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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Seeks Students for Kaha Kiʻi Art Competition

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced that she is accepting submissions from Hawaiʻi high school artists in the 2nd Congressional District for the 2017 Congressional Art Competition:

Hayden was awarded a cash prize at the capital for his artwork in elementary school.

“Every year, I’m impressed by the talent and creativity of Hawaii’s young artists,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who has hosted the Kaha Kii Art Competition for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. “This competition is a great platform for our students to showcase the beauty of our islands and communities from their unique perspective to people from across the state and in our nation’s capital. I’m grateful to the fine arts educators who inspire our young artists every day and encourage them to participate in activities like the Congressional Art Competition.”

The deadline to submit artwork to the competition is March 6, 2017. Semi-finalists will be announced March 18th and semi-finalists’ artwork will be hung at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol on Saturday, April 1st. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will announce the winning pieces at an awards ceremony on May 13th at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. The first-place piece will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol, along with winning artwork from all other congressional districts around the country that participate in the nationwide competition.

Interested applicants can find complete details regarding the competition by clicking here.

Hawaii Delegation Introduces Legislation to Protect Drinking Water and Improve Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility

The Hawai‘i congressional delegation introduced legislation to ensure the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meet their obligations to the State of Hawai‘i to protect drinking water and improve the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu.

Inside one of the Red Hill fuel tanks.

“The EPA, the Navy, and the State agree that protecting the aquifer that supplies Oahu’s drinking water is essential,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “Our bill firms up that commitment into federal law by making sure the agencies responsible for improving Red Hill have the federal funding they need to implement the actions that are agreed to.”

“Red Hill is critical military infrastructure and we want the Navy to succeed in successfully remediating environmental concerns associated with past fuel leaks above Oahu’s aquifers,” said U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “Working together, this will be a win-win for military readiness and Oahu residents.”

“Completing the necessary infrastructure upgrades at Red Hill Fuel Facility will safeguard our water and environment, while also protecting a critical asset to our national security,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i). “Providing budget flexibility and conducting strict oversight of EPA and DOD’s progress towards meeting their commitments is an appropriate way to stretch a short supply of critical federal dollars.”

“These fuel storage tanks sit above aquifers that provide drinking water for up to 30% of Oahu’s residents,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “It’s essential the Department of Defense commit the necessary resources to eliminate any threat these tanks pose to our most precious resource – water.”

The legislation, written and introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, ensures the Navy, DLA, and other federal agencies charged with protecting Oahu’s drinking water from fuel leaks follow a set of actions the agencies agreed to take following the January 2014 leak of jet fuel from the Red Hill facility. The Navy’s investigation of the January 2014 leak determined that it was the result of contractor error. In September 2015, the Navy, DLA, and EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent/Statement of Work (AOC/SOW) with the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health (DOH). That agreement establishes a roadmap for how the Navy and DLA will protect Oahu’s drinking water from future fuel leaks by making improvements to Red Hill, including the fuel tanks. The bill requires the Department of Defense, which includes the Navy and DLA, and the EPA to include the necessary funding in their respective budgets to make the improvements identified in the agreement.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Hawaii Ranked 1st Nationally in School Internet Connectivity

Hawaii’s public school system is the top ranked school district in K-12 broadband connectivity according to the 2016 State of the States annual report released by EducationSuperHighway, an advocacy group dedicated to upgrading Internet infrastructure in K-12 public schools.

“In 2014 we accomplished our goal to deliver Wi-Fi to all public schools statewide, which was a huge undertaking by our Office of Information Technology Services and Office of School Facilities and Support Services,” noted Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The work of our teams have paid off and we’re very proud to be recognized as number one in the country for our Wi-Fi connectivity.”

From 2010 to 2015, the Hawaii State Department of Education increased its broadband at schools from 0.3 gigabytes/second to 8.0 gigabytes/second.

“Having access to the Internet allows our teachers to enhance classroom lessons and gives our students vast digital learning resources that make learning an interactive, hands-on activity. Complete connectivity is a large step forward towards 21st Century Learning initiatives and preparing our students for college and careers,” added Superintendent Matayoshi.

Hawaii’s national No. 1 ranking is based on full 100 percent scores in the report’s four criteria:

  • Connectivity, reflecting the percentage of school districts meeting 100 kbps per student;
  • Fiber, reflecting the percentage of schools with fiber optic connections needed to meet bandwidth targets;
  • Wi-Fi, reflecting the percentage of school districts reporting sufficient Wi-Fi in all classrooms; and
  • Affordability, the percentage of school districts maximizing their bandwidth within set budgets.

EducationSuperHighway is a non-profit advocacy group focused on providing equal access to high-speed broadband for all K-12 public school students.

