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President Obama Signs Schatz’s Native Tourism Bill Into Law

New Law Will Help Empower Native Communities in Hawai‘i and Across the Country to Tell Their Own Stories

President Barack Obama signed the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act into law.  The bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Thune (R-S.D.) will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

schatz-and-obama“I’m incredibly proud to have worked with our native communities on this legislation, and I’m pleased the president has signed it into law,” said Senator Schatz.  “This new law gives our native communities a real opportunity to grow their local economy and share their history and culture with the rest of the world.”

The NATIVE Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibilities to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning. It will also provide Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and American Indian communities with access to resources and technical assistance needed to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity; spur economic development, and create good jobs.

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) are cosponsors of the NATIVE Act.

The NATIVE Act is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly, U.S. Travel Association, American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association, Southeast Tourism Society, Western States Tourism Policy Council, National Congress of American Indians, Alaska Federation of Natives, and the Native Enterprise Initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) led companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Hawaii Public School Students Outpace Nation in Gains on AP Exams

Hawaii’s public school students are exceeding the nation in gains on the Advanced Placement Program (AP) Exams over the year prior. In a report released today, the AP results for Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) students who were tested last May show increases in the number exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher.

Hawaii Advanced Placement Exam results 2014-15 vs. 2015-16 Photo Credit: Department of Education

Hawaii Advanced Placement Exam results 2014-15 vs. 2015-16
Photo Credit: Department of Education

“In just one year, between 2015 and 2016, the number of AP Exams in Hawaii that were scored 3 or higher increased by 7.5 percent,”said Scott Hill, a vice president at the College Board, which administers the AP Program. “That significant increase is a testament to the hard work and commitment of Hawaii’s students, parents, teachers, and education leaders, all of whom deserve commendation for this great achievement. We will continue to partner with Hawaii educators to ensure that all students ready for the challenge of AP are able to access those opportunities.”

Compared with last year, Hawaii’s public schools exceeded the nation’s growth in all categories –number of exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher.

Since 2012, the number of exams taken by Hawaii public school students has increased by 26 percent (from 6,669), and the number of passing scores increased by 29 percent (up from 2,599).

“Growth is crucial for our public schools and these results show promising system-wide improvement as we continue to raise the rigor and prepare our students for post-high school endeavors,”said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “These gains also reflect the hard work and professional development being done by our educators to prepare for and teach these college-level courses. Their dedication to their craft and students is evident in these positive results.”

The AP provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school, and to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on the AP Exams.

Students taking AP Exams also qualify for AP Scholar Awards, which recognizes exceptional achievement on the exams. For SY 2015-16, 616 students from 33 HIDOE schools earned AP Scholar Awards.

  • 10 students from 6 HIDOE schools qualified for the National AP Scholar Award by earning an average score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more exams.
  • 26 students at 23 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.
  • 16 students at 26 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning an average score of at least a 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams.
  • 374 students at 31 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 or higher.

The College Board also awards the AP International Diploma (APID) for students interested in pursuing university study outside of their native country, and who earn scores of 3 or higher on five or more total AP Exams in specific subject areas including world language and culture courses, global perspectives, science, math and computer science. Miki Kinnamon, a senior at Kalaheo High School, earned the APID for SY 2015-16.

Since 2012, Hawaii has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education to subsidize test fees for low-income students. Funding has increased year-over-year with HIDOE receiving $114,168 in 2015.

“These grants have been a tremendous help in making sure that we are able to provide college and career readiness opportunities for all of our students. For many of them, earning college credits at no cost in high school will help with the financial burden associated with completing a post-secondary degree,”Superintendent Matayoshi added.

The push behind providing opportunities for more students to take AP courses and exams are part of a range of recent transformational efforts to increase students’ college and career readiness. Learn more about these efforts in an Expectation of College. The results include strong increases in college enrollment, enrollment in early college programs at the high school level, as well as significant declines in college-level remediation in English and Mathematics.

For more information about AP courses and participation at HIDOE schools, visit www.hawaiipublicschools.org.

Senator Wakai and Representative Belatti to Serve as UH Manoa’s 2016 Legislators in Residence

The College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa has selected state Senator Glenn Wakai and Representative Della Au Belatti as the 2016 Legislators in Residence (LIR). Established in 2002, LIR is designed to provide opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between policymakers and the academic community.

Sen. Glenn Wakai

Sen. Glenn Wakai

“We are honored to have Senator Wakai and Representative Belatti as part of the 2016 Legislators in Residence program, and appreciate the time they are dedicating to our students and faculty as part of this effort,” said Sharon Moriwaki, LIR coordinator. “Their participation in LIR is a tremendous opportunity to expand upon the college’s dynamic learning environment. It allows our students, faculty and staff to work alongside Hawai‘i’s policymakers, explore significant issues facing our community, and examine ways to develop policies in response to these issues.”

