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VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Tulsi Gabbard is calling for immediate action to put a stop to a dangerous move executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration. Unless the decision is overturned, thousands of jobs will be lost and an entire Alaskan watershed will be destroyed—killing the aquatic life within it and endangering the people who, for thousands of years, have depended on the fish and miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats it supports.

Tulsi Gabbard, a lifelong environmentalist with a proven record of protecting our environment, explains the critical situation facing Bristol Bay, Alaska and calls on Congress to take action to protect it.

Nearly half of the world’s Sockeye Salmon comes from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Its watershed employs over 14,000 full-and part-time workers, generates $1.5 billion dollars in economic activity, and is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments—many of whom have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for more than 4,000 years.

Yet the world’s most valuable salmon fishery is facing a direct threat by the very government agency given the job to protect it—the Environmental Protection Agency. Its newest administrator and Trump nominee, Scott Pruitt, recently held closed-door meetings with Canadian-owned mining company Pebble Limited Partnership about developing a copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay larger than Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just over an hour after the meeting, Pruitt rescinded federal salmon protections in the area, opening the door for development and mining.

Despite numerous studies and historical data over the years that cite the ecological and economic importance of protecting Bristol Bay from mining project development, Pruitt has made it clear that he has no qualms with brokering deals at the expense of the American people and the planet.
To quote his own agency’s 2014 assessment, such a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources,” and the loss of miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats. In addition, the EPA calculated a 95% chance of spill, per pipeline, in 25 years, threatening “acute exposure to toxic water and chronic exposure to toxic sediment” to fish and invertebrates.

Along with the virtual destruction of these species and wetlands, this would poison the watershed and needlessly endanger the communities who have relied upon the Sockeye Salmon for sustenance for thousands of years. The cost of destroying thousands of jobs and decimating the environment and resources these communities rely on is too great to measure.

The economics of Bristol Bay are everything President Trump promised to protect: American workers supplying American families and businesses through American jobs.

Yet the president and his administration have demonstrated time and again that they are eager to put their friends and business partners’ interests and profit before the health and wellbeing of the American people.

Hawaiʻi and Alaska have long shared a special and unique relationship, working together across party lines for the wellbeing of our people. For decades, we’ve worked together to empower our native communities, promote our local economies, secure resources for our rural populations, and much more. Now, we must stand together again and urge our colleagues in Congress to join the fight to protect Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable resources before it is too late.

Hawaii Awarded $2.25 Million for Youth Disability Workforce Development

Hawaii Youth At Work! Program Expands to Year Around

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was awarded $2.25 million in federal funds to help prepare youth with disabilities to enter the workforce or post-secondary education. The funding enables Hawaii Youth At Work! summer participants to obtain paid work experience during the year, coupled with employment preparation activities.

“The summer program is a resounding success for the youth and it is usually their first paid job,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “We are proud to help expand these opportunities for youth with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii’s workforce.”

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DLIR. DHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division, and Social Services Division counselors and staff work with DLIR workforce staff to place participants in temporary jobs with the State and Counties.

“Despite their ability to occupy a variety of jobs, people with disabilities only account for 20 percent of the workforce, have more than double the unemployment rate compared to the general population and continue to face barriers finding work,” stated DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We’re thrilled to expand this program so these young people have greater opportunity to engage in the workforce and prepare for meaningful employment.”

In 2016, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided 153 youth with disabilities paid work experience in State and County offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Youth were paid $10.00 an hour and worked up to twenty hours per week during the summer months. SYEP 2017 expanded referrals to include youth participants from the DHS’s Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and Social Services Division in addition to VR. 125 participants were placed in State and City offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii.

The funding will strengthen collaborations with businesses and workforce partners to increase the number of youth with disabilities entering career pathways and accessing workforce services. The grant provides funding for services in the Counites of Hawaii and Maui as well as on Oahu. In addition to DHS, key partners include the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, Department of Education, and American Job Centers.

DLIR previously received $2,923,674 in 2011 and $2,500,000 in 2015 in Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) funds to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI funds help refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC); training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships with businesses that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Television Special Documents Lehua Island Restoration Project

The recent project aimed at eradicating invasive rats from the State of Hawai‘i’s Seabird Sanctuary on Lehua Island is the subject of a half-hour long TV documentary that chronicles the operation from beginning to end.