Hawaii Senate Committee Passes Medical Aid in Dying Bill

In the hearing today by the Senate Committee on Commerce Consumer Protection (CPH), SB1129 SD1 was passed with amendments that would establish a medical aid in dying act under which a terminally ill adult resident may obtain a prescription for medication to end the patient’s life.

SB1129 SD1 is modeled on the Oregon statute and includes safeguards to protect patients from misuse.  These safeguards include confirmation by two providers (physicians and APRN’s) of the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, mental competence, and voluntariness of the request; multiple requests by the patient: an oral request followed by a signed written request that is witnessed by two people, one of whom must be unrelated to the patient, and a subsequent oral restatement of the request; and two waiting periods between the requests and the writing of the prescription.  At all times the patient retains the right to rescind the request and is under no obligation to fill the prescription or ingest the medication.  Amendments include authorizing APRN as a consulting provider and allowing state identification cards as an acceptable document to prove residency in the State of Hawai‘i.

More than 300 people had signed up to testify on the bill, many which were emotional and thought-provoking both in support and in opposition of the measure.

“This measure is simply one that gives people a choice in end of life care,” said CPH Chair Sen. Rosalyn Baker (Dist. 6 – South and West Maui), “We have wonderful laws on the books with regards to palliative care and setting out their wishes for treatment, resuscitation and the like in an advance healthcare directive. But I think people want that ultimate choice if they have a debilitating, terminal illness and would like to have some control over their last days of life.  This is what SB1129 allows them to do.”

SB1129 SD1 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor (JDL).

Chief Justice Seeks Public Comment on Judicial Nominees

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald announced today that he is seeking public comment on judicial nominees for three vacancies in the District Court of the First Circuit (Island of Oahu) as a result of the retirement of Judges Gerald H. Kibe, David W. Lo, and Barbara P. Richardson.

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald

The names submitted for these vacancies by the Judicial Selection Commission, in alphabetical order, are:

Thomas J. Brady
Mr. Brady is currently employed as Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaiʻi.  Brady is a graduate of George Washington University National Law Center and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1987.

Brian A. Costa
Mr. Costa is currently employed at Costa & DeLacy, LLLC, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Costa is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 2001.

Jessi L.K. Hall
Ms. Hall is currently employed at Kleintop & Luria, LLP.  Hall is a graduate of Oklahoma City University School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1999.

Jeffrey A. Hawk
Mr. Hawk is currently employed at the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Hawk, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Hawk is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1997.

Darolyn H. Lendio Heim
Ms. Lendio Heim is currently employed at McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon, LLP.  Lendio Heim is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1984.

Timothy E. Ho
Mr. Ho is currently employed as Chief Deputy Public Defender with the State of Hawaiʻi Office of the Public Defender.  Ho is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1987.

Chastity T. Imamura
Ms. Imamura is currently employed as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney in Honolulu.  Imamura is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 2002.

Craig W. Jerome
Mr. Jerome is currently employed as Assistant Federal Public Defender with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Hawaiʻi.  Jerome is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 2007.

Tana K. Kekina-Cabaniero
Ms. Kekina-Cabaniero is currently employed as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney in Honolulu.  Kekina-Cabaniero is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1995.

Trish K. Morikawa
Ms. Morikawa is currently employed at Gallagher Kane Amai and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Morikawa is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1995.

Kevin T. Morikone
Mr. Morikone is currently employed with Hosoda & Morikone, LLC, and serves as Per Diem Judge of the District Family Court of the First Circuit.  Morikone is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 2007.

Alvin K. Nishimura
Mr. Nishimura is currently employed at Alvin Nishimura, Attorney at Law, and serves as a Per Diem Judge of the District Court of the First Circuit.  Nishimura is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1985.

Jonathan L. Ortiz
Mr. Ortiz is currently employed at Ortiz & Katano.  Ortiz is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1978.

Rowena A. Somerville
Ms. Somerville is currently employed as a Hearings Officer with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Somerville is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaiʻi State Bar in 1996.

Because the Chief Justice has the discretion to assign judges to the district or district family court calendar, comments about the qualifications and character of any of the nominees with regard to either calendar assignment may be sent, in writing, to:

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald
Supreme Court of Hawaiʻi
417 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Fax: 808-539-4703
Email: chiefjustice@courts.hawaii.gov

Comments must be post-marked, emailed, faxed, or hand delivered no later than Friday, February 24, 2017.  All comments will be kept confidential.

The individuals selected by the Chief Justice are subject to Senate confirmation.

Hawaii Tax Reform Bill Passes Committee

House Bill 1586, which attempts to change the basic structure of taxes in Hawaii, was passed by the House Tourism Committee Tuesday.

The bill not only addresses Hawaii’s high cost of living by reducing personal income tax brackets for low and middle income earners and seniors, but also looks at how the counties’ property tax rates are one of the primary reasons for the State’s high housing costs.

