Archive for the ‘Representative Colleen Meyer’ Category

The House Republican Balanced Budget: No New Taxes, Funding Furlough Fridays, and Ensuring a Sustainable Safety Net

April 13, 2010

House Republicans present the first balanced budget and financial plan, that does not raise taxes, fully funds Furlough Fridays, and ensures a sustainable safety net,” declared House Minority Policy Leader Gene Ward (R-17th District – Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley). 

 The budget that will be presented today supports House Republicans’ previous claims that the Legislature can say no to “job killers” that will only slow our economic recovery while preserving core services for our most vulnerable.

 In short, our budget will:

  • Provide up to $92 million to end school furloughs
  • Restore House cuts to services for children and adolescents
  • Add funds for Kupuna Care, public libraries, agriculture inspectors and more
  • Generate revenue without tax increases

 Additionally, we have posted the State Budget online in an interactive Excel format that the public can use to better understand the budgeting process and build their own budget should they wish.  

http://www.gene-ward.com/budget/

Republican Representatives Oppose Senate Taxation Bill SB2402

April 8, 2010

Republican Representatives Gene Ward, Corinne Ching, Cynthia Thielen, Kymberly Pine, Lynn Finnegan,and Barbara Marumoto addresses SB 2402 S.D. 1, H. D. 1. This bill suspends temporarily the exemptions for certain persons and certain amounts of gross income or proceeds from the general excise and use tax and requires the payment of the tax at a 1 percent rate. Effective July 1, 2010, and sunsets on June 30, 2015.[

Putting Families First – Minority Package 2010

February 8, 2010

pledge Putting Families first

Better Government with Representative Barbara Marumoto and Gene Ward Ph.D.

June 6, 2009

Part 1 of 3. Better Government with Representative Barbara Marumoto and Gene Ward Ph.D. on May 21, 2009, with host Sarah Hunt.

Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss Governor Linda Lingle’s Vetoes

July 1, 2008
Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss Governor Linda Lingle’s list of 52 bills that she is considering for potential vetoes.
The Governor is required by statute to give the Legislature 10 days notice of any bill she is considering vetoing. This year the deadline to veto bills is July 8. Any bill on the potential veto list can still be signed by the Governor or allowed to become law without her signature. Placing the bills on the potential veto list allows the Governor additional time to deliberate, and provides additional opportunities for the public to voice their support or concern relating to the bills.
Governor Lingle pointed out that a number of bills on the list contain good programs; however, due to the State’s fiscal outlook and the fiscal impacts the programs would have on the State’s budget, she does not believe it would be prudent to implement them at this time. The Governor expressed optimism that the measures could be revisited when the state’s fiscal picture improves.
This year the Legislature passed 294 bills. Twelve bills were vetoed while the Legislature was still in session. For a complete list of bills that have become law this legislative session or to read the Governor’s statements of objections on bills already vetoed, visit the Governor’s Web site at: http://www.hawaii.gov/gov/leg/2008-session.
Public comments on the 52 bills being considered for vetoes on July 8 may be sent to the Governor’s office as follows:
Email: governor.lingle@hawaii.gov or gov.policy@hawaii.gov

We Must Put the “Card Check Bill” in Check

April 8, 2008

Representative Colleen Meyer discusses the card check House Bill 2974 and the reasons Govenor Lingle should veto the bill.

Here we go again.  Private businesses could find it a lot more difficult to operate in the future if House Bill 2974 becomes law. The Senate has passed House Bill 2974 known as the “Card Check Bill” and it is headed to the Governor’s Office for her signature. Under this bill, workers will no longer be able to determine if they want to be represented by a union through an election process using secret ballots.  The “Card Check” bill will give unions the ability to pick off employees one at a time.  They will intimidate workers into signing individual cards indicating they would like to join a union. Unfortunately, some hardworking employees will sign the petitions, not because they are in favor of a union shop, but because of persistent union requests, peer pressure tactics or simply not wanting to be harassed anymore. When the Union organizers have collected enough signed petitions to equal 50% plus one of the company’s employees, the union will inform the employer that they are the legitimate negotiating entity for the company’s employees and the company will have no recourse.  The “Card Check” bill does not level the playing field, as unions are fond of saying, it gives them the upper-hand. 

