State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

Click to read full release

Senator Hirono Secures Federal Funding for Clean Energy Research and Development in Hawaii

Kampachi Farms and Makai Ocean Engineering Receive $1.5 Million to Harness Power of Seaweed as Potential Energy Source

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that two Hawaii businesses will receive $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to develop offshore seaweed as a potential clean energy source. The funding was awarded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program.

“These grants recognize the innovative work being done in Hawaii to research and develop renewable energy resources,” said Senator Hirono, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “This funding will assess the viability of developing seaweed as an energy source, and explore how to use local resources to meet Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.”

Under the grant, Kampachi Farms in Kailua-Kona received $500,000 to develop an offshore seaweed production farm and test harvesting techniques for future use in renewable energy production.

“Marine agronomy – the culture of limu (seaweed) in oceanic conditions – offers potential for increased production of food, feeds and fuel,” said Neil Sims, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Kampachi Farms. “Using the power of the ocean’s primary production, we can increase availability of healthful food for people, feeds for fish and other animals, and biofuels for a carbon neutral planet, with minimal use of land, freshwater or artificial fertilizers. Offshore culture of limu connects innovative aquaculture with Hawaiian culinary traditions. It also offers – in our estimation – the only possible means of harnessing entrepreneurial resources to create incentives for countering ocean acidification.”

In addition, Makai Ocean Engineering in Honolulu will receive $995,978 to create a model that simulates the ocean to help researchers determine the proper design and estimate costs of offshore seaweed farming systems.

“Makai is thrilled to be selected for award alongside Kampachi Farms by ARPA-E under this innovative program,” said Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai Ocean Engineering. “In addition to advancing the state of the art in macroalgae cultivation, Makai will be strengthening our expertise in technologies with many other applications, such as autonomous and underwater robotics, biological and oceanographic numerical modeling, and offshore engineering. This project builds on our 44 year track record of developing cutting-edge technologies and bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs home to Hawaii for our kamaaina.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for ARPA-E funding. Earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging for continued funding for ARPA-E after the President threatened to slash the program by $20 million in an effort to wind it down.

Hawaii County Displays Portable Shelter to Raise Awareness of Need to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is displaying a portable shelter on its lawn this week as a way of raising awareness of the need to join hands to help the homeless of our community.

The 20-foot diameter fiberglass dome was loaned to the County by the First Assembly of God in Moanalua on O‘ahu following a faith-based summit to address family homelessness in Hawai‘i on Wednesday.  The congregation led by Pastor Daniel Kaneshiro shipped the dome at its own expense to Hilo for the summit, and is lending it to the County to display for a week.

Photo via intershelter.com

The dome is one of 10 that the O‘ahu congregation uses to house homeless families on its church property.  County Public Works crews on Thursday assembled the dome, which is a series of interlocking panels complete with windows, on a platform within an hour and a half.

“This is a great concept,” said Mayor Harry Kim as he inspected the dome. “The County is developing a master plan to address our homeless crisis, and this concept is one of the options that we are looking at to provide temporary shelters.”

The County is working on a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan that addresses not only houselessness, but also mental health issues, workforce development, health and hygiene, financial literacy and education in an effort to tackle the many causes of homelessness.  A broad coalition of the County, State, churches, non-profits, businesses, and other concerned citizens is rallying to help.  The ultimate goal is to graduate the people who are helped into affordable housing, jobs and a better future.

Dome developer Captain Don Kubley of Juneau, Alaska, was on hand to explain that the dome can sleep a family of four, with 12-foot ceiling capable of accommodating a loft for sleeping or storage space.  Kubley said that he is negotiating an order for 40,000 domes from FEMA, to house hurricane victims in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.  The price per 20-foot diameter standard white unit for humanitarian purposes, with two windows and a door, is $9,500.

Kubley said that when Hawai’i needs his InterShelter domes: “You will be put at the front of the production queue.”