“Our residents, especially low and middle income taxpayers, are paying too much income tax,” said Rep. Kyle T. Yamashita, “At the same time, non-residents can buy homes in Hawaii, with the nation’s lowest property tax rates, and yet in most cases, they pay no income tax to the State. This has the effect of keeping the cost of buying a home out of the reach of many of Hawaii’s people and causing property valuation to continuously rise.”

The bill would also end the $103 million subsidy the state provides to the counties from a portion of the Transit Accommodations Tax. Removing this subsidy would make up for part of the reductions in personal income tax collections and encourage the counties to raise property taxes for non-residents and other categories that affect the rising housing costs, Yamashita said.

“We need to restructure how we tax to fuel positive economic outcomes. We cannot continue to make band-aid changes to our tax structure and think anything will really change,” said Yamashita. “This bill is the first step in making taxes more equitable for residents and, if the counties follow suit, will make investors buying homes in Hawaii pay their fair share.”

Gabbard-Backed Bill to Expedite Veterans Claims Process Passes House

Legislation cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to streamline the veterans claims process unanimously passed the House today. The bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R.512), which would allow congressional offices to directly access information on behalf of a constituent without having to go through a middle-man at the VA bureaucracy, now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“One of the things I appreciate most about the job that I have to represent Hawaiʻi’s Second District is to be able to respond to and provide assistance to the hundreds of veterans from across my state that contact our office every single year. They call to ask for help with things like compensation and pension issues, healthcare, mileage reimbursement—especially for our veterans who live on the neighboring islands where they don’t have a VA clinic on island—education, home loan benefits, and more. This is a responsibility as a Member of Congress and as a fellow veteran that I take very seriously.

“Right now, if a veteran contacts my office for assistance, we are required to go directly through the Congressional Liaison at the VA. We act as veterans advocates to try to get answers for them on things that they haven’t been able to get answers on and things they haven’t heard back on.

“Too often, we’re faced with bureaucratic layers within the VA and a slow turnaround that leaves congressional staff, like mine and my colleagues’, jumping through hoops to access basic but critical information on behalf of our veterans and their families. At times, we have waited for months to get answers from the VA on behalf of a Hawaiʻi veteran for something that should be a quick turnaround, like a status update.

“This is unacceptable, and it’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the WINGMAN Act, legislation introduced by my friend and colleague Ted Yoho of Florida, which allows us to cut through the red tape and ensure that our certified caseworkers within our offices can provide quicker, more efficient and effective service to our veterans. It would help streamline the veterans claims process by allowing congressional offices, on behalf of our veteran constituents, to directly access the status of pending claims, rating decisions, statement of the case, and more.

“I urge my colleagues to support this common sense legislation, so that all of us working here in the people’s house can better serve our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our communities and our country.”

Background: The WINGMAN Act would streamline the veterans claims process between congressional offices and their constituents by eliminating the requirement to use the VA as a middle-man. Under WINGMAN, certified constituent advocates would be able to directly access the status of pending claims, medical records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement, and Form-9 files within a reasonable amount of time, without having to go through a middle-man at the VA.

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Roosevelt High School Wins Lifesmarts Hawaii State Competition

High school teams from across the state today participated in the 13th annual LifeSmarts Hawaii competition, held at the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus Center Ballroom. The game-show style competition tested students on their knowledge of personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities.

Pete Cagianno and Moanike’ala Nabarro of KITV News served as emcees of today’s competition.”

The final four teams competing today included Maryknoll, Pearl City, Roosevelt and Waiakea High Schools.  After testing their skills through written tests, a “speed smarts” activity, and gameshow style buzzer rounds, the team from Roosevelt High School emerged as this year’s state champion. Members of the team are: Bryan Kitsu (team captain), Zeheng Huang, Hajin Jang, William Li, and Elvis Tran. The team was coached by Brian Lock.

The winner of today’s state competition will now represent Hawaii at the National LifeSmarts Competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from April 21 – 24, 2017.

“Participation in the LifeSmarts Hawaii program has increased over the years and it is very exciting to see these students take an interest in something that will provide them with valuable real-life skills,” said Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Director Catherine Awakuni Colón.  “Congratulations to all of the teams that participated today. I wish Roosevelt all the best as they continue on to the national competition.”

“We commend all the student competitors, their parents and coaches for the time, energy and support they dedicated in preparation for today’s competition,” said Acting Securities Commissioner Henry Tanji.

LifeSmarts is an educational program that prepares students to enter the real world as smart consumers by teaching them the skills needed to succeed in today’s global marketplace. The program is run by the National Consumers League and locally by the DCCA Office of the Securities Commissioner, in partnership with the Hawaii Credit Union League.

