Thursday, April 15, 2010

 

KITV uncovers anti-consumer stealth bill—to be heard in conference committee today


by Larry Geller

This is a bill that takes away important consumer protections. It was supposed to be dead, but now it is back. It will take public effort to drive a stake into its heart today. The conference committee meets this afternoon (Thursday) at 2:15.

ApplauseStanding applause to KITV for catching this one.

The spectre of HB1212 has “magically” appeared to haunt consumer advocates again this session (it died last session).

There appears to be a strong conflict of interest involved in its re-introduction and a clear loss to consumers if the bill should pass. The way to stop it will be to email, call and write before it is pushed through this afternoon at 2:15 p.m.

This bill, if it passes, will deny consumers the ability to learn of complaints against dentists and other licensed professionals until it may be too late. It has been pushed out suddenly at the last minute by Rep. Isaac Choy, whom Ian Lind identifies as a legislator with close ties to the bill’s key beneficiaries. See his expose this morning in Bill to limit consumer’s rights makes last-minute stealth move.

Ian writes, in part:

Russel Yamashita, registered lobbyist for the Hawaii Dental Association, one of the primary backers of this bill, is the chair of Choy’s campaign committee, Friends for Isaac W. Choy, according to the campaign’s organizational report filed with the Campaign Spending Commission. The Dental Association has consistently presented testimony and lobbied for this and similar bills over several legislative sessions.

Yamashita’s lobbyist registration and Choy’s campaign committee share the mailing address of several businesses in which Choy reports an interest (see his 2008 and 2009 financial disclosure reports), including Manoa Consulting Group LLC, Isaac W. Choy CPA Inc., Ukumaruku Corp., and K H Choy & Associates.

So we know who gains: the dentists and other licensed professionals who will be able to get the complaints hidden from public view, and Rep. Choy.

This bill could not have gone to conference without the approval of Speaker Calvin Say, and he has the power to stop it. His email is repsay@Capitol.hawaii.gov and his phone is 586-6100.

Don’t you want to know if there are complaints against a professional before you sit down on that chair? This bill will remove your ability to easily find out what problems others have reported.

Members of the House conference committee just appointed are: Karamatsu Chair; Choy, Mizuno, Thielen. The Senate appointed conferees last session, before the bill died. They are: Taniguchi, Chair; Takamine, Slom.

If the public doesn’t weigh in on this one, it will likely pass at 2:15 this afternoon.

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