Hawaii Senate Holds Special Session to Confirm Judiciary Appointments

A Special Session of the Hawai‘i State Senate is scheduled for September 25 – 26, 2017 to consider two judicial appointments for the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit – Hawai‘i Island.

On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, the Senate received two letters of appointment from Governor Ige naming current District Family Court Judge of the Third Circuit, Henry T. Nakamoto, to the Third Circuit Court (Hilo) and attorney Robert D. S. Kim to the Third Circuit Court (Kona). Both appointees were chosen by Governor Ige from a list of candidates selected by the Judicial Selection Committee.

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution, the Senate has 30 days from the date of the appointment to advise and consent on the two appointees. Therefore, the Senate will convene a two-day Special Session at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, September 25, 2017 to consider both appointments.

‘I‘iwi Receives Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

Once one of the most common forest birds in the Hawaiian Islands, the ‘i‘iwi, also known as the scarlet honeycreeper, will be protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that listing was warranted based on a review of the best information available for the ‘i‘iwi, gained through exhaustive research, public comments and independent scientific peer reviews.

In the past, ‘i‘iwi could be found from the coastal lowlands where they foraged for food to the high mountain forests where they nested. Today, ninety percent of the ‘i‘iwi population is confined to a narrow band of forest on East Maui and the windward slopes of the island of Hawaii, between 4,265 and 6,234 feet (1,300 and 1,900 meters) in elevation. The birds are virtually gone from the islands of Lanai, Oahu, Molokai and west Maui, while the population on Kauai is in steep decline.

“In recent years, the ‘i‘iwi population has been in sharp decline, due to threats from habitat loss, invasive species and avian diseases, particularly avian malaria,” said Mary Abrams, project leader for the Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “These threats have affected all forest birds, not just the ‘i‘iwi. Conservation that benefits the ‘i‘iwi will undoubtedly benefit other Hawaiian forest birds.”

Avian malaria, carried by invasive mosquitos, is the primary driver in the decline in of the ‘i‘iwi population, and has already caused the decimation of dozens of other Hawaiian forest birds. The disease kills approximately ninety-five percent of infected ‘i‘iwi. Mosquitos, which are not native to the Hawaiian Islands, breed and thrive at lower and warmer elevations where they infect birds like the ‘i’iwi with avian malaria and pox.

“‘I‘iwi have virtually disappeared from any habitat where mosquitoes are found,” said Abrams. “This has caused their range to shrink dramatically – they are almost entirely limited to higher elevation ‘ohi‘a forests for their habitat, dietary, and nesting needs.

Higher and cooler elevation ‘ohi‘a forests, where mosquitoes do not thrive, remain the only habitat for the ‘i‘iwi, but even those areas are under threat. As temperatures rise, mosquitoes, and the avian diseases they carry, are able to survive at higher elevations and spread upwards into the mountains, further constricting the ‘i‘iwi’s range.

‘I‘iwi are dependent for their survival on forests of native ‘ohi‘a. On the island of Hawaii, home to 90 percent of the remaining ‘i‘iwi population, those ‘ohi‘a forests have been under attack from rapid ‘ohi‘a death, an invasive tree pathogen.

“Working with the state, our conservation partners and the public will be crucial as we work to recover the ‘i‘iwi, said Abrams. “The Service is committed to building on our record of collaborative conservation to protect Hawaii’s native species.”

The Service’s final listing rule will be published in the Federal Register on Sept 20, 2017, and will become effective on Sept 20, 2017. Next steps include development of a recovery plan, which will be bolstered by input from other federal and state agencies, other conservation partners and the public.

More information, including the final listing, can be found at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.

Nine Awarded Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship

Papa Ola Lōkahi is pleased to announce that nine scholars in diverse medical and allied health training programs have been awarded the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship.

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“The students in this 2017-2018 cohort are stellar scholars and committed to serving the needs of our medically underserved communities,” asserted Keaulana Holt, director of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program (NHHSP), which is administered by Papa Ola Lōkahi. “I’m proud of each one.”

Three awardees are studying to be physicians, one a dentist, one a masters level social worker, and one public health worker. Three are in nursing programs at three different local schools at three different levels.

Six are in school in Hawai’i; and three are in accredited programs on the continental United States.

NHHSP scholars may attend any accredited program at any college or university in the United States. Eventually, they’re called home to Hawai’i to fulfill their service obligation.

The objective of the NHHSP is to address access to health care by developing a Hawaiian health work force committed to serving the unique needs of Hawaiian communities. Once licensure is complete, these scholars will work full-time in medically under-served areas in Hawai’i for two (minimum) to four (maximum) years, relative to the length of scholarship support.

Since 1991, more than 275 awards have been made in 20 different primary and behavioral health care disciplines. More than 200 have already been placed into the workforce on six islands impacting the well-being of the communities they serve. Of those who have fulfilled their service obligations, nearly 90% have continued to serve medically underserved areas and populations in Hawai’i.

More significantly, NHHSP scholars have risen to positions of leadership, impacting change in health perspectives, policy, promising practices, and emerging technologies among their patients, colleagues and the communities they serve. They are the role models for other Kānaka Maoli who aspire to be of service in a healing profession.

Visit www.nhhsp.org for more information about the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 35-Year-Old Woman Last Seen in Kalapana

Hawaiʻi Island police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a 35-year-old missing woman.

Parker Godwin

Parker Godwin was last seen in the Kalapana area on (August 6).

She is described as Caucasian, 5-feet-10-inches, 145 pounds, brown shoulder length hair, blue eyes and a “Led Zeppelin” tattoo on her lower back.

