The gamesmanship and shenanigans surrounding the passage of HB321 (medical marijuana dispensaries) shed light on the inner machinations of the Hawaii Legislature. While I will leave it to readers to infer their own conclusions, it is clear that legislative priorities are out-of-touch with reality.
In an April 20th memo distributed to all legislators, both House Speaker Joe Souki and then Senate President Donna Kim made it clear:
Decision-making Deadlines for Conference Committees have been established by the Joint House and Senate Committees on Conference Procedures (Conference Rules) which were agreed to by the Senate President and House Speaker on April 6, 2015. There will be no exceptions.
Apparently rules do not apply when it stops you from getting what you want. The memo itself can be viewed here.
It was shocking when both the House Speaker and the Senate President decided to grant exception for marijuana legislation to the very rules they said there would be no exception to especially since it was discovered that medical marijuana dispensaries to assist a small group of 300 individuals – the same 300 individuals who cannot grow marijuana for themselves. Home-growers of medical marijuana do not need a dispensary.
In granting a special exception for those 300 individuals, House and Senate leaders ignored other priorities that also needed just a few more hours to pass out of conference committee. For example, today’s (May 5th, 2015) Honolulu Star-Advertiser profiled an elderly couple who is forced to live in separate nursing homes because of arcane provisions in state law. While the Legislature had the time to fix medical marijuana legislation, they did not have time to make a quick fix to state law so that Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto (married for 67 years) can live out the rest of their lives together. Below this post are a few other ideas that the Legislature did not believe were a priority, and must wait another year like the Noborus.
While “justice” was found for a mom who injects her child with a marijuana extract, there is no solace or consolation for the Kawamotos who must continue to live a life apart – praying that there will be a next time. When one is left to wonder how the priorities of legislators became so twisted and convoluted, they only need consider that kissing babies make better campaign pictures than caring for kupuna.
|SB286||Establishes the Office of the State Inspector General, to be headed by the State Inspector General to investigate complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption by a state agency or quasi-public agency, or by the officers or employees of a state agency or quasi-public agency.|
|SB230||Clarifies that reimbursement to crime victims includes lost wages and mental health treatment, counseling, and therapy.|
|SB287||Requires the implementation of a mail-in voting system in phases. (Also HB124)|
|SB304||Establishes the Hawaii Maternal Mortality Review Panel within the Department of Health to conduct a comprehensive review of maternal deaths that have occurred in the State|
|SB1032||Expands the definition of “tobacco products” to include tobacco-free products containing nicotine that are intended for human consumption.|
|SB1221||Requires the Department of Education to consult with the Department of Health and the American Diabetes Association to develop and adopt rules for the training of school employees and qualified volunteers to provide care to students with diabetes|
|HB171||Appropriates funds for fiscal year 2015-2016 to be deposited into the hurricane reserve trust fund|
|HB365||Appropriates moneys as a grant-in-aid to the City and County of Honolulu to purchase body cameras for their police officers and to establish a Honolulu Police Department Body Camera Pilot Program|
|HB600||Authorizes the DOH to allow two individuals in a relationship with each other as a married or civil union couple to be cared for in the same community care foster family home if certain requirements are met.|
|HB819||Requires state and county agencies and grantees that serve youth to adopt bullying prevention policies.|