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Commentary on HB1072: “This Deserves a More Transparent Process”

It is alarming the House chose not to allow this measure HB1072 to come to a vote while there is so much support from Senators, state agencies, mental health consumers and a wide swath of the community. This deserves a more transparent process.

Click to view status of bill

Click to view status of bill

The issue has been thoroughly vetted to address a mental health crisis occurring in our rural communities. We’ve spent almost ten years on this, gathering support that is now overwhelming, from even the Department of Health. The only opposition was the medical community that offered no solutions and has failed to address this for decades. This is a sad day for consumers, indeed.

The level of denial of how bad Hawaii’s mental health gaps are is evidenced when our legislators are influenced by powerful lobbyists while so many of our residents are suffering from mental illness and can’t access care.

Are we being forced to debate for another year whether highly trained psychologists should have the ability to help these patients with medication needs, even though there’s a serious shortage of psychiatrists, and many of those won’t see the neediest patients?

What we saw today is an insult to our legislative institution; elected officials have failed to live up to the standards that are set for public servants, they have allowed the institution to be used by the rich and powerful to the detriment of the hundreds of consumers of mental health services who asked for their help.

The public needs to demand that individuals who occupy seats in the Capitol building, do so with integrity and courage. These were absent today; it is a shameful and cowardly way for legislation to be killed.

Alex Santiago, Hawaii Psychological Association

Hawaii Coast Guard Rescues Sailor – No Food or Water in 3 Days

Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) Incident Report Number: 8285

Coast Guard Inflatable

Type of Incident: Vessel in Distress

Situation Found at Scene: 30 foot sailing vessel with no motorized power, but initially able to make its way in the direction of Hilo on wind power.  Contact made with Coast Guard via marine radio.

Cause: Undetermined

Remarks: After approximately 2 hours, person on board stated that his said became disabled and is not able to steer boat. Coast Guard initiated a response by their cutter with an estimate time of arrival of approximately 10 hours. The person on board relayed information to Coast Guard that he had not eaten or drank anything for 3 days. Coast Guard then made a request for HFD to provide assistance. HFD rescue initiated and towed the distressed vessel in to Hilo Bay. Person on board did not need any medical attention and was in good spirits.

Hawaii State Senators Pass Important Measures on Final Reading

Members of the State Senate voted to pass a number of important measures on today’s final reading.

Capital

By a unanimous vote, the Senate adopted HB1700 CD1 which added for the supplemental operating budget $405,792,059 in all methods of financing, of which $202,317,436 accounts for general fund increases for Fiscal Year 2017.  This represents a targeted 3.1% increase on last year’s biennium budget, and $159,773,111 less than what the Governor requested.  The conference draft also reduces $13,761,322 in general funds in Fiscal Year 2016 as a result of Medicaid savings that were realized, in line with the Senate Ways and Means’ guiding principle of better utilizing base funding and maximizing existing resources.

Other highlights of the budget bill include:

  • $81.9 million in prefunding for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB)
  • $12 million lump sum appropriation for homeless programs
  • $10 million for Preschool Open Doors
  • $4.7 million for conservation efforts and protection against invasive species
  • $4.8 million for programs supporting the agriculture industry
  • $3 million for kūpuna care
  • $4 million in grants supporting high tech and manufacturing industries

In support of education, the Senate passed SB3126 SD2 HD2 CD1, which provides $100 million in general funds to install air conditioning for public schools.

The Senate also voted to approve HB1850 HD1 SD3 CD1 which would allow alternative accommodations companies to register as tax collection agents with the state.

Other bills passed on final reading include:

  • HB2501 HD1, SD2, CD1 requires that where an application has been made for a lease to continue a previously authorized disposition of water rights, a holdover may be authorized annually until the pending application for the disposition of water rights is finally resolved or for a total of three consecutive one-year holdovers, whichever occurs sooner.
  • HB2675 HD1 SD2 CD1 which appropriates funds for research to combat rapid ohia death.
  • SB2659 SD2 HD1 CD1 which establishes an industrial hemp pilot program.
  • HB1907 HD2 SD2 CD1 requires all law enforcement agencies and departments charged with maintenance, storage, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits to conduct an inventory of all stored kits and report to the Attorney General.
  • SB2618 SD1, HD2, CD1 requires the department of transportation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system.
  • SB2954 SD2 HD1 authorizes county police departments to enroll firearms applicants and individuals who are registering their firearms into a criminal record monitoring service used to alert police when an owner of a firearm is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country.
  • SB2647 SD1 HD2 prohibits the sale, offer to sell, purchase, trade, or possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product from various animal and marine species. Provides exceptions for traditional cultural practices protected under the State Constitution.

The Senate recommitted SB2816, SD1 HD2 which would have amended the criminal trespass law to apply to state properties regardless of whether it is fenced, enclosed, or otherwise secured and HB32, SD2 CD1 which would have clarified crosswalk procedures and establish safety precautions at crosswalks.

The bills that were adopted on final reading and passed by the House will now be enrolled to the Governor for his signature, veto or passage without his signature.

For a list of all the bills that were voted on Final Reading, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii House of Representatives Approve Bills on Last Day of Legislative Session

On the eve of the close of the 2016 legislative session, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including the state budget, affordable housing, homelessness, seniors, taxation, agriculture, invasive species, the environment and sexual assault.

Capital

“These measures reflect the House’s concerted efforts to work closely and collaboratively with the Administration and the Senate to come up with sound and reasonable solutions to the state’s and our citizen’s needs,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).  “We also crafted a cautious yet responsible budget that addresses our long-term obligations and immediate social services needs and capital improvement requirements.”

