elections

Teachers rally for more education funding.

It’s been a long couple of weeks. I sit here on this Thursday morning, sipping my coffee and contemplating the 2019 legislative session. On this last day of session, I thought it would be good if I shared some of my reflections with you.

It’s a bad-news, good-news situation. And while, in my humble opinion, the bad far outweighs the good, there are shiny spots and reasons for hope.

The Bad

On an almost unprecedented scale and in spectacular fashion, our elected officials failed. They failed to move the state forward on critical issues relating to climate change, public education, cost of living, homelessness, or affordable housing.

While childish quibbling and petty fighting is standard fare at the Legislature, our elected “leaders” out-did themselves. Ego-bruising and score-settling seemed to be the primary motivators this year. Well… except for outrageous efforts to further enrich the ruling elite.

House Bill 1586 was clearly a priority and appropriates $350 million for a new stadium on Oahu. But I’ll come back to this in a moment.

And as I’ve written about a couple of times (here and here), our elected officials were nearly united in their allegiance to their paymaster Alexander and Baldwin (A&B) to ensure it could continue to steal water at obscene rates and avoid a $62 million contract penalty payout. In the wake of the devastation left by the legislature’s insistence on House Bill 1326 House Draft 2 was nearly every bill tackling sea level rise climate change. So while they paid lip service to their commitment to tackling climate change and its impact in Hawaii, our leaders did little more than pose for photo ops and pat themselves on the back for their edge-nibbling efforts.

I’m also sad (though not really surprised) to say that in a legislature with a Democratic super-majority the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s legislative agenda landed with a deafening thud. Among the Party’s failed priorities was a desperately needed raise for minimum wage workers. Lacking any political will and deferring to business interests, House Bill 1191 died unceremoniously on the last day of conference. I also wrote about that effort….

Finally, in a spectacular display of guilt-tripping and arm twisting, the Senate approved a measure to tax illegal vacation rentals. Let me say that again.

The legislature approved a measure, Senate Bill 1292, which taxes illegal vacation rentals. It doesn’t stop them or in any way regulate them. It simply taxes them. So, in a shameless effort to add $42 million to the state coffers, the legislature ignored pleas from communities infected with short-term rentals and their effect on our affordable housing crisis. They ignored calls for support from county governments for help regulating them and simply grabbed $42 million.

When challenged, those Senators who supported the bill threatened funding for good stuff. Rather than list them here, I encourage you to take a look at the Civil Beat article that shines a light on their mean-spirited efforts. And nowhere, not once, was the new stadium’s $350 million mentioned as an option for closing the gap. We certainly wouldn’t want development interests to take a hit.

The Good

In a cup otherwise brimming with disappointment, there are some bright spots worthy of mention.

Bail reform and cannabis decriminalization both passed this year. Senate Bill 192 “authorizes the court to release a defendant in custody on unsecured bail.” Essentially, if you’re arrested you might be able to sign a promissory note committing you will show up for your court date, or owe the bail amount. This is a big step forward in broader criminal justice reform efforts. Bail reform was a priority for the Democratic Party of Hawaii and while it submitted testimony, I want to applaud and congratulate those who worked hard on this issue.

“Double-bucks” also passed this session. Senate Bill 390 provides “a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase Hawaii-grown produce.” This is good for local farmers and good for those families who rely on SNAP for financial assistance.

And finally, the “water theft” bill (HB1326, mentioned above) appears to have gone the way of the Dodo, at least for now. Despite rumors to the contrary, no effort was made during yesterday’s session to revive this terrible and galling measure.

In a rarely seen herculean effort, environmental activists, community organizers, and progressive movement leaders came together to defeat the big bad A&B in a true David-vs-Goliath fashion. Working together to share facts, educate Senators, and push back against one of the most powerful corporations in Hawaii, this collection of individuals did what many thought would have been impossible.

I consider the role I played in this fight as a minor one. But I am proud to have been a part and help as I could. I am so impressed with the passion and commitment the advocates had for this issue. They. We’re. Tireless.

And they won the day.

So, What’s Next?

In a word, elections.

In two words, primary elections.

Sadly and frustratingly, too many of our elected officials have stopped representing the people. In service to their reelections, they chase corporate and development dollars leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves. Far too often this means fleeing the state for cheaper and easier pastures.

The time has long since passed when we need to stand up and challenge those long-serving Democrats who have forgotten where their allegiances should lie.

