Bill Advances to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

The Hawai‘i Senate announces that today, Feb. 6, 2018, measures intended to boost the state’s economy by increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next two years and to create a family leave plan to help family caregivers were advanced by the Senate Committee on Labor.

Senate Bill 2291 would increase the minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in 2019 and $15 per hour in 2020.

Click to submit testimony

The measure would eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers, and provide automatic cost-of-living increases. Testimony in favor of the bill support Hawai‘i workers by providing an adequate hourly wage to reflect the state’s high cost of living.

Senate Bill 2990 would establish a paid family leave program and lay the groundwork to implement a framework of laws and policies so that all employees can access leave benefits during times when they need to provide care for a family member. It would also establish a paid family leave implementation board. In Hawai‘i, 247,000 people serve as family caregivers. Of those who would benefit from paid family leave, it is estimated nearly one-third would take those leave benefits to care for an ill spouse or elderly parent. Most family caregivers are unable to afford to take time off from work.

“Both of these measures address critical issues for working families,” said Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor Sen. Tokuda. “With so many families struggling just to survive in our islands, putting money into the hands of Hawai‘i’s working people and reducing income inequality will have positive economic benefits throughout our communities. Having the assurance of paid family leave benefits Hawai‘i’s economy by giving caregivers stability during times when they need it most, and ensures they can return back to the workforce when ready.”

SB2291 and SB2990 now go before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.

HPD Investigating Death of Peruvian National

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is investigating the death of a 23-year-old male Peruvian national who died in the waters off of South Point Landing.

Hawaiʻi Island Police received an 911 call concerning two distressed swimmers off of South Point Landing at about 2:09 p.m on Monday, Feb 5, 2018.

When emergency responders arrived, an HFD Rescue Diver was deployed and the man was pulled from the water. He was later taken to the Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m.

Police have opened a coroner’s inquest investigation.

Police investigating the matter determined that a 20-year-old female friend of the victim had been swept under a current while jumping off of South Point Landing, from an area commonly referred to as “South Point Cliff Jump.” The man jumped in the water to assist her and the two began to have difficulties getting to shore. The woman was able to get to an area where she could get out of the water. The man was not able to make it to shore.

Both visitors are from Peru. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

The South Point area is a popular spot listed in several social media and tourist web pages; however, the area is not safe for jumping or diving into the water. Police are cautioning the public as warning signs are posted prohibiting jumping or diving into the water.

Hōkūleʻa to Make Historic First Sail into Pearl Harbor

For the first time in Hōkūleʻa’s 42-year history, the legendary canoe will sail into the waters of Pearl Harbor and visit the Puʻuloa region. The crew will be welcomed at Rainbow Bay Marina on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 10 a.m. by the Puʻuloa community and US Navy who are hosting the canoe. The week-long engagement to follow will include school visits, public dockside tours and a crew talk story event. As part of the Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail, the purpose of Hōkūleʻa’s visit is to bring the canoe to more of Hawaiʻi’s children, honor Pearl Harbor’s ancient culture and history, and to learn about the efforts to restore the area’s cultural sites including Loko Paʻaiau Fishpond.

Hōkūleʻa entering Magic Island on Oʻahu in front of Diamond Head after a three year worldwide voyage. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

When Hōkūleʻa enters the waters of Pearl Harbor for the first time on Saturday morning, the crew will pay respects as she sails by significant cultural and historical sites including Halealoha Halemau (Fort Kamehameha Reburial Platform), USS Nevada, Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri, Ford Island, USS Utah, and Loko Paʻaiau Fishpond before making her arrival at Rainbow Bay Marina. The crew also will spend a day working with the restoration team at Loko Paʻaiau Fishpond on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The Loko Paʻaiau fishpond is located at McGrew Point Navy housing and is one of only three fishponds out of an original 22 in the Pu’uloa area which are still relatively intact. In September 2014, the Navy invited members of the local Hawaiian civic clubs and ʻAiea community members to begin work on restoring the historic fishpond.

“We want to celebrate this place and the movement taking place by the Puʻuloa community and the Navy to restore the Native Hawaiian history, sites and cultural identity of Pearl Harbor,” said president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Nainoa Thompson. “We hope Hōkūleʻa’s visit will open the doors for our young people to learn about the extraordinary history and culture of this very special, sacred place,” he added.

More than 1,000 school children are scheduled to visit Hōkūleʻa and participate in educational activities during her stop at Puʻuloa.

Hōkūleʻa will be greeted at Rainbow Bay Marina with traditional Hawaiian protocol and a military welcome. The event is open to the public and $1 parking will be available at Aloha Stadium. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and water. Hōkūleʻa will be open for public dockside canoe tours on Sunday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday through Friday, Feb. 12, through Feb. 16, 3 to 5 p.m.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, 5 to 7 p.m., the public is also welcome to attend a Hōkūleʻa talk story event featuring crew and community members who will discuss the significance of Hōkūleʻa’s visit to the Puʻuloa to Ewa region.

“We want to thank the Puʻuloa community, Aliʻi Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club, Kapolei Hawaiian Civic Club, Pearl Harbor Hawaiian Civic Club, the US Navy and Kamehameha Schools ʻEwa Region for inviting Hōkūleʻa to visit Puʻuloa to learn more about the great work and rich history in this cultural location and allowing us the opportunity to connect with more schools in this region,” said Thompson.