Rep. Au Bellatti

Rep.  Della Au Belatti

Both legislators are eager to work with faculty and students to explore areas of mutual interest. Representative Belatti has already begun work with the TASI-Pacific Health Informatics and Data Center to implement the health-care analytics project. The college’s Public Policy Center will facilitate the Legislative Oversight Committee’s dialog on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries. Senator Wakai is interested in various topics relating to innovation, technology, agriculture and economic development.  If interested and projects emerge, both legislators are also open to continuing to work with faculty and students in the Spring semester, developing policy and legislation for the 2017 Legislature.

Past LIR participants have explored a range of topics, such as the effectiveness and usefulness of tax credits; urban mobility alternatives; bi-partisan clean campaign; health insurance for Hawai‘i; Sustainable Saunders project; Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability plan; long-term care; clean energy; new civic engagement models; history and outlook on civil unions and same-sex marriage; and sustainable agriculture.

LIR alumni include former Representative Hermina Morita and Representative Roy Takumi (2002), Senator Brian Taniguchi and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (2003), Senator Les Ihara and former Representative Galen Fox (2004), former Representatives Lyla Berg and Lynn Finnegan (2005), Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland and former Representative Barbara Marumoto (2006), former Senator Gary Hooser and Senator Jill Tokuda (2007), former Senator Russell Kokubun and Representative Ryan Yamane (2008), Senator Will Espero and Representative Cynthia Thielen (2009), Governor David Ige and former Representative Denny Coffman (2010), and Senator Clarence Nishihara and former Representative Blake Oshiro (2011).

Senator Glenn Wakai (D) represents the 15th District (Kalihi, Mapunapuna, Airport, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Hickam and Pearl Harbor). He is the current chair of the Senate’s Committee on Economic Development, Environment and Technology, and is a member of the Committees on Agriculture and Ways and Means.

Representative Della Au Belatti (D) represents the 24th District (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, and Manoa). She currently serves as chair of the House Committee on Health and is a member of the Committees on Consumer Protection & Commerce, Housing, Human Services and Judiciary.

Hawaii Is the Worst State for Teachers – WalletHub Study

With Oct. 5 being International World Teachers Day and the Every Student Succeeds Act soon to go in effect, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst States for Teachers.

wallethub-study-on-teachers
In order to help educators find the best teaching opportunities in the country and draw attention to the states needing improvement in this regard, WalletHub analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key metrics, ranging from “average starting salary” to “pupil-teacher ratio” to “school safety.”

Teacher-Friendliness of Hawaii (1=Best; 25=Avg.)

  • 51st – Average Starting Salary for Teachers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 51st – Median Annual Salary for Teachers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 39th – WalletHub “School Systems” Ranking
  • 39th – Teachers’ Income Growth Potential
  • 21st – Projected Number of Teachers per 1,000 Students by Year 2022
  • 34th – 10-Year Change in Teacher Salaries
  • 37th – Pupil-Teacher Ratio
  • 19th – Public-School Spending per Student

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-teachers/7159/

Hawai‘i International AgriTourism Symposium

Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association (HATA) will host the state’s first Hawai‘i International AgriTourism Symposium on October 15, 2016 at the College of Hawaiian Language: Ka Haka ‘Ulu O Ke‘elikōlani, in Hilo. Industry experts from Hawai‘i, New Zealand and Japan will share their forecasts, trends and tips on how they compete on a global stage. They will share what visitors from their regions are looking to experience in AgriTourism, as well as perspectives on how they have diversified agricultural operations in innovative ways to increase profitability, reduce risk, and protect rural communities.

ag-conference-2016This global symposium aims to help people get on trend with the connections between agriculture and travel/tourism. The industry is an “economic multiplier” that impacts restaurants, lodging, health, and education. For every dollar spent at an AgriTourism farm, an additional $2.25 is spent within the community in food, fuel, and retail. The ripple effect continues with home based and small businesses that create value add products from the farm crop such as jams, baked goods, and beauty or health products.

ag-conference

As a popular and highly marketable segment of Hawai‘i’s $10-billion dollar visitor industry, AgriTourism is poised to take off in the next decade. It’s not only a viable part of the economy; it’s also an important way to preserve our island lifestyles and culture.

AgriTourism offers farmers and small businesses an incredible opportunity to expand their business using creative approaches, and innovative partnerships.  This symposium will show how the state’s largest economic industries, tourism and agriculture, merge to create economic diversity and innovation that visitors will pay for.