She primarily resides in the Hilo district.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Officer Robert Keffer at (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Catch a Wave to the Surf-a-Book Festival

The Hawaii State Public Library System and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) of Hawaii are happy to launch the Surf-a-Book Festival, in celebration of children’s literature in Hawaii!  Catch a wave and join us at the Hawaii State Library on Saturday, September 23, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Surf-a-Book Festival is an opportunity for keiki and their families to meet and listen to local authors and illustrators share their stories. Participating local authors and illustrators include: Joy Au, Chris Caravalho, Kristen Carlson, Ellie Crowe, David Estes, Leslie Hayashi, Dani Hickman, Lavonne Leong, Christin Lozano, Alina Niemi, Elizabeth Oh, Jessica Orfe, and Tammy Yee.

The event will also include activity centers throughout the library to inspire our young readers, authors, and artists, book signings, a book exhibit and panel discussions for children’s book writers and illustrators.  Local authors and illustrators will also share their creative process with aspiring new authors. First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige will be the welcoming speaker.

“We are excited to work with SCBWI to offer a great free Saturday event for keiki and their families to celebrate reading by meeting wonderful authors and artist illustrators. We hope the experience will inspire future dreamers, authors, and artists,” said State Librarian Stacey Aldrich.

For more information, link to https://www.librarieshawaii.org/2017/08/31/surf-a-book-festival-saturday-september-23rd/ or call the Hawaii State Library – Edna Allyn Room for Children at 586-3510.

Hawaii Attorney General Seeks Documents From Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Hawaii has joined a bipartisan coalition of states seeking documents and information today from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This is part of a multistate investigation into the nationwide opioid epidemic. This information will let state attorneys general evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. 41 state attorneys general are participating in the multistate investigations.

In Hawaii and across the country, opioids – both prescribed and illicit – are a main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015 including 169 in Hawaii. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

Attorney General Chin said, “Under Governor David Ige’s leadership, my office and the state health department are determined to educate the public here and enforce laws to prevent the spread of opioid abuse in Hawaii.”

The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas for documents and information – also known as Civil Investigative Demands – on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental Civil Investigative Demand on Purdue Pharma. The attorneys general also sent information demand letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business.

U.S. EPA Awards $100,000 Innovative Technology Contract to Hawaii Small Business

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $100,000 to Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., located in Honolulu, to develop a nontoxic coating for use in water pipeline repair. The company is one of 15 small businesses nationwide receiving a total of $1.6 million to develop technologies that will help protect human health and the environment.

“EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program is awarding funding to these small businesses because they have demonstrated the potential to create technologies that will improve our environment and our economy,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These technologies are focused on creating cutting-edge products that can help solve today’s complex environmental problems and enhance economic growth.”

Oceanit Laboratories received the funding to develop a corrosion-resistant, nontoxic coating to protect the interior of aging pipelines. The application process for the coating will allow heavily corroded pipes to be retrofitted and refurbished in place.

“Utilizing Oceanit’s family of EverPel repellent coatings, which can be applied in-situ via in-line pigging to previously worn and in-service pipelines, we are addressing the need for rapid, cost-efficient refurbishment of water transport pipelines without the need for full excavation and replacement,” said Matthew Nakatsuka, Senior Materials Engineer for Oceanit. “We look forward to applying and adapting research and technologies from the energy and defense sectors to addressing this pressing domestic concern, and are excited to work with the EPA in developing new ways to promote public health and infrastructure safety.”

EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding boosts local economies by creating jobs and promoting collaborations among small businesses through product testing and research. The funding also supports technologies aimed at creating cleaner manufacturing materials and better infrastructure in communities.

Companies compete for SBIR Phase I awards of up to $100,000 by submitting research that addresses key environmental issues. After receiving a Phase I award, companies are eligible to compete for Phase II awards of $300,000 to further develop and commercialize the technology.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR Program established by the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982.

For more information on EPA’s SBIR Phase I recipients, visit https://go.usa.gov/xRHhV.

Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program at www.epa.gov/sbir.

Learn more about the SBIR Program across the federal government at www.sbir.gov/

International Task Force Focuses on Protecting West Coast From Oil Spills

Western states and provinces on the Pacific Ocean will gather this year in Honolulu to discuss how best to protect the West Coast from oil spills.

Annual Meeting will take place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

The Hawaii Department of Health is hosting this year’s Annual Meeting of the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force, comprised of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. The Task Force provides a forum where members can work together to implement regional initiatives to help protect 56,600 miles of coastline stretching from Alaska to California, including the Hawaiian Islands.

The meeting is taking place on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The event is open to the public and attendance is free of charge. To register, go to: https://2017taskforceannualmeeting.eventbrite.com.

At this year’s event, the six Task Force jurisdictions will provide updates on their spillresponse programs, projects and initiatives. Guest presentations and panel discussions will highlight pollution prevention measures in the cruise ship industry, issue involving the clean-up of heavy oils, and the challenges with managing data during a spill.

The Task Force was authorized by a Memorandum of Cooperation in 1989 by Governors of Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California, and the Premier of British Columbia following the Exxon Valdez and Nastucca oil spills. These events highlight the common concerns regarding oil spill risks shared by West Coast states and provinces, and the need for cooperation across shared borders.

The Task Force is committed to improving, preventing, preparing for and responding to oil spills. It collects and shares data on spills, coordinates spill prevention projects, and promotes regulatory safeguards.

The Task Force members include: 

  • Thomas M. Cullen Jr., Administrator, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California Department of Fish and Wildlife 
  • Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Hawaii Department of Health 
  • Larry Hartig, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation 
  • Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager, Washington Department of Ecology
  • Richard Whitman, Director, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 
  • Mark Zacharias, Deputy Minister, British Columbia Ministry of the Environment

For more information visit: http://oilspilltaskforce.org/task-force-events/annual-meeting/