A Civil Beat analysis showed that committee chairs in the state Senate had the most success in passing the bills they sponsored.

So, how did things work out in the House?

It turns out that lawmakers in top House leadership positions — and not committee chairs — had greater success in getting the bills they sponsored to pass, according to Civil Beat’s analysis of the more than 3,000 bills introduced in the 2011 session.

Speaker Calvin Say and Majority Leader Blake Oshiro led the pack, with seven bills each making it to the governor’s desk.

Oshiro had the highest “batting average” of all representatives: His seven were out of 33 bills introduced, giving him a 21.2 percent success rate.

In terms of Say supporters versus dissident Democrats who unsuccessfully tried to elect a new speaker, Say and his bloc of 24 members had 56 of their 770 bills passed, or 7.3 percent.

Sylvia Luke and 16 other dissidents had 26 of their 465 bills passed, or 5.6 percent.

That’s a far cry from what Civil Beat reported on March 18, at the halfway point of the Legislature. At that time Say supporters led dissidents in terms of bill that crossed over into the Senate, 23 percent to 14 percent.

Indeed, Majority Floor Leader Cindy Evans — a dissident — finished the session with six bills passed, immediately behind Say and Oshiro and ahead of all other representatives.

Say’s Seven Bills

There are twice as many representatives as there are senators, 51 to 25. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more bills came from the House than the Senate this year.

In fact, the House introduced 1,665 bills to the Senate’s 1,559. A total of 130 House bills passed the Legislature, compared with 122 from the Senate.

Of Speaker Say’s seven successful bills, four seem rather run of the mill: a six-month extension for the legislative Federal Economic Stimulus Program Oversight Commission, clarifying the Tax Department’s subpoena authority for investigations, transferring all money in the Photo Enforcement Revolving Fund to the general fund and making an emergency appropriation to support the Reapportionment Commission.

The other three stand out: the authorization of up to $40 million in special purpose revenue bonds for Palolo Chinese Home’s expansion of health care facilities; up to $40 million for Saint Louis School’s development of educational facilities; and up to $25 million for Pacific Power and Water Company to develop and run hydropower plants in Hawaii.

Palolo Chinese Home and Saint Louis School are in Say’s District 20, and Say is a graduate of Saint Louis.

As for Pacific Power and Water Company, Henry Curtis of Life of the Land testified in February on the bill:

Pacific Power and Water Company had a lawyer reserve a name from DCCA on January 24, 2011, just 3 days before HB 855 was introduced. They have no address, no phone number, no web site, no email, no publicly listed officers, and no specific projects identified.

Pacific Power and Water Company would like $25,000,000.00 for “planning, permitting, designing, constructing, equipping and operating hydropower
plants” at unknown locations at some unknown point in the future.

Patrick Sullivan, the company’s chairman, said in his testimony that the company “is an Oceanit spin-off that was formed for the purpose of converting Hawai’i’’s existing non-powered dams into small-scale hydropower dams.”

Oshiro’s Seven Bills

As for Majority Leader Oshiro’s seven bills, they include three widely praised by good-government advocates: measures that extend the life of the Shield Law, prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment and require electronic voter registration on the Office of Elections website.

Three others would lead to construction of a state law enforcement memorial in the Capitol District, authorize liens on firms for unpaid “certified shorthand reporter services” requested by an attorney (Oshiro is an attorney) and repeal the sunset date on a law requiring condominium associations and planned community associations to establish an access policy for civil process servers.

The seventh bill passed by Oshiro attracted controversy.

It eliminates termination clauses in the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act and a related law to protect the state’s act in light of federal health-care reform. As Civil Beat reported, House Republicans and some Democrats voted against the bill, arguing that it could actually endanger Hawaii’s landmark health-care law.

Oshiro is an attorney with Alston Hunt, whose clients include HMSA, which lobbied heavily for Oshiro’s bill.

How Other Lawmakers Did

As for Cindy Evans — the House dissident who placed just behind Say and Oshiro in terms of getting their bills passed — one of her successful measures was also for a special purpose revenue bond. The bill authorizes issuance of up to $100 million for BioEnergy Hawaii to establish a cogeneration facility and related energy production facilities.

BioEnergy Hawaii is located in Evans’ West Hawaii district. Among those who testified in favor of the revenue bonds was Dante Carpenter, a member of the board of directors for Pacific Waste, the Kailua-Kona company that manages BioEnergy Hawaii.

Carpenter, a former Big Island mayor and Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, is chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

(Republican Sen. Sam Slom joked that the bill should be called “Dante’s Inferno.” Of course, the GOP may have been in its own purgatory. Civil Beat revealed that not a single bill introduced by the minority party in either the state Senate or House survived the session.)

Speaking of dissidents who did well in terms of getting their bills passed, Mark Takai and Mina Morita tied with two Say supporters, Clift Tsuji and Angus McKelvey, in passing four bills each.

Following Blake Oshiro’s top batting average were Ken Ito (three of 18 bills passed, or 16.7 percent) and Tsuji (four of 27 passed, or 14.8 percent).

Speaker Say introduced the most bills of any representative — 81. McKelvey introduced 71, John Mizuno 65 and Evans 64.

Ten House Democrats failed to get a single bill passed, including would-be-Speaker Sylvia Luke (zero for five).

Another dissident, Mele Carroll, introduced 57 bills without success. Many were Native Hawaiian measures, including one that would have authorized gambling on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Caveat

As we have stated several times in our coverage of the Legislature, getting one’s own bills passed is not the only way to evaluate a legislator’s influence.

Still, the ability to push through one’s own bills is a clear indicator of legislative ability. It also reveals what is important to individual lawmakers.

Come election time, being able to say “I introduced this-and-that bill, which was signed into law” is a compelling selling point — better than “All 34 of my bills went nowhere.”