HB1700 HD1 SD1 CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the supplemental year of the current biennium will now go to the Governor David Ige for his signature.  The bill appropriates approximately $13.7 billion in general funds for FY2017, including more than $1.1 billion for capital improvement projects (CIP) funded by general obligation bonds and approximately $2.5 billion for CIPs funded by all other means of financing.

In crafting the budget, lawmakers provided funds for affordable housing, the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Wahiawa General Hospital, Hawaii State Hospital, and to pay down unfunded liabilities for state retiree post-employment benefits.

Highlights of the measures passed today include:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB2833 SD2 HD2 CD1, which increases funding for affordable rental housing development by making the State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit more valuable.  Reduces state tax credit period from 10 to five years.

HB2305 HD1 SD1 CD1, which authorizes the creation of Regional State Infrastructure Improvement Subaccounts within the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund and the use of that fund to provide loans and grants to finance regional state infrastructure improvements in areas of planned growth.

SB2566 SD1 HD1 CD1, which provides capital for the development of affordable rental housing by transferring excess monies from the rental assistance revolving fund to the rental housing revolving fund.

SB2561 SD2 HD1 CD1, which establishes a goal of developing or vesting the development of at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units ready for occupancy between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31 2026. Establishes a temporary special action team on rental housing to make recommendations to the Governor, Legislature, and other parties to achieve this goal.

SB2559 SD1 HD1 CD1, which requires homeless shelter stipends to be paid for achievement of performance measures.  Revises existing provisions on the establishment and collection of shelter and service payments from homeless families and individuals.

SB2560 SD2 HD1 CD1, which requires and appropriates $500,000 for the Department of Health to provide treatment and care for homeless individuals with serious and persistent mental health challenges to enable them to reside in a permanent dwelling or homeless facility.

EDUCATION

SB3126 SD2 HD2 CD1, which provides $100 million for air conditioning, heat abatement and related energy efficiency measures at public schools.

HB1814 HD1 SD1 CD1, which appropriates funds for a full time position to provide training and track data on public school pupil punishment and use of restraints restrictions.

SB2731 SD1 HD1 CD1, which clarifies that developers of certain projects are subject to school impact fees, even when the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation or a corresponding county agency participates in the development of the projects. Provides that in urban Honolulu, fee in lieu funds may be used to purchase completed construction, construct new school facilities, improve or renovate existing structures for school use, or lease land or facilities for school use.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

HB1608 HD1 SD1 CD1, which appropriates $750,000 for the UH Graduation Pathway System.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB2037 HD1 SD2 CD1, which appropriates $4 million for the Department of Land and Natural Resources to host the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress meeting at the Hawaii Convention Center on September 1-10, 2016.

HB2626 HD1 SD2 CD1, which prohibits the Department of Health from issuing a permit for a new underground fuel storage tank within 100 yards of the shoreline. Allows DOH to issue a permit to repair or replace existing underground fuel storage tanks. Allows permit holders for existing underground fuel storage tanks located within 100 yards of the shoreline to renew their permits. Prohibits operation of and renewal of a permit for an underground fuel storage tank within one hundred yards of the shoreline, beginning 1/1/2045.

HB2646 HD2 SD2 CD1, which creates a permanent fuel tank advisory committee to study, monitor, and address fuel tank leak issues.

SB2645 SD2 HD1 CD1, which requires the Commission on Water Resource Management to establish a program to provide technical assistance to the counties and public water systems to implement standardized water audits of public water systems.

HB1050 SD2 CD1, which mandates the Department of Agriculture to perform specified tasks to address the interisland spread of invasive species.

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB2772 HD1 SD2 CD1, which requires UH to train employees and students on sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking policies, appoint a confidential advocate at each campus, designate all faculty members as responsible employees under Title IX, enter into memorandums of understanding with county police departments regarding reporting of sexual assault cases to the police, conduct a campus climate survey, and submit reports to the Legislature.

HB1902 HD2 SD1 CD1, which replaces the offense of promoting prostitution in the first degree with sex trafficking to be classified as a violent crime and a class A felony.  Provides that the offense of prostitution by a person younger than 18 years is a violation and subject to the jurisdiction of the Family Court. Establishes a class C felony for the act of paying for sex in reckless disregard of the fact that the other person is a victim of sex trafficking.

SB2196 SD2 HD1 CD1, which establishes the law enforcement officer independent review board within the Department of the Attorney General to investigate incidents of officer-involved death.

HB1907 HD2 SD2 CD1, which requires all law enforcement agencies and departments charged with maintenance, storage, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits to conduct an inventory of all stored kits and report to the Attorney General.  Requires the Department of the Attorney General to report to the Legislature on the number of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits being stored, plans and procedures for the disposition of new and untested kits, and related information. Appropriates funds for testing of at least 500 kits.

SB2439 SD1 HD1 CD1, which establishes exceptions to the offense of obstructing government operations and the offense of violation of privacy in the second degree for a person making a video or audio recording or photograph of a law enforcement officer while the officer is in the performance of duties in a public place or under circumstances in which the officer has no reasonable expectation of privacy; provided that the officer may take reasonable action to maintain safety and control, secure crime scenes and accident sites, protect the integrity and confidentiality of investigations, and protect the public safety and order.

HB2632 HD2 SD2 CD1, which requires firearms owners who have been disqualified from owning, possessing or controlling a firearm and ammunition due to a diagnosis of significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or due to emergency or involuntary hospitalization to a psychiatric facility, to immediately surrender their firearms and ammunition upon notice to the Chief of Police.

PRISONS

HB2391 HD2 SD2 CD1, which defines circumstances under which the director of Public Safety may release low level, nonviolent inmates from community correctional centers. Requires the director of Public Safety to submit a report to the Legislature regarding certain information regarding the early release of these inmates.

