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Hawaii State Senate Unveils 2017 Legislative Program

Our communities, environment, sustainability and public safety are areas of which the Hawai‘i State Senate will focus in the 29th Legislative Biennium.

The areas are incorporated under four over-arching themes that embrace Hawaiian values and collectively form the Legislative Program the Hawai‘i State Senate will use as a guide throughout the Regular Session of 2017.   

“On many of these issues, we’re continuing the work that had begun in the previous legislative sessions,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “We recognize the importance to be self-reliant and take care of our island home. There’s also a responsibility to be prepared for the future, ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with problems we can do our best to address right now.”

The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities

  • Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.
  • Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i’s extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.
  • Social Services – We will support the State’s core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.
  • Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.
  • Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.

 Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu – Preparedness

  • Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.
  • Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State’s information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.
  • Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.

 Aloha Honua – Climate Change and Energy

  • Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i’s natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i’s unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State’s water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State’s fragile marine ecosystem.
  • Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i’s natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.

 Pono Kaulike – Transforming Justice

  • Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.
  • Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.

It is the Hawai‘i State Senate’s sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives, the Governor, and the Judiciary to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.

Island Air Blesses New Bombardier Q400 Aircraft

Island Air held a blessing and naming ceremony today for the first of three new Q400 turboprop airplanes it is acquiring as part of a long-term plan to upgrade its fleet and expand the company’s presence in the interisland market. Island Air owners, managers and employees, along with elected officials, visitor industry partners and other special guests gathered at the Island Air hangar off Lagoon Drive to bless and dedicate the new aircraft prior to its inaugural interisland flight tomorrow morning.

“The launch of our first new Q400 aircraft is a significant milestone not just for the Island Air team, but also for residents and visitors who travel between the Hawaiian Islands to visit family, conduct business and to enjoy our special island lifestyle,” said David Uchiyama,‎ president and chief executive officer, Island Air. “After extensive evaluation, review and comparison studies of different aircraft, as well as input from our pilots and operations crew, we reached the conclusion that the Q400 is the right aircraft that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers and provide them with the best interisland travel experience.”

Island Air’s new fleet of aircraft will bear names that recognize seven core values developed by the airline’s team members and are integrated into the company’s mission and corporate philosophy. The first Q400 aircraft is named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do.” The names of future planes will focus on other core values including genuineness, doing the right thing, accountability, striving for the highest summit, trust and persistence.

“Like so many Island residents, our team members have been raised on key values that guide their everyday lives, including strong work ethics and commitment to one another and the local community,” said Uchiyama. “In brainstorming names for the new aircraft, the Island Air ‘ohana wanted to reflect the values we strive to uphold, while reminding us that each time a plane arrives and departs, we must always share aloha with our valued customers and never lose sight of what it means to Fly the Island Way.”

With the addition of the new aircraft, which will be put into service on Jan. 12, Island Air will increase the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kahului from six to seven, and the number of daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Kona from five to six. The new flight schedule also will see slight time changes in the six daily roundtrips between Honolulu and Līhu‘e. The new flight schedule is available on Island Air’s website at www.islandair.com/flight-schedules.

Island Air plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400 aircraft and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service. The Q400 turboprops are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited. The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive later this week, and the third is expected to be delivered in April.

The Q400 has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet. The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advanced noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai‘i market. In addition, its noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which will be less disruptive to the community as it flies overhead.

USS Michael Murphy to Begin Western Pacific Deployment

USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) is scheduled to depart Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region on Friday, Jan. 13.

USS Michael Murphy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

Michael Murphy will deploy with a crew of approximately 320 Sailors and a detachment of MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, the “Easyriders,” based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who trained for months to earn deployment certification.

“The crew has worked tirelessly in preparation for this deployment, said Cmdr. Robert A. Heely, Jr., commanding officer, USS Michael Murphy. “Team Murphy will be challenged with diverse mission sets within the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. Their resiliency will be tested, but they are up to the task and are ready to perform as part of Carrier Strike Group One.”

