January 24, 2009

Two peculiar speech nuggets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug @ 12:58 pm

On Opening Day I did not follow the entertainment very closely, but I did listen to most of the speeches. I was struck by a few comments. First, this passage from House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro’s remarks:

For example, our laws have a ‘preference” for local products. Agencies are supposed to give local vendors a break and purchase preference. It’s like the federal “Buy America act.”

In 2006, we’ve even passed a small business set-aside so that our small businesses are supposed to be given state contracts.

Yet despite what’s in the law, nothing is happening. Local farmers are not enjoying the benefit of this policy. But do you know why? Because the “rules” that are supposed to implement the laws, exempt fresh produce, meats and foods! I know, “How can?!?”

I sent an email to Representative Blake Oshiro a few days ago asking him to expand or clarify his remarks. Oshiro has yet to reply. So, today I did my own research. Part X of the Procurement Code contains the folowing definition:

“Hawaii products” means products that are mined, excavated, produced, manufactured, raised, or grown in the State where the input constitutes no less than twenty-five per cent of the manufactured cost;

Clearly, that definition would include the fresh produce, meats and foods of Hawaii. Then I went looking for the alleged part of the State Procurement Office Administrative Rules (PDF) that excludes those items from the preference. I did not find any such exclusion. Should I be looking somewhere else? I looked in the small business preference Rules, too. Again, nothing there seems to support Oshiro’s claim.

Oh, and I also asked Oshiro if it were the case that the HRS trumps any Administrative Rule that is inconsistent with the authorizing legislation. I am not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that is true.

UPDATE: Well, Blake Oshiro never answered my email, but he did introduce HB 988 as part of the Majority Package. In that bill is a reference to the Administrative Rule where Hawaii fresh produce, meats, and foods are excluded from the preference. See Exhibit A at the end of this link.

Looking at the other chamber, I took note of this “silent majority” line from Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom’s remarks:

[The] Republican minority may be just two of 25 state senators, but we actually represent more than 40 percent of the votes cast, many thousands more of the “silent majority,” and we have a strong and consistent philosophy, an unwavering voice, and a [sic] vote.

Actually, in reviewing the general election results for 2006 and 2008 (since Senators serve staggered, 4-year terms) I find that the total votes cast for sitting senators is 211072; of the total votes cast Democrats received 136131 (64%), while the Republicans received 74941 (36%)—including the votes cast for Gabbard, who has since [cough] “wavered” and changed his party affiliation. Thus, I have no idea from where Slom’s “over 40%” claim arises. Perhaps Slom was including uncontested contests (like his own) in his tally, or perhaps he pulled the claim out of thin air. I dunno. I sent Senator Slom an email asking for comment, but he, like Oshiro, has yet to reply.

Anyway, Slom’s could be a much more compelling argument if our Senate had “at large” districts or if our Senate had a proportional representation system. It has neither. Instead, in almost every Senate district, the Republicans have either failed to even field a candidate or have lost at the polls in our winner-take-all system of voting.


  1. Just curious…does Slom actually have any legislative accomplishments? Has he gotten any bills passed (either by guiding them through the Lege himself or as an active part of a hui?) or secured funding for projects? This is a snark-free question, believe it or not. Whenever I see his name in newspapers or watch his mug on the TV news, he’s basically badmouthing bills or the work of other legislators.

    And the bigger question would be, how does the legislative community view him (lawmakers, staffers, lobbyist)?

    DOUG: Without checking (he’s been in office quite a while), I reckon bills introduced by Slom that became law are few. In that, he is in the same boat as most Republicans in either chamber. I’m sure he’s suggested a few amendments in committee hearings that were incorporated by the chair, but those provide no attribution so can’t be tallied. As for how the Legislative community views him, I’d put him squarely on the “gadfly” level. Few people really have much to fear of him. His tirades on the senate floor do get some play on KSSK, KHVH and Hawaii Reporter, but have had little (legislative) effect that I can think of offhand.

    Comment by Razor Ramon — January 25, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  2. I didn’t find it either. But there’s something lurking here- check out how much of the procurement code was revamped or is interim in 08: http://www.spo.hawaii.gov/statutes-and-rules/admin-rules/

    I did a quick look at the new 3-122- jaw dropping… even took out the annual report to the lege! Looks like administratively loosening the rules to be able to reward cronies and bypass bothersome HRS provisions.

    Comment by cooneyhi — January 25, 2009 @ 11:59 am

  3. May not apply directly to the current bill before the legislature but, in general, buy local type bills violate the WTO and the GATT.

    Comment by charles — January 25, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

  4. Regarding Sam Slom’s suggesting that we have at large or proportional representation. It really is a non starter.

    We used to have multi member districts. That was part of the past after the 1978 Constitutional Convention. In 1982 when multi member districts were divided into single member districts, I remember one such race was Wadsworth Yee vs. Neal Abercrombie. Wadsworth Yee was a moderate to liberal Republican who faced Neal Abercrombie an unabashed liberal Democrat. Neal won. As Neal said at the time, “I like Wads, but if you want to run against me, you have to get up early and go to bed late”.

    From what I understand, having single member districts was a Republican idea.

    I guess this is not working well for them.

    Comment by zatoichi — January 26, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  5. Might want to check if local preferences violates GATT and WTO not to mention NAFTA, KORUS, etc.

    Seems I recall Rep. Takumi doing something about it with the trade agreement bill a few years ago.

    DOUG: You know where to find the actual GATT and WTO regulations? Not my turf, that kine stuff.

    Comment by charles — January 27, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  6. Single member districts was a Republican idea thirty years ago. Of course, multimember districts was a Republican idea a hundred years ago. I think the best way to resolve this kind of partisanship is to try to make sure as many voters as possible can be represented in the legislature. This axiom does not require the traditional winner-take-all approach.

    I think it would be spectacular if the House were elected by mixed member proportional representation and the Senate continued to be elected as is (for now). I don’t think Republicans will make any gains in these elections — but I think it will allow a more meaningful dialogue between the leftwing, centrist and rightwing parts of the Democratic Party and an individuation of various ideologies.

    Comment by line of flight — January 31, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  7. “First, this passage from House Majority Leader Blak Oshiro’s remarks:”


    DOUG: Oops. Well played, sir.

    Comment by Brandon — February 13, 2009 @ 8:11 am

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