“We welcome the navigators of Hōkūleʻa. Many are military veterans or have strong family ties to our armed forces,” said commander of Navy Region Hawai‘i and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Rear Adm. Brian Fort. “I have great respect for the courageous navigators of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and for the values they live by: love of the ocean, care for a sustainable environment, appreciation of history and heritage, and commitment to educating the next generation. And I join with the rest of our community in thanking the navigators for sharing their time, talents and wisdom with us and our neighbors at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.”

“Hōkūleʻa’s visit to Puʻuloa fills our hearts with profound gratitude and love,” said Winston Kalina Lum, Sr., Aliʻi Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club board member and genealogical descendant of the early inhabitants of ʻAiea, Kalauao and Keʻehi. “It has been hundreds of years since a voyaging canoe last landed on our shores. As our community works together to preserve our cultural sites and educate our children, the canoe’s presence reminds us that we, too, can bring peace and Aloha to the planet,” he added.

Below is a schedule of events for Hōkūleʻa’s Pearl Harbor/Puʻuloa visit, an official stop on Hōkūleʻa’s Mahalo Hawaiʻi, Sail. For the most up to date information, visit online.

Mahalo Hawaiʻi, Sail, Pearl Harbor/Puʻuloa Schedule of Events (*Dates and time are dependent on safety and weather):

Hōkūleʻa Arrival Ceremony
Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, 10 a.m.
Rainbow Bay Marina
Hōkūleʻa and her crew will arrive at Rainbow Bay Marina and will be greeted with Hawaiian cultural protocol followed by a military welcome.

Public Open House Tours of Hōkūleʻa
Rainbow Bay Marina
Sunday Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Weekdays Feb. 12 to 16, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Hōkūleʻa Crew Talk Story (Sponsored by Kamehameha Schools ʻEwa Region)
Rainbow Bay Marina Pavilion
Thursday, Feb. 15, 5 to 7 p.m.
Meet crew and community members who will discuss the significance of Hōkūleʻa’s visit to the Puʻuloa to ʻEwa region.

Saturday Feb 17, 7 a.m., Hōkūleʻa departs Rainbow Bay Marina

Civil Defense Accountability Bill Following Hawai‘i False Missile Alert

Many folks in Hawai‘i were terrified following the false alert that a ballistic missile was inbound.  In response to that false alert sent out to Hawai‘i residents on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard today introduced the Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 to:

  • Address the vulnerabilities that allowed the false alert to go out to more than a million people across the state and go uncorrected for 38 minutes;
  • Ensure transparent investigations into the incident through online public disclosure requirements;
  • Establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans; and
  • Evaluate and strengthen preparedness nationwide to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear attacks to the United States.

Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Don Young are original cosponsors of the bipartisan legislation.

The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publicly disclose incident and recommendation reports about the Saturday, Jan. 13, false alert. It would also compel ballistic missile civil defense agencies to review the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats and study the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies to prevent a similar catastrophic mistake. In addition, the bill would instruct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publicly detail the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attack.

Rep. Gabbard said: “The false ballistic missile alert sent out across Hawai‘i corroded public trust and revealed gaps in preparedness measures at every level of government. Given the threats we face and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed, there are serious changes that need to take place at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure this kind of colossal failure never happens again. Along with providing Hawaii’s people with timely answers into what went wrong and why, we also need to investigate the gaps that exist at home and across the country that could trigger or perpetuate future emergencies. Our legislation will ensure the lessons learned from Hawaii’s false alert are used to identify and fix preparedness gaps nationwide.”

“Last month, Hawaiians experienced a terrifying false ballistic missile alert which is unacceptable,” said Congressman Young. “The chaos and uncertainty throughout that situation should not happen again which is why I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation. By addressing the conditions that caused this false alarm to happen in the first place, we can establish and improve best practices for our civil defense operations. This bill will improve public outreach when real emergencies take place which is crucial for restoring people’s trust in their government’s readiness and commitment to public safety.”

“This legislation is an important part of rebuilding the public’s trust in government,” said Congresswoman Hanabusa. “One of our basic responsibilities is to provide public safety, especially in a moment of crisis. The morning of January 13th revealed an unfortunate array of issues within the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), the protocols and policies that govern the issuance of a ballistic missile alert and the community’s preparation and response. In the weeks since the false alarm, we have heard confusing, often conflicting accounts from state officials about what went wrong and who is responsible. The public deserves a transparent, accurate accounting, like the one recently completed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so we can make corrections and move forward. This incident also highlighted the need to review HI-EMA’s Attack Warning Signal system and our community response plan in the event of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear attack. Mahalo to Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Young for their bipartisan efforts to help restore the community’s faith in government and ensure we are better prepared.”

Background: The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would:

  • Assess Current Reporting Procedures: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations of federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.
  • Establish Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.
  • Evaluate Federal Response: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.
  • Strengthen Public Health Preparedness: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.

BILL SUMMARY:

Section 1 – Short Title “Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018”

Section 2 – Findings: Findings note the traumatizing false missile alert sent to individuals, residents, and visitors in Hawai‘i on January 13; the President’s National Security Strategy that highlights a growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea; the re-implementation of monthly outdoor warning siren system tests in Hawai‘i; a HI-EMA launch-to-landing ballistic missile estimation from North Korea to Hawai‘i; and a Missile Defense Agency assessment that sophisticated ballistic missile technology is widely available to adversary nations of U.S. and its allies.

Section 3 – Report Regarding Current Ballistic Missile Notification Protocols: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations to federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.

Section 4 – Civil Defense Emergency Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawai‘i, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.

Section 5- Incident Report Regarding Ballistic Missile False Alarm: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the January 13 ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.

Section 6 – Public Health Recommendations: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.