Local sponsors for the Hawaii State Competition include:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) Foundation of Hawaii, Inc.
  • Coastal Construction Co., Inc.
  • Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – Office of the Director
  • Experian
  • Hawaii Construction Alliance
  • Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
  • International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, Local 1
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 368
  • Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3
  • Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Union, Local 630
  • Hawaii Council on Economic Education(HCEE)
  • Hawaii Credit Union League
  • Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union
  • Big Island Federal Credit Union
  • CU Hawaii Federal Credit Union
  • Hawaii State Federal Credit Union
  • Hawaiian Electric Employees  Federal Credit Union
  • Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union
  • Oahu Federal Credit Union
  • Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union
  • Schofield Federal Credit Union
  • Hawaii Government Employees Association, Local 152
  • Hawaii Prince Hotel
  • HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union Foundation
  • HMSA
  • OtterBox
  • Pasha Group and Pasha Hawaii
  • State of Hawaii, Department of the Attorney General, Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division, Community and Crime Prevention Branch
  • United Public Workers AFSCME, Local 646
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa Financial Literacy Program
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa Shidler College of Business Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE)

More information about the LifeSmarts Hawaii program can be found at www.LifeSmartsHawaii.com.

Hawaii’s Economy Continues to Expand

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released its first quarter 2017 Statistical and Economic Report, which shows Hawaii’s economy continues to expand at a slightly reduced rate.

Click to view full report

According to the most recent data released on Feb. 2 from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii’s economic growth rate during the first three quarters of 2016 was 2.1 percent, higher than the U.S. economic growth rate of 1.4 percent during the same time period.

“Hawaii had a great year in 2016 with 14,000 new payroll jobs created,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.  “Almost every sector saw job increases except state government and wholesale trade.  Our unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the nation in 2016, and we expect our economic condition to remain stable in 2017.”

DBEDT revised its projection on Hawaii’s economic growth, as measured by the growth of real gross domestic product (GDP), to 1.8 percent for 2017, slightly lower than the 1.9 percent projection made in the previous quarter.

“The downward adjustment in Hawaii’s economic growth for 2017 was mainly due to the new projection on visitor expenditures for 2017,” said Chief State Economist Eugene Tian.  “We expect visitor arrivals will reach more than 9 million in 2017, about the same as we forecasted in the previous quarter.  However, we now expect visitor days will grow by 1.4 percent in 2017, lower than the 2 percent we forecasted in November 2016.  We will see fewer or slower growth from those longer length-of-stay markets such as Oceania, Canada, Europe, and U.S. West.  The slower growth in visitor days will lead to slower growth in visitor expenditures.”

According to DBEDT, passenger count data, total passengers to Hawaii increased 3.8 percent in January 2017, as compared with the same month last year. Passengers on domestic flights increased 2.2 percent and passengers on international flights increased 8.1 percent.

The end of 2016 saw historic high levels of labor force, employment and payroll job count.  Statewide unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) fell to 2.6 percent by the end of the year.  By December 2016, unemployment rates of all the counties fell below 3 percent, except Hawaii County where unemployment rate was slightly higher than others, at 3.1 percent.

In 2016, four sectors were the main driving forces for job gains: construction, tourism, health care and professional services.  Construction led the job gain at 4,600; followed by Food Services and Drinking Places at 2,800; Health Care and Social Assistance at 2,500; Accommodations at 1,000; and Professional and Business Services added 900 jobs.

In 2016, initial unemployment claims decreased by 6.4 percent.  However, the decrease occurred mostly in the beginning months of the year. Since October 2016, initial unemployment claims have been higher than the same period in the previous year, and the trend continued into January 2017.

In 2016, total visitor arrivals increased 3 percent and visitor expenditures increased 4.2 percent, both were higher than projected by DBEDT.

At of the end of 2016, value of private building permits was down by 18.2 percent.  Value of commercial and industrial permits decreased the most at 70 percent, while residential permits decreased by 12.3 percent.  Value of additions and alterations decreased by 1.7 percent.

According to the February 2017 Blue Chip Economic Indicators, most of the economies in the world will see steady economic growth in 2017 and 2018, especially the three major Hawaii visitor source countries – U.S., Canada, and Japan.  The U.S. economy will expand 2.3 percent, Canadian economy will grow 1.9 percent, and Japanese economy will increase 1 percent in 2017, where all of the growth rates are higher than those experienced in 2016.

With the economic data currently available, DBEDT expects that the economic growth rate will be 1.8 percent in 2017, and will slightly decrease to 1.6 percent by year 2020.

Non-agriculture payroll job count will grow by 1.2 percent in 2017, the same as projected in the previous quarter. Job growth is projected to be at 1.1 percent for the years after 2017.

DBEDT expects the unemployment rate will increase slightly in 2017 to 3.4 percent and will rise to 3.6 percent in 2020.

Nominal (no inflation adjustment) personal income is projected to grow at around 4.7 to 4.8 percent during the next few years, same as the projection in the previous quarter.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii personal income grew by 4.5 percent during the first three quarters of 2016.  DBEDT projects that real personal income will increase in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent in the next few years.

