Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Hawaii legislators gone wild—stop them today

by Larry Geller

Run, do not walk, and read Ian Lind’s article posted yesterday: “Gut & replace” bill poses broad threat to environmental regulation (, 3/20/2012). This bill comes up for a hearing this morning .

Note to legislators: I think your vote on SB755 (see below) should be widely known to the public. I’ll post it here, and again in November. And a “yes with reservations” is still a “yes.”

I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this. Laws that were hard-fought to put in place are being thrown under the bus this session with the potential of a slew of exceptions.

Why? Do we have too many power-hungry leaders in charge of committees this session? Is there something in the State Capitol water supply?

If we just sit here behind our computer terminals, the protection of state sunshine and environmental laws that have served us well will be lost.

Legislators seem also to be disregarding testimony if it is not delivered in person. They just turn the page after the chair reads a name. I know this happens. I spoke to a Senator who said he never read testimony. I kid you not. Others pay no attention to the bills before them and are not even present in the hearing room until called for a vote, which is directed by the chair with a “recommendation.” They may vote on an amendment that they have never seen. This happens all the time.

The most urgent citizen action is SB755, to be heard this morning. The bill is a threat to Hawaii’s environmental protections. It is a sad case of “gut and replace,” in which the language in a bill that has made its way through the Legislature up to this point is suddenly chucked into the committee’s garbage pail to make way for a new bill that the public has never heard. I suspect that the use of “gut and replace” as it has been with SB755 may be unconstitutional, but it would take some big buck$ to challenge the practice. The hearing notice is here. You can call or email members of the committee and ask them to defeat this bill.  Presumably, the Chair is in on the con.

I believe killing this bill today would also kill the original text, which was a gambling bill. Could this be the intention of House leadership? It’s been done before.

Today’s Star-Advertiser has an article on this bad bill. If they’ve noticed, it must be serious.

Your next reading assignment is An Open Letter In Defense of Hawaii’s Environment… (, 3/20/2012), which points to a petition. The wording of the petition is below, I’m sure they won’t mind. Please consider signing on.

Also note that if any of these bills pass, they are likely to be signed by our formerly-liberal Governor.

There must be something in the water.

The petition:

An Open Letter In Defense of Hawaii’s Environment & Open Government to Hawaii State House of Representatives, State Senate, & Governor Neil Abercrombie:
We vehemently protest certain undemocratic measures taken by the State House of Representatives, Hawaii State Senate, and Governor Abercrombie to dilute basic sunshine and due process laws that protect the public. Our island canoe is heading in the wrong direction.
Certain legislators have introduced measures which severely shut out the public and due process. These actions disfranchise citizens, corrupt public policies, and undermine democracy. This is not pono.
Numerous evolving bills, including SB 2927 SD 2, SB2873, SB2012,, HB2154 HD2, will exempt state and county government actions and development from Hawaii’s laws which protect and preserve our unique island home through careful analysis, including social, economic, cultural, historical, coastal, marine, and other environmental impacts. This removal of these checks and balances will cause injustice and create undue burden at various levels, including our economic prosperity, quality of life, sense of place, and long-term sustainability. (
Certain legislators’ eagerness to circumvent or skirt legal requisites in order to fast-track development projects, without first considering inevitable impacts on the overall environment and public participation, show an alarming lack of understanding in core democratic principles. No entity should be above or exempted from the laws that protect us all.
While some legislators are hasty to deny due process and participation to the public, they are careful “to provide indemnity for any county, its officials, or employees for actions taken regarding “exceptional planning projects”. This action is wrong; public servants will be accountable to no one.
We unequivocally protest these anti-public legislative attempts to subvert open government. We call upon each legislator to show civic courage – to independently review, boldly vote, and truly enact the people’s business within the core democratic tenets contained in the Hawaii Revised Statutes 343 (Environmental Review), Hawaii Sunshine Law (HRS 92), Coastal Zone Management 205A (SMA), and county zoning and planning.
The line of demarcation must be clear - the People’s right to know and the right to equitably participate in public policies with legislative decision-makers in a fair and open process are not negotiable.
Growing Supporters of this Open Letter include Hawaii Thousand Friends, The Sierra Club, Defend Oahu Coalition, Save Sunset Beach Coalition,Save O’ahu Farmlands Alliance, Hawaii SEED, Friends of Makakiko, Country Talk Story, Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.

Certain legislators have introduced measures which severely shut out the public and due process. These actions disfranchise citizens, corrupt public policies, and undermine democracy. This is not pono.

Again, you can sign the petition here. I have, please you do also.


What kind of a legislative system is this? Where our lawmakers can 'gut and replace' a bill with something entirely different? It's outrageous!

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