What to do on a boring weekday afternoon at home? Is there anything on television that isn’t a poorly acted soap opera? Well how about you change that channel and watch a real life soap opera? This program has two factions fighting for control of a paradise location. Both sides attack the other with ruthless aggression and with little regard as to who may be witness to the fight. One faction has what seems as an overwhelming advantage of numbers. The other side has a few strong fighters mixed in with some rank and file members. Have I got your attention now? This show is filled with arguments and snarky comments. This isn’t a new show on ABC or CBS. This program isn’t even found on any of the main stations in Hawaii. This program is found on a tiny station called Olelo. This program you see, is the daily broadcast of the State of Hawaii House of Representatives. Now I understand that this may not seem like something the average person will watch. However, I plead that you take a few minutes from your viewing schedule to watch this legislative body work.
On a recent episode, the House went through a bevy of bills that were getting another look since returning from the Senate. Many of these bills were simple measures ranging from moving money from one fund to another and allocating money for programs. These items would seem to be a simple enough task for any legislative body. Au Contraire my friends, this is no average legislative body! One bill would allow the State of Hawaii to take money from the Hurricane Relief Fund and use it to end the furlough situation with our schools. A member asked for an amendment to be made to the bill. This amendment would stipulate that the money would be given as a loan to the State. This loan would then need to be paid back at some point with interest. Let’s examine this measure. The State wants money to fix a problem. They obviously don’t have the money lying around so they want to use money from a special fund to cover the costs. The catch is that this special fund was set up to assist with operations after a hurricane. Hawaii is only a couple of months away from the start of hurricane season and that doesn’t end until November. The question of whether the money would be replaced in a timely fashion is a very pertinent one. This money is important to the recovery process if a hurricane were to hit. So what happens to the amendment? It is easily defeated by the majority. Why was an amendment that is obviously needed denied? Well the majority claims that there isn’t clarification as to the rate of interest for the repayments. Okay, that seems like a legitimate concern. However, isn’t that a sign that maybe this bill should be reconsidered. If not completely rewritten, at least include a provision that would allow for repayment of the money taken. Whether the true motives of this rejection become public, it is obvious that this became a game of lets stop the other side of making progress!
This display of our elected officials are nothing to be surprised about. Frankly, this has become the way of business over the past few decades. That after school program about the legislative process is nearly completely outdated. Legislating has become a process where those in the majority decide what they want to be done and push everything through. We no longer see all sides of an argument coming together to find an amiable solution to the problem. Now we see one side that proposes something be done and the other does everything to shoot it down. It has become the proverbial screaming match. This problem is found with all political parties. All of them are guilty of using this tactic. The bill allowing the use of the Hurricane Relief Fund money should have been thoroughly discussed and not some knee jerk reaction to public outrage. If you need the money, use it. However, don’t forget that the money was collected using a specific tax that would help the fund gather money. Simple solutions are usually the best ones!
So once again we ask ourselves what can we do. Once again the answer is quite simple. Get involved! The more people who call their politicians and let their opinions be heard, the more likely the politicians vote will resemble the will of the voters. If there is ever a bill or issue that you would like to be addressed, call, write, or email your Senator or Representative and tell them about it. Tell them what it means to you and tell them your story. Don’t lose sight that they have their position because you allowed them to serve you. They truly work for you. One person, one vote is the mantra of our political process. Never forget it.