Farmers who include an AgriTourism component in their marketing plan can see substantial financial benefits. AgriTourism can provide the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable farming operation, and between a sustainable and an unsustainable agricultural region. With the potential of this niche market expanding at such a fast pace, there has never been a better time to learn more about AgriTourism.

Online Registration for Hawai‘i’s International AgriTourism Symposium is open at www.hiagtourism.org. Vendors who wish to sell products at the Hawai‘i Marketplace may also register online as well. For more information, please contact Lani Weigert, lani@hiagtourism.org. Space is limited, early registration encouraged.

Two Teams Share Top Honors at Hawaii Annual Code Challenge

Solutions tackling state challenges involving homelessness and jail facility visitation received top honors at the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) Judging and Awards Ceremony, held today at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

haccThe event was the culmination of the month-long, hackathon-inspired competition designed to engage the local tech community in the modernization of Hawaii state government.

Twenty-seven teams presented solutions to the HACC judges panel, which consisted of Gov. David Y. Ige; Sen. Glenn Wakai; Todd Nacapuy, state Chief Information Officer (CIO); Garret Yoshimi, vice president of IT and CIO, University of Hawaii; Camille Au, director, Desktop Services, Hawaiian Electric; Bill Hozey, business sales managing partner, Hawaii and Alaska, Verizon; and Donna Scannell, VP of IT operations and business information officer, Kaiser Permanente. Solutions were judged on originality, design, sustainability, utility and impact, team collaboration, presentation and delivery, and bonus points for “audience’s top choice.”

The winners were as follows:

1st Place — two-way tie! (each team receives $4,000 and will also have the opportunity to interview with Blue Startups and XLR8UH)

  • Team: Team Cobra

Challenge Category: Homelessness (a challenge presented to HACC participants by Scott Morishige, state coordinator on homelessness)

Team Cobra

Team Cobra

Team Members: Arun Lee, Jayson Lee, Kyle Loo, and Kim Vo

NOTE: Team Cobra was also selected to represent the State of Hawaii at GlobalHack, being held from Oct. 21 to 23, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri.

  • Team: Hawaii Advanced Technology Society (HATS)

Challenge Category: Oahu Community Correctional Center Visitation Scheduling (a challenge presented by the Department of Public Safety)

Team HATS

Team HATS

Team Members: Andrew Abila, Gerome Catbagan, Edward Chang, Kenneth Dedicatoria, Samuel Erwin, Gabriel Farinas, Jayson Hayworth, Neil Knight, Robert Kuakini, Ben Lamosao, Duong Le, Dylan Nakahodo, Willam Ng, Rodgem Ragsac, Phillipe Rigor, Christine Rioca, Kevin Ryan, Bryan Tanaka, and Sharey Vendiola

3rd Place ($2,000)

  • Team: Local Mocos

Challenge Category: Made in Hawaii (a challenge presented by the Department of Agriculture)

Team Members: Jesse Copeland, Nikki Kobayashi, Javen Nakamoto, Bryce Saito, Steven Yamashiro, and Lisa Zhou

1st Place in Student Category ($1,000 and the opportunity to interview with Sultan Ventures)

  • Team: Team Imua (from Kamehameha Schools)

Challenge Category: Open (application assisting local high school students with preparing for college)

Team Members: Sage Foi, Davin Takahashi, Kevin Takahashi, and Zion Basque

At the HACC kickoff event on Aug. 27, more than 200 individual coders and innovators answered the call to apply their collective creativity to improving state government. Participants formed teams and selected from diverse challenges presented by state officials and personnel, to tackle over the next several weeks. Among the presenters were state Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige and staff representing the Departments of Accounting and General Services, Agriculture, Health, and Public Safety, and others.

The HACC teams returned today to present their solutions for judging and selection of winners. In addition to awards, one team, Team Cobra, was selected to represent the State of Hawaii at GlobalHack. For more information on GlobalHack, visit: https://globalhack.org/

The HACC is the result of collaboration across public and private sectors. In coordinating the event, the CIO-led Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) partnered with the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, DevLeague, Empowered Presentations, Hawaii Open Data, Blue Startups, Sultan Ventures, and XLR8UH. Award prizes are being underwritten by sponsors such as Hawaiian Electric, Kaiser Permanente, KPMG and Verizon. Additional support is being provided by DataHouse, eWorld Enterprise Solutions, Socrata, Uber, Unisys, DRFortress, and Hawaiian Telcom.

For more information on the HACC, visit http://HACC.hawaii.gov.

