Joint Statement on Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Audit

After reviewing testimony submitted on SR 27 and SCR 72, it is clear to both Senator Glenn Wakai (S Dist. 15 – Kalihi, Mapunapuna, Airport, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Hickam, Pearl Harbor), Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology and Representative Richard Onishi (H Dist 3 – Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Chair of the House Committee on Tourism, that there is overwhelming support for an audit of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), with the duplicative nature of the proposed audit and the additional cost to perform the audit being the only points of contention.By law, the Office of the Auditor is required to audit HTA “at least every five years.”  The Office of the Auditor last audited HTA in 2013.

“It was never my intention nor that of Chair Onishi to subject HTA to unnecessary scrutiny or to incur unreasonable costs.  The resolutions were introduced to maintain public trust in HTA management and fiscal responsibility of our largest economic driver,” said Sen. Wakai.

“We have asked State Auditor Les Kondo to consider reporting his audit findings and recommendations to HTA and the legislature in early 2018.  The Auditor will provide an independent, objective, and nonpartisan review of HTA’s performance, including its management and expenditures of state funds.  Given the importance of tourism to our state, the audit will provide accountability to the legislature and the public that HTA is using its resources, including state funds, effectively, efficiently, and ethically to achieve its mission.  We are confident that the Auditor’s review will address the objectives set out in SR 27 and SCR 72, making it unnecessary to pass these resolutions,” said Rep. Onishi.

Hawaii House Approves Bills on Medical Marijuana, Criminal Trespass, Coral Reef Preservation, Birth Control, Rat Lungworm Disease and Student Meals

With about a month left in the 2017 Legislative Session, the House today passed 64 Senate bills.

They now head back to the Senate for their consideration. The majority of the bills will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Medical Marijuana

SB 174 SD2 HD2 amends the definition of debilitating medical condition to include lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis as conditions that qualify for the legal use of medical marijuana.

Criminal Trespass

SB 895 SD1 HD 2 establishes the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands to the penal code. It also amends the offenses of criminal trespass in the second degree to apply to government agricultural property.

Coral Reefs Preservation

SB 1150 SD2 HD3 appropriates funds and requires the University of Hawaii to conduct a study on the effects of sunscreen on Hawaii’s coral reefs and report to the Legislature.

Birth Control

SB 513 SD1 HD2 authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptive supplies to patients regardless of a previous prescription, subject to specified education and procedural requirements.

Rat Lungworm Disease

SB 272 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for programs, studies, and activities related to the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease.

Student Meals

SB 423 SD1 HD1 prohibits public schools from denying a student a meal solely for the failure to pay.

A complete list of Senate 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&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

University of Hawaii Gets New 45-Foot Education and Training Vessel for Island Students

Tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017, students from Ahuimanu Elementary will board the new 45-foot education and research vessel, Ka Noelo Kai (“seeking knowledge from the sea”), as part of its inaugural week of operations to support place-based experiential learning at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Leaving from He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor, students will deploy a plankton net, collect data, and watch for green sea turtles and other marine life on their transit to HIMB on Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island).

Ka Noelo Kai in Kaneohe Bay, photo credit F. King/HIMB.

HIMB is an internationally recognized research and education facility, situated within Kāne‘ohe Bay and surrounded by 25 acres of protected coral reef refuge designated for scientific research. While on island, the Ahuimanu students will examine plankton through microscopes, participate in an invasive seaweed lab, and tour the research facilities with stops at the lab’s touch pool and shark enclosures. They will leave with new science and stewardship skills to assist them as they become our next generation of scientists, marine managers and ocean stewards, helping to find creative solutions to Hawai‘i’s environmental issues and challenges.

UH scientists and educators Dr. Malia Rivera and Mark Heckman have been growing programs at HIMB to provide pathways to science for Hawai‘i’s underserved elementary through high school student populations for the last nine years. Currently over 4,000 students and teachers attend programs and labs on the island annually. Many students visit the research facility from as young as 5 years of age via the community and family tours. They may come back next with their elementary school or middle school classes, then as high school students in HIMB’s more science intensive programs before entering the University of Hawai‘i as undergraduates.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology/SOEST/ UH Manoa, photo credit Doug Peebles.

Ultimately a local student who visited as a child may return to gain a graduate degree and become an internationally recognized scientist or natural resource manager.

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation generously provided funds to purchase the vessel, enabling more school groups and students to access the island’s facilities, gain training and delve into the mysteries of Kāne‘ohe Bay’s and Hawai‘i’s beautiful but threatened coral reef ecosystems and ocean waters.

