Hawaii Family Action Legislative Wrapup
Aloha Mai Kakou: May 31, 2016
On behalf of the staff and board of Hawai’i Family Advocates (HFA), I would like to share a summary of HFA’s work with the 2016 Legislature. It bears noting that in a recent Star-Advertiser online poll, 50% of respondents gave the 2016 Legislative Session a “D” or “F” grade!
One of HFA’s major concerns was an attempt by certain politicians to pass bills (SB 2373 and HB 1255) relating to “assisted suicide.” These bills did not pass, fortunately. However, there continues to be a very strong push on the national level to enact “assisted suicide” legislation in many states.
The money and other resources behind this movement are enormous and Hawai’i is being targeted by national organizations as one of the primary states to enact legislation.
Hawai’i Family Forum (HFF) united with other organizations to establish a credible foundation for addressing and ultimately opposing “assisted suicide” legislation and policies. We expect an onslaught of “assisted suicide” bills during the 2017 Legislative Session. Therefore, we must remain steadfast, united and prepared to defeat any efforts to approve these misguided measures.
Accordingly, our first step is ensuring that elections have consequences. Stay tuned for a summary from HFA and HFF regarding the voting records and positions that candidates seeking elected office have taken regarding “assisted suicide.”
HFA also opposed bills (SB 2615 and HB 1675) relating to what’s described as “conversion therapy.” This proposed legislation was unnecessary and would have adversely impacted parental rights and religious freedoms regarding children’s therapy for sexual identity issues.
These bills did not pass. However, there is a strong coalition of LGBT activists who will pursue this legislation during the 2017 session. Through its lobbying efforts, HFA will continue educating office holders regarding issues raised by LGBT activists. And just like we did with “assisted suicide” legislation, HFA and HFF will summarize the voting records and positions that political candidates took regarding “conversion therapy.”
Legislation relating to counseling of minors passed this session with support from the Judiciary. Under this bill (SB 2886), allow minors under the age of 14 can receive counseling without their parents’ approval. This could occur if a licensed mental health professional believes it is inappropriate for parents to participate in counseling with their child. Although several aspects of this legislation are troublesome, HFA is most concerned about parental rights being usurped by licensed mental health professionals. Supporters of the bill acknowledge that it addresses relatively rare situations, however.
Although legislation seeking to decriminalize marijuana did not pass this session, there is no doubt that its supporters will not give up. Again, the first line of defense is making sure that elections have consequences. On a related topic, HFA will monitor issues regarding medicinal marijuana and its dispensary system created by the Legislature and Department of Health.
Representative Jarrette Keolokalole introduced a resolution (HCR 127) that is very troubling and it reflects the ideology of many state legislators who will introduce bills next year pertaining to illegal drugs. This resolution directs the Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct a study of Portugal’s drug decriminalization system as a potential model for Hawai’i.
Portugal decriminalized the possession and consumption of illegal drugs for personal use. This includes marijuana, cocaine and other opiates. Representative Keolokalole claims that decriminalization would reduce the use and abuse of illegal drugs in that we could fund treatment for drug users by diverting monies away from the criminal justice system.
As a former prosecutor and administrative judge of the Hawai’i Drug Court, I assure you this is the wrong path to take. It’s important to understand that the Portugal drug study is skewed and flawed in many respects. Besides being dated, the study was conducted by an organization that favors drug legalization or decriminalization. Once again, HFA and HFF will monitor the actions of political candidates and issue a summary for you.
Unfortunately, there were no policies or major pieces of legislation addressing cost of living issues such as affordable housing, livable wages and tax structure. More money was appropriated to the Rental Housing Trust Fund. However, there is nothing to indicate that the fruits of these appropriations – namely, affordable housing and/or rental units – will be realized immediately. Remember, the Legislative and Executive Branch’s own numbers indicate Hawai’i needs more than 25,000 affordable housing and rental units today.And that the number will only increase!
Although there was a significant monetary appropriation relating to homelessness, HFA believes this was unwise. That’s because there is no overarching plan relating to the homeless by the State and the City and County of Honolulu. More importantly, there is no specific plan regarding how Governor David Ige would use these monies. The Governor’s homeless coordinator, Scott Morishige, indicated that a plan on how to spend the approximately $12 million appropriation should be ready by November of this year! Therefore, the Governor has unfettered discretion in spending this costly appropriation.
I would like to close by bringing to your attention a resolution (SR No. 56) passed by this Legislature that I believe exemplifies the ideological and political principles and beliefs of the majority of current representatives. This resolution praises Planned Parenthood as an exemplary organization that has for decades served the women, children and families of Hawai’i. The resolution also called Planned Parenthood a friend of the Legislature. A significant portion of the resolution denounced past incidences of violence levied against Planned Parenthood and the false and devious allegations and videos (regarding the sale of embryotic and fetus body parts) produced and released by the Center for Medical Progress (a pro-life organization).
Although much can be said about the accuracy and context of the substance of this resolution, it does, as I indicated earlier, serve as a clear indication of the ideological and political bent of the legislators who approved it. This resolution is a perfect example of how legislators who profess to represent all the people of Hawai’i – no matter their religious, political or ideological persuasion – continue to pick and choose winners and losers.
HFA is perplexed that other organizations – many of which do not receive any government funding and have served women, children and families for decades on a daily basis – were not honored by this Legislature! Therefore, HFA and HFF will submit a resolution during the 2017 Session asking the Legislature to recognize the hundreds of organizations that serve women, children and families.
The bottom line is that the Planned Parenthood resolution is nothing more than political posturing by the Legislature to support and organization at a time when its credibility – and most importantly justification for government financial support – is under tremendous scrutiny. Our Legislative and Executive branches refused to consider any request to investigate or respond to Planned Parenthood’s policies and practices relating to the sale of embryotic and fetus body parts. The evidence revealed by Center for Medical Progress, if not overwhelming, did at the very least require an inquiry.
It must be noted that on behalf of the Hawai’i Life Alliance, I authored a letter to Governor Ige requesting an investigation by the Attorney General regarding allegations made against Planned Parenthood by the Center for Medical Progress. The request asked for a response to the question of whether or not the Governor would ask his Attorney General to conduct an investigation. To date, we have not received a response.
Here are my questions to you: Did you feel the 2016 Legislative Session was a reflection of representative democracy? Did your legislator or legislators in key leadership roles give real and honest consideration to your positions, opinions and statements?
In response to these questions and the many more you have, I urge you to make certain that elections have consequences! We all have a duty and responsibility to exercise our inalienable right to vote. Accordingly, HFA and our associate HFF will provide you with all the information you need about the political candidates in terms of their positions on family, faith and freedom. In the meantime, reach out to at least two people who didn’t vote in the past election. Get them registered to vote, educate them and get them to the polls to ensure that elections have consequences.
Finally, continue to follow us via our website at www.hffaction.org and on our Facebook page. Mahalo nui loa!
Aloha Ke Akua,