Sunday, January 28, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 28, 2001

Has the Legislature gone to the dogs? 'BR' bills make you wonder

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

Friday was the deadline for our esteemed state legislators to introduce bills for consideration during this year’s session. Slogging through the piles of paper, there are a number of winners that catch the eye like a plaid suit on Aloha Friday.

And so many of them have the designation "BR" on them. BR stands for "by request," which means that the bill wasn’t thought up by the legislator who introduced it but was requested by a constituent. Having a BR designation on a bill roughly translates into, "Listen, this one not mine, kay? I just putting em in fo’ somebody else. No blame me."

It’s the legislative equivalent of dropping a package on the doorstep, ringing the bell and digging out. BR might as well stand for "burn rubber."

And speaking of plaid ...

Senate Bill 603 seeks to adopt an official tartan for the state of Hawaii. Yes. A tartan. You know, Scottish clans, woolen kilts, Bay City Rollers. That action. The bill reads: "The state foundation on culture and the arts shall register the state tartan with the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans maintained by the Scottish Tartans Society in the Hall of Records of the Highland Heritage Museum Trust at Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland and the Scottish Tartan Authority in Perthshire, Scotland, and shall maintain on public display a copy of the tartan."

The bill goes on to articulate the exact thread count of the Hawaii tartan.

Makes you wonder if folks in the United Kingdom are scratching their heads at an attempt to establish the official Scottish lei.

Then there’s Senate Bill 516, "Relating to Dogs." This would allow dogs in public parks and on public beaches during all hours of the day. In fact, there are a couple of dog bills in the Legislature. Guess the dog lobby is strong this year.

Another Senate bill is a fine example of the excellent use of words in our state government: "Relating to statutory revision: amending, re-enacting, or repealing various provisions of the Hawaii revised statutes and the session laws of Hawaii for the purpose of correcting errors and references, clarifying language, and deleting obsolete or unnecessary provisions."

That’s essentially a bill to clear up some typos, but the authors really made it sound impressive. They did, however, leave out the thread count.

One measure seeks to decriminalize violations of the lobbyist laws in Hawaii, which begs the question, did lobbyists lobby for this?

There’s an effort to prohibit the use of artificial turf at state-run sports facilities. Guess this was requested by the pro-grass coalition.

Senate Bill 644 would authorize the Department of Health to issue fancy "heirloom" marriage certificates (I’m guessing heavy stock, gold foil, curly font ... maybe even plaid!) to be sold for $50 with proceeds going to domestic violence programs. Not sure about the connection here, but it seems to be insinuating something.

But perhaps the biggest "Burn Rubber" bills are the ones that seek to bring a casino to K¯ Olina. Looks like Ben Cayetano went to the Bahamas, got wined and dined, got some of his friends jobs with the developers and promised to get his buddies in the Legislature to introduce the measure knowing full well that gambling bills have always kicked the bucket in Hawaii.

Cayetano doesn’t have to stick his neck out too far for this project. He can rely on the Legislature to toss out Sun International’s proposal. All Cayetano had to do was keep the promise he made over cocktails to deliver it to the door and ring the bell. You can hear the tires screeching already.

Lee Cataluna’s column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Her e-mail address is

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