Thursday, February 29, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Wacky Season at Legislature
By Grassroot Institute @ 7:43 PM :: 3340 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Taxes

Wacky Season at Legislature

From Grassroot Institute, February 8, 2020

The 2020 legislative session is only a few weeks old, and that puts us at a strange place in the life cycle of the Legislature. 

As the session goes on and deadlines for hearings and votes come closer, the Legislature tends to focus on the big issues for the year. That’s when we hear about the tax increases, new projects or significant policy issues.

However, early in the session is when government watchdogs get to observe the true nature of our state lawmakers. Unfortunately, the view from this vantage point isn’t always pretty. This is when nanny-state proposals, unconstitutional overreach bills and social engineering schemes thrive. This is the time when trendy political fads and California-copycat bills get full committee hearings.

This year, the urge to regulate every element of our lives is a popular theme at the Legislature. There’s SB2453, which uses energy efficiency as an excuse to legislate the exact temperature of all state buildings, declaring that no one can set the air conditioning lower than 73 degrees. 

Yes, the power of the state legislative process is being used to settle thermostat disputes.

Then there’s SB2636 and companion bill HB2720, which use “gender equity” as the justification for imposing a quota of female directors on the board of any publicly held domestic or foreign corporation with a principal executive office located in Hawaii. The fine for noncompliance is $100,000 for the first offense and $500,000 for subsequent violations. I’ll let you be the judge of whether this law would be more likely to achieve gender equality or chase executive offices out of the state.

But no bill exemplifies the truly bizarre types of bills that we so often see at this time of year more than the original version of HB2540. Though it has now been transformed into an unspecified excise tax on cigarettes, the first version of HB2540 was basically an audacious attempt to ban cigarettes altogether. 

The bill proposed increasing the age at which one could legally buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes to at least 30 years old in 2021, then to age 40 in 2022, 50 in 2023, 60 in 2024, and by 2025, 100 years old! The fine for breaking the law would have been $500.

The House Health Committee report on the new version of the bill simply states that an excise tax is a good way to deter smoking. It does not go into the absurdity of a bill that would have raised the age for purchasing cigarettes to 100 over a five-year period.

So why do these odd, overreaching or questionable bills matter if they don’t survive the hearing process? 

Because this is the time when your legislators reveal what they really want. This is when we find out what they might choose to pass if they weren’t constrained by practical, political or constitutional limitations. 

A legislator who chooses to sponsor heavy, nanny-state regulations is making an important statement about the role of government. The fact that the bill in question didn’t pass, or wasn’t intended to pass without amendment, shouldn’t matter when it comes to evaluating that statement.

It’s a relief to know that none of these bills will look the same if they ever get to the governor’s desk, but it’s still important to know how they began. 

If we want to see real change in Hawaii, we should pay attention to what our lawmakers want when they initially submit their bills. When the first hearings of the year are full of big-government proposals, it’s a sign that we’re heading in the wrong direction.

E hana kakou! (Let's work together!)

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii