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Soldiers In The Battle Against Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death; Passion for Hawaii Forests Prompts Participation

Dozens of scientists, foresters, surveyors, researchers, and educators are actively involved in the fight to try and stop the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. The fungal disease has decimated tens of thousands of acres of native ‘ōhi‘a on the Big Island. A virtual army of specialists from a wide array of federal, state, county, and non-profit organizations are engaged in the fight to find a treatment and simultaneously to stop it in its tracks. That’s where education and outreach come in.

ohia death

Anya Tagawa and Jeff Bagshaw of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s (DOFAW)    Natural Area Reserve (NAR) program are two of the soldiers on the frontline of spreading awareness about Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’ve each created signs that hunters, hikers,     mountain bikers and other people recreating on state public lands will soon see.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said,  “It is critical that every person who goes into the woods or forest anywhere in Hawaii, takes steps to prevent this disease from spreading. Anya and Jeff’s work along with a team of other outreach experts, is vitally important in getting kama‘āina and visitors alike to be certain they don’t inadvertently track the fungus from place to place.”

Their individual signs are different in appearance, but contain the same basic message. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death kills one of the most important native trees quickly and in wide swaths.  Failing to follow the simple recommendations outlined on both signs could make you responsible for spreading this disease inter-island and intra-island.

Tagawa’s passion is borne of a life spent in the forest. She comments, “My life has always been intertwined with ‘ōhi‘a, with our native forests. I grew up hiking, exploring, and being captivated by our forests. I continue to learn about their unparalleled uniqueness and feel an intimate    connection with these special places. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death threatens this way of life. It is imperative that we do all what we can to ensure ‘ōhi‘a is present for our future generations to experience, engage, and form a relationship with. It is critical for the continued persistence of the countless unique plants and animals that rely on ‘ōhi’a.”

Bagshaw is the outreach coordinator at the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR on Maui’s south shore. The nearest wild ‘ōhi’a is dozens of miles away yet he designed the sign for the Na Ala Hele Trails Access system, because he, like his colleagues, is deeply concerned about the fate of Hawai‘i’s ‘ōhi’a forests.

He said, “We hope hikers and all forest users will start to be conscious  wherever they go, even if there’s ‘ōhi’a there or not. We’d like them to realize, that they could be taking something into the forest that affects our native ecosystems. ‘Ōhi’a are the backbone of our native rainforest; they feed the honeycreepers, they protect the watershed.  I can’t imagine a Hawaiian rainforest without ‘ōhi’a.”

Recently, Bagshaw, his staff, and volunteers conducted awareness surveys with visitors to the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR.  They’ve found very few people have any knowledge about ōhi’a or Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’re heartened though, by people’s willingness to adopt the preventative measures outlined on each of the trail signs.

Tagawa’s signs will eventually be at every DOFAW trailhead on the Big Island: more than 50 in all. On Maui, Bagshaw’s signs are being placed at all Na Ala Hele trailheads.

Soldiers in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death- Video News Release from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

This Weekend – Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi 2016 State Convention

The Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi will have its 2016 State Convention this weekend, May 28th and May 29th, at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Democratic Party of HawaiiThe highlight will be the election of the new Party Chairperson on Sunday to replace outgoing Chair Stephanie Ohigashi who served a two year term. Candidates for Party Chair are Jacce Mikulanec, Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Florence Kong Kee and Tim Vandeveer.

Other scheduled activities include:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

  • Opening Ceremonies & Plenary
  • Party Executive Officer Reports
  • Executive Branch Reports
  • Convention Committee Reports
  • Election of State Central Committee members, National Convention Delegates, and Presidential Electors
  • Legislative Branch Reports

Sunday, May 29, 2016

  • Session Reconvenes & U.S. Senate and Congressional Member Reports
  • Announcement of Election Results from May 28, 2016
  • Election of the National Committeewoman, National Committeeman, and State Party Chair
  • Meritorious Award Presentation
  • Convention Committee Reports (Cont.)

“Our biennial convention is a special time for Hawaiʻi Democrats. With over a thousand delegates, alternates, party officials, elected officials, student observers and guests gathering at this convention, it’s an opportunity to visit with old friends, make new friends and to do the important work of moving Hawaiʻi forward,” Chair Stephanie Ohigashi said. “I absolutely look forward to seeing my fellow Hawaiʻi Democrats from across the state.”

One Week Left on Public Education Survey – Offer Your Input on Hawaii’s Education Future

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is reminding the public that they have one more week to submit input on a plan for student success. HIDOE and the Board of Education (BOE) are currently reviewing their joint Strategic Plan for the next three years. The community’s input is needed to support student aspirations in our public schools.

Join the Conversation

Feedback is being sought through a survey posted at hiqualityed.tumblr.com. Some of the questions participants can expect include:

  • Given your understanding of HIDOE’s vision, mission, and values, how would you define “student success”?
  • What innovative practices, programs, or approaches best prepare students to become college, career, and community ready?
  • What promising practices, programs, or approaches could specifically support struggling students in setting and reaching their college, career, and community ready goals?
  • What school or community programs or efforts effectively support students in achieving their college, career, and community goals?

“In the past three weeks, we have received more than 730 completed surveys providing input on what the education experience should look like for our public school students, and we’re looking for more feedback before the May 31 deadline,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This is an important opportunity for teachers, parents, students and community members to share their thoughts and make an impact on thousands of students.”

HIDOE is also taking into account the passage of the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which provides more flexibility to states to direct their own education strategies to support state goals, while keeping several federal requirements tied to funding in place. Since January, HIDOE has been providing ESSA analysis and information to the Governor, the BOE, the Legislature, educators and the public.

For more information and to take the survey, click here; to join the conversation on social media use #HIQualityEd.

Hawaii Attorney General Charges Eight Sex Offenders with Violating Registration Requirements

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that the Department of the Attorney General has charged eight sex offenders with Failure to Comply with Covered Offender Registration Requirements in the last three months. Most recently the Department has charged Randy Maunakea, Justin Jumawan, Mose Tauaefa, and Thomas Carreira.

Maunakea was charged on May 5, 2016 with four counts of Failure to Comply with Covered Offender Registration Requirements. He was previously convicted of four counts of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree on May 5, 2003. Maunakea failed to personally appear before the chief of police within 30 days of his birthday in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as required by law. Additionally, Maunakea failed to report a change of his address within three working days of the change. A bench warrant in the amount of $10,000 in the aggregate was issued against Mr. Maunakea and is currently outstanding.

Tauaefa was charged on May 6, 2016 with two counts of Failure to Comply with Covered Offender Registration Requirements. He was previously convicted of seven counts of Sexual Assault in the Third Degree on October 6, 2000. He failed to report a change of his address within three working days of the change and additionally signed a statement verifying that his registration information was accurate and current when the registration information was not substantially accurate and current. A bench warrant in the amount of $10,000 in the aggregate was issued against Tauaefa and is currently outstanding.

Carreira was charged on May 13, 2016 with two counts of Failure to Comply with Covered Offender Registration Requirements. He was previously convicted of Sexual Assault in the Third Degree in 1994. He also has two convictions for Abuse of Family/Household Member two convictions for Burglary in the First Degree, and convictions for Theft in the Third Degree and Theft in the Fourth Degree. Additionally, he has ten arrests for Contempt of Court. Carreira had a pending felony case for Failure to Comply with Registration Requirements and was granted supervised release and required to reside at the Institute for Human Services (“IHS”) as a condition of his release. He left IHS without updating registration information and failed to report in person for his quarterly periodic verification during the first week of January, 2015. Defendant has since be re-incarcerated for violating the terms and conditions of his supervised release and awaiting sentencing.

Jumawan was charged on May 23, 2016 with two counts of Failure to Comply with Covered Offender Registration Requirements. He was previously convicted of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree and Sexual Assault in the Third Degree on October 31, 2007 and is still on probation. He moved from his registered address on February 19, 2016 without notifying the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center within three days of the change, as required by law. Because he has failed to comply with the terms and conditions of his probation, a $20,000 bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. He has not yet been served and his whereabouts are unknown at this time.

The other charged defendants are Steven Young (charged with two counts on March 21, 2016), Justin Gonda (charged with one count on April 1, 2016), Damon Hookano (charged with two counts on April 22, 2016), and Dean Barbadillo (charged with three counts on April 22, 2016). The charges against the eight defendants are brought under section 846E-9(a) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). A conviction for these charges is a class C felony that carries with it a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment, pursuant to HRS section 706-660. The minimum term of imprisonment shall be set by the Hawaii Paroling Authority, pursuant to HRS section 706-669.

All eight defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Click to search for sex offenders.

Click to search for sex offenders.

Attorney General Chin reminds the public that they can view an online directory of Hawaii registered sex offenders and other covered offenders, and sign-up for email alerts through the Department’s award-winning “Hawaii Sex Offender Search” mobile app. Those without a mobile device can also view an online directory of Hawaii registered sex offenders and other covered offenders, and sign up for email alerts at http://sexoffenders.ehawaii.gov.

Use of Video Decision Aids Increases Advance Care Planning in Hilo

Pilot study part of statewide program to improve end-of-life care

A program encouraging physicians and other providers to discuss with patients their preferences regarding end-of-life care significantly increased the documented incidence of such conversations and the number of patients with late-stage disease who were discharged to hospice.

Filling in an advance health care directive

In a Journal of General Internal Medicine paper that has been released online, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators describes the pilot program, which is part of a larger initiative to transform medical care for serious illness in the state of Hawaii. The program included video decision aids in 10 languages and was carried out in the city of Hilo, Hawaii.

“By collaborating with the people of Hawaii and recognizing the diversity of the community, we were able to honor and respect patients’ individual choices when it came to medical care,” says Angelo Volandes, MD, MPH, of the MGH Department of Medicine, lead author of the report. “Doctors are often uncomfortable having end-of-life conversations and have rarely been trained in advance care planning. The videos can be a valuable supplement to, not a replacement for, the doctor-patient relationship.”

Advance care planning – conversations with patients regarding the type of care they would like to receive, or not receive, if they become seriously or terminally ill and cannot speak for themselves – has been the subject of considerable attention in recent years. Earlier this year Medicare began reimbursing clinicians for advance care planning discussions with patients, and the process was mentioned in, but not funded by, the Affordable Care Act. But there have been few studies examining the impact of advance care planning efforts on medical documentation of such conversations, on the care actually delivered or on costs.

A broad coalition of stakeholders, led by Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), an independent Blue Cross/Blue Shield licensee, has been working since 2012 to improve advance care planning rates statewide through innovative collaborations, including implementation of educational videos. Hilo Medical Center, a 276-bed hospital, was the first in the state to make advance care planning the standard of care for patients, and the JGIM paper reports on the first 21 months of the program’s implementation in the city of more than 43,000.

Beginning in early 2013, Hilo Medical Center clinicians, Hospice of Hilo staff and 30 primary care physicians in the city were offered a one- to four-hour training program and access to advance care planning video decision aids in English, Japanese, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Samoan, Korean, Ilocano, Tagalog, Spanish and Marshallese. Less than 10 minutes long, the videos are designed to be accessible to general audiences and include broad questions that patients should consider regarding their individual preferences and how they could affect future medical interventions. How or whether providers used the videos in subsequent advance care planning discussions was neither required nor tracked.

The primary study outcome for Hilo Medical Center was any change in the rate at which advance care planning conversations were documented in medical records of patients with late-stage disease. For outpatient care, any difference between the rates of advance care planning in Hilo and in a control group of similar Hawaii communities was analyzed. The researchers also compared the number of hospice admissions for late-stage patients before and after the program was implemented – compared with the control communities – as well as the rate of in-hospital deaths. Any impact on health costs was determined by analyzing HMSA claims data.

Prior to implementation of the training program, the rate of advance care planning documentation for late-stage patients at Hilo Medical Center was 3.2 percent, but during the 21 months after training was offered, the rate increased to almost 40 percent. Among almost 4,000 HMSA patients over age 75 in Hilo who saw a primary care physician during 2014, the year following primary care physician training, 37 percent received advance care planning, compared with 25.6 percent in the control communities.

The percentage of late-stage Hilo Medical Center patients who were discharged to hospice, which was 5.7 percent before the training, rose to 13.8 percent. Overall Hospice of Hilo admissions increased 28 percent in 2013 and 51 percent in 2014, compared with 2012. While average HMSA reimbursements for care during the last month of life increased from 2012 to 2013 in both Hilo and the control area, the increase for Hilo was only 5.5 percent, compared with more than 22 percent in the control area, reflecting an average per-patient savings of $3,458 for the last month of life.

Although this study was conducted in a relatively small region, the authors note that the diversity of the Hawaiian population may offset that limitation. The program has now expanded to all hospitals in Hawaii, 10 hospices, military facilities and many other providers; and Volandes expresses the hope that this study’s results will renew calls for continuing innovation in advance care planning, including certification and reimbursement for patient decision aids.

“Advance care planning videos and other decision aids offer cost-efficient and broadly applicable methods of placing patients at the center of their care,” he says. “They also allow doctors and other health providers to have critical conversations with patients that were rarely encouraged during their training. Making these decision aids widely available could be a real health care game-changer.”

Legislators, Unions Gather in Support of Hu Honua

More than 30 Hawaii Island officials in government and labor gathered this morning at Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) in Pepeekeo for a briefing on the biomass project’s status.
Hu Honua 1
Hu Honua spokesperson Harold “Rob” Robinson said yesterday’s filing with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requests that the regulatory body conduct a technical review of the actions surrounding Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) termination of the power purchase agreement (PPA).
Hu Honua 2
Robinson, a member of Hu Honua’s board of managers, and president of Island Bioenergy, the parent of HHB, said for more than a year, HELCO delayed meaningful response to Hu Honua’s repeated requests for milestone extensions and reduced pricing proposals.
Hu Honua 3
“We have provided the utility with a pricing proposal that significantly reduces HELCO’s costs,” said Robinson. “More importantly, we believe Hu Honua will provide a hedge against rising oil prices, which have historically whipsawed Hawaii Island consumers.”

Hu Honua has invested $137 million to date in the biomass-to-energy facility and has secured an additional $125 million to complete the project. All that’s needed is an extension of the PPA, which Robinson said, we are trying to negotiate with HELCO but are concerned they are stalling a decision.

Hu Honua 4
“The public should know that despite what HELCO claims, Hu Honua’s proposals will deliver value to ratepayers,” said Robinson. “Our project will have more than 200 workers on site during construction. After completion, the community will benefit from more than 180 new jobs and the formation of an invigorated forestry industry. There will also be environmental benefits when old HELCO power plants are deactivated and replaced with renewable energy from Hu Honua in 2017.”

During the conference, various government officials expressed support for the project and welcomed the creation of additional jobs and industry for Hawaii Island. Many were hopeful that the utility would work with Hu Honua to amend its PPA.

Valerie Poindexter, Hawaii County councilmember for the district, talked about growing up in a sugar plantation camp and the demise of the island’s sugar industry. “Hu Honua would revitalize the culture and lifestyle of the sugar days, and create jobs so people don’t have to travel so far to work.”

State Senator Kaialii Kahele touched on the importance of energy security. “If a catastrophic event happens on the West Coast, we’re stuck because we are out here in the middle Pacific, heavily reliant on fossil fuels and food imports. We must come up with creative solutions to address those issues,” said Kahele. He stressed that while he welcomed mainland investment, any and all development must be done the pono way, and commended Hu Honua’s new collaborative, collective style of leadership.
hu honua 5
Hawaii County Councilmember Dennis Onishi said Hu Honua would help reduce energy costs and put more renewable energy on the grid. Onishi suggested starting a dialogue between the County and Hu Honua to explore the possibility of processing green waste streams to divert what’s going to landfills.

Robinson explained that significant investment made in emissions control equipment, including a new turbine generator, will result in increased efficiencies, generating capacity and cleaner emissions.

Following the event, Robinson addressed a statement issued by Hawaii Electric Light Company that criticized Hu Honua. “The utility’s reference to the cost of the project is a smokescreen. When a utility builds a power plant, that cost is passed to ratepayers. This is not the case for us. We decided to invest in increasing generation capacity from 21 to 36 megawatts, but that has no impact on the price to consumers or the ratepayer. The financial risk of the project cost is ours,” he said.

Click to view Affidavit

Click to view Affidavit

Shark Study Helps Explain Higher Incidence of Encounters Off Maui

A spike in shark bites off Maui in 2012 and 2013 prompted the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), with additional support and funding from the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), to commission a two-year-long study of shark spatial behavior on Maui.  The research was conducted by a team from the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).

shark bites in maui

Dr. Carl Meyer, principle investigator for the study, explained that the Maui Nui complex, consisting of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe, has more preferred tiger shark habitat than all other main Hawaiian Islands combined.  According to Dr. Meyer, “Tiger sharks captured around Maui spend most of their time on the extensive Maui Nui insular shelf, which is also an attractive habitat for tiger sharks arriving from elsewhere in Hawaii.  The insular shelf extends offshore from the shoreline to depths of 200 meters (600 feet), and is home to a wide variety of tiger shark prey.”

Although tiger shark movement patterns revealed by the latest study are generally similar to those seen in previous studies, the larger area of shelf habitat around Maui may be able to support more tiger sharks than other main Hawaiian Islands.  In addition, the most frequently-visited areas by tiger sharks around Maui include waters adjacent to popular ocean recreation sites.

Meyer noted “This combination of factors may explain why Maui has had more shark bites than other Main Hawaiian Islands, although we cannot completely rule out a higher number of ocean recreation activities on Maui as the primary cause of these differences.  However, despite the routine presence of large tiger sharks in waters off our beaches, the risk of being bitten remains extremely small, suggesting tiger sharks generally avoid interactions with people.”

Dr. Bruce Anderson, administrator for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), said, “This study provided us with important new insights into tiger shark movement behavior around Maui, and helps answer some questions about why that island has led the state recently in shark bites.  We agree with the study’s recommendation that the best approach to reducing numbers of these incidents is to raise public awareness of what people can do to reduce their risk of being bitten.  This has been our focus for a long time.  People who enter the ocean have to understand and appreciate that it is essentially a wilderness experience.  It’s the shark’s house, not ours.

DAR will continue to work with other agencies to expand outreach regarding hazards in the ocean, such as drownings, to include shark safety information so people can make well-informed, fact-based decisions.”

As for the 2012-2014 spike in shark bites around Maui, Meyer said the reasons remain unclear.  He noted, “2015 saw only one unprovoked shark bite off Maui.  Shark behavior didn’t change year to year, and there was no shift in human behavior.  These spikes occur all over the world, and are most likely due to chance.”

Citing previous studies, the HIMB team also noted that historical shark culling in Hawaii neither eliminated nor demonstrably reduced shark bite incidents.  Tiger sharks tracked around Maui exhibit a broad spectrum of movement patterns ranging from somewhat resident to highly transient. This ensures a constant turnover of sharks along coastal locations.  Sharks removed by culling are quickly replaced by new ones locally and from distant locations.

Maui Shark Report-Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

PacIOOS makes tiger shark tracks available online and provides funding for ongoing and future tagging efforts. Melissa Iwamoto, Director of PacIOOS explained, “We are pleased to be a partner in this important effort by offering an online platform where you can view the tiger sharks tracks. Providing ocean users, agencies, residents and visitors with relevant ocean data is our priority. While the tracks do not serve as a warning or real-time monitoring system, they are a great way to raise awareness about the ocean environment and to inform long-term decision-making.”

All of the partners agree that the more information people have, the better decisions they can make when entering the ocean.

Hawaii Tiger Shark Tracking Report: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/files/2016/05/Maui_tiger_shark_spatial_dynamics_final.pdf

Hawaii Tiger Shark Tracking website: http://pacioos.org/projects/sharks

Hawaii Sharks website: www.hawaiisharks.org

Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose Using Natural Gas with Modernized Generation

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today asked the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to review and approve a proposed contract with Fortis Hawaii Energy Inc. to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electricity generation on O’ahu, Hawai’i Island and Maui.

key benefitsThe contract, the culmination of a request for proposals issued two years ago, would provide a cleaner, low-cost fuel to replace oil in the transition to achieving Hawai’i’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2045. If approved, Hawaiian Electric envisions beginning use of natural gas in 2021 with a 20-year contract ending as Hawai’i approaches its 100 percent renewable energy goal.

“We are committed to achieving our state’s 100 percent renewable energy goal with a diverse mix of renewable resources,” said Ron Cox, Hawaiian Electric vice president for power supply. “As we make this transition, LNG is a cleaner-burning alternative that potentially can provide billions of dollars in savings and stabilize electric bills for our customers compared to continuing to rely on imported oil with its volatile prices. LNG is a superior fuel for the firm generation needed to keep electric service reliable as we increase our use of variable renewables like solar and wind.”

At the same time, Hawaiian Electric is asking the PUC for authorization to construct a modern, efficient, combined-cycle generation system at the Kahe Power Plant to get the maximum customer benefits from use of cleaner, less expensive natural gas; better support integration of renewable energy; and facilitate retirement of three older, oil-fired generators at the Kahe Power Plant.

Critical timing for customer benefits

The Fortis Hawaii contract is also contingent on PUC approval of the merger of Hawaiian Electric with NextEra Energy. This project requires substantial upfront financial support and expertise that NextEra Energy can provide.  If the merger is not approved, the Hawaiian Electric Companies would still be interested in pursuing on their own the benefits of LNG for customers, but the companies would need to negotiate a new contract which likely would mean lower, delayed savings for customers and delayed benefits for the environment.

Significant projected savings and environmental benefits for Hawai’i

Hawaiian Electric estimates the natural gas contract and greater efficiencies from modernized generation could save electricity customers from $850 million to $3.7 billion through 2045, depending on future oil prices. At the same time, annual oil imports for electricity generation would be reduced by over 8 million barrels, or 80 percent, as soon as 2021. Hawai’i’s carbon footprint would be reduced by significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The reduction of over 4 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions alone equals taking more than 80 percent of Hawai’i’s passenger vehicles off the road.

Savings on electric bills for typical residential customers using 500 kilowatt-hours a month, when compared to alternative generation planning scenarios using oil, could be as much as $390 a year for O’ahu customers. Savings for Hawai’i Island and Maui customers are estimated at $100 and $15 per year, respectively.

The savings take into account the estimated $341 million cost of converting existing generating units to use natural gas at Kahe Power Plant on O’ahu, Mā’alaea on Maui, and Keahole and Hāmākua Energy Partners on Hawai’i Island, and the estimated cost of $117 million for LNG containers. The logistics system to deliver and offload the LNG will not require development of new infrastructure off- or on-shore in Hawai’i.

“We know Governor Ige has expressed opposition to importing LNG,” Cox said. “However, we have just reached contract terms with a supplier after a long negotiation and now have much more than a theoretical plan for the governor, Public Utilities Commission, energy stakeholders and the public to consider. We believe we have a responsibility to put forward an option that has significant economic and environmental benefits for the people of Hawai’i, and that addresses some of the Governor’s concerns.

“This proposal, negotiated with the added expertise and experience of NextEra Energy as an advisor, will support achieving our 100 percent renewable energy goals. It will allow us to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy at much lower cost while providing more reliable service for our customers. Further, our plan keeps new LNG infrastructure, both on- and off-shore, to a minimum and preserves flexibility to reduce LNG imports as renewable energy increases,” Cox said.

For 50 years, natural gas has been safely transported around the world in liquefied form for use in power generation. It is subject to strong international, national and local regulation and monitoring for safety and environmental protection. For Hawai’i, this proposal will provide enhanced security of fuel supply by avoiding the risk of sourcing fuel from more remote and politically unstable locations.

Under the proposed plan, Fortis — a leader in the North American electric and gas utility business — would liquefy the gas piped from northeastern British Columbia at its Tilbury facility in Delta, near Vancouver. The LNG would be transported from British Columbia to Hawai’i in mid-sized LNG carrier ships.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies would use natural gas in power plants to generate the electricity delivered via island power grids to homes and businesses where customers will use the same electric water heaters, stoves, refrigerators and other appliances as today. As with all fuel purchases and purchased power, the actual cost of the natural gas would be passed directly to customers on electric bills, without mark-up or profit to the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

Flexibility for the future

The price of natural gas will be tied to market prices in British Columbia, not to oil prices, providing lower, less volatile prices, especially as today’s low oil prices rise, as expected. The contract provides for lower

payments if the Hawaiian Electric Companies decide to take less than the full capacity commitment of LNG; for example, if more renewable resources come online more quickly than expected.

The vessels  and trucks (owned by others) and the containers  to import LNG under this plan are modular and movable so a significant portion can be resold or repurposed when no longer needed to serve power generation in Hawai’i. The carrier ships, barges and possibly the trucks to deliver LNG to power plants will be fueled by LNG, further reducing oil use in Hawai’i.

Modernizing generation for lower fuel costs and more reliable service

To gain the greatest savings for customers and better ensure reliable service as the integration of renewable energy increases from variable sources like sun and wind, Hawaiian Electric also proposes to modernize the  generation fleet on O’ahu. Three steam generators at the Kahe Power Plant (Units 1-3) would be deactivated by the end of 2020 when each will be over 50 years old and replaced with an efficient, combined-cycle generation system located at the plant further from the shoreline than the existing units. The location provides greater energy security, for example from tsunamis, and a less visible profile.

The combined-cycle system would include three modern, quick-starting, fast-ramping combustion turbines with three heat recovery steam generators and a single steam turbine to generate power using the waste heat that is recovered. This flexible, fuel-saving combination would be 30 percent more efficient than the deactivated generators. This modern generation is needed to balance the increasing amounts of variable renewable energy being added as Hawai’i transitions to 100 percent renewable energy. The combined-cycle system will be capable of using renewable biofuels.

Measured against current levels, the combined generation modernization and natural gas plan produces lower carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tons when fully operational.

To secure these benefits for customers as quickly as possible and ensure reliable service as the new combined-cycle system replaces old generating units, Hawaiian Electric is seeking Public Utilities Commission permission to construct the new generating system with an estimated in-service date of January 2021.

In the Commission’s Inclinations on the Future of Hawaii’s Electric Utilities (April 28, 2014), the PUC recognized the need for generation modernization and stated that Hawaiian Electric Companies need to “move with urgency to modernize the generation system as delays are lost savings opportunities” and should “expeditiously…[m]odernize the generation to achieve a future with high penetrations of renewable resources.” (emphasis added)

The proposed combined-cycle system is intended to be responsive to these PUC concerns. The estimated cost for modernized generation at Kahe Power Plant and to interconnect the new system to the grid is $859 million. This cost is factored into the overall savings projected for the LNG plan.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies’ plan also proposes using natural gas in two remaining Kahe units (5-6) and the Kalaeloa Partners power plant on O’ahu. In addition, natural gas is proposed for use on Maui at Mā’alaea Power Plant and on Hawai’i Island at Keahole Power Plant and the Hāmākua Energy Partners plant. Natural gas could also be used at the planned Schofield Generating Station and other future generating sites to provide savings for customers.

An Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared. In addition to thorough Public Utilities Commission review with input from the Consumer Advocate, community stakeholders and others will have many opportunities for input through the extensive environmental review and permitting approval process.

Additional details are available in the accompanying fact sheet.

PDF – http://origin-qps.onstreammedia.com/origin/multivu_archive/ENR/369667-hawaiian-electric-lng-plans-and-benefits-fact-sheet.pdf

Hawaiian Airline Pilots Authorize Strike

Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) voted today to authorize their elected union representatives to conduct a lawful withdrawal of service if contract talks do not result in a new collective bargaining agreement. Almost 98 percent of the pilot group voted, and of those voting 99 percent voted to support the strike ballot, which opened on April 25.

Hawaiian Airlines Plane in Sky

“This vote shows the deep anger our pilots feel toward their senior management,” said Capt. Hoon Lee, chairman of the ALPA unit at Hawaiian Airlines. “We absolutely do not want to go on strike, but if that’s what it takes to get a market-rate contract, our pilots have told us loud and clear that they will stand together and take that final step.”

Pilots cheered when Lee and other ALPA leaders announced the voting results at a rally near Honolulu International Airport today. The pilots plan to hold an informational picket at the airport on May 25.

The strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent. The National Mediation Board (NMB) must first decide that additional mediation efforts would not be productive and extend an offer to arbitrate the dispute. If either side declines arbitration, the parties enter a “cooling off” period and are free to exercise self-help – a strike by the pilots or a lockout by the company — 30 days later.  Additional mediation sessions are not scheduled past June at this time.

The pilots’ contract became amendable in September 2015. ALPA and Hawaiian management began contract talks in May of last year and began working with a NMB mediator in January 2016.

“At a time when Hawaiian is making more money than ever before, our management stubbornly refuses to share those profits with the employees who earned them,” Lee said.

”Our patience is at an end and we demand a market-rate contract that recognizes our contributions to this airline’s astounding success.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 30 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.

Approved Route Between Kona and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Expected to Bring in More Than $50 Million to Hawaii Island Economy

Gov. David Ige is applauding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Kona from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Hawaiian Airlines

“This creates the opportunity for us to open up Kona as an international point of entry. This is a significant step toward making that happen,” said Mike McCartney, Gov. Ige’s chief of staff.

Hawaiian Airlines has been flying passengers on the Haneda-Honolulu route since 2010, providing 107,000 round-trip seats a year and generating $564 million in direct spending.

Gov. Ige, who is traveling on the mainland, submitted a letter of support of Hawaiian Airlines’ application for a second route, which said, in part:

“Providing direct service to Kona will open a new Haneda gateway to a market that has significant pent-up demand. Kona is the third largest U.S. airport without nonstop service to Tokyo. It has more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than eleven markets that currently enjoy nonstop service to Japan’s most populous city,” said Gov. Ige.

The U.S. DOT has given Hawaiian Airlines until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.

Two Dozen State, County and Federal Agencies Combine Efforts to Raise Awareness About Hawaii Wildfire and Drought

Government and non-government organizations from across the state today, announced a collaborative effort to raise awareness about the threat of wildfire and drought to Hawaii’s natural resources and to private and public property.  Wildfire & Drought Look Out!, is a continuing campaign to keep people across the state informed of current fire and drought conditions, provide tips on protecting life and property from wildfire, and to provide information and education on how to deal with prolonged drought.

Wildfire and Drought Look Out

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is the lead agency charged with wildfire prevention and suppression on public lands across the state. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We hope this campaign, which has both a public and a media component, will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the year-around threat of wildfires. While fires here in Hawaii burn smaller acreages than in much larger western states, the percentage of forest land we lose each year to wildfire, based on Hawaii’s actual land mass, is equal to states like California.”

This year already 10,865 acres have burned, over twice the number of acres burned during all of 2015. A recent wildfire on Oahu’s leeward coast, at Nanakuli, destroyed or damaged thousands of acres, including some native forest. Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves commented, “During this fire, flames crept precariously close to homes. The work of county and state fire fighters prevented property loss, and the precautions taken by many homeowners to create defensible space between their houses and surrounding areas prevented serious property loss.  This is exactly the type of activity we hope to encourage during the “Wildfire & Drought Look Out!” campaign.

The campaign has two components. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) is one of the primary partners in the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! project and HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett explained, “We have set up both a public and a media page on the HWMO website. The public page will have loads of information for home and property owners on how best to prepare for the possibility of wildfire well in advance.  We’ll include water saving information which is really topical during this prolonged drought event in many areas across the state, largely caused by El Nino weather conditions.” HWMO will also maintain and manage a media page, where partners can contribute story ideas and leads for reporters and their news organizations. Pickett added, “We hope media outlets across the state will find this information valuable and topical and join all of us in spreading prevention and preparedness messages widely.”

There was a time when wildfire season in Hawaii typically started in late spring or early summer and lasted until late fall.  “Now with prolonged drought across large regions of the Hawaiian Islands and long-range predictions that show no apparent relief soon, the timing of the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! campaign couldn’t be better,” said Derek Wroe, a forecaster with NOAA’s National Weather Service office in Honolulu, another of the project partners.

Joint Task Force Established to Combat Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawaii

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor announced today the establishment of a Joint Task Force to assess the threat of rat lungworm disease (Angiostrongyliasis) in Hawaii. The mission of the task force is to share scientific knowledge in the application of diagnostics, treatment, mitigation and public education activities.

rat lungworm

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a nematode, which is a roundworm parasite called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasitic nematode can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. Humans can become infected when they consume, either intentionally or otherwise, infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts.

Although rat lungworm has been found throughout the state, Hawaii Island has a majority of the cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe, which can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may also be present, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).

“Establishing a joint task force with local experts in the medical field and leaders in government will produce a set of best practices that be used to target rat lungworm disease not only on Hawaii Island, but on a statewide scale as well,” said Wil Okabe, East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor. “There is no specific treatment yet identified for this disease, so finding the best ways to prevent its spread and educate the public is crucial.”

The members of the task force are as follows:

  • Wil Okabe (Facilitator), East Hawaii Governor’s Liaison Office
  • Robert Cowie, Ph.D., Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Robert Hollingsworth, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Sue Jarvi, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Jerry Kahana, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture
  • Kenton Kramer, Ph.D., Department of Tropical Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)
  • John Martell, M.D., Hilo Medical Center
  • Marian Melish, M.D., Pediatric Infectious Disease, Kapiolani Medical Center
  • Donn Mende, Research and Development, County of Hawaii
  • DeWolfe Miller, Ph.D., Tropical Medicine Microbiology and Pharmacology, JABSOM
  • Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch, DOH
  • Sarah Park, M.D., F.A.A.P., State Epidemiologist, DOH
  • Joanna Seto, Save Drinking Water Branch, DOH
  • Aaron Ueno, Hawaii District Health Office, DOH
  • Chris Whelen, Ph.D., State Laboratories Division, DOH
  • Jonnie Yates, M.D., Kaiser Permanente

High Rates of Hepatitis C Found Among Hawaii’s Kupuna

Hawaii’s kupuna — baby boomers between the ages of 51 and 71 — are among those most at risk for hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease or liver cancer. The Hawaii State Department of Health is partnering with CVS Minute Clinics and Hep Free Hawaii to protect kupuna and others by offering convenient hepatitis C point-of-care testing, on an ongoing basis starting on Thursday, May 19, 2016, which is National Hepatitis Testing Day.

clinic locator

All nine CVS Minute Clinics, located within selected Longs Drugs stores on Oahu, will offer a finger-prick test (instead of a blood draw) to check for hepatitis C in persons at risk, especially baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965. Results from the rapid hepatitis C antibody test are available in 20 minutes. This preventive health service is fully covered by most insurance plans with no out-of-pocket costs for members.

Hepatitis C and Liver Cancer

Hawaii is the state with the highest rate of liver cancer in the U.S., and the majority of liver cancer cases in Hawaii are caused by viral hepatitis types B and C. An estimated 23,000 persons in Hawaii are currently living with chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease and cancer.

Hepatitis C is spread by blood-to-blood exposure (such as sharing injection equipment), but there are also high rates among baby boomers (born 1945-1965), regardless of any known blood exposure. More than one out of four people in Hawaii are baby boomers and should be tested at least once for hepatitis C infection.

Early Detection is Critical
“Most people with hepatitis C don’t know that they have it,” stated Thaddeus Pham, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator with the Hawaii State Department of Health.  “If undetected, hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, liver cancer, or even death. Since hepatitis C is manageable and, in some cases, even curable, people can prevent liver cancer through early detection. We encourage all baby boomers, as well as other Hawaii residents at risk for hepatitis C, to get tested right away. Getting tested is the first step in liver cancer prevention.”

CVS Minute Clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners who not only can administer the test, but also offer other services such as immunizations and non-urgent medical care. They are also committed to ensuring the patients get connected back their primary care providers. The CVS Minute Clinics are currently at 9 select locations on Oahu.  See http://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/clinics/Hawaii for exact locations and times.  Appointments are first come, first serve, although you can hold a place in line using the Minute Clinic location website.

Partnering with Community

“We’re partnering with local CVS Minute Clinics because we recognize the increasing importance of non-traditional healthcare delivery models,” Pham said. “Many of us often go to our local pharmacy or drug store more often than we go to our doctor. It’s important to use every opportunity to increase awareness and screening for our ohana. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you get tested to prevent liver disease and cancer.”

For list of participating sites, go to http://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/clinics/Hawaii or www.hepfreehawaii.org.

State Budget Includes Over $389 Million for Capital Improvement Project Funding on Hawaii Island

Under the state budget passed by the Legislature last week, Big Island representatives secured more than $389 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for the biennium of Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 for various projects across Hawaii County.  Hawaii lawmakers were also able to secure $8.5 million in Grants-In-Aid CIP for Big Island nonprofit organizations.

Capital

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $126 million for Kona International Airport improvements
  • $55 million for construction for a new Kona Judiciary complex
  • $33.5 million for Keaukaha Military Reservation projects
  • $21 million for Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a new housing and a support building
  • $15 million for Highway 130 repair.
  • $12.5 million for a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $9 million for Hawaii Community College renovations
  • $8.5 million for Workforce Development to build a multi-purpose center
  • $8 million for Mamalahoa Highway, Ninole Bridge rehabilitation
  • $7.9 million for Hilo Harbor improvement.
  • $7.6 million for Saddle Road Maintenance Baseyard improvements
  • $7.1 million for Hilo International Airport improvements
  • $6.7 million for Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center Improvements
  • $5.5 million for improvements at the Research Campus at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $4.2 million for improvements at Kawaihae Harbor
  • $4 million for the improvements to the lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements
  • $3.2 million for Hawaii Belt Road improvements
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $2 million for Haaheo Elementary School to design and build a covered playcourt
  • $2 million for Hilo Forest Reserve land acquisition
  • $2 million for Hilo Intermediate School for Building A renovations
  • $1.6 million for Youth Challenge Academy upgrade and improvements
  • $1.5 million for Honokaa High and Intermediate School for restrooms in the auditorium
  • $1.5 million for Zero Waste Conversion to develop biofuel and animal feed in Keaau
  • $1.5 million for Kapiolani Elementary School to build a covered playcourt
  • $1.5 million for a Kohala water study
  • $1 million for Puu Waawaa structure improvement and dam compliance
  • $1 million for a Kamuela vacuum cooling plant
  • $830,000 for Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School
  • $800,000 for the Pohakuloa Training Area construction
  • $735,000 for Mountain View Elementary School improvements
  • $660,000 for extending the Daniel K. Inouye Highway
  • $600,000 for Keaukaha Elementary School for cafeteria equipment and improvements
  • $511,000 for Waikea Intermediate School for electrical upgrades and other improvements
  • $500,000 for a feasibility study for a new university hospital in Kona
  • $450,000 for Waiakea High School to build a baseball batting cage
  • $355,000 for Kahakai Elementary School road safety improvements
  • $335,000 for Konawaena High School improvements
  • $300,000 for Kealakehe Elementary School improvements and parking
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui for office space and storage
  • $300,000 for Pohoiki Boat Ramp repairs
  • $290,000 for Naalehu Elementary School repairs and maintenance
  • $200,000 for Pahoa Elementary School improvements
  • $200,000 for Keaau Elementary School improvements
  • $150,000 for Kau High School improvements

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-In-Aid were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hawaii Island community:

  • $1.2 million for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School to plan, design, build and equip a community food kitchen
  • $1 million for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce to design and build an education facility
  • $1 million for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan design and build a health facility
  • $1 million for Lai‘i‘opua 2020 to desing and build a community center
  • $1 million for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $800,000 for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council to build and complete the Milolii Community Enrichment Historical Center
  • $535,000 for Ho‘oulu Lahui to build a commercial kitchen in Puna
  • $500,000 for Lyman House Memorial Museum to build a new island heritage gallery exhibit
  • $315,000 for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. to build a new adult day care facility in Hilo
  • $285,000 for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences to plan, design and build a certified kitchen
  • $250,000 for Hamakua Health Center to design and build and equip a modular building addition to the Kohala Clinic
  • $150,000 for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan and design the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center
  • $100,000 for Hawaii Wildlife Center to fabricate, install and operate exhibits
  • $88,000 for Anekona Ouli Kanehoa VFD Company to construct a volunteer apparatus garage
  • $35,000 for Holualoa Foundation for Art & Culture for repairs at the Donkey Mill Art Center

Hawaii State Senate Adjourns 2016 Regular Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2016 regular session with a sense of accomplishment in passing a fiscally responsible budget, addressing priority needs for the state, and tackling a number of challenging issues as highlighted in the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program at the start of the 2016 Session.

Capital

Over the course of this legislative session, Senators, along with their House counterparts, approved substantial funding to install air conditioning for our public schools, provided an unprecedented appropriation for homeless programs statewide, delivered additional support to meet the housing needs for Hawai‘i’s families, and improved health care services.

In his closing remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 -Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) reflected upon the trials the body faced this session with the passing of Sen. Gilbert Kahele, as well as the health challenges faced by Senators Breene Harimoto and Sam Slom.  He praised the courage of Senators Harimoto and Slom, and complimented the Senate staff for working hard under trying circumstances to get the work of the people done.

“In the face of difficulty, I congratulate each and every one of you for continuing to focus on the important work of the Legislature,” said Kouchi. “Through collaboration and cooperation, we are able to present not only a fiscally responsible budget, but also sound policy of which the citizens of Hawai‘i will see benefits.”

In alignment with the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program theme of providing for our families (Mālama ‘Ohana), a $12 million lump sum appropriation for homeless programs is a recognition of this statewide concern and represents a significant opportunity to change the way to approach the homeless problem.  In understanding the holistic need to address this crisis, $160 million in funds for improvements at the Hawai‘i State Hospital, along with $3 million in general funds for the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority and $75 million allocated toward the rental Housing Assistance Revolving Fund and Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund will support efforts to approach the homeless issue from a variety of angles.

In an investment in our children, lawmakers took a bold step and increased Preschool Open Doors base funding to $10 million, which will help struggling families with real opportunities for school readiness. Lawmakers also found a fiscally creative solution to fund a $100 million emergency appropriation for air conditioning and heat abatement measures that will help move forward the Department of Education program to cool schools.

In terms of nurturing our earth, (Mālama Honua) lawmakers provided substantial resources to study in-stream flow standards and assess water availability, a number of bills along with $1.6 million in general funds for various water infrastructure support statewide and more than $4.7 million in general funds was provided in bills for conservation efforts and the fight against invasive species.  More than $4.8 in general funds in various measures provide a solid foundation to reinforce agriculture as an industry moving forward.

By focusing on growing jobs and our economy, appropriations and measures to provide $4 million in grants and allocating funds to strengthen our infrastructure and position in the Pacific through the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative, along with $1 million in general funds to budget for HI-Growth and $100,000 in matching general funds for the state’s Creative Labs program, fall in line with sustaining our communities (Mālama Kaiāulu).

Lawmakers passed measures that reflected good governance (Mālama Aupuni) by making steps toward taking care of our debts and obligations by approving $150 million for the Rainy Day Fund and $81.9 million to pay down unfunded liabilities.

“This puts us on a more solid financial footing going forward, knowing that if and when times get tough, paying less always helps,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda (Dist.24 – Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Lawmakers also provided $1.15 billion in general obligation bonds and $2.5 billion for projects funded by all other means of financing for capital improvement projects that will play a vital role in rebuilding our economy and strengthening our social infrastructure.

On the contentious issues this session, such as water rights and transient accommodations tax collection, the Senate displayed its ability to participate in healthy debate, yet continue to collaborate while keeping the best interests of the people of Hawai‘i in mind.

“One of the strengths of the Senate is our ability to have differing opinions, yet recognize when to put those sentiments aside to get to work and come up with solutions,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “The measures we passed this session achieved our goal of improving the quality of life for our keiki, kūpuna, and nā ‘ohana who are most in need and we will continue to work to ensure what we’ve put in place this session will continue to move our state forward.”

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

Hawaii Senate District 1 Awarded Over $89 Million in Capital Improvement Project Funds

With the adoption of the supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2017, Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele (Dist. 1 – Hilo) is proud to announce more than $89 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding has been appropriated for various projects for District 1. These projects address aging infrastructure, improve existing schools and facilities, and establish additional safety measures.

Kai Kahele Profile

“The projects funded by the budget will help move East Hawai‘i forward by creating jobs, enhancing our public infrastructure and facilities, and investing in education,” said Sen. Kahele. “By working collaboratively with my colleagues, Senator Lorraine R. Inouye, Representatives Mark M. Nakashima, Clift Tsuji and Richard H.K. Onishi, we will continue to secure funds to drive our economy and improve our quality of life.”

In realizing that the real future lies in the hands of our children and grandchildren, legislators reflected a Senate Majority priority goal of providing for our families and allocated funds for a covered play court at Chiefess Kapi‘olani and Ha‘aheo Elementary Schools, providing kitchen equipment for the Keaukaha Elementary School cafeteria and electrical upgrades for Waiākea Intermediate School.  In passing SB3126 SD2 HD2 CD1, $100 million was allocated to the Department of Education to assist in moving forward their program to install air conditioning and other heat abatement measures in our public schools and providing students with a better learning environment.

Lawmakers also recognized other imperative concerns of District 1 and allocated significant resources for the airports, harbors and health services.

“Throughout my life, my father taught me the importance of community service and I’m honored to carry on his legislative initiatives,” said Sen. Kai Kahele.

Notable CIP funding highlights for District 1 include:

  • $31.8 million for renovations on the Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $2 million for covered playcourt for Ha‘aheo Elementary School
  • $1.5 million for design and construction for a covered playcourt at Kapi‘olani Elementary School
  • $252,000 for plans, design and construction for electrical systems upgrades for Waiākea Intermediate School
  • $6.75 million for improvements for the Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center
  • $300,000 for construction for a new adult day care facility at the Hawai‘i Island Community Development Corporation
  • $2 million for land acquisition to expand the Hilo Forest Reserve
  • $21 million for design and construction of a new support building, housing and support offices and security system for Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center
  • $3.5 million for improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $7.95 million for demolition of pier shed and water tower and other improvements for Hilo Harbor
  • $2.2 million for plans for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Wailuku Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19)
  • $600,000 for design and construction for cafeteria equipment installation; ground and site improvement; equipment and appurtenances at Keaukaha Elementary School

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-in-Aid (GIA) were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hilo community:

  • $1 million for design and construction for an education facility for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce
  • $1 million for plans, design and construction for a health facility for Panaewa Community Alliance
  • $500,000 for construction for a new Island Heritage Gallery Exhibit at Lyman House Memorial Museum
  • $217,000 for Rainbow Falls Botanical Garden and Visitor Center
  • $200,000 for program to assist with at risk and low income school students to prevent from dropping out of High School in Hilo
  • $150,000 for Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center

Hawaii House of Representatives Adjourns 2016 Regular Session – Passing Several Bills

The House of Representatives today adjourned the 2016 regular legislative session, passing several remaining bills, including Senate Bill 2077, House Bill 2086, House Bill 1654 and House Bill 2543.

Capital

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2 authorizes Hawaii Hospital Systems Corp. employees facing reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.  The bill is in response to the pending privatization of Maui Memorial Hospital.

HB2086 HD2 SD2 appropriates $37 million into the state highway fund as a subsidy, and requires the Governor to provide a plan to sustain the state highway fund.

HB1654 HD1 SD2 allows a permanent absentee voter to temporarily receive a ballot at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle. Clarifies that certain conditions that normally lead to a termination of permanent absentee voter status do not apply if the voter resides in an absentee ballot only area. Replaces references to facsimile ballots with references to electronically transmitted ballots. Allows a voter to receive an absentee ballot by electronic transmission if the voter requires such a ballot within five days of an election, or the voter would otherwise not be able to return a properly issued ballot by the close of polls.

HB2543 HD2 SD 1 makes permanent the requirement that the state and the counties take action within 60 days for broadband-related permit applications, take action within 145 days for use applications for broadband facilities within the conservation district, and establish other requirements regarding broadband-related permits, and weight load for utility poles to capacities established by the FCC and PUC.

Click on this link for all bills passed during the 2016 session.

During the session, the House approved major funding for affordable housing and homelessness, air conditioning and heat abatement for 1,000 classroom statewide, the largest ever disbursement to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, help for displaced Maui sugar workers and significant pay down of the state’s unfunded liabilities.

“In January, I asked you to use the momentum created from our last session to keep us and Hawaii moving forward.  During this session, you did just that with hard work and perseverance,” according to House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) in written remarks to state representatives.

“You helped shape a budget that is fiscally prudent, forward looking, and addresses the state’s priorities on the homeless and affordable housing, our classrooms and education, our public hospitals and healthcare, our prisons and public safety, and Hawaiian Home lands and our host culture.”

Souki thanked House members for providing $100 million for air conditioning in public school classrooms, $650,000 to retrain and support displaced Maui sugar plantation workers, $2.5 million to sustain Wahiawa General Hospital, $150 million to replenish the state’s Rainy Day fund, and $81.9 to pay down unfunded liabilities (owed toward the state retirees’ post-employment benefits).

“You also put us on a path toward building affordable housing units on state owned parcels along our future rail system,” Souki wrote.  “This effort offers great potential for not just home building but community building.

“An essential part of community building is to make that community sustainable for the long term.  That’s why it was important for us to protect prime agriculture land between Wahiawa and Waialua and invest $31.5 million to purchase those lands from Dole Food Co.”

Finally, Souki thanked the representatives for providing funding to support Maui workers and their families affected by the closure of Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company, as well as for working out a compromise measure dealing with the issue of water rights among competing interests on Maui.

“It is never an easy task to deal with competing interests and priorities,” Souki wrote.  “Each priority seems so obvious in isolation.  But the devil is never in a single priority, but always in the prioritization process itself.

“It’s easy enough to throw your hands up and call them no-win situations.  But our job is to provide leadership and make the difficult decisions.  In doing so, you may not win any popularity contest.  But you will have earned the respect and appreciation from those who see the big picture, and understand your position and your responsibility to all the people of Hawaii.”

Hawaii State Senators Pass Important Measures on Final Reading

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

Capital

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

Other highlights of the budget bill include:

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

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

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

Other bills passed on final reading include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capital

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

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

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

Highlights of the measures passed today include:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

EDUCATION

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

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

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

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

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

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

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

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

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

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

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

PUBLIC SAFETY

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRISONS

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

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

LABOR

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

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

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

HEALTH

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

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

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

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

KUPUNA

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRANSPORTATION

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

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

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

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

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

LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

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

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

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS

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

ENERGY

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

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

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

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

FISCAL INITIATIVES

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

TAXES

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

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

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

OTHERS

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

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

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

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

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

School Lunches

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

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

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

Kauai:

  • Kekaha Elementary

Hawaii Island:

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

Maui:

  • Hana High & Elementary

Lanai:

  • Lanai High & Elementary

Oahu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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