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HOOSER: Time for an emergency session is now

Heads up to the Governor and State Legislature: Maui must be our top and most urgent priority, but we also cannot sidestep other critical issues, challenges and needs.

What are we waiting for? It’s time now to convene a special legislative session. At the top of the agenda is anything and everything that can be done to support West Maui. We need to get moving on those urgent priorities but we must also deal now with the myriad of other measures left hanging from the 2023 session.

We have to do it all.

The mid to long-term “West Maui agenda” with local residents and local government leading the way, will take time to sort itself out.

In the meantime, the legislature can and should convene a special session and work on the obvious and urgent, while clearing the table for 2024.

To minimize the clutter and craziness that accompanies every regular legislative session, the legislature could and should include in a special session agenda, the putting to bed of all measures that ended 2023 sitting in a Conference Committee.

During such a special session additional hearings can be held, agreements negotiated, bills amended and then signed into law — or voted down. There’s no need to start all of these bills over from the beginning in 2024. Clearing the table of measures that now sit in Conference will both accelerate the State’s overall policy agenda, but also create the space needed to keep Maui priorities front and center — now, into 2024, and beyond.

The tragedy and devastation must not be used as a political excuse to stall, delay, or kill other worthwhile public policy initiatives. Our collective work to move our community forward on many levels must continue — so yes, we must do it all.

Time and money will be the excuses and there’s plenty of both if managed properly. The time crunch can be dealt with utilizing a special legislative session and accelerating/extending/completing the 2023 conference committee process. The money is there, our congressional delegation, our governor, and our state Legislature must aggressively go after it.

Thankfully also, private donors have come forth — from individual small dollar donations, to the genuinely rich and famous, to large philanthropic foundations.

Additional revenue producing measures are available and waiting in the wings for the political will to activate. Increasing the conveyance tax on certain real estate sales, raising the cap on short-term capital gains, and capturing now unrealized income from Real Estate Investment Trusts, are just three of the many tools available that could be used now to bring in more income – with minimal to no impact on the great majority of local residents.

The Green Fee and other innovative income generating ideas must also be implemented now — waiting until May of 2024 to take action is unacceptable.

The unfortunate truth is the rebuilding and recovery process will take years.

The money and the time spent on planning, managing, and implementing the recovery will thus also be spread over the coming years.

There will be an intense focus and flurry of activity which will stabilize into a long and challenging road for all involved.

We as a collective community must not drop the ball or become distracted from supporting our extended ohana in West Maui, but we also must continue taking care of our regular business and urgent needs that exist on every island.

So yes, you/we must indeed do it all. We must collectively as a community step up, work smarter and harder — for Maui and for all.


Gary Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Counci. He presently writes on Hawaii Policy and Politics at
Source: The Garden Island

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