Hawaii House Moves Hundreds of Bills Over to Senate

Among the measures that passed their final vote in the House are several bills that are focused on sustainability, improving the environment, revitalizing our economy and improving the quality of life for Hawaii’s citizens.


“As we hit the half way point of this legislative session the House of Representatives is committed to exploring avenues that provide for less dependence on outside sources for food and energy and provide for the protection of our environment for future generations,” said House Speaker Joe Souki.

  • HB858 HD1 RELATING TO THE HI GROWTH INITIATIVE Appropriates funds to the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation for the HI Growth Initiative, an investment program to develop an ecosystem to support high-growth entrepreneurial companies in the State. Part of the Governor’s New Day Plan, the bill hopes to reinvigorate state efforts to fuel an innovation economy and advance research innovation and commercialization.
  • HB1419 HD2 RELATING TO THE PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTER FOR EXPLORATION SYSTEMS Appropriates funds to support the development and expansion of Hawaii’s aerospace and related industries to Hawaii. The funding will capitalize upon Hawaii Island’s lunar-like terrain to build aerospace technology research and development park industries. Supplemental funding will be provided to help attract aerospace technology and corporations that will create new high paying technology-related jobs.
  • HB497 HD3 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY Amends the tax credit for renewable energy technologies to encourage development in solar and wind energy technologies while reducing the revenue impact to the state by ramping down the percentage of the credits over the next five years.
  • HB338 HD2 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST A SEAWATER AIR CONDITIONING PROJECT IN WAIKIKI Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds for Kaiuli Energy LLC for the planning, design, and construction of its seawater air conditioning district cooling system to serve Waikiki and nearby areas on the island of Oahu.
  • HB70 HD2 RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Deletes the repeal of the High Technology Innovation Corporation that would have taken effect on June 30, 2013. The High Technology Innovation Corporation (HTIC) was created by the Hawaii State Legislature as a 501(c)(3) public not-for-profit corporate body, to facilitate the growth and development of the commercial high technology industry in Hawaii.
  • HB1188 HD1 RELATING TO THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY POVERTY REDUCTION TASK FORCE Establishes the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force to assess state policies and practices that promote economic opportunity and poverty reduction and to develop a plan to expand economic opportunities in Hawaii to reduce, by at least 50 percent by 2021, the number of Hawaii residents living in poverty.
  • HB96 HD2 RELATING TO FARMS Creates an income tax exemption for family farms, family farm communities, and family farm cooperatives.
  • HB1263 HD2 RELATING TO IRRIGATION Appropriates funds and authorizes the Director of Finance to issue general obligation bonds to finance improvements to various irrigation systems.
  • HB1264 HD2 RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL LOANS Expands the Department of Agriculture Agricultural Loan Program to provide loans for infrastructure, infrastructure improvements, the implementation of new farming techniques, and biosecurity projects.
  • HB487 HD2 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE Expands the livestock feed subsidy to include feed for certain goats, sheep, lambs, fish and crustaceans.
  • HB799 HD3 RELATING TO CREATIVE MEDIA DEVELOPMENT Establishes a Workforce Development Training Program that provides wage reimbursement for on-the-job training by entities who receive a Motion Picture, Digital Media, Television, and Film Production Tax Credit. Deletes internet-only distribution exclusion for advertising; clarifies definitions of qualified production costs; and extends the sunset date of the tax credit.  Appropriates funds for the Training Program.
  • HB111 HD2 RELATING TO SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE BUILDING CODE Authorizes the use of certain land, subject to county approval and oversight, for research, development, and testing of sustainable agriculture, development, waste management, and resource management through planned community use. This Act will create a doorway through the current limitations of traditional codes to support the development of more sustainable methods of living, allowing greater implementation of county and state sustainable living policies.
  • HB174 HD2 RELATING TO FOOD LABELING Imposes labeling requirements and import restrictions on imported genetically engineered produce.  Authorizes labeling of non-genetically engineered food and creates a private right of action to enjoin violations.
  • HB486 HD1 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE Appropriates funds for implementation and operation of the Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs to educate and support youth in agriculture careers as administered by the University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
  • HB505 HD2 RELATING TO GREENWAYS Appropriates funds for the Office of Planning to contract for up to two years with a consultant to develop a plan for the establishment and implementation of a statewide greenways system which includes trails, greenways, bike routes, parks, and other projects.
  • HB508 HD2 RELATING TO THE PROCUREMENT CODE Amends the Hawaii public procurement code to create exemptions for state agencies to procure locally produced agricultural commodities to promote food sustainability and self-sufficiency.
  • HB710 HD1 RELATING TO FISHPONDS Requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Health, and Office of Planning to streamline the permitting process and facilitate the restoration of Hawaiian fishponds. Also requires DLNR to submit a report of findings and recommendations.
  • HB734 HD1 RELATING TO THE PROTECTION OF TARO LANDS Amends public lands classifications to add taro lands as a fourth class of agricultural lands to improve protections for taro lands. The bill will require the retention of supporting structures for taro fields and add growth of all traditional Hawaiian crops to agricultural planning objectives.
  • HB749 HD2 RELATING TO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Appropriates funds to establish the Hawaii Agriculture Workforce Advisory Board to promote economically competitive activities that increase Hawaii’s agricultural self-sufficiency, attractiveness, and opportunities for an agricultural workforce and livelihood.
  • HB856 HD2 RELATING TO GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE Establishes a regulatory financing structure that authorizes the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to provide low-cost loans for green infrastructure equipment to achieve measurable cost savings and achieve Hawaii’s clean energy goals.
  • HB1330 HD1 RELATING TO THE DIVISION OF CONSERVATION AND RESOURCES ENFORCEMENT Restores funding cuts taken over the last four years to the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, Department of Land and Natural Resources. The budget cut has reduced or eliminated non-essential services and limited work hours for officers and the restoration of funding will allow for renewed protection of the state’s natural resources.
  • HB1483 HD2 RELATING TO THE HAWAII HEALTH SYSTEMS CORPORTATION Establishes a task force to study, among other things, the feasibility of allowing the operations of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation regional systems and their facilities to transition into public-private partnership status.
  • HB1028 HD2 RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT Raises the minimum wage to $9.00 incrementally over the next years. Provides unemployment insurance relief for businesses.
  • HB1132 HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS STATEMENTS Requires a legislator to file a disclosure of financial interests statement with the State Ethics Commission between January 1 and January 31 annually.
  • HB865 HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOL REDEVELOPMENT Establishes a framework for the Department of Education to facilitate public-private partnerships to develop or redevelop public school lands in order to generate income to improve public school facilities so that our children can learn in twenty-first century schools.
  • HB7 HD2 RELATING TO THE ELDERLY Creates the Hawaii Kupuna Trust Fund, comprising public and private funding, to strengthen care for the elderly and vulnerable populations by the awarding of grants.
  • HB276 HD2 RELATING TO THE SENIOR RESIDENCE AT PIIKOI, OAHU Authorizes the Director of Finance to issue general obligation bonds for the construction of the Senior Residence at Piikoi, an affordable senior rental housing project on Oahu.
  • HB196 HD1 RELATING TO VETERANS TREATMENT COURT Appropriates funds for positions to support a Veterans Treatment Court in the First Circuit that can better respond to the unique needs of veterans entering the criminal justice system with mental illness and substance abuse issues arising from their service to our country.
  • HB158 HD3 RELATING TO TUITION ASSISTANCE Broadens the scope of tuition assistance to Hawaii National Guard members working toward a degree on any campus of the University of Hawaii system with priority given under specified conditions.
  • HB411 HD2 RELATING TO HOSPITAL EMERGENCY COMPASSIONATE CARE FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS Adds new provisions to Hawaii law to ensure that female sexual assault victims are provided with medically and factually accurate and unbiased information about and access to emergency contraception when receiving emergency medical care at Hawaii’s hospitals.
  • HB245 HD1 RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Prohibits landlords from terminating the tenancy of a tenant based solely on the tenant’s status as a victim of domestic abuse with certain exceptions and provides protection for the landlord against civil claims that might arise out of the landlord’s compliance with the law.
  • HB535 HD2 RELATING TO HOMELESS PROGRAMS Authorizes the designation of temporary nighttime parking lots in each county to provide safe overnight parking for homeless individuals who live and sleep in their motor vehicles and who would otherwise park overnight on public or private roads or property.
  • HB198 HD2 RELATING TO ABSENTEE VOTING Requires the absentee ballot for a voter requesting permanent absentee status to be mailed to the mailing address contained on the voter’s most recently completed affidavit on application for voter registration, unless the voter submits a temporary mailing authorization in writing for the absentee ballot to be temporarily mailed to a different address.
  • HB321 HD1 RELATING TO ELECTIONS Provides a process for voter registration on election day at polling places to encourage greater voter participation.
  • HB114 HD3 RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION Requires the Administrator of the State Procurement Office, rather than the University of Hawaii President, to serve as Chief Procurement Officer for the University of Hawaii for construction contracts and professional services related to construction contracts. Establishes an Independent Audit Committee within the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii.
  • HB980 HD2 RELATING TO HIGHWAY SAFETY Creates a statute that prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle in the State and establishes penalties. Having a State law that uniformly covers all the counties also makes Hawaii eligible for Federal funding.
  • HB873 HD2 RELATING TO THE YOUNG ADULT VOLUNTARY FOSTER CARE ACT Supports Hawaii’s youth in foster care by establishing the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Program that will extend foster care services to provide care and supervision of eligible foster youth until their twenty-first birthday.
  • HB1298 HD1 RELATING TO TAXATION Provides a nonrefundable income tax credit at fifty per cent of qualified wages for the first six months for a taxpayer who hires a developmentally, intellectually, or physically disabled individual.