 

Under current law, if  30% of employees of a company sign a petition stating they are interested in joining a union, The National Labor Relations Board will arrange for an election and the employers will have time to make their case and listen to the employees’ concerns.  The issue to join a union or not will then be decided by a secret ballot. If a majority of employees vote in favor of union representation, then the company is required to recognize the union as the official negotiating entity.  However, if House Bill 2974 becomes law, the secret ballot goes out the window.

 

The timing for this bill could not be worse.  The cost of living in Hawaii is skyrocketing while our economy is slowing down.  On Thursday, ATA Airlines ceased operations.  This past Monday, Aloha Airlines laid off 1,900 employees, last week Molokai Ranch laid off over 120 employees, NCL is reducing its cruise ship fleet in Hawaii from three ships to one, and even attractions like Sea Life Park have recently laid off employees.

 

This bill sends a strong message to businesses that Hawaii is not a business friendly place. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Hawaii ranked 45th out of 50 states in economic outlook and we ranked 50th out of 50 on the sales tax burden levied on our citizens.  The Alliance for Worker Freedom gave Hawaii an “F” in its 2007 National Report Card. 

 

Instead of passing legislation that will scare off potential businesses, we should look into labor reform, such as Right-to-Work legislation.  Statistically, almost half of the states in the country (22 in total) have Right to Work laws, while only six states have card check laws.  A Right to Work law secures the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union individually, not as a collective group. Right to Work laws protect the freedom of private AND public sector employees to keep and hold jobs without being required to pay union dues.

 

2008 is an election year and the Democrats want to “curry favor” with the unions to receive their support in the upcoming contests.  It is also convenient that the Legislature passed this bill early, so when the Governor vetoes this bill, the Democrat super majority will be able to override the Governor’s veto during the regular session and avoid the criticism that often is raised when the Legislature calls a special session.

 

Over the past two decades, union membership has declined nationally, but not so in Hawaii, where 24.7% of our workforce is unionized. That’s the highest percentage in the country.  If you compare Right to Work states with those that have “Card Check” laws, the Right to Work states are outperforming the Card Check states.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the states that have the highest percentage increase in Gross Domestic Product over the last few years are states with Right to Work Laws.  Those states that have “Card Check” laws or high union membership do not perform well at all.  Michigan ranked 48th of 50 and New Jersey was ranked 36th.  It is a shame that the Majority Party is putting “political points” and union interest before the economic well being of the people of Hawaii.  I urge the voters of Hawaii to contact their state representatives and senators and tell them not to override the Governor’s veto.

 

 

The Electorial College

April 2, 2008

Representative Colleen Meyer discusses the Electoral College with Representative Gene Ward.
The Electoral College has been serving American politics for more than 200 years. But recently, due to a close election for the U.S. Presidency, some people at both the local and national level have been advocating a change in the way we elect our Presidents.
So here we go again! House leadership has again introduced a bill (HB 3013) that will take away the advantage that a small state like Hawaii has over big states. It was introduced by the same person who chairs the Judiciary Committee (Rep. Tommy Waters). It has already passed a second reading with the Republican caucus voting “no,” but it has one more floor vote before it goes over to the Senate and Governor Lingle for signature.

This bill is another misinformed attempt to enable the winner of the presidential election to be determined by national popular vote rather than the Electoral College. The bill adds a new section to Chapter 14, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to enact agreement that allows member states to determine the winner of a presidential election by “national popular vote.” (HB3013 HD1)