Efforts are beginning to develop a strategy for the 2020 primaries. Identifying viable and hard-working candidates who share a vision of Hawaii for its working people, not for those in luxury high-rise ivory towers.

If you want a better Hawaii for you, your family, your children and all the under-represented in our island home, join me. Join us.

Donate to the Initiative for a Pono Hawaii PAC. There is no online donation system yet, but we hope soon to have that remedied. In the meantime, you can send checks to:

Initiative for a Pono Hawaii
P.O. Box 38182
Honolulu, HI 96837

And if you would like to receive updates from me on our collective efforts and other political updates, please subscribe to my email list. And share this widely with your friends and networks.

It’s time to take the fight to them.

Read more

Aloha Maui Democrats!

My name is Josh Frost and I am the Co-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Legislation Committee. My Co-Chair Zahava Zaidoff, on the big island, and I have been working hard this session along with our committee members to advocate for the priority list which was approved by the State Central Committee last fall.

Before I begin my report on the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Legislative Priorities, I want to take a moment to thank Chair Lara for the invitation and opportunity to address your convention today. And I want to thank all the Maui Democrats in the room for helping to make the Party strong across the state.

For those of you who may not know about the Legislation Committee, its mandate, or the process we used for choosing the Party’s Priorities, let me first take a quick minute to share it with you.

The DPH Legislation Committee

The Legislation Committee is one of the Standing Committees named in our Party’s Constitution and Bylaws. Under the guidance of the State Central Committee, we are tasked with working to translate our Platform and Resolutions into legislation passed into law.

Starting last fall, the Legislation Committee began our process by reviewing all the resolutions that were approved by the State Convention in 2018. Committee members were given the opportunity to select a handful of resolutions which they wanted to potentially prioritize for the Party and on which they were willing to take the lead. Then the committee came together to discuss all the selected resolutions and begin to decide how to prioritize them. Which we wanted to propose and which, for whatever reason, we wanted to pass on this year.

Our process was collaborative and while some conversations may have been contentious, in the end, we all came together to agree and made our recommendations to the State Central Committee.

Those priorities, which were categorized into three tiers, were ultimately approved and they are as follows:

TIER ONE

Minimum Wage/Living Wage
Increased Funding for Public Education
Recreational Cannabis Legalization

TIER TWO

Graduate Assistants Union
Veterans’ Treatment Court
Remote Testimony for Neighbor Islands
Single-Payer Health Care

TIER THREE

Increased Access to Behavioral Health
Criminal Justice Reform/Bail Reform
Publicly Funded Elections

The Update: Part I, The Overview

It was an ambitious agenda, especially given our Committee’s limited capacity.

Some issues, such as Veteran’s Treatment Court and Single Payer Health Care, died relatively quickly, as either no bills were introduced, or no hearings were scheduled on these issues.

Any substantive funding increase for public education also eventually fell by the wayside, as did recreational cannabis legalization.

Other issues, like Graduate Assistant Union Organizing and Remote Testimony, and Publicly Funding Elections made it further but ultimately died in or shortly before Conference. Here I’d like to take a moment to recognize Donna Domingo and the ILWU for their hard work and support for the Graduate Assistants. Thank you.

Part II: Where We Succeeded

As I stand here and report to you today, only two of our priorities are poised to arrive or have already arrived, on the Governor’s Desk following the Legislature’s adjournment on Thursday, May 2.

On Bail Reform: I can happily report that Senate Bill 192 Relating to Bail has cleared the conference hurdle. Criminal Justice advocates, whose lead we followed, supported this bill which ultimately lowers substantially the bail threshold and allows for unsecured bail for certain defendants by allowing them to sign a promissory note saying they will pay the bail amount if they don’t show up for their court date.

House Bill 1552 Relating to Public Safety is also a positive development, as it codifies some of the Pretrial Task Force recommendations and establishes a Criminal Justice Research Institute housed within the Judiciary.

There were many bills introduced to address the dire need for increased access to mental health services in our communities, particularly on the neighbor islands. Among them included funding for drug treatment, parity for behavioral health conditions through insurance, suicide prevention training, expanding residential mental health services, and more.

Unfortunately, precious few of those measures remain alive today and those that are are not likely to affect any real change in the short term. However, on a more positive note, House Bill 330 Relating to Suicide Prevention, which appropriates $150,000 to fund suicide prevention initiatives is now sitting on the Governor’s desk.

