President's Message (Jean Aoki)
State Council to be Held on Kauai
Making Democracy Work: Hawaii Clean Elections Activities (Toni Worst)
Electronic Notification of Batterer's Release (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
In Memoriam: Mary George
State Board Actions
LWV-Hawaii Proposed Budget 1998-1999
Local League News - Hawaii County
Local League News - Honolulu
Local League News - Kauai
Kido Selected as Rotary Ambassador to Germany
Judicial Council Seeking Panelists
Job Opportunities Available (Marian Wilkins)
Meet Your Board
Legislative Hearing Notices Available on Internet
As we prepare the articles for this newsletter, it is too early to go into the specifics of all the bills that we will be testifying on. We do not know which of the numerous bills will actually be heard and which held in committees, but we have started testifying on some major bills. Here are some of them.
Using the national position on taxation, mainly the principle of progressivity in taxation, and our belief that adequate revenues should be raised through taxes to fund the needs of government, Astrid Monson has been spearheading our efforts to join the public debate on one of the Economic Revitalization Task Force's recommendations. Arlene Ellis, Janet Mason, and Jean Aoki have been working with Astrid on our position.
Astrid, in particular, has been very busy. She has been asked to speak before different groups, has appeared on "Dialogue" with Dan Boylan, was asked by Richard Port to meet with the governor, has met with Tax Director Ray Kamikawa, spoke before the Downtown Neighborhood Board's special meeting, and has been meeting with legislators interested in human services. Honolulu Weekly asked her to write an article on our view on the taxation issue, and her article, "Make Sure This Isn't Voodoo Economics," appeared in the Focus Section of the Honolulu Advertiser along with articles on the same subject by members of the U.H. Economic Research Organization, and Seiji F. Nay a, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Arlene presented League's testimony on S.B. 2215, the Economic Revitalization Task Force's bill on changing the tax system, on February 5. At that hearing, it was announced that Governor Cayetano has submitted to the Senate a set of proposed revisions to the ERTF tax recommendations. These revisions proposed smaller income tax reductions and a smaller increase in the general excise tax.
We're objecting to the 400 million dollars in income tax cuts which everyone insists will go to upper income groups, and we're objecting to a 330 million dollar GET increase intended to partly balance the loss. The task force's plan would shift the major part of the tax burden from those with high incomes to those with average and lower incomes.
Of the various land use bills introduced into the legislature, elimination of the State Land Use Commission as recommended by the Economic Revitalization Task Force has been the most controversial issue.
League will be guided by our position which in essence seeks (a) to develop an orderly and efficient process of determining the best use of our state's limited land resources, (b) to provide needed land for legitimate development without destroying the environment, and (c) to rationalize the respective duties of the various agencies involved in the process: the Land Use Commission, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and a few other agencies, and the counties.
Charter Schools. League has long supported Charter Schools as one of the most promising reforms we could make to revitalize public education. Certainly Hawaii is in no position to reject this change that is spreading widely and rapidly across the nation. Parents and community members have been kept out of school initiatives for year; it is time for the legislature to take the leadership in opening the education process to the people most interested in good public education. League testified in favor of S.B. 3090 Charter Schools-with two major changes: (1) Provision should be for both individuals and groups to initiate charter schools. (2) The core ingredient of adequate charter school legislation is provision for more than one agency that can authorize charter schools. We recommend these three: the legislature; the University of Hawaii College of Education, and county boards.
County/District Boards of Education.
Although League has not taken a specific position on S.B. 2208 and S.B. 2156 providing for county/district boards of education, we supported the intent of these two bills because they put education decisions closer to the schools/students served. There would be more personalization of education decisions that could thus relate to unique county/district needs and interests; cost savings by utilization of local services; greater parental/community input into schools; and most importantly a sense of ownership and responsibility at the local level. However, boards must be elected. Only with elected boards can citizens provide the full accountability that county/district boards should exercise - and which must not be dispersed to the governor.
We are opposing the abolishing of the Office of Information Practice (OIP) and dispersing its responsibilities among various agencies. The OIP provides assistance and advice to the public and to government agencies regarding the Uniform Information Practices Act and acts as an appeals agency to mediate any disputes over access to government records.
