Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting Labor, Big Island Initiatives

A number of the bills passed by the House and now referred to Senate committees were introduced by Representative Mark Nakashima, District 1 (Hamakua, North Hilo, Rural South Hilo). This year, Nakashima has the added responsibility of serving as Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment.

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“Under the leadership of House Speaker Joseph Souki, I am privileged to serve as Chair of Labor and Public Employment, which has jurisdiction on many critical issues impacting our families including the minimum wage, sick leave, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and collective bargaining, said Nakashima.

Nakashima said he was pleased these measures were approved by the House and added, “I also am continuing my efforts to create a more self-sufficient Hawaii. Since my election to the House in 2008, I have supported a platform that includes energy self-sufficiency, agricultural sustainability, and economic independence.”

Listed below are several key bills on labor, energy self sufficiency, and economic independence introduced and supported by Representative Nakashima:

  • HB 1028 HD2 that spreads out the increase in the minimum wage across three years instead of immediately spiking up $1.50 on January 1, 2014. Unemployment premium relief was also extended to allow businesses to more fully recover.
  • HB 152 HD1, which would increase the fee reimbursement schedule to 130% of Medicare resource base to encourage doctors to take workers compensation patients.
  • HB 435 HD1would establish the Office of Talent Management within the Department of Human Resources Development to design and facilitate state initiatives in the areas of talent administration, professional development, performance management, and leadership enterprise. The measure authorizes the talent management administrator to receive from any state agency services, facilities, and the data necessary.

Related to energy self-sufficiency:

  • HB 450 HD1 would require the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) to establish a hydrogen fueling station demonstration project in qualifying counties. The hydrogen will be produced from renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal. This will further develop the capability of Hawaii Island as well as the State to utilize renewable energy for ground transportation in addition to generating electricity.

Related to agricultural sustainability:

  • HB 749 would establish the Hawaii Agriculture Workforce Advisory Board, which would help support the local agricultural industry by securing the employment pipeline from school to farm. This would be achieved through support of school gardening programs, the Future Farmers’ of America, and Agriculture teacher in service training.
  • HB 414 HD2 would establish a Waipio Valley Commission to advise the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on the development of a long term plan to ensure the proper stewardship and maintenance of Waipio Valley. The bill also appropriates funds to implement a stream maintenance program recommended by the Mauna Kea Soil and Water Conservation Service.

Related to economic independence:

  • HB 750 HD2 seeks to create the Hawaii Island Technology Exchange Institute. To be successful in the twenty-first century global economy, Hawaii must position itself as a leader in science and technology, in particular, technology development, transfer, and commercialization. HB750 will establish the Hawaii Island Technology Exchange Institute at the University of Hawaii at Hilo through a collaboration between UH Hilo and Hawaii Community College.
  • HB 417 HD2 seeks to address the shortage of primary care providers and improve access to healthcare in general by appropriating funds for the interdisciplinary Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program at Hilo Medical Center by funding the medical residency program and allied medical support services training.

A final, but very significant measure, HCR 42, was passed by both the House and the Senate.

  • HCR 42 requesting the Department of Transportation to designate, when appropriate, Route 200 on the Island of Hawaii as the Daniel K. Inouye Legacy Highway. In honor of the decades of dedicated service, sacrifice and leadership demonstrated by Senator Daniel K. Inouye, we propose naming Route 200, or Saddle Road, on Hawaii Island in the Senator’s name. The resolution passed and is now awaiting action by the Senate.

Hawaii House Honors Merrie Monarch Festival 50th Anniversary – Tickets Sold Out

On Friday the House honored the Merrie Monarch on the historic occasion of its 50th Anniversary.  In the early 1960s the late Helene Hale, along with George Naope and Gene Wilhelm created the Merrie Monarch as a way to attract tourists after a devastating tidal wave and resulting economic downturn. In 1968, the late “Auntie Dottie” Thompson became the Executive Director and inspired by King David Kalakaua’s example brought the best hula dancers throughout the islands to perform in Hilo.

Photo from the Merrie Monarch Site

Photo from the Merrie Monarch Site

Since then the festival has grown to include a parade, art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations and performances as well as the hula competition, and has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance. The Merrie Monarch festival was a cornerstone of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s and continues to be a catalyst to draw together those committed to the hula and the advancement of the Hawaiian culture.

Photos from the Merrie Monarch site

Photos from the Merrie Monarch site

“Auntie Dottie’s” daughter, Luana Kawelu, current President of the Merrie Monarch Festival, was presented a resolution on the House floor in celebration of this momentous occasion.

