VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on FCC to Uphold Net Neutrality Protections

With three days before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes a final decision on net neutrality, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) urged the commission to reject corporate-led efforts to unravel open, fair, and equal Internet access and to listen to the voices of the majority of Americans that support current protections on net neutrality.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“In three days, the Internet as we know it could change forever. On December 14th, the FCC will be taking a vote on whether or not to get rid of net neutrality protections that keep the Internet open, fair, and equal for everyone.

“Repealing these protections will allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to control the levers of the Internet—stifling access, deciding the websites you and I can visit and use, and making it impossible for small businesses to compete against industry giants. It will hurt our students, entrepreneurs, working families, and all who rely on the Internet for things like education, healthcare, and employment as a level playing field of opportunity.

“The FCC must protect the people it’s supposed to be serving—not big, corporate interests—and make sure the Internet remains a place where everyone has a seat at the table.”

Pesticide Testing to Expand to Maui and Hawai‘i Island

The House Committee on Health & Human Services, chaired by Rep. John M. Mizuno, and the Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Rep. Richard P. Creagan, held an informational briefing today to update the status and progress of the Kauai Pesticide Joint Fact Finding (JFF) Study Group’s recommendations released last year.

The report, completed in May 2016, provided an analysis of environmental and health issues associated with pesticide use on Kauai, and today’s briefing was to hear how the various state and county departments had followed up on the group’s recommendations. Lawmakers also want to make sure continued environmental and human health impacts related to pesticides are addressed with fact-based policy and decision making.

Rep. Mizuno (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Lower Kalihi) said pesticide use will continue to be an important issue for Hawaii and will be discussed during the next legislative session.

“I want to acknowledge the state departments of Health, Agriculture, and Education along with the County of Kauai, and the Kauai Department of Water for working together on the pesticide issue and taking positive steps to protect residents,” said Mizuno. “This is a critical health and environmental issue that we need to have consensus and solution building to stay in front of.”

At the briefing, department representatives reported that steps taken since May, 2016 include:

  • The hiring of three new agriculture inspectors that has reduced the number of open pesticide investigation cases from 780 to less than 10.
  • Funding to hire an epidemiologist by the Department of Health.
  • Training of departments and first responders to coordinate rapid response to pesticide exposure incidents.
  • Training of the local medical community to record birth defect data.
  • Testing more than 50 surface water areas for pesticides on Oahu and Kauai and planning to expand testing to Maui and Hawaii Island.

Scott Enright, Chair of the Board of Agriculture told the Representatives that the Department of Agriculture has also developed a packet of rules that update Hawaii’s pesticide laws and regulations.

Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) said lawmakers see these as positive steps and want to make sure the departments have the resources they need to continue their efforts.

“This has been good information to direct us moving forward on this issue,” Belatti said.

Rep. Dee Morikawa, (Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea) said Kauai County has developed a pesticide policy and she suggested all four counties work together to develop a statewide policy on pesticide use, testing, enforcement and treatment.

“Let’s have a plan that allows proper pesticide use, protects our residents and notifies communities if there is any possible contamination,” Morikawa said.

Rep. Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) said he is concerned about the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides.

“I am concerned with the possibility of birth defects, particularly nerodevelopmental injuries to the fetus from long-term, low level pesticide exposure, especially related to chlorpyrifos,” said Creagan.

Waianuenue Ave. Restriping – Traffic Markings Changing

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works Traffic Division will be restriping Waiānuenue Ave. from Kamehameha Ave. to Ka‘iulani St. Work is scheduled between the hours of 8:30 AM and 3:00 PM from Wednesday, December 13, 2017, and is expected to be completed by Friday, December 22, 2017, weather and construction conditions permitting. No roadwork will occur on the weekend.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and to drive with caution as heavy vehicles will be in the work zone. Alternating lane closures will be in effect and at a minimum, one lane of travel (for two way traffic) will be provided at all times through the construction area. Special off-duty police officers will be posted in the area to facilitate traffic movement.

There will also be some changes to the previous traffic markings/patterns between Kekaulike St. and Ka‘iulani St. The approach to Kino‘ole St. going in the mauka direction, will have a left turn only lane and a thru only lane as opposed to the current left/thru lane and a thru lane. Also from Kino’ole St. to Kapi’olani St., a two-way left turn lane will be installed and replace the current striped islands. All parking (8 stalls) will be removed from the roadway on the Hamakua Side of Waiānuenue Ave. between Kapi‘olani St. and Ka‘iulani St.

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.

Get on Board Initiative Saves State Approximately $13 Million

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and TransPar have saved the state approximately $13 million annually through the Get on Board student transportation initiative.

Photo Credit: Department of Education

From 2013 to 2017, Hawaii public schools’ student bus transportation system underwent a comprehensive transformation, including the development of new procurement methods and contract models. Another key milestone for the four-year project involved incorporating new technology and the implementation of computerized routing software, GPS mapping and tracking, and the addition of video cameras to all school buses.

“We’ve successfully revamped our school bus transportation system during the four-year pilot program by using industry best practices to deliver economical, efficient and effective student transportation services,” said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “Through this pilot program, we’ve substantially reduced the annual cost of public school bus transportation services statewide by approximately $13 million.”

What started as a pilot project for 32 Central Oahu schools in 2013, has now grown and expanded statewide. During Phase 2, the program provided student bus transportation to all schools on Oahu, the Big Island and Molokai. Earlier this year, HIDOE successfully implemented the final phase of its Get on Board initiative with the awarding of new contracts on Maui and Kauai for the 2017-18 school year.

Now that the rollout has been completed, HIDOE and TransPar are focused on establishing the systems and process that support continuous improvement and sustainability. By using the technology acquired and process improvements implemented in the Get on Board initiative, the most efficient level of service continues to be provided to students.

“Despite the unexpected bus driver shortage that our bus contractors faced in August 2017, we worked with the schools and contractors to restore bus service as quickly as we could,” said Carlson. “As we look ahead and plan for the future, we’ll continue to assess the system on a daily basis, and improve service, safety and efficiency with TransPar’s guidance. We’re also exploring new ways to make our bus transportation system easier for students and their parents.”

For more information about Get on Board, please click here.