Hawaii Lobster Season Closed Until End of August

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) reminds the public that the season for taking ula and ula papapa (spiny and slipper lobsters) and Kona crabs in state waters is closed this month through the end of August.

Spiny Lobster

Hawaii Administrative Rules prohibit the taking, killing, sale or offering for sale, or possession of any ula, also known as spiny lobster (Panulirus penicillatus, P. marginatus) and ula papapa or slipper lobster (Scyllarides squammosus, S. haanii) from state waters during the closed season, which started May 1. It is also illegal to take, possess, or sell Kona crab during May through August.

“These rules are in place to protect lobsters and Kona crabs during the summer months, which are the peak of their reproductive season, and to help ensure their populations will continue to be sustainable,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR chairperson.

However, any commercial marine dealer may sell, or any hotel, restaurant, or other public eating house may serve spiny or slipper lobster lawfully caught during the open season by first procuring a license to do so pursuant to section 13-74-41, Hawaii Administrative Rules.

During the open season catching, taking or possessing of female spiny and slipper lobsters and female Kona crab is prohibited as a result of the passage of Act 77 by the 2006 State Legislature.

Also during the open season, any spiny or slipper lobster, or Kona crab, caught with eggs must immediately be returned to the waters from which it was taken. Taking or killing of females is prohibited year round.

The Hawai‘i Fishing Regulations booklet, available at all Division of Aquatic Resources offices and most fishing supply stores, shows how to determine the sex of spiny lobsters and Kona crabs. Or go online to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/how-to-determine-sex-of-regulated-invertebrates/

For more information on regulations concerning these and other marine invertebrates, including minimum sizes, go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/  or call the Division of Aquatic Resources.

To report any violation of these or other fishing regulations call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 643-DLNR.

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Final Reading – Dispensaries in Hawaii Next Step

On the last day of the 2015 regular session, the House passed on final reading HB321, CD1, which creates a statewide distribution system for medical marijuana and establishes the parameters for individuals and entities to apply to set up the dispensaries. Medical Marijuana

“There are an estimated 13,000 qualifying patients throughout the state who are desperately looking to find a safe, reliable and convenient access to medical marijuana.  This bill is a reasonable and compassionate response to the needs of our citizens,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully Pawaa, Manoa), who co-introduced the bill along with House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).  Both are long-time supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries.

“While the Legislature made legal the medical use of marijuana on June 14, 2000, the law has remained silent for 15 years on how patients can obtain medical marijuana if they or their caregivers are unable to grow their own supply,” Souki added.  “There has been a desperate need for a safe and reliable dispensary system statewide for medical marijuana for a long time.  This bill finally answers that need.”

The measure follows closely the recommendations of the Task Force commissioned by the Legislature in 2013 to study the implementation of medical marijuana dispensaries.  It also provides for opportunities to improve the system and correct any shortcomings on a go-forward basis.

The bill, which also passed the Senate, now goes to the Governor for his signature, veto or passage without his signature.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL:

  • Allows for eight (8) dispensary licensees in the state: three (3) on Oahu, two (2) on Big Island and two (2) on Maui County; one (1) on Kauai;
  • Each licensee may own, operate or subcontract up to two production centers and up to two retail dispensing locations; prohibits dispensary from being located in same place as production center;
  • Requires the Department of Health to engage in public education and training regarding medical marijuana;
  • Requires the Department of Health to adopt interim rules by Jan. 4, 2016, for the establishment and management of the medical marijuana dispensary system;
  • Tasks the Department of Health with accepting applications for dispensary licenses from Jan. 12, 2016, to Jan. 29, 2016, and announcing licensees by April 15, 2016;
  • Tasks the Department of Health to select licensees based on minimum requirements and merit based factors including: the capacity to meet the needs of patients; ability to comply with criminal background checks, inventory controls, and security requirements; ability to operate a business; and financial stability and access to financial resources;
  • Allows the Department of Health to license additional operators after Oct. 1, 2017, based on qualifying patient need;
  • Dispensaries must comply with all zoning regulations and will not be permitted within 750 ft. of a playground, public housing or school;
  • Licensees may begin dispensing marijuana and manufactured marijuana products on July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health;
  • Licensed applicants must pay (a) $5,000 non-refundable application fee, (b) an additional $75,000 fee for each license approved, and (c) a $50,000 annual renewal fee;
  • Establishes the criteria for license applications to require that an individual applicant: be a legal resident of the State for not less than five years, be over the age of 21, and have no felony convictions;
  • Establishes the minimum criteria for license applications to require that an entity applicant: be organized under the laws of the state and have a Hawaii tax ID number, have a 51 percent or greater Hawaii based ownership stake, have at least $1,000,000 under its control for each license applied for with an additional $100,000 available for each retail dispensing location;
  • Imposes regular general excise taxes onto the sale of marijuana and manufactured products within the dispensary system and does not include any additional taxes;
  • Allows qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana from primary caregivers who cultivate or by personally cultivating marijuana until Dec. 31, 2018;
  • Allows a primary caregiver or legal guardian to cultivate marijuana after Dec. 31, 2018, if qualifying patient is a minor or adult lacking legal capacity or who is located on any island with no dispensary;
  • Expands the definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing use to include post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Expands the Department of Health’s authority to conduct criminal background checks;
  • Requires dispensaries to allow announced and unlimited unannounced inspections and to conduct annual financial audits; and
  • Requires the Department of Health to file annual report to Governor and Legislature on dispensaries.

Additional details of the measure can be found in the bill text and the committee report at the links below:

Hawaii State Senate Reorganizes Committees – Big Island Senators Elected to Key Positions

The Hawai‘i State Senate today announced a new line up of committees and committee chairs as part of its recent reorganization.

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“This new alignment is consistent with our policy of making the best use of our members’ skills and interests,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald Kouchi (Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau). “We believe these assignments will make us more effective as a body moving forward.”

The following are the new committee assignments:

Consumer Protection (CPN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Rosalyn Baker
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani

Economic Development and Technology (EDT)

  • Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Sam Slom

Education (EDU)

  • Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Higher Education and the Arts (HEA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Brian Taniguchi
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele

Housing (HSG)

  • Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro

Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs (PSM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Will Espero

Tourism (TSI)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Lorraine Inouye
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard

Water, Land and Agriculture (WLA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara

Ways and Means (WAM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Jill Tokuda
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

In addition, Senate Leadership has assigned Sen. Laura Thielen the chair of the Committee on Health and the Environment (HEV) and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland the chair and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as Vice Chair of the Committee on Human Services (HMS). These assignments are awaiting confirmation.  Sen. Rosalyn Baker has been confirmed as Vice Chair of HEV.

The new confirmed committee assignments will take effect immediately.

As the Senate reorganizes, members of Senate leadership will not act as committee chairs. This division of duties allows the Senate to more broadly balance and distribute power within this chamber and better respond to the needs of our state. Senate leadership will be as follows:

  • Senate President: Sen. Ronald Kouchi
  • Senate Vice President: Sen. Will Espero
  • Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Josh Green
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Hawaii House of Reps Passes Bills on Final Reading

As the close of session quickly approaches, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including extending the rail tax for another five years, funding the Turtle Bay land purchase, and approving the state budget.

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Other significant measures that passed final reading in the House included increasing the tax state credit for low-income residents; providing additional funds for preschool for low-income families; requiring health insurers to provide coverage for children with autism; making sex trafficking a Class A felony; and establishing an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The House took on some tough issues relating to the rail tax, Turtle Bay and the Maui public hospitals, and worked collaboratively with the Administration and the Senate to come up with sound and reasonable solutions,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).

“We also crafted a responsible budget that addressed our long-term obligations and took care of our immediate social services needs and capital improvement requirements.”

HB500, CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium, fiscal years FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, will now go to the Governor for his signature.  The bill includes nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

In crafting the budget, House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) looked to create a “better budget” in four ways, by: (1) limiting growth in the budget, (2) fueling economic growth through selective tax credits, (3) investing in people who need help the most, and (4) reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities and building up its Rainy Day funds.

Earlier, the House passed and sent on to the Governor a bill that raised the smoking age in Hawaii to 21 that put the state in the lead in national efforts to prevent nicotine addiction.  The bill also banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes in public places to anyone under 21.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

EDUCATION

SB64, CD1, makes an appropriation of $6,000,000 for the Preschool Open Doors Program.

HB820, CD1, establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools.

HB11, CD1, authorizes an additional per year bonus for teachers who maintain current national board certification under the national board certification incentive program and teach at a school in a focus, priority, or Superintendent’s Zone, as determined by the Department of Education.

SB1345, CD1, requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for the development of a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

SB854, CD1, requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, CD1, renames the “running start program” as the “dual credit program”. Broadens participation to include ninth and tenth graders. Broadens participation to include home-schooled students for courses offered on University of Hawaii campuses. Replaces a standardized test with an assessment. Repeals tuition and fees requirement.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, CD1, requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address. Requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for original or renewal identification cards for homeless individuals upon verification of homeless status. Establishes a working group to develop a plan to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA

SB964, CD1, appropriates $3,000,000 for the Kupuna Care Program.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, CD1, appropriates $2,000,000 for the operations of the Hawaii Health Connector.

HB576, CD1, narrows the scope of work of the State Innovation Waiver Task Force to facilitate the development of an Affordable Care Act waiver in a timely manner.

SB1117, CD1, makes an emergency appropriation of $15,000,000 to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB1291, CD1, prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB791, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

HB631, CD1, establishes the documentation required when requesting the Department of Health to issue a new birth certificate with a sex designation change.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, CD1, establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

HB553, CD1, allows part-time and full-time graduate student assistants employed by UH to collectively bargain their wages, hours, and other terms; provided that no collective bargaining agreement shall take effect prior to July 1, 2016. Requires UH and the relevant exclusive representatives to meet and report to the Legislature.

HB547, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to provide guidance to students to increase the rate of on-time graduation through a Graduation Pathway System. Appropriates funds for the Graduation Pathway System and to the John A. Burns School of Medicine for repairs.

HB541, CD1, requires each UH campus to prepare an operations plan, to be reviewed by the President and VP for Budget and Finance and CFO of UH, for each fiscal year. Requires the moneys in the UH Tuition and Fees Special Fund for each UH campus to lapse to the credit of Program ID No. UOH900 (University of Hawaii, system wide support)

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB448, CD1, requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence, near-deaths, and suicides, in addition to fatalities. Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HB436, CD1, amends the definition of “emergency vehicle” to include sheriff division vehicles, Hawaii emergency management agency vehicles, civil defense vehicles, DOT harbors division vehicles, DLNR division of conservation and resources enforcement vehicles, and county emergency management vehicles to require approaching vehicles to slow and change lanes when nearing the emergency vehicle when it is stopped for official duties.

SB265, CD1, replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program and adds various other amendments relating to sex trafficking.

SB1211, CD1, increases the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys. Increases the ceiling for additional funds required for matching federal disaster relief funds.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure. Appropriates funds for deposit into the Major Disaster Fund.

SB871, CD1, authorizes the Director of Transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another country or state, under certain conditions. Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges. Repeals the driver’s license reciprocity committee.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB444, CD1, authorizes the use of a portion of transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation. Makes additional general fund appropriations for the same purpose for fiscal years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

SB284, CD1, authorizes the B&F to issue $35,000,000 in reimbursable general obligation bonds and to deposit the proceeds into the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Appropriates $35,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund for the DLNR to acquire a conservation easement and other real property interests at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Allocates TAT revenues of $1,500,000 annually to the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Provides that a nonprofit land conservation organization shall file an application annually with the BLNR requesting $1,500,000 from the Land Conservation Fund to be used for the reimbursement of debt service on the Turtle Bay reimbursable general obligation bonds. Appropriates $3,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund to reimburse the state general fund for payment of debt service on the reimbursable general obligation bonds.

SB359, CD1, applies the state environmental response, energy, and food security tax to fossil fuels other than petroleum products and bases the tax on one million British thermal units. Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax. Clarifies the purposes for which the environmental response revolving fund may be used. Provides for the transfer of moneys from the environmental response revolving fund into the general fund. Requires the Director of Health to report to the Legislature information regarding the environmental response revolving fund.

AGRICULTURE

HB573, CD1, establishes and appropriates funding for the Hawaii Good Agricultural Practices Program to develop and support good agricultural practices for Hawaii farms growing agricultural food products.

SB1060, CD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, CD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and a Farm to School Coordinator position.

TAXES

SB555, CD1, increases the refundable food/excise tax credit. Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above and for heads of households, married couples filing jointly, and married couples filing separately, with adjusted gross incomes of $50,000 or above. Repeals residency requirement. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015. Repeal and reenactment on 12/31/2017.

HB134, CD1, reauthorizes the counties’ authority to establish a county surcharge on state tax for a limited time period, with the surcharge to be effective until 12/31/2027, if adopted. Requires counties to adopt an ordinance to establish or extend a surcharge prior to 7/1/2016. Limits the use of surcharge revenues by counties that have already established a county surcharge on state tax to capital costs. Expands the definition of capital costs for counties with a population greater than 500,000.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1001, CD1, establishes and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program, through which the High Technology Development Corporation may distribute grants to Hawaii manufacturers for various activities.

SB519, CD1, authorizes fines to be deposited into the tax administration special fund. Increases the balance that may be retained in the tax administration special fund in each fiscal year. Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations and resort time share vacation plans. Authorizes DOTAX to issue citations for failure to provide the registration identification number or link to the number and the contact information of the local contact in an advertisement for a transient accommodation or resort time share vacation plan. Takes effect 1/1/16.

SB892, CD1, makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

HB1509, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to establish collective goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035.

SB717, CD1, repeals existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of ten per cent ethanol. Effective December 31, 2015.

HB623, CD1, which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045. Requires the Public Utilities Commission to include the impact of renewable portfolio standards, if any, on the energy prices offered by renewable energy developers and the cost fossil fuel volatility in its report to the Legislature.

SB1050, CD1, requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by October 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects. (CD1)

SB1316, CD1, establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB349, CD1, establishes a five-year renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit. Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim a refundable income tax credit equal to 20 cents per seventy-six thousand British thermal units of qualifying renewable fuel, capped at $3,000,000 per taxable year. Caps the credit at $3,000,000 per year in aggregate. Requires DBEDT to certify all tax credits and submit a report regarding the production and sale of qualifying renewable fuels to the governor and legislature each year. Directs DOTAX to create forms for the tax credit. Applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

SB1214, CD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, CD1, requires persons charging a consumer’s credit or debit card or account for automatic renewal or continuous service offer to first obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent. Requires acknowledgment of terms, cancellation policy, and information on how to cancel the automatic renewal or continuous service to be provided to the consumer. Requires free trial offers to clearly and conspicuously disclose how to cancel the agreement prior to the consumer being charged for goods and services.

HB261, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to post and update information on drug formularies via a public website and toll-free number for the benefit of insureds, potential insureds, and providers. Establishes a formulary accessibility working group.