Tickets to the 50th Anniversary Merrie Monarch have been sold out:

The Merrie Monarch Festival announced that all tickets are sold out for the 2013 Hōʻike, Miss Aloha Hula, Hula Kahiko and Hula ʻAuana shows.  Due to the overwhelming volume of requests for tickets, many of you did not receive tickets this year.  We send our aloha to you, and appreciate your support of the festival.  We wish that everyone could have gotten a ticket.

There is a waiting list for returned tickets.  But not many are expected, because of the high demand for the 50th year celebration.

Please watch the KFVE-5 television programs on April 3rd through 6th, including the entire hula competition and the special Wednesday preview, “Backstage:  Live at the Merrie Monarch”.  Live streaming will be on kfve.com.  Videos and daily photo updates on merriemonarch.com.

 

Sharks and Manta Rays Receive Protection Under CITES

Sharks and manta rays have received protection today under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES member nations, referred to as “Parties,” voted to increase protections for five species of sharks as well as two species of manta rays. Leading up to and during this meeting, the United States has worked with a coalition of countries committed to gaining support for these proposals—Brazil, Colombia, the European Union, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Comoros, and Egypt, among others.

White Tip

A White Tip Shark.  Photo by US FWS

“We are extremely pleased that CITES member nations have given greater protections to these commercially exploited marine species,” said Bryan Arroyo, head of the U.S. delegation to the treaty’s 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Bangkok. “Through the cooperation of the global community, we can begin addressing the threats posed by unsustainable global trade in shark fins and other parts and products of shark and ray species.”

A proposal submitted by Colombia, and co-sponsored by the United States and Brazil, to list oceanic whitetip sharks in Appendix II was adopted in a secret ballot vote with 92 in support, 42 opposed and 8 abstentions. The United States jointly submitted this proposal due to concerns that over-exploitation for the international fin trade is negatively impacting the population status of this shark species.

In addition to oceanic whitetip sharks, proposals to increase protection for three species of hammerhead sharks –  scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead; porbeagle sharks; and manta rays were adopted by the Parties. The United States strongly supported these marine species proposals and commends the leadership of the countries responsible for their submission.

A Manta Ray. Photo by US FSW

A Manta Ray. Photo by US FSW

“Sharks and manta rays are extremely important to the ocean ecosystems,” said Sam Rauch, of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The global protection that CITES offers these incredible species will complement existing international shark protection measures by ensuring their trade is sustainable and does not threaten their survival. We are thrilled these important shark and ray proposals were adopted and applaud the leadership of the many countries that helped us get there.”

Today’s decisions could be reconsidered later this week, when the Parties hold a decision-making session to finalize recommendations made throughout the week. “Populations of these species are in severe decline, primarily due to commercial exploitation. The science supports these listings,” said Arroyo. “We are confident that the CITES Parties will uphold these decisions.”

Sharks are over-harvested in many parts of the world, primarily for their fins. Most shark fins are exported to Asia, where they are a main ingredient in shark fin soup, which is considered a delicacy in many Asian countries. Due to their low productivity and high economic value, populations of these shark species have suffered severe declines. Porbeagle sharks also face pressures due to demand for their meat, while manta rays are over-harvested for their gill plates.

While some regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have adopted measures to manage sharks, these regional measures alone cannot ensure the international trade of this species is globally sustainable. Not all range countries are members of RFMOs and many marine species that are traded internationally swim long distances, often crossing national boundaries. For these species, conservation can only be achieved by working collaboratively with other nations.

Today’s votes place the five shark species and all manta rays in Appendix II of CITES – an action that means increased protection, but still allows legal and sustainable trade. Listing commercially-exploited marine species, especially those taken on the high sea, in the CITES Appendices has been a highly polarized and much debated issue at recent Conferences of the Parties, in part because the provisions for marine species taken on the high seas were open to interpretation. Earlier in this meeting, the Parties passed a resolution clarifying CITES implementation for marine species taken on the high seas, termed “Introduction from the Sea.” The Introduction from the Sea provisions provide CITES Parties with a clear, comprehensive framework for implementation of listings of species taken on the high seas and CITES is well-positioned to assist in securing the future of our fishery resources.

CITES is an international agreement initiated in 1973 and is currently signed by 178 countries regulating global trade in imperiled wild animals and plants including their parts and products. A meeting of the Conference of the Parties is held every 2-3 years to review, discuss, and negotiate changes in the management and control of trade in the various wildlife species covered by the agreement.

Species protected by CITES are included in one of three appendices. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection, including restrictions on commercial trade. Appendix II includes species that, although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. Changes to Appendices I and II must be proposed at a CoP and agreed to by a two-thirds majority of the Parties present and voting. In contrast, listings to Appendix III can be requested by individual Parties at any time. Appendix III includes species protected by at least one country that needs assistance from other Parties to control trade.

For additional information about the many marine proposals discussed at CoP16, visit the U.S. CoP16 Marine Issues webpage at http://www.fws.gov/international/cites/cop16/marine-issues.html.

