Editor’s Note: In July 2012, Civil Beat sent six questions to each of the candidates registered to run in the Aug. 11 primary for Hawaii State Representative District 26. All four responded, including Ryan Kapuniai. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Read responses by Lei Ahu Isa, Scott Saiki, and Tiffany Au to see how Kapuniai’s positions compare to those of his competitors. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Kapuniai’s response.

Preferred Candidate Name: Ryan Kapuniai

Senate/House District Number: House District 26

Date of Birth: 08/18/1979

Place of Birth/Hometown: San Mateo, California

Current Profession/Employer: Kapuniai & Associates, LLC, Consulting and Legal Services

Education/Alma Mater(s): University of Hawaii at Manoa, William S. Richardson School of Law, Juris Doctorate, Class of 2012; Hawaii Pacific University, Master of Arts in Teaching, 2007; The Evergreen State College, Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, 2004, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy, 2004

1. With the exception for Honolulu rail, the state has not raised the general excise tax in decades. Would you consider increasing the GET to help the state meet its budget demands?

I oppose raising the general excise tax. ↩ back to top

2. Lawmakers proposed relaxing environmental regulatory review to spur development and job growth in the 2012 session, and the issue is expected to resurface next year. Where do you stand?

Preserving and restoring Hawaii’s environment is in the common interest and is mandated by our state constitution, and by federal law. However, our economy is no less important. A balance should be struck between the two. Where the legislature, the administration, and the courts agree that relaxing environmental regulations in favor of economic growth is permissible and necessary, such measures are not only justified – they are desirable. Exceptions of this nature should be treated on a case-by-case basis. ↩ back to top

3. Gambling — are you for it or against it? If not, why not? If so, what type of gambling and with what kind of restrictions?

I generally oppose gambling in Hawaii. Currently, Hawaii has what I would describe as a “rated G” reputation. This, combined with the tropical climate and native Hawaiian culture, brings couples here for weddings and anniversaries, and whole families here for vacations. I believe that permitting gambling would change Hawaii’s current image, and, although some would gain revenue from gambling, we would experience a significant net socio-economic loss from such a move. This would be a result of loss in revenue from traditional sectors of the tourist industry, along with the increased possibility of the social problems often associated with the gambling industry. ↩ back to top

4. The Sunshine Law is a hallmark of an open democracy accountable to its citizens. Yet, the Legislature exempts itself from this requirement. Do you support more transparency in government operations, or are there legitimate reasons to conduct some of the people’s business behind closed doors?

Pursuant to Chapter 92 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes regarding Public Agency Meetings and Records, “the formation and conduct of public policy … shall be conducted as openly as possible.” Under chapter 92, most of the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and actions of government agencies are required to be conducted in public. However, §92-5 “Exceptions”, §92-6 “Judicial Branch …”, and §92-8 “Emergency Meetings” outline exceptions to the Sunshine Law. Legitimate reasons for conducting the people’s business behind closed doors under Chapter 92 include, for example, to protect confidential personal information, to perform judicial or quasi-judicial review, or in the case of an emergency. Further, §92-10, provides that the rules and procedures of the House of Representatives take precedence over Chapter 92. ↩ back to top

5. What is the best legislation — and worst legislation — that the Legislature has approved in recent years? Please explain.

Civil Unions. Although, as an attorney highly cognizant of the 14th Amendment, an Episcopalian, and a gay-American, I support marriage equality. If supported by leadership and the majority caucus, I would introduce a same-sex marriage bill. ↩ back to top

6. What is an issue that you would champion at the Legislature — one that perhaps has not received much attention, or an issue that is important to your district?

I will be a champion for the Homeless in the State Legislature, working tirelessly with federal, state, and local government, non-profit organizations, businesses, and the community to provide a long-term, sustainable and fair solution to resolve this serious socio-economic ill and uplift the Homeless in the 26th Representative District, and in Hawai’i as a whole. ↩ back to top