Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Clayton Hee, a Democratic candidate for state Senate District 23, which covers Kaneohe, Kaaawa, Hauula, Laie, Kahuku, Waialua, Haleiwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, Kunia. He is one of two Democratic candidates. The other is Gil Riviere.
1. Should the Legislature be more transparent and accountable? What would you do, given how tough it can be for individual lawmakers to go against leadership, to bring about needed reform in areas like sexual harassment policies, lobbyist regulation, fundraising during session and televising and archiving all hearings?
Government, in general needs to be more transparent and accountable. That includes the Legislature. The leadership of the House and the Senate should make as much information as possible publicly available without violating anyone’s constitutional right to privacy.
2. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process?
I support a constitutional convention to permit the members to deliberate, debate and decide the appropriate action regarding this important issue.
3. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with no Republicans in the Senate and only five in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?
The dearth of one party’s absence in the Legislature is unfortunate as a vibrant discussion and debate is dependent on differing ideas. I have served in the 1980s when there were more members of the minority party. Debate and discussion was much more diverse. The minority party has many challenges and must decide how to address this issue.
4. Would you support more frequent campaign finance reporting during election years, particularly before the primary? What other steps would you take to improve lobbying and financial disclosures?
I would support more financial disclosure for super Pacs. Presently, super Pac financial disclosure does not occur until 10 days prior to the election.
5. Hawaii’s public records law requires that records be made available whenever possible. Yet state agencies often resist release through delays and imposing excessive fees. What would you do to ensure the public has access to government records?
State agencies should not impose excessive fees. That said, it is reasonable that fees commensurate with the costs of the production of the documents is reasonable. For example, the costs of duplicating documents should be recovered for those costs incurred by the state agency. No profit should be proffered by any agency.
6. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?
The Legislature must appropriate more resources to address the unfunded liability of the retirement and health funds.
7. Do you support changing the state constitution to allow taxing investment properties to fund the public schools? How would you implement it if it passes?
I support allowing citizens to make a decision on this issue by voting on this ballot question. The enabling legislation will have to be decided by the Legislature incorporating the impacts to the budget.
8. Illegal vacation rentals have proliferated throughout Hawaii. The state is not collecting tax revenue on many of these properties and residents worry about overcrowded neighborhoods and other problems. Do you see this as a problem given Hawaii’s booming visitor industry and what would you propose to do about it?
I would examine and investigate how other states address tax collection of vacation rentals as well as how the jurisdictions deal with collateral issues including overcrowding. This is a longstanding issue that should not be addressed in a vacuum without first understanding how other jurisdictions are dealing with this dilemma.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
I support a constitutional convention. It is time to review, deliberate, debate and propose ideas regarding the state constitution.
10. What should Hawaii be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
The Legislature should engage the public including the University of Hawaii in understanding the environmental, economic and fiscal impacts to climate change. For example, the Hawaii Department of Transportation has said the costs of elevating or relocating 38 miles of coastal highways is $15 billion dollars. The Legislature must consider ways to mitigate this issue. The Legislature must engage the discussion of low-lying areas, including Waikiki, and understand the impacts of sea level rise and how other jurisdictions such as Miami are addressing similar circumstances.
11. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Urban sprawl is encroaching this district, which is the last remaining “country” on Oahu. Urbanites naturally gravitate to this district to recreate, particularly during the winter when the surf is up. Collateral issues, including traffic congestion, are the result. Like other areas a bypass transportation corridor is necessary should emergencies occur. If this area is developed with more housing and shopping centers the last remaining area where agriculture is still an integral part of Oahu will be lost, impacting the ability for Hawaii to meet sustainable agricultural production.