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HHSC Hearing Turns Unruly

March 20, 2015

HHSC Hearing Turns Unruly As Sen. Roz Baker Disrupts Testifiers

Yesterday the Senate Committee on Health, chaired by Sen. Josh Green, and the Committee on Commerce & Consumer Protection, chaired by Sen. Roz Baker, jointly heard H.B. 1075 to privatize the Maui Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.  HGEA members Mary Wagner (Unit 13), Nadine Cho (Unit 9), Joey Savino (Unit 13), Gail Fujimoto (Retiree) and Melanie Fuller (Unit 9), among many other testifiers, provided oral testimony in strong opposition.  Approximately 2,400 additional written testimony was filed in opposition.

Unfortunately, instead of leading an orderly hearing, CPN Chair Roz Baker chose to interrupt testifiers mid-sentence, vehemently shook her head “no” to public opinions she didn’t agree with, and disruptively commented to other Senators while testifiers spoke before her. Click here to see a video message from Unit 13 member Joey Savino.

While we can politely agree to disagree on policy issues, her behavior is unacceptable of an elected official.  Please see Executive Director Randy Perreira’s letter to Senator Baker, below.

The bill passed both Committees, with Senator Brian Taniguchi voting “no,” and is referred to the Committees on Judiciary & Labor and Ways & Means.  We will keep you updated on the status of this impactful legislation.

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An open letter to Senator Baker, from Executive Director Randy Perreira:
March 20, 2015

Senator Baker:

I am deeply aggravated and highly offended by your lack of decorum, constant and rude interruptions, and abrasive and condescending comments to multiple testifiers during the joint hearing before the Senate Committees on Health and Commerce & Consumer Protection yesterday morning.  While we can agree to disagree on policy issues based on merit, your patronizing behavior toward testifiers is strictly unacceptable.  The way you conducted yourself was shameful.

Public hearings are an opportunity for the general public to weigh in on legislation and are a fundamental part of our democratic process.  Your shameless grandstanding lacks basic courtesy and respect, and is not tolerated in any forum, let alone at the State Capitol.  These blatantly rude actions are unbecoming of a Senator and are a disservice to the public, whom you serve.

Being in elected office for 22 years does not grant you impunity and far too many have tolerated your bullying for too long.  I remind you with no uncertainty:  the State Legislature is the People’s House.  While you may currently enjoy the privilege of occupying a seat, you do not own it – it does not belong to you.

Show some respect to the people who put you there, show some integrity to the legislative process, and show some class to the seat you occupy.

The people of Hawai‘i expect more from you – and we deserve so much better.

Randy Perreira
Executive Director

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