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Saturday, January 14, 2023
Prioritizing lists
By Selected News Articles @ 3:52 PM :: 1467 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Labor

Prioritizing lists

by Stan Fichtman, Politics Hawaii

With the new year now here (2023), the governmental entities that make laws and influence the making of those laws are hard at work. One of those tasks seems to be putting out lists of priorities, based on what they see as important.

But which list is “more important” to our lawmakers, than others? If all were the same, this blog could come up with a great list of priorities that the Legislature and the Governor should act upon.

But, alas, that is not how this world works. Let us take a look at two lists that came out recently and then tell you which one the legislature will focus on first, and then second.

First, we have the Majority Leader of the Hawai‘i State Senate, who Tweeted out the majority parties’ priorities. Considering that the majority party has 23 out of 25 seats in that chamber, you might as well look at this list as “this is what we are going to do as a body”

All images PC: Hawai‘i State Senate Democrats Twitter account

First off, that is a lot of purple and dark colors to put out a statement like this. Second, a lot of words on a lot of policy positions on key items that the people of Hawai‘i get focused on from time to time.

And one could be forgiven for thinking “well this is the majority leaders’ direction, and so what we see here is what could be so in this cycle.” However, the second list presented here is a lot shorter but much more impactful.

The second list comes from the Hawaii Government Employees Association or known by its acronym in Hawai‘i, HGEA. They are the public workers union that represents a vast majority of state workers in Hawaii. And as one knows about Hawai‘i, one of the top five largest employers in the state of Hawaii is the State.

  • Recruit and retain a strong government workforce – Address pay equity, attract the next generation of employees, and develop benefits for a 21st century workforce
  • Ensure funding of vital services for our community – Actively seek ways to generate additional state & county revenues to preserve government programs
  • Protect the right to organize, maintain civil service, and advance collective bargaining – Ensure civil service protections under Chapter 76, HRS and expand collective bargaining rights under Chapter 89, HRS
  • Oppose privatization – Services provided by government employees should be protected
  • Protect retirement benefits for current and future retirees – Promises made to employees upon hire should be kept

The list is directly from the HGEA’s email to members earlier this week, January 9, 2023. As one can see, it’s much shorter and way more to the point.

Linking this list to the fact that the HGEA is influential in both the State Legislature (supporting several candidates this last election cycle, which with their endorsement made winning much easier) and their support at the Executive (they supported Governor Green and Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke), one could correctly assume that they would be prioritizing one list over another.

In other words, expect to see proposals that support HGEA’s wish list to move first and, with amendments most likely, pass. And then if they get around to focusing on the other “lists,” the Legislature will tackle them, or make it very hard to move on things that they don’t want, like government privatization.

Policy advocations, based on the HGEA list could be but are not limited to increases in fees and taxes, the rescinding of certain tax credits or deductions, firming up who can do a job in the state (contractor/semi-autonomous state entity or a bonafide union person), and obtaining pay raises for its members.

So from PHwSF’s perspective – pay attention, and know what is coming from where. The House and Senate for Hawai‘i gavel into session on January 18th.

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