SB2630 SD1 HD1 CD1, which authorizes Hawaii Correctional Industries to sell inmate-made products and services on the open market to the general public.  Repeals the prohibition of the sale of such products on the open market.  Requires Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a Reentry Academy for Training and Entrepreneurial Resources (RAFTER).

LABOR

HB2605 HD1 SD2 CD1, which appropriates funds to establish, administer, and support job training and supportive services for individuals who are unemployed and dislocated due to the closure of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company and the Makena Beach and Golf Resort on Maui.

HB2722 HD1 SD1 CD1, which creates a temporary program limited to Maui County to provide additional benefits to unemployed workers by extending their unemployment insurance benefits.

HB1739 HD2 SD1 CD1, which prohibits employers from requiring, requesting or coercing employees or potential employees to provide access to their personal social media accounts, subject to certain exemptions.

HEALTH

HB2707 HD1 SD2 CD1, which requires the Department of Health and licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to provide aggregated de-identified data to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism upon request. Amends various definitions and provisions relating to medical marijuana dispensary background checks, operations, paraphernalia, transport, and testing. Provides that advanced practice registered nurses may certify patients for medical marijuana use.

SB2392 SD2 HD3 CD1, which takes steps to reduce opioid-related overdoses by encouraging the use of opioid antagonists to assist individuals experiencing or at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

SB2557 SD2 HD1 CD1, which appropriates funds to develop and implement the concussion monitoring and education program for school athletics, administer concussion testing to high school student athletes, and implement a concussion awareness program for school athletics and youth athletics.

HB1897 HD1 SD1 CD1, which ensures that all insurers in the State, including health benefits plans, provide insurance coverage for annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, including screenings for human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

KUPUNA

SB2384 SD1 HD1 CD1, which requires the Department of Health to conduct unannounced visits and inspections, including inspections for relicensing and recertification, for certain state-licensed or state-certified care facilities, and unannounced inspections for license renewals for medical marijuana production centers and dispensaries.

HB1878 HD1 SD2 CD1, which appropriates $1.7 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) and $32,000 for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly. Requires the Executive Office on Aging to submit reports to the Legislature on its development of a system of evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the ADRCs in each county and its implementation of the federal No Wrong Door/ADRC network implementation grant it received.

HB2252 HD1 SD2 CD1, which requires hospitals to adopt and maintain written discharge policies consistent with recent updates to federal regulations to support families by enabling patients in inpatient hospitals to designate a caregiver prior to discharge from the facility, and allow the patient and the patient’s caregiver to participate in the discharge planning.

SB2076 SD2 HD1 CD1, which establishes the Durable Medical Equipment Supplier License Program for suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and related supplies through the Office of Health Care Assurance.  Allows license fees to be deposited into the Office of Health Care Assurance Special Fund and amends the cap on amounts of the Special Fund that may be used per fiscal year.

AGRICULTURE

HB1689 HD2 SD2 CD1, which establishes an organic foods production tax credit, making Hawaii one of the first state in the nation to do so, applicable to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2016. Sunsets 12/31/2021.

HB1982 SD1, which authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Big Island Dairy LLC with the operation of its dairy farm in Ookala.

SB2659 SD2 HD1 CD1, which establishes an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp and distribution of its seed in Hawaii through limited activities by licensee-agents of the Board of Agriculture for purposes of agricultural or academic research.

HB1997 SD1 HD1 CD1, which implements the recommendation of the Hawaii Agriculture Workforce Advisory Board to create an Agriculture Workforce Development Pipeline Initiative Program to conduct training on all islands for teachers and school administrators in agricultural self-sufficiency.

HB2657 HD2 SD2 CD1, which amends the Molokai Diversified Agricultural Revolving Loan Program to provide cost reimbursements to Molokai farmers and ranchers to reimburse costs of mandated food safety compliance audits and other related costs.

HB1999 HD1 SD2 CD1, which establishes within the Livestock Revitalization Program a grant program for Qualified Feed Developers.  Appropriates funds for the Feed Developer Grant Program and reimbursements to Qualified Producers for feed costs.

TRANSPORTATION

HB2086 HD2 SD2, which appropriates and deposits $37 million in general funds into the state highway fund as a subsidy.  Requires the Governor to provide a plan to sustain the state highway fund.

SB2618 SD1 HD2 CD1, which requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system.

HB2049 HD2 SD2 CD1, which establishes the roads commission to make recommendations on the ownership of private roads.  Adds roads, alleys, streets, ways, lanes, bikeways, and bridges to the list of public highways or public trails that can be dedicated or condemned.

HB260 HD1 SD1 CD1, which establishes motor vehicle insurance requirements for transportation network companies and transportation network company drivers to take effect on Sept. 1, 2016.

HB1736 HD1 SD2, which renames the Kona International Airport at Keahole as the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.

LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

HB2604 HD1 SD1 CD1, which clarifies that acceptance by the Territorial Legislature or the Legislature of a dedication of land in the Kakaako Community Development District by a private owner is sufficient to convey title to the State.

HB1581 HD2 SD2 CD1, which requires decisions in contested case hearings of the Commission on Water Resource Management, Land Use Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Hawaii Community Development Authority, and those involving conservation districts to be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, with certain exceptions.

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS

HB2034 HD1 SD2 CD1, which appropriates funds to the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission for restoration and preservation projects.  Requires submission of a financial self-sufficiency and sustainability plan to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the 2017 Regular Session.

ENERGY

HB2569 HD2 SD1 CD1, which requires the Department of Education to establish a goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035, making Hawaii one the first in the nation to set such a goal for its public school system.  Requires the DOE to expedite the cooling of all public school classrooms.