While deployed, the Carl Vinson CSG will remain under U.S. 3rd Fleet command and control, including beyond the international dateline which previously divided operational areas of responsibility for 3rd and 7th fleets. Third Fleet operating forward offers additional options to the Pacific Fleet commander by leveraging the capabilities of 3rd and 7th Fleets. This operational concept allows both numbered fleets to complement one another and provide the foundation of stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.

“Our forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enabling the exchange of culture, skills and tactical knowledge,” said Rear Adm. James W. Kilby, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.  Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 1 deployed from San Diego, January 5 with Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

The Carl Vinson CSG deployed with approximately 7,500 Sailors and will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.  The strike group assets will conduct bilateral exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to include anti-submarine warfare, maneuvering drills, gunnery exercises and visit, board, search and seizure subject matter expert exchanges.

2017 Living & Design Show Accepting Vendor Applications

The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce presents its 12th annual home show February 25 – 26 at the Sheraton Kona Resort Convention Center.

Formerly known as the Building and Design Expo, the renamed Living + Design Show has been attended by more than 2,000. A strong turnout is anticipated this year as homeowners continue making improvements to their properties. The newly revamped exhibition will showcase latest goods and services, door-buster deals and endless options for a better home.

Past experience has shown qualified customers come to the show with specific home improvement projects in mind and they are ready to buy. As a result, exhibitors receive a strong return on their investment with as much as a year’s worth of leads generated from the expo alone.

Two booth sizes are offered as well as sponsorship opportunities. Qualifying businesses must have a product or service that relates to building, remodeling, improvements, sales, landscaping or financing a home or business.

Participation benefits include inclusion in the show’s special advertising insert in West Hawaii Today, radio ads and mentions in Chamber social media platforms.

Businesses interested in participating and who qualify with a product or service can download a vendor application online at www.kona-kohala.com. For more info, contact the Chamber office at info@kona-kohala.com or call 808.329.1758. Vendor booths are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Hokulea Completes Transit Through Panama Canal and Returns to Pacific Waters

After two days of transit through the Panama Canal, iconic voyaging canoe Hokulea reached the Panama city of Balboa today at 2:54 p.m. EST.

The canoe went through three sets of locks on the man-made waterway and returned to Pacific waters for the first time in nearly two years. Because Hokulea has no engines, and because of the turbulence and currents within the canal, the canoe was safely towed by a powerful work vessel – DWS Linda – through the canal.

Crewmembers moored the double-hulled canoe at Balboa Yacht Club and will remain docked in Balboa for about seven days. From Balboa, Hokulea will depart for the Galapagos Islands, a sail that is expected to take approximately 10 days.

While in Balboa, Hokulea’s crew will engage with several indigenous organizations and leaders of the Panamanian community. Crewmembers will also use their time in Balboa to provision the vessel for her upcoming sail to the Galapagos Islands and then Rapa Nui, ensuring she is in exceptional condition for the remainder of her voyage home to the Hawaiian Islands.

Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to Seek More Renewable Energy for Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Hawaii Island

Consistent with the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ updated energy action plans, Maui Electric Company and Hawaii Electric Light Company has asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to start the process to seek new renewable energy generation on Maui, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaii Island. To ensure customers benefit from these projects as soon as possible, this effort is targeting projects that can be in service by the end of 2020.

The energy plan update, submitted to the PUC on Dec. 23, 2016, envisions achieving 100 percent renewable energy on Molokai by 2020, Lānaʻi by 2030, and Maui and Hawaii Island by 2040.

Following established regulatory rules, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light are asking the PUC to open dockets to facilitate issuing formal requests for proposals (RFPs) for new renewable energy projects and to appoint an independent observer (IO) to oversee the procurement process. A separate RFP would be issued for each island. Appointing an independent observer early in the process would allow the collaborative design of the RFPs and associated technical, operational, and performance requirements for renewable energy proposals. Once the PUC approves the RFP design, the companies will release the RFPs that will provide details to prospective bidders on the renewable energy being sought for each island.

