Thursday, January 18, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 18, 2001

2001 Legislature opens with change in the air

It wasn’t hard to tell who were the Democrats and who were the Republicans talking yesterday as the 2001 Hawaii Legislature opened for business.

The Republicans talked about smaller government, reduced taxes and the need to change from established ways of thinking. The Democrats talked about the need to fund collective-bargaining agreements with public-worker unions, raising the minimum wage and dealing with huge social problems such as the emerging crisis in long-term care for our elderly.

But the heartening thing in the opening-day rhetoric was that the two sides were not talking past each other or at cross-purposes. Instead, they were analyzing the many facets of the work ahead from different perspectives, none of them invalid, none without something to contribute to the final whole.

One of the best lines of the day came from newly installed Senate President Robert Bunda, which is quoted at right on this page. There is a dysfunction in the political system, he suggested, in which time and energy are spent on fixing the results of current conditions rather than the causes.

This is an important thought. And it fits in with the GOP call for change and new ways of thinking. The 2001 Legislature will be a success if it manages to deal with the problems it faces at their root levels and in different ways. The watchwords must be courage, innovation and a willingness to accept new ideas and new paths toward familiar goals.

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