Sen. Ruderman Presents Hawaii Invasive Species Council MVP Award to Hawaii Cattleman’s Association

On Monday, March 4th, 2013, the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council held their awards ceremony at the Hawai‘i State Capitol Auditorium. Senator Russell Ruderman presented the Hawai‘i County MVP Award to Dr. Tim Richards of the Hawai‘i Cattleman’s Association.

Sen. Ruderman presenting Tim Richards of the Hawai'i Cattleman's Association with the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, Hawaii County MVP 2013 Award for their tireless efforts in eradicating fireweed from the Hawai'i.

Sen. Ruderman presenting Tim Richards of the Hawai’i Cattleman’s Association with the Hawai’i Invasive Species Council, Hawaii County MVP 2013 Award for their tireless efforts in eradicating fireweed from the Hawai’i.

The Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Council has been a critical partner in the development and release of a moth from Madagascar (Secusio extensa) as a biocontrol agent to control invasive fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis). Fireweed is very toxic to livestock and and its rapid spread across the Big Island and Maui across Hawai‘i Island and Maui, outcompeting other plants. Over a decade of study by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture went into ensuring that the moth from Madagascar would feed only on fireweed and not on other plants in Hawai‘i.

The Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Council helped the bio-control through the federal approval process to be released as a bio-control agent earlier this year. Now that the moth is being released, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and the Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Council anticipate that the moth will slow the spread of fireweed, limiting its environmental and economic impacts.

Sen. Russell Ruderman said, “I would like to congratulate Dr. Tim Richards and the Hawai‘i Cattleman’s Association on their MVP award from the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council. As anyone on the Big Island knows, we have been inundated by many invasive species over the years.

Fireweed Plant

Fireweed Plant

Fireweed, the red mangrove, and the coqui frog represent three of the most potentially devastating invaders we have seen in recent memory. The work of the Cattleman’s Association in the containment of fireweed has been monumental in forwarding the process of finding an acceptable biocontrol agent thatr will not negatively impact our ecosystem.”

Honorable mentions were Malama O Puna and Tim Tunison for their work on red mangrove eradication and control of the coqui frog, respectively.

Lead by Rene Siracusa, Mālama O Puna is a grassroots environmental non-profit based in Lower Puna. The organization’s invasive species programs are coordinated by Dr. Ann Kobsa, who has overseen a number of challenging projects. Mālama O Puna began working to remove red mangrove from Wai ‘Opae in 2005, which lead to federal funding for the organization to explore removal from four other sites with the goal of island-wide eradication. Mālama O Puna has also tackled miconia, clidemia, pickleweed, and other difficult species. It is due to the tireless efforts of Rene, Ann, and the staff and volunteers with Mālama O Puna, that Hawai‘i Island is well on its way to being mangrove-free and its native ecosystems are more secure.

Retired from his position at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Tim Tunison still continues to be involved in restoration of forests and control of invasive species. Tim has organized a coqui control program based in Volcano called The Coquistadors and has created a manual for the mechanical and chemical control of invasive plants on Kilauea. Tim has made a substantially positive impact on the Volcano community and the surrounding environment of Kilauea.

Sen. Ruderman added, “I would also like to extend my congratulations and heartfelt thank you to Malama o Puna, and Tim Tunison . They have both contributed significantly to the saving of our native species and economy from irreparable harm. Their efforts have made meaningful impacts in protecting our fragile ecosystems and native species while minimizing the negative environmental and economical impacts to our island and state.”

Navy Submarine USS Olympia Returns to Pearl Harbor

Friends and families of the crew from USS Olympia (SSN 717) gathered at the submarine piers to welcome back the Los Angeles-class submarine as she returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific region, March 4.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (March 4, 2013) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) approaches the pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as she returns from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. Attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces; carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations, and engage in mine warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor/Released)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (March 4, 2013) The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) approaches the pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as she returns from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. Attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces; carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations, and engage in mine warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor/Released)

“Olympia accomplished national tasking, theater tasking, and security cooperation events throughout the 7th Fleet area, and enhanced continued relations with our allies overseas,” said Cmdr. Michael J. Boone, Olympia’s commanding officer.

