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Straight from the Capitol: Post-session update from Coffman

(Editor’s note: Rep. Denny Coffman has responded to the latest version of ‘Straight from the Capitol.’ Contact Coffman at or 586-9605)

– What was biggest victory for the Big Island? Biggest defeat? 

Victory: Emergency funding for accounts payable and additional general funding support for our Hilo and Kona hospitals was a major accomplishment. 

Defeat: Since many state programs for the county are funded through contract services, many of these programs will be reduced in services due to our revenue shortfall.  The same programs on Oahu are supported by staffed state department personnel. 

– What single piece of legislation will have the biggest impact on neighbor isle residents? 

HB1271.  This is an impact fee on oil to help fund agricultural and energy sustainability for the state.  

– What are you most proud of accomplishing this session?  

As the vice chair on the energy and environmental protection committee, we sent 25 good bills to the governor for approval.  Most are very important for our Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. 

– What are you most disappointed about? 

The legislative calendar does not give me or anyone enough time to produce the quality legislation required to move our state forward.  I want to do a better job. 

– Understanding that this is not a real measure of a lawmaker, but how much state money did you secure for your district? 

Key areas are the $15 million to support the mid-level road and the $550,000 to design a new courthouse for the Kona District. 

– What role should union leadership take (or have taken) in helping balance the budget?  

The citizens of the state believe that government is too big, possible corrupt and incompetent.  The unions need to take a leadership role in establishing employee programs that help employees to insure that overtime is necessary, complaints about not having time to do the work is valid and to promote a good work ethic; just showing up for work is not doing your job or covering for someone who is not doing their part must not be acceptable. 

– What issue will pop up again next year? 

Balancing the budget and all of the usual suspects that never seem to be resolved; e.g. healthcare, education, etc. 

– How can constituents help you achieve the things you want to get done? Regarding either new legislation or bills you want to introduce next year? 

I first need to be contacted and hopefully given an e-mail address.  I need a list of their top three issues.  I also need to know if they have a specific piece of legislation that they want and that they are willing to work on.  If I know what is important and how to contact them, I can focus on the important issues and I can include them in the process. 

– Just for fun: Who’s the best dressed lawmaker? Who’s the most articulate lawmaker? Which lawmaker would bring the best potluck dish to a Memorial Day barbecue? 

Best dressed: Scott Nishimoto, District 21

Most articulate:  Blake Oshiro, District 33

Best potluck dish: Marilyn Lee, District 38 

– Are you planning any legislature update meetings in your district? 

General meetings every month. Group specific meetings on going. Meetings in Honolulu almost every week in support of Big Island issues.

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