March Madness: Hawai‘i legislative resolutions

Honolulu – It’s the last week in March, the time for the Hawai‘i Legislature to consider a whole mess of resolutions — measures that can influence governance, such as asking for an agency audit.

Although they don’t carry the force of law, “resos,” as they are known, express the will or wish of lawmakers.

Like NCAA March Madness, there will be a lot of losers and very few resolutions that make it to the final round. Hearings have already begun and are reaching a peak this week.

At last count, there were a total of nearly 700 state House and Senate resolutions and concurrent resolutions, the latter requesting action or stating the position of the Legislature on particular issues.

But there are lots of duplicates: resolutions identical to concurrent resolutions as well as House or Senate companions, which increase the chances a measure will pass at least one chamber.

Here’s Civil Beat’s look at “reso themes” at the 2012 Legislature.

Conducting business

Some resolutions always come before lawmakers because they are a required part of governing.

They include resolutions that approve caucus leaders and the election of the assistant Senate clerk and committee assignments, and invite the governor to deliver a State of the State address.

A good many, however, are backups should specific legislation fail. This session, for example, there is a reso that asks the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to convene a gambling task force.

Reacting to

current events

Legislators follow the news, but unlike most of us they feel they can do something about it.

Remember that zipline fatality on the Big Island? Ask for a sunrise review of zipline and canopy tour regulations.

Angry that President Obama won’t approve the Keystone XL Pipeline while the country is getting gouged at the pump? Urge him and the Congress to approve it in order to lower energy costs.

Dabbling in national affairs

Speaking of Washington, D.C.,  Hawai‘i lawmakers want Congress to recognize that corporations are not people and so are not entitled to constitutional rights. Take that, Citizens United v. FEC.

Also, Congress should balance the budget, fund abortions for servicewoman who are raped and lift the ban on private funding of abortions on military bases.

While they are at it, Congress should repeal mandatory and indefinite military detention and repeal the Jones Act.

Dabbling in foreign affairs

Clearly, the interests of  Hawai‘i legislators extend far beyond state and national boundaries.

Freaked out by African warlord Joseph Kony? Tell Obama and Congress to keep forces in Uganda until the man is caught.

Another resolution urges the United Nations to invite Taiwan to a climate change conference.

Sure, that could anger China, but local legislators are looking our for that country, too: They’ve asked for visa waivers for the largest country on Earth.

Meantime, lawmakers also want North Korea to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s business advisory council working group.

Support for military

Speaking of the federal government, Hawai‘i legislators want to make sure that it stays in  Hawai‘i, though that would seem to be a given because of the already enormous military presence here as well as the inevitability of the Asia-Pacific Century.

Lawmakers also want a separate branch of the Armed Forces to deal with cybercrime, cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism.

Here at home, there is a request to create a state Capitol memorial to honor the veterans of the Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Honoring a student newspaper, a coach

This is a very popular type of resolution, a feel-good measure that recognizes someone or something that has perhaps been overlooked.

This year, lawmakers are congratulating the University of  Hawai‘i’s student newspaper — Ka Leo O  Hawai‘i — on 90 years of publishing, honoring Army Private First Class Edward Barut for his ultimate act of service and valor and recognizing President Grover Cleveland for his support of the  Hawaiian monarchy.

Some of these resos seem premature or belated, however, like ones congratulating Norm Chow for becoming the UH football coach and approving the selection of Daniel Akaka to be inducted into the Aloha Order of Merit.

Chow has yet to coach a UH game, while Akaka is being honored quite late in his career.

Finally, there are those resos whose existence will not likely be marked on many calendars — like making the first week of October  Hawai‘i Fishing and Seafood Week, declaring Sundays Eat Local, Buy Local Day and asking the governor to proclaim July 13, 2012, as Collector Car Appreciation Day.

Furthering education

Know what STEM stands for? That’s right: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiatives in the schools.

It might get changed to STEAM, though, with the addition of Agriculture.

There’s also the idea of asking the City and County of Honolulu to study the issue of fraternity and sorority house locations. (Who knew there were frats in Hawai‘i?)

Here’s an only-in-Hawai‘i reso encouraging banks and credit unions to incorporate the Hawaiian language in ATMs.

And then there is this resolution: Requesting the Department of Education to study the correlation between children who are late-born and the high school dropout rate.

The body sacred

Apparently, there is something amiss in the body-piercing industry, because lawmakers are calling for an audit.

And, apparently, pregnant woman may not know that it is dangerous to drink alcohol, so retailers should post signs.

And, apparently our kupuna are having a lot of unprotected sex. The Department of Health is being asked to conduct a study of STDs among the elderly.

• Honolulu Civil Beat is an online news source serving Hawai‘i. Read more at


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