DBEDT lowered its projection on the consumer inflation rates to a range between 2.3 and 2.5 percent during the 2017-2020 period.  The actual consumer inflation rate in 2016, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 2 percent, lower than the 2.3 percent projected by DBEDT in November 2016.

The DBEDT Quarterly Statistical and Economic Report contains more than 120 tables of the most recent quarterly data on Hawaii’s economy as well as narrative explanations of the trends in these data.

The full report is available at: dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/qser/.

Coast Guard Responds to Increase in Illegal Lava Boat Charters on Big Island

In the last 24 hours, the Coast Guard has identified two tour boats operating illegally out of Pohoiki Boat Ramp and is ramping up enforcement in response to a perceived increase in illegal charters operating in the area to view lava streaming into the ocean from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.

The “firehose flow” at Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna ocean entry was clearly visible from the public lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The viewing area is 800 meters (about one-half mile) from the ocean entry, but affords excellent views of the lava flow.

“Safety is always our top priority,” said Capt. David McClellan, chief of prevention, Coast Guard 14th District. “For boat operators, it is important to maintain situational awareness and not unnecessarily put yourself, your passengers or your boat in danger. For visitors, it’s important they check that their hired boat operators are licensed ensuring they possess the experience and training required to get them to the viewing area and back safely.”

Commercial tour boat and charter operators must possess the appropriate merchant mariner credential to operate. Masters of commercial charters operating in state waters are also required by the State of Hawaii to have a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and to keep that permit on the vessel.

For vessels carrying six or fewer passengers for hire, the operator must possess a Coast Guard-issued operator of uninspected passenger vessel license and operate on near coastal waters not more than 100 miles offshore, as defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101 (42)(B).

For vessels carrying seven or more passengers for hire on vessels less than 100 gross tons (not including auxiliary sail), the operator must possess a Coast Guard-issued master of self-propelled vessel license to operate on near coastal waters. The vessel must also have a Coast Guard-issued certificate of inspection posted in a visible location.

According to the National Park Service, the spot where lava meets the ocean is referred to as the “bench.” It is one of the most dangerous areas of the park because it could potentially collapse, sending dangerous projectiles into the air. The steam emitted where lava meets the water contains hydrochloric acid and glass particles. Tour boat operators are urged to maintain a safe distance from both to ensure their safety as well as that of their passengers.

More on information regarding licensing for charter boat captains can be found at: https://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/charter_boat_capt/default.asp.

Hepatitis A Second Dose Recommended in Coming Months for Those Vaccinated During 2016 Outbreak

In August 2016, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) identified raw scallops imported from the Philippines as the source of the hepatitis A outbreak, which sickened hundreds of Hawaii residents. According to data from the Hawaii Immunization Registry, healthcare providers reported 90,259 hepatitis A vaccinations were administered in the state between July and November 2016. Vaccine manufacturers estimate more than 100,000 doses were distributed to Hawaii providers during the outbreak.

“The response from the community during the outbreak was tremendous,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Healthcare providers, including pharmacists, played a key role in ensuring hepatitis A vaccine was available for those needing and wanting to be vaccinated. They truly rose to the challenge of vaccinating a large number of people in a relatively short amount of time.”

“Hepatitis A outbreaks will continue to occur worldwide and a local outbreak could occur again,” warned State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “While one dose of hepatitis A vaccine provides good protection, two doses are necessary for nearly 100 percent protection and lasting immunity. We’d like to remind people now, if they received their first dose during the outbreak, to get their second dose at least six months after the first one was administered.”

DOH is recommending those who are due for their second dose of the hepatitis A vaccine contact their healthcare provider or pharmacy to schedule a vaccination appointment. If choosing to be vaccinated at a pharmacy, the public is encouraged to return to the same pharmacy that administered their first dose of vaccine to receive their second dose. This allows the pharmacy to use an existing physician prescription and ensure the vaccine is administered at least six months after the first vaccination. Those not returning to the same location for vaccination should provide documentation of their first dose, if possible, and contact their physician if a prescription is needed. To ensure vaccine availability, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacy in advance.

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy or clinic near you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/where-to-get-your-adult-and-flu-vaccinations/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about hepatitis A is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.

Hawaii Department of Health Cites Hawaiian Isles Water Company for HI-5 Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Hawaiian Isles Water Company for failure to submit payments and reports required of beverage distributors by the state’s Deposit Beverage Container law. The department found Hawaiian Isles Water Company delinquent for the monthly reporting period of July 1 – 31, 2016 and a penalty fee of $3,600 was assessed.

Hawaiian Isles Water Company complied with the department’s enforcement order by submitting its required corrective action plan and paying in full the entire penalty and late distributor payment.

Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit monthly reports and payments to the Department of Health no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period. Hawaiian Isles Water Company received multiple written notices reminding them of reporting requirements prior to being assessed a penalty.