SB1009, CD1, requires hotels to distribute porterage service charges to employees in full or disclose to customers that the charges are being used for other purposes.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, CD1, allows the Department of Education to continue, until June 30, 2020, awarding high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the armed services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

HB1153, CD1, exempts qualifying totally and permanently disabled veterans from paying the state motor vehicle registration fee. Requires the Director of the Office of Veterans’ Services to report the number of qualifying veterans to the Legislature and Department of Taxation.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB996, CD1, appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB654, CD1, reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function. Takes effect on 1/1/2016.

HB179, CD1, specifies the in-state mailing address in a voter’s registration record as the forwarding address for receiving absentee ballots permanently. Requires voters seeking to have permanent absentee ballots forwarded to another address to re-apply for an absentee ballot.

SB508, CD1, requires noncandidate committees to file an additional preliminary report on October 1 of each general election year.

HB15, CD1, specifies that the Chief Election Officer is an at-will employee. Requires Elections Commission to provide notice and reason for removal of a Chief Election Officer. Requires a performance evaluation of the Chief Election Officer after a general election. Requires a public hearing on the Chief Election Officer’s performance for purposes of considering reappointment. Creates a statewide standard for the distribution of absentee ballots.

HB1491, CD1, strengthens reporting requirements for organizational reports, noncandidate reports, and late contributions reports submitted by noncandidate committees making or receiving large contributions.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, CD1, requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable. Intends that the requirement apply to the judiciary. Effective 7/1/2016.

HB1140, CD1, provides a temporary income tax credit for the cost of upgrading or converting a qualified cesspool to a septic system or an aerobic treatment unit system, or connecting to a sewer system. Permits DOH, as a pilot program, to certify no more than 2 residential large capacity cesspools as qualified cesspools. Defines terms. Effective 7/1/2015. Sunsets 12/31/2020.

SB1312, CD1, appropriates $10,000,000 from the general revenues into the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund in FY 2014-2015 to comply with article VII, section 6, of the Hawaii State Constitution, which requires, under certain economic conditions, that the legislature provide a tax credit to state taxpayers or make a deposit into one or more funds.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, CD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, that the Foundation needs to improve its management to ensure the accountability, accessibility, and protection of the Foundation’s resources.

OTHERS

SB868, CD1, authorizes county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol. Requires liquor commissions that do regulate dancing to adopt or amend administrative rules, no later than October 1, 2015, regarding dancing in premises licensed to sell liquor for consumption thereon and include a definition of “dancing” in those rules.

HB1090, HD2, prohibits non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants that forbid post-employment competition for employees of a technology business to stimulate economic development in Hawaii’s technology business sector.

HB1366, CD1, appropriates $500,000 to perform due diligence, plan, and enter into negotiations to acquire the Alii Place building in Downtown Honolulu to provide office space for state governmental agencies and offices.

Hawaii Senate Approves 160 Bills in Final Reading

The full Senate today passed 160 bills including measures to protect undeveloped land on Oahu’s North Shore, increase the food/excise tax credit, and ensure funding so that Hawai‘i’s elderly are cared for. capital

“I am proud of the Senate’s accomplishments this session,” said Senate Majority Leader, Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “We resolved a number of lingering issues, including Turtle Bay. We also provided support for some of our most fragile members of our community; the homeless, our seniors, our preschoolers, as well as provided safeguards for our natural resources.”

Senators today also approved several measures that include provisions to support the Senate’s Legislative Agenda set forth at the beginning of the 2015 Session to move Hawai‘i towards a more resilient and sustainable state.

“The budget that was passed today is one that is fiscally prudent, yet addresses many of the priorities of the Senate and the House. Although we were working with a lean budget, we were able to position the State to be in a better position not just for this biennium, but for years to come,” said Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist 24 – Kāne‘ohe, Kāne‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, Āhuimanu), Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee. The State budget bill HB500 CD1 approved nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

A few of the bills that the Senate approved today include:

  • Autism Coverage: SB791 CD1 would mandate that insurance companies cover up to $25,000 a year in treatment until a child turns 14.
  • Turtle Bay: SB284 CD1 allows the state to enter into an agreement with the owners of Turtle Bay that would protect 665 acres of undeveloped land on the North Shore of Oahu.
  • Free Dual Credit Programs for High-Schoolers: SB374 CD1 would waive college tuition for high school students in dual credit programs, such as Running Start and Jump Start, at the University of Hawai‘i’s community colleges.
  • Health Connector Assistance: SB1028 CD1 would provide $2 million next year for the health insurance marketplace.
  • Food/Excise Tax Credit: SB555 CD1 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007.
  • Preschool Open Doors: SB64 CD1 would restore $6 million necessary to run the Preschool Open Doors Program, the statewide school readiness program, next year.
  • Community-Based Renewable Energy Projects: SB1050 CD1 would establish a community-based renewable energy program, which allows electric utility customers to participate in renewable energy projects that produce electricity, which they can sell back to electric utility companies.
  • Barrel Tax: SB359 CD1 would fund the Environmental Response Revolving Fund with the general fund instead of the barrel tax to ensure there is a consistent stream of funding that supplies investments in clean energy, local agricultural production and environmental emergency responses.
  • Kupuna Care: SB964 CD1 would provide an additional $3 million to fund the Kupuna Care program in fiscal year 2016, which is in addition to the base budget of $4.8 million.
  • Sex Trafficking: SB265 CD1 would ban sex trafficking and raise the penalties to a class A felony and promote the concept of treating prostitutes as victims rather than criminals.
  • Homeless ID cards: SB273 CD1 would allow homeless people to apply for state identification cards even without the required state and federal documents if a social service organization, attorney, member of the clergy, correctional institution staff or health professional presents a signed statement certifying their personal information. It would waive fees for homeless individuals.
  • Ethanol Repeal: SB717 CD1 repeals the existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of 10 percent ethanol.
  • Hawai‘i Resiliency and Sustainability: SB892 CD1 appropriates funding for Hawai‘i resilience and sustainability strategy in the areas of broadband, energy efficiency and smart grid, and water and sewer infrastructure.
  • Affirmative Consent: SB387, CD1 would establish an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawai‘i’s executive policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Multi-Track: SB1345 CD1would require the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

The bills approved today were also approved by the House and will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Passes Conference Committee

Senate and House conferees today reached a compromise on the bill that would establish a medical marijuana dispensary system in the islands.

Medical Marijuana

“This is a measure that many stakeholders have been working on for a very long time. It’s taken much discussion, collaboration and compromise to get where we are today and we believe this is a good measure that will get the medical marijuana dispensary system up and rolling,” said Senator Will Espero (D-19 ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages), chair of the Senate conference committee. “We are now on the verge of having a safe, secure product for our patients who need this, particularly the children who will benefit tremendously from medical cannabis.”

HB321, CD1 would allow applications for licenses to be available in the State of Hawai‘i starting January 4, 2016, with medical marijuana dispensaries being allowed to begin operations no sooner than July 15, 2016. A $5,000 non-refundable fee would be required to apply for a license.  An approved dispensary would pay a fee of $75,000 for a license, with a $50,000 annual renewal fee.  A total of eight dispensary licenses will be distributed throughout the state: three on Oahu, two on Maui, two on Hawai‘i Island, and one on Kaua‘i. Dispensary licenses will be selected on a merit basis and distributed through the State Department of Health (DOH).

The measure requires all dispensary licensees and employees to be subject to a criminal and background check. It restricts medical marijuana dispensaries within 750 feet of a playground, public housing complex or school. It also authorizes licensed dispensaries to be subject to annual unannounced inspections of its operations by the DOH.