Hawaii State Energy Office Schedules Community Meetings on Utility Model Study

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) will host a series of community meetings across the state next week to solicit community input for a study being done on future models for utility ownership and regulation in Hawaii.

HSEO, a division of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), is undertaking the study at the request of the Hawaii State Legislature to evaluate the costs and benefits of various electric utility ownership models, as well as the viability of various utility regulatory approaches to help Hawaii in achieving its energy goals. The study will examine scenarios for each of Hawaii’s counties.

HSEO has contracted with Boston-based London Economics International (LEI) to carry out the study, which is expected to be completed by January 2019. LEI and subcontractor Meister Consultants Group will lead the community meetings for Oct. 9-13. The meeting schedule is as follows:

Maui County:

  • Wailuku, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m.. Wailuku Community Center, 395 Waena St. RSVP Link
  • Kaunakakai, Oct. 10, 5:30-7 p.m. Mitchell Pauole Center Main Hall, 90 Ainoa St. RSVP Link
  • Lanai City, Oct. 11, 5:30-7 p.m.  Lanai Community Center, Eighth St. and Lanai Ave. RSVP Link

Hawaii County:

  • Kailua-Kona, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m. NELHA Research Campus, Hale Iako Building, 73-970 Makako Bay Drive. RSVP Link
  • Hilo, Oct. 10, 5:30 – 7 p.m.  Waiakea High School, 155 W Kawili St. RSVP Link

Kauai County:

  • Lihue, Oct. 12, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou St. RSVP Link

Honolulu County:

  • Waialua, Oct. 11, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Waialua High & Intermediate School, 67-160 Farrington Highway. RSVP Link
  • Honolulu, Oct. 13, approx. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Hawaii Foreign Trade Zone #9, Homer Maxey Conference Center, 521 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 201, Pier 2. RSVP Link

Next week’s meetings will focus on the topic of utility ownership and the role the utility plays in achieving community and state goals, including achieving 100 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector and minimizing costs. There are two additional rounds of statewide meetings scheduled. The second round of meetings slated for next spring will focus on utility regulatory models, while the third round of meetings next fall will be used to gather community input on draft findings of the report.

Community members planning on attending the meetings are encouraged to RSVP at the link above. Light refreshments will be served. Those unable to attend a meeting in person can view a copy of the material presented, which will be posted on HSEO’s website after the meetings, and may participate by submitting feedback via email to: dbedt.utilitybizmodstudy@hawaii.gov. Questions about the meetings or the study can be emailed to the same address.

Hawaii Launches New Online Workforce Tax Credit Application

Tax Credits for Hiring Vets Can Be Just a Click Away

Businesses applying for tax credits for hiring veterans and others can now do it online the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced. The Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal program that makes tax credits available to employers who hire veterans and individuals with significant barriers to employment.

“Making these requests available online is part of my effort to make government more effective and efficient while also facilitating the employment of our veterans and other job seekers,” said Gov. Ige. “I especially appreciate the department using special federal grant monies to develop the eApplication without State funds.”

Using the WOTC eApplication service, employers fill out online forms and their requests are immediately entered in to the processing queue. The WOTC eApplication also centralizes the processing of requests and serves as a repository for supporting documentation, all of which results in improved efficiency in processing.

“The department receives nearly 400 certification requests a month for the tax credit,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “This service enables employers to monitor the status of their requests via a personalized dashboard, which is a level of service we could not provide before.”

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Workforce Development Division developed the WOTC eApplication service as part of the eHawaii.gov State Portal Program (portal.ehawaii.gov). The department strongly recommends that employers use the new electronic system, but anticipates lag time before the federal government updates its website. Businesses seeking to use the new system may inquire through the following methods:

Email: dlir.workforce.develpment@hawaii.gov
Phone: (808) 686-8877
Mail: Workforce Development Division
Rm 112
830 Punchbowl St
Honolulu, HI 96813

About the Workforce Development Division
Workforce Development Division (WDD) is a customer-driven workforce development system that assists job seekers, workers and industries. WDD provides a free referral and placement service that links qualified job seekers with employers. WDD also strives to develop and maintain various partnerships with the private sector to identify emerging employment trends, technological advances, declining industries and economic issues. The division develops grant proposals in coordination with other agencies to carry out employment and training program activities and services.

