Each legislative session, since 1986, PAYCHECKS HAWAII, the independent non-partisan, political action affiliate of Smart Business Hawaii (created in 1984), rates each of Hawaii’s 76 state legislators (51 House and 25 Senate).
Lawmakers are rated on their support and advocacy for small business and an improved business climate in collaboration with other Hawaii business organizations, individuals and those actively participating at the Capitol during the regular legislative session (January-May).
The subjective business ratings are based upon: (1) key business votes involving tax, fee and regulatory increases; (2) efforts to actively increase or decrease government size and spending; (3) employer mandates (i.e., unemployment comp, workers’ comp, TDI, etc.); (4) conduct in business hearings, accessibility and response of legislator, nd (5) active sponsorship, introduction and advocacy of business climate legislation.
Each lawmaker is rated, regardless of political party, from #1—“most supportive and outspoken advocate for small business and an improved Hawaii business climate,” to #5, “least supportive or hostile to a better business climate.”
Ratings may be helpful during election periods.
During 2011, the following bills and votes were among the “key” measures used in the ratings:
SB570 Eliminates many personal income tax deductions;
SB754 SD1 HD1 CD1 – Suspends General Excise Tax business exemptions which will result in tax on tax and more consumer costs;
SB1059 SD2 – Prohibits certain businesses from distributing single-use plastic check out bags;
SB1088 – Allows individuals who voluntarily quit work to claim UI benefits; does not allow employer to dispute claim;
SB1221 – Requires construction procurement contracts to use 80% local workers;
SB1270 – Raid of the Hurrican Relief Fund;
SB1328 – Increases state motor vehicle registration fees;
SB1329 – Increases state motor vehicle weight taxes;
HB243 – Mandated sterilization of animals sold in pet stores;
HB1039 HD1 SD2 CD1 – Increases motor vehicle rental surcharge to $7.50 per day.
Note: Bills that proposed increases in the General Excise Tax, tobacco taxes, a new pension tax, new soda tax, 50% liquor tax, “streamlining internet” tax, although not passed, were also considered in the overall ratings.