The measure will be voted on by the full House and Senate on Thursday, May 7. If the bill passes both houses, it will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Sheriffs Being Recruited Across the State of Hawaii

The Department of Public Safety (PSD) is looking for a few good men and women to join the State Sheriff Division.

Sheriff

Recruitment will open on the Department of Human Resources and Development (DHRD) website for a three-week period from Monday, May 4, until Sunday, May 24.  PSD is seeking applicants willing to serve on every island.

“This recruitment will help the department fill several positions,” said Sheriff Robin Nagamine. “We are looking for people who possess traits and characteristics like physical and mental fitness, alertness, tact, integrity, honesty, good judgement and the ability to deal effectively with the public.”

To qualify, the applicant must be a high school graduate; be able to demonstrate knowledge of English grammar, spelling and punctuation; have the ability to read and comprehend complex written material; write a clear, factual report; and have at least two years of work experience which demonstrates these abilities.

After the initial recruitment, chosen applicants will be tested on physical fitness (pushups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run) and have to complete a written test to gauge their reading, writing and comprehension skills.  They will also take a pre-employment law enforcement assessment. After successful completion of the physical ability test, written test and the pre-employment assessment, the applicant may be scheduled for an interview with the department.

Individuals who pass the testing and are selected from the recruitment will participate in a 5-month Sheriff Recruit Class, which will consist of classroom and on-the-job training in the laws, rules, regulations, principles, practices, procedures and techniques of law enforcement; the operation of firearms and other equipment; as well as physical conditioning.

You can find more information on how to become a Deputy Sheriff by going to the links below. (NOTE: The official application for recruitment will not open on the Department of Human Resources and Development Jobseekers page until May 4.)

Hawaii Island:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126059

Kauai:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126060

Maui:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126061

Oahu:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/hawaii/default.cfm?action=jobbulletin&JobID=1126898

Big Island Legislators Secure Over $200 Million in Capital Improvement Project Funding

Big Island legislators secured over $200 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in HB500 CD1, the state budget bill for the next fiscal biennium.

capital

The proposed budget includes funding for various highway improvements, monies for Big Island schools, and continued financial support to complete the Kona Judiciary Complex.  The measure is scheduled next week for final reading in both the House and Senate.

Hilo

“Our Hawaii Island Legislative delegation has worked very hard to secure funding for many of the much needed projects throughout our island,” said Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano).  “Although we didn’t get everything we asked for and that is needed for our communities, our residents can be assured that we will continue to work hard during the interim to secure funding for those projects.”

“We have been successful in securing funds for Capital Improvement Projects for Hilo although we were faced with fiscal restraints,” added Sen. Gilbert Kahele (Hilo).

“For the last several years, I have been working with the tech community to increase the availability of jobs for Hawaii Island residents,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo).  “The $8.5 million available for the purchase of a Workforce Development Facility to support tech activities demonstrates the state’s commitment to growing this important economic sector.”

“House District 2 will see funding for schools, infrastructure improvements, and major construction for our airport, harbor, and roads,” added Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea).

“I am a strong supporter of alternative learning for our young men and women, and so I am grateful that an additional $1.7 million is being invested for the Youth Challenge Academy in Keaukaha. The Hilo Airport and Harbor continue to receive funding for necessary improvements.

“Other smaller projects are just as important, like Waiakea High School’s batting cage and pipeline replacement along Nohea Street and Santos Lane.  Regardless of the amount, project dollars will improve our quality of life and provide continued economic activity.”

Kohala, Waimea

“Two of my priorities are farming and agriculture and I am pleased that three projects in Senate District 4 have received funding,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).  “After being invited to visit the Kohala Ditch to witness the damage in December, improvements and repairs to the ditch became my top priority for the future of agriculture. With the collaboration of many constituents and the State Department of Agriculture, we submitted a CIP request and were approved for $1.5 million.

“The Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, is another project and my office staff and I have met with them to clarify their needs” she added.  “This operation is vital to the farmers in the greater Waimea community. A CIP for $1 million to help repair their equipment has also been awarded. And finally, for Waipio Valley, and specifically Ha Ola o Waipio Valley, a GIA in the amount of $150,000 has been approved for flood control and stream bank stabilization work.”

“I’m pleased the budget contains funding for North Kohala and South Kohala and makes progress on locally grown produce and much needed improvements for our public schools,” said Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala).

Puna, Ka’u

“For Puna & Ka’u districts, I’m happy to announce that our district schools will receive $2.3 million for laptops and the school infrastructure needed to implement the ‘One on one’ computer learning program, starting with Pahoa and Mountain View public schools,” said Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka’u).

“This will expand the program that has been so successful in Keaau Elementary & Intermediate schools. Our Puna public school students, many of whom are extremely challenged economically, will have the tools to compete in our modern computer-based workplace.”

“Lower Puna is the fastest growing district in the State and I appreciate that the current budget recognizes our road and traffic problems by allocating $15 million for improvements to Highway 130,” added Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna).

Kona

“After many years fighting for projects like the Kona Courthouse, I was so pleased to see our team’s collaboration pay off for the Big Island,” added Sen. Josh Green (Kona, Ka‘u).

“The Kona Courthouse was a top priority for me and I’m very thankful that we now have full funding and the project will move forward,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).  “The funds in the budget for the airport are also really important for Kona’s future—the federal inspections stations will cement Kona as a destination for international arrivals to the state, and the planned regional ARFF training facility will serve as a source of revenue to keep our airports systems sustainable.

“We were gratified the two projects in District 5 received grant-in-aid money,” said Rep. Richard Creagan (Na’alehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona).  “The community kitchen project at Kona Pacific Charter School will receive $1.2 million.  This project will help provide healthy food and value added products to the Kona community.

“The Community Enrichment and Historical Center in Precinct 3 will receive $800,000 which should help complete this very important and long-awaited project.”

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $55 million in continued funding for the design and construction of a Judiciary Complex in Kona
  • $4.99 million for photovoltaic projects for East Hawaii HHSC region (I believe this was bundled up in last year’s CIP for HHSC)
  • $1 million for the design and construction of a Kamuela post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant
  • $1.5 million for improvements to the Kohala ditch irrigation system
  • $30.212 million for the construction of a new combined support maintenance shop complex for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha military reservation
  • $1.675 million for Youth Challenge Academy renovations and improvements at Keaukaha military reservation
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $1 million for the plans, design, construction and equipment for the transition from Keaau Elementary School to Keonepoko Elementary School
  • $230,000 for the construction of drainage improvements and a raised covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School
  • $2.3 million for laptop computers and the installation of necessary infrastructure for laptop use in Senate District 2 schools, especially at Pahoa High and Intermediate School and Mountain View Public Schools
  • $450,000 for a new baseball batting cage at Waiakea High School
  • $1.58 million for the design of a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $2 million for the design of Building A phase 1 renovations at Hilo Intermediate School
  • $8.5 million for the land acquisition, design, construction and equipment for a multi-purpose workforce development processing facility
  • $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $1 million for the design and construction for Pu’u Wa’awa’a structure improvements and dam compliance
  • $400,000 for the plans and design for improvements at the North Kawaihae small boat harbor
  • $600,000 for the land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka
  • $550,000 for the replacement of water lines and service laterals along Nohea Street and Santos Lane
  • $3.5 million for airfield improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $3.89 million for the demolition of existing structures at the west ramp and construction of site improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $61 million for the design and construction of a new airport rescue firefighters regional training facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $2.5 million for the plans and design of a federal inspection station at Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $50,000 for a feasibility study of constructing a small commercial airport in south Puna
  • $1.425 million for physical modifications to improve navigational safety and operational efficiencies at Hilo Harbor
  • $660,000 for land acquisition to extend the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Hilo terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway
  • $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130
  • $2.45 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements to widen the two lane highway to four lanes or implement alternate alignments
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements by mile post 10.60
  • $8 million for the rehabilitation of Ninole Bridge along Mamalahoa Highway (route 11)
  • $1.5 million for the construction of portable trailers at Hawaii Community College
  • $800,000 to the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council #1 for the construction of Milolii community enrichment and historical center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $150,000 to the Panaewa Community Alliance for the design of the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $285,000 to the Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Science for the design and construction of a certified commercial kitchen (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $1.2 million to the Friends of Kona Pacific Charter School for the design, construction and equipment for community food kitchen for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $315,000 to the Kailapa Community Association for the design and construction of the Kailapa community resource center (Grant-in-Aid)

Commentary – TMT Has Bent Over Backwards to Address Concerns

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district.

