Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jun 2003
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Contact:  2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: Richard Borreca 
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: To read more about the "ice epidemic" in Hawaii, go to


No Summer Off For The Legislature

There is good press and there is good law, but voters will decide which one
the Legislature is aiming for as it launches a summer festival of hearings
and committee investigations.

If solving problems is part of the legislative job description then the list
being readied for the legislative off-session should make for an easy hire.

Here's a rundown of Big 3 in summertime committees now starting up at the
Capitol: One will draw a bead on the abuse and consequences of illegal drug
use, another is to fix the campaign-spending laws while the third continues
the investigation of state spending for special-needs students, the
so-called Felix investigation.

Since January 2000, crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," has been the damaging
drug of choice in Hawaii. It registers at such levels that Hawaii leads the
nation in the number of arrested males on ice. 

Hawaii lawmakers, led by Senate Judiciary Committee chairwoman Colleen
Hanabusa, are mulling over a completely new chapter in the criminal code to
deal with ice. Lawmakers also want to look at the effects of ice in schools
and the community.

And even though the action comes at the same time the Republican lieutenant
governor and the GOP-appointed district attorney link arms to head up a task
force on ice abuse, legislators promise this will be the definitive work to
stop drug abuse in Hawaii.

The spread of ice among all sections of Hawaii society has not been a secret
or silent epidemic, but if some competition between the administration and
the Legislature makes for a solution, then the public will benefit.

Meanwhile, legislators are again being asked to do something about how they
and political challengers raise money for their campaigns. This has been on
the legislative radar screen since Nixon and Watergate, but no legislative
dentist has been able to put real teeth with criminal sanctions into an
easy-to- understand campaign-spending law.

This is an issue that won't find much of a fan in the new GOP governor.
While Governor Lingle is all for beefing up the state's ethics laws, she is
no campaign-spending reform firebrand, because she thinks the more you limit
campaign finances, the easier it is for incumbents (code word for Democrats)
to stay in office. 

The Felix investigative committee already has started work this summer,
extending its purview to a review of neighbor island special-education
programs, but it is undecided how much influence the committee has had,
except to keep the Department of Education on its toes.

At the same time those three House-Senate committees are churning about, the
two legislative bodies are bulking up on a summer diet of individual
fact-finding hearings and inquiries.

There is work planned in tourism, agriculture, waste management, taxes,
child protective custody, gas prices and perhaps the employee retirement

If you can't predict how much all this summer work will produce, here's a
sure bet: Next year's campaign brochures will be stuffed with pictures of
hard-working legislators.
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MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk