Legislature 2004 left key work undone
While legislative sessions have beginnings and ends, the truth is that the work of crafting public policy never stops.
No sooner is one session over than the planning and thinking begin for the next. Even elections, those drop-dead moments between sessions every other year, are not enough to bring work to a complete halt.
With that in mind, several of the bills that failed to make the cut this past session deserve further consideration and a fresh look next year.
Clean elections. This would have set up a test program in which political candidates who agree to specific spending restrictions would receive substantial public financing. The idea is to move away from today's system in which candidates must raise money (and accumulate obligations) from the private sector.
County sales tax. Hawai'i's four counties are mature enough, politically and administratively, to decide for themselves if they wish to impose a county-level sales tax. Today, the only substantial source of revenue for the counties is the property tax.
Physician-assisted suicide. This is a delicate and emotional issue, but our society has evolved to the point where competent adults should be able to make their own end-of-life decisions.
Civil unions. It's likely the debate over same-sex marriage will go on for years. In the meantime, Hawai'i should be forward-looking enough to legalize same-sex unions that would offer the same benefits and obligations now available to heterosexual married couples.
Sexual orientation discrimination. Opponents said this proposal, which would outlaw real estate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, would impose on the personal or religious beliefs of landlords. This is outmoded thinking. There was a time when it was thought acceptable to discriminate in housing based on a person's race. In time, it will become equally absurd to think one can discriminate on the basis of a person's sexual orientation.