Since January 2005, Hawaii’s Deposit Beverage Container (DBC) program has assisted residents to recycle more than 7 billion containers. Through recycling, consumers are helping to remove beverage containers from the waste stream and reduce litter in the community. The DBC program certifies independent recycling companies to operate Certified Redemption Centers (CRCs) statewide. CRCs provide Hawaii consumers with refunds of the five cent deposit fee that is paid for eligible containers. Beverage distributors submit payments and reports to the program each month for all HI-5 containers sold within the state.

Commentary: Caldwell Appoints Marc Alexander to Lead Honolulu Housing Office, Victims Respond

Shame on Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. He has given a powerful city job to a man who has been sued for for child sexual abuse and who left a previous government job in disgrace because of an unethical affair with an adult woman while he was a priest.

Marc Alexander

In fact, because secret Diocese of Honolulu personnel documents and other evidence in Marc Alexander’s recently settled civil child sex abuse case have not yet been made public, we do not know the details of what happened, or the scope of the risk that Alexander could pose to adult women and children. Is this a risk that the people of Hawaii should be willing to take? Is this a personnel investment that Hawaii’s taxpayers should make?

We ask that Caldwell at least put this decision on hold until a thorough public review of Alexander’s Diocese of Honolulu personnel file can be completed. We also urge city and county leaders to immediately enact new hiring regulations that ensure that men and women arrested or sued for sexual assault or child sexual abuse are not given city jobs where they have positions of power over vulnerable populations.

If you have information about abuse or have been abused, no matter the abuser, it is safe to come forward and report. Help is available.

Joelle Casteix, SNAP Volunteer Western Regional Director

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested in all institutional settings, including churches, schools, clubs, and homes. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Hawaiian Air Line Pilots Reach Preliminary Contract Agreement

The Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council (HAL MEC) met today to consider changes to our PWA that have been negotiated by our pilot group’s Negotiating Committee, assisted by ALPA’s professional negotiators, financial advisors and benefits experts.

Hawaiian Air line Pilots reach preliminary contract agreement

We are pleased to announce that we have reached an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) with Hawaiian Airlines that is subject to completion of a few parts of remaining contract language. The MEC resolution passed today, by a 3-1 vote, is attached to this message.

We believe that remaining language will only take a few days to complete. As soon as that happens, the MEC will reconvene to formally consider the merits of the tentative agreement (TA). If approved by the MEC, we will ask each active member to participate in the democratic process of our Union and decide whether it deserves ratification.

Before that, please know that there will be plenty of time to read the actual draft contract language, attend presentations that cover all changes, ask questions and get them answered, and then cast your vote. There will be no rush.

MEC members are already receiving calls, texts, emails and questions. It’s clear from many of these that facts are in very short supply. We urge everyone to wait until you have clear facts, the chance to ask questions and get them answered, and the opportunity for our pilot group to have respectful discussions and make our collective decision.

In the meantime, and to make sure that basic facts are known, you should be aware of a few key facts. Other less significant improvements and changes also deserve your attention and will be explained later.

  • The final agreement is much improved from the offer that the Company communicated to you in November;
  • Pay rates have been substantially improved and represent the competitive market for pilots and recent contract settlements. If a tentative agreement is approved and ratified:

o   12-year A330 Captain rates will be $290 on the date of signing, increase to $300 in 2017, and reach $337 in the last year of the PWA;

o   12-year B767 Captain rates will be $240 on the date of signing, increase to $250 in 2017, and reach $281 in the last year of the PWA;

o   12-year A321 Captain rates will be $235 on the date of signing, increase to $245 in 2017, and reach $275 in the last year of the PWA;

o   12-year B717 Captain rates will be $210 on the date of signing, increase to $220 in 2017, and reach $247 in the last year of the PWA.

  • The First Officer percentage of Captain’s pay (the “FO slope”) will increase immediately.
  • All HA pilots will receive very substantial ratification bonus payments consistent with industry rates that would have been in place for the equipment each of us has flown since the amendable date of the contract.
  • Our trip rig has been significantly enhanced (3.5:1) to provide more pay and credit for inefficient pairings.
  • An average min day (Minimum Flight Grouping Credit) has been established that provides pay and credit for inefficient trips.
  • Recurrent training pay and credit has been increased.
  • Retiree health benefits have been monetized and secured by a VEBA trust like the one that exists for our LTD benefits. That means that our retiree health benefits will continue to be industry leading, and be protected against merger or Company economic downturns.

Your unity and support have made this accomplishment possible, and we look forward to sharing full details with you in the near future.  Until then we urge you to avoid speculation, be skeptical of rumors, and continue to do the outstanding work you do each day.

HAL MEC

HAWAII VS. PRESIDENT TRUMP

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that the state of Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump in Hawaii federal court.