SB2652 SD2 HD2 CD1, which establishes a 5-year renewable fuels production tax credit applicable to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016. Repeals the ethanol facility tax credit.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

HB2489 SD1 CD1, which appropriates funds for the establishment of a veterans services counselor IV position within the Office of Veterans’ Services to assist all veterans, with a primary focus on female veterans and for the Vietnam veterans 50th anniversary commemoration.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

HB2317 HD1 SD1 CD1, which makes a general fund appropriation of $150 million for fiscal year 2016‑2017 to further capitalize the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund (“Rainy Day” fund).

TAXES

HB1850 HD1 SD3 CD1, which allows transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services.

SB2987 SD2 HD2 CD1, which extends the annual $103 million allocation of Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) revenues to the counties for fiscal year 2016-2017.

SB3084 SD1 HD2 CD1, which amends the cesspool upgrade, conversion, or connection income tax credit by making it available for cesspools within a tax map key area in which more than one residence is connected to a large-capacity cesspool.

OTHERS

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD1, which authorizes Hawaii Health Systems Corp. employees facing position abolishment, reduction-in-force, or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.

HB2008 HD2 SD2 CD1, which requires state departments and agencies to obtain approval from the governor for employment of temporary hires for periods of greater than two terms of 89 days for a position that is wholly funded by general funds.

Here are all bills passed by the Legislature this session (this report will be complete after all bills are sent to the governor.)

Pahoa Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo Festival

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa will celebrate Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo Festival on May 14, with a procession through the village.

Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo

Santacruzan is a religious holiday traditionally celebrated throughout the month of May, honoring the mother of King Constantinople’s mother, Queen Helena, and her role in bringing Christianity to the Philippines.

Since May is also the month that Christians dedicate to honoring the Virgin Mary, this year’s Pahoa event will commemorate Flores de Mayo, or Flowers of Mary.

The procession through the village will take place after a 4:30 p.m. mass at Sacred Heart Church. The 5:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m. procession will start at Sacred Heart Church, then onto Pahoa Village Road, and end on Kauhale Street, at the Pahoa Community Center.

Spectators can expect to see a colorful pageant procession, with women dressed in their finest attire, carrying symbols of the Santacruzan, escorted by men under hand-carried bamboo arches adorned with native flowers.  The women and men will represent various historical-religious figures detailing the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine the Great, and the return of the Holy Cross from Jerusalem to Rome.  An emcee will narrate the procession and the re-enactment of this pilgrimage.

Those involved in the procession were not only selected for their looks, but also their virtues.  The procession will feature statues of the Virgin Mary and Our Lady of Grace and also include ethnic dances of the different cultures in the Hawaiian Islands.

Nine days of prayer, or a novena, in honor of the Holy Cross precedes the Santacruzan and the Flores de Mayo.  Introduced by Spaniards, the festival has since become part of the Filipino traditions identified with youth, love and romance.  The Sacred Heart Church community hopes to make the Santacruzan and the Flores de Mayo Festival a tradition for Pahoa Village.

For more information, contact the Sacred Heart Church at (808)965-8202 or email shpahoa@hotmail.com.

Paradise Roller Girls Quadruple Header Coming Up

The Civic was aroused Sat., April 30 as the first roller derby home bouts were held between Pacific Roller Derby and Waimea Wranglers Rough Rollers and Hilo’s very own Paradise Roller Girls.

roller derby 5316Waimea came away most successful, holding a 2-0 victory over both Pacific and Paradise.  PRG lost to Waimea for the second time this season but turned out a 182-105 victory over the Hulagans. Pacific lost both games.

If you missed out on the action this time, don’t worry, local roller derby is ramping up with another home bout around the corner.  Saturday, June 4 will be an all day event with four teams scrapping for wins.

“The first game starts at 11 a.m. and the last game probably won’t end until 8:30 p.m..  That’s so much roller derby. I am just thinking of how much I am going to get slammed into on the track,” Hannah “Hawkalolo Hottie” Hawkins, Paradise Roller Girls skater, said.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under the age of 5. Tickets can be bought at Jungle Love, CD Wizzard, Mt. View Video, Kadota Liquor, Lucy’s Taqueria, at the door or from any of the Paradise Roller Girls.

Robert Cazimero Returns to the Kahilu Theatre

Saturday, May 14 at 7:00 PM, Hawai‘i’s most revered and loved kumu and singer, Robert Cazimero, returns to Kahilu Theatre to carry on with an unbroken 31-year-old tradition – celebrating May Day in Waimea.

Robert Cazimero

Robert Cazimero

Robert’s elegant voice is so distinctive that whether he performs on piano or with his brother Roland as the Brothers Cazimero, he is instantly recognized and people are compelled to listen.

Robert has been a part of close to 40 full album projects; many considered classics in the history of Hawaiian music. The popular success of the music he has made and participated in is recognized through dozens of awards, performances on the world’s most prestigious stages and the millions of albums that have been bought by people around the world.

Robert explains; “Whether you’re going to play at the Carnegie Hall or in Sam Kapu’s garage at Kapahulu, it’s the product and talent and the love that you bring that makes that place a Mercedes or Carnegie Hall. It really doesn’t matter about all the damn accoutrements. It’s what you feel and what you bring to that moment.”

Robert has studied the art of hula for decades and has been an essential player in the evolution of modern Hawaiian music. His passion and talent have played a huge role in taking Hawaiian music and dance to diverse stages all over the globe. Robert’s kane of Na Kamalei were overall winners at the 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival.

Kahilu Theatre doors open at 6pm for evening shows, with food and beverages available for sale

Tickets are $68 / $58 / $47 / $20 and available for purchase online at www.kahilutheatre.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Monday-Friday, from 9am to 1pm.

This performance is made possible by sponsorship from Lorraine and Marianne Maynard.

