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Monday, April 25, 2011
HCR135: Special Interests hijack ALOHA Resolution
By Sen. Sam Slom @ 1:43 PM :: 5035 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

A-L-O-H-A, How a Simple Resolution Goes Through the Hawaii Legislative Process

by Sen Sam Slom

The Aloha Spirit – who could be opposed to continuing the Aloha Spirit in Hawaii?

However, if you get the Hawaii State Legislature involved, you can see who might oppose a resolution for continued Aloha Spirit, especially when you review the convoluted process the resolution traveled through.

On March 14, 2011, House Concurrent Resolution 135 was introduced by Rep. John Mizuno.

HCR 135 was introduced, “urging the reduction of voting majority of the State Rehabilitation Counsel on Kauai to 10 to allow for quorum at counsel meetings.”

Several weeks later, in a House committee, HCR 135 was the victim of “gut and replace,” a common practice where the number of a bill or resolution stays the same, but the contents are completely different.

A proposed House Draft 1 changed the original resolution to read “urging all people of the state of Hawaii to eliminate the ”N” word from their vocabulary. Nowhere in the resolution do they say what the “N” word is.

The proposed draft was not passed. Instead, a new House Draft 1 was adopted, “urging the continued support of the Aloha Spirit of all people of the state of Hawaii.”

The first “whereas” clause said, “The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. … ” It goes on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011, HCR 135, HD 1, came before the Senate Committee on Human Services, chaired by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Nuuanu.

The proposed version was further amended to read: “Urging the continued support of the Aloha Spirit of all people of the state of Hawaii by displaying mutual respect and affection toward others with no obligation in return without use of derogatory words with regard to a person’s race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”

Embedded in the newest version of the resolution was the following: “Whereas legal and social inequality is also a form of denigration that corrupts the meaning of Aloha and gives us permission to speak and act with violence toward others because of their race, gender, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation.”

Yet another part of this Aloha resolution said “be it further resolved that it is urged that people follow a general boycott from the purchasing of any product which uses hateful words to intimidate or degrade people based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation in any form, be heavily promoted and be practiced by wholesalers, retailers and consumers throughout the state.”

These additions were submitted by Equality Hawaii, the group in the news most recently in the battle over same sex marriage. Rep. John Mizuno, D-Kalihi, gave the testimony in support of the changes.

Where is the Aloha? Of the three members of the Senate Human Services committee present yesterday, Senator Les Ihara, D-Kaimuki and myself raised several issues with this resolution.

First, we both pointed to existing state law, which has already identified and endorsed the Aloha Spirit in Hawaii as part of our Hawaii Revised Statutes.

Second, we had a difficult time understanding what the resolution was really saying other than it seemed to be divisive and advancing a specific political agenda.

Third, we doubted that the passage of such a resolution would do anything to further the Aloha Spirit and unite people in Hawaii.

After this discussion, the Senate chair wisely decided to defer this resolution.

But this should serve as a clear example of how things change down at the “big square building” and who the driving forces are even for a seemingly innocuous resolution such as this supporting the Aloha Spirit.

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