“On Hawaii Island, nearly 50 percent of our energy is produced from renewable sources,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “We’ll continue to pursue projects that are clean, sustainable, reliable, and can result in lower bills for our customers.”

Maui Island is currently at more than 35 percent renewable energy.

“While our energy plans are still under review, we need to move forward in seeking more renewable energy for the benefit of our customers,” said Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric president. “It’s critical that we move quickly in seeking potential projects that can help meet our state’s clean energy milestones.”

Hawaiian Electric is awaiting approval from the PUC for a similar request for Oahu submitted in June 2016.

Hawaii Mayors to Appear Live on PBS Hawaii’s ‘Insights’

All four Hawai‘i mayors are scheduled to appear on the January 26, 8:00 pm live broadcast of Insights on PBS Hawai‘i. Insights is also live streamed on pbshawaii.org.

On August 18th, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim was on PBS Hawaii’s television show “Insights on PBS Hawaii“.

Alan Arakawa (Maui County), Kirk Caldwell (Honolulu County), Bernard Carvalho (Kaua‘i County) and Harry Kim (Hawai‘i County) will be discussing priorities for each of their counties, as they face 2017 with new city and county councils, and a new state legislative session. Two of them, Caldwell and Kim, are also beginning new terms.

As controversial issues including GMOs and commercial real estate development continue to take hold, the mayors will discuss increasing divisions across and within the counties, and how each island county can work together as a unified state.

Insights on PBS Hawai‘i is a public affairs program that airs live on Thursday nights at 8:00 on PBS Hawai‘i and pbshawaii.org.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Reintroduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Clear Human Trafficking Victims’ Criminal Records

Bill Would Provide Post-Conviction Relief to Victims of Sex Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, and Other Forms of Human Trafficking

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (MO-02) and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) in reintroducing the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act today. The bipartisan legislation would create a process for victims of human trafficking to request relief from non-violent federal crimes committed as a direct result of human trafficking.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks with survivor leaders and advocates on the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act

Today, January 11, is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery affecting millions in the United States and abroad. This crime involves either the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for labor or commercial sex, or the exploitation of a minor for commercial sex. As a result of being trafficked, victims are commonly charged with crimes such as conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses that then follow them throughout the duration of their lives. These charges make it difficult for human trafficking victims to find jobs and housing, leaving them vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked again.

“Tens of thousands of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking each year. Too often, they are charged as criminals, thrown in prison, and shackled with a criminal record the rest of their lives instead of being free to get the care and assistance they need. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act will empower human trafficking victims to escape the chains of their past and move forward with their lives,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

“Because of the complexities of the criminal activity around trafficking, victims are put into situations where they may be forced to engage in other criminal acts due to their abuser. Even though they are victims of human trafficking, under current mandates, their “criminal history” can make it very difficult for them to recover and reintegrate back into society. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act is an important key to opening the door of freedom, helping to erase the past, and empower life recovery and forward movement for the most marginalized and vulnerable population in our communities,” said Jessica Munoz, President and Founder of Hoʻōla Nā Pua.

“As an organization committed to implementing strategies and providing services that help rebuild the lives of human trafficking survivors, we believe the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act will support these uprooted individuals to reclaim dignified lives,” said Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, Executive Director of the Pacific Gateway Center.

Background:

The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would allow survivors of human trafficking to provide supporting documentation in order to get their non-violent criminal records vacated. These documents can include the following:

  • Certified criminal or immigration court proceedings or law enforcement records demonstrating that the individual was a victim of trafficking at the time they were charged with the trafficking-related offense(s);
  • Testimony or sworn statement from a trained professional staff member of a victim services organization, an attorney, member of the clergy, a health care professional, a therapist, or other professional from whom the person has sought assistance in addressing the trauma associated with being a victim of trafficking; or
  • An affidavit or sworn testimony of the movant indicating that they were a victim of human trafficking at the time of their arrest and that they engaged in or were otherwise accused of engaging in criminal activities as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.