Big Island of Hawaii 10 Days of Free Health Care – Tropic Care 2016

The Big Island of Hawaii will have 10 days of free health care as a result of Tropic Care 2016.

The Oahu-based 1984th United States Army Hospital will conduct a two-week Innovative Readiness Training mission providing medical care to under served communities of Hawaii.

Screenings will be held in Pahala, Hawaii Ocean View Estates and Keaau.  See flyer below for times and dates.

tropic care 2016

Working closely with the Department of Health, State of Hawaii, and other private corporations, the 1984th USAH, along with other military units, are proud to serve the people in the community.

Thanks to the support of The US military, Hawaii State and county plus many non-profits and volunteers for making Tropic Care 2016 possible.

Missing Hawaii Island Extended Furlough Inmate Turns Himself In

Missing extended furlough inmate Michael Joyce turned himself in to Hawaii Police last night.  He was returned to the Hawaii Community Correctional Center (HCCC) at 2:20 a.m.  Joyce failed to report to HCCC for his scheduled check-in on April 6.

Michael Joyce

Michael Joyce

Joyce is serving time for Assault 2. He is classified as community custody which is the lowest custody level.  Escape 2 is expected to be added to his charges. His next parole hearing was scheduled for June 2016.

Inmates in the extended furlough program live and work outside of the facility but must check in at various times throughout the month.

Hawaii Department of Education to Expand Free Meal Program to 30 Schools on Six Islands

This upcoming school year, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will expand a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) free meal program, called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), from seven public schools to 30 across the state. 

School Lunches

The CEP program allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to all students even if they do not qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch reimbursements.

“We are pleased to be able to expand this program to more schools and include nearly every island with free meals,”stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’ve heard from parents in this year’s pilot project who say the program was a tremendous help for their families.”

The 23 additional schools being added to the program in school year 2016-17 are:

Kauai:

  • Kekaha Elementary

Hawaii Island:

  • Kau High & Pahala Elementary
  • Keaau Elementary
  • Keaau High
  • Keaau Middle
  • Keonepoko Elementary
  • Naalehu Elementary
  • Pahoa Elementary
  • Pahoa High

Maui:

  • Hana High & Elementary

Lanai:

  • Lanai High & Elementary

Oahu:

  • Leihoku Elementary
  • Maili Elementary
  • Makaha Elementary
  • Nanaikapono Elementary
  • Nanakuli Elementary
  • Nanakuli High & Intermediate
  • Olomana School
  • Pope Elementary
  • Waianae Elementary
  • Waianae High
  • Waianae Middle
  • Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate

The seven schools in the pilot program will continue participating next year, including:

  • Kaunakakai Elementary School, Molokai
  • Kilohana Elementary School, Molokai
  • Maunaloa Elementary School, Molokai
  • Molokai Middle School, Molokai
  • Molokai High School, Molokai
  • Mountain View Elementary School, Hawaii Island
  • Linapuni Elementary School, Oahu

To qualify for the CEP program, a district, grouping or school must have a minimum of 40 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.

Currently HIDOE pays an average of $5.50 a meal (including food costs, labor, utilities, etc.). The USDA reimburses the state $3.85 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.40 for those paying for a meal. HIDOE charges $2.50 for elementary school meals for a total of $2.90 in recouped cost for the state. 

Under the program all students in the CEP school would qualify for the higher $3.85 reimbursement. While the seven schools will no longer be collecting meal monies and ensuring accounts have sufficient funds, families will be required to provide information for data collection.  

“Last year, we were able to launch this pilot project at seven schools to establish its impacts on finances and staffing,”said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “The response was positive and we are happy that this year we will be able to expand the program to all counties and include several new whole school complexes. This USDA program allows us to feed more students, for free, and do so in a way that does not increase the cost to the state.”

For more information about the USDA CEP program visit: http://1.usa.gov/1iP9FQI.  For details on HIDOE’s CEP pilot program, visit http://bit.ly/1Kh8SL1

HIDOE’s School Food Services Branch has a website that will provide families at schools that are not in the CEP program with the option to submit applications for Free and Reduced-Price Meal Benefits online. For more information visit http://bit.ly/1VX1OID.

Pahoa Round-A-Bout – “Phase B” Begins, “Phase C” Still to Come

Today, “Phase B” of the Pahoa round-a-bout opened and people have already been complaining about the “wait” to get into Pahoa.  Someone on my Facebook page commented “Today it was only about a 13-15 minute “back up” getting to the roundabout…at 4 pm. It will be interesting.”

“Phase A” (April 11th – April 24th) consisted of a half a round-a-bout:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Now “Phase B” (May 2nd – May 15th) is in action, where you can go in a full circle:

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“Phase C” is expected to be worked on between May 16th and May 27th:

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The entire project is scheduled to be completed during the summer of 2016:

phase date

Hirono, Ige, Public Health, and Emergency Response Experts Raise Awareness, Call for Funding To Fight Zika

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Governor David Ige, Hawaii Director of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler, State Administrator of Emergency Management Vern Miyagi, Healthcare Association of Hawaii emergency responders, and Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech today called for increased public awareness and additional federal resources to prepare for and fight the Zika virus in Hawaii and across the country. Senator Hirono and Governor Ige also got a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work to develop a Zika vaccine.

Senator Hirono and Governor Ige get a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work in developing a Zika virus vaccine.

Senator Hirono and Governor Ige get a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work in developing a Zika virus vaccine.

“As Hawaii continues to recover from the recent dengue fever outbreak, we must act before the Zika virus poses a major threat to Hawaii families,” said Senator Hirono. “Bringing together Governor Ige and Zika experts today underscored that we must ensure first responders, state and county governments, and pioneering scientists like Dr. Parks have the necessary resources to face Zika head on. Stopping a widespread U.S. Zika outbreak requires a comprehensive approach and that’s why I’ll continue to push for action on the President’s emergency funding request to fund vector control, education programs, and vaccine development in Hawaii.”

