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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 2, 2001

Lawmakers close session; GOP wanted more done

By Lynda Arakawa and Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

The Legislature wrapped up its two-week emergency special session tonight over the objections of House Republicans, who said not enough was done to help the broader public.

Gov. Ben Cayetano has already signed the first 14 bills approved by lawmakers earlier this week, and he is expected to sign a measure giving him temporary emergency powers. He had called the Legislature into the special session to address the state's economic crisis in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 East Coast terrorist attacks.

House Republicans argued that the Legislature should stay in session, saying more work needed to be done in the way of financial relief to residents and small businesses.

"We're providing help for a select few in the state," said Rep. Mark Moses, R-42nd (Kapolei, 'Ewa Village, Village Park). "We are not providing help to the average citizen."

House Minority Leader Galen Fox, R-21st (Waikiki, Ala Wai), said the Legislature should instead go into recess — meaning they could be recalled at any time — until the state Council on Revenues revises its state tax collection forecast on Nov. 14.

House Speaker Calvin Say, D-18th (Palolo, St. Louis, Kaimuki), said: "No one here in this chamber can claim total satisfaction with the package, but at the same time, no need has been completely overlooked. ... But for all of us members, we've only taken the first step on our long journey. Our real test lies ahead in the year 2002. When we convene in January all of us will have a fuller grasp of our situation."

The House floor session closed as it opened Oct. 22 — with a moment of silence for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Legislature passed 15 bills this session, including measures to extend unemployment benefits and provide more health insurance, appropriate $10 million for tourism marketing, and $2 million for food and housing for the needy. Other measures would provide tax credits for the construction and renovation of hotels and residential property and allow the governor to have temporary emergency powers over certain statutes, rules and contracts.

Lawmakers also authorized the administration to borrow $150 million to build a new medical school and research facility in Kaka'ako, as well as $100 million for school and university repair and maintenance projects.

The Legislature spent an estimated $22,000 for the session to cover airline tickets and daily spending allowances for Neighbor Island lawmakers, said House Chief Clerk Pat Mau-Shimizu. Mau-Shimizu said there were no other costs because the Legislature's staff worked extra hours, eliminating the need to hire additional staff.