Hawaii County Department of Public Works Request for Support Letters for Kea’au – Pahoa Road TIGER Grant Application

Aloha Big Island ‘Ohana!

Please assist the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, Hawaii District with a support letter for their Pahoa Road Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Application. I have attached DPW’s letter of support for your reference.

As support for the project is very important to the effort, we ask that you respond with a formal letter stating your support for the project. We ask that you respond by Thursday, October 12, 2017. Support letters can be emailed to: donald.l.smith@hawaii.gov

Please contact Donald Smith if you have any questions at (808)933-8866.

Mahalo,
Barett Otani, Hawaii County Department of Public Works

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls On Administration & Congress to Pass Aid Package for Puerto Rico Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor calling on the Trump administration & Congress to pass an aid package for Puerto Rico now in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard demanded that the administration immediately send all available resources to help with recovery efforts.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Right now 3.5 million Americans, our fellow citizens, are facing a humanitarian crisis. In Puerto Rico, the majority of people still lack basic electricity, clean drinking water and medicine — the basic necessities just to stay alive. What to speak of the basic resources they need to begin the great task of rebuilding their lives and their communities. It has been days since the hurricane passed over Puerto Rico, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

“The people of Puerto Rico are literally crying out for help. There are far too many, especially those in rural communities, who still have not been reached by those bringing aid. As a representative from the island state of Hawaii, I can only imagine their frustration and desperation. I urge the administration to dedicate all available resources for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and work with Congress to pass an emergency aid package to ensure that those delivering aid have what they need to help the people of Puerto Rico and save lives.”

Governor Ige Marks Family Assessment Center’s First Anniversary, Outlines Progress on Homelessness

Gov. David Ige today highlighted the state’s overall progress in addressing homelessness while recognizing the first anniversary of the state’s Family Assessment Center (FAC).

The FAC temporarily houses homeless families while they are being connected to services and long-term housing with the assistance of specialists from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. More than 90 percent of families who have stayed at the FAC and have left the facility over the past year, have been housed, or 35 families out of 38 families serviced. In addition, the average time from intake to placement is 82 days ­– eight days fewer than the 90-day goal the state previously set.

Gov. Ige also said the FAC reflects the state’s overall gains on homelessness, pointing to a nine percent overall decrease in homelessness between 2016-17 – the first decrease in eight years – and a 19 percent reduction in family homelessness.

“The Family Assessment Center is a game-changer that is making a difference in the lives of unsheltered families and helping to provide the stability they need to improve their lives,” Gov. Ige said.

The success of the FAC illustrates the ʻOhana Nui approach, which includes a focus on the whole family; a priority on children, particularly those between infancy and age 5; and collaboration to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“The Department of Human Services is proud to work hand-in-hand with the Governor’s Coordinator and Catholic Charities on long-term solutions to end homelessness,” said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “The Family Assessment Center is a testament to the power of generative partnerships and a focus on connecting families to an array of services suited to their needs. We see that when we can work together to meet families where they are, families can thrive and not just survive.”

The FAC, which is operated by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, is modeled after housing navigation centers in San Francisco.  Its small population – no more than 50 people, or 12-15 households at a time – enables more individualized care. Guests are not required to have identification, which is a key obstacle for many people experiencing homelessness.  Families are quickly transitioned to permanent housing or other appropriate services in 90 days or less. The facility opened on September 26, 2016.

