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Hawaii Governor Vetoes Aquarium, Tiny House and Other Bills

Gov. David Ige announced that he has vetoed 13 of 15 bills on his Intent to Veto list.

HB 523 Relating to Recycling and HB 575 Relating to Public Lands will become law.

VETO LIST:

SB 1240         RELATING TO AQUATIC LIFE

This bill requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to define “sustainable” and establish a policy for sustainable collection practices through take limits. This bill also prohibits the DLNR from issuing new aquarium fish permits to use fine meshed traps or fine meshed nets and prohibits the transfer of permits after five years.

Rationale: Since the release of the Intent to Veto List on June 26, this issue has been highlighted across numerous local and national media outlets. The Office of the Governor has received thousands of phone calls and emails from constituents expressing their support for and opposition to this bill. The one thing everyone can agree on is that one of Hawai‘i’s most valuable resources, the coral reef, must be protected. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and Gov. Ige agree that sustainable policies and practices are needed. The governor has no objection to the first part of the bill that requires the DLNR to define “sustainable” and establish policies for sustainable collection.

The DLNR is committed to working with all stakeholders to come up with a better solution. Discussions have begun on “limited entry” aquarium fisheries, expanding Fishery Replenishment Areas (FRAs) to O‘ahu, capping permit numbers, addressing catch limits, and establishing permit fees. Gov. Ige is committed to introducing legislation and/or administrative rules that will properly address all concerns, and create policy that will establish Hawai‘i as the best managed sustainable nearshore fishery in the world.

Regarding this measure, the governor has concerns that the science does not support the claims made in this bill. In West Hawai‘i, where approximately 80 percent of Hawai‘i’s aquarium catch comes from, FRAs were established to reverse the decline in fish populations. The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and the DLNR have collected data over 17 years and completed more than 6,700 surveys in this area, and have found that aquarium fish populations are generally stable or increasing. Unfortunately, there is no similar data for O‘ahu, which is the other location where aquarium fish are caught. Based on the extensive scientific data from West Hawai‘i, it would be premature to phase out aquarium collecting permits.

Furthermore, it must be understood that this bill does not prohibit fish collecting. It simply prohibits the issuance of new permits to use small meshed nets and traps. The meshed nets and traps are an important tool for aquarium fish collectors. There is hope that this will eventually phase out the industry. This would take decades as currently proposed. The worldwide demand for aquarium species could lead to new and more destructive ways of collection.

SB 410           RELATING TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

This measure broadens the scope of collective bargaining negotiations by requiring negotiations on the implementation of terms and conditions of employment, including making these violations grievable by employees who disagree with such working conditions.

Rationale: This bill directly impacts the ability of state departments to effectively manage its workforce by negating management rights to direct its workforce and requiring union consent on such matters as assignment, transfer and discipline.

SB 562           RELATING TO TORT LIABILITY

This bill requires the Attorney General to defend any civil action or proceeding brought in any county, based on any negligent or wrongful act or omission of a lifeguard who provides lifeguard services at a state beach park.

Rationale: This bill is objectionable because it requires the Attorney General to defend the counties for any civil action or proceeding, without exception. Although the liability protections of Act 170 lapsed on June 30, 2017, the Attorney General will defend any civil action or proceeding based on acts or omissions of county lifeguards working on state beaches that are within the scope of the lifeguard’s duties.

HB 1414        RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION

This bill requires the auditor to investigate and report on problems with the Department of Taxation’s tax system modernization project.

Rationale: The Department of Taxation is awaiting the findings and results of an independent verification and validation of the tax system modernization project, a study being done by an independent contractor. The State Auditor also stated that it may be difficult to identify and assess operational issues until the project is completed and there has been sufficient time for the department and users to identify any operational problems.

HB 1309        RELATING TO GRANTS

This measure requires the Director of Finance to seek repayment of operating grants appropriated by the Legislature, if the grantee discontinues the activities or services approved in the grant.

Rationale: This bill is contrary to the intent of Chapter 42F, Hawai‘i Revised Statues, which authorizes the Legislature to appropriate general funds to nongovernmental organizations for operations serving the public, only to require the reimbursement of such funds at a later date. Further, the Director of Finance does not have the capacity to monitor all grantee programs, and relies on each state agency to enforce the provisions of the grant application and contract between the agency and grantee. It would be more appropriate for repayment negotiations to be handled by the expending agency that has had the initial contractual relationship with the grantee, and not the Department of Budget and Finance.

SB 722           RELATING TO EFFICIENCY MEASURES

This measure requires the Director of Finance and a selected state department to develop and implement the efficiency measures pilot project as part of the state’s budget system.

Rationale: Imposing additional requirements for data collection on our state budget system requires re-programming older software on mainframe computers at a time when the state is upgrading its IT systems to cloud-based applications. Limited state resources would be better spent updating our budget IT programs into cloud-based applications.

SB 713           RELATING TO BUDGET DOCUMENTS

This measure requires the six-year program and financial plan and budget to include information on tax expenditures.

Rationale: Chapter 23, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, currently requires the State Auditor to conduct periodic reviews of certain state tax credits, exemptions, exclusions, and deductions, and report such amounts for the previous three years, the current year, and the ensuing two years. These reviews and reports are essentially the same information as the additional reporting required in this bill. The Department of Taxation needs to focus its existing resources on improving tax collections by completing the implementation of our tax system modernization, rather than providing additional reports that may be of limited use to the overall budget process.

SB 1588        RELATING TO GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS

This measure prohibits the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance the repair and maintenance of capital assets where the repair and maintenance costs incurred add value to, and prolong the life of the assets for a period of less than ten years.

Rationale: This measure aims to more closely align the financing of debt with the depreciation of the state’s assets. However, like many other state and county governments, Hawai‘i is faced with a growing number of deferred maintenance projects and a limited pool of operation funds for such projects. Further, the record-keeping necessary to ensure compliance with the tiered structuring of the debt could not be done within existing resources, and would therefore increase the costs of the state’s debt management program.

SB 1073         RELATING TO THE STATE FOUNDATION ON CULTURE & THE ARTS

This measure appropriates funds to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to support its artist fellowship program.

SB 1074        RELATING TO THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HAWAII STATE CAPITOL

This bill appropriates funds to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to plan and coordinate the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Hawai‘i State Capitol.

Rationale for SB 1073 & SB 1074: These bills appropriate funds from the Works of Art Special Fund, which generally consists of proceeds from tax-exempt bonds. Under the Internal Revenue Code, proceeds from tax-exempt bonds cannot be used to finance operating expenses except under limited circumstances. This could potentially jeopardize the fund’s tax exempt status and adversely affect the state’s bond ratings.

HB 2               RELATING TO AGRICULTURE

This bill authorizes the placement of “tiny homes” of 500 square feet or less of living space within the state agriculture district of Hawai‘i County. These “tiny homes” will be used by farm workers or their immediate families on land currently being used for agricultural production.

Rationale: The Hawai‘i County Zoning Code (HCC Chapter 25) already allows for a “farm dwelling” as a permitted use of agricultural-zoned lands. By Zoning Code definition, a “farm dwelling” means a single-family dwelling located on or used in connection with a farm, or if the agricultural activity provides income to the family occupying the dwelling.

In 2015 and 2016, a total of 27 additional farm dwellings were approved by the County of Hawai‘i Planning Department. During that period, all applications for farm dwellings were granted. The administration is committed to working with Mayor Harry Kim and the County of Hawai‘i on addressing the affordable housing issue for farm workers on Hawai‘i Island.

HB 727          RELATING TO MOTORCYCLES

This measure allows the operator of a motorcycle or motor scooter to proceed cautiously between stopped lanes of traffic and on the shoulder lane of highways. The intent is to alleviate congestion and reduce the risk of injury or loss of life.

There is concern that this will compromise road safety. The shoulder lane is designed to accommodate stopped vehicles and emergency vehicles on highways, and bicycles on arterial roadways. While the intent of the bill is to reduce risk or injury or loss of life, there is concern that allowing shoulder lane use to these types of vehicles will instead create more danger for the operators of these vehicles.

