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BY BETH FUKUMOTO –  Today Democrat members of two House Committees voted to gut a bill that would have helped parents buy school supplies for their children and inserted language to legalize gambling in Hawaii.

SB 755, which started as a proposal by Senator Carol Fukunaga to help school-age children, was completely rewritten behind closed doors.  Further, the bill was allowed to pass without the standard 48 hour notice to give the public time to comment on this measure.

“You are gambling with the credibility of this committee,” Rep Cynthia Thielen of Kailua pointed out.  “There are many members of the public who oppose gambling and they were not given an opportunity to speak out on a measure that will completely change our State.”

“This bill sends a mixed message to the public,” Rep. Barbara Marumoto  of Kaimuki, Waialae and Kahala noted.  “The State says no gambling, but this type of gambling is okay.  I can’t support this, especially when the State wants 20% of the cut.” she added.

The House Draft of SB 755 would license peer-to-peer gambling in the form of poker tournaments. It would authorize two licensees to conduct these gambling games for a fee of $100 million plus 20% of the wagers.  The bill would also set up a Gaming Commission.

“They say this is not gambling but in the bill itself the house gets to take 20% of the winnings,” former police captain Rep. George Fontaine of Kihei, Maui explained.  “Why would anyone pay $100 million to have their computer servers here in Hawaii when they can have them in the Bahamas for a lot cheaper and not have to deal with our bureaucracy?”

The House Republican Caucus noted that gambling has not solved the budget problems of other states on the mainland.  Gaming also comes with a host of other social problems that should not be encouraged in Hawaii.

The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere. For further information on the House Republican Caucus, please click here.

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