April 9, 2002
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
Phone: (808) 586-8505



Economic Stimulus Bills, Education Reforms Receive Final Approval



In a surprise move today, the House Transportation Committee revived Senate Bill 2077 and successfully won unanimous approval to repeal the controversial State traffic photo enforcement program, commonly known as "van cams."

Rep. Joseph Souki, committee chair, said he and the committee fought to preserve the program because of the positive impact it was having in reducing excessive speeding. But recent developments led him to conclude that the program "could not be saved."

In concurring, Rep. Nestor Garcia, chair, Public Safety Committee, said, "we have done all we could to make the highways safe" with this program, but it is clear that the entire situation was devolving. He alluded to the State Senate's earlier vote to repeal the program by a 25 - 0 vote.

In other major action, the House today approved a host of measures on third reading that are designed to stimulate economic activity and reform education. The House also approved transfer of $100 million from the Hurricane Relief Trust Fund to restore vital public services that were cut from the State Budget, according to Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro.

"We are optimistic that the tax credits we are supporting will re-awaken investment into Hawaii, create much needed jobs, and improve our economy," Oshiro said.

Economic stimulus bills passed on third reading included:

Education measures passed today included:

The proposal to transfer a portion of the Hawaii Hurricane Trust Fund to restore essential public services won approval but its ultimate fate was muddled by the State Senate's decision to send the companion House bill back to committee, Oshiro said.

"It does complicate things considerably," Oshiro said. "If we are unable to use the Hurricane Fund, then we may be forced to make the adjustments in the budget. I hope the public realizes that the cuts in services will be substantial -- in some cases, very substantial."

The House also overwhelmingly passed a bill to reform Hawaii's campaign finance reform laws. S.B. 2431, S.D. 2, H.D. 1 would ban political contributions from companies, unions, and those who receive government contracts.

"This is a major step in removing the corrosive influence of big money in the political process. It will help to restore public faith in government and perhaps encourage more citizen participation," he said.

Other major bills approved by the House included:

Long Term Care

Consumer Protection

Environmental Protection

Crime and Public Safety

House Democrats also recalled a bill to strengthen protections against the exploitation of minors in the sex trade.

S.B. 2234 was amended on the House floor to require that employers maintain accurate and up-to-date records of employees, including penalties for employers who fail to maintain such records or who illegally employ minors.

Judiciary Committee chair Eric Hamakawa, who had earlier deferred action on the measure because of the existence of two similar measures still alive, said, "in the end, we believed it was important to clearly restate the House's position against the exploitation of minors in the sex trade."

The measure was approved and will be voted on third reading when the House reconvenes on Thursday, after a scheduled one-day recess.