As a party, we will continue working during the interim and beyond with legislators and the public to raise awareness and build grassroots momentum to address this issue.

Part III: Our Greatest Disappointment

I’m am sorry to inform you that our Party’s top priority, increasing the minimum wage, failed yesterday to clear its conference committee.

House Bill 1191 Relating to Minimum Wage, which would have raised the State Minimum Wage to $15 an hour by 2024 was deferred indefinitely. While I hesitate to place blame on specific legislators, that this bill failed to advance is a colossal disappointment. While in other jurisdictions with Democratic majorities, $15 Minimum Wage bills are advancing across the country. In Hawaii, our Democratic Super-Majority legislature cautiously nodded toward business interests rather than giving minimum wage workers the raises they desperately need just to scrape by.

Part IV: The Water Bill

Relatively late into this year’s legislative session, at the request of the Legislation Committee, our State Central Committee voted unanimously to support efforts to put a stop to House Bill 1326 Relating to Water Rights. We followed the lead of those water protectors already in the fight to push back against Alexander and Baldwin and legislative leadership. Prepared to accept a compromise which ensured small farmers, ranchers, and energy utilities would continue to have necessary access public streams, we support the Senate Draft offered by Big Island Senator Kai Kahele. I want to applaud Senator Kahele for his work on this important issue and express my own disappointment with those Senators who refused to advance that reasonable compromise.

I will share with you that rumors persist that efforts are afoot to revive the egregious House Draft 2, which would extend Act 126 from 2016 for another seven years and provides no guidance or enforcement upon the Department of Land and Natural Resources to resolve the issue in a timely fashion. On behalf of the Party, I continue to work with our allies on this issue to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Conclusions & Lessons

In conclusion, let me say this; as a Co-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Legislation Committee and member of our State Central Committee, I am sorry we could not do more to advance our Party’s priorities which would have provided relief on a number of fronts to the most vulnerable among us.

It is clear there is a wide gap between the goals and values expressed in our platform and resolutions and the votes of many of our Democratic legislators. Neither the legislature nor the Party is doing a good job in bridging that divide to address the many serious challenges Hawaii residents face.

All of us in this room today hold the Democratic Party of Hawaii close to our hearts as an instrument for positive change for the working people of Hawaii. We need to do better at holding our elected officials accountable. And we need to do better to uplift them when they prove themselves true champions of our platform.

We all can and must do better.

Mahalo and Aloha.

Read more

Blacklisted, by Jen Sorensen

Beretania Consulting Begins

I officially started my own consulting firm early in 2018. At the time, I had a stable job, but one that was growing less fulfilling by the week. Then, by a stroke of luck, I was approached by a candidate. One that I not only knew personally but one for which I have an enormous amount of respect. And so I went to manage a progressive campaign for Kim Coco Iwamoto, who was running for Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor.

Though we were ultimately unsuccessful in our primary bid, the experience, while stressful and challenging, was also tremendously rewarding and educational.

In the wake of that campaign, I went forth looking for more work while I finished my Masters’ Degree in Political Management from George Washington University.

Eventually, I found a couple of clients and continued my work as a political consultant. I’ve joined the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).

Choosing Clients & Clients Choosing You

For me, there’s no doubt that this work is a two-way street. Yes, I have to make a living and that means working for clients. But I also have the ability to choose the kind of work that I do, and for whom I do it.

I know consultants and lobbyists who take any client that walks through their doors. If the price is right, they’re for hire. There are others, including myself, who are discerning about for whom they work and which issues they choose to champion.

In much the same way there are defense attorneys that really seek to defend the wrongly accused, so too are there consultants who really want their work to be meaningful and fulfilling. Then, of course, there are those who seek only riches. They’ll defend anyone. Similarly, some consultants don’t care who their clients are, their motivation is little more than a big paycheck.

DCCC Blacklist

In the wake of recent news reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is blacklisting any consultant who has worked for a Democratic primary challenger, I’ve found myself outraged.

Even before this most recent insulting stance, I’ve never been interested in working for the DNC, or any of its national partners (DCCC, DSCC, etc.).

They’re threatening the livelihoods of a lot of people. And doing so to protect themselves, their friends, and a political establishment uninterested in challenges or change. So be it.

Say ‘NO’ to the DCCC

The AAPC is the professional association for people like me and according to their own website:

the AAPC is a multi-partisan organization of political and public affairs professionals dedicated to improving democracy.

