ELECTION RESULTS ADDED
source: Honolulu Advertiser 11/9/06
source: Honolulu Advertiser 11/9/06
|Q1. UH Regents (Yes)||Q2. Salary Commission (Yes)||Q3. Retirement Age (No)||Q4. Sexual Assault (Yes)||Q5. Agricultural Enterprises (Yes)|
|1. UH regents selection Pool|
|Results||Votes||% of votes|
|No + other ballots:||152,523||43.80%|
|2. State salary Commission|
|Results||Votes||% of votes|
|No + other ballots:||164,355||47.26%|
|3. Judges' retirement age|
|Results||Votes||% of votes|
|No + other ballots:||226,881||65.13%|
|4. Sex assaults against minors|
|Results||Votes||% of votes|
|No + other ballots:||107,760||30.84%|
|5. State bonds for agriculture|
|Results||Votes||% of votes|
|No + other ballots:||126,445||36.31%|
To help voters better understand the proposed constitutional amendments (con-am), the League of Women Voters of Hawai`i has gathered opinions both in favor of and against the amendments. These came from testimony at legislative hearings, articles and letters in the newspapers, and direct talks with proponents and opponents. The League is not taking a position on any of the proposed amendments.
The Hawai`i State Constitution can only be revised when amendments are either proposed by a constitutional convention (none held since 1978) or by the state legislature, and approved by the voters of the State. This year, there are five (5) con-am proposed by the state legislature that will be on the ballot.
The State Constitution requires that each proposed con-am be submitted to the voters in the form of a question, and each question be phrased as "YES" or "NO".
You may also see the proposed con-am, without pro or con information, at the following websites:
Meaning of a "Yes" Vote: A "yes" vote means that the Hawai`i State Constitution will be amended as stated in the proposed con-am.
Meaning of a "No" Vote: A "no" vote means that the proposed change will not take effect.
Meaning of a "Blank" Vote: A "blank" vote has essentially the same effect as a "no" vote because the number of "yes" votes must exceed the sum of the "no" plus "blank" votes in order for the amendment to be ratified.
The respective legislative bill is indicated in brackets after the question number.
QUESTION #1, ON MODIFYING THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS FOR THE UH BOARD OF REGENTS [Senate Bill No. 1257]Question on Ballot:
"Shall the governor be required to select board of regents candidates from a pool of qualified candidates screened and proposed by a candidate advisory council for the board of regents at the University of Hawai`i as provided by law?"
Explanation: This would modify the appointment process for the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai`i. The Board of Regents is the governing board of the University of Hawai`i system, which includes the University of Hawai`i campuses (Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu) and all the community colleges. Currently, the governor directly nominates the candidates for the Board of Regents, who must then be confirmed by the State Senate. The proposed amendment would add a candidate advisory council to screen and propose candidates for the Board of Regents to the governor. Existing members of the Board of Regents would serve their full terms of office. As each term expires, the regent would be replaced by an appointed member screened by the candidate advisory council. The enabling legislation, Senate Bill No. 1257, was vetoed by the governor as premature. Therefore, if and when this constitutional amendment is adopted, the composition, qualifications, and specific duties of members of the candidate advisory council would need to be determined by the Legislature.
1. It is time for the establishment of a non-partisan commission to nominate the Regents of the University of Hawai`i. The proposed legislation reflects the autonomy of the University, granted by constitutional amendment enacted in 2000. Now that the University is independent from the State and has its own legal personality, it is appropriate that governance of the University represents the various constituencies which have a direct, vital interest and stake in it.
2. Use of a candidate advisory commission would reduce the role that political considerations play in the selection of a regent. This is especially important for the University of Hawai’i because by law the University has a greater degree of autonomy than other state agencies.
3. This measure would make the Board of Regents more autonomous from the three branches of government, and help assure forward motion of the long-range objectives of the public university system by increasing the autonomy of the University.
