Editor’s Note: In September 2012, Civil Beat sent six questions to each of the candidates running in the Nov. 6 general election for Hawaii Legislature. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and the candidate’s response. We’ve also put together a complete list of who’s on the general election ballot.

Preferred Candidate Name: Bertrand (Bert) Kobayashi

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Senate/House District Number: House District 19

Date of Birth: 06/19/44

Place of Birth/Hometown: Honolulu

Current Profession/Employer: Retired

Education/Alma Mater(s): Michigan State University, Ph.D. (political science); UH, BA (government); Kaimuki High

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. If there arises wide [and highly unlikely] agreement to eliminate GET for food, medicine, hospital and nursing home care, etc. with the aim of “exporting” some taxes through tourists and increasing local disposable revenue, then maybe I would reconsider. Please note that this vague concept has been supported by scatterings of Republicans and Democrats for decades but only in concept, and no one has done the hard work of turning the concept into a viable proposal. ↩ 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?

Cautious but not sure. What about SB 2927 on community planning or the PLDC/Public Lands Development Corp, which might be more contentious in 2013? ↩ 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 gambling because there needs to be more losers than winners to create gambling revenues, and to further increase gambling revenues, there needs to be even more losers. Also, losers and losses are often hidden and very hard to remedy. ↩ 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?

Yes, I support more transparency, and yes, there are legitimate reasons for closed door discussions. One sentence suggests that Civil Beat wants to focus on legislative transparency but that focus is not found in the question. Also, the Sunshine Law is only one aspect of “open democracy” and accountability, so the lead-in sentences do not ‘square’ with the questions. ↩ back to top

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

Don’t know. Beauty [or ugliness] is in the eye of the beholders. ↩ 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?

An issue important to my district is health care for the elderly, especially home-based alternatives to facility-based nursing homes, and the general aim of “aging in place” [at home]. ↩ back to top

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