Lehua Island

Scheduled for broadcast on KFVE-TV (K5) on Saturday, Oct. 21st and Sunday, Oct. 22nd at 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively, the program was produced by DLNR with support from the Lehua Island Restoration Steering Committee; the group of government agencies, non-profit and community organizations, and other supporters involved in the eradication of rats.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We see this as an opportunity to show people exactly what happened during the trio of aerial applications of rodenticide in August and September, as well as to highlight the stunning beauty of Lehua Island, the incredible diversity of bird life possible on a rat-free island, and the tremendous amount of planning and thought that led up to the eradication project. Few people actually get to go to Lehua and I think viewers will be astounded that this little island off Kaua‘i’s west side is so rich in life – with the successful demise of rats there, soon to be a much richer place in all respects.”

Island Conservation (IC) is the world renowned organization contracted by the State to conduct the restoration project. Dr. Patty Baiao, Hawai‘i Program Manager for IC, explained, “This show is incredibly visual and is in alignment with our oft-stated goal of being completely transparent about the restoration project.  We understand and appreciate community concerns about dropping rodenticide on an island, but hope that when people see and hear from the dozens of really dedicated individuals closest to this project, they will come to the realization that this was done with extraordinary care, thought, pre-planning and execution.”

While no rats have been spotted by monitoring teams since after the first aerial application in August, Lehua Island will not be declared rat-free until a year after the last application. Rats are documented to be voracious predators of seabird eggs, chicks, and the seeds of native plants that seabirds rely on.

The television program includes interviews with project leaders and participants, with community members, cultural practitioners, and outside experts who all reinforce the science and cultural reasons for the removal of rats from Lehua.

from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge and Hawaii Beekeeper Survey

8th Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge 2017A grand total of 97 entries have been received from the Big Island, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Maui and Moloka’i and will undergo formal judging on October 19th, 2017.

In addition to the official judging, the Big Island Beekeeper’s Association will be holding a People’s Choice tasting and judging on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, second floor, 76 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo between 6:30pm and 8:00pm. This is a free public event, all are welcome!

Hawaii Beekeeper Survey  – The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is currently polling the state’s beekeeping community to learn of the industry’s interests and concerns. Beekeepers of any size operations are encouraged to take the survey which only takes a few minutes to complete and will help the program learn more about the needs of Hawaii’s beekeeping community.  To access the survey, click here: Apiary Program Survey 2017

 

Governor Ige to Travel to Philippines on Goodwill and Trade Mission

Gov. David Ige will embark on a goodwill and trade mission with the Filipino Chamber of Commerce from Oct. 14 through the 22.

The governor will be traveling with about 50 Hawai‘i business and community leaders who will tour several provinces, including Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Cebu.

While in the Philippines, Gov. Ige will lead a variety of meetings with local government, business and community members, as well as participate in cultural events, tours, activities and ceremonies. Among the significant events — the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation between the State of Hawai‘i and the League of Provinces, establishing Sister State relationships with several provinces in the Philippines. The governor will also take part in a wreath laying ceremony at Rizal Park and visit the University of the Philippines.

First Lady Dawn Amano Ige will join the governor for various events and ceremonies. She will also visit Pitogo Elementary School and a Consuelo Foundation orphanage.

One staff member will be traveling with the governor and first lady.
The total cost of the trip is estimated at $8,900.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will serve as acting governor until Gov. Ige returns to Hawai‘i on Oct. 22.

