October 28, 2001
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
Tel.: 586-8520

GOP: Democrats Passing Undemocratic King Ben Bill

House Republicans said today that Democrats in the legislature are dealing with our current economic crisis by abdicating all legislative authority. That authority is going instead into a bill that would give the governor unprecedented unilateral control over the economic and political life of Hawaii.

"Whatever the goodness of their intentions, Democrats are responding with a most-undemocratic action—creating one man rule," said Rep. Galen Fox, House Republican Leader. "The 19 Republicans in the House favor moving the opposite way—toward a more democratic society. Republican support for the privatization bill, the health benefits bill, the veto override, the right to recall, all embrace a functioning democracy with shared power."

"Placing the future of our economy into the hands of one individual is not only wrong, it is also less efficient," said Fox. "Democrat legislators are putting Hawaii's economic future in the governor's hands because they cannot figure out how to fix the economy. Republicans want to share the burden as widely as possible, and that’s why we favor initiatives such as tax cuts that encourage spending by our entire population, either by suspending the food tax or by offering a retail tax vacation. The Governor, wonderful as he may be, cannot do it himself. We need to share the burden as widely as possible for moving the economy forward, not be so inefficient as to put all economic decisions in the hands of one man. What failed to work in the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Cuba will fail Hawaii as well."

“Some Democrats do understand how dangerous one-person rule is," said Fox. "On Friday, we received support from three Democrats and needed just four more to defeat the emergency powers bill."

Rep. Charles Djou said the legislature is panicking and just abdicating its responsibilities to fix our economic crisis. He added other reasons the emergency power bill should not pass. "We don't need this law and the bill on its face seems unconstitutional."

Djou said the bill raises questions on its constitutionality and that alone jeopardizes its effectiveness. "Article III, Sect. 1 of our constitution says the legislature has the exclusive right to legislate. In the court case of Blair vs. Cayetano, the court held that the legislature cannot delegate such rights to the Executive Branch. On its face this bill does so, and is therefore an unconstitutional abrogation of the separation of powers doctrine," he said.

Republicans added they have found no other state with similar laws that provide for emergency powers based on “economic disasters”. "Every state has some form of emergency powers to protect citizens from physical danger, but we can find no state that empowers a governor with such sweeping authority to suspend laws based solely on an economic downturn," Djou said.

He added, "While the constitution can allow for emergency powers, it is given under grave conditions where the physical safety of life and property are in eminent danger. We cannot compare the economic duress of our current situation to the catastrophe in New York City. That situation is the result of a natural disaster where people's lives are in immediate danger. This proposal is in response to the reduced number of tourists shopping in our stores. Our situation should be addressed with well thought out, meaningful legislation."

Republicans said the Governor should not have unprecedented unilateral power for an economic emergency. "The Governor had it right in September when he consulted with community and business leaders after the 9-11 terrorist attacks and proposed specific legislation to help people. We need to go back to specific legislation where we can clearly identify who we are trying to help, instead of giving one individual unchecked power to decide who does and who doesn’t receive relief," said Fox.