The Hawaii Business Roundtable is an organization of CEOs and senior executives of companies, nonprofits and governmental entities, with headquarters or significant operations in Hawaii. The executive leaders of the group have years of experience in their industries. The roundtable’s mission is to promote the overall economic vitality and social health of Hawaii, by focusing on limited public policy areas that affect business in Hawaii, such as education, economic development, healthcare, military, and transportation.
Recently, the Hawaii Business Roundtable weighed in on the Hawaii civil unions bill, HB 444, in a private letter sent to Gov. Linda Lingle requesting a veto based on legal concerns. As it later developed, there were members who did not support the committee’s position in the letter, or even support the executive committee’s letter sent to the Governor, such as Kaiser Permanente, Hawaii National Bank, Alexander and Baldwin, and the University of Hawaii. One third of the members publicly distanced themselves from the letter. The group sent a second letter, saying it does not oppose civil unions, just HB 444 in its present form. The bill was vetoed by the governor and is now the subject of a legal challenge by six gay and lesbian couples.
There are 46 members of the roundtable, which consists of an executive committee chaired by Harry Saunders, president of Castle and Cooke Hawaii. His term ends July 2010. The executive committee consists of a total of 8 directors including notable executives Donald G. Horner, president and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank, Allen Landon, chairman and CEO of Bank of Hawaii, Dee Jay Mailer, CEO of Kamehameha Schools, as well as other prominent executives in Hawaii.
In order to be more efficient as an advocacy group, the roundtable focuses on a limited number of public policy issues of broad importance in Hawaii. Its 2009-2010 policy agenda focuses on education, economic development, health care, military, and transportation. Some of its priority issues include the Hawaii P-3 Initiative, an extension of Hawaii P-20, with a goal to have all children at grade level literacy by the third grade, the expansion of long term care capacity, supporting the rail project of Honolulu, and the protection of tax dollars for Hawaii tourism projects.
The roundtable was founded in 1983 with one commitment: “a better future for the people of Hawaii.” It believes it is most effective if it limits itself to issues of broad importance of Hawaii. The executives in the roundtable lead companies with annual gross revenues of more than $25 billion and more than 80,000 employees. Their membership requirements are not based solely on the size of the company, but rather by invitation based on the individual who shares in their roundtable’s commitment “to promote the overall economic vitality and social health of Hawaii.”
Some of its priorities for 2009-2010 include “Advocating for the completion of the West Oahu Campus of the University of Hawaii,” and supporting recommendations to the House Task Force on making government more efficient.