Many thanks to the hundreds of people who came to our Town Hall meetings earlier this month in Kahuku, Kahaluu and Waialua. Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi, whose district is even larger than mine, joined me at all three meetings. Joining us in the areas of their House districts, Rep. Sean Quinlan attended two meetings, and Reps. Lauren Matsumoto and Lisa Kitagawa each participated in one. We live in a beautiful district amongst wonderful people.
Much of the discussion in Kahuku was about the unpopular Na Pua Makani wind project that now looms over the community but is not yet activated. Rep. Quinlan, CM Tsuneyoshi and I described our legislative efforts to establish better setback requirements, provide health monitoring studies, and even terminate the despised project. We also updated the community on the three legal challenges still in play that could prevent or delay the project from coming online.
In Kahaluu, we had a more conventional Town Hall meeting with discussion touching on a wide range of issues, legislative initiatives, and bills moving through the legislature. Community concerns ranged from Hawaiian Memorial Park expansion plans to Waikane Stream to TMT.
By the time our Waialua Town Hall arrived, news had broken that the Department of Transportation, Airport Division plans to rapidly close Dillingham Airfield. The elementary school cafeteria was filled, and dozens of people stood outside. While most attended to talk about the importance of saving the airfield, others came out to talk about agriculture lands and assorted other issues.
The halfway point of the legislature is rapidly approaching, and the culling of bill is accelerating. Watchers of the Legislature know that thousands of bills are introduced each year in January, but only a few hundred will survive the winnowing by the end of April.
Several of my proposals are still moving, including an income tax break for wage earners up to $50,000 and no income tax on the first $12,000. Another bill would create a renewable energy siting process to increase public participation in decisions that will involve many thousands of acres of land. The time has come to begin regulating shark boat tours, and I have a bill to provide business and financial education to inmates, so they can have a better chance to succeed when released from prison.
Other legislation coming down the path includes minimum wage increases, higher tax credits and payments for low wage earners, large investments in affordable housing projects, teacher benefits and incentives, and another proposal to create a state property tax. There will be many twists and turns yet to be seen.
As Gideon Tucker, a 19th century New York politician once said, "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session."