Click to read lawsuit

The lawsuit filed today asks the court to block implementation of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order signed by President Trump entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The Executive Order restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen. It suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. It grants entry preferences to minority religions. This order is the beginning of the fulfillment of President Trump’s campaign pledge to implement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Attorney General Chin said, “What makes our country special and a beacon across the world is its inclusive democracy and the rule of law. Everyone in the United States, including the President, must follow the law and follow the Constitution.”

The complaint alleges several causes of action:

  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it favorsone religion over another in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection of the law on the basis of national origin;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it curtails the right to travel without any legal justification;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it deprives individuals of their liberty interests without due process of law;
  • The Executive Order is illegal because it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Hawaii’s papers filed today asked the court to block the order across the country. As the state’s memo argues:

Hawaii joins the many voices that have condemned the Order. But this pleading is not about politics or rhetoric—it is about the law. The simple fact is that the Order is unlawful. By banning Muslims and creating a preference for Christian refugees, the Order violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. By those same acts, it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. By failing utterly to provide procedures or protections of any kind for people detained or turned away at our airports, it violates the Due Process Clause. And by enshrining rank discrimination on the basis of nationality and religion, it flies in the face of statutes enacted by Congress.

Hawaii has asked for a hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order in no more than 14 days.

Attorney General Chin added, “Hawaii is an island state. This illegal order affects our state in a unique way. Under this order, an Iraqi permanent resident on the mainland U.S. cannot leave the country without the risk of never being allowed to return, but he still can travel throughout the continental United States. That same person here cannot so much as visit another island within our state for fear of being detained by federal agents at the airport. In the past, the people of this state experienced discrimination by the federal government based on national origin. We must speak up and not let this happen again.”

Assisting the state of Hawaii in the litigation is Neal Kumar Katyal, Esq., former Acting Solicitor General of the United States during the Obama Administration. He is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Hogan Lovells, and a law professor at Georgetown University.

Copies of the complaint, motion for a temporary restraining order, and memorandum in support of the motion for a temporary restraining order are attached.

HDOA Quarantines Coffee Plants on Kauai That May Have Been Shipped from Oahu

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is investigating the source of coffee plants found at a Home Depot on Kauai earlier this week. Coffee plants from islands infested with the coffee berry borer (CBB) are restricted from being transported to uninfested islands, such as Kauai. Hawaii Island, Oahu and Maui have established populations of CBB.

coffee berry borer (CBB)

Eight coffee plants were found at the Kauai store by HDOA Plant Pest Control specialists conducting pest surveillance on Monday. Since then, HDOA personnel have been working to determine where the plants came from and, at this point, it appears that the plants were transported from Oahu. Coffee berries on those plants have been examined by HDOA entomologists in Honolulu and no CBB have been found. Those plants have been quarantined and will be destroyed as a precaution. HDOA has asked the retailer to provide information on recent plant shipments. Also as a precaution, anyone who purchased coffee plants from that store is encouraged to contact HDOA on Kauai at (808) 241-7132 or the State’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

“The department is taking this matter very seriously and is working with the store and nurseries to determine the exact source of the coffee plants,” Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said while attending a conference on the Mainland.

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in the state in Sept. 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka`u in May 2011. In Dec. 2014, it was discovered on Oahu and was reported on Maui in Dec. 2016.

This small beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean. Since its detection in Kona, Big Island coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which include using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestations down and minimizing yield loss to about five percent of the average coffee crop yield.

CBB is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. It is still unknown how CBB made its way to Hawaii Island and how it got to Oahu and Maui.

Hawaii has strict importation rules that require fumigation of all green coffee beans imported into the state to rid the beans of pathogens and insect pests. Coffee plants and plant parts are also restricted from being imported into Hawaii under Plant Quarantine rules.

After the discovery of CBB in Hawaii, HDOA issued a quarantine order that requires certain treatments and inspection by HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors prior to shipping interisland. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment passed inspection requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.

For more information on CBB in Hawaii go to the HDOA CBB webpage at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/ppc/cbbinfo/ and the UH-CTAHR webpage at: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/CBB.aspx

Aid to Independent-Living Seniors Focus of 2017 Kupuna Caucus Bills

Measures to sustain the ability of frail elderly to age in their homes with support services and caregiving assistance are the top priorities of a House-Senate package of bills submitted this session by the Kupuna Caucus.

The Kupuna Caucus consists of 54 House and Senate members, and a broad range of community organizations, government agencies, and individuals concerned about the well-being of seniors in our communities.

“These measures are aimed at helping seniors with some disabilities live out their lives at home, with help from State-sponsored services and family caregivers.  The vast majority of elderly prefer to age in place instead of entering a nursing home,” said Rep. Gregg Takayama, House co-convenor of the Kupuna Caucus (Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades).