HB 627          RELATING TO PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

This measure establishes the Office of Public-Private Partnerships within the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and appropriate funds for a state public-private partnership coordinator position.

Rationale: Rationale: My administration is fully supportive of public-private partnerships when they are shaped in the right way.  Over the past few years, many departments have engaged in exploring public-private partnerships to leverage private monies to improve on the services provided to the public. Recent affordable housing projects such as Kapolei Lofts are prime examples of how the state can partner with private developers to build affordable units on state lands.

However, there is concern that the lone position of a state public-private partnership coordinator will not be sufficient to adequately coordinate interagency collaboration, maintain analysis reports, and develop future public-private partnership opportunities. Having one office manage all public-private partnership contracts, proposals, and negotiations for the state may create a bottleneck that will slow the progress for agencies already involved in these partnerships.

HB 523 Relating to Recycling will become law with the governor’s signature.

HB 575 Relating to Public Lands will become law without the governor’s signature.

Hawai‘i Island Enforcement Officer Recognized with First-Ever Award

Veteran DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Officer James Ridzon has been selected as the first recipient of the DLNR/DOCARE Officer of the Year award.  Ridzon has been with DOCARE for more than eight years and has earned a reputation as an effective investigator and strong protector of Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural resources.

Officer James Ridzon

In announcing the award, DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell said, “I know Jim well from my time as an officer on the Big Island.  His supervisor described him as competent, knowledgeable and capable…exactly the traits I noticed and I would add diligent and extremely competent. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “Officer Ridson’s work ethic and overall efforts exemplify the best in what we expect from our DOCARE officers.”

Ridzon was nominated by his peers and his supervisor.  He has a broad orientation to the job and has consistently been a team player in his current assignment to the North District of Hawai‘i island. Over the weekend Ridzon joined fellow officers in an operation to crack down on illegal entry into the Kohala Restricted Watershed by hikers trying to traverse what has become known as the White Road hike.  He again demonstrated his professionalism in encounters with people who were arrested for trespass into a closed area, by treating them with respect and compassion.  Ridzon said, “My goal was to always work in conservation resources enforcement as it combines my life-long passion for the outdoors with protecting the all of the places and resources Hawai‘i is recognized around the world for.”

As part of this recognition Officer Ridzon will be attending the annual North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers (NAWEOA) conference in Ontario, Canada later this month. NAWEOA is an organization that was formed solely to advance the needs of natural resource and wildlife officers throughout North America. It has membership from all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories. Ridzon will be the first ever, State of Hawai‘i, Officer of the Year to attend.

Hawaii State Legislature Will NOT Convene Override Special Session

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau) and State House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (McCully, Kakaako, Kaheka, Downtown) today announced that the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii State House of Representatives will not convene a special session to override any bills on Governor David Ige’s Intent to Veto list.

On June 23, Gov. Ige notified the legislature of his intent to veto 15 bills passed during the 2017 Legislative Session. The Hawaii State Constitution requires the governor to notify the Legislature of the bills he intends to veto by June 26.

The Governor has until July 11 to officially veto any of these measures by returning them to the Legislature with his statement of objections. The House and Senate will review the Governor’s rationale for returning any measure and consider those concerns next session.

Bills on the Governor’s intent to veto list include:

SB 1240 RELATING TO AQUATIC LIFE

This bill requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to define “sustainable” and establish a policy for sustainable collection practices through take limits. This bill also prohibits the DLNR from issuing new aquarium fish permits to use fine meshed traps or fine meshed nets and prohibits the transfer of permits after five years.

SB 410  RELATING TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

This measure broadens the scope of collective bargaining negotiations by requiring negotiations on the implementation of terms and conditions of employment, including making these violations grievable by employees who disagree with such working conditions.

HB 2 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE

This bill authorizes the placement of “tiny homes” of 500 square feet or less of living space within the state agriculture district of Hawai‘i County. These “tiny homes” will be used by farm workers or their immediate families on land currently being used for agricultural production.

HB 727 RELATING TO MOTORCYCLES

This measure allows the operator of a motorcycle or motor scooter to proceed cautiously between stopped lanes of traffic and on the shoulder lane of highways. The intent is to alleviate congestion and reduce the risk of injury or loss of life.

