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 6. Three out of seven candidates responded, including Fred Housel. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Read responses by his competitors, Nicole Lowen, Mike Breslin and Bucky Leslie. Kaleihikina Akaka and Roy Ebert did not send in their questionnaires. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Housel’s response.

Preferred Candidate Name: Fred Housel

Senate/House District Number: House District 6

Date of Birth: 06/05/1944

Place of Birth/Hometown: Denver, Colorado

Current Profession/Employer: Kona Coffee farmer and Small Business Owner

Education/Alma Mater(s): B.S. Chemistry, University of Nebraska

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?

In these difficult economic times, I would not consider increasing the GET, which is a progressive tax in which a very slight increase can have a dramatic adverse impact on Hawaii’s economy. ↩ 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?

I oppose relaxing environmental regulatory reviews and excluding public scrutiny of major development projects. In my opinion, the regulatory review process is vital to protecting our irreplaceable natural resources. ↩ 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 do not support legalized gambling in Hawaii. I feel the burden of managing legalized gambling and the public safety issues outweigh the potential revenue benefits to the citizens of Hawaii. ↩ 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?

I fully support transparency in government operations and the Sunshine Law. Although there are some limitations in the Sunshine Law I feel should be revised, I feel the State Legislature should comply with the Sunshine Law as do all other government agencies. ↩ back to top

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

The best legislation that the Legislature has passed recently are the laws which help Hawaii adapt more renewable energy and restrict the powers of the electric utility monopoly to mandate fossil fuel use.

The worst legislation is raising the cost threshold for the requirement of a Major SMA permit. This allows County Planning Directors to grant minor SMA permits without public review. ↩ 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?

Several issues:

Elimination of HELCO’s requirement that a consumer pay from $500 to $2500 for an Interconnect Circuit Study of HELCO’s grid as a condition of eligibility for installation of a home photovoltaic system.

Require State Department of Agriculture to take a leadership role and active participation in eradication and control of Coffee Berry Borer in the Kona and Kau coffee producing regions. ↩ back to top