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 House of Representatives District 36. Two out of three candidates responded, including Beth Fukumoto. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Read the response by her competitor, Marilyn Lee. Melvin Apana did not send in his questionnaire. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Lee’s response.

Preferred Candidate Name: Beth Fukumoto

Senate/House District Number: 36

Date of Birth: 03/30/1983

Place of Birth/Hometown: Honolulu, Mililani

Current Profession/Employer: Hawaii State Legislature, Director of Research

Education/Alma Mater(s): University of Hawaii, Georgetown University

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?

No, the GET is our most regressive tax, meaning it hurts the poor and the middle class disproportionately. We can meet out budget demands through other means. ↩ 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?

My office at the Legislature has done extensive research on this issue. The regulations that would have been relaxed would have also limited public hearings and eliminated noise and traffic studies. I don’t believe lessening these would benefit my community or increase job creation. In fact, most of our research indicated that eliminating environmental laws would not increase the speed of construction. The real problems are inefficiencies in how our government implements the law. ↩ 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’m against all forms of gambling. I think the long-term costs of increased crime, homelessness, etc. would outweigh the potential increase in state revenues. ↩ 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?

The legislature, particularly the Finance committee, spends too much time behind closed doors. I fully support increased transparency in government. The main problem is that many of the entrenched incumbents have become too used to making decisions outside the public eye, and they don’t want to change. ↩ back to top

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

One of the best bills this year was a bill to develop a college-credit equivalency exam for service in the armed forces. The worst legislation was an increase in motor vehicle taxes and registrations passed in 2011. It hit every family in Hawaii with a huge cost of living increase at the worst possible time. ↩ 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 would champion greater openness in government. People in my community seem frustrated with the lack of transparency in government, particularly in state finances. I would like to see a lot more of the state’s revenue and spending posted online in a timely manner so that citizens can watch where their money is going. I’d also like to see the procurement process become more transparent. ↩ back to top

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