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Hilo Community Economic Meeting Open to the Public

On Wednesday, March 8 a coalition of individuals and organizations focused on improving the East Hawaii economy will hold a community meeting to discuss legislative efforts that will guide in the revitalization of Hilo and Banyan Drive.  We have invited the entire East Hawaii caucus to join us, it is a Recess day for the Legislature so this gives them the best chance during session to visit with us.

The coalition includes Kanoelehua Industrial Association (KIAA), Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hawaii (JCCIH) and Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB).

The public is invited to attend and hear from coalition representatives and area legislators on the various, proposed economic development measures that have been introduced this legislative session (see full list below). The measures are aimed at providing much-needed tools and mechanisms to attract investment and foster partnerships that will help revitalize the local economy while promoting a healthy environment where East Hawaii families can thrive.

  • When:  Wednesday, March 8, 2017
  • Time: 5:00pm to 6:30pm
  • Location: Grand Naniloa Hotel

The coalition thanks the hard working East Hawaii Caucus that introduced the bills:

Representative Mark Nakashima
Representative Richard Onishi
Representative Joy San Buenaventura
Representative Christopher Todd
Senator Lorraine Inouye
Senator Kaialii Kahele
Senator Russell Ruderman

List of 2017 29th Legislature bills promoting East Hawaii’s economic interests introduced by members of the East Hawaii caucus:

  • HB 575 / SB 274 – Authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to extend state land leases when the lessee makes qualifying substantial improvements to leased public lands. Download HB 575, SB 274.

Current Status-HB575 has passed WAL and FIN amended and will crossover

  • HB 1310 / SB 1184 – Establishes the Waiakea Peninsula Redevelopment District, Planning Committee, and Revolving Fund. Download HB 1310, SB 1184. 

Current Status- HB1310 has passed TOU/WAL, and FIN and will crossover

  • HB 1469 / SB 1185 – Establishes procedures for designating public land redevelopment districts, planning committees (including powers and duties), district redevelopment plans, and designated revolving funds. Modifies public land lease restrictions. Download HB 1469, SB 1185.

Current Status- HB1469 has passed TOU/WAL, and FIN amended and will crossover

  • HB 1479 / SB 1292 – Establishes the Hilo community economic district and places it under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Establishes a revolving economic development fund and designates a percentage to be transferred to the special land and development fund under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Download HB 1479, SB 1292.

Current Status-Both bills have passed through committees and will crossover SB1292 has been amended

‘Alalā Reintroduction Project Planning Further Releases After Recent Challenges – Birds Likely Killed By Hawaiian Hawk

Next Release Group to Receive Additional Predator-Aversion Training

Reintroduction efforts for the ʻAlalā, the native Hawaiian crow, began in December of last year with the release of five ʻAlalā into a Hawai‘i Island State Natural Area Reserve. Sadly, three birds did not survive, and the remaining two were brought back into captivity.

Members of The ‘Alalā Project say that the reintroduction of captive-raised birds without the benefit of experienced ‘Alalā already in the wild is very challenging. Biologists around the world say releases like this are usually marked with fits and starts, and that reintroduction success is not usually seen before multiple releases. Nēnē, the native Hawaiian goose, once had a population of only 30 birds and was part of a captive breeding program. “The recovery of Nēnē took over five decades of conservation actions to achieve, and while there are now over 3,000 birds in the wild, Nēnē populations still require active management to persist,” said Joey Mello, Hawai’i Branch DOFAW Wildlife Program Manager (East Hawai’i).

Despite the temporary setback, preparations are underway for the release of the next group of ‘Alalā. Nine birds are now in a flight aviary that was constructed in the State’s Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve; three more birds will be moved there soon. All of these birds are healthy and are checked and fed daily. Project team members closely observe their foraging skills, behaviors, and social interactions. The ‘Alalā Project anticipates the release of these 12 birds later this year.