We are supporting a bill that would move OIP from the Department of the Attorney General to the legislature for administrative purposes and would also give the OIP the responsibility of administering the open-meeting law. It makes sense for OIP to oversee both the open-meeting law and the law governing public access to government records. It is felt, also, that the legislature would give OIP the same independence that it gives, for example, to the State Ethics Commission or the legislative auditor.
We have testified on a few elections bills, but the one that would impact the electoral system the most is the one that would require candidates for state legislative offices to be qualified voters (read bonafide residents) in the districts which they seek to represent prior to filing nomination papers for the primary elections. At present, candidates have until the day of the general election to qualify for office from a particular district, and are not required to become a qualified voter in that district until after the results of the primary election are known.
We are opposing the establishment of a people mover development authority within the Office of Planning to review the possibility of developing a privately financed people mover system between Waikiki and the Convention Center and other areas of Honolulu.
Public funds would be provided to staff the authority to make studies, prepare requests for proposals, etc. It would exempt the contractor-with respect to the people mover system, its appurtenant structures, stations and related improvements-from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of any governmental agency relating to planning, zoning, development, and improvement of land and the construction of buildings or other improvements there on.
The Hawaii Coalition Against Gambling (HCALG)'s bill, asking for a moratorium against all gambling measures pending the report from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission and calling for a comprehensive study for Hawaii conducted by our own Legislative Reference Bureau, has not been heard to date.
A ridiculous bill proposes to set up a lottery as an incentive for citizens to vote. It amends definition of "gambling" to exclude voter registration and turnout incentive programs. It hasn't been heard and doesn't deserve to be heard.
The Legislative Broadcast Program and the Access Room have been accepted as a permanent (at least as permanent as any government program can be) part of government, something we have long promoted, so we need not beg for their continuation every year.
We testified before a House committee considering establishing and adopting policies governing the Legislative Broadcast Program to include guidelines on the selection of the hearings to be heard since barring total coverage, the selection of issues to be aired becomes all important.
Endorsing Recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Domestic and Sexual Violence. The Violence Prevention Committee has been representing the League of Women Voters on the Ad-Hoc Committee on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Act 167 created this committee with a mission to "design and implement a comprehensive and coordinated service system for the protection of women and their children from domestic and sexual violence."
The Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women (HCSW) is facilitating this effort, in collaboration with the Center for Adult Dispute Resolution. The group has submitted two reports of its recommendations to the Hawaii State Legislature. It is also advocating the passage of House and Senate resolutions supporting and endorsing the committee and its work.
The Senate Ways and Means and Human Resources Committees held a two-hour informational meeting on Feb. 3, 1998. There is a lot of opposition to the Ad-Hoc Committee's 1997 report; however, no substantive or specific reasons for the opposition were given. Comments were vague and not constructive. League has scheduled meetings with the Senate Ways and Means and Human Resources Committees to call for a hearing on the Ad-Hoc Committee resolutions so that we can present our concerns.
Some of the recommendations put forth in the 1997 Ad-Hoc Committee report follow. For a complete copy of the report please call the league office.
Minor Teen Victims of Domestic Violence. The League's Violence Prevention Committee submitted testimony in support of H.B. 2569, supporting the needs of young women who are victims of domestic violence and are desperate for emergency shelter, particularly during the 48 hours following an incident-the most dangerous time for a victim.
Opponents recommend youth shelters for these young women. Youth shelters are places for delinquent or problem youth and are unsafe and ill-prepared to appropriately address domestic violence issues and should not be used as emergency havens in times of crisis. Domestic violence shelters are uniquely qualified to assist domestic violence victims. Their location is unknown in the community, and victims and parents view them as appropriate providers of domestic violence related services.
We have shelter operators willing to take in minor teens, but they are at risk of losing funding or being cited by DHS for not being licensed child care providers. This bill does not mandate shelters to take in teens, but to provide the option on a case by case basis.
The committee deferred decision-making for one week and asked DHS, the Hawaii Women's Coalition, and the Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women to try to reach consensus.
This gap group of teenage girls has been without service for a long time -- too long. Call Representative Marilyn Lee and Representative Dennis Arakaki and ask them to pass this bill.