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Seeking the Business Vote

Top candidates for governor explain how they would make it easier for businesses to succeed

(page 3 of 3)

What is Hawaii’s best “business-friendly” law? Its worst?

     Photo: Mark Arbeit

Abercrombie: The best law or laws are improvements in procedures to automate the process of creating a business in Hawaii. “The state has made good use of technology to streamline that process from what used to be rife with confusion and frustration.” The most “business-unfriendly” law was the recent effort to “renege” on the high-tech tax credits. “This is not to say that the tax credits were perfect laws. … But when government is undisciplined and unreliable, it sends exactly the wrong signal to the business community and it further damages our business climate.”

Aiona: One of the best business-friendly laws is Act 207, the energy-facilitation law of 2008. The law supports the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals and “establishes a fair procedure with time limits by which permits are either issued or, if not issued, deemed approved.” An example of the worst law is the “card-check” law, which allows unions to organize the employees of a business without conducting a formal, secret vote of all employees.

Hannemann: Act 221 (high-tech tax credits) is illustrative in that it was both the most business-friendly law and the worst. It was the best in its intent to jumpstart the tech industry in Hawaii and in its success in stimulating investments in local technology companies. It was the worst because of all the attempted and actual changes made to Act 221 over the past decade and all the local, national and international negative publicity those changes produced. “The law did not realize its full potential. One of its biggest downfalls was that it did not have the necessary measurement tools built into the original law – raising unanswered questions and controversy.”


Private-sector Experience

Mufi Hannemann regularly points out that he is the only one of the three leading candidates who has significant executive experience in the private sector. In between campaigns for office, he worked with C. Brewer & Co. in Honolulu and on the Big Island. He also notes that he is a former head of the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

But the bulk of Hannemann‘s experience has been in the public sector: working in the White House, in the administration of former Gov. George Ariyoshi, on Honolulu’s City Council and, of course, as mayor.

Abercrombie and Aiona have spent almost their entire careers in public service. Aiona, a lawyer, began as a deputy prosecutor in Honolulu, and then moved to the City Corporation Counsel’s office and later became a Circuit Court judge with experience both in Family Court and in the successful Drug Court. In 1999, he joined a Kailua legal and consulting firm while continuing to serve as a part-time judge. In 2002, he was elected lieutenant governor.

Abercrombie, an academic who received his PhD from the University of Hawaii and has taught at UH and served at almost every level of government in Hawaii, including the state House and Senate, on the Honolulu City Council and briefly in Congress before he was elected full-time to Congress in 1990. While he was earning his college degree, he worked at a number of jobs from teacher to waiter.

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Hawaii Business,September