Boone said the submarine crew worked around the clock applying months of preparations and workups into mission accomplishment. The range of the missions offered a broad aspect for training and development, creating experienced Sailors across all mission areas.

“The hard work and determination from the crew of Olympia these past seven months developed a camaraderie that is second to none. We are returning to Pearl Harbor as a more experienced and capable unit,” said Boone.

During the deployment, two officers and 21 enlisted Sailors earned their designation as qualified in submarines and now wear their dolphin warfare insignia.

Boone added the crew was able to get time off to experience the diverse cultures in Yokosuka, Japan; Subic Bay, Philippines; Guam, and Singapore. While in a few of these foreign ports, foreign dignitaries and ambassadors toured the submarine.

When the deployment was finally complete, the crew came home to a waiting crowd of smiling family and friends at the pier.

“I am estatic, it’s been such a long time! The best thing is just to hold my husband and have him home.” said Beecee Hall, an Olympia spouse.

USS Olympia is the second ship named after Olympia, Wash. Commissioned Nov. 17, 1984, Olympia is the 29th ship of the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines. The submarine is 362-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons and can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.


Volunteers Sought to Restore Historic Halema‘uma‘u Trail

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has launched a new “Stewardship at the Summit” volunteer project to restore native Hawaiian forest surrounding one of the park’s most historic and beloved trails, Halema‘uma‘u Trail.

Halema'uma'u from the summit. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Halema’uma’u from the summit. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

The dates and times for March are Thurs., Mar. 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Fri., Mar. 15 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and Sat., Mar. 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet Stewardship at the Summit project leaders Paul and Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, raingear, garden gloves, day pack, snacks and water. Tools will be provided. No advance registration is required, and there is no cost to participate, but park entrance fees apply.

The Fields, who are volunteers, have removed countless Himalayan ginger, faya, strawberry guava, and other invasive non-native plants that threaten the native understory alongside Halema‘uma‘u Trail.

Paul and Jane Field, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park volunteers, on Halema'uma'u Trail

Paul and Jane Field, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park volunteers, on Halema’uma’u Trail

“It is an inspiring and heartwarming sight to see once-shaded ‘ama‘u and hāpu‘u tree ferns emerge, and the seed banks of pa‘iniu, kāwa‘u, and other vital, native plants return to the rainforest on this beautiful trail,” said Park Ranger Adrian Boone. “We truly appreciate the selfless, valuable efforts the Fields and all volunteers make on behalf of the national park,” he said.

Halema‘uma‘u Trail has been used since 1864, when guests at the newly established Volcano House hotel used it to hike into Kīlauea Caldera. A section leading across the caldera floor to Halema‘uma‘u Crater is closed, but much of the trail remains open and it is one of the park’s most treasured hikes for visitors and residents alike.



Bill for Publicly Funded Elections Advances

Advocates for campaign finance reform were pleased today when the House of Representatives passed House Bill 1481, a law that would modernize Hawaii’s outdated partial public funding program for elections.  The measure passed with three legislators voting “no”.

The original public funding program was implemented during the 1978 Constitutional Convention, but has become ineffective over time.  In the 2012 election cycle, only one house candidate used the the funds.  Advocates in favor of house bill 1481 say it is now time to upgrade the old program.

“Delegates in 1978 fought hard to implement this important program, and we owe it to them to modernize it to make it useful once again”, said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii, a non-partisan non profit organization working to pass the bill.

Representative Chris Lee (D – 51, Lanikai, Waimanalo), a supporter of the bill added “this is a first big step toward limiting the influence of money and special interest influence in our political process.”

In 2008, Voter Owned Hawaii led and effort to implement a similar program for Big Island County elections.  That program ran in the 2010 and 2012 elections and was largely deemed successful.  Currently, five out of nine councilors on the Big Island were elected without accepting money from special interests.

According to Payne, the program is intended to serve taxpayers.  “Special interests donate to politicians to get a return on their investment, and right now they’ve cornered the market on elections and the public is not invited to the party.  Publicly funded elections will save taxpayer money by allowing politicians to make decisions based upon what’s best for the people instead of campaign donors,” he said.

Forty-eight out of fifty-one legislators voted in favor of HB 1481, and Richard Fale, Marcus Oshiro, and Sharon Har voted “no”.