Surprised when House Republicans sent this out Monday >>> $185M GE Tax Hike: HB1240 on a Fast Track <<< Neal Milner penned the following column....
Neal Milner: The Hawaii Legislature’s Persistent Rhythms
There are some longstanding reasons why change comes slowly at the Capitol, if it comes at all.
by Neil Milner, Civil Beat, February 12, 2015 (excerpts)
Thousands of bills, dozens of hearings, people lining up talk to you, 16-hour days. And at the last minute — ta-da — the Legislature makes all of its important decisions, some of which come as a total surprise....
Every session the same thing happens. The closer legislators get to the end, the less the public knows about what is really going on. All that easy, early access disappears.
We know which bills are going forward, but not much about the important informal discussions that ultimately shape the bill. It’s a deep, dark tunnel.
There are many reasons for this, ranging from time management to political shenanigans. But there is another reason — the fundamental weakness of the state’s Republican legislators. By now that weakness seems permanent and fundamental enough to be a given.
Opposition parties are rightfully tattletales. They are critics and watchdogs. Without this tattling, many things go on that the public does not know about.
Sure, the Republicans speak out. Sen. Sam Slom is no shrinking violet. But nobody pays much attention.
Historically, state legislatures that are dominated by one political party have well-known factions based on personalities or ideology.
Not in Hawaii. There are factions in our Legislature, but the public knows nothing about them.
The factions are very opaque. They don’t identify themselves. Ideological differences? Personal differences? Who knows? They are more like secret societies than political alliances.
Understanding the factions is critical if you want to know what’s going on, particularly late in the session.
Why don’t we know? One reason is that the media does not pay enough attention. But another reason goes right back to the limited tattling power of a tiny Republican minority....
read ... Weak Republicans