Click to view

Click to view

In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.

This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites.

However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033.

This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene,
Kailua-Kona

DLNR Closes Maui Beach After Fatal Shark Attack

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed Makena State Park and ocean waters from Big Beach to La Perouse light house to swimmers, divers, and other ocean users.

Makena State Park Beach is closed after a fatal shark attack.

Makena State Park Beach is closed after a fatal shark attack.

This is in response to a fatal shark bite this morning in the Kanahena Cove area of Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.  DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers, Division of Aquatic Resources staff, and County lifeguards are on scene to investigate and warn the public. Shark warning signs are being posted. Further details about the incident are pending.

The area will be closed at least until noon tomorrow, at which time officials on the scene will assess the area for reopening.

Details about other recent shark incidents in Hawaii can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/sharks/shark-incidents/incidents-list/

DLNR Continues to Remove Possible Japan Tsunami Debris From Hawaii Beaches

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) continues to respond to reports of possible Japan Tsunami Marine Debris items that arrive on island reefs and beaches.

beached boat

Today, a DLNR crew retrieved a reported 20’ skiff at Sandy Beach area, bearing Japanese characters and vessel registration numbers. It is the seventh boat reported since February this year, following six others that arrived on Hawaii shores. Three were on the Big Island, at Kohanaiki, Kawaihae and Kawa Bay. One was overturned on Maui near the Aston Mahana, and two on Oahu were reported, at Kahuku and Punaluu.

Beached Boat at Sandy

Two large plastic bins were also reported this week, which bore identification marks that may be traceable to Japan. One was located at Kamilo Beach, Hawaii and removed by volunteers of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The other was located on Kauai at Larsen’s beach.

Tsunami container

Items with identification numbers, Japanese characters, are reported to NOAA which works with the Japan Consulate in Hawaii to confirm provenance with the Government of Japan. Items not claimed by the original owner may then be disposed of.

To report large or unusual marine debris items, especially those that may have attached marine organisms, please email dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov and DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. Calls may also be made to DLNR at 587-0400.

Mauna Kea Hui Not Invited to OHA Meeting Originally… Response

To be clear, the Mauna Kea Hui, was not invited to this meeting until only yesterday and only after OHA had released its Press Statement claiming we would be in attendance.

Click to view full news release.

Click to view full news release.

So we have produced this statement in response.

It is the position of the Hui that we will to uphold the wishes of our Kupuna, those who came before us, such as Uncle Genesis Leeloy, Aunty Leina’ala Apiki McCord, Aunty Kamakahukilani Von Oelhoffen and so many more…because they are who moved us to stand for Mauna Kea so many years ago– their message was clear — enough is enough—there shall be no further development on Mauna Kea!

While the Mauna Kea Hui will continue to litigate in the courts, and has been adjudicated to have standing to do so, there is also a higher court here and we stand with our Kupuna in asserting the following positions for the protection of Mauna Kea:

  1. The TMT construction shall be halted and any new leases and/or subleases previously issued by BLNR allowing the TMT to be built and that are currently being challenged must be revoked and/or rescinded forever.
  2. The observatories currently operating on Mauna Kea shall pay fair market lease rent now and until the end of the general lease in 2033.
  3. No further development shall be allowed in any way, shape, or form and upon the decommissioning of observatories or the current general lease has ended there must be complete clean-up and restoration of the Mauna to its original state and condition as the general lease requires. There shall be no rocks, soils or other materials displaced or removed from the Mauna.
  4. We will consider working with State Official to help find solutions for: the protection of Mauna Kea waters and aquifers, clean-up, and restoration of the Mauna, to insure the “right-holders” (those who the laws are written to protect such as Native Hawaiians and the General Public) have a seat at the table of decision making and lastly we are committed to help to ensure educational opportunities and funds for all the children of Hawai`i are upheld and protected.

OHA … our beloved Mauna Kea is NOT for sale!

In Aloha We Remain,

Paul K. Neves, Clarence Ku Ching, Debbie J. Ward, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Kealoha Pisciotta, and the Flores-Case ‘Ohana and KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance.

Hawaii First State in Nation to Raise Age to Purchase Tobacco Products to 21

The Hawaii State Senate this morning passed a bill that would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

No Sale Cigarettes

The bill, SB 1030, is being sent to Governor David Ige for his signature. This would make Hawaii the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale of all tobacco products including e-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 21. The House had previously passed the measure.

The law, geared toward preventing the initiation of tobacco use among youths, will take effect on January 1, 2016.

“Today’s passage of SB 1030 marks a significant achievement in public health,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age. I am pleased that the State has included e-cigarettes as part of the new law. With the explosion of e-cigarette use among teens, more and more of our kids are developing an unhealthy addiction to nicotine. This law is an important step in helping to make our next generation tobacco free.”

A 2014 statewide poll of Hawaii residents by SMS Research for CTFH found that statewide, 77 percent of Hawaii voters support raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.

“Our state legislators clearly recognized the public health and safety impacts that SB 1030 would provide and passed this historic measure,” Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii (CTFH). “As the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age of access to tobacco products to 21, Hawaii leads in trying to cut the vicious addiction to smoking among our youth. Our state’s passage of this landmark bill provides an incredible boost to other states considering similar legislation.”

According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. A 2015 scientific report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that youth are more vulnerable to addiction as their brains are still developing.

The IOM report concluded that raising the minimum legal age nationally to purchase tobacco products would add 4.2 million years of life to the next generation of American adults. IOM predicted that smoking prevalence would fall from 17.8 percent to an estimated 12 percent with the minimum age set at 21.

“I know first-hand the negative impacts smoking has had on my generation,” said Sabrina Olaes, CTFH volunteer and senior at Kapolei High School. “I have watched former classmates skip class to smoke e-cigarettes in bathrooms and end up being held back for missing so much class time. Passage of SB 1030 means we are one step closer to creating a better and healthier future for Hawaii’s youth.”

In Hawaii, tobacco use or exposure claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million health care bills annually.

Economic Impact of National Parks of Hawaii Island

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 2,282,752 people in 2014 visited four national park units on Hawai‘i, the Big Island, and spent $175,579,100 in communities near the parks. That spending supported 2,162 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $248,036,200.

Royal Court at the annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi I Pu‘ukoholā Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. ​ ​ NPS Photo

Royal Court at the annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi I Pu‘ukoholā Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.
​ ​
NPS Photo

The national parks of Hawai‘i, the Big Island include:

Hawaiis Parks

A fifth area managed by the NPS, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, does not track visitation. A section of the 175-mile trail runs through each of the island’s national park units.