“We all have a stake in preventing the Zika virus and other mosquito borne illnesses from taking hold in Hawaii. We must continue our collaboration and coordinated statewide fight against these illnesses, and with much needed support from the federal government, we will work to reduce the risks here in Hawaii and across the country,” said Governor David Ige.

“Although Zika is not currently circulating in Hawaii and there have been no locally-acquired cases, the mosquitoes that can transmit Zika – the same species that transmit dengue fever and chikungunya – are found in Hawaii, so the virus could be brought into our state by an infected traveler if precautions are not taken,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler, Hawaii State Department of Health. “All of the cases identified here have been travel-related and infected while outside of Hawaii, and the risk of imported cases increases as we head into warmer summer months and peak travel season. It is crucial for infected individuals to avoid mosquito exposure for three weeks upon their return home. The Department of Health aggressively investigates all reported cases of Zika to reduce the possibility of the disease spreading in our state.”

“We thank Senator Hirono for highlighting the dangerous potential for a Zika outbreak in Hawaii. The recent fight against Dengue has prepared us for Zika however we must continue our efforts to eliminate the mosquito vector. County, state, and Federal agencies can provide support and guidance, but success can only come as the result of a strong and sustained community effort to eliminate the mosquito vector and its breeding grounds,” said State Administrator of Emergency Management Vern Miyagi.

“It’s important for Hawaii to prepare now in order to prevent or minimize a Zika outbreak,” said Chris Crabtree, Interim Director of Emergency Services, Healthcare Association of Hawaii Emergency Services. “HAH Emergency Services has been supporting the efforts of the state and community partners during the dengue outbreak, and is prepared to do the same for future outbreaks of any infectious disease including Zika. Active preparation can prevent or reduce the health impact of disease outbreaks and increase the safety of our residents and visitors. We support any increase in aid to fight Zika.”

“We strongly support Senator Hirono’s call for the Federal government’s leadership in the battle against the Zika virus. Hawaii Biotech is working diligently to rapidly develop a safe and effective vaccine to protect all of us from this dangerous virus,” said Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech, Inc.

For nearly three months, Congressional Republicans have failed to respond to the President’s emergency funding request, even though the virus continues to spread from South America. In Hawaii, there are nine confirmed cases of Zika since 2015, which includes a case of an infected infant born with microcephaly, a serious birth defect directly linked to Zika. On Friday, the first U.S. death caused by Zika was reported in Puerto Rico.

Senator Hirono is an original cosponsor of federal legislation that would fund the President’s emergency request to provide resources for education and outreach programs, shore up Hawaii health care workers’ response to Zika, increase Hawaii vector control programs, and support the work of companies like Hawaii Biotech, which is racing to develop a Zika vaccine.

Jyselle Arruda Awarded Hawaii Rotary Youth Foundation Scholarship

Jyselle Arruda of Hilo High School has been awarded the 2016 Youth scholarship from the Hilo Bay Rotary Club.

Hilo Bay Rotarians congratulate Jyselle Arruda on her scholarship award. Left to right, Richard Cunningham, Kim Keahiolalo, Arruda and Bettye Williams, RCHB president.

Hilo Bay Rotarians congratulate Jyselle Arruda on her scholarship award. Left to right, Richard Cunningham, Kim Keahiolalo, Arruda and Bettye Williams, RCHB president.

Ms. Arruda will receive a cash award of $5,000 for her planned studies at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. A member of the National Society of High School Scholars and active in community service and school clubs, Ms. Arruda plans to study pre-med at UH-Hilo with a goal to become a pediatrician and set up a children’s health clinic on Hawaii Island. She lives in Honomu with her grandmother, and buses daily to Hilo High.

Hawaii Rotary Youth Foundation Scholarships (HRYF) are awarded to senior high school students across the state on a competitive basis of scholarship, campus leadership and service, and promise of future contributions to the community at large.

“Once again, Rotary Club of Hilo Bay had a number of outstanding scholar applicants. Jyselle impressed us not only with her academics, but with her drive to overcome obstacles on her path to meet her goals,” said Kim Keahiolalo, scholarship committee chair.

The Rotary Club of Hilo Bay is a staunch supporter of academic scholarships for future leaders, and is generally the Club with the largest contribution to the HRYF each year. This year alone, Hilo Bay contributed $6,100 to the scholarship fund. Richard Cunningham of Cunningham Galleries, spearheads scholarship donations in East Hawaii.

Dunkin’ Donuts Entering Hawaii Market

Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. has signed a multi-unit store development agreement with new franchise group, Aloha Petroleum, Ltd., under which Aloha Petroleum will develop 15 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii (The Big Island) in the state of Hawaii.

dunkin-donuts

The first restaurant is scheduled to open in 2017 and will mark Dunkin’s foray into Hawaii.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to launch the Dunkin’ Donuts brand in Hawaii and look forward to opening our first location early next year,” said Richard Parry, president and chief executive officer of Aloha Petroleum. “This new business venture will complement our existing retail offerings throughout the islands and help us diversify our portfolio.”

The agreement would mark Dunkin’s entry into its 42nd U.S. state.

Local Artist Files “Breach of Contract” Lawsuit Against Dubai Based Retail Giant

Well known local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker and his company Tiki Shark Art Inc, who are currently featured in Hana Hou – The magazine of Hawaiian Airlines, filed a “breach of contract” lawsuit against Dubai based retail giant Mohamed Al Hashemi Enterprises.

