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Spring 1977

Project Con-Con
LWV Hawaii Education Fund, Inc.
LWV Opens a Door
Voting Rights
Boarding at State Convention
Hired by BNA
Who Said...?
Legislative Log (Muriel Roberts)
Legislative Interviews (Jerry Hess)

Legislative Interviews

Many thanks to our interviewers and recorders who made it possible for us to cover most of the leadership of the Legislature. Not all of the legislators responded to our request for an interview, hut we did get excellent results from a good cross section of the State. Out of 17 Senators contacted, we completed 15 interviews, and out of 24 Representatives, we completed 17.

Here is the run-down on reaction to the League's priority issues:

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Where do you feel the public best fits in the Hawaii collective bargaining process? And why?

This question brought out some concerns and problems that each Legislator interviewed foresees in this area, as well as some interesting speculative thinking. Generally our lawmakers seemed to feel that the public should have some input into the collective bargaining process, but it was "sunshine" with qualifications. Only 4 felt that the public could be present in the negotiation process. Ten felt that the public had their input through their elected representatives. Most felt that the public should not be involved in the actual negotiations because: the "hard knots" of negotiation have to private; "unions afraid of losing face" if the public is observing negotiations; "public is too emotional"; "openness in collective bargaining tends to be anti-labor", and; "even if they were open, the public still wouldn't see real bargaining -- that's done someplace else."

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION: Do you favor making any changes from the way the last convention was held.

We were particularly interested in this question and asked for specific answers. There was a glimmer of consensus on the timing for delegate election and the Convention itself. A few aberrations, though, were thoughts expressed such as: "I don't want the thing anyway"; "Have the election for delegates, the Convention, and the ratification this year while it's still in the public's mind."

Most all the other legislators felt that there should be a special, nonpartisan election in the spring or summer of 1977, and a Convention in the fall of 1977.

Opinion on apportionment of districts was more varied. Women legislators interviewed were definitely for multimember districts, and against delegates-at-large for the obvious reason that they believe that they and minorities have a better chance of winning in multimember districts. A large number of male legislators were for single member districts, not only for convention delegates but for the Legislature also. Generally the "same as last time" or a mix of multimember districts and delegates-at-large was the opinion of most.

Number of delegates ranged from 82 (same as last time) to 150, with most believing that around 100 was all right.

Even though there was no question on legislators running as delegates it seemed to turn up on all the recorders sheets. Most of the legislators brought it up themselves. Only two felt strongly that legislators should run; one of the two resented public pressure that would make it uncomfortable for him to run.

CAMPAIGN SPENDING: How well do you think the law is working for the public? How could it work better?

This question was dear to the hearts of all those we interviewed. One said that candidates have the right to spend their own money anyway they want, and that the poor candidate would have to go out and get money anyway he can. This legislator said that he spent less before the Campaign Spending Law was passed than he did after. He apparently felt he had to come up to the limits in expenditures.

All the other legislators wished that limits could be restored either directly or indirectly. Some believe public financing is a good idea, a few voiced concern that there would have to be safeguards written in to insure that only the serious candidate would get public money. Another suggestion was state subsidies for free air time and TV exposure. Some thought "disclosure" was a joke, pointing out the little difference it made in the Congressional campaign of Heftel and Rolfing. One or two thought the League should do something about it.

One legislator spent $35,000 for his 2 year, $12,000/year job.

One Mayor spent $100,000 for this 4 year, $45,144/year job.

One Councilman spent around $35,000 for his 4 year, $14,580/year job.

GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION COMMISSION: What do you think about the feasibility of implementing any of the state reorganization plans?

The reorganization question found most of the legislators not knowing too much about it. This is understandable, since the final report of the Commission was not out at interview time.

Some believe that the Commission's proposals should be brought up at the Constitutional Convention.

The Council on Revenues proposal did generate a lot of concern. The legislators interviewed felt that something has to be done about getting better revenue estimates and improving budget-making procedures. Three legislators felt that the Legislature sets public priorities, and the Governor decides expenditure priorities, and it is the Governor's job to balance the budget. Most felt that there is a need for some kind of formal system for getting revenue estimates that would be responsible to the Legislature aside from the Governor's committee. But they are not sure that COR is the answer.

The reshaping of departments was not a popular idea. Some thought it wasn't feasible. Some were afraid of establishing "supra" departments that would mean more red tape and less accountability.

The Life Long Learning system didn't get much enthusiastic reaction except in 5 interviews, and these seemed to like it better theoretically than actually. Four legislators did not like the idea at all.


All legislators mentioned some aspect of financing the state when asked for priorities: getting a handle on the state's fiscal problems, getting enough money, budget-making, etc. This is a budget-making session. Also mentioned were unemployment and collective bargaining, and Con-Con.

Other priorities were mostly diversified into their respective committee interests.

Jerry Hess

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