January 31, 2002
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
Tel.: 586-8505




The leader of the House Democratic Majority today charged that Republicans are attempting to sabotage plans for the new medical school at the University of Hawaii.

"The real problem for me is the sneaky manner in which they are trying to do this," said Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro, House Majority Leader. House Bill 1929 purports to authorize the use of Tobacco Settlement Fund monies for expanded drug prevention and treatment programs, he said, but buried in the bill is a section to repeal Act 14, which authorizes some of the tobacco settlement money to be used in the construction of a new John A. Burns School of Medicine.

"We debated this issue during the (Third) Special Session and made a decision regarding the medical school," Oshiro said. "If they still have a problem with it, why not be up front about it. Put in a bill to rescind Act 14. Instead, they try to conceal it under the guise of drug treatment."

Oshiro said the drug prevention and treatment components of H.B. 1929, which was introduced by 16 minority members, could probably stand on its own. "By injecting the section to repeal the medical school funding, they convolute the bill and jeopardize the sections that have merit," Oshiro said.

H.B. 1929 was scheduled for a public hearing before the Health Committee today. But Oshiro said the bill now must undergo an additional hearing by the Higher Education Committee because it involves the University of Hawaii, before being sent to the Finance Committee.

"This kind of gamesmanship only delays what would otherwise be a pretty good bill and causes Democrats to question the GOP's motives," Oshiro said. "It's doesn't help bipartisanship."