Progress Update on School Bus Driver Shortages on Maui and Kauai

Two consolidated bus routes on Maui were reinstated and more anticipated in coming weeks. Photo DOE

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reports that progress is being made by school bus contractors to address the current shortage of Commercial Driver Licensed (CDL) drivers on Maui and Kauai qualified to operate school buses. Here are the latest updates:

  • Two previously consolidated bus routes on Maui have been restored to normal service times at Maui High School and Maui Waena Intermediate School.
    • Route GR14A makes a single morning and afternoon run from the Hale Kihei Housing and Makai Heights Subdivisions in Kihei to and from Maui High School.
    • Route GR18 A/B makes two morning and afternoon runs to and from Maui Waena Intermediate School. The first serves the Kahului area east of Puunene Avenue from Puukani Street to Kaahumanu Avenue, and north of West Kauai Street to Kaahumanu Avenue. The second run serves the Sands Hills, Puuone Tract, Kanaloa Houselots Subdivision and Paukukalo areas.
  • Kauai’s shortage of qualified school bus drivers continues to remain at seven. School bus routes have been consolidated to adjust to the staffing shortages and all schools are still being serviced. Driver candidates are currently in the licensing process and routes will be restored as they enter service.
  • Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170. Interested drivers without a CDL are also being sought. The CDL training and testing process is open and takes approximately three weeks to complete.

For school bus route questions or concerns, please call the Get On Board Hotline at (808) 586-0161 on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tragedy on Kauai: Multi-Agency Community Response to Pilot Whale Strandings on Kaua`i – Five Dead

UPDATE: Five whales have now tragically passed away.

Update: A third dead whale washed ashore this afternoon.

This morning NOAA Fisheries, the U.S Coast Guard, Kauai County Fire and Police Departments and the DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) joined concerned community members and native Hawaiian cultural practitioners to respond to a beaching event and attending to two five Pilot whales that died on Kalapaki Beach on the north side of Nawiliwili Harbor.

Kaua‘i County provided heavy machinery to lift the deceased stranded whales off the beach and onto truck trailers provided by DOCARE. The whales were taken to an undisclosed location where autopsies are expected to continue into the night.

David Schofield, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Response Coordinator in Hawai‘i said, “We have no indication of a cause of death at this time.  Disease and old age are common causes of death for whales, but it’s too soon to know.  Post mortem exams occasionally reveal a likely cause, but more often they are inconclusive, and we must then wait for lab test results.  Working with the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, our stranding response partner, we will ensure the post mortem exam and lab tests are thorough and comprehensive.”

Gregg Howald, Director of Global and External Affairs for Island Conservation, the organization that led recent rat eradication efforts on Lehua Island, said, “As conservationists committed to preserving wildlife, we are deeply saddened by these mortalities. We know, with the highest degree of confidence that the Lehua Restoration Project and the rodenticides applied in that project have virtually no chance of contributing to the whales’ demise; The likelihood of any impact to pilot whales is so unlikely, it is bordering on the impossible. The good people of Hawaii have had the good fortune to observe natural wildlife in paradise for hundreds of years, and they can tell us that Pilot Whale beachings are quite common.”

Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i received initial notification of the stranding from an off duty Coast Guard member who was out surfing. Station personnel immediately called the local NOAA representative on Kaua‘i for direction and response. Coast Guard personnel were directed to monitor the whales and prevent anyone from touching them prior to the arrival of the NOAA staff within 15 minutes. Once on scene, NOAA personnel evaluated the animals and directed Coast Guard and Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel on the proper way to reintroduce the animals to the ocean. Once in the water Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel and volunteers aboard outrigger canoes escorted the whales out of the harbor.

“We appreciate the public’s concern for these animals and the strong partnership we have with NOAA and other agencies to address strandings,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Winiarski, officer-in-charge Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i. “NOAA are the experts and the lead agency in these cases. They have the veterinarians, personnel and authority to properly handle marine mammal strandings. The public can best help stranded marine animals by contacting NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9850. Serious injury can result when untrained people attempt to hold or move these animals.”

At Kalapaki Beach native Hawaiians offered pules for the whales that stranded and it’s expected additional pule will be offered prior to their burial. Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho commented, “It was a very emotional scene this morning at Kalapaki, and it leaves us very heavy-hearted that we could not save all the whales. But at the same time, everyone on the beach pulled together with a sense of aloha to help the whales in a way that was respectful and professional. Mahalo to the state DLNR, the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Kaua‘i Marriott, and our responding personnel with the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Ocean Safety Bureau, and all the volunteers involved in the care, concern, and assistance of the whales.”

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point also is conducting fly-overs of Kalapaki Bay to further assess the situation, and look for any other stranded marine mammals. NOAA, DLNR and county representatives will continue monitoring the beach and the harbor through at least tomorrow in the event other whales become stranded on the beach.