Gonorrhea Outbreak in Hawaii Showed Increased Antibiotic Resistance

CNN reported today that there was a gonorrhea outbreak here in Hawaii recently:

Seven gonorrhea patients in Hawaii are the first known US cases in which the sexually transmitted infection showed reduced susceptibility to the single available effective treatment option, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. The patients were diagnosed in April and May.

The six men and one woman were all cured by ceftriaxone and azithromycin, the two-drug regimen recommended for treating gonorrhea by the CDC. However, laboratory tests by the Hawaii State Department of Health showed that the patients’ gonorrheal infections did not succumb as easily to the antibiotics as infections have in the past.
gonorrhea
CNN goes on to report that gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD):
“Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, but most people do not realize they have it. The only way they find out is through testing,” she said.
When health care providers do not treat according to the CDC’s two-drug regimen — a single shot of ceftriaxone and an oral dose of azithromycin — patients may feel better, and their symptoms may disappear, but they may still have the infection incubating inside them, explained Bolan.
“If you’re not treated correctly, you cannot rely on your symptoms to tell you you’ve been cured,” she said.
Though no failures of the current treatment regimen have been confirmed in the United States, the CDC has been closely monitoring antibiotic resistance.
“We usually see emerging decreased susceptibility or resistance coming from the West, starting with Hawaii, and then we also see a higher proportion of isolates with decreased susceptibility in men who have sex with men. This is a pattern we’ve seen with penicillin resistance and other antibiotics,” Bolan said.

Hawaii Attorney General Statement Regarding Suboxone Prescription for Opioid Detoxification

In light of recent inquiries regarding physicians’ legal authority to prescribe the drug Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, Attorney General Doug Chin today issued the following statement:

“Last week the state Narcotics Enforcement Division was asked whether a doctor may prescribe the drug Suboxone for opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. NED subsequently asked the Department of the Attorney General to review the relevant statute to determine how the law should be interpreted and applied. Our analysis has concluded that current portions of section 329-38 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes can be interpreted in more than one way, but within the context of the entire section, the existing practice of doctors who prescribe Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence may continue. It may be appropriate to clarify this statute during the next legislative session.”

suboxoneSuboxone is a prescription medicine that contains the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat adults who are addicted to opioids.

Hawaii Hepatitis Outbreak Increases to 276 Confirmed Cases

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 5 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 68 have required hospitalization.

hepatitis-header

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and four visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
276

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/15/16.

Iconic Hawaiian Bird Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

In response to a 2010 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protection for the ‘i‘iwi as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This bird, a bright-scarlet, nectar-feeding Hawaiian honeycreeper, was once widespread across all of the main Hawaiian Islands, but is now primarily found at higher elevations on East Maui and the island of Hawaii. The number one threat facing the species is climate change, which is driving the spread of highly lethal mosquito-borne diseases.

The ‘i‘iwi. (Photo by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity.)

The ‘i‘iwi. (Photo by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity.)

“The ‘i‘iwi is a spectacular, iconic Hawaiian bird that desperately needs Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” said the Center’s Loyal Mehrhoff. “But the good news is that if we protect it, it has a good shot at dodging extinction. A recent study by the Center found that the majority of U.S. birds with endangered species protection are improving.”

The ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea, also known asVestiaria coccinea) is a medium-sized honeycreeper that lives in native forests of ohia and koa. It is one of more than 50 species of honeycreepers that evolved, in a spectacular example of adaptive radiation, from a single finch-like bird that colonized Hawaii 2.5 million to 4 million years ago. Two out of three Hawaiian honeycreepers are now extinct, and most of the remaining honeycreepers are either already listed as threatened or endangered, or are declining. The ‘i‘iwi has seen a 92 percent decline on Kauai in the past 25 years and a 34 percent decline on Maui. As temperatures increase with global warming, so does the spread of introduced mosquito-borne diseases like avian malaria — which is almost 100 percent fatal to the bird.

“Protected areas that we once thought could save the ‘i‘iwi are now expected to be uninhabitable in the future because of the expanding range of mosquitoes and malaria,” said Mehrhoff. “So it’s crucial for the ‘i‘iwi to get the help it needs to avoid extinction and recover. This will require removing or greatly reducing the threat from introduced mosquito-borne diseases, as well as restoring and protecting native Hawaiian forests.”

Dept. of Education Reminds Parents to Secure Vehicles in School Parking Lots

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reminds parents to always secure their vehicles in school parking lots to prevent thefts.  Five vehicle break-ins using similar methods of entry have occurred at East Oahu public schools in September during after-school hours.  In each case, vehicle windows were broken and small items inside were stolen, including purses, bags, cell phones and laptop computers.

break-in

“Parents are reminded to be vigilant and always remove valuables or hide them from direct sight,”said HIDOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz.  “Although there is normally lots of activity on campuses during afterschool hours, such crimes of opportunity can take place in seconds, especially when valuables are left in plain sight.”