County, State, Faith-Based Groups and Community Join Hands to Help Homeless

The County of Hawai’i is joining hands with the State of Hawai’i, the faith-based community, non-profits, businesses and other concerned citizens to address the island’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Harry Kim said.  The County is working collaboratively on a comprehensive program with the ultimate goal of transitioning homeless people of our island from temporary shelters to affordable housing and jobs.

“These are our people,” Mayor Kim said in a statement. “We cannot in good conscience let homelessness for families and individuals spiral upward; we must do something definitive to address it. I truly feel a growing support from the community.”

His remarks followed the 2nd Annual West Hawai’i Faith-Based Summit to End Family Homelessness in Kona on September 27.  The event was a day-long gathering involving more than 20 West Hawai’i church congregations, numerous social service agencies, healthcare professionals, businesses, as well as State and County officials.

“The faith-based community is really pitching in, offering to adopt homeless families and providing all kinds of material and spiritual support; we cannot thank these good people enough,” he said. “Their spirit is spreading far and wide in the community.”

Mayor Kim expressed deep gratitude for the commitment of assistance from the State of Hawai’i’s Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige, who attended the summit and stressed the need to maximize space and accelerate placement into shelters or transitional housing.

Governor David Ige conveyed a special message of support for the event, stressing the need for collaboration to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness.

“We appreciate so much the support that the State is giving us; they know this is crucial and that we need everybody’s help,” Mayor Kim said.

According to Lance Niimi, the County’s Homeless Coordinator there are approximately 913 homeless people islandwide, with about 379 individuals in families living without a home.  Niimi helped spearhead Camp Kikaha, a temporary Safe Zone encampment in Kona which houses about 30 people since its opening in May.

Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan

The public is invited to Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan that the county has contracted SSFM to conduct these for $500,000.

Kailua-Kona
Monday, October 9, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Building A, Council Chambers
74-5044 Ana Keohokalole Highway

Kea‘au
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Kea‘au Community Center, 16-186 Pili Mua Street

Pāhoa
Thursday, October 12, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2910 Kauhale Street

Waimea
Thursday, October 19, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Waimea Elementary School, 67-1225 Māmalahoa Highway

Hilo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale, 799 Pi‘ilani Street

If you require language translation, an auxiliary aid or service (e.g., sign language interpreter, accessible parking or materials in alternative format), please contact
Jo-Anna Herkes, SSFM International at (808) 356-1260 at least five (5) days prior to the meeting date. TTY users may use TRS to contact our office.

Hawaii Receives $2.7 Million to Improve Veterans Cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai

On Friday Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the State of Hawaii will receive over $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to improve veterans’ cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai.

“Our veterans’ cemeteries honor the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their eligible loved ones at the end of their lives,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Hawaii’s veterans have long advocated for needed repairs and improvements at cemeteries across the state, and the funding announced today meaningfully recognizes the sacrifice Hawaii veterans made for their country.”

“We’re very appreciative of the support for these important cemetery improvement projects from our Congressional and State Leaders and especially from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration,” said Ronald Han, Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services. “These significant enhancements will continue to improve the quality of our cemeteries for those Veterans and their eligible loved ones who served a grateful nation.”

As part of the grant funding, Maui Veteran Cemetery will receive $1.3 million to support the raising, realigning, and cleaning of 1,225 headstones, as well as the restoration of 25,600 square feet of turf.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery II-Hilo will receive $870,000 for the construction of a new maintenance building, entry gate with fencing, a flag assembly area, landscape, and supporting infrastructure.

Lanai Veterans Cemetery will also receive $582,000 for the construction of a new water system, as assembly area, 800 linear feet of fence, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Collectively, the projects will serve 54,300 veterans and their families.

Hawaii Joins State Coalition Demanding U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Stop Attacking Student Borrowers

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin and Executive Director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection Steve Levins today joined a coalition of states demanding U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos stop her systematic rollback of critical protections for student loan borrowers.