The Ahuimanu Elementary’s fourth grade field trip to HIMB will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.  Student will gather at He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor located at 46-499 Kamehameha Highway in Kāne‘ohe.  Media are welcome.  For more information, contact Mark Heckman at mheckman@hawaii.edu or (808) 277-1691.

Representative Clift Tsuji’s Impact On Hawai‘i Island Agriculture Lives On

Building on Representative Clifton Tsuji’s legacy of giving back to the Hawaiʻi Island community, 159 friends, supporters and family members raised more than $81,000 to fund two endowed scholarships for Hawai’i Community College and University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo students pursuing degrees in agriculture.

Clift Tsuji

“My dad loved his job and viewed it as an honor to service the people of the Big Island as a state representative. There were many things he was passionate about but there is no doubt that agriculture in Hawai’i and supporting this industry was something that really resonated with him,” said Clifton Tsuji’s son Ryan Kalei Tsuji. “We are so thankful to the many donors and supporters who contributed to this endowment scholarship. Our hope is that through this scholarship we can continue his passion and commitment to making a difference in the community even after his passing.”

Endowed scholarships

The Representative Clift Tsuji Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Hawai’i Community College Agricultural Program will support full-time undergraduate students pursuing a degree in agriculture.

The Representative Clift Tsuji Memorial Endowed Scholarship for University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management will support full-time undergraduate students pursuing a degree in agriculture.

“Hawaiʻi Community College is honored to be a recipient of generous contributions from the supporters of the late Rep. Clift Tsuji,” said Hawaiʻi Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “This scholarship fund is a testament to his legacy of service and commitment to the community. For a community to give back to the next generation of learners is an amazing statement on why this island is so special.”

UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney added, “I learned so much from Clift Tsuji about Hilo, Hawaiʻi Island and agriculture. This scholarship will ensure that, for years to come, many students will continue to learn from his legacy.”

More about Clift Tsuji

Clift Tsuji was a Hawaiʻi Island state representative and an alumnus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Born and raised in Pāpaʻikou, Tsuji was a graduate of Hilo High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from UH Mānoa’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences. He also attended the University of Washington, Pacific Coast Banking School.

Tsuji served in the U.S. Army Reserve, 442nd Infantry, Company B, Hilo, from 1959 to 1965.

Representing House District 2 including Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaʻewa and Waiākea, Tsuji was chairman of the House agriculture committee and was named the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau&38217;s Legislator of the Year in 2015. He was a passionate proponent of agriculture and biotechnology.

He was also active with the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawaiʻi Island Japanese Community Association, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Kumamoto Kenjin Kai.

Get involved

To make a gift to the scholarships, go to the Clift Tsuji Memorial Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC websites.

 

Supreme Court Allows Hawaii State Hospital Decision to Involuntarily Medicate Man to Stand

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that the Hawaii Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear the further appeal of an order authorizing the Hawaii State Hospital to involuntarily administer psychotropic medication to Michael Robert Lawrence.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin

In 2002, Lawrence was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the custody of the Hawaii health director for the 1999 murder and dismemberment of a vacuum cleaner salesperson on Oahu’s North Shore.

Lawrence was also prosecuted in 2008 for assaulting a Hawaii State Hospital physician while in custody. In 2013, the Hawaii State Hospital moved for a court order authorizing the involuntary administration of medication to Lawrence after he refused to accept medication. Lawrence appealed the court order to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, which affirmed the court order on November 30, 2016. Tuesday’s decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court not to hear a further appeal ends this litigation.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “When Lawrence refused all psychotropic medications and continued to engage in threatening behaviors, the state hospital correctly moved for a court order for Lawrence’s safety and the safety of others. The statute authorizing involuntary medication was written exactly for these situations.”

A copy of the April 4, 2017 order from the Hawaii Supreme Court and the November 30, 2016 decision by the Intermediate Court of Appeals is attached.

Famous Hawaii Land Saved With Support From Both Republicans and Democrats

Seven-mile coastline where Obama’s mother’s and grandmother’s ashes were spread protected with widespread bipartisan support

The Ka Iwi Coast on the eastern tip of Oahu will be forever preserved from development, ending a 40-year-long battle to preserve the area, The Trust for Public Land and a group of local partners announced today.  The announcement involved the last 182 acres which could have been developed along the 7-mile-long coast.