Parents can take actions to make their vehicle less attractive to property theft, including avoiding leaving valuables inside in open view, locking valuables in the trunk and installing anti-theft alarm systems.  Bags, such as backpacks and shopping bags, may be seen as a carrier of valuables by thieves and should be hidden from view.

Hawaii Electric Bills to Increase – Company Cites Albizia Trees and System Upgrades for Increase

Company cites costs of albizia clearing, system upgrades

Hawaii Electric Light proposed the first increase of base rates in nearly six years to help pay for operating costs, including expanded vegetation management focusing on albizia tree removal, as well as system upgrades to increase reliability, improve customer service and integrate more renewable energy.

The request is for a 6.5 percent increase in revenues, or $19.3 million.

Rate reviews are required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) every three years.

If approved, a typical residential bill for 500 kilowatt hours on Hawaii Island would increase by $9.31 a month to $171.16. The proposed rate change will be reviewed by regulators and would likely not take effect until the summer of 2017 at the earliest.

Thanks to lower fuel prices, bills reflecting the new rates, if approved today, would still be lower than a year ago.

In 2013, with PUC approval, Hawaii Electric Light withdrew its request to increase base rates, leaving in place the same base rates established in 2010.

As part of the current review, Hawaii Electric Light is proposing benchmarks to measure its performance in key areas, such as customer service, reliability and communication for the rooftop solar interconnection process and to link certain revenues to that performance.

$14M spent clearing albizia since 2014

Among the increased operating costs driving the rate change is an extensive vegetation management and tree removal initiative.

albizia

The threat from invasive albizia trees toppling in high winds became clear after Tropical Storm Iselle in 2014 and led the company to triple its annual spending on vegetation management. Since 2014, Hawaii Electric Light has spent $14 million on tree trimming and removal, concentrating on areas where falling albizias threaten utility equipment and highways.

The tree removal program, which is continuing, reduced the impacts of the recent tropical storms Darby and Madeline on roads and power lines, resulting in fewer outages and faster power restoration.

Investments in customer service pay off

Hawaii Electric Light has also spent more than $14 million over the past six years improving customer service systems, developing technical solutions to integrate more private rooftop solar, replacing and upgrading equipment to improve efficiency and reliability and developing detailed plans to achieve the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The company has absorbed a large portion of these increased costs in the years between rate cases without passing them on to customers.

Investments in more customer service staffing and new technology have resulted in significantly improved service, including reduced call-waiting times. The percentage of customer calls answered within 30 seconds went from 33 percent in 2010 to 93 percent in 2015. And in surveys of customers who called in to stop, start or change electric service in 2015, 94 percent said they were satisfied with the experience.

Renewable energy use grows to 49%, highest in state

Hawaii Electric Light has increased its use of renewable energy from 35 percent in 2010 to 49 percent today, using wind, hydroelectricity, solar and geothermal to replace oil imported to generate electricity. The company reduced its use of oil by 13 percent over the same period. Part of the proposed rate adjustment will help pay for continued improvements to the power grid to help integrate even more renewable resources while improving reliability.

By the end of 2016, Hawaii Electric Light will have made more than $290 million in capital investments over the past six years, including replacing and upgrading transmission lines in West Hawaii; modernizing generation equipment to increase efficiency; increasing grid capacity and system reliability; and adding or replacing lines and transformers as well as more than 4,500 poles for new and expanded service.

Hawaii Electric Light has “decoupled” rates – a regulatory model that periodically adjusts rates to remove the company’s need to increase sales to recover a level of PUC-approved costs for providing service to all customers. The company is required to submit full rate cases every three years for an updated review by the PUC of the current costs of service.

Hawaii Health Centers to Receive $753K for IT Enhancements

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced today that 14 Hawaiʻi Health Centers will receive a total of $753,064 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health information technology (IT) enhancements. The funding is part of more than $87 million provided by HHS to 1,310 health centers in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. The funding will support health IT enhancements to accelerate health centers’ transition to value-based models of care, improve efforts to share and use information to support better decisions, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation. This is the first significant investment directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health IT since 2009.

health-center“Health centers across Hawaiʻi provide high-quality health and wellness services that our communities depend upon. Yet, in Hawaiʻi and in states across the country, remote locations, lack of funding, and staff shortages make it difficult to keep up with rapidly changing healthcare technology,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Investing in our local health centers will increase information sharing, improve electronic healthcare record systems, and expand access to comprehensive, quality care for people in every county across the state.”