“The popularity of the national parks of Hawai‘i Island is no surprise as Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is the most popular attraction on the island and sometimes the state.  Hawai‘i Island as a whole has seen increases in visitor arrivals, length of stay and total spending over the last few years and we can attribute this success to the popularity of these amazing attractions. We have a very strong relationship with the National Park Service and through this we can promote these assets and drive sustainable demand for Hawai‘i Island,” said Ross Birch, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm

Hawaii Department of Education Releases Annual Financial Audit

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today released its Annual Financial Audit for the 2014 fiscal year (FY 2014) which shows the Department is doing a better job at keeping its finances in order.

Click to view the report

Click to view the report

The independent report analyzed financial statements of the public school system, including operating, capital improvement and federal funds. The DOE’s FY 2014 audit was submitted last month to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse, which operates on behalf of the Office of Management and Budget.

The DOE’s financial audit provides an objective third-party examination of the presentation of the Department’s financial statements for the most recent fiscal year, coordinated by the State of Hawaii’s Office of the Auditor​.​The DOE elects to maintain a separate, independent audit, rather than being incorporated with a single State of Hawaii audit.

“Annual independent audits are crucial to ensure taxpayers’ funds are being monitored and maximized to support teaching and learning in the most efficient way,” said DOE Senior Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Amy Kunz. “The findings validate our financial controls and provide guidance for improvement in some areas.”

The 65-page audit report published by Honolulu-based N&K CPA Inc. reviewed the DOE’s $1.494 billion general fund appropriation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. It concluded internal controls examined are appropriately structured to prevent or detect financial misstatements, and found the DOE to be in compliance with requirements of major federal programs.

Auditors noted “opportunities for strengthening internal controls and operating efficiency.” Kunz says the Office of Fiscal Service has already moved to address the recommendations as outlined in the findings, including:

  • ​Adjusted the calculation of vacation and sick leave accrual for a small portion of  teachers to align with the correct fiscal year.
  • Strengthened accounting procedures for new federal grant payments to ensure  accurate reporting.

During the last four years, the DOE has also increased its internal audits to identify areas in need of improved controls. This move aligns with the DOE/Board of Education joint Strategic Plan​, which calls for effective organizational,​​ financial, human, and community resources in support of student success.

University of Hawaii Board of Regents to Hear More TMT Testimony

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents have scheduled another Special Board Meeting on the TMT issues.
tmt meeting

Many folks who wanted to testify at the last meeting on Thursday April 16th, weren’t able to because of the regents flight plans.
TMT HearingThis next meeting will be held on Sunday April 26th, 2015 at the University of Hawaii Hilo Performing Arts Center (PAC) beginning at 11:30 A.M..

Please see the above notice of the hearing for more specifications on how and where to submit testimony in advance or in person.

Venomous Spiders Found in Foreign Container

A venomous spider was captured by agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Honolulu on Mon., April 13th.

Spider2

The spider was found in a container of granite and flagstone from Brazil that was being off-loaded in Honolulu. The CBP agents sealed the container and immediately turned the spider over to entomologists at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), who identified it as a venomous Brazilian wandering spider (genus: Phoneutria). The brown-colored spider had a leg span that measured about 3.5 inches.

Yesterday, a second container from the same shipment was opened and another spider was found and  killed immediately by a worker unloading the container. The spider was destroyed to the extent it could not be positively identified, but the worker said it looked like the photo of the Brazilian wandering spider. The second container was sealed and quarantined. The Plant Quarantine Branch is working with the importer to have the containers shipped back to Brazil.

“This incident emphasizes the importance of coordinated efforts between federal and state inspection agencies in preventing invasive species from entering Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We each have our own inspection areas and duties, but communication is key in protecting the state.”

spider

The CBP is responsible, not only for keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., but also screening international visitors and foreign cargo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with inspection of agricultural material and animals transported from foreign countries into the U.S. and the HDOA is responsible for agricultural inspections from ports within the U.S. entering the State of Hawaii.

The Brazilian wandering spider is found in most areas of South America; however, it is not established in North America. They are considered one of the most venomous spiders in the world and may grow to have a leg span of five inches. Their venom is a strong neurotoxin that can cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, blurred vision and intense pain where the bite occurs.

This species of spider does not spin webs, but wanders around for their food – thus the name. Their diet consists of insects, other spiders, lizards and small rodents.
Suspected invasive species should be reported immediately to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE –

643-PEST (7378).

Family Urges Passage of “Cinderella” Bill

Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto are living separately now because the State does not allow two private pay clients in a community care foster family home (CCFFH) as space needs to be available for Medicaid clients.

noburo2Noboru and Elaine are able to pay their own way (private pay) but because of the State requirement Elaine has to live away from Noboru and only sees him on weekends. Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley and portion of Lower Kalihi) introduced HB600 which would allow married private pay couples to be cared for in the same CCFFH.

noburo1Janice Stinson, daughter of Elaine and Noboru, and her daughter Emiko, arrived on Tuesday to visit and to assist her parents in their efforts to get back together. “I find it difficult to believe that there is a State law that bars my parents from living together after 67 years of marriage.

They dearly love each other and miss each other because they are separated.” said Janice. “I am a health care professional in California with a PHD in Nursing and spent 38 years in the Navy Nurse Corps. Throughout my career I have understood the need for married couples to be together.”

Granddaughter Emiko adds “I don’t understand how there can be a law keeping a married couple of 67 years apart. My grandparents have been great role models for me my whole life and to see them kept apart now, makes me sad.”

The Kawamoto’s son Norman says “We have always been a close knit family. My Mom and Dad really miss each other very much being separated. There is nothing complicated about it; they simply want to live out their days together. They enjoy the basic things in life: watching TV together, singing songs together. The passage of HB600 will allow them to return to the life they have always enjoyed.”

Jonathan and Arlene Hanks, Noboru’s caregivers, offered “We support the Kawamoto family, Noboru and Elaine, we are here for them, and will help them in any way possible. We want to see HB600 pass into law. It’s just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.”

HB600 has passed both houses and is going to a conference committee next week to hopefully iron out the differences in the House version and the Senate version.

Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno adds “HB600 is the Cinderella bill of the 2015 legislative session because it involves a love story of a married couple of 67 years, separated by a State regulation which does not allow them to live in the same community care foster family home. I’ve always said that marriage is a fundamental right and the State should not have the right to deprive this married couple the right to live together in the same community care home.

Noboru fought in World War II and defended our country and now that he is 94 years of age, we feel the urgency to pass this bill and allow Elaine and Noboru to enjoy their golden years together.”

Senate Passes Nearly 200 Measures on Crossover

Measures include marijuana dispensaries, funding for rail tax, construction for Kona courthouse and body cameras for police

The State Senate today passed 135 House bills that addresses areas of domestic violence, beach protection, education, public safety, energy, and a number of other measures aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of the residents of Hawai‘i.

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A total of 197 bills have passed third reading by the Senate and will be returning to the House. A majority of the bills will go into conference committees where the House and Senate conferees will convene to settle differences between the House and Senate drafts and negotiate a final amended version.

Among the most substantial bills passed by the Senate: HB321, HD1, SD2 that establishes a system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers; HB134, HD1, SD2 which extends the half percent county surcharge on State tax for two, ten-year extensions to fund additional Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) transit routes; HB290, HD2, SD1 that appropriates funding for the construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex; and HB365, HD1, SD1 which appropriates money for body cameras for police officers.

“The Senate was prudent in passing out responsible House bills,” said Senator J. Kalani English (D 7th District), Senate Majority Leader. “These are reasonable proposals and we’re looking forward to conference to work out the details.”