Click here to view all bills on the Governor’s Intent to Veto list.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Launching “Summer of Resistance and Renewal” Program

This week, the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) is launching their “Summer of Resistance and Renewal,” a nationwide organizing program geared toward engaging and activating party members and activists in the grassroots.

“The goal of the program will be to reconnect Hawai‘i Democrats with one another and with voters, rebuild a sense of political unity, and afford our residents an opportunity to identify mutual areas of concern and address their issues through the vehicle of party activism” said Tim Vandeveer, State Party Chair. “With these efforts, we seek to recruit new members, train new leaders, and increase voter turnout in Hawai‘i by 10% in the 2018 elections.”

Through a fellowship program made possible by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the DPH selected five local organizers, each of whom bring a unique perspective to the program and diverse background in electoral politics, labor organizing, or community activism. DPH leadership engaged traditional allies such as labor organizations, as well as newer grassroots “resistance” groups to apprise them of the project and invite them to participate in the program.

The Hawai‘i organizers recently spent a full week at a training camp in Washington D.C. where they met with DNC leadership and learned about national issues from prominent Democratic elected officials. They also participated in Congressional town halls, Resistance events, and a Healthcare vigil on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Though much of the focus of the national program has focused on converting the energy generated in resistance to the Trump administration into political power during next year’s midterms, Vandeveer feels that this is only part of the goal.

“We cannot focus on resistance alone,” Vandeveer said. “Saying ‘no’ to the cruel and draconian policies of this administration is important, but we must also demand bold action and do the hard work of organizing for social change. We need to renew our historical role as the party of ideas and solutions that benefit working people. This means building upon our proud local history as a party of diversity and inclusion.”

“The ‘Summer of Resistance and Renewal’ begins this month with plans to knock on doors, engage Democratic Party members, host events, and make a difference in our communities. Make sure you’re a part of the movement and find an event near you at resistsummer.com.”

Landmark Cost of Living Reduction Bill to be Signed Into Law

Gov. David Ige will sign House Bill 209, a landmark cost of living reduction bill, into law on Monday, July 10 in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office.

HB 209 establishes a state earned income tax credit, mirroring the federal earned income tax credit, to help low-income workers retain a larger percentage of their yearly income. The bill also permanently extends the higher rates of the refundable food/excise tax credit, which makes it less costly for those in need to afford necessities like food.

“Creating a state-level earned income tax credit is the most significant anti-poverty measure passed by the Legislature in decades,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki.

HB 209 is a financially responsible measure that is financed through the restoration of the highest income tax brackets that existed until 2015.

“HB 209 is all about helping working people keep more of what they make. At its core, it’s a compassionate, fair, and responsible reform to tax policy that helps to alleviate Hawaii’s oppressive cost of living,” said Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, author and introducer of the bill.

According to the Department of Taxation, HB 209 will give $130 million back to low-income families in the first six years of the credit. More than 107,000 people claim the federal earned income tax credit and would potentially be able to claim the state credit. Additionally, the Refundable Food/Excise Portion amounts to $110 per exemption per claimant.

Three Hawaii State Land Use Commissioners Reappointed

Gov. David Ige has re-appointed three members to the Land Use Commission (LUC). They are Nancy Cabral (Hawai‘i County), Linda Estes (Kaua‘i County) and Gary Okuda (At-Large).

Nancy Cabral has served on the LUC since 2013. She is a property manager and the owner of Day-Lum Rentals Management and of Coldwell Banker Day-Lum Properties in Hilo.

Nancy Cabral

She has been an active member of the Rotary Club, is currently involved with Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, the Hawai‘i Island Leadership Council for Hawai‘i Community Foundation and the H.C. Shipman Foundation. In addition, Cabral is a member of the Zonta Club of Hilo, Rotary Club of Hilo, the National Association of Property Managers, the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association and the Hawai‘i Horse Owners Association. She recently received the Athena Award for her success in helping women in the community and work place.