The following organizations are the Hawaiʻi recipients of the HHS health IT enhancement funds:

  • Hilo – $66,682 for the Bay Clinic
  • Wailuku – $52,900 for the Community Clinic of Maui
  • Honokaʻa – $46,535 for the Hamakua Health Center
  • Hana – $42,428 for the Hana Community Health Center
  • Līhuʻe – $46,320 for Hoʻola Lahui Hawaiʻi
  • Honolulu – $73,739 for the Kalihi-Palama Health Center
  • Honolulu – $54,075 for Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
  • Kahuku – $48,198 for the Koʻolauloa Community Health and Wellness Center
  • Lanaʻi City – $41,749 for the Lanaʻi Community Health Center
  • Kaunakakai – $42,884 for Molokaʻi Ohana Health Care
  • Waiʻanae – $81,237 for the Waiʻanae District Comprehensive Health and Hospital Board
  • Honolulu – $55,087 for the Waikiki Health Center
  • Waimānalo – $46,056 for the Waimānalo Health Center
  • Kailua-Kona – $55,174 for the West Hawaiʻi CommunityHealthCenter

For a list of all fiscal year 2016 Delivery System Health Information Investment Awards recipients, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/dshii/fy2016awards/index.html

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html

To find a health center in your area, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Approves Tariff for Interim Time-of-Use Rates

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (“PUC” or “Commission”) issued an order on Friday, September 16, 2016, instructing the Hawaiian Electric Companies (the “HECO Companies”) to offer a tariff giving customers the option of enrolling in a new time-of-use (“TOU”) program, which allows customers to manage their electricity consumption to reduce monthly bills and benefits the overall grid.  The HECO Companies serve the islands of Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu.

Click to read docket

Click to read docket

Traditional electricity prices are flat and do not change based on time of day. TOU programs are designed to price electricity in a way that reflects electricity’s true costs by charging customers different rates at different times of the day, instead of a flat rate.  This encourages customers to reduce electricity use during times when electricity is more expensive to produce, while allowing them to take advantage of less expensive electricity being offered at other times.

The optional TOU rates approved by the Commission offer lower electricity prices during the daytime to encourage customers to use energy when solar and other lower-cost renewables are available. In exchange, the TOU rates are higher during the evening when the overall electricity demand is greatest (the system “peak”). The TOU program is the result of collaborative efforts of the HECO Companies and interested stakeholders, including local community groups, non-profit organizations, and renewable energy companies.

The “on-peak” TOU period coincides with the time of day during which the HECO Companies typically experience the highest volume of residential customer demand.  This period has the highest TOU electricity rate, higher than the price a typical customer would be subject to under the current residential tariff.  The “mid-day” period represents the time of day during which the HECO Companies typically experience relatively lower residential customer demand and higher level of solar PV and other renewable generation. This “mid-day” period features the lowest TOU period rate, below what a typical customer would pay under the current residential tariff.  TOU rates are intended to encourage customers to shift their demand from the “on-peak” evening period to the “mid-day” period and to enable more cost-effective integration of renewable energy.

Several key features of the TOU Program include:

  • Open, voluntary, optional enrollment to all residential customers of the HECO Companies.
  • A rate structure with three distinct time periods, each with its own “TOU” rate: (1) a “mid-day” period from 9am up to 5pm; (2) an “on-peak” period from 5pm up to 10pm; and (3) an “off-peak” period overnight from 10pm up to 9am.
  • A “shadow bill” feature which will allow program participants to compare their bill under the TOU program to what their bill would have been under their previous residential tariff, in order to determine if the program is beneficial to them.
  • A two-year program duration, subject to change by the Commission.
  • An option for customers to opt-out of the program at any time, without penalty.

The Commission instructed the HECO Companies to file a tariff for the interim TOU program within thirty days, at which time the tariff will take effect and the program will be open for enrollment.  The complete Order, as well as links to the docket record, may be found on the Commission’s website at: http://puc.hawaii.gov/.

Hawaii DLNR Conducting Animal Control Aerial Shooting Activities on the Big Island

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), Palila Mitigation Lands, and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawai‘i.

mouflonAerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawai‘i.

Control schedules are October 25 and 26, November 14 and 15, and December 19 and 20, 2016.  Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve, Palila Mitigation Lands, the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:

  • 7 a.m. October 25, November 14, and December 19, 2016
  • 6 a.m. October 26, November 15, and December 20, 2016

These actions are pursuant to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Ch. 13-130-19 and § 13-104-23(a) (3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.  The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, both the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea State Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:

  • Locked 7 p.m. October 24, 2016, and reopened 7 p.m. October 26, 2016
  • Locked 7 p.m. November 13, 2016, and reopened 7 p.m. November 15, 2016
  • Locked 7 p.m. December 18, 2016 and reopened 7 p.m. December 20, 2016

Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.

Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. October 19, 2016, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only.  Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in.  A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Pu‘u Ko‘ohi location and 15 permitted vehicles at the Pu‘u Mali location.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicle are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.

Salvage locations are subject to change:

  • On October 25, November 14, and December 19, 2016, at Pu‘u Ko‘ohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea Recreation Area at 7 a.m. sharp.
  • On October 26, November 15, and December 20, 2016 at Pu‘u Mali. Permittees must meet across from the Waimea Veterinary office on Mana Road at 6 a.m. sharp.

Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.

Hawaii Preschool Open Doors Application Period Begins Today

The Department of Human Services encourages families to apply for its Preschool Open Doors (POD) program between Monday, September 19 and Monday, October 31, 2016.  Applications received during this period will be considered for preschool participation during January 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017.

preschool-open-doorsThis program, which currently serves more than 1,300 children statewide, provides child care subsidies to eligible low- and moderate-income families to pay preschool tuition. POD aims to provide children whose families might otherwise not be able to afford preschool the opportunity to gain essential skills to be successful in school and in life.

To qualify for the program, children must be eligible to enter kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year (born between August 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012). Families are reminded that a child must be five years old on or before July 31 to enter kindergarten. Families may choose any one of the 438 State-licensed preschools. Underserved or at-risk children receive priority consideration for the POD program, and funds are limited.

Interested families may request an application beginning Monday, September 19, 2016 from the Department’s POD contractor, PATCH, by visiting www.patchhawaii.org or calling 791-2130 or toll free 1-800-746-5620.  PATCH can also help families locate a preschool convenient for them.

Applications must be received by October 31, 2016 to be considered during the January 1, 2017-June 30, 2017 program period. Applications should be dropped off, mailed, or faxed to the following:

PATCH – POD
560 N. Nimitz Hwy, Suite 218
Honolulu, HI 96817
Fax: (808) 694-3066

Eligibility and priorities for POD program selection are detailed in HAR §17-799, which is available online at humanservices.hawaii.gov/admin-rules-2/admin-rules-for-programs. For more information about other DHS programs and services, visit humanservices.hawaii.gov

Hawaii Celebrates National Child Passenger Safety Week with Free Car Seat Checks Statewide

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is teaming up with the four county police departments and child passenger safety advocates to promote National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24.

During Child Passenger Safety Week and throughout the year, Hawaii’s child passenger safety technicians are dedicated to helping parents and caregivers learn how to correctly install child safety seats and properly buckle up their keiki, whether it’s in child safety seats, booster seats or when using the vehicle’s seat belts.

“Hawaii’s keiki are our most precious asset, we can and need to do better to give them the future they deserve,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Parents and caregivers can improve their child’s safety by simply using child safety seats, booster seats and seat belts properly.”

In Hawaii, children under 4 years old are required to ride in a child safety seat; children 4 through 7 years old must ride in a child passenger restraint or booster seat. Violators are required to appear in court, and if convicted, must attend a four-hour class. They may also be assessed a penalty of up to $500.

According to 2014 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 24 percent of children ages 4 through 7 years old were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 9 percent were unrestrained. Children should remain in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and can use seat belts correctly without the booster seat.

Before a child can be moved from a child safety seat to a booster seat, parents and caregivers should check for the following:

  • The lap belt fits across the child’s upper thigh;
  • The shoulder belt fits across the child’s shoulder and chest;
  • The child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat when his or her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back; and
  • The child can stay seated properly during the entire trip.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now advising that children ride rear-facing until at least the age of 2. To educate the public about this recommendation and Hawaii’s child restraint law, the HDOT is airing public service announcements on television and in movie theaters statewide. Hawaii’s child passenger safety media campaign is 100-percent federally funded.

Hawaii has more than 340 certified child passenger safety technicians, including firefighters, law enforcement officers, medical professionals and parents. All technicians have been trained to provide instruction on choosing the right car seat, installing it and using it correctly.

“Each county has child restraint inspection stations and community car seat checks to ensure that all children return home safe,” said Fuchigami. “Parents and caregivers should utilize these free resources to better protect their children.”

seat-checksFree public car seat check events will be held on National Seat Check Saturday, September 24, at the following locations and times:  

Oahu
Waipio Shopping Center, Waipahu
94-1040 Waipio Uka St.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hawaii
Target, Hilo
391 E. Makaala St., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Target, Kailua-Kona
74-5455 Makala Blvd., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kauai

Walmart, Lihue, 3-3300 Kuhio Highway 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A community seat check event will also be held on Saturday,

September 17, at:  Maui

Maui Marketplace, Kahului, 270 Dairy Road,  10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Child Passenger Safety Week is sponsored by NHTSA. For more on child safety, as well as a list of child restraint inspection stations and community car seat check, visit:  www.kipchawaii.org or www.safercar.gov/parents

Hawaii Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Wake of Heavy Rains and Flooding

Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation in the wake of heavy rains and flooding that caused extensive damage throughout the state especially the counties of Maui and Kalawao. The counties are expected to need rehabilitative assistance from the state to respond to the damage caused by the severe, sudden and extraordinary rains.

“The severe weather that struck the state this week caused heavy damage, and the state stands ready to support the counties in the recovery effort,” said Gov. Ige.

The disaster emergency relief period began on September 13, 2016 and will be in place for 60 days.

flood-proclamation

Click to read full proclamation

Flooding Closes Famous ‘Iao Valley State Monument Indefinitely

‘Iao Valley State Monument, Maui, will remain closed indefinitely due to extensive damage from heavy rain and flooding the night of September 13 and early morning on September 14, 2016.  Notice of the park closure is posted at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/.

iao-valley-damage

Photos courtesy of DLNR

The flooding of ‘Iao stream also significantly damaged the Kepaniwai County park downstream and road to the park, which are also closed, as well as a number of residences.  Due to hazardous conditions, access to ‘Iao Valley is currently restricted to residents only. 

“Our inspections show that ‘Iao Stream course has changed and is significantly wider, cutting into state park land that contained public access features. The stream is heavily silted and cobbled with new material and landslides on both sides of the stream are evident,” said Curt Cottrell, Department of Land and Natural Resources State Parks division administrator.

iao-valley-damage2Within the lower portion of ‘Iao state park, sections of the two popular loop trails along the stream have washed away, and there is no longer any remaining land to rebuild them where they originally were.

On Wednesday, clear water in Kinihapai Stream, the smaller stream that passes under the park’s iconic pedestrian bridge, did not seem to indicate any landslides upstream. It seems not to have widened or changed course.  However, during inspections, the stream level remained quite high, covering the base of the foundations for each end of the bridge, preventing inspection of the bridge supports.

iao-valley-damage3

The turning area that tour buses take to get to their parking area is just above an area of significant erosion that may have affected the stability of the lower parking lot.

“We are planning to hire an engineering consultant to evaluate the stability of the lower parking lot where tour buses park. An examination is also planned for the footings of the pedestrian bridge,” said Cottrell.

“If the parking lot and bridge both are shown to be intact and stable, State Parks will proceed to remove debris, and allow limited access to portions of the trail, while needed repairs can be started. Access is predicated on Maui County effort to restore safe vehicular use of the lower roadway,” he said.

iao-valley-damage4Park areas not adjacent to either of the streams do not appear to have suffered any significant damage.

Maui State Parks staff have been notifying tour companies of the park closure.

‘Iao Valley is rich in cultural and spiritual values and is the site of the battle of Kepaniwai where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army in 1790. (6.2 acres). The park is most famous for a scenic viewpoint of Kuka‘emoku (ʻIao Needle), an erosional feature which abruptly rises 1,200 feet from the valley floor.

Hawaii DLNR Shares Concerns Over Reports of Sub-Standard Living Conditions on Certain Longline Fishing Vessels

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is aware of media reports regarding living and working conditions on longline fishing vessels that bring catches into Hawai‘i ports. DLNR’S area of responsibility is limited to the ministerial task of issuing commercial fishing licenses to qualified applicants.

dlnr“The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), issues licenses to individual fishermen engaged in commercial catch.  DAR continues to follow long-established statutory and administrative rules which require commercial marine licenses for the taking of marine life and landing it in the state for commercial purposes,” explained DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  The rules regarding Hawai‘i commercial marine licenses can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS-189-2 and HRS-189-5).

“We are naturally concerned about press reports pertaining to on-board living conditions, pay disparity and the issue of involuntary labor, and applaud the longline fishing industry for the efforts it is taking to resolve these issues,” Case added.  “Further we are happy to engage with any stakeholders, including lawmakers, commercial fishing interests, and other regulatory agencies, in explaining the current laws and regulations pertaining to licensing of commercial longline fishers and in exploring any legislative or administrative rule changes,” Case said. “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible,” she concluded.