Necropsies on the three ‘Alalā released last December indicate that none of the crows died due to disease exposure. Necropsy (autopsy for animals) results indicate that two of the birds were likely killed by another endangered bird, the ‘Io or native Hawaiian hawk. ‘Io are known to prey upon other birds – such is the circle of life in the wild. The third bird appears to have died from natural circumstances that led to poor physical condition.

Prior to any release, candidate birds undergo extensive training and conditioning to best ensure their long-term survival in the forest. This includes predator aversion training. The project team has consulted with world-renown predator aversion training specialists and is now focusing on making improvements to that training to give the released ‘Alalā a better chance of avoiding ‘Io.

The three ‘Alalā that died were named ‘Ike, Kau’ikauikalani, and Pewa. The necropsies were conducted by the San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), which operates Hawaiʻi bird conservation centers on Hawai‘i Island and on Maui. The ‘Alalā were offspring of birds brought into captivity over a decade ago, around the time that the last remaining bird went extinct in the wild in 2002.

The ‘Alalā Project is comprised of more than a half dozen state and federal agencies, non-government agencies, and private landowners, that collectively and successfully have hatched more than 200 ‘Alalā at the SDZG bird conservation centers. The ‘Alalā Project is just one of many projects across the state committed to native species conservation. Together, these efforts protect and preserve the incredible and unique biodiversity of our islands.

Attorney General Chin Joins 39 Other State Attorneys General in Lawsuit Over Inflated Drug Prices

Attorney General Doug Chin today announced that Hawaii joined 39 states yesterday in a federal antitrust lawsuit over inflated drug prices. The lawsuit alleges that six generic drug-makers entered into illegal conspiracies to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two generic drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release (an antibiotic) and glyburide (a diabetes medication).

Yesterday’s federal court filing amends a lawsuit initially filed in December 2016. The December 2016 complaint alleged violations of federal antitrust law and included 19 plaintiff states. The amended complaint increases from 20 to 40 the number of plaintiff states in the lawsuit. It also alleges violations of state antitrust laws and state consumer protection laws. The defendants include Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

Connecticut is leading the multistate group of plaintiff states, consisting of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

In July 2014, Connecticut began to investigate the reasons behind suspicious price increases of certain generic pharmaceuticals. According to the complaint, the investigation, which is still ongoing as to a number of additional generic drugs, generic drug companies and key executives, uncovered evidence of a well-coordinated and long-running conspiracy to fix prices and allocate markets for doxycycline hyclate delayed release and glyburide.

The amended complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The complaint alleges that the anticompetitive conduct – including efforts to fix and maintain prices, allocate markets and otherwise thwart competition – continues to cause significant harm to the country’s healthcare system.

The lawsuit was filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. A redacted copy of the amended complaint is attached.

Hawaiian Airlines Welcomes Public High School Students to Inaugural Ka Ho‘okele Mentorship Program

Hawaiian Airlines is opening its doors to public high school students in a new mentorship program that provides hands-on learning about all aspects of the airline industry.

The carrier’s Ka Ho‘okele “The Navigator” Explorers Program, developed with the Aloha Council Boy Scouts, features more than 20 Hawaiian Airlines employees from diverse sectors of the company who volunteer to mentor high school students in aviation careers.

In a recent visit to Hawaiian Airlines’ maintenance facility, public high school students practiced sheet metal skills as part of the carrier’s Ka Ho’okeele mentorship program.

Earlier this week, the inaugural class of 19 students from nine O‘ahu public high schools, including Castle, Farrington, Kailua, Kalāheo, Kalani, Kapolei, Mililani, Moanalua, and Pearl City, took part in their first afterschool tour of Hawaiian’s maintenance operations. Students were given a safety briefing, practiced sheet metal skills such as cutting, bending and fitting, studied aircraft electronic systems and observed quality control checks.

“Ka Ho‘okele provides youngsters in our community a window into the multiple facets of the airline business, introduces them to a large array of skills and showcases exciting career options available for them to pursue,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, Hawaiian’s director of community relations.

“Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America is proud to partner with Hawaiian Airlines in providing a high-quality career-oriented Explorers program. The students will gain invaluable career skills through the mentoring provided by Hawaiian Airlines,” said Jeff Sulzbach, scout executive and CEO of Aloha Council.