“Dedicated to improving democracy”. And yet the DCCC seems less interested in improving democracy as it does protecting its members from other Democrats. We saw the DNC do this during the 2016 Presidential Election. How do you think that worked out for them?

And so…. While the DCCC flexes its muscles to force political consultants to sign with them exclusively, forever and always, I’m calling on AAPC members across the country to take a stand.

Yes, I’m relatively new to this profession and this organization. But what the DCCC is attempting is nothing less than financial coercion. They’re asking us to abandon the principles of our profession for power and profit. Surely there will be some of us who will succumb. Either out of financial necessity (kids gotta eat, mortgages gotta be paid), or blind obedience, some will quietly go along.

I WILL work to defeat incumbents who I believe have become too comfortable and familiar with blind power and ambition. I WILL defy the DCCC blacklist and endeavor to work with candidates who are truly inspiring and hungry for real change.

As the young and poor and underrepresented stand up against a system that has abandoned them, I will choose to stand beside them. Together we will work to fix the American Democracy stopped working quite some time ago.

I’m hoping, though, that as a group, as a profession we can stand up, push back and say “hell no”. I hope you will join us.

Boycott the DCCC.

Read more

Senator Kai Kahele holds A&B executive Vice President Meredith Ching to the fire.

In my capacity as the Legislation Committee Co-Chair for the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I urged the State Central Committee to support efforts to oppose HB1326 in all its potential forms. I urge you to do the same. Call, email your State Senators and tell them to oppose all efforts to pass the bill.

Where The Power Lies

Lobbyists and savvy activists alike will tell you it’s a lot easier to kill a bill than to pass a bill. You can look at the history of any number of issues to see this is true. Emergency room contraception took something like 20 years to pass. The same is true for marriage equality, aid in dying, and likely too many others to name here.

The structure and machinations of the Legislature are arguably designed with this intent in mind. It could be argued this is a good thing from a thoughtful, neutral perspective. But in practice what it often means, at least here in Hawaii, is good legislation that benefits the public dies quiet deaths in the shadows of committee dockets. Running parallel are bad bills that either does little to benefit the public good or are outright corporate giveaways and such.

And so it is the case with the (in)famous “water bill”. Environmentalists, economic justice advocates, Native Hawaiians, and progressive activists (hereafter referred to collectively as “the champions”) have been united in their vile hatred of this bill. After weeks and months of hard fought battles, they finally breathed a sigh of relief and gasped a celebratory cheer this past Thursday. HB1326 HD2 appeared to have finally been disposed of. But evil has a way of fighting its way back.

What The Hell is This All About?

To better understand the “water bill” and why the issue has so many good and otherwise gentle people wanting to pull their hair out and scream, some background information is necessary.

For a long, long time (think decades, at least) the big and powerful landowner Alexander and Baldwin (A&B) has been diverting obscene and hard-to-imagine (let alone quantify) amounts of water from public streams. In order to take public water, the law requires that one must receive a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). In lieu of these long-term leases, one can apply for a short-term Revokable Permit which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. These Revokable Permits are meant to be limited and temporary permits. They allow entities to take water while they take the necessary steps to apply for and receive a long-term permit.

Well, for decades both DLNR and A&B have been in cahoots to side-step or, more accurately, completely and utterly ignore the law which requires long-term leases. For far too many years, A&B has failed to apply for a long-term lease and DNLR has refused to require them to do so. Though communities around Hawaii had tried for a long time to make this happen, A&B’s money and influence had protected them. Until….

A lawsuit brought by community members and organizations and argued by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and Earth Justice led, in 2016, to a Circuit Court ruling which said A&B’s Revokable Permits are invalid. They would need to go through the long-term permit application process if they wanted to regain access to water from public streams.

In a panic and eager to return to business as usual, A&B called their friends at the State Legislature to remedy the situation.

House Bill 2501

In 2016, we saw the first “water bill” move through the Legislature. HB2501 extended A&B’s ability to operate under short-term Revokable Permits for three more years while they worked to acquire long-term permits. As we are seeing this year, back in 2016, the champions went nuts. They had been given a victory by the courts only to see their elected officials, once again, being called to heel at the foot of A&B. Despite overwhelming opposition from the community, HB2501 was signed into law by Governor Ige as ACT 126.