Click to read full letter

Attorney General Chin and Executive Director Levins said, “The United States Department of Education is supposed to be helping American students obtain a legitimate education that won’t financially cripple them. Instead, inexplicably, its actions are punishing students and benefiting predatory lenders. This must stop.”

The letter to Secretary DeVos, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, finds three main faults with an August decision by the USDOE to end two memoranda of understanding it had with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):

  • USDOE falsely asserted it has exclusive jurisdiction over companies that service federal student loans. In fact, student loan servicers are under the joint jurisdiction of the CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, attorneys general and other law enforcement agencies;
  • The letter is the latest in a series of actions by USDOE to strip critical protections for millions of students and families repaying student loans; and
  • USDOE misrepresents the strong work done by the CFPB on behalf of students and families across the country.

As the letter details: “Contrary to the Department’s assertion, Congress did not exempt the $1.3 trillion federal student loan market from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s jurisdiction – or from the jurisdiction of any other law enforcement agencies. … Not only is the Department’s assertion demonstrably false, but such an exemption would make no sense – the market for federal student loan servicers is bigger than any other consumer finance market except mortgages. Moreover, student loan borrowers, who in most cases cannot discharge their student loans through bankruptcy, are among the most vulnerable borrowers.”

USDOE’s August 31st letter to the CFPB terminating two memoranda of understanding ended critical protections designed to streamline the supervision of student loan servicers. Today’s letter from the states makes clear this step harms American families and makes it more difficult for the CFPB to assist and protect student borrowers.

As today’s letter states, “[t]he only beneficiaries of the Department’s sweeping rollbacks of consumer protections are the loan servicers and for-profit colleges, and their executives and investors. We suggest the Department of Education focus its efforts on removing the ability of schools selling worthless educational programs to obtain federally guaranteed student loans.”

Today’s letter highlights the strong work the CFPB has done to protect students and families, often in partnership with the USDOE and state attorneys general, including:

  • Processing complaints from over 40,000 student loan borrowers;
  • With Washington State and Illinois, suing Navient, the nation’s largest student loan servicer, for steering borrowers into costly repayment plans that benefit the servicer, not the borrower;
  • Cracking down on abusive for-profit colleges ITT Tech and Corinthian;
  • Halting illegal loan servicing practices at Wells Fargo; and
  • Working with state attorneys general to create an online tool that helps students plan for college by comparing financial aid offers, loan commitments and earnings potential.

Joining Hawaii and Pennsylvania on today’s letter were California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Free Medicare Basics Seminar

Helping the community stay informed about the “what,” “when,” and “how” of Medicare is important to the members of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) and on Saturday, October 7, 9:30am – 11:30am the credit union will present a free Medicare 101 seminar. Held at HCFCU’s Kaloko facility in the John Y. Iwane Credit Union Center Training Room (73-5611 Olowalu St., Kailua Kona), this informative seminar is free to the public but with limited seating.

Please register by contacting 808-930-7700 or marketing@hicommfcu.com. The seminar is for educational and informational purposes only. No plan specific benefits or details will be shared.

“We want to help our members with essential Medicare information so that they’re as prepared as possible when they’re ready to enroll,” said HCFCU President and CEO Tricia Buskirk.

Peter Amelotte, Health Benefits Manager with Aloha Insurance Services, Inc. will answer such questions as:

  • How old do I have to be to enroll in Medicare?
  • What are my Medicare health plan options?
  • Can I have other insurance and still have Medicare?
  • What’s the difference between Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B?
  • Is prescription drug coverage required?

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by its over 39,000 member/owners with branches in Honokaa, Kailua-Kona, Kaloko, Kealakekua and Kohala. In addition to complete checking and savings services, the credit union offers credit cards, auto, mortgage, construction, small business, educational and personal loans; online and mobile banking; investment services; youth programs, and supports numerous Hawaii Islandprograms and events. Membership in HCFCU is open to all Hawaii Island residents. For more information visit www.hicommfcu.com.