Our founding fathers knew better. They understood the nuances of political contests, particularly the importance of small states and the possible tyranny of large states overwhelming national presidential elections. They understood especially how small states could be affected if only the popular voted counted. For example if one voted in Hawaii’s 2004 presidential election, it was a likely vote for John Kerry, but under the proposed new system, your vote would have gone to George W. Bush.
Likewise if someone in Hawaii’s 1988 presidential election voted for Michael Dukakis the vote would have only counted for Bush (Senior), and in Hawaii 1968 presidential election between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, a vote for Humphrey would have become a vote for Nixon. Is this the kind of ‘kapakahi’ results we want in Hawaii?
The best description in understanding the Electoral College is a sports analogy. In baseball’s World Series, for example, the team that scores the most runs overall is like a candidate who gets the most votes. But to become the World Series champion, it is the team that wins the most games who becomes the winner of the series. So no matter how many runs (votes) you get, you still have to win the most games (state ballots). No one calls the World Series unfair just because the team that got the most runs loses, right? It is all about the games, just like in politics it is all about the states.
Another downside for our nation with a proposed plurality ballot would be that “urban America,” particularly the large states on the east coast (e.g. New York) and west coast (e.g. California) will be the dominant player at the expense of “rural America.” Stated differently, imagine the urban core of Honolulu deciding for the entire state of Hawaii who should be our next governor and you can see how this allows a national advantage of large states and large cities to dominate. I believe the values of farmers and small town Americans are just as important (if not more important) as big city values and voters, so the Electoral College is the best way to filter for these differences.
The current Electoral College strengthens the status of minority groups, because the votes of small minorities within a state may make the difference between winning all of a state’s electoral votes or none of them. It enhances the political stability of the nation by promoting a two-party system that protects that presidency from impassioned but transitory third party movements, and forces the major parties to absorb the interests of small states and minorities; and it maintains the federal system of government and representation. Each state is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Representatives, plus its two senators, so Hawai`i has four electoral votes. All states have at least three electoral votes, no matter how small they are.
Hawaii needs more tax relief for our over-burdened families, expanding access to quality healthcare while reversing the financial problems plaguing our doctors and hospitals, developing more transitional shelters and affordable housing while fixing potholes, harbors and airports; we do not need some national agenda about a grudge match to distract us from the tasks at hand.
As the smallest state in the nation, it does not seem strategically wise to give up our comparative advantage offered us by the Electoral College. House Bill 3013 HD1 asks us to do this. Last year a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Lingle. The only thing left to say about this bill is: “Mahalo for your veto, Governor, get your pen ready for this year too. for your veto, Governor, get your pen ready for this year too.

Hawaii House Republicans Discuss Cruise Industry

February 16, 2008

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 Meyer says, Let’s Compromise on Smoking

February 4, 2008

 Over the years there have been many issues that polarized public opinion one way or the other.  This year, the total smoking ban passed in 2006 has created a palpable tension between bar owners who say the law is hurting their businesses and anti-tobacco advocates who say the smoking ban has raised health standards for customers in bars and restaurants.  I think it is time for the Legislature to act before bar owners and anti-tobacco advocates start an ugly battle that will leave no room for compromise.  The facts are simple.  Is smoking bad for one’s health?  Of course it is. Is tobacco a legal substance for adults to use?  You bet it is and the state government raises millions of dollars by taxing it.  According to the Department of Taxation, the state has collected over $42 million in tobacco tax revenue on an annual basis.According to Bill Comerford of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association, twelve bars in Hawaii went out of business in 2007 and most are losing business since the smoking ban was implemented.  Bar owner Sam Kekaula said his business dropped 50% after the no-smoking ban took effect in November 2006. The smoking ban has also had an affect on our tourism industry.  The Japanese tourism market is likely to reach its lowest point in almost 20 year according to Hawaii Tourism officials.  Tourists from Japan are leaving and saying they probably won’t come back.  The latest satisfaction survey by DBEDT showed only 50% of Japanese visitors were satisfied with their trip to Hawaii and more than 70% said that they were not likely to revisit Hawaii.  Japan is a country where the smoking rate among adult men is almost 50% and for women it is just below 15%, there is no doubt the smoking ban has played some role in the Japanese tourism decline. According to Carl Bonham, an economic professor at the University of Hawaii, tourism makes up 20 to 30% of our economy. With the declining number of visitors coming to Hawaii, we cannot afford to keep alienating our tourists from other countries or the mainland because their CULTURE or PERSONAL CHOICES do not embrace a smoke-free environment.  Others have argued that the smoking ban is not working or even being enforced.  To date, only one person has been cited for not complying with the smoking ban.  There have been testifiers in public hearings stating that some bars do not enforce the law because they are afraid of losing business.  According to Comerford, only about one in five Hawaii residents smoke, but two-thirds of bar customers are smokers. The question as to where we draw the line between the public health factor and economic sustainability must be summarized into three words: Compromise and Accommodation.  This legislative session, I have introduced three bills that offer compromises to business owners and non-smokers alike.  House Bill 3318 requires the Department of Health to promulgate rules governing smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants.  This bill would allow restaurants to have designated outdoor smoking areas according to rules established by the Department of Health.  House Bill 3320 allows people to smoke at the airport until they reach the passenger terminal gates.  House Bill 3319 will allow bar and restaurant owners to become licensed to allow smoking in designated areas that cannot infiltrate into areas not designated for smoking.  The licenses range from $1000 to $3000 based on type of facility, with half of the proceeds from the licensing fees going toward organ donation efforts and tobacco education.  This licensing procedure will inform the public as to which bars and restaurants are smoke free and which one’s allow smoking.These bills strike a delicate balance between protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke and allowing our bar and restaurant owners to operate profitable businesses.  Hawaii is a state of tolerance and Aloha and I hope these bills will receive a fair hearing so advocates from each side can constructively debate on the issue without resorting to petty politics.  

