Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, May 16, 2023
‘Defense wins championships’
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 3:03 AM :: 2084 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government, Taxes

‘Defense wins championships’

by Keli'i Akina, Ph.D. President/CEO, Grassroot Institute,  May 13, 2023

Legendary football coach Bear Bryant is credited with saying: “Offense wins games … defense wins championships.”

If that’s the case, then the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is the Steel Curtain, the ’85 Bears and the 2000 Ravens of legislative advocacy. What you see might not always be flashy, but it is formidable.

Every year, there are thousands of bills introduced at the Hawaii State Legislature. Of those, hundreds get heard and move through the committee process, requiring tracking and testimony.

In the 2023 session, the Grassroot Institute submitted 142 written testimonies on approximately 82 bills. We tracked hundreds more. Since bad bills tend to outnumber good ones, that means we played a lot of defense.

Some of those bills were riddled with practical and constitutional issues. Others proposed more regulations on businesses or tax hikes and other measures sure to increase the cost of living in Hawaii.

But like a great defensive team, my Grassroot Institute colleagues were there to block many of these proposals before they reached the end zone.

Consider the fact that not a single major tax hike passed this year — not the wealth asset tax, the capital gains hike nor the carbon tax. That’s what good defense looks like.

As the session progressed, the Grassroot team became the leading critic of using state funds to promote tourism — a view that is starting to resonate at the Capitol. Ultimately, the Legislature refused to allocate any money at all to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which now is looking for a discretionary handout from the governor.

We also were the only group to point out the many problems with the governor’s proposed “visitor impact fee,” and it, too, failed to reach the end zone.

Another bill we helped block would have allowed a “deliberative process” exception to the state’s open records law. If enacted, it would have created a major loophole in the state’s transparency requirements. That bill went down.

One bill that we failed to block has the potential to virtually kill the cryptocurrency business in Hawaii. But the game isn’t over yet, so now we are encouraging people to ask Gov. Josh Green to veto that measure.

In terms of offense, I would like to have seen more good bills passed, but our team is getting better on that count too. We supported a wide range of good bills, some of which made it pretty far, if not to the governor’s desk.

We even crafted 15 model bills of our own that were introduced by different legislators. One of them is waiting for the governor’s signature: SB674, which would authorize Hawaii to join 37 other states in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and make it easier for doctors from those states to practice here and help alleviate our acute doctor shortage.

But it is the nature of legislative advocacy that we will always have to play more defense than offense, especially considering how many bills are introduced and how often those bills would increase taxes or add more regulations.

Victories like the passage of SB674 are thrilling, and I can’t wait to see more of them. But I am happy that we have a strong defensive team too. Just imagine how much higher the price of paradise would be without it.

This commentary was Keli‘i Akina’s weekly “President’s Corner” column for May 13, 2023. If you would like to have his columns emailed to you on a regular basis, please call 808-864-1776 or email


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


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 Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii