Monthly Archives: May 2010

My Last Letter as State Representative to the Waipahu Community

Dear Friends,

It has been an honor serving you in the Hawaii House of Representatives for the past eight years. Many of you have seen me grow up from a young and eager twenty-seven year-old politician to a leader in the Hawaii House of Representatives. The following are some of my policy accomplishments for our community and the State of Hawaii:

Economy and Sustainability

  • Encouraged multi-millions of dollars of investments into Hawaii through tax credits for film production, 15% on Oahu, and 20% on neighbor islands;
  • Expanded the Small Business Innovation Research Grants and Small Business Technology Transfer Research Grants to maximize federal matching dollars to help Hawaii’s start-up technology and science businesses;
  • Floated $55 million in special purpose revenue bonds for local technology and renewable energy companies to help build research facilities and solar farms in Hawaii;
  • Created incentives for important agricultural lands;
  • Funded $1 million to be matched with private funds for beach restoration; and
  • Required the department of Agriculture to authenticate Ni’ihau shell leis to empower Hawaii Ni’ihau shell lei makers and protect consumers from fraudulent sales using the Ni’ihau shell branding.


  • Supported project-based learning in our public schools such as art, culture, history, computer programming, robotics, and television production;
  • Appropriated funds for capital improvements for our public schools; and
  • Voted in favor of the $67 million appropriation to be used to restore instructional days for the 2010 to 2011 school year.

Public Safety

  • Incorporated into the sexual assault law, the use of a substance in subjecting one to a sexual assault;
  • Created a criminal impersonation law;
  • Updated our harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication;
  • Extended temporary restraining orders to be applied to pet animals;
  • Required that pet animals be humanely treated when placed in confinement;
  • Secured funding for our specialty courts, which has been proven successful in turning individuals’ lives around to be productive citizens rather than abusing illegal drugs.

It has been an exciting journey. My love and support for you and this great community will continue regardless of where my career leads to. I wish you and your family good health and happiness.

With Warmest Aloha,

Jon Riki Karamatsu

State Representative

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The Loss of a Friend

I found out this past Sunday that I lost another friend who passed away this weekend who is only a little older than me and she leaves a husband and young child. She was a strong supporter and friend of mine. I am deeply saddened.

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Together We Can Overcome Negativity

Wavin’ Flag – K’Naan featuring Will.I.Am, and David Guetta

Together We Can Overcome Negativity

One of my biggest motivators into politics is feeling the pain and suffering of so many people.  When I was younger, I always thought that someday, I would change the world around from negative to positive.  I will share with you some of my experiences.

My parents grew up poor and made the most of everything they had in life.  When things got economically better with the success of their parents’ careers, they had already become adults.  They always reminded me to appreciate what I had, food, clothing, and shelter.  My father was very strict with me in the old school way, physically and mentally.

I attended public school from grade school up until undergraduate college.  Some of the other kids were not financially stable.  I saw how the cycle of violence continued with the fights in school.  I remember using Aikido to defend myself against another kid.

In high school, I sat next to a girl in social studies who was on crystal meth.  She told me how she would not sleep for days.  In my science class, there was a smart student who was a year younger than the rest of the class.  He placed a “HB” tattoo on his hand and told me he was now a part of the gang, Hawaiian Brothers.  I saw young girls get pregnant.  I sometimes wonder how they are all doing.  In my political career, I learned how depression, post traumatic stress disorder from violence, broken homes, and such were factors with individuals who used drugs.  I later supported programs to help individuals get off of drugs and turn their lives around.  I also supported programs that helped troubled youth and single mothers.

I read about how the generations before me fought against discrimination.  Workers were mistreated.  Minorities sacrificed during World War II by fighting for their country even as she placed them in concentration camps.  When they returned, the veterans used the GI Bill to gain their college education.  However, upon graduation, they had difficulty getting hired because of on-going discrimination.

In college, girls told me their stories of sexual assault and domestic violence.  I remember being at a party with a girl I was dating.  When she went to use the restroom downstairs, a guy followed her and tried to rape her.  She got away, ran up the stairs into my arms, crying uncontrollably.  When we left, she told me what happened.  I wanted to go back to confront the guy but she wouldn’t let me.  I wanted to call the police but she stopped me.  I still have regrets of that night.  Later, I helped organizations that support survivors of violence.

While I was a Senator and Vice President at the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I was heavily involved in working to make the campus safer.  I worked with campus security to ensure there were a strong security presence, an escort program, and adequate lighting and emergency phone booths on campus (cellular phones were just beginning to pick up, but were still expensive).  I served as the student representative on the Sexual Harassment Policy Committee with administrators and attorneys.

My very good friend was almost shot by several individuals in a car because of a driving dispute on the freeway.  He showed me how the bullet penetrated the car metal above his head and landed on the ground.

I dated a girl and for a number of years her ex-boyfriend and his friends tried to hunt me down in his jealousy.

While in law school, I experienced racism in the Northwest, with name calling, threats, and even not being served at a restaurant.  I have always been a strong advocate for equality.  Justice does not judge by what she sees, but rather applies the laws fairly to all.  It is for this reason; I have supported expanding rights to all, including the same-sex community.

In my first term as a politician, I dated a girl who shared her story of being raped by a couple of guys who took advantage of her by using a date rape drug.  I later changed the law to prohibit the use of a substance when committing sexual assault.

I know girls who had individuals; often their ex-boyfriends who posted nude pictures of them on the Internet.  I have seen how individuals would even go as far as super-imposing a girl’s head onto a naked body.  Another girl I dated had to endure numerous emails to government and media offices that included naked pictures of her.  I changed the harassment and stalking by harassment laws to include electronic communication.  I also created a new criminal impersonation law.

As a politician, I have faced my share of threats.  A man threatened to shoot me with his shotgun.  Another man tried to engage me into a fight while I was waiting in line at a Longs Drugs store.  I realize that threats come with my job, even death.

We politicians face constant verbal attacks by many individuals.  I’ve had individuals attack me on my DUI mistake rather than on the issue at hand for many of the controversial bills such as the shark fin ban and civil unions that came before my House Judiciary Committee, which I chaired.  Then there are individuals who hide behind code names on their computers and do personal attacks against me on the Internet.  I have more respect for the people who yell at me in my face or reveal their names in their emails and on the Internet.

I have dated girls who didn’t like the gossip, sometimes mean-spirited attacks.  It has made it difficult for my personal life.

Throughout my life, there were a number of wars.  It is my goal to reduce violence not only domestically, but internationally.  I passed the Peace Day Hawaii law that recognizes September 21st of each year to be a day to educate and promote awareness of peace.  The emphasis on peacemaking changes year-to-year.  For example, one year we focused on international peace and another year we focused on reducing bullying in our public schools.

We all have a choice.  We can be negative and cause so much pain for others, or we can be positive and help bring joy and happiness to people.  Only if we achieve inner peace, can we spread peace to others.  So let’s join together as warriors of peace.  Let’s spread compassion and make a majority of the people in the world compassionate and happy, then a majority of the world can be at peace.

Let's defeat negativity.

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Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu Files Nomination Papers to Run for Lieutenant Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 

Contact: Tracy H. Okubo, Campaign Press Secretary

808.778.9531 or           

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu Files Nomination Papers to Run for Lieutenant Governor

HONOLULU—State Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu (House District 41-Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele) filed his nomination papers on Wednesday, May 19, 2010, officially putting him in the race for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 elections.  Last June, Representative Karamatsu authorized his campaign team, Friends of Jon Riki Karamatsu, to form an exploratory committee to explore his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 elections.

“My campaign team and I decided that we had to go out and meet the people of Hawai‘i.  Over the past year I have met over 40,000 people throughout the State at various events, meetings, or even just in passing” said Karamatsu.  “Based on the positive feedback we have received regarding my candidacy, I have decided to officially enter the race for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 elections.”

“My campaign’s strength is not only based on my hard work ethic, but my strong track record in passing legislation to encourage investments into Hawai‘i’s economy, protect our money from leaving the state, maintain project-based learning in our public schools, enhance public safety, address our physician shortfall, and promote equality for all,” said Karamatsu.  

Representative Karamatsu was elected to the Hawai‘i House of Representatives in 2002 and is currently serving his fourth term.  He currently chairs the House Judiciary Committee and has held a variety of leadership positions during his tenure, including Vice Speaker of the House, Majority Whip, Chairman of the Economic Development & Business Concerns Committee, Vice Chairman of the Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Tourism & Culture Committee.


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My mother gave me my middle name "Riki", which is the same kanji as "chikara", meaning power or strength.

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Hawaii Herald Article on Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga

As I campaign across the State of Hawaii, I have had the opportunity to greet many of the World War II generation, now in their golden years.  I am touched when I hear a senior say, “Good luck” or once in awhile a senior who is American of Japanese Ancestry would say, “Ganbatte” (also means good luck).  I dedicate my politcal career and this race for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii to them for all the sacrifice they have done to make our lives better. I think of my grandparents and all of those of this generation who have passed away.

I think of one of the leaders of this great generation Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga who I wrote an article about for the Hawaii Herald’s January, 22, 2010 issue.  It was a dream come true for me to be mentored by him.  I will forever cherish his friendship.  Below is my article about him.

Hawaii Herald

Article on Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga

By Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Monday, January 11, 2010

Since I was young, I looked up to the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, elected officials of the 1954 Democratic Revolution, and the entire Nisei generation (second generation of Americans of Japanese ancestry) because of the sacrifices they did to make the world better for us.  I had hoped someone from this great generation would guide me in the world of politics as I continued to pursuit my dream of a more peaceful world with social and economic stability.  Thus, my friendship with Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga is a dream come true for me because he was all three, a Nisei, member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and legislator of the 1954 Democratic Revolution.

I met Senator Yoshinaga in January of 2002 while I was working for Senator Carol Fukunaga.  On one of his many visits to Senator Fukunaga, I showed a picture of him with his company within the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which I printed from the Internet.  He was surprised and impressed that I researched him.  We quickly became friends.  I told him my political platform and my campaign strategy, and how I was going to run for state elected office in the 2002 elections.  I also found out my grandfather Maurice Karamatsu was friends with him when my grandfather was Vice President of Duty Free Shoppers.

I was very impressed with Senator Yoshinaga’s life experiences.  He graduated from Maui High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he attained his Bachelor of Arts degree.  He volunteered for the United States Army and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  After the war, Senator Yoshinaga decided to apply his GI Bill benefits to study law at DePaul University where he attained his Juris Doctorate degree.  He returned to work for the law firm of Bouslog and Symonds in Honolulu, and then in Maui, which was known for its defense of the ILWU or International Longshore and Warehouse Union.  Senator Yoshinaga was elected into the House of Representatives of the Territory of Hawaii in the historic 1954 Democratic revolution.  In 1959, he was elected into the Senate of the State of Hawaii where he served until retiring in 1974.  Senator Yoshinaga was the chairman of the influential Senate Labor Committee and Ways & Means Committee.

What I liked a lot about Senator Yoshinaga was his genuine love for Hawaii and you could feel his sincerity by the amount of positive energy that radiated from him when he talked about issues he felt were important to make Hawaii great.  He played a key role in eliminating the discriminatory laws in Hawaii, ahead of the rest of the United States; creating the Prepaid Health Care program, which resulted in Hawaii having one of the best, if not the best health insurance coverage in the nation; establishing the Art in Public Places program that supports our local artists; starting the Commission on the Status of Women that advocates on issues important to women; and appropriating funds for numerous capital improvement projects throughout the state. 

I launched my campaign for the State House seat that represents Waipahu in April of 2002.  I had my first fundraiser at Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room.  Senator Yoshinaga and his wife Mieko were the first ones there.  They must have arrived a half an hour early.  I won the election.

As soon as I got into my capitol office, Senator Yoshinaga would visit me regularly.  As a politician, I must have had thousands of meetings in my office.  Sometimes Senator Yoshinaga would wait in my main office and people would constantly come in and out.  As each person or group entered, I would introduce them to him.  I remember having him sit in a meeting with an advocate.  He would quietly listen, and the advocate would talk, then look at me and look at him, waiting for a reaction.  It was funny to see the advocate’s face.

I have many memories of Senator Yoshinaga, but one of my favorites is when he brought the CEO of Enterprise Honolulu, Mike Fitzgerald, to my office to strategize on ways to strengthen Hawaii’s economy on May 28, 2008.  Senator Yoshinaga, Mr. Fitzgerald, my office manager Baron Gushiken, and I discussed Hawaii’s economic climate of that time, some of the legislation I introduced in the past, and ideas I had for the future to help better Hawaii’s economy.  We talked about renewable energy, technology, film, digital media, long-term care, workforce development, education, mass transit, and agriculture.  At the end of the meeting, Senator Yoshinaga told me, “This was a good meeting.”  I looked at him and smiled, “Yup, this was a good meeting.”  He looked so happy.  

I enjoyed all the birthday parties planned by a handful of us business, community, and political leaders.  His 89th birthday was on August, 8, 2008 or 08/08/08.  I remember him telling me, “People tell me this is really good, to have my birthday on 08/08/08.”  We celebrated his birthday a little belated at his senior living facility’s party room.  Every birthday of his was a who’s who of Hawaii.  Someone told me to sit by Senator Yoshinaga.  Governor John Waihe’e, who I admire and became friends with through his children John and Jennifer, jokingly said, “Whoa Jon Riki.  You have the audacity to sit right next to Najo.”  Everyone laughed as I smiled, a little embarrassed.  We all got a dark blue “Najo” baseball cap.  Senator Yoshinaga looked extremely happy.

On March 18, 2009, there was a joint House and Senate legislative session on the House floor honoring state elected officials of 1959 in conjunction with honoring our 50th anniversary of statehood.  Senator Shan Tsutsui of Maui and I made a speech about honoree Senator Yoshinaga.

Last year on August 10, 2009, we celebrated Senator Yoshinaga’s 90th birthday at the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, which is fitting since he always talks about how research is important for Hawaii’s future.  It would be the last time for many of his political friends and protégés to be with him as a big group in the same room.

On December 23, 2009, I had my last talk with Senator Yoshinaga at my capitol office.  My campaign seemed to be on his mind.  He made a suggestion that I will follow through on the best I can.  In the past, whenever we say goodbye at the State Capitol, Senator Yoshinaga would tell me, “I may not see you again,” implying that he could pass away anytime.  However, I don’t recall him saying this at all in the months leading to his passing.

On December 29, 2009, I wore my “Najo” baseball cap as I did my errands.  I was worried because I knew he had a stroke earlier that weekend and was in the hospital.  That afternoon, I got a phone call from Baron Gushiken that Senator Yoshinaga had passed away.  For some reason, his death didn’t sink in as something that really happened.

A couple of days later, I talked to Senator Yoshinaga’s daughter Susan.  She told me that the week before I saw Senator Yoshinaga, he had wanted to visit me but Baron Gushiken who helps him get around the state capitol was busy.  Usually, Senator Yoshinaga doesn’t complain, but this time he told her, “How come?  I want to see Jon Riki Karamatsu.  I can go by myself.”  She told him about the schedule conflict but that he could go to the state capitol later.  After hearing this, I was really touched.  I am so glad I got to see him on December 23, 2009 at my office.  I am sure Baron feels the same way.

In my years knowing Senator Yoshinaga, he never talked about his military experience in World War II with his service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team at the European front.  I believe those memories were too painful.  Rather, he found joy in doing positive things for Hawaii through politics.  I learned from his friends that he was one of the first politicians to oppose the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War and it took a toll on his family.  Similarly, I opposed our country’s wars in the Middle East region. When I got involved with Peace Day Hawaii, he was pleased.  I believe he liked that I had peace as one of my long term goals for the human race.

Senator Yoshinaga was a visionary in his time as an elected official and when he left public office, he continued to dream for Hawaii.  Coincidentally, a lot of the work he started, I seem to have picked up where he left off.  He was always talking to me about economic development, technology, and Enterprise Honolulu.  Sometime in 2005, I asked him on why he was so interested in economic development?  He replied, “I had to adjust to the times.”  In his twenty years in elected politics, he accomplished a lot to help labor because of the inequity between labor and management that occurred during a good portion of his life.  However, near the end of his career, he began to work on more business and economic issues.  In regards to economic development, Senator Yoshinaga told me, “I didn’t do enough.  By the time I started, it was too late, my twenty years were up.”  His dream for economic development is also my dream, as it is a big part of my platform, especially in areas such as technology, science, renewable energy, film, digital media, and art.  I have helped the technology, renewable energy and film industries through government-backed special purpose revenue bonds and tax incentives that attracts investments.

Senator Yoshinaga worked hard to eliminate many of Hawaii’s discriminatory laws against minorities, women, and labor.  Equal rights are also very important to me.  Last year, in the 2009 Legislative Session, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I passed the civil union bill out of my committee with a unanimous vote that would allow same-sex couples to enter a contract like that of married couples, thus expanding the rights for same-sex couples to be equal to that of heterosexual couples.  This bill passed the entire House but stalled in the Senate.  After the historic vote in my House Judiciary Committee, Senator Yoshinaga visited me at my office and said, “Times are changing.” 

Senator Yoshinaga had the foresight to create the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to their employees who work twenty hours or more a week for four consecutive weeks.  Employees must minimally maintain a twenty-hour work week to remain eligible.  This law has helped Hawaii to have most of its population covered by health insurance.  With a huge part of our population entering their golden years, we face a growing challenge in addressing long term-care demands.  I want to allocate all food and drug general excise taxes to a long-term care insurance program to protect our disproportionately large aging population.

In one of our many conversations, Senator Yoshinaga laughed about how he inserted language in a bill to create the Commission on the Status of Women, which looks out for interests that are important to women.  Coincidentally, in the 2003 Legislative Session, I helped organize legislators to stop Governor Linda Lingle from eliminating the Commission on the Status of Women.  In my career, I created laws that highly impact women such as including in our sexual assault laws “the use of a substance to subject one to sexual penetration” to address the use of rape drugs, and expanding the definition of “harassment” and “harassment by stalking” to include contact through electronic communications.  I have also supported state funding to organizations that help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Senator Yoshinaga started the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the Art in Public Places program which designated one percent of the construction costs of new buildings for the acquisition of works of art, either by commission or purchase that has helped support many local artists.  I have also been supportive of the arts, especially in film, expanding incentives to encourage more film production here with flexibility to allow small budget productions to participate in order to support our local filmmakers and businesses within the film industry.

As my mentor, Senator Yoshinaga gave me advice but never directed me on what to do.  I think he really wanted me to come up with my own decisions.  His words of advice or comments were often short and straight to the point.  For example, in the 2005 Legislative Session, there was a bill that would give labor more flexibility in their break time, however, employers felt it would hamper business operations and increase costs, especially for small and boutique businesses.  I was trying to find a balance on that issue.  Senator Yoshinaga simply told me, “Balance is important.”

Senator Yoshinaga’s last policy advice to me was clear.  He told me that it is very important that we grow our own food and produce our own energy.  He is absolutely right.  So much of our money leaves the state because we buy imported food and energy.  If we want to become an economic power or at the least, become more self-sustainable, we have to grow our own food and produce our own energy.  I will continue to support our agriculture and renewable energy industries by protecting our valuable agricultural lands and maintaining incentives for farming and renewable energy production.  Lastly, with his appreciation in my effort for peace, I will do all I can to reduce violence in Hawaii and the world. 

Symbolically, Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga’s death and life was broadcasted in news mediums throughout the State of Hawaii on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2009 and New Year’s Day, January 1, 2010 as if telling us that he will always be with us in the future.  His work on various laws, programs, buildings, and highways will continue to impact us and many more generations to come.  He will live on through his family, friends and protégés who will continue his legacy.  A true politician never dies and never fades away.  When I close my eyes, I can picture Senator Yoshinaga smiling, and in a loud voice, he says, “Make Hawaii the best place in the world!


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Farewell to the Hawaii House of Representatives

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Farewell Floor Speech (Jon spoke about half of the speech and inserted the entire speech into the House journal)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it has been an honor for me to serve in the Hawaii House of Representatives.  My eight years here has been a great experience.  I have learned so much and met so many wonderful people.  To become a politician is a dream come true for me.  In 1996, I set my goals to make Hawaii and the United States a better place, most of which is the foundation of my political platform today.  That year, I also created my logistical plan to run for the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002.  Leading up to 2002, I served as Vice President of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, participated in community organizations, served on the Pearl City Neighborhood Board, volunteered for political campaigns, and worked for legislators.  After I graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.A. in political science in 1997, I went to Washington State where I graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2001.  I returned back to Hawaii that year and passed the Hawaii State Bar examination and received my law license. 

In 2002, I launched my campaign for the Hawaii House of Representatives, District 41, which encompasses Waipahu and its subdivisions of Waipahu Town, Waikele, Village Park, and Royal Kunia.  I received no endorsements.  One of my opponents was a well-know community leader, and she received most of the union endorsements.  Another opponent, an insurance man, got endorsements from the business trades.  I had the support of my family and my friends, most of which were a bunch of twenty-year-old friends.  These family and friends is still the core of my campaign today.  With only about $13,500, we had a low budget campaign.  I walked my district three times.  Despite the odds that were against us, we won that race.

I was excited to begin my political career in the Hawaii House of Representatives.  Before I met you Mr. Speaker, I had heard about you because of my grandpa Maurice Karamatsu who was really good friends with your father-in-law, Stephen Kotake.  I had heard how my grandpa really liked you because you were humble.  Even with your college degree in education, you worked as a busboy for a restaurant because you were loyal to the company.  As you were my grandpa’s friend, I pledged my loyalty to you.  As soon as I met you, everything felt right. 

When you asked me what committee I wanted to be in.  I responded that I wanted to be in the Economic Development & Business Concerns Committee.  You told me, “No. You should be in Tourism & Culture Committee.  Your grandpa was in tourism.  While at Duty Free, it is your grandpa who helped open the Japan market to Hawaii.”  At that time, the chair of the Tourism & Culture Committee was the representative from Hilo (Representative Jerry L. Chang).  I stumbled here and there as a freshman, but I soon learned from the representative from Hilo.  It was during this time that we divided the tourism marketing contracts by regions of the world instead of one big contract.  I found out that my chair had so many friends not only from Hawaii, but all over the world, especially Taiwan and China.  He was more than a State Representative, but more like that of a United States Senator.  Everybody loved him.  I learned not only how to be a chairman of a committee, but the importance of building friendships.

In one of my early meetings as a freshman legislator, I met the executive director of the Commission of the Status of Women, which was at risk of being eliminated by the newly elected governor.  At the end of the meeting, I committed to help protect the commission from being dissolved.  I organized a letter with the support of the Women’s caucus in the Legislature.  The administration later backed off, thus the commission was saved.  Because of my stance on issues important to women, I was later invited to speak at the Women’s Caucus press conference.  In later years, I introduced bills supported by the caucus.  In 2006, I coordinated a donation drive for the Sex Abuse Treatment Center and got actor Daniel Dae Kim to volunteer and the television show “Lost” to donate their pilot show script that was auctioned off for the cause.

In 2003, I introduced a bill to give local filmmakers a discount at state film facilities.  The state film office decided to give these discounts administratively, and thus, legislative action was no longer needed.  In the second year of my freshman term, I passed a law that required the department of Agriculture to authenticate Ni’ihau shell leis to empower Hawaii Ni’ihau shell lei makers and protect consumers from fraudulent sales using the Ni’ihau shell branding.  I introduced a resolution asking the Department of Accounting and General Services to conduct a study on the cost of maintaining Aloha Stadium versus building a new stadium.  They concluded that renovating the stadium was more cost effective than building a new one.  Also that year, I took an active role to help pass a bill that helped the airport concessionaires in re-negotiating their leases with the state because they were still suffering from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. 

However, I have to admit that I made a freshman mistake when I passed the bill mandating ethics training for state government officials.  Everyone, including the governor and her cabinet had to take this course.  Some government officials were a little irritated.  Looking back, I believe this would be better placed in our House rules.  This year I joked with staff from the Ethics Commission that we should repeal the law and put it into House rules.  They laughed and quietly agreed because that law forces them to work hard at the beginning of every first year of the biennium.   Members, you are welcome to repeal that law.

The 2004 elections were intense.  I was targeted by the Republican Party with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor walking door-to-door in my community with their respective entourages.  I won re-election to the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In 2005, my biggest legislative idea was on creating a Kindergarten to twelfth grade science and technology magnet school to prepare our children for Hawaii’s knowledge-based economy.  Although my bill did not pass, the following year, I was pleased when the governor made innovation in education a priority and we passed a bill that expanded learning in science, technology, engineering, and math for our public schools.  That year, as a Finance Committee member, I was assigned to many conference committees.  I was approached by the representative from upcountry Maui (Representative Kyle Yamashita) and the former Representative from West Kauai, Bertha Kawakami to help them on bills that would be harmful towards business.  I helped both of them to address their concerns but I took a lot of heat from certain chairs.  There was also miscommunication with a senator on another conference.  I got yelled at by all three chairs and heard the finance chair of that time was upset.  I went to Representative Bob Nakasone’s office where I hung out often.  I went out to the balcony and expressed my frustration.  Mr. Speaker, you and Senate President “Bobby” Bunda were sitting on lawn chairs in the dark further down.  You told me to come by where you were and I sat by you on the concrete.  Not too long later, Representative Bob Nakasone came out of his office and sat by me to the right.  With all the pressure, I broke down crying explaining that I was just trying to find balance on bills for our dear friends Representative Bertha Kawakami and the representative from upcountry Maui.  Your words of advice and Representative Nakasone’s presence brought me comfort. 

Mr. Speaker time and time again, you have helped me in some of my toughest challenges.  I remember in 2004, with the support of my closest colleagues, we voted against the majority on a bill that would have negatively impacted research on state land.  You told me, “The State probably didn’t know what happened tonight, but tonight when you go home, you will see how peaceful it is.”

After the 2005 Legislative Session, Representative Ken Hiraki decided to leave the House of Representatives to take a position with Hawaiian Telcom, thus leaving his chairmanship of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee open.  Mr. Speaker, with your appointment of the Representative from Puna (Representative Bob Herkes) to that chairmanship, that left his former post, the chairmanship of the Economic Development & Business Concerns Committee vacant.  I was extremely honored when you gave that position to me.  It was a dream committee because I love that subject matter and it is one of my biggest goals to make Hawaii an economic power per capita.

In 2006, as Chair of the Economic Development & Business Concerns Committee, I went full blast ahead.  I introduced a bill to give tax credits for film production in Hawaii, 15% on Oahu, and 20% on neighbor islands to make Hawaii competitive in the world to attract film projects, especially the huge Hollywood blockbuster movies.  Together with the Representative from Hilo (Representative Jerry L. Chang), who was still Chair of the Tourism & Culture Committee, and the Senator from Makiki, my friend and former boss (Senator Carol Fukunaga), we passed the companion bill into law.  That legislative session, I also passed a bill that expanded the Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research Grants (STTR) to maximize federal matching dollars to help Hawaii’s start-up technology businesses.  I also passed a bill floating $10 million in special purpose revenue bonds for Hoku Scientific, Inc., a local technology and renewable energy company to help build their facility in Kapolei.  Further, I had a bill that included in the sexual assault law, “the use of a substance in subjecting one to a sexual assault” to address the problems of date rape drugs.  My bill was incorporated into an omnibus criminal bill that was passed into law.

That year, as a result of a request by a number of neighbor island representatives, Mr. Speaker, you asked me to help save the County of Hawaii from a looming lawsuit regarding the Hokulia development on marginal agricultural land.  There was a land use bill in my committee carried over from the previous year.  I placed an amendment inserting language that would grandfather the Hokulia development, thus protecting that project from the suit.  Not too long later, the lawsuit was settled.

Mr. Speaker, you came up with the $100 million innovation fund bill, one of the biggest bills of 2006.  This fund was to be used for investments and grants for Hawaii science and technology companies.  You told me to go with it.  Returns in investment would go back into the fund, and I tweaked the bill so that it would always have a corpus to collect interest to help replenish the fund.  During conference, a little before midnight, the deadline for all conference bills, you called me to go to conference room 309.  I was in my office enjoying the evening with my friends.  I told everyone, I had to go.  It was show time.  My staff and a number of my friends followed me out of the office with a good friend of mine filming with a video camera.  We joined my co-chair from the Finance Committee, the Representative from upcountry Maui (Representative Kyle Yamashita).  Our entourage entered room 309, which was extremely packed with so many people overflowing outside up to the railings.  For new members, there was much more people than what you have seen in the past couple of years.  Our counterpart was then Ways & Means Chair, the Senator from Manoa (Senator Brian Taniguchi) and his co-chair was the Senator from Makiki (Senator Carol Fukunaga).  I threw over the House proposal.  Later, the senator threw over a different proposal.  I looked at the senate’s proposal, and then looked at my friend, the Representative from Upcountry Maui.  We had that look, like what is this?  I called a recess.  My co-chair and I exited the back door.  We talked a little in the hallway with little time before the midnight deadline.  I said, “Let’s talk to Pono,” whose office was only feet away.  After all, he was a former Ways and Means staffer and just plain brilliant.  When we entered his office, the Representative from Enchanted Lake and Maunawili (Representative Pono Chong) was sitting on the carpet of his office fixing or doing something.  We looked at him on the ground.  He looked up at us with that surprised look, like what in the world are you guys doing here?  I told him that we’re in conference.   I think he replied sarcastically like, “Uh yeah.”  I told him you need to look at this CD1 and calculate the numbers as quick as you can.  In what seemed like seconds, the representative from Maunawili, Kaneohe explained that the numbers were smaller than what was agreed by Speaker and Senate President.  I grabbed the CD1 and together with the Representative from Upcountry Maui, we went back into the conference room.  The Ways and Means Chair asked us to agree to his proposal.  In front of the crowd trying to listen what we were saying, I told him, “No, we are sticking to the House position.”  Time was ticking; apparently this bill was tied to the streamline use and sales tax bill.  With only minutes left on the clock, the Ways and Means chair, a little disturbed, agreed to go with the House’s position.  We passed the Innovation Fund as well as the streamline sales and use tax bill.  On final reading, the House killed the streamline sales and use tax bill.  In revenge, the Senate killed our innovation fund bill.  Usually when the Senate finished earlier, which is always the case, they would come to the House, and we would recess so we could shake their hands.  However, this time, when the Senate came over they couldn’t get in because Mr. Speaker, you had sergeant-at-arms lock all the House doors.  I had heard that some of the senators were knocking on the door.  Mr. Speaker, I am still not sure if you were upset because our innovation fund bill died or if there were problems with some other bill?  Anyways, looking back, it was a little funny.

Mr. Speaker, at the 2006 Democratic Party of Hawaii Convention, I presented you my typed-out strategy to run for statewide office in 2010.  The only other elected official I shared this plan with was Representative Bob Nakasone.  On the Saturday of that convention you hosted a number of our colleagues to a dinner at a Chinese Restaurant.  We returned back to the convention to socialize the convention delegates.  My friend Wayne Yagi was my driver that night.  As we were leaving, I realized I didn’t have the strategy with me.  I told Wayne that I forgot something important.  He told me that I could look for it tomorrow.  I panicked, “You don’t understand, if someone finds my papers, they will know my whole political strategy for the 2010 elections.”   My strategy was detailed on everything I had to do, month by month.  The next morning I went to the convention really tired.  Mr. Speaker, you and Senate President Bunda was chairing the convention at the time.  You called a recess, walked down the stage and down the long aisle.  You walked right up to me and pulled some papers from your back pocket and told me, “You forgot something.”  It was my strategy for my statewide 2010 campaign. 

For 2007, Mr. Speaker you asked me to be your Vice Speaker of the House.  After much thought, I took your offer and joined your leadership team.  That year, I passed a bill floating $10 million in special purpose revenue bonds for Sopogy, Inc. to develop a solar farm at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in Kona, Hawaii.  This project is currently under construction.  My memorable bill was working with the Hongwanji’s Young Buddhist Association in passing a law recognizing September 21 of each year as Peace Day to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace.  I have chaired the Peace Day Hawaii event for the past three years.

On October 16, 2007, I crashed my car, called the police, and was charged with DUI.  As a result, I stepped down as Vice Speaker of the House.  However, Mr. Speaker, you gave me the opportunity to be Vice Chairman under the Representative of Haiku Valley and Kaneohe, the Chairman of the Water, Land, and Ocean Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs Committee(Representative Ken Ito) who I would eventually declare as the founder of Itoism because of his deep philosophical thought.  As his disciple, I was ready to take on a new realm of laws. 

In 2008, the Representative from Kaneohe (Representative Ken Ito) and I drew our swords and charged.  Together with the other Representative from Hilo (Representative Clift Tsuji), the fighter of Coqui frogs, we passed a monumental bill that created incentives for the important agricultural lands classification, a 1978 constitutional mandate that had been unresolved for thirty years. 

We charged into another battle to resolve another 30-year issue in regards to the 1978 constitutional mandate of funding 20% of ceded lands revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  The Office of Hawaiian Affairs had been suing the State of Hawaii for years saying they are not receiving their share of funds.  We moved a bill requiring the State to convey certain lands and make additional payments to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; however, the Senate did not move on it when it reached them.  Nonetheless, it was a good attempt to resolve the dispute.

Further, in 2008, I passed a bill that required the government to better maintain records to prevent identity theft as was requested by the Identity Theft Task Force that I sat on for two years with the Senator from Makiki (Senator Carol Fukunaga).  In addition, I passed a law prohibiting a towing company from charging the owner of a vehicle hooked up for towing if the owner of the vehicle appears on the scene.  Further, I helped Sopogy, Inc. again by passing a bill floating $35 million in special purpose revenue bonds to help it with the development of a solar farm on Oahu.  Lastly, I was able to get a $1 million appropriation inserted into the budget bill for beach restoration in resort areas that matches private funds.

In the 2008 elections, I was at a low.  I had a talk with Representative Bob Nakasone in his office.  As usual, he asked, “So how’s everything?”  I told him everything was okay.  He told me, “Don’t forget your dream.”  I looked at him and said, “Rep. Nakasone, I don’t know.  I can’t see past tomorrow.”  He stated again, “Jon, don’t forget your dream.”  I looked up to him, smiled, and nodded.  Those were the last words he told me.  He was hardly in his office and I was campaigning like crazy, so we didn’t get a chance to talk to each other again.  Representative Nakasone passed away on December 7, 2008. 

My opponents attacked me on everything including my DUI.  With the help of Calvin Azama, policy adviser of Speaker (Calvin K.Y. Say), who walked my district with me three times, I won the primary election and in the general election, I had the most votes in my career.

Mr. Speaker, I entered 2009, honored to be your new Judiciary Committee Chairman.  After going through some tough challenges, I was back a thousand times stronger.  I introduced a package of bills to help retain doctors and lower medical liability insurance.  I drafted the health information technology bill in hopes to bring all parties together to prepare Hawaii for $10 to $1 federal matching funds available in 2011 that will interconnect the computer networks of all of Hawaii’s health providers.  I created a bill that would protect our prime agricultural lands.  In my goal to protect our public from harm, I passed legislation that created the criminal impersonation law and updated our harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.  I also passed legislation protecting our pet animals by allowing a temporary restraining order be extended to pet animals and ensuring our pet animals are humanely treated when placed in confinement.  Further, I changed the joint and several liability tort laws to help our small professional design companies.

Moreover, I enjoyed working with the Representative from Wahiawa, Chairman of the Finance Committee (Representative Marcus Oshiro) to ensure there was enough funding for the Judiciary Branch despite the bad economy.

This year, 2010, I continued serving as your Judiciary Committee Chairman.  With the economy continuing to be in bad shape, I searched for any cost savings for the State in the Judiciary budget besides cutting costs to programs and positions.  I focused on ensuring there is enough funding for our specialty courts, which has been proven successful in turning individuals’ lives around to be productive citizens rather than abusing illegal drugs or committing crimes, which not only betters our society but saves the state a lot of money.

I also worked to pass the campaign finance bill that reorganizes the existing campaign finance provisions in the campaign finance laws, by dividing long sections into shorter sections with clear titles for quick reference and group laws on one subject together, among other things, and with a few substantive changes such as an inclusion of a new section to provide for transparency and to indicate that the campaign finance laws should be construed to support transparency.

I passed a bill authorizing certified shorthand reporters to administer oaths and affirmations in the performance of their duties as deposition officers without the necessity of being notaries public, which will help make the process faster for this important service in our legal system. 

Another measure I passed revised laws prohibiting the cruel treatment of pet animals by specifying the standards of care that an owner must provide a pet animal, including the type of pet enclosure and under what conditions and when veterinary care must be provided but without affecting animals that are raised for food.

In my term as Judiciary Committee Chairman, there were a number of issues that I worked on that did not pass but went very far in the Legislature, some on the brink of passage.  Although such legislation may not have passed, it stirred discussion throughout the State of Hawaii.  After all, the Legislature is where important issues get an opportunity to at least be discussed.

My career in the Hawaii House of Representatives has been a good one.  I thank the people of Waipahu for giving me the honor to represent them.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for all your love and support.  You have been a great mentor for me.  I want to thank my other mentors, the Representative from Hilo and our Higher Education Chair (Representative Jerry L. Chang) and the late Representative Bob Nakasone.  I have sincere appreciation for my dear friends who provided support for me, the Representative from Kaneohe (Representative Ken Ito) who I shared many humorous conversations, the other Representative from Hilo (Representative Clift Tsuji) who I had many wonderful conversations, and the Representative from West Kauai (Representative Roland Sagum) who I enjoyed hanging out with, which helped me to relieve some of the stress I was going through.  I sincerely appreciate all of your unconditional friendship. 

Thank you to the Vice Speaker (Representative Michael Magaoay), Majority Leader (Representative Blake Oshiro), Majority Floor Leader (Representative Cindy Evans), and Finance Chairman (Representative Marcus Oshiro) for supporting the Speaker and for your open leadership in this institution.  

I also want to say, “mahalo” to the other Representative from Kaneohe, our Majority Whip (Representative Pono Chong) and his partner in crime, the Representative from upcountry Maui (Representative Kyle Yamashita) for all our healthy policy discussions; Representative from Kalihi Valley who made me laugh as we talked about our experiences in politics, especially our experiences with the media; the Representative from Ewa Beach and lower Waipahu (Representative Rida Cabanilla) who has been very loyal to me; Representative from Pearl City-Aiea (Representative K. Mark Takai) who I learned the logistics of campaigning and managing an office; and the rest of the majority caucus, past and present, for and all the great memories.

I also want to thank the minority caucus.  I passed some of your bills too.  I appreciate you bringing some balance in the Legislature. 

I want to send my thanks to several more mentors, Senator Carol Fukunanga for sharing her experience and network with me, the late State Senator Nadao “Najo” Yoshinaga who paved the way for me, and the late Eric Maehara, a great attorney and friend.

I am grateful for all my staff throughout my legislative career.  I also want to thank every person I have worked with in my political career.

I want to especially thank my Dad, Richard Karamatsu, mom, Laraine Karamatsu, younger sister Mia karamatsu, and baby sister Lara Karamatsu for all their love and support.  Thank you to my extended family and friends as well for all their love and support.  I also send my appreciation to all my loved ones who passed away and all my ancestors.    Finally, I appreciate every person who has touched my life.

Mr. Speaker, after we die, some of our names will fade and some of our stories will be forgotten.   However, as politicians who truly love to serve, we will never die.  We live on in the laws we pass, the programs we fund, and the infrastructure we appropriate.  Most importantly, we live on in the souls we’ve touched. 

Thank you.

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Final reading Written Remarks: House Bill 2003, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1, Relating to Campaign Financing

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

House Bill 2003, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1

Relating to Campaign Financing

58th Day; Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I rise in support.

The campaign finance laws, codified in chapter 11, subpart B of part XII, Hawaii Revised Statutes (campaign finance laws), are unorganized, difficult to read, and inconsistent in some areas, due to the numerous amendments that have been made to these laws over the past thirty-seven years.  To address these concerns, the Campaign Spending Commission’s Blue Ribbon Recodification Committee (Committee) reorganized the existing campaign finance provisions in the campaign finance laws, by dividing long sections into shorter sections with clear titles for quick reference and group laws on one subject together, among other things.  The product of the Committee’s work was introduced during the 2009 Regular Legislative Session.  That measure, House Bill 128, Conference Draft 2 (2009), was passed by the 2009 Legislature, but was subsequently vetoed by the Governor. 

The Commission then met with the Governor’s staff to discuss the reasons for the veto.  The Commission submitted testimony earlier to your House and Senate Judiciary Committees, stating that two concerns remained unaddressed after these discussions:  the number of nominees from which to select commissioners, and the exception of competitively bid contracts from the campaign contribution prohibition. 

This measure, and its companion, Senate Bill 2251, were introduced at the Commission’s request during the 2010 Regular Legislative Session.  Both of these companion measures addressed the Governor’s concerns, but also made additional changes and amendments, some of which were substantive rather than simply recodifying and reorganizing the existing campaign finance laws.  During hearings before the House of Representatives, other changes and amendments were made to House Bill 2003; some of these amendments were also substantive, although favorable for the campaign finance laws.

The Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee amended Senate Bill 2251 by replacing its contents with the contents of House Bill 128, Conference Draft 2 (2009), making changes to address the Governor’s remaining concerns with House Bill 128, Conference Draft 2 (2009), and making technical, nonsubstantive changes.  Your House Judiciary Committee did not move Senate Bill 2251, Senate Draft 1 but instead agreed that the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee would move House Bill 2003, House Draft 3.

Accordingly, the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee amended House Bill 2003 by replacing its contents, except as set forth below, with the contents of Senate Bill 2251, S.D. 1.  The exceptions are as follows:

     (1)  Inclusion of a new section to provide for transparency and to indicate that the campaign finance laws should be construed to support transparency;

     (2)  Amendments to the definitions of “contribution” and “other receipts” to exclude loans, so that reporting of loans to candidate committees will be reported as loans rather than as contributions or receipts, lessening confusion between these categories;

     (3)  An amendment to the definition of “election period” to clarify the election period for a special election;

     (4)  Reinsertion of language from existing campaign finance laws regarding the obligation of the Judicial Council to meet and expeditiously select additional persons for the list of nominees whenever the number of the eligible nominees falls below five, as requested by the Chief Justice;

     (5)  Clarification regarding the authority of the Commission to dismiss persons employed by or contracted with the Commission, to emphasize that such authority is discretionary;

     (6)  Insertion of a provision from H.B. No. 2003, H.D. 3, regarding ballot issue committees;

Upon receipt of House Bill 2003, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1 from the Senate, your House Judiciary Committee found technical errors in several sections of the bill that wrongly referenced other sections of the bill.  Our House Majority Staff Office attorneys differed with our House judiciary Committee attorneys when they explained that the errors were substantive rather than technical. 

Your House Judiciary Committee received a letter from the Campaign Spending Commission asking it to pass House Bill 2003, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1.  We informed the Commission of the errors in the measure.  The Commission followed up with a letter stating that they would not enforce the wrong references, thus, current law for those sections would not change and would be enforced as it were prior to these changes.  Your House Judiciary Committee replied with a letter accepting the Commission’s offer to not enforce the several wrong references, and in reliance and consideration of that agreement, your House Judiciary Committee agreed to House Bill 2003, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1.

I want to thank the Campaign Spending Commission, Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, as well as my staff on the House Judiciary Committee for all their hard work.  Thank you.

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Nice meeting you all.

It has been nice meeting about 35,000 of you in the State of Hawaii.

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Let us look at “civil unions” not only legally, but esoterically

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks for the House Journal

House Bill 444, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1

Relating to Civil Unions

Thursday, April 29, 2009

I rise in support.

Since our existence, we as a human race have been very judgmental of others, especially a minority sector of people because of their sex, color of skin, ethnicity, religious beliefs, culture, behavior, and lifestyle.  It is the majority of the people that decides what is acceptable for society, and often times the minority of the people get the short end of the stick.

Our great state and country has come so far in regards to equality and compassion.  In the past, we had laws that discriminated against every type of minority.  We have done so much to correct our wrongful acts by changing our laws to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

However, we still have much work to do in creating equality for all in our great state and country.  In regards to the same-sex community, not all of our laws extend the same rights to them as we do for the heterosexual community.  We as a society want people to take care of each other, rather than harm one another.  This “civil unions” legislation would allow heterosexual couples and same-sex couples to enter into a contract.  A civil union contract is like our marriage agreement under the law in which everything is shared such as tax liabilities, tax incentives, privacy, personal property, real property and children, and when there is dissolution of the partnership, everything shared is divided as equally as possible.  The law protects each partner to be fairly treated.

Keep in mind that we are not only allowing rights, but requiring responsibility on all partnerships.  There are legal liabilities if partners do not care for each other.  Too often, we hear of cheating, domestic violence, sexual abuse, fighting over money and property, and partnering because of financial greed.  Our actions are the real threat to marriage or civil unions.

This “civil unions” bill is a step towards unifying our state and country even further.  We as a society must have love and compassion, rather than anger, hate, and discrimination.  Let us try to eliminate or at least minimize our judgments on what we see physically before us.  We are judging are fellow family, friends, and neighbors because they have a minority lifestyle.  Let us look at this issue not only legally, but esoterically.  Body is nothing more than emptiness and emptiness is nothing more than body.  Rather than just looking at what is before us, let us look deeper and see the souls of others.  One’s soul can radiate love and compassion, or it can radiate hate and discrimination.  Instead of judging others, we need to look within our own soul and better ourselves.  Let us spread love and compassion and provide equality for all.  Thank you.

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Final Reading Written Remarks for the House Journal: House Bill No. 2721, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1, Relating to Court Reporters

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks for the House Journal

House Bill No. 2721, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1

Relating to Court Reporters

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I rise in support of House Bill No. 2721, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1.  The purpose of this measure is to authorize certified shorthand reporters to administer oaths and affirmations in the performance of their duties as deposition officers without the necessity of being notaries public.  This will help make the process faster for this important service in our legal system.

Thank you

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Final reading Written Remarks for the House Journal: House Bill No. 2000, House Draft 2, Senate Draft, Conference Draft 1, Relating to Judiciary Budget

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks for the House Journal

House Bill No. 2000, House Draft 2, Senate Draft, Conference Draft 1

Relating to the Judiciary

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am in favor of House Bill 2000 House Draft 2, Senate Draft 2, Conference Draft 1, which provides the Judiciary with supplemental appropriations and authorizations for its operations and capital improvements for fiscal biennium 2009-2011 by amending the Judiciary Appropriations Act of 2009.

Dramatic reductions of projected State revenue have resulted in a $1,200,000,000 budget gap through the end of the current fiscal biennium.  In response, the Governor restricted fiscal year 2009-2010 executive branch expenditures by an amount equal to 13.85 per cent of payroll and proceeded to reduce the supplemental budget request of executive branch agencies for fiscal year 2010-2011 by a similar percentage.  This amount is based on the projected savings that three furlough days per month would accrue.  Though the Judiciary officially requested that its general fund budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 be maintained at its current appropriation level, a similar reduction to the Judiciary’s budget would be approximately $12,000,000.

To reflect the Judiciary’s two-day per month furlough savings in a manner comparable to that of other state agencies, the Judiciary budget was reduced by a total of $8,000,000 in general funds as calculated by the Department of Budget and Finance.  An additional lump sum reduction of $1,500,000 was imposed to allow the Judiciary to allocate this reduction in accordance with its priorities.  The total reduction, which is significantly smaller than that imposed on most other state agencies, affirms that, on a statewide level, the Legislature has prioritized the core responsibilities of the Judiciary.

Additionally, the Legislature was persuaded by the case made by Judiciary officials and others for specialty courts; that the cost of incarcerating individuals far exceeds that of enrolling them in these programs and that recidivism is markedly decreased for those participating in these programs.  Information provided indicates that the annual cost for 387 adult inmates to participate in the Adult Drug Court is $3,100,000, while the annual cost to incarcerate these same inmates is in excess of $19,600,000 ($139 per day, per inmate or $50,735 per year, per inmate).  Similarly, the annual cost for 68 youth offenders to participate in Juvenile Drug Courts is approximately $1,000,000, while the annual cost to detain these same juveniles is approximately $6,590,000 ($278 per day, per offender, or $101,470 per year, per offender).  Significant savings are also realized under the Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (“HOPE”) program, which costs approximately $1.82 per day, per probationer, versus $139 per day per inmate. 

In acknowledgement of the arguments made and the information provided by the Judiciary, $1,300,000 has been provided for the Judiciary’s specialty courts.  The Legislature will review future data affirming the cost effectiveness of these programs.

In total, this measure appropriates $130,730,624 in general funds and $141,747,129 in all means of financing for the fiscal year 2010-2011 operating budget of the Judiciary.

In 2006, the Legislature appropriated funds for master planning for capital improvements and other physical facilities-related projects for the Judiciary.  This plan is anticipated to be completed during the summer of 2010.  The completion of the master plan will assist the Judiciary, as well as the Legislature, in better understanding the future needs for new facilities and for repair and maintenance projects within the Judiciary’s purview.  Additionally, this information will prove valuable in assessing short- and long-range funding needs, as well as the ability of the Judiciary to execute and complete the work determined necessary under this plan. 

Consequently, given the strained economic climate and the fact that it would be prudent to review the master plan before proceeding with further funding as requested, the Legislature has provided no additional capital improvements program funding to the Judiciary for fiscal year 2011. 

Given the fiscal constraints the State of Hawaii is facing, I am pleased with the supplemental appropriations for the Judiciary, which supports necessary services for the people of Hawaii.

Thank you.

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We can overcome all the negative people in the world

Dear Friends,

I want thank all of you who have shared your positivity with me.  It is your positive energy that makes me feel we can overcome all the negative people in the world.  Together, we can spread compassion and peace.  Not even death will stop us.  I love you all.


Jon Riki Karamatsu

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I wish Compassion and Happiness to All of You

There is so much anger and suffering in the human race.  I wish compassion and happiness to all you.

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Life is fun!

I feel so fortunate to be born and have a chance at life.  I have met so many wonderful people and have gotten to do so many things.  Life is awesome!

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