State Rep. Mina Morita, D-14th District, received the only perfect score in the entire Legislature on the Sierra Club’s recent biennial environmental scorecard.
The scorecard ranks Hawai‘i’s lawmakers on how they voted for — and against — the environment during the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions.
“This scorecard presents a clear picture of how our state lawmakers voted and acted on key environmental sustainability issues,” Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawai‘i Chapter, said in a statement. “For citizens who feel the process at the State Capitol is too confusing or just too far removed from their daily lives, our scorecard serves as an accurate gauge of how elected leaders contribute to Hawai‘i’s sustainability.”
Chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, Morita’s advocacy for clean energy, land protection and recycling was noted by the Sierra Club.
In the state Senate, Sen. Gary Hooser, D-7th District, received the second highest score after Sen. Les Ihara, D-Palolo. Both were noted for the “behind-the-scenes advocacy” and their willingness to take stands on key measures.
“We can be proud of our outstanding legislators, Mina Morita and Gary Hooser, earning top scores for the environmental legislative decisions they made,” Judy Dalton, Hawai‘i Sierra Club executive committee officer, said. “Year after year, they’re among the best in the entire state.”
For the first time, the Sierra Club assigned letter grades to all legislators based on ranking. Grades were assigned on the “curve” to the overall performance of the Legislature during the past two sessions.
Sixteen legislators, called the “Green Sixteen” by the Sierra Club, received a B+ or better (75 percent or greater).
“Legislators who received a B+ or higher on our scorecard have demonstrated a commitment to sustaining Hawai‘i’s healthy environment, increasing clean energy use and protected rural lands from sprawl,” Mikulina said. “These ‘Green Sixteen’ understand that a healthy environment is the foundation of a strong economy.”
The Sierra Club’s scorecard is meant to compare the relative environmental actions of Hawai‘i’s lawmakers. The scorecard provides a rough guide of each legislator’s level of environmental stewardship as compared to other legislators, while the environmental record of each legislator can only be judged by all of his or her actions.
The scores were calculated based on a combination of floor votes on the Sierra Club’s priority environmental bills and an index of other actions taken by a legislator — bill introductions, committee votes, caucus advocacy, etc.
“The process of state lawmaking is largely out of the sight of most citizens,” Mikulina said. “Much of what constituents learn about their lawmakers comes from the lawmakers themselves — through campaign literature or soundbites. We want to provide a tool that cuts through the rhetoric and reveals the real actions of each legislator.”