Disagreement, Exemptions Marked 2012 Ledge

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

It wasn't all that long ago that the state Senate would join the state House of Representatives on the floor of the House to sing "Hawaii Aloha."

No matter how difficult the legislative battles, all 76 members joined in one voice to belt out the local standard beloved classic. I seem to recall Sen. Mike Gabbard accompanying his colleagues on guitar.

Late Thursday afternoon, as the House finally adjourned, there was no "Hawaii Aloha."

There hasn't been for a couple of sessions now, because, it's said, of lingering hard feelings between House leadership and dissident Democrats and between the two chambers.

Lawmakers accomplished a lot this session, including a top priority to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Gov. Neil Abercrombie scored some major legislative success, too. You can read about that in press releases from the Senate and the governor.

On the House floor the final day, Speaker Calvin Say said the accomplishments were due to "a spirit of cooperation" between the executive and legislative branches.

One should not minimize those accomplishments.

But two themes also stood out during the 2012 session — disagreement and exemption.

Disagreement — quite strong at times — between the House and Senate, between House Democrats and House Republicans, and between House leadership and dissidents.

And a slew of exemptions in bills that would bypass existing law in spite of the objections of many.

Not to stretch the analogy, but one might say lawmakers have made an exemption to singing "Hawaii Aloha" because of continuing disagreements.

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