Linda Estes (Photo not available) has served on the LUC since 2015. She retired from the University of New Mexico in 2000 before moving to Koloa on the island of Kaua‘i. Estes previously served as vice president of the Koloa Community Association Executive Board, as a member of the YWCA Executive Board, founding member of the Patsy Mink PAC and she served as Kaua‘i democratic party chair from 2008-2010. While in New Mexico, Estes served as associate athletics director, instructor with the Peace Corp Training Program, director of women’s athletics and assistant professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at the University of New Mexico.

Gary Okuda is an attorney who was appointed to the LUC in 2016. He is a partner and attorney at Leu Okuda and Doi, Attorneys at Law.

Gary Okuda

Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Okuda graduated from Kailua High School before attending Windward Community College and graduating from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He received his law degree from the University of California at Davis and has practiced law in Hawai‘i since 1981, specializing in diverse real estate matters.

The three nominees are considered holdover commissioners. Their re-appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Ninth Circuit Dockets Hawaii Appeal Regarding Scope of Travel Ban

Today the State of Hawaii asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the scope of the travel and refugee bans in Hawaii v. Trump after federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson declined to grant Hawaii’s motion for clarification.

Click to view Ninth Circuit Filing

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in October regarding this case. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ordered that while arguments were pending, people from the six Muslim-majority countries with no connection to the United States may not enter the country, but those with a good faith connection to a U.S. individual or entity may enter. The same standard applies with respect to refugee admissions. Hawaii alleges that the Trump Administration’s guidelines issued on June 29 are overly restrictive and do not comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. That same day, Hawaii asked the federal district court to clarify the Supreme Court’s order.

Yesterday’s order from Judge Watson declined to address the merits of the request and suggested that Hawaii instead seek clarification from the Supreme Court. Judge Watson also stated that he would rule on the merits if instructed to do so by the higher court.

Today’s motion is directed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for first review. This tracks the ordinary process for appeals within the federal courts and is done to indicate to the Supreme Court that Hawaii followed proper procedures in the courts below. Both district courts and courts of appeal routinely interpret Supreme Court decisions.

Attorney General Chin said, “We are now in the middle of a 90-day partial travel ban. The Trump Administration has reserved the option to extend or even expand the travel ban at the end of it. Many felt the balance struck by the Supreme Court was nuanced and fairly reasonable, but the Trump Administration has flouted the Supreme Court’s order from the start. What happens in the next several weeks matters a lot if the administration is not subject to the checks and balances of the courts.”

Today’s motion states in part:

Parties seeking to clarify or enforce an injunction—even an injunction that has been partially stayed by the Supreme Court—must seek relief in the first instance from the district court that issued it. That is precisely what the State of Hawaii and Dr. Elshikh did when they became aware that the Government intended to flagrantly violate the injunction against the President’s thinly veiled Muslim bans. They had obtained the injunction from the District Court of the District of Hawaii to protect their own constitutional and statutory rights, as well as the rights of the citizens of the State of Hawaii and the United States as a whole. They therefore returned to that District Court to ensure that injunction was followed and their rights were vindicated. But the District Court refused to grant this relief, making the assertion—endorsed by no party—that Plaintiffs must seek relief directly from the Supreme Court.

That is wrong. For over a week, the Government has been unlawfully excluding foreign nationals and thereby inflicting irreparable harm on the American individuals and entities with whom they have relationships. For over a week, the Government has been ignoring the dictates of the Judicial Branch, fashioning and imposing a new Muslim ban wholly divorced from any national security rationale. Every day that passes is a day when our Government is turning away human beings—from newborn children to elderly grandparents—whom the injunction requires to be admitted. It is therefore incumbent on this Court to fulfill its traditional role by reversing the District Court’s erroneous holding and issuing the injunctive relief necessary to ensure that Plaintiffs’ statutory and constitutional rights are protected in the manner intended by the District Court, this Court, and the Supreme Court itself.

Agencies Renew Monk Seal Safety Warnings – Mother Seal at Kaimana Beach May Become More Aggressive

Since an endangered Hawaiian monk seal gave birth to a pup on O‘ahu’s Kaimana beach late last month, there haven’t been any reports of people going beyond the established safety corridor. As RH58, known as Rocky, continues to nurse her offspring, marine resource experts predict she may become more aggressive. Today they renewed their encouragement for people to keep a safe distance and abide by signs and ropes that keep both humans and the seals safe.