The bill was sold as necessary to protect the “small farmers and ranchers” who would be devastated by a lack of protection from losing their own Revokable Permits. Never mind the fact they were never in jeopardy, A&B and their loyal subjects paraded out these hapless bystanders as the real victims; shields protecting A&B from the spotlight. The champions were assured; “this is a one-off measure to give A&B and the DLNR three years to put their houses in order.” And so… we waited. Hoping against hope that the powerful A&B and their lapdogs, DLNR and the Legislature, would hold to their word.

Set to expire at the end of 2019, ACT 126 gave these bad actors three years to sort their shit out. But alas, we know now how this story was intended to play out. It would seem no one really intended to follow the law and A&B continues to divert water from public streams with impunity.

In The Meantime….

In late 2018, A&B sold more than 40,000 acres of agricultural land to the entity Mahi Pono for $262 million. The new landowner has been making the rounds on Maui. They’re confidently telling residents and activists that they intend to cultivate the land to the benefit of Hawaii. Only time will tell and their involvement in the “water bill” fight has been mostly behind the scenes. They certainly don’t appear to be operating thus far for Hawaii’s benefits.

House Bill 1326: The Lie Laid Bare

How can we really know the true intent of (at least some) legislators? Simple. HB1326, as originally introduced by Representative Ryan Yamane, extended the sunset of ACT 126 indefinitely, essentially codifying permanently into Hawaii law A&B’s ability to take water with no oversight, no accountability, and no regret.

As a “concession” the Hawaii House of Representatives amended HB1326 from an unlimited extension down to a mere seven years. Some may see this as a sign of compromise and reasonable intent from the House. The champions see it for what it is; a green light for A&B and DLNR to continue to shirk the law for nearly another decade.

Through the course of this fight, the champions began looking at the land sale contract between Mahi Pono and A&B. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a provision was included in the contract that stipulates A&B will owe Mahi Pono $62 million if A&B cannot secure “access for collection and transmission of surface water from state-owned lands in East Maui”.

Incensed and betrayed, the champions sounded the call to action. By the time HB1326 made its way to the Hawaii Senate, the fix was in; House leaders wanted the bill passed quickly and unamended. They wanted the Governor’s signature on the measure ASAP and were prepared for a fast veto override vote before the end of the 2019 Regular Session.

The Senate, taking a sobering approach to the task at hand, held the bill for a time before scheduling a hearing before a joint Committees on Water Land and Ways and Means.

Senator Kai Kahele, Chair of the Water Land Committee proposed a reasonable compromise: a seven-year extension for those honorable “small farmers and ranchers,” but excluding A&B entirely. After a six-hour public hearing, members of the Water Land Committee voted 3-2 to support Senator Kahele’s Proposed SD1. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Senators on the Ways and Means Committee, led by their Chair Donovan Dela Cruz, deferred indefinitely the bill. And so it died in committee.

Or so thought the champions….

Corporate Influence in The Square Building Knows No Bounds

Within mere hours of HB1326’s death in committee, rumors and rumblings began spreading about efforts to pull the bill from the Committees’ grasp and out to the Senate Floor where the full body would take action on the House version. House and Senate Leadership, showing where their true allegiances lay, are moving to protect A&B from the law once again.

And so here we are today. Our elected officials, loyalty-bound not to their oaths, their constituents, or their conscience, but to their corporate masters are showing their true colors.

The champions have sounded the call. So too am I writing this for their benefit, and the benefit of Hawaii.

Call your State Senator. Tell them to stand with the people of Hawaii. To stand with the champions who fight tirelessly to what’s right. Call and tell them to cast off the shackles that bind them to their corporate masters. Remind them of their oaths to protect and defend the Hawaii State Constitution. Remind them they serve the voters who elected them to serve.

Politics is too often a dirty and bloody game. In my own time, I’ve seen too much bad shit and not enough good. I will be outraged if this bill becomes law. But I will always be humbled and honored to have been able to work with the magnificent champions who have been fighting for justice on this issue for years. Join us.

 

Featured Image by Lauryn Rego @ Cartoon Court Report 2019 – Thanks Lauryn!
Read more

Who Are the Real Freeloaders, workers or corporations?

Are Hawaii Democrats Too Friendly With the Chamber?

I think it is fair to say that in no other state, county, city or jurisdiction in which Democrats comprise the legislative majority does the Chamber of Commerce have such unprecedented influence and access as they do here in the Aloha State.