 

Halema‘uma‘u Eruption Reaches Five-Year Anniversary

Kīlauea Volcano’s summit eruption within Halema‘uma‘u Crater marks its fifth year of continuous activity on Tues., Mar. 19.

Park Ranger Dean Gallagher engages visitors with a “Life on the Edge” talk, held daily at the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

Park Ranger Dean Gallagher engages visitors with a “Life on the Edge” talk, held daily at the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo

To commemorate this anniversary, rangers at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will offer additional “Life on the Edge” talks at the Jaggar Museum observation deck, which overlooks the fuming, enlarging summit vent. The 20-minute talks, offered on Mar. 19 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., encompass the dramatic geological and mythological history of Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

Kīlauea’s summit vent opened at 2:58 a.m., HST, on Mar. 19, 2008, when an explosive eruption created a gaping hole about 115 feet wide on the south wall of Halema‘uma‘u Crater.  Nighttime glow from this hole suggested the presence of molten lava, but it wasn’t until six months later that a lake of roiling lava deep within the vent was definitively observed by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists.

With the opening of the Halema‘uma‘u vent, already-high summit sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emission rates increased even more, resulting in increased vog (volcanic air pollution) downwind.  Although the summit SO2 emissions have declined since 2008, they are still averaging 800-1200 tonnes/day, creating hazardous conditions along closed sections of the park’s Crater Rim Drive and poor air quality farther downwind of the vent.

Since 2008, rock collapses within the vent have enlarged its opening on the floor of Halema‘uma‘u Crater.  The vent is now about 520 feet by 700 feet (the area of about 21 Olympic-sized pools), and, according to HVO Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua, is likely to continue growing through further collapses of overhung sections of the vent rim.

Halemaumau then and now1

Kīlauea Volcano’s summit vent  “then and now.”  In April 2008, a month after it opened, the vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater was about 115 feet in diameter.  As of March 2013, it is more than 500 feet across. USGS photos.

Halemaumau then and now2

Kauahikaua describes the lava within the vent as a continuously circulating gas-rich “foam” that rises and falls depending on changes in Kīlauea’s subsurface magma pressure.  The lava lake reached its highest level to date on Oct. 26, 2012, when the lava surface rose to within 72 feet of the vent rim.

While the actual lava lake is not visible from safe viewing areas, its glow—the diffusion of incandescent lava light within the gas plume rising from the vent—is spectacular and easily observed from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park overlooks on clear nights.  When the lava lake level is especially high, park visitors can sometimes hear sharp sounds as rocks in the vent wall expand and crack due to the increased heat.

“The amazing beauty of this eruption, and the ease of viewing opportunities within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, provides both visitors and residents with unforgettable experiences,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Where else in the world can you park your car, and walk just a few feet to behold the spectacle of one of the world’s most active volcanoes?”

Jaggar Museum and the overlook are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. Other vantage points for viewing Halema‘uma‘u within the park include Kīlauea Overlook, Kīlauea Iki Overlook, and Keanakako‘i Overlook.

The summit eruption, Kīlauea’s second longest since the early 1900s, can also be experienced through photos, videos, and webcam images posted on HVO’s website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov).  A USGS Fact Sheet about this ongoing eruption is currently in press, and will be available online in the coming months.

 

Facebook Chefs Vying at Keauhou Poke Contest

WHAT: Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest

WHERE: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay

WHEN: Sunday, March 17, 2013

WHO:

  • Facebook Executive Chef Josef Desimone competes in the Celebrity Cookoff 11:30 a.m. on the Bay View Lawn
  • Facebook chefs Ezekiel Duru, Tim Wong and Maui native Wade Tamura vie in contest’s Professional Division. Poke contest judging starts 10 a.m. in the Ainakai Restaurant. Awards and tasting at 12:30 p.m.

Other activities: All-day Hawai‘i Island Marketplace; a demonstration on making tropical libations by mixologist Joey Gotteman of Young’s Market at 10:30 a.m. and a demo on “How to Make Poke by Sam Choy” at 1:30 p.m. Hawaiian music by Kapala of O’ahu.

Sam Choy Poke Contest 374

Public admission to all contest activities is $5 at the door (keiki 8-and-under are free) and benefits “The Heart of the Campus-Equip the Kitchens Campaign” for the future Hawaii Community College-Palamanui campus. A free trolley operates from Keauhou Shopping Center (pickup near Longs Drugs) from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 15-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Investment Corporation, Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Aloha Shoyu, Hawaiian Springs Water, Suisan Company, Ltd., BMW of Hawaii, Bacardi, Young’s Market, Roberts Hawaii, Sun Dried Specialties, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Fresh Island Fish and KTA Superstores.