David Schofield, the Regional Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, said, ”Hawaiian monk seals are for the most part docile, but as with any other wild animals, females protecting their young can be highly aggressive.”

Volunteers from Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) establish safety perimeters whenever seals beach in populated areas in the main Hawaiian Islands. The group’s president Jon Gelman explained, “We are privileged to have the opportunity to see one of the world’s rarest marine mammals, one that only lives in Hawaiian waters, right here in Waikiki. But that privilege comes with the responsibility to view the animals from a safe distance, and to give this seal mom and pup the opportunity to peacefully coexist with us on our beach and in our waters.” He reports that occasionally people walk by who are listening to music and accidentally walk by the signs, but once volunteers get their attention they avoid the closure area. However there has been some drone activity in the area and flying an aircraft within 1000 feet of a marine mammal is prohibited under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This is the second mom and pup pair to show up on an O‘ahu beach in the last month and a half. Just prior to Memorial Day a mother and her pup beached on Moku Nui (Mokulua North) islet, a popular kayaking destination on the windward coast. DLNR working in partnership with NOAA produced a monk seal safety video that is required viewing for people renting kayaks from Kailua-area shops. Shop owners say the video has been very helpful and informative in providing visitors with a frame of reference, calling it an awesome tool. DLNR is now producing a location-generic monk seal information video that will be available free of charge to lodging properties, tour companies, and any others who work directly with visitors. It’s believed the video has helped prevent any human-seal encounters at Moku Nui.

All of the agencies charged with protecting the seals and people are determined to keep animals and humans safe. Kristen Kelly, Program Assistant with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) Marine Wildlife Program said, “Kama’aina and visitors are fortunate to have this opportunity to view a Hawaiian monk seal mom and pup. But these are wild and potentially dangerous animals, especially protective moms like Rocky. Please put the safety of yourself and your family first. If you want to swim, we encourage you to take this opportunity to explore many of Oahu’s other beautiful beaches.”

In 2009 a woman on Kaua‘i was badly injured by a protective mother seal after she went into the water despite being warned. She required reconstructive surgery to her face and forearm. Kurt Lager the Acting Chief of the City & County of Honolulu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services said, “Public safety is the lifeguard’s number one priority. Ocean Safety will continue to warn beachgoers of the hazards of entering the ocean in close proximity to a wild animal.”

Experts predict Rocky and her pup will be at Kaimana for the next eight weeks or so until the pup weans. This also gives the pup time to acclimate once its mother leaves.

Moku Nui Monk Seals from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Hawaii Federal Court Judge Declines to Rule on Request to Clarify Scope of Travel Ban

Hawaii federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson today denied the State of Hawaii’s motion to clarify the scope of the injunction regarding the travel and refugee bans in Hawaii v. Trump.

Click to view 6 page docket

In its order today, the court specifically did not address the substance of either party’s arguments regarding the proper scope of the injunction. Rather, the order focused exclusively on the procedural question regarding which court is the appropriate forum to decide the merits of Hawaii’s motion.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “The key takeaway from Judge Watson’s order is that he declined to address the specific merits of our request to clarify the scope of the injunction of the travel and refugee bans. The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump Administration’s interpretation. While we understand Judge Watson’s direction to address our request to the United States Supreme Court, we must evaluate that against the normal course of order as it relates to appeals and the clarification of injunctions. Whatever course it takes, we will get this resolved.”

10 More Confirmed Cases of Mumps in Hawaii – Total Cases Now Up to 143

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed ten (10) more cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of statewide cases this year to 143. Six (6) of the additional cases of individuals are adults and four (4) are Kauai residents.

None of the individuals required hospitalization and all are recovering. Including this week’s reported cases, there have been eight (8) confirmed mumps cases on Kauai this year. More cases are expected in the coming weeks as mumps is a highly-contagious disease.