“This year’s Kupuna Caucus Legislative package includes bills that advance or expand a wide range and diversity of programs focused on the well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna,” said Sen. Les Ihara, Senate co-convener (Kaimuki, Kapahulu, Palolo, St. Louis Heights, Mo’ili’ili, Ala Wai)

A new measure this session proposes a Kupuna Caregivers program to assist community members who are providing care for elders to stay in the workforce by providing a voucher of $70 per day to secure elder care support services, such as adult day care, nursing or transportation.  SB534 is introduced by Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chair of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Health Committee, and HB607 is introduced by Rep. Takayama.

Kupuna Caucus measures:

HB608/SB528 – Supports full funding of $9 million per year for the state’s Kupuna Care program, which provides support services such as delivered meals and transportation to help disabled elders age in place.

HB609/SB529 – Funds permanent full-time positions at the University of Hawaii Center on Aging for an associate professor and associate specialist.

HB610/SB530 – Appropriates $150,000 to the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman for staff to monitor older adult care facilities in the counties of Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui.

HB615/SB531 – Seeks $550,000 for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program, which provides fitness classes and helps chronic disease self-management.

HB611/SB532 – Provides $80,000 for appointment of a state coordinator for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services.

HB612/SB533 – Supports full funding of $3.1 million to operate each county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center, which is a one-stop referral center for persons seeking support programs and services.

HB607/SB534 – Establishes the Kupuna Caregivers program (Kupuna Care Plus) to assist community members who are providing elder care to remain in the workforce by providing $70 per day for adult day care, nursing or other services.

HB613/SB535 – Requires health insurance policies and contracts to provide coverage for the cost of hearing aids.

HB614/SB536 – Appropriates $95,000 for a fall prevention and early detection coordinator to promote information that helps reduce serious falls by elderly persons.

HB616/SB537 – Appropriate $25,386 to create a program specialist position to oversee the foster grandparent program and senior companion programs in Maui County.

HB433/SB538 – Appropriates funds to the Health Department for posting of care facility inspection reports on the Department’s website.

HB432/SB539 – Makes financial exploitation of an elderly person by a caregiver a felony.

HB434/SB540 – Converts the long-term care community living specialist in the Executive Office on Aging from exempt to permanent civil service status.

HB431/SB541 – Establishes requirements for licensure of gerontologists beginning on 7/1/2018.

HB435/SB542 – Allows the family court to award a grandparent, upon petition to the court, custody or visitation if it is in the best interest of the child and denial would cause significant harm to the child.

Hawaii Homeless Initiative Would Serve 2200 Households

With a proven track record the coordinated statewide homeless initiative has already provided over an eight-month period, financial assistance to 1,279 households, thereby assisting 3,992 adults and children who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Senator Josh Green provides “Homelessness is Hawaii’s most pressing crisis today and requires a comprehensive, all hands on deck solution, so that we can help our most vulnerable citizens. We need new ideas and the right amount of resources to improve matters immediately.”

“Through the Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative, we have helped over 4,300 individuals – 2,306 adults and 2,012 children – all of whom were homeless or at-risk for becoming homeless” said Norm Baker, COO of Aloha United Way. “For every homeless individual we rapidly rehoused, we helped three others who were on the verge of becoming homeless. Homeless prevention assistance is a critically important strategy to finding sustainable solutions while simultaneously assisting those who are currently homeless.”

Vice Speaker Mizuno adds “There is a myriad of reasons why an individual or family enter into homelessness so there needs to be a myriad of approaches to address homelessness. The coordinated statewide homeless initiative has a proven record of cost-effective prevention and rapid rehousing services that need to continue so that more families do not fall into homelessness.”

Hawaii Representative Wants to Switch Political Parties Because of Presidents Treatment of Women and Minorities

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices. I am under constant scrutiny for working across the aisle to pass common sense legislation that will benefit my district and the people of Hawaii.

Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the President for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.

This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party. When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

Senate Launches Hawaiian Language Hearing Notice Pilot Project

The Hawai‘i State Senate this week will begin posting the hearing notices for two standing committees in both the English and Hawaiian language as part of the Senate’s continuing initiative recognizing the state’s official languages.

The Senate Committee on Water and Land (WTL), chaired by Senator Karl Rhoads (Dist.13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown) and the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs (HWN), chaired by Senator Maile Shimabukuro (Dist. 21 – Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua) are the piloting the initiative to have the hearing notices posted in both languages.

“Through our legislative materials, this project reflects the responsibility and role of the Senate in showing respect for our host culture,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi. “It makes sense these two important committees would be the first to expand on our Hawaiian language initiative.”

The Senate Order of the Day has been posted in dual languages along with the usage of Hawaiian diacritical markings in its public records since the Senate initiative on Hawaiian language was instituted in 2015.

“Government operations were conducted in the Hawaiian language up to the 1920’s so we have an entire lexicon that is the basis for all of our laws today,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “This initiative proudly reflects the language revitalization in Hawai‘i.”

To view all current committee hearing notices in the 2017 Legislative Session , visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov.