Kaua‘i reps outline ‘08 legislation

NAWILIWILI — Hawai‘i Reps. Mina Morita, Jimmy Tokioka and Roland Sagum discussed wide-ranging issues such as the Superferry, responsible energy policies and other issues affecting local businesses at Thursday morning’s meeting with the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce.

“Any time you meet with community groups, they give you their perspective as they see it from how bills and restrictions by the state affect them,” Tokioka said afterward. “Whenever we can get that type of feedback from them, we can be better prepared for legislation on those issues. A lot of the things I do are with their concerns in mind.”

Chamber of Commerce President Randy Francisco agreed that the meeting was beneficial for both local businesses and the Representatives.

“We’re fortunate to have a really great relationship with our legislators,” Francisco said. “They understand the importance of meeting with the community for our input.”

The three Reps., up for re-election this November but not facing challenges for their seats, first outlined their recent work in the state legislature and then answered questions from Chamber of Commerce members at JJ’s Broiler in Kalapaki.

“I think their concerns over the years are pretty well known,” Morita said after the event. “We may not agree on all the issues, but I think we’re a small community, so the larger issue of improving Kaua‘i is important.”

Bill Dahle served as moderator for the question-and-answer session.

Morita, who said that energy and the environment were among her top priorities, was asked about photovoltaics, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s net metering cap policy, and other issues affecting local residents and businesses.

“A lot of people here are so focused on PV (photovoltaics) because it’s sexy, but the technology that’s mature, that gives us the biggest bang for our buck, is solar water heaters,” Morita said. “That’s where we should be making our substantial investments.”

Morita estimated that a solar water heater user could save as much as $20,000 over the course of one unit’s lifecycle.

Sagum identified lowering taxes and improving quality of life for seniors as his two top priorities.

Sally Motta, Membership Chair for the Chamber of Commerce, said that she saw Sagum’s stance almost “libertarian” and found it interesting that one of his main responsibilities is to kill bills he considers to be unnecessary expenditures anong some 2,000 bills introduced each year in the Hawai‘i House of Representatives.

Morita and Sagum both came out against the proposed Constitutional Convention, which would overhaul the state’s Constitution at the expense of legislator time and taxpayer money.

Tokioka stated that his top priorities include the nuisance posed by tour helicopters to Lihu‘e-area residents, as well as junior varsity sports programs and an ongoing debate over the use of lights for night football games at Vidinha Stadium.

The Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1913, is an organization that represents all elements of Kaua‘i’s businesses and industry. The membership includes more than 650 businesses.

Those interested in learning more about the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce can call 245-7363 or visit www.kauaichamber.org

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