes while we fail to act, the rail project’s price tag inflates by ten to fifteen million dollars. Why? Because it delays everything—bids are not tendered, land is not acquired, and contracts are not signed.


We have only 4 miles to go. The obstructionists still think they can kill the rail project with a thousand paper cuts, but they need to face the stark reality of our situation. We have already finished 16 miles, and if we don’t finish those last 4 miles, Honolulu will have to pay the federal government over $800 million. Honolulu will forfeit another $700 million in transit funding on top of that.

We can’t afford to be distracted by schemes like raising the hotel tax by a whopping 30 percent (and killing numerous jobs in the process). Or by giving up and stopping the line at Middle Street. Or the fanciful panacea of running the line at grade. Any changes to the planned route require a new EIS, and that means a new round of lawsuits, more delays, and ultimately more costs.

Nobody in the Legislature dislikes taxes and fees more than I do. But I support finishing this project, and the best option is to extend the GET surcharge. We’re already paying it, and the sky isn’t falling. We need to reduce the skim to the state to 1 percent and continue the GET surcharge for a minimum of 10 years.

Without an extension, Honolulu may have to raise property taxes to meet its obligations. Ironically, if that happens, the anti-railers living in wealthy enclaves will end up paying even more.


By failing to act, we risk losing the bountiful harvest of economic and environmental benefits that the rail project will bring. It’s not just for West Oahu — every community will be served by a fast, efficient system. Entire communities will be revitalized and grow, with shops, restaurants and condominiums springing up along the line. The rail should be built from Kapolei to Ala Moana, and ultimately to UH Manoa so we can maximize our investments in transportation and education.

We have the ability to get it done and we have a funding mechanism to pay for it. The only thing we lack is the necessary political courage to lead the way. It’s past time for the Governor and the Legislature to do the right thing. Extend the GET surcharge now.

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  • Bob McDermott
    Rep. Bob McDermott represents House District 40 — Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry and Iroquois Point.
    Civil Beat May 24, 2017

Reps. Tupola, McDermott and Ward Address Technical Schools Licensing Fees

Representative Andria Tupola (H District 43 Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili) Representative Bob McDermott (H District 40 Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Iroquois Point) and Representative Gene Ward (H District 17Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley) address Private Trade, Vocational, and Technical Schools; Licensing; Licensing Fee; Appropriation. SB1286 SD2 HD2 CD1

On May 02, 2017, the bill passed Final Reading as amended in CD 1 with none voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Matsumoto, McDermott, Thielen, Tupola, Ward voting no (5) and Representative(s) Ichiyama excused (1).

Contact:  or or Excerpt from Capitol TV.







Convention of States Town Hall Meeting with Rep. McDermott Jan. 2017

YouTube link:

Convention of States Town Hall Meeting Jan. 2017.  Representative Bob McDermott (H District 40 Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Iroquois Point) leads Hawaii’s delegates in a discussion of the historic simulated Convention of States in Williamsburg, VA. Guest panel members: Mark White, State Director of the  Convention of States and Lynn Finnegan, Analysis of the Convention of States.

About the Convention of States:
Citizens concerned for the future of their country, under a federal government that’s increasingly bloated, corrupt, reckless and invasive, have a constitutional option. We can call a Convention of States to return the country to its original vision of a limited federal government that is of, by and for the people.

Please feel free to call our office at 540-441-7227, or email  Convention of States, P.O. Box 1073, Purcellville, VA 20134