4. Under the present system, because Board members have only four year appointments, each new governor can completely replace the Board with her/his own appointees. The proposed legislation is designed to rid the UH Board of Regents of politics, making selections based on qualifications, not politics. If those appointed to the council are selected on the basis of merit, it might well be an improvement over the current process; and the more transparent the process is, the more support it will have.
5. This will strengthen the selection process of candidates. Modifying the current process should enhance the mission of the University of Hawai`i and ultimately the State of Hawai`i. The existing provisions, including the requirement that no more than six of the members of the Board of Regents be members of the same political party, are obsolete and antiquated. This con-am would implement a fair, independent, nonpartisan procedure for selecting candidates, basically adopting the best practices recommended by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and reflects selections of public higher education systems based on qualifications not politics.
6. It would reduce/avoid the potential for conflicts of interest by Regents through a standards-based candidate assessment and vetting process. Over time, one of the most troubling issues the UH Board of Regents has had to deal with is conflicts of interest. The 2006 Legislature approved a resolution requesting the state auditor to review the UH Board of Regents conflict-of-interest policy and to make a recommendation on whether the regents should make financial disclosure statements for public record, as now required for all senior officials of the university.
7. A selection advisory committee would complement the task of choosing Regents in an already democratic process. It will also assist the governor in finding qualified candidates for the Board of Regents. And the stakeholders of the university, including the faculty, students, alumni and employees, will feel that their vital interests are represented on the Board of Regents. This will renew or enhance their sense of confidence in the governance of the university, as well as pride of ownership in this great institution.
1. The existing process works. An effective institution needs to have an effective working relationship between a chief executive officer [the UH president] and the governing board, with both holistically focused on the entire institution, and that already is in place.
2. There is no guarantee that the advisory commission would be less partisan or political than the governor, especially because the amendment says nothing about how this commission would be selected. The University of Hawai’i is a public institution and consequently is accountable to the public. Therefore, the highest elected state official should have maximum latitude in appointing people whom s/he thinks can help hold the University accountable.
3. Concern about conflicts of interest by Regents is a non-issue. The bylaws and practices of the Board of Regents ensure that there is proper restraint on participation of any Board member who has declared or been found to have conflicts of interest in any matter before the Board, and that such a member shall refrain from participating in the consideration of the proposed matter that person may not vote, and may not be present during the Board’s deliberation or at a time of vote.
4. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is concerned about the impact of this proposed amendment on the UH governance system, especially because it proposes a constituency-based body to establish the "criteria for, screening and recommending qualified candidates for membership on the board." This constituency group includes two groups routinely involved in University governance as "insiders", namely students and faculty. In giving only some of the internal groups a role in selecting governing board members (administrators, for example, are not represented) the proposed selection committee composition may set up tensions between the expectations of those same internal groups for how a governing board member should behave if he or she has been nominated by that internal group, and the requirement that board members serve the interests of the entire institution and public interest.
5. The proposed amendment is based on a model instituted in Minnesota in the late 1980s and subsequently found to be "too political" by key leaders of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
6. Although it is the norm across the states for the governor to appoint the members of the governance structures for higher education, it is not the norm for a screening body to provide names for the governor’s consideration. Only four states use a commission to help pick regents (Minnesota, Kentucky, North Dakota, and recently Virginia), and the Association for Governing Boards cautions against screening bodies that are composed of special interest representatives.
7. While in theory it is a good idea to attempt to de-politicize the selection of UH regents by establishing an advisory council, there is nothing in the proposed legislation to ensure that it happens. In practice, it could well turn out to be the same as the Judicial Selection Commission, which has not eliminated politics from the selection of judges.
QUESTION #2, ON A SINGLE SALARY COMMISSION FOR SENIOR LEVELS OF THE EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL BRANCHES [House Bill No. 1917]Question on Ballot:
"Shall the Constitution be amended to provide for a salary commission to review and recommend salaries for justices, judges, state legislators, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the administrative director of the State, state department heads or executive officers of the executive departments, excluding the superintendent of education and the president of the University of Hawai`i?"