73 Hawaii Companies Represented at the 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show

Seventy-three companies represented Hawaii at the 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS).

This year marks the sixth consecutive year that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) organized a Hawaii Pavilion at TIGS, which was held September 6-8, 2017, at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight).

This year, the Hawaii pavilion filled 32 booths, and featured a café section. Last year’s gift show resulted in $11 million in export sales by Hawaii’s participating vendors. This year’s exhibitors are expected to top $13 million in export sales.

“The Tokyo International Gift Show is huge and it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase small and medium-sized businesses from Hawaii to the rest of the world,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.  “Each exhibitor walks away with new exposure to the international market and a global perspective on how to do business outside of Hawaii.”

“The Hawaii Pavilion grows each year in size and number of local companies exhibiting,” said Dennis T. Ling, administrator for DBEDT’s Business Development and Support Division.  “The Hawaii brand is established and recognized for quality and authenticity, which is reflected in the dramatic increase in our sales in the Japan market.”

As a result of dollar amount of exports achieved at TIGS, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week an award of $400,000 to continue the Hawaii State Trade Export Program.  Under the tag “Buy Hawaii, Give Aloha”, this program provides training, grants and tradeshows for companies looking to start exporting or increase their exports.

Angie Higa, owner of Sky Dreams LLC explained: “The Tokyo International Gift Fair is an important show that I look forward to each year.  As a designer and having the opportunity to expand my collection to Japan, where they love Hawaii and Hawaii-made products, is absolutely amazing.”

Keoki Tavares, owner of Aloha Elixir said: “This was a great experience. The Tokyo International Gift Show has really opened the door for us to make important business connections in Japan. Our products were well-received and it was exciting to participate for the first time this year.”
Erin Kanno Uehara, owner of Choco lea noted: “Our mission is ‘bringing peace to our world one chocolate at a time’ – so this is the perfect opportunity for us to fulfill that mission and spread our love and aloha from Hawaii.”

TIGS is the largest international trade show in Japan, drawing 200,000 buyers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to meet exhibitors at more than 4,500 booths spread out over Tokyo Big Sight exhibition area.

Waianuhea Bed and Breakfast Auction and Property Sale

Aloha to all our wonderful guests and friends over the years!

I am writing you today to tell you that Waianuhea is auctioning off all of its furnishings. The property itself is still up for sale, although the Manager’s Quarters (the small house at the bottom of the drive) was portioned off with 1.5 acres and sold last year. It is time for me to move on from Hawaii and all I have here, so I am taking the next step in this process and am clearing out the house of all furnishings.

My ohana stayed here in 2010.

I have engaged the services of Oahu Auctions, a highly reputable auction company that is conducting the auction online. Thus, if you are interested in bidding on an item from Waianuhea, even if you are far away, you can! For those of you on-island, you can see all the auction items in person during the preview period, which will be September 29th and 30th (10am to 5pm). The auction is scheduled to close Saturday, September 30th, starting at 6pm. Here is a link to the website for Oahu Auctions:

http://bid.oahuauctions.com/UPSCALE-BED-BREAKFAST-HAWAII-ISLAND-BIG-ISLAND_as48908

There you will see the catalog of all the items up for auction from Waianuhea. At this point, the catalog is still being “built”, so you may notice missing photos and descriptions which will be filled in soon. There are over 300 lots! You can browse through all these items, and if you decide to bid, click on “Get Approved to Bid” towards the top right corner of the page. There is no fee to bid.

There are items large and small up for sale! Maybe you will find your own perfect memento of Waianuhea.

