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 Republican Caucus releases 2014 legislative package

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


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:

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.

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

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.

Rep. Lauren Cheape and highlights of the HPCF Breakfast 2013

The Honolulu Police Community Foundation recently awarded $32,000 in college scholarships to 10 winning applicants currently pursuing their college degrees or post-graduate education. The awardees, their schools and their majors are:

Stacie Ann Shibano, University of Washingon, Psychology
Kenneth Hu, Rutgers University, Pharmacy
Michael Sonson, Biola University, Medicine
Zhaotong Xu, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Psychology and Molecular Cell Biology
Nathan Yang, Duke University Law School
Starla Takara, Hawaii Pacific University, Management and Entrepreneurial Studies
Nolan Arasato, Western Oregon University, Theater Arts
Jarrett Okita, University of Portland, Civil Engineering
Sydney Vinoya, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Biology
Kristyn Iwane, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Civil Engineering

HPFC Board President and former Chief of Police for the City and County of Honolulu Lee D. Donohue and Scholarship Committee Chairman and retied HPD Major Daniel Sison officiated at the award breakfast, hosted July 5, 2013 by the Kyo-ya Management Company, Ltd. at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel Waianae Room.
The foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting police officers, their families, elderly and the disabled, and the general community.

For more information:


Rep. Cheape addresses SB 726 – Film Tax Credit; Reporting; Amendments

Report Title: Film Tax Credit; Reporting; Amendments
Description: Amends the motion picture, digital media, and film production income tax credit by, among other things: 1) Extending the repeal of the credit from January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2019; 2) Increasing the credit ceiling to $15,000,000 per qualified production; 3) Changing the credit amount from fifteen per cent of qualified production costs to twenty per cent in a county with a population of over seven hundred thousand, and from twenty per cent of qualified production costs to twenty five per cent in a county with a population of seven hundred thousand or less; 4) Adding a reporting requirement. Effective July 1, 2013. (HB726 CD1)

4/30/2013 S Passed Final Reading, as amended (CD 1). 24 Aye(s); Aye(s) with reservations: none . 0 No(es): none. 1 Excused: Senator(s) Kidani.
4/30/2013 H Passed Final Reading as amended in CD 1 with Representative(s) Fale, Yamane voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Choy, Coffman, Har, Jordan, Oshiro, Wooley voting no (6) and none excused (0).

hb726 cheapeContact: Excerpt from Capitol TV

Sash and crown, corsage and memories

King and queen and rep cheape

Chelsea Ferrick, 17, of Mili­lani High and Adam Gala­rio, 18, of Nana­kuli High were crowned queen and king by state Rep. Lauren Cheape, center, Miss Hawaii 2011.


…Galario watched as Kailua senior Kekoa Tato, glasses fogged, demonstrated the finer points of the robot.

He watched as Tyler Siekman, a sophomore from Lei­le­hua, danced hand in hand with Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape, also a state legislator, and as Mili­lani senior Jenna Fuku­naga hurried back to the dance floor after a quick hug from mom Lurline.Rep Cheape special-prom dancing

Freshman classmate D’Marcus Ottley finally ventured from the edge of the stage and let his feet find the rhythm in his slick white patent leather shoes.

It was, Galario’s smile seemed to say, a heck of a night to be king.

Tyler Siekman, 16, of Lei­le­hua High School danced with state Rep. Lauren Cheape.

Full Article:

House Minority Caucus hails bipartisan PLDC repeal

Hawaii House Caucus PictureThe House Minority Caucus today praised the bipartisan House effort to repeal the controversial Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC). After advancing from the Senate last week, House Bill 1133 SD2 passed the House in a unanimous floor vote today and will next be transmitted to the governor for signature into law.

“When legislation sparks such controversy among an array of diverse groups and the public, it is time to reconsider it. This repeal is a recognition of the public’s outcry,” said Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen added, “I’m pleased that we were able to accomplish this repeal in a bipartisan fashion. There are many things the two parties do agree on – it’s encouraging to see members from both sides coming together for such good work. This is a prime example of the Legislature collaborating to satisfy the wishes of the people it serves.”

The previous Legislature established the Public Land Development Corporation with the intent of growing Hawaii’s economy, but its hurried process and closed-door implementation were criticized by a host of environmental and good-government organizations and individuals.

The repeal of the PLDC was a top priority of the House Minority Caucus this legislative session. The primary introducers of HB 1133 SD2 include thirteen Democrats and six Republicans.

See Hawaii Reporter: