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 43. Four out of six candidates responded, including Hanalei Aipoalani. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Read responses by his competitors, Cynthia Rezentes, Glenn Butler, and Tercia Ku. Karen Awana and Leslie Gomes-McKeague did not send in their questionnaires. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Aipoalani’s response.

Preferred Candidate Name: Mr. Hanalei Y. Aipoalani

Senate/House District Number: House District 43

Date of Birth: 01/20/1979

Place of Birth/Hometown: Kapiolani Hospital/Nanakuli, HI

Current Profession/Employer: Human Resources Management/Olelo Community Media

Education/Alma Mater(s): Proud Alumni of Nanakuli High & Intermediate School; Business Management, Skidmore College UWW Program; Business Administration and Organizational Psychology, BayBIO Executive Management CoHort Program Palo Alto-Stanford; SPHR, HR Certification Institute

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?

Tax revenue is central to operating government mandated programs and investing in Hawaii’s future. Therefore, I would consider an increase to the GET in order to balance our State’s budget and invest in forward-looking initiatives, to include clean renewable and waste-to-energy technologies that will result in energy independence. Nonetheless, this subject matter requires expert advice, community input and proper vetting by committees of jurisdiction. ↩ 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 support streamlining or relaxing–not exempting–environmental regulatory review policies and processes in order to allow for development and spur in job growth. That said; however, the refined policies, procedures and processes must not be adverse or detrimental to our environment and natural resources, and should only apply in cases whereby sufficient historical data is available to the respective regulatory agencies for their decision-making purposes. Otherwise, all (including government) proposed developments and improvements should be subject to Hawaii’s environmental regulatory review policies and procedures. ↩ 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 am open to the possibility of allowing for low-risk gambling that yields direct benefits to our state. For example, floating casinos, casinos on homesteading commercial lands, scratchers, and lotto are several forms of gambling that prove to be mutually beneficial to other states, local municipalities and stakeholders. Therefore, in view of the fact that we need to diversify Hawaii’s economy, it is prudent that the legislature and administration, with input from the community and stakeholders, thoroughly vet this subject matter to ensure that all possibilities and challenges are openly discussed, deliberated and resolved. Clearly, gambling presents an opportunity to spur development and job growth, while stimulating our economy for future generations. We must be open to change in order to sustain Hawai’i–an island economy dependent on tourism and military spending. ↩ 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?

Open government is essential to restoring public trust and confidence. It is my opinion that the State Legislature, like advisory boards, commissions, councils, and neighborhood boards should also be subject to Sunshine Law. Notwithstanding, Sunshine Law as written and amended may impede the work of Hawaii’s legislators, therefore, it is my recommendation that a section relating to governance of the Hawai’i State Legislature be drafted, vetted and acted upon in the upcoming legislative session with the intent of transforming the Hawai’i State Legislature to be an open government for and by the people. ↩ back to top

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

Senate Bill 2783, now commonly known as the OHA Ceded Lands Settlement Act of 2012, is one of the best pieces of legislation passed by the State Legislature. This Act reconciles a longstanding dispute between the State of Hawai’i and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs & its beneficiaries. Now, OHA will be able to redevelop Kaka’ako with intent on stimulating our economy and empowering beneficiaries–native and non-native Hawaiians alike. Majority of residents’ in House District 43, whom I spoke with, support this position and cited a few other pieces of legislation that they consider to be amongst the best.

Although most residents in House District 43 did not find favor in several pieces of legislation approved by the 2012 Legislature; majority agreed that the impact and reach of each bill varies from community to another. Therefore, out of respect to the intended beneficiaries, there is no single worst piece of legislation worth noting. ↩ 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?

Open government is important and imperative. I join many residents in House District 43 and throughout the state, which I have spoken with, in advocating for term limits in the Hawai’i State Legislature. Quite frankly, in order to restore public trust and confidence in government and allow for effective public participation and collaboration, it is incumbent upon the State Legislature to advance efforts to amend our constitution. As State Representative, I will champion this change and issue—open government—at the Legislature. ↩ back to top