 

 

Hawaii Part of Google Street View Settlement

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced today that Hawaii joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in a $7 million settlement with Internet giant Google over its collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide while taking photographs for its Street View service between 2008 and March 2010.

Wanna Street View Race?

Wanna Street View Race?

Google’s Street View cars were equipped with antennae and open-source software that the company acknowledged collected network identification information for use in future geolocation services. At the same time, Google collected and stored data frames and other “payload data” being transmitted over those unsecured business and personal wireless networks.

While Google represented it was unaware the payload data was being collected, the agreement of voluntary compliance it signed with the states acknowledged that the information may have included URLS of requested Web pages, partial or complete email communications, and any confidential or private information being transmitted to or from the network user while the Street View cars were driving by.

“This hard-fought settlement was the result of nearly two years of negotiations,” said Bruce Kim, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection. “It is a fair resolution of the states’ complaints and it recognizes the privacy rights of individuals whose information was collected without their consent.”

Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $106,179.

Google has since disabled or removed the equipment and software used to collect the payload data from its Street View vehicles and agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.

The information collected was segregated and secured, and under terms of the agreement, will be destroyed as soon as legally practicable. Further, Google agreed that the payload data was not used, and will not be used, in any product or service, and that the information collected in the United States was not disclosed to a third party.

The Google Street View Car inside Wailoa State Park

The Google Street View Car inside Wailoa State Park

Other key elements of the agreement require Google to run an employee training program about privacy and confidentiality of user data and continue the program for at least 10 years. It must also conduct a public service advertising campaign to help educate consumers about steps they may take to better secure their personal information while using wireless networks.

The executive committee that negotiated the settlement included the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas. Connecticut was the lead state.

Other states participating in the settlement are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Lisa Tong, a senior attorney in the Office of Consumer Protection, represented the State in the investigation.

View the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance on the OCP website: http://hawaii.gov/dcca/ocp/news-releases

 

 

Hilton to Operate Three Waldorf Astoria Resorts – Maui Grand Wailea Resort One of Them

GIC Real Estate, the real estate arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), has completed its purchase of three landmark resorts managed by the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brand of Hilton Worldwide. They are: the 740-room Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, Phoenix, Ariz.; the 780-room Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, Hawaii; and the 796-room La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta, Calif.

The Grand Wailea in Maui

The Grand Wailea in Maui

The transition of ownership will have no impact on the day to day operations of the properties as GIC has assumed the existing management agreements for all three Waldorf Astoria properties. California-based, KSL Group will act as asset manager for the three resorts and will work closely with GIC and Hilton Worldwide to ensure that the luxury properties continue their legacy of offering guests True Waldorf Service and authentic moments set amidst the inspirational environments for which the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brand is legendary.

The Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort has been an Arizona landmark since opening in 1929, when it was crowned the “Jewel of the Desert.” The Grand Dame remains one of the most recognized resorts in the world for its distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright architectural style, luxurious facilities and storied history as a playground of the rich and famous. Nestled on 39 acres at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the legendary resort offers: 740 guest accommodations; full-service spa, salon and fitness center; two 18-hole golf courses; six restaurants and lounges including Frank & Albert’s serving Arizona comfort food; and eight swimming pools including the Paradise Pool for the ultimate in poolside fun. For more information call 800-950-0086 or visit www.arizonabiltmore.com

Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort is the only Waldorf Astoria Resort in the Hawaiian Islands. Nestled on 40 acres of lush, tropical gardens fronting Wailea Beach, Grand Wailea offers open spaces for the active vacationer, beauty for romantic getaways and fun for the whole family. Built to portray the richness of Hawaii’s culture, people and nature, Grand Wailea is the ultimate Hawaiian resort providing an extensive selection of amenities and activities. Since opening in 1991, Grand Wailea consistently ranks among the world’s best resorts by leading travel consumer reports and industry peers. For more information, call 800.232.4604 or visit www.grandwailea.com.

La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort and PGA WEST is a renowned desert destination in the greater Palm Springs area featuring 796 elegantly-appointed casitas, suite and villas; the 23,000-square-foot Spa La Quinta®; 41 swimming pools and 53 hot spas; 23 tennis courts and exceptional cuisine at Morgan’s in the desert; TWENTY6; Adobe Grill; Ernie’s at PGA WEST. Known as The Western Home of Golf in America® and named “North America’s Golf Resort of the Year,” it is home to five award-winning public golf courses and four private courses, designed by legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Greg Norman and Tom Weiskopf.

In addition to the three Waldorf Astoria resorts, GIC has a global portfolio of hotel properties in the U.S., France, the UK, Australia, China and India. Included in these holdings is the 1053-room Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk hotel in Fukuoka, Japan.