There seems to be a running track record of Hawaii legislators (the vast majority of whom are Democrats) following the lead (following the direction?) of business interests generally and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii specifically.

Though the business community constantly complains about how hard it is to do business in Hawaii, they certainly aren’t having trouble having their concerns addressed at the legislature.

The Chamber is Not Looking Out for Hawaii

If it’s bad for business or, perhaps more accurately, if it’s perceived to be bad for business, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii will oppose it.

More stringent environmental regulation in the face of climate change and see level rise? The Chamber hates it. Increased protections for workers? The Chamber questions its necessity. Increase the minimum wage to reduce poverty in Hawaii? The Chamber will tell you to do so would be the end of the world.

But they are liars. They are lying to the press. They are lying to the public. They are lying to their members and they are lying to legislators.

If stepped-up in manageable increments, increases to the minimum wage is good for workers. It’s good for the economy generally. Oh, and by the way, it’s good for businesses. But the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii will tell you how all that is false. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii will lie right to your face, hoping to scare you just enough to oppose it.

So, how exactly are they lying? Let’s look at the facts. (Don’t tell the Chamber; they hate facts).

Increasing the Minimum Wage Doesn’t Cause Job Losses

In 2014, after a two-year battle, the Democratically-controlled Legislature finally acquiesced to increasing the state minimum wage from $7.25. On January 1 of each year following, through 2018, the minimum wage increased to its current rate of $10.10. In each year since that increase, the unemployment rate in Hawaii has dropped to historic lows.

So, despite claims of catastrophe from the Chamber of skyrocketing unemployment, it didn’t happen. Not only did the local rates drop, but they remained below the national unemployment rate. Did the Chamber with all their money and research simply get it wrong? Or did they know the likely outcome and opted for fear-mongering instead of facts? You can make up your own mind.

Increasing the Minimum Wage Doesn’t Force Business Closures

The above mentioned unemployment rate suggests there wasn’t a mad rash of business closures during the time period in which minimum wage workers were seeing more money in their paychecks.

While the State doesn’t appear to track the rate at which businesses open or close, there is at least anecdotal evidence businesses weren’t shuttering their shops left and right. In fact, from my experience, there are more small businesses, more restaurants that opened for business during the same four year period as the minimum wage increased.

Did some businesses close? Almost certainly. But there is zero evidence to suggest those closures were a direct result of minimum wage increases. Even if there were some businesses who were forced to close because of the minimum wage increase, there is no denying they were the exceptions, not the rule.

Smart Increases to the Minimum Wage Don’t Substantially Contribute to Inflation

There is no one thing that causes inflation. I’m no economist, but as I understand it, there is a complex web of market forces that contribute to increases in inflation.

When the costs for businesses go up, so too do their prices often go up. But the cost of a cheeseburger isn’t going to go up significantly. Any business who says their prices will double, or triple, is simply lying. Or they’re actually terrible managers whose businesses aren’t long for this world anyway.

I know of one little breakfast/lunch shop in downtown that posted a sign notifying customers that the increase in their prices was a direct result of the minimum wage increase. You know what? That business is still open. And thriving. So, while you may see a small increase in prices as your favorite shop, restaurant, or coffee shop, that increase isn’t likely to break your wallet. Or force the business to close.

More recently, we have heard the talking point that raising the minimum wage will “increase the cost of living” in Hawaii. This is just another way to describe inflation….

Once again, the fear tactics of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii fall flat in the face of facts and experience.

Question Democrats Who Parrot The Chamber Talking Points

Those points listed above are just a few of the issues the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii raises when railing against any increase in the minimum wage. And though there are more, others I haven’t highlighted are no more based in reality than those I touched on above.

With a bias that leans more “pro-business” than “pro-worker,” too many of Hawaii’s Democrats are accepting wholesale the Chamber’s talking points. Or, they’re hedging their bets, worried that the Chamber and the broader business community will not support them for reelection. But I’m not aware of a single elected official who has lost a reelection because they supported a raise for working people.

So, when you hear your elected official (if you’re in Hawaii, odds are they’re a Democrat), be sure you tell them to stop buying the lies the Chamber is selling. Tell them raising the minimum wage is good for you, for your family. Tell Democrats that increasing the minimum wage is good for Hawaii. Tell them to stand courageously against the Chamber of Commerce and side-by-side with the working people of Hawaii.

Read more