Other significant House measures passed by the Senate include:

HB124, HD2, SD2, relating to elections. Requires the office of elections to implement elections by mail in a county with a population of less than 100,000, beginning with the 2016 primary election; and in each county with a population of less than 500,000, beginning with the 2018 primary election. Beginning in 2020, requires all federal, state, and county primary, special primary, general, special general, and special elections to be conducted by mail.

HB58, HD1, SD2, relating to protective orders. Establishes a protective order card pilot program within the Honolulu family justice center to issue protective order cards upon request of individuals holding a long-term protective order issued by a court of the first circuit of the State.

HB464, HD1, SD1, relating to health. Appropriates funds for the purchase of an additional ambulance unit for the Kakaako community, HB1063, HD2, SD1, which provides funding for an additional ambulance for the Moanalua, Aliamanu, Red Hill, Salt Lake and Foster Village

community, and HB481, HD1, SD1 that makes an appropriation for an ambulance based in Makalei on the island of Hawai‘i.

HB444, HD3, SD2, relating to beach protection. Authorizes the use of certain transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation.

HB1042, SD1, relating to important agricultural lands. Appropriates funds for grants-in-aid to the counties for identifying and mapping important agricultural lands, preparing the final submission package to the land use commission, and assistance with exploring county incentives for important agricultural lands.

HB1489, HD1, SD2, relating to special license plates for national parks. Authorizes the issuance of special license plates for Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

HB858, HD2, SD2, relating to domestic violence. Permits the termination of residential rental agreements in cases of domestic violence.

HB538, HD2, SD2, relating to domestic violence. Requires wireless telecommunications service providers to release individuals from shared or family wireless plans, without charge, upon written request in documented instances of domestic violence.

HB1112, HD2, SD2, relating to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. Requires the auditor to conduct a financial and management audit of HHSC every five years. Authorizes HHSC to negotiate master collective bargaining agreements for its employees. Authorizes a regional system of the Hawaii health systems corporation, in collaboration with a private entity, to transition any one or more of its facilities to management and operation by a new nonprofit management entity. Appropriates an unspecified amount to the department of budget and finance for an unspecified number of positions to coordinate the review of documents and examine the fiscal implications posed by a transition of any Hawaii health systems corporation facility to management and operation by a nonprofit management entity.

HB1354, HD1, SD2, relating to housing. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds to several state agencies for the purposes of improving and increasing the existing public and affordable housing stock in the State. Requires a report to the 2016 and 2017 legislature on the set-aside plan for upkeep and maintenance of the housing facilities to be constructed.

House Passes Nearly 150 Measures on Final Crossover

Includes bills on marijuana dispensaries, turtle bay, voting by mail, sexual assault, human trafficking and transportation network companies

The state House of Representatives passed today nearly 150 Senate measures dealing with education, housing and homelessness, health, seniors, agriculture, invasive species and the environment, public safety and improving the quality of life for Hawaii residents.  

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Among the most significant bills passed by the House were SB1028 that attempts to harmonize the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with those of Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care; SB1291 that establishes a regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers; SB284 that sets up a funding mechanism for the purchase of the Turtle Bay conservation easement; SB287 that mandates and establishes a timetable for voting by mail for all Hawaii elections; SB1280 that requires the PUC to regulate transportation network companies such as Uber; SB387 that creates an affirmative consent task force on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking at the University of Hawaii; and SB265 that makes sex trafficking a Class A felony.

The majority of the bills, along with the nearly 140 House bills passed by the Senate, will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

Other notable Senate measures passed by the House included:

EDUCATION

SB64, SD3, HD1, relating to the Preschool Open Doors Program.  Makes appropriations for positions and the continued implementation of the Preschool Open Doors Program and for subsidies for the program.

SB822, SD1, HD2, relating to education and student hours.  Clarifies the implementation schedule and calculation method for minimum number of days and student hours required for Department of Education schools in each school year. Applies the requirement for a 180 day, 1,080 hour school year to all school years beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

SB1345, HD2, relating to multi-track schools.  Requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Requires the DOE to give priority to overpopulated schools in making its annual capital improvement budget request to the Director of Finance.

SB854, SD2, HD2, relating to public school lands.  Requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, SD2, HD2, relating to UH/DOE dual credit education programs.  Renames the “Running Start Program” as the “Dual Credit Program.”  Broadens participation to include public and home-schooled ninth and tenth graders.  Replaces a standardized test with an assessment.  Repeals tuition and fees requirement.  Requires that all additional qualifications be uniform across all campuses. Appropriates moneys to the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii for positions.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, SD2, HD2, relating to identification cards for the homeless.  Requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address; requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for homeless individuals; and establishes a working group to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA 

SB964, SD2, HD1, relating to aging.  Appropriates funds for the Kupuna Care Program and the Aging and Disability Resource Center.  Requires appointment of an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator no later than July 1, 2017.  Appropriates funds for the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator, fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly, the Healthy Aging Partnership Program, and an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector.  Attempts to harmonize requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act with the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act by implementing federal requirements for provider network adequacy through requiring that insurer contracts with federally-qualified health centers.  Authorizes other means of generating revenue through provision of benefits administration services.

SB1338, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector.  Authorizes large group insurance coverage under the Connector.  Beginning Oct. 1, 2016, ends authorization to renew or issue transitional renewal policies.  Requires notice to group health plans that offer continuation of coverage about options for affordable coverage under the Connector, in addition to the requirements under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).

SB1228, SD2, HD3 establishes a process for special innovative procurement and generates a framework for public-private partnership in Hawaii.  Appropriates funds for a temporary position to assist the Procurement Policy Board.  Appropriates funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to procure services to develop a master plan for the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital.

SB1117, SD2, HD1, relating to Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.  Makes an emergency appropriation to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB682, SD2, HD1, relating to medical marijuana.  Establishes a regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers.  Specifies that the number of licensed dispensaries and production centers increase gradually over an initial phase-in period.  Prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations or rules that prohibit the use of land for licensed dispensaries and production centers.

SB1291, SD2, HD2, relating to medical marijuana.  Prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, employers, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB1095, SD1, HD1, relating to health insurance.  Defines the term “habilitative services” to be included in health care services, including but not limited to physical and occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, speech and swallowing therapy, applied behavior analysis, medical equipment, orthotics, and prosthetics, that help a person keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.

SB791, SD1, HD2, relating to autism spectrum disorders.  Requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

SB1036, SD2, HD1, relating to substance abuse treatment.  Establishes within the Department of Health a working group to address publicly-funded substance abuse treatment services.  Appropriates funds.

SB768, SD1, HD1, relating to in vitro fertilization insurance coverage.  Provides in vitro fertilization insurance coverage equality for women who are diagnosed with infertility by making available to them expanded treatment options, ensuring adequate and affordable health care services.

SB1032, SD2, HD2, relating to tobacco products.  Expands the definition of “tobacco products” to include tobacco-free products containing nicotine that are intended for human consumption. Increases the license fee for wholesalers or dealers of cigarettes or tobacco products.  Increases the retail tobacco permit fee for retailers engaged in the retail sale of cigarettes and tobacco products.

SB1030, SD1, HD2, relating to health.  Increases the minimum age for the sale or possession of a tobacco product in a public place, and the sale or furnishing of a tobacco product, from 18 to 21.  Defines “tobacco products” to include electronic smoking devices.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, SD2, HD3, relating to affirmative consent.  Establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

SB1146, SD1, HD1 requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to submit to the Legislature a program performance report for each fiscal quarter showing a comparison of actual revenues and expenditures versus budgeted revenues and expenditures.  Extends the University of Hawaii’s authority for independent fiscal management and oversight for one additional year.

