February 15, 2011

At Least RI isn't Hawaii (well, in this instance)

Marc Comtois

What state has the most Democrat dominated legislative body? The Hawaii state senate. Byron York explains:

In Hawaii, there are 25 members of the state Senate. Twenty-four are Democrats. And then there is Sam Slom.

Slom, the lone Senate Republican in the state of President Obama's birth, has represented East Honolulu since 1996. He hasn't always been the only GOP senator; in the last session, there were two. But Republicans fared poorly at the polls in November, and Slom was left alone.

Which means that Democratic bills to increase state spending, to impose new regulations and mandates and to create new government departments are often passed on votes of 24-1. "I represent a point of view that would not be represented," the conservative Slom says, "even if it's just one voice."

There are 15 committees in the Senate. Most Democrats serve on three or four. But to make things bipartisan, Slom -- you may call him Mr. Minority Leader -- has to serve on all 15. That means he spends his days racing from one committee meeting to the next, making sure there's at least one question from a conservative point of view.

So cheer up RI Republicans, it could be worse!

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No, it couldn't be worse. At least they have fabulous weather in Hawaii. And they don't have Chafee.

Posted by: MadMOM at February 15, 2011 8:58 AM

And they have Ken-their unpaid ambassador to the world.LOL

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 15, 2011 9:49 AM

Paging Ken - how many GOP state senators have their been in Hawaii's history as a state? How many steps does it take for you to get to your car from your home in Hawaii? How many hairs do you have on the back of your left hand?

That should keep the Hawaiian Rain Man busy for a while.

Posted by: Dan at February 15, 2011 10:23 AM

Confession: I posted this just for Ken!

Posted by: Marc at February 15, 2011 11:05 AM

At least one thing I have to say about Hawaii government in general (state and local) compared to Rhode Island it is a very transparent government regardless if it is Democratic or Republican controlled. Ethics is strictly enforced in Hawaiian government. Hawaii government worries about what is happening within the state boarders not what is happening in other states.

Unlike my birth state Rhode Island, Hawaii state-wide unemployment is 6.4% but on Oahu it is 5.4% which the numbers should be decreasing because Walt Disney Co. is finishing up new 800-room resort on Oahu and in the process of hiring 1,100 employees. Feb. 22, 2011 City and County of Honolulu breaks ground for the new $5.8 billion (has been collecting ½% surcharge on sales tax for over 4 years to pay for it) 20-mile elevated high-speed light rail project that will create 8,000 new construction jobs with an additional projected 4,000 support jobs. Hawaii was listed as the world’s top honeymoon destination in the March issue of Bride Magazine as voted by Signature Travel Network, a group of more than 6,000 North American travel agents. Condé Nast Traveler: 2010 Readers' Choice Awards voted Maui Best Island in the world for the 16th time and Best Island in the Pacific 17th time. In 2010 visitors to Hawaii infused the Hawaiian economy with $11.4 billion in spending. 2012 alternate energy infrastructure for all electric vehicles public charging stations and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle refueling stations will be built in Honolulu and Walt Disney Co. will be back in Hawaii filming two new Pirates of the Caribbean episodes. Current movie being filmed in Hawaii is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and CBS TV are weekly filming Hawaii Five-0, ABC TV weekly filming Off the Grid and A&E TV weekly filming Dog the Bounty Hunter. This past year Hawaii beat out all other world-wide sites for the location and construction of the $970 million to $1.2 billion 30 meter telescope which will be located on top of Mauna Kea thus making State of Hawaii the state with the most celestial telescopes in the world.

What has Rhode Island done lately beside lay people off due to $10 million kickback and bribery scheme?

Posted by: Ken at February 15, 2011 7:00 PM

The Governor of Hawaii wields a lot more power than the governor of Rhode Island. Actually controls the releasing of funds for state programs but the General Assembly allocates the funds.

For the last 8-years (term limit) Hawaii has had a Republican Governor and LT Governor however the act of ordering teachers (teachers in Hawaii are state employees) take furlough Fridays cutting 17 days out of school year to balance the state budget did not sit well with the Hawaii state population and the GOP was voted out of office.

Hawaii now has a Democratic Governor and LT Governor.

The Hawaii General Assembly make up is now:

Hawaii State Senators (4-year terms) total = 25; 24 Democrats and 1 Republican.

Hawaii State House of Representatives (2-year terms) total = 51; 42 Democrats, 8 Republicans and 1 vacancy as of Feb 2011.

In Hawaii it’s not about party politics but for the good of the whole state population on an even playing field with equal distribution and no favoritism shown. That is why the only non-sales tax item is prescription drugs (4.5% Oahu and 4% all other islands).

The overall domination of the Democratic Party in Hawaii government does not mean the Democratic Party writes blank checks, raises taxes and creates more government rules. Surprisingly there is a very high level of government transparency in Hawaii. The new governor just found out how hard it is to enact his proposed budget balancing for the prosed deficit over the next 2 years. He has alienated some of the General Assembly (his own Democrats), the unions, the retirees and the seniors already and the local newspapers are already printing the population’s negative written spin. He was lambasted in today’s newspaper for trying to play up to everyone’s sense of Hawaii by trying to say we are all in the same canoe but only some of us are paddling.

Hawaii does not do politics like the mainland. It’s more personal in Hawaii and if the population does not like what you are doing in office you are out of office. Those elected officials working in Hawaii state and local government know the people of Hawaii vote across party lines either Democrat or Republican or Independent based on the individual but when slighted will vote the whole party out of office.

As far as ethics, Hawaii State Statute § 5-7.5 "Aloha Spirit" says it all as a requirement for all state government employees and the population as first decreed by King Kamehameha the Great and written into the state constitution. A city councilwoman was publicly reprimanded for throwing her pen across the chambers. A state Senator was stopped at a DUI check point and his 2 young sons turned him in and he was forced to resign his state position.

This is going to be an interesting 4 years.

Posted by: Ken at February 15, 2011 11:53 PM
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