Reducing Drunk Driving and Pedestrian’s Safety

January 15, 2008

 In a joint Republican Caucus Package Press Conference, Representative Colleen Meyer, speaks on the Republican lawmakers focus on reducing drunk driving in Hawaii. Representative Corinne Ching and Senator Sam Gordon Trimble address pedestrian safety.

FACTS

DUI StatisticsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites that Hawaii has steadily increased in Alcohol-Related Crashes since 2002.  Boston.com reported that Hawaii tops the nation in the percentage of traffic deaths at 52%.  In data collected in November by the Honolulu Police Department. 3,622 people were arrested on Oahu on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence.  1,488 or 41% of those suspected had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher.  That is nearly twice the state’s legal limit of 0.8.  In 2006, 63 of 161 crash fatalities were contributed to drivers who had a blood-alcohol level over the 0.8 limit. Number of Arrest on Oahu on Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence[1]2007: 3,622* (Through November)2006: 3,4322005: 3,2822004: 3,0092003: 2,3412002: 2,188 Highly Intoxicated DriversThrough November, 3,622 people were arrested on Oahu on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence.  Of those, 1,488 drivers, or 41% had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher.  That is nearly twice the state’ legal limit of 0.8.[2]Fatal Accidents that Involved AlcoholOf the 59 fatal accidents this year, 23 have involved alcohol. (As of November)In 2006, 20 of the 80 fatal accidents that year involved alcohol, according to police.In 2005, 26 of the 72 fatal accidents that year involved alcohol, according to DOT[3]     Pedestrian Statistics          Hawaii had the fifth highest pedestrian fatality rate from traffic crashes in the United States over the           2001-2005 period, and by far the highest rate among senior-aged pedestrians (65 years and older). The     5-year rate for Hawaii senior-aged pedestrians (40.2 deaths/100,000 senior-aged residents) was nearly   3 times higher than that for the rest of the United States (14.1). A total of 150 pedestrians were killed in        Hawaii over the 2001-2005 period, accounting for 22 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. In addition to             the 30 pedestrians who are killed each year in the state, another 540 are involved in major traffic          crashes. Senior pedestrians have the highest rates of fatal injuries, but the highest rates for non-fatal         pedestrian crashes were computed for 5 to 19 year age range, with especially high rates among 10 to14    year-olds.[4]Pedestrian Safety Deaths[5]2001: 302002: 522003: 222004: 312005: 362006[6]: 29 Bicycle Statistics          Hawaii had the second highest average annual fatality rate for bicyclists (4.5 deaths/million residents) in    the country from 2001-2005, nearly twice that for the rest of the States (2.4). There were 29 deaths from           2001-2005, representing 4 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. While there was no trend in the annual number of fatal injuries, the number of bicyclists involved in non-fatal crashes generally increased, from         280 in 2001 to 329in 2005.          Bicyclists Death[7]          2001: 7`         2002: 4          2003: 6          2004: 7          2005: 5 


[1] Star Bulletin: “Hawaii DUI Arrest on Rise.” December 20, 2007. http://starbulletin.com/2007/12/20/news/story01.html

[2] Star Bulletin: “Hawaii DUI Arrest on Rise.” December 20, 2007. http://starbulletin.com/2007/12/20/news/story01.html

[3] Star Bulletin: “Hawaii DUI Arrest on Rise.” December 20, 2007. http://starbulletin.com/2007/12/20/news/story01.html

[4] DOT: Hawaii Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2007-2012: http://www.hawaii.gov/health/healthy-lifestyles/injury-prevention/PDF/safetyplan07.pdf           

[6] Star Bulletin: “Fatal Crossings: December 31, 2006. http://starbulletin.com/2006/12/31/news/story02.html