Brad in Hana Hou“Its so strange to be sought after, revved up for huge project on a International scale and then unceremoniously dropped” quoted artist Parker who is also the owner of Tiki Shark Art Inc. “A Hawaii judge has already ruled in my favor and now it seems the Middle Easterner’s continue to ignore and disrespect that decision? I am puzzled and distraught.”

Brad with Arab

According to public court record Parker won over a $43,000 award via default judgment after no one appeared on the Middle Eastern Company’s behalf back in March even when the officers of the company were clearly served papers and informed of the lawsuit and court date.

tiki shark lawsuitTiki Shark’s long term corporate attorney David Eugene Smith said “I am use to going to bat for the small business owners and their rights just like I have done in the past”. Smith added “It’s going to be a David verses Goliath situation on this case again and right will prevail”.

Mohammed Al Hashemi Enterprises currently does business with several high profile US brands and in this case being represented by DeVries & Associates – Porter DeVries who did not respond to questions emailed to them.

Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management Understaffed and Overworked – Appliances Stack Up

The recent Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island of Hawaii has had everyone on edge the last few months and both State and County officials have had their hands full dealing with this outbreak.  Thousands and thousands of tires have been disposed of since the county started accepting tires at the transfer stations.

Folks have been noticing that the Hilo Transfer station in general has had a lot of e-waste and appliances stacking up.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Recently Doug Arnott, from Arnott’s Lodge in Hilo, asked the following question in the Facebook Group Opala in Paradise to Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, Head of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Environmental Management:

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd can you give us an update on the ever growing pile of refrigerators and stoves at the Hilo Station…it seems that a good economy is causing old units to be dumped faster than they can be removed….or is this related to refrigerant removal or a slowdown in scrap metal buying by China…can we get an update please

Leithead-Todd responded:

We’ve had to pull manpower and equipment away to deal with tires and other dengue related clean ups. Earlier we had it pile up as we had a contract dispute and we could not move them until the contract issue was resolved at the state level. Now we are moving the white goods out but they seem to be coming back in as fast as we dispose of them. We hope to get ahead of it after we stop accepting tires.

USDOE Grants Waiver Extension to Hawaiian Language Test

For the second consecutive year, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) will issue a specialized assessment to Hawaiian immersion students. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) granted HIDOE’s request for an extended waiver that allows Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) students to take a specialized assessment in lieu of the state’s English language arts and math student assessments.

“The continued opportunity for our Hawaiian Immersion students to be tested in their language of instruction has been a highlight for the Department, and we appreciate the USDOE’s recognition of our progress in this initiative,”said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The work continues as we are piloting an innovative Hawaiian Language State Assessment in science and look forward to federal approval next year.”

Click to view entire letter

Click to view entire letter

The double testing waiver response by the USDOE advised that HIDOE’s Ka Papahana Kaiapuni (Hawaiian Language Immersion) schools lacks the data required for a specialized science assessment to provide student results during this pilot year of testing.

Two years ago, HIDOE, in partnership with the University of Hawaii-Manoa (UHM), developed a field test for HLIP students that measures progress toward mastery of academic standards given in the English language Smarter Balanced Assessments. In Spring 2015, a field test in language arts and math for third and fourth graders enrolled in Ka Papahana Kaiapuni schools was used. This year, the pilot becomes operational and assessment scores will be recorded in the Kaiapuni students’ records.

The field test foregoes the statewide assessment, Smarter Balanced, which is administered to students in grades 3-8 and 11.

Last year, the Office of Hawaiian Education (OHE) was established under the Office of the Superintendent, a result of a policy audit of Hawaiʻi State Board of Education (BOE) policies 105.7 (2104) and 105.8 (2105) pertaining to Hawaiian Education and Hawaiian Language Immersion programs.

OHE is currently implementing a new policy, known as Nā Hopena Aʻo, which provides for the expansion of Hawaiian education across Hawaiʻi’s K-12 public education system for all students and adults. Together, this work helps HIDOE meet its obligations to both BOE policies and the Hawaiʻi State Constitution (Article X, Section 4 and Article XV, Section 4).

Hawaii Judiciary Celebrates Law Day Across the State

The Hawaii State Judiciary will host a variety of activities for Law Day, the annual celebration of the role of law, the legal process, and the courts in our democratic society.

The theme of Law Day 2016 is, “Miranda: More than Words,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of America’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miranda v. Arizona.  Through the “Miranda” theme, Law Day will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.

Supreme Court Law Library staff members Chelsea DeMott and Jason Weekley are pictured above with the Library’s “Law Day 2016: Miranda More Than Words” display that provides an overview of the historical significance of the Miranda case in the United States, along with basic information on Miranda rights.

Supreme Court Law Library staff members Chelsea DeMott and Jason Weekley are pictured above with the Library’s “Law Day 2016: Miranda More Than Words” display that provides an overview of the historical significance of the Miranda case in the United States, along with basic information on Miranda rights.

Across the islands, the Judiciary will sponsor special events and activities during the first week of May.

As part of the Judiciary’s Access to Justice Initiative, volunteer attorneys and AmeriCorps Advocates at courthouse Self-Help Centers will provide limited legal information to members of the public, free of charge.  At Oahu’s Access to Justice Rooms, volunteer attorneys will also provide limited legal advice.  For Self-Help Center locations, days and times, visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website at:  http://bit.ly/23bEaXX

FIRST CIRCUIT (Oahu)

The Supreme Court Law Library will have an educational display for the public on the historical significance of the Miranda case, basic information on Miranda rights, and the influence of the Miranda case in the media and popular culture.

The Supreme Court Law Library, located at Aliiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, 96813, is open Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Staff is available to provide information services and hand-outs on accessing legal resources.

SECOND CIRCUIT (Maui)

In the days leading up to Law Week, approximately 180 students have visited courts throughout the Second Circuit, observing court proceedings and meeting with judges.  Schools or individual students wishing to arrange a student tour of their local courthouse should contact the court at: (808) 244-2860.  Judges are also available to visit schools to discuss the law and the role of the courts in our society.