Pilot whales are considered among the most social of all whale species. On the East Coast and in New Zealand hundreds of them have been known to become stranded on beaches at one time. Scientists believe their very close social connections may account for behavior that suggests when one member of the family gets sick or in trouble all the others will stick with them.

Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami Joins Office of the Governor

Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami will join the Office of the Governor as the Administrative Director, beginning Nov. 1, 2017.

Ford Fuchigami

His role will include coordinating essential business and discussions between the state and various industries, serving as the lead liaison between the governor’s office, state departments and their directors, and administering management improvement programs. Fuchigami will also work with Chief of Staff Mike McCartney and serve as a key contributing member of the governor’s leadership team

“Ford has repeatedly proven his incredible ability to generate innovative ideas, implement plans and see them through to successful completion,” said Gov. David Ige. “His ability to negotiate the successful Kapalama Container Terminal project and accommodate an additional major player into Hawai‘i’s shipping industry is just one recent example of his impressive leadership skills.”

“Ford has been able to successfully manage a wide range of situations – whether it’s negotiating with billion dollar companies or listening to the concerns of our citizens. He will bring to the governor’s office his strengths and keen ability to enhance efficiencies throughout our state,” Gov. Ige said.

“In my years with HDOT, we have achieved many impactful accomplishments across all divisions. The department’s success has been in large part because of the collaboration and support from various individuals and organizations,” said Fuchigami. “I look forward to working with all departments and helping to improve the governmental process.”

Fuchigami joined HDOT in January 2011. He has focused on maximizing existing infrastructure while prioritizing sustainability and making the state more energy efficient. He previously served as an executive in the hospitality industry.

Gov. Ige has appointed HDOT Deputy Director Jade Butay as interim HDOT director, leading 15 airports, 10 commercial harbors, 2,500 lane miles of highway and HDOT’s 2,600 dedicated employees.

Jade Butay

Butay’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

BIOGRAPHIES:

Two-Month Repair Work on Akaka Falls State Park Trail Gets Underway

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has begun repair work to the 0.4-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State Park, necessitated due to accidental damage caused by earlier removal of invasive albizia trees in February this year.  Site Engineering was selected as contractor and cost estimate is $297,400. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Akaka Falls (DLNR Photo)

Initial repair work began last week on the longer trail section that is to the right of the loop trail starting point that was closed after the damage. Workers are removing and repairing damaged concrete walkways and steps, and replacing railings

From October 16 – 20 the park will be completely closed for work on the shorter, left side of the trail to the Akaka Falls lookout.  Hopefully this will be the only time the park will need to be closed. If additional closure is needed, an announcement will be posted on the Division of State Parks website and in local news media.

Aside from the closure dates of October 16-20, access to the Akaka Falls lookout area may be interrupted along the shorter, open walkway path, due to equipment and/or material transport to the damaged areas.

The park offers a pleasant family walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. It requires some physical exertion and will take about 1/2 hour for the full loop.

The paved route, which includes multiple steps in places (not wheelchair accessible), makes an easy to follow loop offering stunning viewpoints of the two waterfalls. To view ‘Akaka Falls only, take the path to the left (south) from the first junction. The waterfall view is just a short walk down the path. For more information see http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/hawaii/akaka-falls-loop-trail/

Hawai‘i Telehealth Summit Moves State Toward Increasing Access to Healthcare Using Innovative Technology

More than 150 healthcare and information technology professionals from throughout the state will gather for the Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit this week to explore ways to improve access to care for Hawaiʻi residents through telehealth technology.

The two-day Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit, co-sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, will be held at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Dole Cannery Ballrooms on Oct. 12 and 13.

“Today, we have technology capable of improving access to healthcare services for Hawai‘i residents who are homebound or living in rural areas, including the neighbor islands where there is a shortage of specialists,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. “The Department of Health has adopted telehealth for adolescent psychiatric counseling and has piloted teledentistry for West Hawai‘i residents, but as a state, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

The event will feature exhibits and hands-on demonstrations of the latest telehealth technologies, equipment, and services.

On the first day, summit attendees will hear a keynote address, “Telepresence Skills: How to build and maintain authentic and effective provider-patient relationships when practicing telemedicine,” by Dr. David Roth of Mind and Body Works.  The second day of the summit will feature keynote addresses from Gov. David Ige and Congressman Brian Schatz. The event will culminate in facilitated discussions to establish a statewide telehealth strategic plan.

Hawai‘i has adopted new payment models to keep pace with advances in telehealth technology. In July 2016, Gov. Ige signed a law that allows healthcare providers to receive the same reimbursements for patient care, whether it is through a telehealth consultation or a face-to-face office visit. These types of changes are expected to further accelerate telehealth’s popularity in Hawai‘i.

“It is exciting that the telehealth law paves the way for tremendous opportunity for providers and communities in Hawaiʻi, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Denise Konan, the dean of the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences. “The university is fully supportive of the summit and committed to bringing people together to keep the momentum going.”

Currently, about 15 percent of Hawaiʻi physicians use electronic communications to deliver health care, according to the Hawaiʻi Physician Workforce Assessment Project’s 2017 report to the state legislature.

“Telehealth is changing the way providers interact with patients,” Dr. Pressler said. “Telehealth is particularly convenient for our island state, where many segments of our population face challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to geographical constraints. Telehealth can be a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care and provides greater access to healthcare.”

For example, the state’s physician shortage often forces neighbor islands residents to fly to Oʻahu for treatment. These patients — or government programs such as Medicaid — must absorb the added cost of travel and patients must endure long wait times. With telehealth, medical specialists on Oʻahu can treat patients at smaller, neighbor island hospitals that lack such specialists.

Pressler added, “We look forward to working with our partners in the community to develop a strategic plan for telehealth and ultimately improve the way we deliver healthcare for Hawaiʻi’s people.”

For additional information on the summit, call the DOH Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development at (808) 586-4188.

Hawai‘i Ranks Third in Nation in U.S. News’ Best States for Aging Ranking

The State of Hawai‘i ranks third in the country when it comes to states that are best at serving their older population. U.S. News and World Report based its rankings on the cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care and life expectancy.The publication says that Hawai‘i’s residents have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., with its 65-and-older population expected to live 20 years longer than in other states. U.S. News has also found that Hawai‘i has the best nursing home quality in the country.

“It’s part of our culture in Hawai‘i to respect and honor our kupuna or elders. Our programs reflect these values and aim to keep our older population active and contributing members of society,” said Gov. David Ige.

Colorado ranked first, with one of the healthiest and most physically active older populations in the country. Maine is second, where a fifth of the population consists of residents 65 and older, a higher percentage than in any other state.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

In 2016, Americans 65 and older accounted for 15.2 percent of the total population, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2000. Not only are baby boomers aging, but advances in medicine and technology are resulting in a longer life expectancy.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that one in five Americans will be 65 years and older by 2030.

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Hawaii Opposes Travel Ban 3.0

Today the State of Hawaii, Dr. Ismail Elshikh, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, and two prospective Doe plaintiffs filed a proposed Third Amended Complaint in Hawaii v. Trump. The proposed complaint was accompanied by a motion for temporary restraining order.

Click to read

As stated in the memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order:

On September 24, 2017, the President issued a proclamation that imposes an indefinite nationality-based ban on travel and targets an overwhelmingly Muslim population. The President has fulfilled his prior promises: He has issued a “larger, tougher, and more specific” version of the travel ban that this Court and the Ninth Circuit found violative of the Nation’s laws and most basic constitutional commitments.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the new order replicates all of the legal flaws evident in its precursors. It again openly “discriminate[s] * * * in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of * * * nationality.” It still fails, despite its elaborate rationalizations, to make any “find[ing]” remotely adequate to support its sweeping ban of millions of foreign nationals. It exceeds the limits on the President’s exclusion authority that have been recognized for nearly a century, by supplanting Congress’s immigration policies with the President’s own unilateral and indefinite ban. And it continues to effectuate the President’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.

Copies of the proposed third amended complaint and memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order are attached.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Hawaii Tourism Authority Awarding $3.5 Million to Support 124 Hawaiian Culture, Natural Resources and Community Programs in 2018

In keeping with its commitment to foster sustainable tourism in the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is providing funding of more than $3.5 million to 124 programs that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture, protecting natural resources and showcasing community events in 2018.Recipients of the funding are nonprofit groups, community organizations and individuals statewide who have demonstrated through proposals submitted to HTA their dedication to strengthen the enduring qualities of Hawaii’s legacy that distinguish the islands as a place to live and visit.

“Sustainable tourism starts at the community level and that’s the focus of our support for initiatives by groups and individuals who have pledged to make Hawaii a better place for future generations,” said George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO. “Collectively, these community-based programs will help manage tourism’s impacts by preserving the quality of life we treasure as residents through culture, the environment and the sharing of festivals and events ingrained in the traditions of Hawaii’s people.”

Funding is being provided to recipients on all islands for usage in 2018 as part of three HTA program categories: Kukulu Ola, Aloha Aina and Community Enrichment. HTA issued a request for proposals on June 21 with submittals from qualified applicants received by August 4.

  • A total of $1,240,000 is being awarded to 33 recipients that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture through HTA’s Kukulu Ola program. Awardees include community groups, practitioners, craftsmen, musicians and artists committed to strengthening a broader understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian culture through place-based activity engagement. Founded on the value of ma ka hana ka ike (in working one learns), the Kukulu Ola program assists recipients steeped in ike Hawaii to share within communities the Hawaiian values inherent in each respective practice.
  • A total of $1,150,000 is being awarded to 26 recipients that are helping to protect Hawaii’s natural resources through HTA’s Aloha Aina program. Focused on the lasting value of stewardship by responsible community-based entities that emphasize aina-kanaka relationships and knowledge, the Aloha Aina program supports efforts to manage, conserve and revitalize Hawaii’s natural resources and environment.
  • A total of $1,153,300 is being awarded to 65 recipients through HTA’s Community Enrichment program, which supports quality experiences created by communities to be shared with residents and visitors for their enjoyment. The Community Enrichment program invests in a diverse array of festivals, events and year-round programs in support of culture, education, health and wellness, nature, agriculture, sports, technology and voluntourism.

Click here for the listing of awardees receiving funding from HTA.

Hawai`i Department of Health Approves Fourth Dispensary to Begin Retail Sales of Medical Cannabis

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a formal notice to proceed to Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals after the dispensary completed laboratory testing requirements and passed its final onsite inspection. Noa Botanicals is the fourth licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the state (and the second on O‘ahu) to receive approval to begin sales of medical cannabis to registered patients and their caregivers.

The licensed retail center for Noa Botanicals is located at 1308 Young Street in Honolulu, and the dispensary expects to begin sales at the site this month.

“We are continuing to closely work with both the licensed dispensaries and private laboratories in each of the counties to help them meet all of the requirements as efficiently as possible without compromising product or patient safety,” said Keith Ridley, who oversees the medical cannabis dispensary program for the Hawaii State Department of Health.

The rigorous dispensary approval processes to open and begin selling medical cannabis are based on the requirements of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 329D and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Chapter 11-850. Dispensaries are required to comply with all state and county, health, safety, and sanitation regulations, and are subject to unannounced inspections by the Hawaii Department of Health.

The other licensed retail centers are:

  • Maui Grown Therapies, located at 44 Pa‘a Street in Kahului, Maui, which was the first licensed dispensary in Hawai‘i to receive a notice to proceed on Aug. 8, 2017;
  • Aloha Green, in the Interstate Building at 1314 South King Street in Honolulu, received its notice to proceed on Aug. 9, 2017; and
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC, at 415 Dairy Road in Kahului, Maui, was the second Maui dispensary to receive a notice to proceed on Sept. 29, 2017.

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawai‘i. There are three on O‘ahu: Aloha Green Holdings Inc.; Mānoa Botanicals LLC dba Noa Botanicals; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure O‘ahu. There are two in Hawai‘i County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC and Lau Ola LLC. The two Maui dispensaries include Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies; and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. The one dispensary located on Kaua‘i is Green Aloha, Ltd. Each licensed dispensary is an independent business and operates based on their individual business plans.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program is available at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalcannabis/.

Bank of Hawaii Foundation Grants $100,000 for PBS Hawai’i’s HIKI NO

Bank of Hawaii Foundation, an early backer of PBS Hawai‘i’s award-winning HIKI NŌ statewide student digital media initiative, has renewed its support with a $100,000 grant.

HIKI NŌ, primarily an education program, encourages students to hone progressive “real world” learning skills. These skills are showcased in a weekly on-air and online newscast, in which students meet national PBS professional journalism standards.

“Kudos to Leslie Wilcox and PBS Hawai‘i for championing HIKI NŌ and helping students from all islands to develop skills in a digital world,” said Peter S. Ho, Chairman, President and CEO of Bank of Hawaii. “HIKI NŌ students tell the stories of their communities with a voice and perspective that is powerful and authentic.”

Bank of Hawaii Foundation’s support dates back to the launch of HIKI NŌ in 2011. Since then, HIKI NŌ schools have become digital media stand-outs at local and national competitions.

At no cost to schools, HIKI NŌ serves 90 public, private and charter schools across the Islands, middle and high schools. Under the guidance of teachers, participating students create their stories of their communities after school hours. The Hawaii State Department of Education is considering making HIKI NŌ an official elective course in public schools.

Says PBS Hawai‘i Director of Learning Initiatives Robert Pennybacker: “Bank of Hawaii Foundation has helped open career paths to students by enabling them to gain the ability to problem-solve, persevere and meet deadlines with quality digital media work.”

New Phase of Daniel K. Inouye Highway Opens

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are pleased to announce the opening of the final phase of reconstruction on the east side of Saddle Road, now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. The improvement connects the existing highway near milepost 11 to the west end of the Puainako Street extension.

“The importance of the combined Saddle Road Improvement projects as a cross-island route cannot be overstated. It is a huge accomplishment,” said Governor David Ige. “Senator Inouye’s vision when he initiated the Saddle Road Community Task Force in 1993 is an excellent example of government and the community working together to benefit generations to come.”

“This project was of great importance to Dan as it connects east and west, providing safer access for all travelers, as well as economic opportunities for Hawaii Island residents. He tried to make every groundbreaking and celebration, dating back to 2004. I am pleased that the 48-mile road is complete and so honored that it bears Dan’s name,” said Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, wife of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Saddle Road/Daniel K. Inouye Highway task force committee being recognized during the ceremony. DOT Photo

The Saddle Road East Side project encompassed a total of nearly six miles of highway, reconstructing approximately three miles of the existing Daniel K. Inouye Highway, upgrading the roadway to modern design standards and including safety features such as 8-foot shoulder lanes, straighter alignment and a climbing lane, and adding three miles of new road. The project also increased the overall highway capacity and removed potential conflicts between military operations and public traffic. The cost was $57 million, which was within the allocated budget.

This joint project between HDOT and FHWA presented unique challenges such as varying subsurface conditions from aʻa, pahoehoe, dense basalt, and volcanic ash and the need to address precautionary measures necessary for containment, treatment and placement of cleared timber to help prevent the spread of the Rapid Ohia Death fungus.

Funding for the Saddle Road projects was made possible through the U.S. Department of the Army Defense Access Road and Ecosystem Management Programs, U.S. Congress, and Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“The completion of the Saddle Road East Side project provides a safe, efficient, cross-island route with access across Hawaii between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa,” said FHWA’s Central Federal Lands project manager Mike Will. “In addition, the use of the Pohakuloa Training Area quarry resources is estimated to have saved approximately $20 million of state and federal funding.”

Previous phases of the Saddle Road Improvements widened and aligned more than 41-miles of road. The east side phase opened today makes for a total of nearly 48 miles of road that has been improved to modern standards at a total approximate cost of $316.5 million, of which the U.S. Army contributed more than $100 million. Saddle Road was initially built as a one-lane road by the U.S. Army in 1942 to connect military training facilities.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway, State Route 200, begins at the outskirts of Hilo near milepost 6 and extends westward to Mamalahoa Highway State Route 190. The road passes through the saddle between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway climbs nearly 5,500 vertical feet from its eastern terminus to its mid-point. The rainfall gradient along the highway ranges from 10 inches to 200 inches per year, which posed an additional challenge for crews during construction. The 2013 Hawaii Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 to rename the upgraded section of Hawaii Saddle Road to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.