Participants will spend the next 10 weeks immersed in Hawaiian’s operations as employees share their expertise in areas ranging from cargo to flight and airport operations, among many other fields. Throughout the program, the group will also be introduced to Hawaiian’s culture of Ho‘okipa (Hawaiian hospitality), learn about educational requirements to achieve successful aviation careers, and practice key job skills such as interviewing, presentation and teamwork.

Prior to an exam and graduation in May, the class will participate in a weekend community service activity alongside Hawaiian’s Team Kōkua volunteers.

The Ka Ho‘okele program is the latest addition to the airline’s growing education outreach efforts in the community. Over the past several years, Hawaiian has conducted popular Keiki Tours for preschool and elementary students at Honolulu International Airport and it recently launched a mechanic apprenticeship program with the Honolulu Community College’s Aeronautics Maintenance and Technology program and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Last year, the Hawaiian Airlines Foundation donated $50,000 to Maryknoll School’s new high school Mx Scholar Program for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) & Aerospace.

For more details about the Ka Ho‘okele program, please visit https://scoutingevent.com/104-ExProgramHawaiianAirlines.

Hawaii Department of Human Services Adopts Safe Sleep Rules

The Department of Human Services has adopted safe sleep provisions into its administrative rules, further strengthening its responsibility to keep infants safe in regulated child care settings. These amendments codify the department’s decade-long commitment to ensuring all licensed and registered child care providers follow safe sleep best practices. The rule went into effect on Friday, February 24, 2017.

“This department is committed to the health and safety of Hawai‘i’s children. These rules embody our commitment by making explicit our department’s practice of requiring licensed and registered child care providers to use safe sleep best practices. We believe these rules are the natural evolution of our dedication to safe sleep practices in licensing child care providers,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot.

This act of codifying DHS practices responds to community concerns and reinforces that the department values safe sleep practices in all child care settings.

DHS has prioritized safe sleep practices since 2005 when the department began including them as part of the child care licensing protocol. The national Safe Sleep campaign began targeting child care settings just a few years prior.

DHS licenses various child care settings, including family care homes, group child care centers and homes, before- and after-school programs, and infant and toddler child care centers. The department’s Child Care Licensing staff conduct initial, annual and biennial monitoring visits at each home and facility to ensure providers are compliant with laws, regulations and best practices. Since 2005, licensing workers have educated providers about the importance of safe sleep practices and verified their compliance.

These protocols contributed to zero child fatalities in licensed and registered child care settings in 2016.

You can access the rules (17-891.1 and 17-895) here on our website. More information about the Department of Human Services is available at humanservices.hawaii.gov.

Go Hunt, Hawaii: Hawaii’s Official Hunting Resource

Since 1979, more than 68,000 students have received their certifications through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Hunter Education Program. Annually, more than 2,000 students register and attend Hunter Education classes across the state. This experience is now about to get just a little easier for the public.

On March 1, 2017, the Hunter Education Program launched a new website designed to improve the overall registration and certification experience for Hunter Education students and graduates — and for just about anyone interested in hunting in Hawaii.

On the new, user-friendly website, gohunthawaii.ehawaii.gov, hunters will be able to manage their hunting profile, view their class history, request and print replacement certifications, and link directly over to other apps to purchase a hunting license, apply for a lottery hunt, or apply for a letter of exemption.  Additional features include: mobile friendly, responsive web design, Hawaiian keyboard, and technical support (including live help chat) through ehawaii.gov.

Click to Go Hunt

“Working with ehawaii.gov, we created a website that puts the public in the driver seat of the operation,” said Andrew Choy, Hunter Education Program manager. “This collaborative work has been over a year in the making and began with foundational upgrades to our program’s administrative database.” Subsequent phases of this project, which are currently in development, will include online registration for classes. “The bottom line is that we want to improve the quality of our classes, increase accessibility, and streamline access to information,” Choy said.