Mumps is spread easily through coughing, sneezing and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. Symptoms include fever, headaches, swollen glands in front of the ears or jaw, tiredness and muscle aches.To prevent the spread of mumps in our community, people who are suspected or diagnosed with mumps are advised to stay at home to avoid exposing others and to contact their healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, everyone is asked to review their immunization records to ensure they are fully vaccinated.

All adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps and who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive one MMR dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose. The second dose for adults is recommended at a minimum of four weeks after the first vaccine dose.

All children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The first dose is given at age 12–15 months and the second dose routinely at 4–6 years of age. However, due to the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of also four weeks after the first dose).

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

More information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Gall Wasps Invade Hawaii High School Banyan Trees – Replacing with Golden Trumpet Trees

McKinley High School will begin work on Friday, July 7, 2017, to remove six Banyan trees on its front lawn that have been significantly damaged by an island-wide infestation of gall wasps.  Four damaged Banyans were removed previously in early April as a safety precaution, along with seven more since 2006.  All removed Banyan trees will be replaced with Golden Trumpet (Tabebuia Chrysantha) trees.  Tree removal and planting of the first ten Golden Trumpet replacements are expected to be complete by early August.  Further replacement trees will be installed in future phases.

Six damaged Banyans on the front lawn will be removed beginning Friday, 7/7, and be replaced with Golden Trumpet trees. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“After several unsuccessful attempts to eradicate the gall wasp infestation over the past decade, we’ve concluded this is our best option,” said Assistant Superintendent for school facilities, Dann Carlson.  “We have worked closely with our partners at the state Department of Agriculture and determined that the damaged trees need to be removed before they become a safety hazard to our students.”

One of the Banyans marked for removal shows the damage created by the insect infestations. Bark & branches are beginning to break off as the tree’s health continues to decline. Photo Credit: Department of Education

Gall wasps were first identified on the campus in 2005 at the same time as a wider infestation of Banyan and Wiliwili trees around Oahu.  The wasps burrow into branches and lay eggs into young leaf and stem tissue.  Upon hatching, wasp larvae prevent new leaves from growing and cut exit holes upon departing.  Impacted trees quickly suffer a loss of growth and defoliation before dying.

Past attempts to save the impacted Banyans used a different variety of wasp, Eurytoma Erythrinae, a natural predator of gall wasps, and several chemical insecticide treatments.  Neither solution was successful enough to save the impacted trees.  Lobate lac scale insects were also found attacking the same Banyans, creating further damage.  The upcoming tree removals will have impacted 17 of the 34 campus Banyans since 2006.

Artist’s rendering of future Golden Trumpet tree replacements on McKinley High’s front lawn. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The Banyans will be replaced with Golden Trumpet trees, which are naturally resistant to gall wasps and lobate insects,” said Principal Ron Okamura.  “These trees are will provide similar-sized canopies, shade and a wonderful display of gold blooms every spring on our front lawn, which match McKinley’s school colors.”

During tree removal and replacement work, access to the surrounding areas of the campus will be restricted.  The upcoming removal of the six damaged Banyans will cost approximately $19,000 and the planting of the first ten Golden Trumpet trees will cost approximately $8,500.

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park Showing Recovery and Improvement – Additional Arrests Made

A three day operation last week in the Kalalau section of Kauai’s Napali Coast State Wilderness Park resulted in additional arrests and the dismantling of large, illegal camps in Kalalau Valley.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “Our Divisions of State Parks and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are continuing to work together to restore lawfulness to Napali and address the natural and cultural resources damage created by long-term squatters and their illegal camps. These sustained efforts began more than two years ago and are beginning to pay off. Every week we receive correspondence from people who’ve legally hiked into Kalalau and are commenting on how clean the area is and how the number of illegal camps and campers are greatly diminished.”

State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter and archaeologist Sean Newsome conducted a rapid reconnaissance of cultural sites in Kalalau Valley a week before the combined clean-up and enforcement operation. Carpenter said, “In my 25 years of visiting Kalalau this is the cleanest I’ve ever seen it in terms of rubbish and illegal campers. The degradation to cultural sites is at an all-time high, however, because those impacts are cumulative, representing decades of abuse. Reversing those impacts and restoring sites is a future goal, requiring a combination of documentation, compliance, staffing and community stewardship. Clearly there is additional work to do to protect the important cultural resources and natural resources in this pristine area, but I’m heartened that the keen focus on Kalalau is definitely showing an improved experience for permitted visitors, who are generally not responsible for the degradation of Napali resources.”

