There are a lot of interesting tech bills to follow during this 2010 legislative session. For example, HB2698: Creates the Hawaii Broadband Commission; or SB2548: Establishes within the Office of the governor a chief information officer and information technology steering committee; or the complete listing of Tech Caucus bills; or you can keep an eye out for SB2405, which proposes to tax online purchases through a national streamlined sales and use tax agreement. With all this activity it is easy to overlook SB2314 a rather simple bill that proposes to allow the video recording of Board Meetings. As the bill states: The purpose of this Act is to clarify that audio and video recordings are permitted at public board meetings. One of the board meetings I used to follow was the Hawaii Broadband Task Force within which I had no problem webcasting. I have heard though in other board meetings, video recordings were not allowed as the current 35 year old Sunshine Law statutes are vague on the allowance of video recording. Therefore, in the interest of good governance and transparency it makes sense to make it clear that video recording of board meetings are permissible. The problem is there is a deadline coming up and this bill hasn't been scheduled to be heard. There is a simple solution to this. All it takes is an email to Judiciary and Government Operations Committee chair Sen. Brian Taniguchi. His email is email@example.com. Just send him an email which simply asks him to schedule SB2314 for a hearing. I just sent mine off.
As the legislature gears up for the 2010 session, the tech community is mobilizing to make the most out of what is to be one of the more difficult law-making years. In order to make up for the $1.2B deficit Gov Lingle is already looking at deferring tax returns, restricting spending and refinancing debt. It is highly unlikely lawmakers will support any tax-credits for the tech industry. Even back in October at the Rebuilding Tech workshop, Senators Fukunaga, Hanabusa and Representative McKelvey predict "programs are being cut, nobody will be giving away money in the form of credits." So what is the tech community going to do? Mobilize for one thing. Jay Fidell, Bill Spencer and a host of others are organizing Crucible 2010: Hammering out Tech Initiatives For the 2010 Legislative Session. For anyone in the tech industry interested in efforts to introduce new bills in this session should attend this workshop being held at the Plaza Club on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 starting at 4:00pm. The program agenda includes:
• WELCOME – JAY FIDELL • STATE OF TECH: JOBS AND SO MUCH MORE – BILL SPENCER (5 minutes) • HAWAII’S FUTURE IN TECHNOLOGY – KEIKI-PUA DANCIL (5 minutes) • THE COALITION WORKGROUP – CAROL FUKUNAGA & ANGUS MCKELVEY (5 minutes) • RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COALITION WORKGROUP (40 minutes) GENERAL FINANCE – DAVID WATUMULL & KARL FOOKS ENABLING ENVIRONMENT – MARK GILBERT & YUKA NAGASHIMA R&D CREDIT – JOHN CHOCK & IAN KITAJIMA RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY – DARREN KIMURA & TED PECK CREATIVE MEDIA – RIC GALINDEZ & NANCY GREKIN • Q & A FROM LEGISLATORS AND INDUSTRY – BOB TOYOFUKU (20 minutes) • CLOSING REMARKS – JAY FIDELL & BILL SPENCER (10 minutes) • 5:30 p.m. LIBATION AND BONDING • 6:30 p.m. PAUThe event is free but you need to RSVP by calling the Hawaii Venture Capital Assoc. at 808-262-7329 or ThinkTech at 808-524-0544. You can also email Bill Spencer or Jay Fidell. In related news Lisa Gibson is stepping down from her post at the Hawaii Science and Technology Council as President/CEO. Keiki-Pua Dancil is replacing Gibson as the new President/CEO. Dancil will be presenting at Crucible 2010 and talk about Hawaii's Future in Technology. I spoke briefly with Gibson who told me "it's time for a change." She wasn't clear what she would be doing now but whatever it is it will be dynamic. We all wish Lisa the best in her future endeavors. For those interested in a primer on the legislative process you might want to check out the Legislative 101 Workshop on Jan. 28th. The program will feature experts from the legislature’s Public Access Room, elected officials, and experienced advocates who will explain the legislative process and share insights on how to participate effectively. Speakers include Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, Jeff Mikulina (Blue Planet Foundation), and Kapua Sproat. The program is free of charge and a good way to understand how to engage in a process that might otherwise look quite daunting. Reserve your seat here.
Jay Fidell's article about how Gov. Lingle led the tech industry to believe that she was going to veto SB 199, the Senate Bill that basically enviscerated Act 221 by neutralizing the 2:1 investment multiplier. The article is a behind the scene account of how there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for a chance at a veto. It's a story of how tech business people are passionate and persistent. And ultimately a story of disappointment. During this legislative session, I was witness to the effort put forth by the tech industry. I know folks who lobbied and wrote testimonials, who spent long hours at the Capitol trying to convince legislators and those who organized the troops to get the message out. This story is not only about a Governor's false promise to the tech industry but about the legislators who crafted this bill and their short sightedness toward Hawaii's economy. I keep hearing about the forces that are fighting against tech in Hawaii. Who wouldn't want to diversify Hawaii's economy, build a base of skilled knowledge workers and create industries that are clean and green. It is hard to imagine Hawaii without a tech industry. The exodus of Hawaii's bright young minds will continue leaving only service industry jobs, a throw back to the plantation days. It will be interesting to see how the tech industry emerges from this. Right now they are licking their wounds, trying to figure out the next move. The tech industry will perservere, perhaps slower as a result of SB 199. The fear is with the fast pace of tech elsewhere can Hawaii keep pace and stay competitive. Next year is an election year for a new Governor. Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona has already come out on several occasions to voice his opposition to Gov. Lingle allowing SB 199 to go into law without a veto. He was also at the recent TechHui Conference this past weekend delivering the opening remarks in support of the tech industry. Is Duke Aiona our choice for the next tech Gov of Hawaii? I have yet to hear a statement from Neil Abercrombie or Mufi Hannemann on the subject. More to come as time is evermore cricial.
Governor Linda Lingle at the joint press conference with the Broadband Task Force announced the formation of the Hawaii Communications Commission. Moving through the House is HB1077: Establishes the Hawaii Communications Commission (HCC) in the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA). Transfers functions relating to telecommunications from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to the HCC. Also transfers functions relating to cable services from DCCA to HCC. The companion bill in the Senate is SB895. A third piece of legislation is HB984: Implements key recommendations of the Hawaii broadband task force by establishing the Hawaii communications commissioner (HCC) in the department of commerce and consumer affairs (DCCA). Transfers functions relating to telecommunications from the public utilities commission to the HCC and functions relating to cable services from DCCA to the HCC. Establishes a work group to develop procedures to streamline state and county broadband regulation, franchising, and permitting and report to the legislature. It will be interesting to see these bills move through this legislature. It seems timely and appropriate to establish this commission especially in light of the Federal Broadband Data Improvement Act signed into law by President Bush.