Many thanks for your patronage over our lifetime,

Carol Salisbury, Owner – Waianuhea

PS-Here is the link to Waianuhea’s property listing, including a wonderful video tour which you may wish to take to remind yourself of the beauty of Waianuhea:

Waianuhea Real Estate Listing

If you know someone who is interested in the property itself, my brokers are now with MacArthur Sotheby’s:

Brodie Callender: brodie@macarthurhawaii.com ; 808-885-5538 office; 808-987-4218 mobile

Alethea Lai: alethea@macarthurhawaii.com ; 808-885-8885 office; 808-989-7861 mobile

Clarification – Cash Will Be Accepted at Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

This was shared w/ Governor Ige’s followers on Facebook yesterday.

I received the following Press Release from Richard Ha this afternoon clarifying the shared Facebook post that Governor Ige shared from Civil Beat yesterday:

HONOLULU – Hawaiʻi Educational Association for Licensed Therapeutic Healthcare (HEALTH) has long been involved in seeking banking options for Hawaiʻi’s nascent medical cannabis dispensaries. We deeply appreciate the leadership and creativity demonstrated by Governor David Ige and Hawaiʻi Financial institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda that culminated in yesterday’s announcement that the state had secured a banking solution for its legal cannabis industry.

Partner Colorado Credit Union’s Safe Harbor Private Banking Program is a pioneering program that takes on the regulatory burden required for our industry to be in compliance with federal guidelines so that state-licensed cannabis dispensaries can access banking services. Because these services are unavailable in Hawaiʻi, we are grateful that Colorado has stepped up to help.

The CanPay debit payment application is an alternative to cash payments that will be a welcome option for patients and dispensaries alike. Unlike a credit or debit card, payment will be instantly transferred from the patient’s existing bank account to the dispensary’s account in Colorado to facilitate a cashless purchase.

We recognize that the success of Hawaiʻi’s medical cannabis dispensary program is directly linked to the ability of patients to have safe access to cannabis products to help manage their medical conditions. As employers, we also want to ensure our employees enjoy a safe work environment. These options take us in the right direction at the right time.

Hawaiʻi’s aspiration to have a predominantly “cashless system” for all medical cannabis dispensaries is admirable. However, it is important to clarify that progress toward this goal will take considerable time. We will work with all stakeholders to successfully implement the proposed system. Patients who choose not to participate in a program that requires checking account transfers will still be able to make cash purchases in all Hawaiʻi-Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. Qualified patient access and compassion are two key tenets to any successful medical program.

Mayor Kim’s Letter to HICOP Board – RE: Helicopter Tours

Dear Mr. Ernst & HICOP Board:
RE: Helicopter Tours

In our meeting, I clearly indicated how I will proceed.

  • Request a meeting with Helicopter Tour Industry to begin dialogue with industry.
  • Request organization of a program by industry to address concerns.
  • Plan working group meeting of community and industry to see if any anything can be addressed together.

Meeting of first two bullets have been completed and waiting for report.

I was not aware that at this time a definitive position was established by HICOP and believed that the desire was to see if the whole issue can be discussed to work out acceptable solutions. Your correspondence indicate otherwise. If I am incorrect, please correct me.

I truly feel that at this time an effort should be made to address the problem by coming together for open dialogue, regardless of past attempts. As you know, the authority of this issues is with the FAA.

Sincerely,
Harry Kim
Mayor

Hawai‘i Unveils First Cashless Payment System for Medical Cannabis

Gov. David Ige and state Financial Institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda announced a “banking solution” that allows Hawai‘i’s medical cannabis dispensaries to access financial services and use a cashless payment system.

The solution makes Hawai‘i the first in the nation to have a cashless dispensary system.

The state has secured the services of Colorado-based Safe Harbor Private Banking that will provide limited and temporary financial services for Hawai‘i’s cannabis dispensaries. CanPay, a debit payment mobile application, will process sales transactions at retail dispensaries. Hawaii’s eight dispensary license holders have agreed to implement cashless operations by October 1, 2017.Financial services are currently unavailable in Hawai‘i because cannabis remains a federally prohibited substance.