Explanation: Currently, salary reviews and recommendations for the three branches of government are done separately by the judicial salary commission, the commission on legislative salary, and the executive salary commission. The proposed amendment would consolidate the present work of the three and establish a single salary commission, to review and recommend salaries for judges, legislators, state officers, and high ranking state officials. Salaries of the superintendent of education and the president of the University of Hawai`i are set by their respective boards. The enabling legislation for the salary commission, House Bill 1918, has been passed. It provides that the commission consist of seven members, appointed as follows: two by the governor; two by the president of the senate; two by the speaker of the house of representatives; and one by the chief justice of the supreme court. If the con-am is passed, the commission convenes in November 2006, and every six years thereafter. Salary recommendations become effective July 1 of the next fiscal year, unless the legislature disapproves by adoption of concurrent resolution. That is, the legislation requires that the salary commission recommendations will stand unless both houses of the legislature pass a resolution in the last 20 days of the session to reject.
1. Having a single commission recommend all salaries for the top executives of each branch of government is appropriate, fiscally prudent, and makes the most sense. Although each government branch is separate, they are nonetheless co-equal branches and are all part of state government. Additionally, the City and County of Honolulu has a consolidated salary commission, which recommends the salaries for both the legislative branch (city council) and the executive branch (mayor and his cabinet).
2. Compensation for these (senior) positions should be determined in relationship to one another. Using a single commission will allow for proper review of appropriate pricing relationships. The latitude in determining different salaries for positions will help ensure that executives are paid in accordance with the level and scope of their respective responsibilities. Furthermore, the commission’s review would lend fairness and consistency to the process.
3. Having a salary commission reduces the likelihood that salaries become a political issue. Salary commissions are becoming more common, as they tend to be more impartial than political bodies and take into consideration current market conditions.
1. Some have suggested that salaries of all three branches should be considered together in order to consider pricing relationships among the positions. However, the legislative, executive, and judiciary branch functions are very different and leader salaries might be better considered by separate commissions.
2. This salary commission’s recommendations are not mandatory, as they are in other states. Consequently, the commission’s recommendations would have no teeth and not accomplish anything important. The salary commission is only advisory, so a great deal depends on how influential its recommendations will be, which depends on who is appointed to the commission.
3. The appointment process of commissions should be more insulated from political factors. Because the legislative branch appoints a majority (four of seven) of the commissioners who would make salary recommendations for all three branches, the legislature gains too much power in the process of setting state government leaders’ salaries. No one branch should control appointments for a commission majority. There is also a potential for, or at least an appearance of, a conflict of interest for legislators by having their leaders appoint a majority of the salary commission whose recommendations for legislators’ salaries stand unless the legislature itself disapproves.
4. Existing law and the enabling legislation for this con-am have differing review cycles, with the result of accelerating when salary changes would go into effect. The time period that state government leaders would have to wait for new salary recommendations would be dramatically cut. The legislature and executive branches’ new salary levels only started about two years ago; and judges had pay raises only last July. That means legislators will have to wait only two years instead of six before possibly getting pay raises above what they are already scheduled to get in 2008 (about $2,000 increased every two years). The governor and cabinet leaders will wait only seven months instead of five-and-a-half years before the next pay raises. And judges will wait only seven months rather than six-and-a-half years.
5. The issue is not opposition to pay raises for government leaders; we need high enough salaries to get quality people. The concern is a possibility of mischief in putting appointees of one political party in charge of all three branches’ salary levels in one bundle with only the legislature able to reject the package. There is a potential for behind-the-scenes negotiations that individual commissioners might engage in to bring about a desired outcome.
QUESTION #3, ON THE REMOVAL OF THE MANDATORY RETIREMENT AGE FOR STATE JUSTICES AND JUDGES [Senate Bill No. 995]Question on Ballot:
"Shall the mandatory retirement age of seventy for all state court justices and judges be repealed?"