The area is near where the ashes of former President Barack Obama’s mother and grandmother were spread at Lanai Lookout, and he has surfed at the coast’s famed Sandy Beach.

The Trust for Public Land bought the property a year ago for $3.65 million and finished its sale last week to a local group, Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.  The state of Hawaii and city of Honolulu have imposed restrictions which would block any future development.  Previous owners had proposed buildings resorts or luxury homes at the site.

Will Rogers, President of  The Trust for Public Land, noted that “both Republican and Democratic state legislators have strongly supported this project.  This is the kind of bipartisan support which has helped us save more than 43,000 acres in Hawaii since 1978.  Preserving special places is important to Hawaii residents and visitors, and all Americans, whatever their political beliefs.”

The Ka Iwi coast is a key navigational landmark between Oahu and Molokai for fisherman and boaters.  The Ka Iwi channel is important to native Hawaiians, and is steeped in ancient stories, such as being one of the places where the volcano goddess Pele struck her legendary digging stick looking for a fiery home.

The money to fund the purchase came from a variety of sources, including more than 1,600 individuals, who helped raise more than $600,000.  Additional funds came from the state of Hawaii and the city of Honolulu.

“It is truly inspiring to see how the entire community – both Democrats and Republicans, surfers and fishermen, keiki and kupuna (children and elders) – have come together to fight for nearly half a century to preserve this rugged, wild stretch of coastline,” said Lea Hong, Hawaii director of, The Trust for Public Land. “Each time some new development was proposed, the public rallied to protect this treasured shoreline, keeping it in its natural state for future generations to enjoy.”

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

University of Hawaii Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji to be Honored at the Capitol

In recognition of his years of dedication and devotion to the State of Hawai‘i and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Wahine Volleyball program, the Senate and House will celebrate “Dave Shoji Day” at the State Capitol on Thursday, April 13.

@DaveShoji on Twitter

“It is an honor to recognize Coach Shoji in the Senate,” said Sen. Kaiali`i Kahele, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education and a former UH men’s volleyball player.

“His legacy and remarkable career is undeniable. As a member of the UH Menʻs Volleyball team from 1994-1997, I will always remember how kind he treated me as well as the advice and mentorship he gave me as a student athlete. I am honored to know him and wish him the very best in retirement. My appreciation for Coach Shoji is also extended to his wife Mary and children Cobey, Kawika and Erik for sharing Coach Dave with all of Hawaiʻi.”

“Coach Dave Shoji not only made Hawai‘i proud of the outstanding accomplishments of the University of Hawai‘i Wahine Volleyball team, he taught his players valuable life lessons in leadership, camaraderie and honor,” said Rep. Angus McKelvey, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. “He brought the UH into the national spotlight as a program to be reckoned with, and gave us all tremendous pride in the talent of the young athletes he mentored.”

The floor presentation recognitions will be held at the beginning of the Senate and House regular sessions.

  • WHO: Members of State Senate and House, Retired UH Wahine Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji
  • WHAT: Floor presentations for Dave Shoji
  • WHEN: Thursday, April 13, 2017, 11:30 a.m.  Senate Session, 12 noon House Session
  • WHERE: Senate and House chambers, Hawai‘i State Capitol

Coca-Cola Company Expands Watershed Stewardship to Hawai`i

On April 11, 2017, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Coca-Cola Company and the Koʻolau Mountains Watershed Partnership will announce plans for a new replenishment project designed to help restore and recharge the Waiawa watershed. It is the principle recharge area for the Pearl Harbor Aquifer, which supplies the majority of drinking water for communities across Oʻahu; more than 364 million gallons each day.

Company and its Bottling Partners Meet 2020 Water Replenishment Goal Five Years Early; Intend to Maintain Water Stewardship Performance as Business Continues to Grow

Under the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, the State hopes to protect 253,000 acres of critical watershed like Waiawa by the year 2030. The Koʻolau project becomes one of more than 100 such partnerships Coke supports around the country.

Coca-Cola states:

Supporting healthy watersheds is a key priority for The Coca-Cola Company. With more than 100 production facilities in North America, water is essential in the manufacturing of our products and the communities in which we operate.

Water supplies across North America are becoming increasingly stressed. We are committed to doing our part to improve the sustainability of these watersheds. We are working to return to nature and communities an amount of water equivalent to what we use in all of our products and their production by 2020. To achieve this, we focus on improving water efficiency, recycling water used in our operations and replenishing resources through watershed restoration and protection in partnership with conservation organizations, universities and local governments.