Monday, May 11, 2009


IT MUST BE BURIED HERE SOMEWHERE: It’s “read um and weep time” as the legislature finished it’s dirty work Friday.

The list of bills that passed is kind of like the most disgusting Sundae in the world with a bunch of turds on the bottom where the ice cream should be, topped with a layer of fluff instead of whipped cream and, if we’re lucky by some miracle of oversight, an eatable cherry or two on top.

The sauce? No butterscotch, no chocolate no nothing where it should. Those are the missing (due to) inaction bills- the ones that showed promise, almost made it but were killed by paid-to-play conference committees with the hope you won’t notice because there’s no list of them anywhere except in the hearts of those who wanted to see them passed.

The bigger debacles have gotten plenty of press but one we haven’t heard much of that awaits the governor’s signature is the bill that would have banned research on generically modified Hawaiian taro.

Yup- it’s dead. For a lot of the newbie activists that got involved in the anti-GM movement it’s sooo cute to see the expression on their faces the first time they open the empty box and see up-close how corruptly idiotic our Hawai`i legislative system is.

To watch them, as the session went along, go from supporting an outright ban on GM products, to a ban on all research, to a ban on taro research, to a ban on only research on the Hawaiian varieties of taro, was priceless for us grizzled vets.

But then seeing them get all excited that the watered down bill passed both houses only to see their hopes dashed at the last minute is outright hilarious.

We only wish that is had passed only to be vetoed and then left for dead with no override vote permitted by the house and/or senate leadership.

For that kind of mirth we have to wait for action on the list of some of the bills that actually sit on the governor’s desk.

We’ll go over a few today that either effect Kaua`i or that we’ve followed during the session or are otherwise particularly worthy of note

We’ll start with an absurd little ditty- HB267 HD2 SD1, Relating To The Motor Vehicle Rental Industry. This is the bill introduced to allow rental cars on the Superferry. Even though the ferry sunk, the bill still floated... all aboard for the SS Futility. Guess they were busy doing this and things like determining which is the official state butterfly that they “ran out of time” on the civil unions bill.

HB640 HD1 SD2 CD1 “Relating To Environmental Impact Statements” may be the worst bill passed this year. It takes away the protections that trigger an environmental assessment when developments abut or empty onto things like state and federally funded roads and other public facilities- such as when a hotel that empties onto a busy highway. And forget about taking into account where the cars will go once they hit that road. that’s doubly prohibited.

While developers love this one, smart growth and environmental protection activists are crushed by the law that “(e)xempts from the purview of chapter 343, HRS, the environmental review law, primary actions that require a ministerial permit, that involve secondary actions limited to infrastructure development within public right-of-ways.”

Though the greedy bosses and other union-busters at Wal-Mart and Home Depot may not think so, one of the few good bills that passed is the one known as the “card check law”. It enables unions to organize when a majority of the workers sign up rather than require elections that are subject to management manipulation intimidation tactics. HB952 HD1 SD2 CD1 is a statewide version of the law that is currently being considered by the US Congress but until then at least Hawai`i has a card check system.

The county lifeguard liability shield law for which the counties fought for many years was about to expire but is extended, although just for another four years, under HB1040 HD1 SD2 CD1. It seems absurd that we’ll have to fight for this- and pay a lobbyist- again in four years but we’re probably lucky to have gotten it renewed.

We hear nothing but bad things about the guy that slips that white “el cheapo dentistry” ad sheet in the local paper every other weekend so it’s good to hear about SB113 HD1 CD1 Relating To Dentists which “(a)uthorizes the board of dental examiners to sanction licensees for false or misleading advertising”.

And finally for today, although a slew of great bills in the cannabis/hemp package were swept into the gutter- including the one transferring control of medical cannabis from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health where it belongs and is in every other state- we did get a SB1058 SD2 HD2 CD1 Relating To Controlled Substances.

At least it “(e)stablishes a task force to examine issues relating to medical cannabis patients and current medical cannabis laws (and) (e)stablishes a task force to examine the effects of salvia divinorum”.


Doug said...

I did not follow it very closely, but I understood that the card check bill would only apply to those categories of employers excluded from the federal labor law. i.e. Wal Mart in Hawaii won't be organized by card check ... unless EFCA becomes law at the federal level.

LoF said...

@doug. i thought everyone except the government and agricultural workers are covered by the NLRA and both government and agrilcutural sectors are already organized here and not in need of card checks. a useless bill if what you say is true.

Andy Parx said...

The only “restriction’ in the bill I found is “at least $5 million in revenue”. I’m not sure what line is saying. I’m not sure but it sounds like the language I’ve read for other states’ card check laws and the federal one.

Mauibrad said...

Andy wrote, "We’ll start with an absurd little ditty- HB267 HD2 SD1, Relating To The Motor Vehicle Rental Industry. This is the bill introduced to allow rental cars on the Superferry. Even though the ferry sunk, the bill still floated... all aboard for the SS Futility."

That bill went through fast too. Actually rental cars could previously be taken on HSF; this bill just makes the paperwork easier to transport rental cars interisland. For now the beneficiary seems to be Young Brothers.

Another interesting bill that passed is the following:
SB1055 HD1
Authorizes the Department of Transportation to adopt rules relating to safety measures, security requirements, and shipping activities for the purpose of protecting and ensuring the general public interest and safety of persons and vessels in the commercial harbors belonging to or controlled by the State. (SB1055 HD1) [The harbors are 'Ceded lands' btw.]

On a side note, the other day noticed that all of the HSF equipment down at Nawiliwili is still there intact. Ramp and all. Meanwhile, supposedly they are moving the barge from Kahului to Honolulu harbor.

Also, on the Motion for Reconsideration with the State Supreme Court, there are 2 more days for the SC to issue a statement otherwise no statement from the SC means the motion is denied. Watchin' by RSS feed on that one.

Lastly, bet the nice leather seats in the Alakai and Huakai are being switched out and the vessels soon to be painted at Atlantic Marine where they are now at. If the vessels are leased by the DoD as HSV's under the Sealift Command's 2 new available leases, they can be expected to be committed for 2 years to that. By the equipment being left out in the elements here at the harbors, I would say DOT and Lingle are in counterproductive state of denial on the situation.

Doug said...

Andy, any state labor law is superceded by federal law, so there is no (legal) need to specify which employers and workers would be covered. To this end, the chapter 377 definition of "employee" has a case note that clarifies that the definition applies only to those excluded from the NLRA (i.e. the federal law) definition.

I can't seem to find the list of workers excluded from the NLRA, though. The excluded workers are a tiny minority, I know that much.