SB325, SD1, HD2 makes comprehensive omnibus changes affecting the University of Hawaii System. Appropriates funds.

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB265, SD1, HD1, relating to sex trafficking.  Replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program.

SB1211, SD1, HD1, relating to the Major Disaster Fund.  Intends to increase the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of Fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure.

SB871, SD1, HD3, relating to highway safety.  Authorizes the director of transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another jurisdiction, under certain conditions.  Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges.

SB979, SD2, HD1, relating to youth.  Requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program until June 30, 2021.  Establishes the Safe Places for Youth Program Coordinator position.  Allows youth in crisis who are at least 14 but under 18 years of age to consent to accept services in the Pilot Program under certain circumstances.  Appropriates funds.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

SB284, SD2, HD2, relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax and Turtle Bay.  Allocates monies      to the Turtle Bay conservation easement special fund.  Authorizes B&F to issue reimbursable general obligation bonds and to use the proceeds to acquire a conservation easement in Turtle Bay, Oahu.  Requires B&F to transfer the conservation easement to DLNR.  Allocates monies to B&F to reimburse to the state general fund the debt service on the reimbursement general obligation bonds and ongoing expenses related to the bonds.  Requires the Office of Planning to investigate acquiring lands owned by Dole Food Company, Inc.

SB1260, HD1, relating to recycling.  Mandates the recommendations made by the Office of the Auditor to the Department of Health regarding advance disposal fee glass containers and glass recycling. Requires the Department of Health to report on its implementation of the recommendations to the Legislature.

SB359, SD1, HD1, relating to the environmental response energy and food security tax.  Removes the revenue distribution from the barrel tax to the environmental response revolving fund beginning July 1, 2015.  Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax.  Appropriates funds.

AGRICULTURE

SB1059, SD2, HD2, relating to invasive species.  Mandates the Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to perform specified tasks to address the spread of invasive species, particularly between islands.  Mandates the Department of Agriculture to establish a little fire ant pesticide treatment coupon pilot project and site map. Appropriates funds.

SB1060, SD2, HD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, SD2, HD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and an unspecified number of Farm to School Coordinator positions.

SB512, SD2, HD1, relating to agriculture.  Establishes the Hawaii One Plan Steering Committee to provide Hawaii farmers access to the Hawaii One Plan, an online interface to develop and obtain conservation plans that are necessary to seek Federal Farm Bill funding and comply with county grading and grubbing ordinances.  Appropriates funds.

SB382, SD2, HD2, establishes within the Livestock Revitalization Program a grant program for Qualified Feed Developers.  Appropriates funds for the grant program, reimbursements to Qualified Producers for feed cost, and a survey of local feed ingredient sources.  Appropriates funds for the Future Farmers of America Program.

LABOR

SB1122, HD1, relating to wage and hour law.  Increases the amount of guaranteed monthly compensation required to exempt an individual from minimum wage, overtime and record keeping requirements under the Hawaii Wage and Hour Law.

TAXES

SB555, SD1, HD1, relating to tax credits.  Increases the refundable food/excise tax credit.  Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1280, SD2, HD2, relating to transportation network companies.  Requires the public utilities commission to regulate transportation network companies and transportation network company drivers.  Requires drivers to register as business entities with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Establishes insurance requirements and qualifications for persons who operate or serve as drivers for transportation network companies.

SB1001, SD2, HD1, relating to manufacturing.  Establishes a temporary, nonrefundable income tax credit for taxpayers who incur certain expenses for manufacturing products in Hawaii.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.  Sunsets Jan. 1, 2023.

SB519, SD2, HD3, relating to vacation rentals.  Extends Act 326, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, for one year and requires the Department of Taxation to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the implementation of the law.  Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations.  Authorizes fines to be deposited into the Tax Administration Special Fund.  Amends the definition of “transient accommodations.”

SB892, SD2, HD3, relating to omnibus Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.  Makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

SB717, SD2, HD1, relating to ethanol. Adds two individuals from the biotech and biofuel industries to the Petroleum Advisory Council.  Requires the Petroleum Advisory Council to study the effects that repealing the requirement that gasoline sold in the state for use in motor vehicles be composed of ten percent ethanol would have on Hawaii.

SB1050, SD2, HD3, relating to energy.  Requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by Oct. 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects.

SB1316, SD2, HD2, relating to electric vehicles.  Establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB1047, SD1, HD1, relating to waste to energy.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Pelatron Q, LLC, with the development of waste-to-energy power plants in Hawaii.

SB349, SD2, HD2, relating to renewable energy tax credits.  Establishes a renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit.  Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim an income tax credit for qualifying renewable fuel.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.

SB1214, HD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.  Requires electric utilities to unbundle customer rates and charges to be eligible to receive financing assistance through SPRBs. 

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, SD1, HD2, relating to consumer protection.  Requires disclosure in a form that may be retained by a consumer of terms, conditions, and cancellation procedures for automatic and continuous service offer contracts.  Requires a means for cancelling a contract prior to the expiration of a free trial period.

SB737, SD1, HD2, relating to check cashing.  Creates standards, including authorization for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to adopt rules, for check cashing businesses, including requirements for registration, surety, recordkeeping, examinations, and confidentiality.  Sets new penalties for check cashing businesses that violate the established standards.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, SD1, HD1, relating to veterans.  Allows the Department of Education to continue awarding (until June 30, 2020) high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the Armed Services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

SB559, SD2, HD2, relating to the military.  Establishes and funds a Military Affairs Advisor position and an Assistant Military Affairs Advisor position in the Office of the Governor, with the Military Affairs Advisor reporting directly to the Governor.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB286, SD2, HD1, relating to the Office of the State Inspector General.  Establishes the Office of the State Inspector General, to be headed by the State Inspector General, to investigate complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption by a state agency or quasi-public agency, or by the officers or employees of a state agency or quasi-public agency.  Appropriates funds.

SB140, HD2, relating to government records.  Requires agencies to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of all government records under its control that are required to be made available for public inspection under Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act.

SB996, SD2, HD2, relating to ethics.  Appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB475, SD1, HD2, relating to open government.  Allows the electronic mailing of meeting notices; requires the posting of the notice on the state or appropriate county’s electronic calendar; and clarifies potential posting disputes.  Adds emergency meetings to the public meeting notice requirements.

SB652, SD1, HD2, relating to public agency meetings.  Requires a public agency board to report any discussion or final action taken during an executive meeting; provided that such disclosure is not inconsistent with the purpose of convening the executive meeting, but giving the board discretion to maintain confidentiality.

ELECTIONS AND CAMPAIGN SPENDING

SB287, SD2, HD2, Beginning with the primary election in 2016, requires the office of elections to implement election by mail in a county with a population of fewer than 100,000.  Beginning with the 2018 primary election, implement election by mail in each county with a population of fewer than 500,000.  Thereafter, election by mail is required for all elections.  Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

SB654, SD1, HD2, relating to campaign contributions.  Reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function.

SB452, SD1, HD2, relating to campaign spending.  Requires that supplemental campaign spending reports be filed annually on January 31.

SB364, SD2, HD1, relating to elections. Establishes a process for the recounting of ballots cast in a contest. Authorizes that contests for cause challenging a contest result may also be based upon unlawful activity or force majeure.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, SD1, HD1, relating to the state’s CIP operating and deferred maintenance costs.  Requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, SD1, HD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, “Audit of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.”

OTHERS

SB868, SD1, HD2, relating to liquor commissions.  Requires county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol through the adoption or amendment of administrative rules.