“This new cashless system enables the state to focus on patient, public and product safety while we allow commerce to take place. This solution makes sense. It makes dispensary finances transparent and it makes it easier and safer for dispensaries to serve their patients and pay their employees and vendors,” said Gov. Ige.

While determining a banking solution, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Financial Institutions focused on safety—for patients, employees, dispensaries, as well as the wider community. The department sought a cashless solution to address concerns about increased crimes committed against cash-based operations.

“This solution for the dispensaries to conduct banking services in an entirely cashless method would directly address many concerns we have and problems encountered by the dispensaries,” said Iris Ikeda, Hawai‘i Financial Institutions Commissioner. “This will establish a safe environment for medical cannabis-using patients and businesses to operate. It is our hope that a Hawai‘i-based financial institution opens accounts in the future. For now, we are appreciative of the mainland credit union for stepping in,” added Ikeda.

Hawai‘i’s cashless system will allow cannabis dispensaries to use traditional financial services to legally conduct financial transactions. In addition, dispensaries will be capable of setting up direct deposit for employee payroll, collect and remit taxes, and make payments to vendors.

All transactions will be transparent, as purchases at retail dispensaries occur through the mobile application and other transactions would be recorded by the financial institution.

Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Aloha Green LLC, the state’s two operational dispensaries, have opened accounts with the mainland credit union and have begun using the mobile debit payment application. The remaining six dispensaries are now at different stages of development and varying stages of the approval process.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Registry Program and the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the banking solution can be found at https://cca.hawaii.gov/dfi/files/2017/09/MCD-FAQs.pdf.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes to Send Federal Aid to Hurricane Victims, and Ensure the Government Remains Open

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R. 601, which provides over $15 billion in emergency federal aid to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and other extreme weather events throughout the country. This funding ensures FEMA can provide immediate emergency response and relief as well as longer-term recovery efforts. The bill also extends the federal debt limit and ensures that the government remains open and able to deliver services until December 8, 2017.

“National tragedies like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma test our country’s resolve. With today’s funding bill, Congress came together, putting the American people before partisanship and politics, to support the emergency response and recovery efforts serving the people most affected by these disasters.  Since Hurricane Harvey hit, we have seen the aloha spirit coming from people all across the country who have turned out to support those struggling in the wake of this disaster.  We are reminded that when one part of the country faces adversity, our nation comes together and perseveres. In the last week, we have witnessed compassion from neighbors, bravery from first responders, and responsiveness from public institutions. As communities in Texas and Louisiana begin the process of recovery and renewal, the entire country sends its thoughts, prayers, and support to the people of the Caribbean and Florida who are dealing with Hurricane Irma,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Big Island Police Warning Public About Increase in Counterfeit Money

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about an increase in counterfeit money in circulation. Kaʻū police officers have been responding to numerous calls about fake $100 bills. The phony money looks, feels, and appears to be real, with the exception of pink Chinese writing characters on the front and back. These are training bills that Chinese banks use to train their tellers in counting foreign currency. The Chinese characters translate to read “For Training Purposes Only.”

A counterfeit detection pen will leave a mark on these bills.

Police advised merchants to be cautious, and to use the following methods in detecting counterfeit money:

  • Locate and read the plastic embedded security thread. It should say “USA” and the bill’s denomination.
  • Use an ultraviolet light to detect the thread glow color. The $5 bill should glow blue, the $10 bill should glow orange, the $20 bill should glow green, and the $50 bill should glow yellow. In older versions, the $100 bill should glow pink, while the current $100 bill has a 3-D ribbon.
  • Hold the bill up to the light to check for a watermark.
  • Tilt the bill to examine the color-shifting ink.
  • With a magnifying glass, locate and examine the micro-printing.

Citizens and businesses are reminded to treat the fake bill as evidence by placing it into an envelope and to call the police immediately.

Anyone with information on individuals involved in the making or circulating of counterfeit bills are urged to call 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 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.