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HOOSER: House tries ‘end-around’ on COVID rules

Today at 1:30 p.m., the state Legislature’s House Committee on Finance is holding a hearing on SB266.

Why is this important to Kaua‘i residents, and why have you not heard about this before?

To make a long story short, back on March 16, when no one was looking, state Rep. Linda Ichiyama, chair of the House Pandemic &Disaster Preparedness Committee, “inserted the contents of HB1286 into a new Part 2 of SB266.”

With no public notice, no public testimony and no public discussion whatsoever, Ichiyama, supported by House Leadership, did an “end around,” circumventing the normal legislative process.

The contents of HB1286 removes the ability of individual counties to establish their own COVID travel rules. HB1286 was recently deferred in the Senate after a triple/joint committee hearing. This normally means it’s “dead,” and a pretty strong signal that the Senate wants no part of it.

Kaua‘i today has per capita, the absolute lowest number of COVID-related infections, hospitalizations and deaths of any county in Hawai‘i. Credit for this achievement belongs to Mayor Derek Kawakami and his team, who chose to establish stricter travel guidelines than Honolulu.

HB1286’s intention was to remove the power of Kaua‘i County to protect itself. HB1286 was introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki and strongly supported by the visitor industry, which wants “uniform travel rules” and does not want Kaua‘i or any county to have stricter requirements.

In summary, HB1286 was killed in the state Senate (led by Kaua‘i’s own Senate President Ronald Kouchi) and resurrected by the House via a back-door maneuver in the form of an amendment to SB266.

Unfortunately, House leadership continues to play fast and loose with the rules, the law and the intent of the state constitution.

Here is a relevant passage:

State Constitution Article II, Section 14: No law shall be passed except by bill. Each law shall embrace but one subject.

NOTE: HB266 clearly embraces more than one subject. For 2/3 of the process it deals only with COVID appropriations. Then it’s amended to include another subject which relates to COVID travel rules and county authority.

Further: Section 15: No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.

NOTE: HB266 containing its true substantive content has not received its required three readings in the Senate.

The committee report issued by Ichiyama states clearly, “The purpose of this measure is to appropriate funds for COVID-19 response programs and activities.”

Toward the end of the report it states, “Your Committee further finds… Your Committee believes that having a uniform law regarding mandatory self-quarantine will allow the state to welcome more people, thereby stimulating the economy and improving the quality of life for its citizens…”

How can Ichiyama claim “Your Committee further finds” when there was no testimony, no discussion and no mention of COVID travel rules whatsoever during the committee hearing? Watch the videotape please. There is nothing.

The audacity and arrogance of the chair and House leadership is appalling.

To their credit, this maneuver is perversely clever. It’s sneaky, and likely unconstitutional, but yes, it’s clever and it’s subterfuge. By tying HB1286 to SB266 (which is a COVID-appropriations measure), the House ensures that if this measures survives the conference-committee process intact, the governor will be prevented from vetoing the bill without risking urgently-needed, COVID-related emergency funding.

State law and rules should represent a floor and not a ceiling. If a county due to its own particular circumstances wants to be more protective and have stricter rules and regulations, they should not be prevented from doing so. AND emergency rules governing a pandemic should not be frozen in law and unable to rapidly adapt to changing conditions.

This move by the state House represents bad policy, bad politics and bad process.

Please take a moment to contact your Kaua‘i representative and let them know your thoughts on this issue.

Representative James Tokioka (808-586-6270, reptokioka@capitol.hawaii.gov) has consistently opposed both HB1286 and now SB266. He has spoken publicly on several occasions in strong support of maintaining Kawakami’s COVID travel policies and opposes the change in law.

State Rep. Nadine Nakamura (808-586-8435, repnakamura@capitol.hawaii.gov) voted in opposition to HB1286 during early votes, then switched to a “with-reservations” vote in support, and then to a full “yes” vote recently on SB266.

The most influential of Kaua‘i’s three representatives is Dee Morikawa (808-586-6280, repmorikawa@capitol.hawaii.gov), who as majority floor leader is a member of House leadership and a key supporter of Saiki. Morikawa has been vocal in her support for changing Kaua‘i’s travel rules to conform with the Honolulu standards.

I encourage Kaua‘i residents to engage the process. Call or email your representative AND if you read this in time, please submit testimony on SB266 today before noon if possible. Visit capitol.hawaii.gov, register (it’s easy) and just follow the easy steps to submit testimony.

•••

Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

9 Comments
  1. Gerry March 31, 2021 7:32 am Reply

    Now talk about how derricks draconian measurements have effected our children’s development mental and physical. Their parents ability to earn an income, or helplessly watch the business they spent a lifetime building slip away to no fault of their own. The most important one is the fact that private schools operating 100% in person for the kids like kawakamis. While the rest of us couldn’t, but by all means the obese and high risk people didn’t die any sooner than they should have.