Explanation: The Hawai`i Constitution states that Hawai`i state judges "shall be retired upon attaining the age of seventy years." This asks if that age limit should be repealed.
1. Repealing the mandatory retirement age is good public policy. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do. Age alone does not determine whether someone can do their job. Hawai`i should follow the example set by the federal system, which does not subject Supreme Court or other federal judges to mandatory retirement. Forcing judges to retire at 70 denies the people of Hawai`i the experience, ability, efficiency and productivity that older judges can offer.
2. Seniors across the country remain active and productive for years or decades longer than 50 years ago, when the State Constitution set the current mandatory retirement age. There should be no restrictions on employment based solely on age. Hawai`i benefits from full participation by willing and able workers of all ages. In fact, both our U.S. senators are in their 80s, and at least one state legislator is in her early 70s. To have judges as the only group restricted to a mandatory retirement age stated in the Hawai`i Constitution is nothing but age discrimination – inside the very institution that must condemn it. By passing this amendment, the people of Hawai`i will demonstrate that they will no longer tolerate age discrimination nor will they be denied the important contributions from Hawai`i’s most respected kupuna, its judges.
3. Mandatory retirement of state justices and judges at 70 is a waste of talent, knowledge and experience. In 1959, when the mandatory retirement clause was included in Hawai`i’s Constitution, the average life expectancy was only 71.55. Improvements in health and medicine have improved the average life expectancy to almost 78. A judge who is physically and mentally capable of continuing to serve should not be required to retire based on age alone.
4. Most States have higher or no age limitation. State judges in 18 states have no age restrictions at all and 12 states and the District of Columbia have a mandatory age above 70. Twenty-one states, including Hawai`i, require retirement at age 70; however, the trend among states is toward longer service (down from 24 states in 1999). Further, federal judges have no mandatory retirement age.
5. Because our state judges do not have life time appointments – appellate judges serve for ten years, subject to reappointment by the Judicial Selection Commission – a mandatory retirement age does not make sense. Physicians face no similar bar, nor do mayors, governors, generals, admirals, U.S. senators or the president. Are their jobs less important or their occupations less prone to senility? Besides, term limitation for judges protects against someone who has completely lost mental abilities from continuing to serve for an extended period of time.
6. Hawai`i provides an appropriate system of judicial review that operates regardless of age. The Hawai`i Commission on Judicial Conduct investigates reports of judicial misconduct and may recommend dismissal to the Hawai`i Supreme Court. The Judicial Performance program periodically conducts performance reviews and evaluations after soliciting comments from the attorneys who practice before that judge. For disability or impairment, judges are referred to the Supreme Court’s Attorneys and Judges Assistance program. In addition, for those judges who wish to continue in office at the end of their terms, the Judicial Selection Commission reviews their performances, including soliciting public comment through notices published in the newspapers. If the electorate has concerns about judges’ performances, then this system should be examined and improved. However, these many checks ensure that it is highly unlikely that an unqualified judge would be able to remain on the bench.
7. Hawai`i, reflecting its population base, already has one of the most diverse jurisdictions in the United States and will continue to grow in that respect. Our judicial system is set up in such a way that there are numerous opportunities for advancement. Any attorney who has at least six years of experience may apply to become a District Court judge. An attorney with ten years of experience in other courts may apply to become a judge. The Judicial Selection Commission determines whether they are qualified and then submits their names to the Chief Justice for District and Family Courts and the Governor for other courts. After selection and appointment, the applicant must be confirmed by vote of the Senate of the Hawaii Legislature. These review procedures increase accountability and public trust for all judges, regardless of age.
1. Since Statehood, the retirement age for all Hawai`i judges has been 70. This promotes vitality in the judiciary, allows new individuals to be appointed as judges, and allows judges to move from lower courts to higher courts. Every sitting judge knew when appointed that the retirement age was 70--this amendment wrongly changes the rules in the middle of terms for sitting judges.
2. This amendment is intended to benefit just a few sitting judges nearly age 70, and to prevent the Governor from making new judicial appointments. This is simply wrong and no reason to amend the Constitution. Seventy percent of states have a mandatory judicial retirement age, and almost all others elect judges. Were this amendment adopted, Hawai`i would be the only state beside Rhode Island with neither a judicial retirement age, judicial elections, nor a competitive reappointment process. This is bad public policy.
3. In the 1991 case, Gregory v Ashcroft, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Missouri’s mandatory retirement provision for its judges did not violate either the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) or the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
4. The issues have not been sufficiently studied. Before amending the Hawai`i Constitution, the following issues need to be well thought out, articulated, addressed and investigated by a blue-ribbon panel of attorneys and judges:
5. The purpose of the mandatory retirement age is to give the public the highest quality of justice that society can devise. Just because you can coach well does not mean that you can play well. While some people are certainly competent and intelligent well past 70, many of those competent elders have slowed down and have weaker memories and slower thought processes. In other words, they can still capably handle appellate judging which is a slow and deliberate process, but should not be asked to handle the fast, stressful demands of trial court proceedings. Although many justices and judges who want to continue working past 70 could do so very competently, eventually we will get an incompetent judge who will do enormous damage to the public.
QUESTION #4, RELATING TO SEXUAL ASSAULT OF MINORS UNDER 14 [Senate Bill No. 2246]Question on Ballot:
"Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawai`i be amended to provide that in continuous sexual assault crimes against minors younger than fourteen years of age, the legislature may define:
Explanation: : This amendment refers to the crime of Continuous Sexual Assault of a Minor Under the Age of Fourteen (Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS), section 707-733.5). A person is guilty of that crime if the person has sexual contact (including acts ranging from penetration to touching through clothing) three or more times with a minor under the age of fourteen.
One part of the statute provided that a jury did not have to be unanimous as to which three or more acts the defendant had committed in order to convict. In the 2003 case State v. Rabago, the Hawai`i Supreme Court overturned this provision, and held that the due process provision of the state constitution requires unanimous agreement on the specific acts that constitute the offense.
An amendment similar to this amendment was proposed to and passed by the voters in 2004, but was invalidated by the Hawai`i Supreme Court in 2005 (Taomae v. Lingle) on the grounds that the Legislature had not followed correct procedures in proposing the amendment to the voters.
The proposed 2006 amendment would reverse the effect of the Rabago decision and would allow the Legislature to enact new legislation to define what behavior constitutes a continuing course of conduct in sexual assault crimes, and to define what constitutes jury unanimity that is required for a conviction in sexual assault crimes.
1. This amendment is needed to strengthen the ability to effectively prosecute those who repeatedly sexually assault children. Many young children who are sexually abused over an extended period of time are unable to specifically identify or recall the dates, times, places, and other circumstances surrounding each act of abuse, even though they clearly remember what was repeatedly done to them and who did it. This makes it very difficult to prove exactly when and where each act occurred. The proposed amendment allows the Legislature to pass a law similar to the one overturned in 2003, that would allow persons to be prosecuted for repeated sexual assault of a child under 14 even though the victim cannot identify or recall the date, times, places, and other circumstances of each individual assault. The Legislature has already passed such a law, but it will take effect only if this amendment is ratified. Defendants will continue to enjoy all the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. However, the amendment recognizes that children’s limited capacity to specifically identify and recall the dates, times, places, and other circumstances of multiple sexual assaults should not shield an assailant from conviction for sexual assault in a case involving what the Legislature believes to be a continuing course of conduct against a child.
2. This legislation will again address one of the serious problems in prosecuting cases involving the sexual assault of young children; that is the fact that these young children often cannot remember the exact dates of each separate sexual assault.
3. This will better protect minors from the horrors of continual sexual assault by someone with whom they live and will more adequately hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
4. Current Hawai`i law does not adequately protect children who are repeatedly sexually assaulted by someone in their household. Children experiencing repeated sexual assaults from one individual may have considerable difficulty recalling the exact circumstances, dates, and times of each assault. It is important, therefore, that Hawai`i’s law be amended to address that key fact by allowing jurors sufficient latitude in determining what constitutes a continuing course of conduct in sexual assault cases for a conviction. It is an important step toward ensuring that those who sexually victimize children are not shielded from the consequences of their egregious acts.
1. This is designed to overturn a decision of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, and the last part, defining what constitutes the jury unanimity, may be particularly mischievous, because it may allow the Legislature to undercut the constitutional guarantees of a jury trial.
2. A unanimous jury verdict is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system. Juries have to be unanimous to find someone guilty or not guilty. If some jurors believe a defendant is guilty and some believe he is not guilty, a mistrial results and the defendant is tried again. For conviction or acquittal, the jury must be unanimous. The Continuous Sexual Assault offense should not be any different. It is fundamentally wrong to have a law on our books that allows conviction on less than unanimous agreement as to all aspects of the offense.
3. It is very bad policy to change the constitution of our state because of a disagreement with a single court decision. It is even worse policy to do so when the change would lessen every citizen’s fundamental due process right to be convicted only upon a unanimous verdict. Passage of the constitutional change provided here will eventually bring constitutional provisions into direct conflict. A defendant convicted on less than a unanimous decision as to the acts alleged will challenge such a conviction under their constitutional due process rights. It is not good policy to have conflicting constitutional provisions.
4. This legislation starts our criminal justice system down a dangerous slippery slope, especially the wording of the amendment in question (2) allowing the legislature to define "what constitutes the jury unanimity that is required for a conviction?" Separating the amendment into these two distinct questions raises the concern that other crimes will be brought to the table and there will be a call for elements in those offenses to be decided on less than a unanimous verdict.
QUESTION #5, ON AUTHORIZING SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES SERVING IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL LANDS [Senate Bill No. 2479]Question on Ballot:
"Shall the State be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist agricultural enterprises serving important agricultural lands? "
SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS (SPRBs). Quoting from SPRBs For Private Schools: Practical and Constitutional Considerations, a report by the Legislative Reference Bureau: "Special purpose revenue bonds are issued by the State in order to make capital improvement loans available to private businesses, at interest rates that are lower than the rates offered by commercial lenders. The State makes a capital improvement loan by selling SPRBs to private investors, who actually provide the money for a capital improvement project and bear the risk of nonpayment in return for interest payments that are exempt from both federal and state income taxation. For the State, selling SPRBs is a way to loan public funds (for certain categories of private business projects that are found to be in the public interest by the Legislature) without actually having to spend taxpayers’ money. In return for a loan, a private business must either pledge to repay the loan, or provide a guaranty concerning the prompt payment of the principal of and interest on the SPRBs."
According to Article VII, (Taxation and Finance) Section 12 of the Hawai`i State Constitution, special purpose revenue bonds shall only be authorized or issued to finance facilities of or for, or to loan the proceeds of such bonds to assist 1) manufacturing, processing or industrial enterprises, 2) utilities serving the general public, 3) health care facilities provided to the general public by not-for-profit corporations, 4) early childhood education, 5) care facilities provided to the general public by not-for profit corporations, and low and moderate income government housing programs, 6) not for profit private nonsectarian and sectarian elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities.
What is being proposed is the addition of a seventh category to read: 7). Agricultural Enterprises serving important agricultural lands.
What voters are being asked to decide is whether to allow SPRBs to be issued to lend the proceeds of the bonds to enterprises for capital improvement projects serving important agricultural lands.
In 2005, the Legislature passed House Bill No. 1640, now Act 183, which "establishes the important agricultural lands (IAL) identification and designation process, requires an incentive study, makes identification of IALs contingent on enactment of legislative incentives, and appropriates funds." The use of SPRB bonds is supposed to be one of the incentives.
1. The use of SPRB bonds does not involve the use of taxpayer funds (general state revenues). The bonds are purchased by private investors. The state merely serves as a conduit because these tax-exempt bonds must be issued by a government entity. Should the project entity borrowing the proceeds of the SPRB default on the loan, the State is under no obligation to repay the loans or the interest on the loans.
2. Each project to be financed by SPRBs would be reviewed by the Legislature to assure that the project meets constitutional requirements and to assess the capability of the project entity to meet its financial obligations.
3. The need for incentives for designation of Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) is a critical component of the IAL designation process. SPRB financing is a very attractive tool as it allows access to funds for capital improvements, renovations and repairs at less than prevailing market rates.
4. Many of the irrigation systems, roads and drainage infrastructure formerly maintained by sugarcane and pineapple plantations have been left with little or no maintenance, and making them operational will be costly. However, they are irreplaceable and vital to the continued growth of diversified agriculture throughout the State. The availability of SPRBs to provide funding at less cost to the enterprises would be an incentive to improving the infrastructure necessary for agriculture to flourish.
5. More than ever, this type of public-private sector partnership is needed to preserve and protect Hawai`i’s agricultural industry which keeps Hawai`i green, land and water stewardship, and is a growing economic driver for the State.
6. For Hawai`i to be competitive globally, it must diversify its economic base. Agriculture can be a major player in this process by developing high-value products that take advantage of Hawai`i’s brand identity exemplified by Kona coffee, fresh Dole and Del Monte pineapples and some other products.
7. Encouraging agricultural development will not only create jobs, it will pave the way to greater self-sufficiency for the state by producing food and energy sources which we now import from the mainland and other parts of the world.
1. The SPRB financing is part of the flawed "important agricultural land" (IAL) law, under which the state is required to give the big landowners "incentives" before designating any important agricultural land. This is corporate welfare, not true protection of agricultural land.
2. The SPRB financing clearly caters to corporate agriculture on old plantation lands rather than local, community and family-based farming. Small, family farmers will not be the ones benefiting from this "incentive," which basically is a government subsidy. Why does corporate agriculture enjoy favors other farmers do not?
3. The entire history and context of the proposed amendment (particularly the change of language from "businesses on important agricultural lands" to "enterprises serving important agricultural lands," as well as the many companion bills), confirm that the main "enterprise" that SPRBs will finance would be repairs to the former plantation ditch systems diverting water from public streams across the state. The former plantations have been using these ditch systems to take public water "for free" for more than a century. The state should not be encouraging them to continue their monopoly of our public water resources.
4. The law makes clear (constitution, water code, and supreme court rulings) that water is a public trust resource, and that the State has the responsibility as trustee to protect and restore public streams being diverted by the plantation ditch systems. Yet, the state still has not set any scientifically based in stream flow standards to protect our streams. The SPRB amendment "puts the cart before the horse" by providing financing for ditch improvements before the state fulfills its primary obligation of stream protection.
5. State and federal taxpayers would be subsidizing the agricultural enterprises by giving them access to tax-exempt financing. Hawai`i investors who purchase SPRB bonds would not be paying income taxes on the interest they earn, thus reducing the revenues coming into the state coffers.
'Ōlelo amendment discussion panels
Here is 'Ōlelo’s schedule for airing the discussion panels. They will run on their Election Central, Channel 49 the week of 16-20 Oct, in the same sequence as the questions will appear on the ballot. Each panel will be initially aired at 6:30 pm on its respective night, and rerun the following day at 6:30 am and noon. If their schedule allows, they may again air the panels shortly before the General Election. They will soon also have streaming video of each panel, available continuously until the General Election. Check the VOTE! 2006 section of the 'Ōlelo website (www.olelo.org).
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