BY KAWIKA CROWLEY – On Thursday, February 16, after being waived out of the House Health committee, our bill to amend Hawaii’s strict smoking ban to allow smoking in some stand alone bars (HB 2306) was heard by the House Economic Revitalization & Business Committee.
When the vote was taken, the result was an overwhelming 10-1 victory for our business friendly bill, allowing for smoking exemptions for bars requesting one. There were placed a few stipulations, but nothing we could not iron out and tweak down the road. Six long years ago, when we started our campaign, a vote like that would have been 10 No, and just one Yes. Granted, a number of the “Yes were With Reservations”, but we were extremely grateful for the support.
Our opposition was stunned and scrambling. It was indeed a David & Goliath moment. The stunning story was covered that evening worldwide, nationally, and locally by the Associated Press, Hawaii Reporter, three local tv news casts, and PBN. The next morning, as we humbly and gratefully made our usual rounds at the capitol with our daily Drop-Offs, we were very hopeful as per the impending vote on the floor of the House as per HB2306. A strong showing would send us to our final committee hearing before the Judiciary Committee. As per the floor vote, we knew we had close to two-thirds of the members in support, whether by Yes, or with a with reservations. As per the Judiciary hearing we knew we had close to 70 percent of the members in support. We were confident that we would soon be able to pass over to the Senate with strong support there by Senate leadership.
That Friday morning, we were greeted in almost every house and senate office by lawmakers and staff with congrats, hand shakes, and support. The underdog had finally got a solid punch in. Goliath took a knee. We enjoyed a warm and reassured feeling that “yes, the democratic process does indeed work.” This after many disappointments over the last six years. But that belief and confidence in our governmental process was brutally shattered by the very thing that allows so much public distrust of governmental procedure and affairs, as well as allowing for the pitiful public approval ranking of lawmakers at a low 12%….corruption, deceit and special interest.
What happened next was utterly disgusting. When our bill came up for the voting process, the House Majority Leader took it upon himself to not allow our bill to be voted on by all House members, sending our bill to be recommitted back to the House Economic Revitalization & Business Committee, essentially sinking our bill for good.
In a matter of a few seconds it was over. This is proper procedural process? This is honest and fair government? This just 27 hours before when Goliath got his butt kicked in the House Economic Revitalization & Business Committee.
Come to find out earlier that day the Goliath Behemoth Gestapo led by Julian Lipsher, Tobacco Free Hawaii, and the ACS conducted a Blitzkrieg and bullied their way through the halls of the capitol with their scare tactics, phony baloney stats, and “research data” lies. I just received an email from one of our partners in battle on the mainland, that in all his years in politics, he has never heard of a bill that sailed through a committee 10 to 1, and be killed the very next day on the house floor. I, as a citizen, am helping to pay this lawmaker’s salary, but he won’t give me an honest and fair vote on an issue I present before him? It is unconscionable, shameful, and pathetic.
So, we have Scenario #1—-Lawmakers were so scared by this blitz that word got out that there were not enough votes on the floor for the bill to pass. So the majority leader took it upon himself to kill the bill without a vote.
And we have Scenario #2—-Lawmakers were NOT affected by this thug like assault, and rather, were smart and keen enough to stand on their own beliefs, principals, as well as being sensitive to small business needs, that they were more than ready to cast a supportive vote for our bill. And the majority leader knew it, but he had been whipped by the Goliath and he could not allow the bill to receive a straight up and down vocal vote.
I pick Scenario #2. Three lawmakers have done this to us in the last six years. In other words, not allowing a vote in committee or on the floor concerning our bills, even though we had the votes sitting right there before us. An ugly orgy with special interests. A government by the people and for the Special Interests is a disgusting government that needs to be swept out and cleaned out.
As for us, we are not the Behemoth Goliath of our opposition funded by the billions (The ACS alone is the richest “non profit” on the planet with assets in the billions of dollars…it is also the most corrupt…google it, and be ready to sit down).
Rather, we are just average Joe and Mary citizens fighting back Big Government intrusion into our personal and business affairs. Jolyn, Michael, and myself receive no compensation by anyone in representing the Hawaii Bar Owners Association, and none of us own a bar.
All the time spent planning, creating, networking, and boots on the ground is all funded by each of us, and whatever and whenever we can afford it. Thus, all we can do as potots and mere “Davids” is fight against the Goliath beast with our simple daily Drop-Offs (fliers), with sincerity, with honest and true facts and stats, along with a little humor.
I, myself, am a simpleton Handyman, for goodness sake. And 3 of the last 6 years I lived and worked out of my van in Kaneohe. We fight this battle and sacrifice our time and little monies all based upon principle, as well as a deep commitment to the over 150 small businesses we represent across the state, along with their thousands of employees.
So when we become the obvious brunt of a legislative procedure that is so blatantly decrepit, dishonest, foul, and unfair, and based upon the whim of just one lawmaker, one can only lose faith in the governmental process. I can understand if we truly DID NOT HAVE the votes. The issue would be moot. What we have here at the capitol is not representative government, but rather sadly and shamefully, a dictatorial sham, disguised as “proper acceptable and fair procedure”.
By the way, our constituency has remained at about 40,000 over the last three years. We are diligently working to solidify our group in hopes of becoming a voting bloc to reckon with in a few short years. However, we will impact this next election, throughout the state in some form or another. It’s our only remedy to fix these corrupt processes and procedures growing like weeds in the halls of the Capitol.
In closing, I will use this venue to officially announce my candidacy for the House of Representatives Dist. 49 seat in the upcoming elections. And I will win, as I have thousands of folks in that district who have been supporting me with incredible enthusiasm as per my monthly 9/11 Never Forget Roadside Rally that I have been conducting for the last two and a half years. I will win. And to the handful of you Anti Smoking Fanatic lawmakers who suffer from the latest debilitating disorder, ASDS (anti smoking dysfunctional syndrome), we can only pray that one day you will be able to sprout just one seed of common sense in your brains.
And to the majority of you good, honest, and decent lawmakers who support small business, as well as our cause in the defense of private property rights, a very sincere mahalo for your kind understanding, encouragement, and support.
I must say this however, each of you good and honest lawmakers should be outraged that our governmental process can be so poisoned by the stinking disease of lying and deceitful Special Interests, as well as procedural processes that should be outlawed. Fair is fair. Dishonest is dishonest. Every bill, no matter how controversial should have its fair chance of a vote on the floor. The dirt of a few makes you all look bad. Sausages anyone?
We’ll be back.