    1. Jamie Rainbow March 31, 2021 3:42 pm Reply

      Gerry, You are a cold heartless person. I hope your business does well. You can open all you want, I still ain”t coming to Kauai until 28 days after my second shot and I am still not sure I should because a crazy little institute called the CDC is saying don’t travel unless you have too. Have you looked at the tourist numbers they are down by 70% on all the other islands, Last I looked Kauai was at 10% below that, how many deaths is that 10% worth.

      Gerry open for business


      1. Gerry April 1, 2021 8:08 am Reply

        0.013% death rate is acceptable. Which just so happens to be your survival rate if you contract covid. Please don’t come here if you’re scared. To be honest no one is asking you to do so. But telling someone they cannot is where we run into the issue.


      2. JB April 1, 2021 8:35 am Reply

        Gerry’s point, I’m assuming, is that approximately 80% of covid deaths and hospitalizations were obese. This is according to the CDC (I will post the link if you’d like).

        I don’t want to assume you haven’t lost anyone or anything due to covid or the restrictions put in place to combat it, but there are MANY people who are losing everything they’ve worked for their entire lives due to the response we’ve enacted against the virus. We can no longer pretend we can simply ignore all of the collateral damage occurring in the wake of this battle. It seems, however, that anyone who brings it up is labeled as someone who doesn’t care about others when I would bet that their intentions are coming from a place much similar to yours… just a different angle.

        I believe it’s possible to have both conversations. We can continue to protect the vulnerable (largely the elderly and the sick) without simultaneously ruining countless livelihoods.

        More children and young adults are currently falling victim to suicide than to covid (I can post link if you’d like). Children aren’t in school, aren’t seeing their friends, aren’t allowed to be kids… my point is, we need to begin having these conversations now before we “defeat the virus” (spoiler alert: we will not, it’s here to stay… can post scientific links confirming this) and have nothing to go back to.

        I truly say this with the utmost respect to your desire to keep people healthy and safe. I’m just asking you to look at the other side, as well.


      3. Kalaheo April 1, 2021 9:08 am Reply

        If that is your position then you must realize that coming to Kaua’i will never be acceptable regardless of vaccination status due to new variants. Please show respect for our island and stay where you are.


        1. speak for yourself April 1, 2021 3:17 pm Reply

          -some of us have to work for a living. it is so easy for entitled elites like you to tell job-supporting visitors to stay away…


      4. Follow up. April 1, 2021 3:10 pm Reply

        My business is doing just fine. I’m speaking on behalf of my friends and family and community members who have given up, are displaced from their homes because the landlord decided to sell while the real estate is booming. This has been the most mismanaged and misinformed economic disaster in our current history. They’ve done almost everything wrong. Mostly because they let fear chose how they respond. Shows weak leadership, you will fail by only consulting that emotions as a leader. The worst off places did the minimum, they stayed closed, destroyed small business, public education, and forced everyone into a welfare state waiting for federal emergency funds. Even with the extreme lack of visitors and infrastructure being used. We still fully employed the state and county workers. Now because of the lack of TAT the state and county gotta lay off employees. Mismanagement of funds during the pandemic. Never bolstered ICU capacity on island. Pretended like Oahu couldn’t help if needed. Some people have loved this tho. They like being taken care of. And are happy to be in a mediocre existence. To each their own. But I’ll never let one of them make decisions what they say is best for me. Never.


  2. Critical thinker March 31, 2021 12:31 pm Reply

    Thank you Gerry for saying what any person with a little common sense knows to be true. Destroying small business, personal liberty, and our spirit was the ultimate goal. Anyone who doesn’t see it by now is either consciously avoiding the truth or straight up lazy and ignorant. Government does NOT care about your health, never has. If they did they wouldn’t have banned HCQ before the “pandemic” started. The vaccines were not brought in for covid, Covid was brought in for the vaccine and tracking. These crooked politicians and unelected officials are tyrants, complicit in Bill Gates WHO and Fauci plan to force the population into their control. Anybody who is injecting themselves with aborted fetal tissues is part of a satanic cult whether they know it or not. Saddest part is how many Kauaians are wasleep or willfully ignorant just going along with it so they can get their government handout money on their private island with no tourism.


  3. Ohreally... April 1, 2021 8:18 am Reply

    “Destroying small business, personal liberty, and our spirit was the ultimate goal.”

    Jeez, it must be kinda cool to know so much more than everybody else. I’m so, so glad you’re awake, or is it ‘woke’. That’s quite a screed you’ve honored us with. Keep up the ‘good’ work!


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