In line with the Governor’s Initiative to promote government efficiency and transparency, “This project, like many others within the DLNR, increases access and transparency by moving government services online. This is a tremendous win for the public and the department,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson. “We are proud of the inter-division collaboration of our staff to move this project forward. The hunting community and public at large will be well-served by this application.”

For more information, please visit: gohunthawaii.ehawaii.gov or call the Hawaii Hunter Education Program at 1(866) 563-4868.

Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting College Scholarships, Green Energy and Kupuna Care

Other measures include paid sick leave, honoring veterans and voting by mail

With the Legislature’s crossover deadline just one week away, the House today passed more than 60 bills, sending them to the Senate for its consideration.  Among the House bills passing third reading by the full House were measures that provide for paid sick leave for employees, create a green energy fund at the University of Hawaii and funding for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program for Hawaii’s kupuna. Representatives also passed bills on honoring veterans, voting by mail and the UH Promise Program to support students.

HB4 HD1 Paid sick leave: Requires employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill or needs medical care.

HB615 HD1 Kupuna Care: Appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna.

HB794 HD1 Green energy: Establishes the University of Hawaii Green Special Fund to fund energy conservation measures to reduce the University’s energy consumption and costs.

HB1401 HD1 Elections: Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020.

HB1438 World War I Centennial: Appropriates moneys for the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of World War I.

HB1594 HD1 UH Promise Program: Establishes the University of Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at any campus of the University of Hawaii system.

Other important bills passed today by the House include:

HB115 HD1  Road ownership: Requires each county with a population of 500,000 or more to take ownership and jurisdiction over all roads over which there is a dispute over ownership between the State or any of its political subdivisions and a private party.

HB646 HD1 Visually handicap parking: Allows individuals who are blind or visually handicapped to apply for and obtain a removable windshield placard to use a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities

HB942 HD1 Filipino veterans: Authorizes the State to commission an artist to design and build a monument to honor and commemorate Filipino veterans of World War II.

HB1195 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, including the Office of Youth Services, to provide homeless outreach services.

HB1276 HD1 Student tax deduction: Provides an additional state income tax deduction for student loan interest paid on qualified education loans.

HB1281 HD1 Homelessness: Establishes a three-year Work-for-a-Day Pilot Program that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities and connects them with service providers

Tomorrow marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate. Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Traffic Signal Work on Palani Road Intersection

The Department of Public Works Traffic Division will be replacing the traffic signal controller cabinet at the Palani Rd. intersection with the Kona Coast Shopping Center (entrance to KTA) and Lanihau Center entrance on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., weather conditions permitting.

The traffic signals at the intersection will be shut down and special off-duty police officers will be in the area to facilitate traffic movement.  Motorists are advised to expect delays and to drive with caution.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

Health Occupation Students of America at UH Hilo Turns in Strong State Performance

Students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo claimed top honors in multiple categories at the 12th Annual HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) – Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held recently on O`ahu.

HOSA at UH Hilo members Leslie Arce, Jerold Cabel, and Marjie Retundo captured 1st place in the Public Service Announcement event with their 30-second PSA on “My Preparedness Story: Staying Healthy and Resilient!”

Individual winners included Chrisovolandou Gronowski in Behavioral Health and Kateleen Caye Bio in Pharmacology. Lark Jason Canico placed 2nd in Prepared Speaking with his topic on “Leadership, Service, and Engagement.”

In other results, HOSA at UH Hilo was awarded Honorable Mention as one of the largest post-secondary chapters in the state. The gathering also elected Canico, the Immediate Past President (local chapter) and Hawaiʻi Island HOSA Regional Coordinator, as the new Hawaiʻi HOSA Post-secondary Vice President.

“HOSA at UH Hilo’s growth and performance over the years has been impressive,” said Dr. Cecilia Mukai, who steps down as faculty advisor at the end of the semester. “I want to thank everyone who has supported this group, which has a positive influence on students pursuing health-related careers.”

The HOSA at UH Hilo team now moves on to the International Conference, scheduled for June 21-24, at Disney’s Coronado Springs in Orlando, Florida.