LaFrance: Energy, economy top issues


Voters are approaching Republican state Senate hopeful Jeff LaFrance to talk mostly about two topics: energy costs and the economy. LaFrance is seeking the nomination to run for the 3rd Senate District.

“We’re sitting on top of a massive amount of geothermal energy,” LaFrance said. “We have solar, we have wave generation. We have natural resources we can take advantage of.”

The private sector, including Hawaii Electric Light Co., needs to step up its investment in renewable energy resources, he added. He doesn’t support more tax incentives for businesses in the industry, because “people are taxed enough.”

Government could play a role by reaching out more to businesses interested in geothermal expansion to encourage them to move forward. Local economic conditions are also a big worry, LaFrance said.

“We’re just not the most business-friendly state in the union,” he said. Texas has a better model for attracting jobs, he said, noting tax breaks that brings businesses to the state. That model decreases how much money the government gets to spend, he said. Other states also have programs for reciprocal business licenses — that is, a professional licensed in one state can practice that job in another. Hawaii doesn’t, and perhaps the state could allow that, which could also improve the business environment here, he said.

“I would like to see some businesses welcomed here so we have jobs for our children who have to leave” for jobs right now, he said.

Overall, the state’s taxes are “plenty high enough,” LaFrance said.

He doesn’t think the general excise tax should be levied on certain items, possibly locally grown farm goods or for doctor’s visits.

If elected, LaFrance said he plans to introduce a bill to create local school boards.

“People have been telling me they would like to have a little more say so in what’s going on,” he said. Decisions now are “based on Oahu. That population is slightly different than the Big Island. We’re the same people, but we live a little differently.”

Bishop Estate should “pony up” more for education as well, he said.

Republican candidates often face significant challenges to get elected in Hawaii, but LaFrance said he has confidence in his ability to be successful.

“I am enthusiastic about a better Hawaii for tomorrow,” he said. “I see that people are unhappy with the status quo. I want to help solve the problem.

“They’re saying they’re not exactly pleased with what is going on.”