During the month of May there will be an educational display at the Second Circuit Court (Hoapili Hale, 2145 Main Street, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793-1679) concerning the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rights of victims and witnesses, Access to Justice, and the different courts in the Second Circuit.

On May 5, 2016, a County of Maui Proclamation recognizing the Drug Courts and Veterans Court will be presented by Maui County Managing Director Keith Regan on behalf of Mayor Arakawa as part of the 55th Graduation Ceremony of the Maui / Molokai Drug Court.

THIRD CIRCUIT (Big Island)

Student tours have been arranged throughout the Third Circuit so students have the opportunity to observe court proceedings and meet with judges.

FIFTH CIRCUIT (Kauai)

Legal Aid Managing Attorney Linda Vass will provide a special 90-minute presentation on “Landlord/Tenant:  Basic Laws for Landlords & Tenants,” on May 2, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Kauai Judicial Complex (Puuhonoa Kaulike Building, 3970 Kaana Street, Lihue, 96766) First Floor, Multi-Purpose Room.  This event is free and open to the public.

On May 6, 2016, the courthouse Self-Help Center will open for extended hours, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., with volunteer attorneys providing free legal information to the public.  Walk-in appointments will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  For more information call (808) 482-2660.

Tours of the Kauai Judicial Complex will be available for schools and interested members of the public.  Tour arrangements may be made by calling (808) 482-2347.

Finally, a number of educational displays will be posted at the Kauai Judicial Complex.  The Adult Client Probation Service will have a display on the HOPE Probation Program, along with the Juvenile Client and Family Service Branch displays on Girls Court and the Kauai Drug Court.  The educational displays will feature program highlights and provide free program literature.

Hawaii Bills to Address Homelessness, Housing, Health, Good Governance Head for Final Vote

State lawmakers have passed a number of important measures ahead of tonight’s final decking deadline that align with the Senate Majority’s Legislative Priorities outlined at the start of the 2016 Legislative Session.

Capital

Approved by members of the Senate and House conference committees include bills that address housing and homelessness such as SB2561 SD2 HD1 which establishes a goal of developing or vesting the development of at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units ready for occupancy between 01/01/17 and 12/31/26 and SB2559 SD1 HD1 which addresses homelessness by making available emergency and transitional shelter space and appropriates general funds to improve homeless shelter space.

Measures addressing health include SB2083 SD1 HD1 which prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle in which a minor is present.

Other Legislative priorities in which lawmakers approved bills:

Mālama ‘Ohana (Providing for our Families)

SB2557 SD2 HD1 expands the concussion educational program established under Act 197, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, and incorporates additional concussion protocol program requirements. Appropriates funds to develop and implement the concussion monitoring and education program for school athletics and youth athletic activities, administer concussion testing to high school student athletes, and implement a concussion awareness program for Hawaii public school students aged 11 to 13.

SB2315 SD2 HD2 which exempts from jury duty a woman who is breastfeeding or expressing breast milk for a period of two years from the birth of the child.

SB2476 SD2 HD2 CD1 enhances early intervention language services for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.

Mālama Honua (Nurturing the Earth)

SB2647 SD1 HD2 which prohibits the sale, offer to sell, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product from various animal and marine species.

SB2659 SD2 HD1 establishes an industrial hemp pilot program to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp and distribution of its seed in Hawaii through limited activities by licensee-agents of the Board of Agriculture for purposes of agricultural or academic research.

Mālama Kaiaulu (Sustaining our Communities)

SB2566 SD1 HD1 CD1 transfers excess moneys from the rental assistance revolving fund to the rental housing revolving fund.

SB3077 SD1 HD1 which designates the Office of Planning as the lead state agency for transit-oriented development coordination.

SB3109 SD1 HD1 CD1 supports and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program with the High Technology Development Corporation.

SB2618 SD1 HD2 requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system.

Mālama Aupuni (Good Governance)

SB2954 SD2 HD1 which authorizes county police departments to enroll firearms applicants and individuals who are registering their firearms into a criminal record monitoring service used to alert police when an owner of a firearm is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country.

SB2512 SD1 HD2 increases penalties for animal desertion, except where the animal is released as part of a game management program.

These bills will be forwarded to the full Senate for Final Reading or have passed Final Reading and have been enrolled to the Governor.

A list of all the Senate bills that have passed the Legislature or been decked for Final Reading is on the Hawaii State Legislative website.

The 2016 Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program can be viewed on the Hawai‘i Senate Majority website.

Hawaii Lawmakers Provide $100 Million for Cooling Schools and Energy Efficiency

House and Senate conferees today provided $100 million to the Department of Education to install air conditioning and heat abatement equipment to cool 1,000 public school classrooms throughout the state and to establish a sustainable schools initiative.

Capital

In his State of the State address, Governor David Ige proposed borrowing $100 million from the state’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program to cool 1,000 public school classrooms.  In response, lawmakers drafted House Bill 2569 and Senate Bill 3126, proposing varying methods of funding, but in essence, working toward the same end.  Both bills were sent to conference with unspecified funding for the conferees to decide.

During negotiations, the conferees agreed to $100 million in general funding to immediately begin carrying out the work of installing cooling and energy efficiency upgrades.  The measure now goes to the full House and Senate on Tuesday, May 3, for approval.

“The faster we can reduce our electric costs, the more money we can put back into helping students and teachers.  If the DOE can make progress reducing electric costs even a couple percent per year, that could still save millions over the long term that could be better spent in our classrooms, rather than going to utility bills,” said Rep. Chris Lee, Conference Committee chair, who took the lead for the House on the pair of bills.