Consider the case of Ty Cullen: A young Democrat serving in his very first term, 10 of his 11 bills died this session.

But the one that made it — the bill that would continue a 5-percent pay cut for legislators — is now on the governor’s desk.

Whether the governor signs it or not, Cullen can truthfully tell his constituents that he fought to cap government salaries in tight financial times.

Representatives’ Success in the 2011 Session

Here’s a complete breakdown for the bills introduced by all 51 representatives at the 2011 Legislature.

Author Introduced Passed Died Percent Passed
SAY (BR) 236 46 190 19.5%
B. OSHIRO 33 7 26 21.2%
SAY 81 7 74 8.6%
EVANS 64 6 58 9.4%
TSUJI 27 4 23 14.8%
MORITA 29 4 25 13.8%
TAKAI 50 4 46 8.0%
MCKELVEY 71 4 67 5.6%
ITO 18 3 15 16.7%
SOUKI 28 3 25 10.7%
CHANG 30 3 27 10.0%
KEITH-AGARAN 35 3 32 8.6%
CHOY 14 2 12 14.3%
TAKUMI 15 2 13 13.3%
HAR 20 2 18 10.0%
AQUINO 21 2 19 9.5%
HERKES 24 2 22 8.3%
YAMASHITA 25 2 23 8.0%
M. OSHIRO 26 2 24 7.7%
HANOHANO 33 2 31 6.1%
M. LEE 34 2 32 5.9%
YAMANE 40 2 38 5.0%
AWANA 41 2 39 4.9%
RHOADS 53 2 51 3.8%
MIZUNO 65 2 63 3.1%
HERKES (BR) 7 1 6 14.3%
COFFMAN 11 1 10 9.1%
CULLEN 11 1 10 9.1%
TOKIOKA 11 1 10 9.1%
BELATTI 13 1 12 7.7%
MANAHAN 15 1 14 6.7%
C. LEE 20 1 19 5.0%
JORDAN 22 1 21 4.5%
NISHIMOTO 29 1 28 3.4%
WOOLEY 39 1 38 2.6%
CARROLL 57 0 57 0.0%
WARD 45 0 45 0.0%
CHONG 34 0 34 0.0%
CABANILLA 29 0 29 0.0%
BROWER 26 0 26 0.0%
MARUMOTO 22 0 22 0.0%
NAKASHIMA 20 0 20 0.0%
SAIKI 19 0 19 0.0%
PINE 17 0 17 0.0%
THIELEN 15 0 15 0.0%
CHING 12 0 12 0.0%
HASHEM 11 0 11 0.0%
NISHIMOTO (BR) 9 0 9 0.0%
ICHIYAMA 8 0 8 0.0%
CHOY (BR) 5 0 5 0.0%
LUKE 5 0 5 0.0%
CABANILLA (BR) 4 0 4 0.0%
FONTAINE 4 0 4 0.0%
RIVIERE 4 0 4 0.0%
AWANA (BR) 3 0 3 0.0%
JOHANSON 3 0 3 0.0%
SOUKI (BR) 3 0 3 0.0%
COFFMAN (BR) 2 0 2 0.0%
FONTAINE (BR) 2 0 2 0.0%
AQUINO (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
B. OSHIRO (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
BELATTI (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
BROWER (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
CHANG (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
CULLEN (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
HASHEM (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
JORDAN (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
KEITH-AGARAN (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
MANAHAN (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
MCKELVEY (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
MORIKAWA (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
TAKAI (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
THIELEN (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
WARD (BR) 1 0 1 0.0%
TOTAL 1,665 130 1,535 7.8%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Hawaii public records

Calvin Say Supporters

Author Introduced Passed Died Percent Passed
B. OSHIRO 33 7 26 21.2%
SAY 81 7 74 8.6%
TSUJI 27 4 23 14.8%
MCKELVEY 71 4 67 5.6%
ITO 18 3 15 16.7%
SOUKI 28 3 25 10.7%
CHANG 30 3 27 10.0%
CHOY 14 2 12 14.3%
HAR 20 2 18 10.0%
AQUINO 21 2 19 9.5%
HERKES 24 2 22 8.3%
YAMASHITA 25 2 23 8.0%
M. OSHIRO 26 2 24 7.7%
M. LEE 34 2 32 5.9%
YAMANE 40 2 38 5.0%
AWANA 41 2 39 4.9%
RHOADS 53 2 51 3.8%
MIZUNO 65 2 63 3.1%
TOKIOKA 11 1 10 9.1%
CULLEN 11 1 10 9.1%
MANAHAN 15 1 14 6.7%
CHONG 34 0 34 0.0%
CABANILLA 29 0 29 0.0%
HASHEM 11 0 11 0.0%
ICHIYAMA 8 0 8 0.0%
TOTAL 770 56 714 7.3%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Hawaii public records

Dissident Democrats

Author Introduced Passed Died Percent Passed
EVANS 64 6 58 9.4%
MORITA 29 4 25 13.8%
TAKAI 50 4 46 8.0%
KEITH-AGARAN 35 3 32 8.6%
TAKUMI 15 2 13 13.3%
HANOHANO 33 2 31 6.1%
COFFMAN 11 1 10 9.1%
BELATTI 13 1 12 7.7%
C. LEE 20 1 19 5.0%
NISHIMOTO 29 1 28 3.4%
WOOLEY 39 1 38 2.6%
CARROLL 57 0 57 0.0%
BROWER 26 0 26 0.0%
NAKASHIMA 20 0 20 0.0%
SAIKI 19 0 19 0.0%
LUKE 5 0 5 0.0%
MORIKAWA 0 0 0 0.0%
TOTAL 465 26 439 5.6%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Hawaii public records

To view all the bills that passed the state House this year, click here.

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