A sure sign of improvement and the fact that the no-tolerance for illegal activity “word” is getting out, several DOCARE Officers report that in every contact they made along the trail, hikers had the required state permit. It is required for travel beyond the two-mile marker at Hanakapiai Stream and allows camping only designated camping areas such as the one at Kalalau Beach. During previous enforcement visits to the wilderness park, officers arrested dozens of people for failing to produce a permit.

DOCARE officers arrested six people for closed-area violations. They also eradicated eight young marijuana plants from an abandoned campsite. Squatters have also established elaborate gardens where they’re growing bananas, papaya, taro and other fruits. Officers provided support for a State Parks maintenance team, which removed 15 large illegal camps, plus additional smaller ones and gear stashes. Two and a half tons of rubbish was airlifted by a helicopter in 15 sling loads. Seven State Parks staff and between six and twelve DOCARE officers were involved daily during last week’s operation.

“These combined operations are logistically complex, costly and deplete operational funds that could be applied at other state parks,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “A critical method to enhance public safety, protect significant historic features and to ultimately insure the quality of the wildness experience is to create permanent staff with specific equipment for Kalalau. Dedicated staff will have communication access to deter the return of illegal camping and insure authorized limits, helping eliminate the overuse of composting toilets, provide additional campsite and trail maintenance service on a daily basis, direct campers to the authorized camping areas, further inform campers about on site safety issues and the sensitivity and history of cultural sites, and support both hikers and kayakers who may sustain injuries in this remote and unique wilderness destination,” Cottrell added.

The Division of State Parks is expected to renew its request to the 2018 Hawai‘i State Legislature to provide funding for full-time staff to support the management of Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park.

Travel Ban Parties Rebut Trump Administration’s Interpretation of U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

Today Hawaii filed a reply memo supporting its June 29th request to federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson to clarify the scope of the travel and refugee ban injunction in Hawaii v. Trump, in light of last Monday’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Hawaii’s latest filing is a reply to the opposition memorandum filed by the Trump Administration on July 3rd.

In the Trump Administration’s opposition, it argued that “close familial relationships” should only be those specifically described in certain portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The U.S. Supreme Court, however, already decided that this is not the case. For example, one of the relationships the Supreme Court said was “clearly” close family – Dr. Elshikh’s mother-in-law (and those “similarly situated”) – is not found in any provision of the immigration laws the Trump Administration cites. Yet the Supreme Court still included them as a “close familial relationship” for the purposes of the injunction obtained by Hawaii. Additionally, other immigration laws include the very same close family members the Trump Administration wants to exclude.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “In its 6-3 order, the U.S. Supreme Court used a balancing test that says the travel and refugee bans should not be applied when doing so would inflict a concrete hardship on someone in the United States. The Trump Administration’s guidelines may inflict a concrete hardship by excluding grandparents, uncles, nieces, cousins, and more. This is why we have asked the federal court to clarify the scope of its injunction.”

Hawaii’s reply memorandum states in part:

For five days and counting, the Government has been directing U.S. consulates and refugee processing organizations to deny entry to foreign nationals whose grandparents, aunts, nephews, and other close relatives are waiting for them in this country. At the same time, the Government has barred the doors to numerous refugees with a connection to the United States, even where a resettlement agency has a relationship with a particular refugee that involves the investment of copious resources for pre-arrival planning. These actions plainly “burden * * * American part[ies] by reason of [their] relationship with [a] foreign national,” and so are unlawful.

The Government could have avoided this result. It could have engaged with Plaintiffs in a dialogue that would have brought to light these harms, as well as the multiple additional errors the Government has already corrected. But the Government refused. Indeed, even on the day of the rollout, the Government spent precious hours conducting a conference call not with Plaintiffs, but with reporters. It then issued flawed guidance regarding fiancé admissions that a brief discussion with Plaintiffs would have easily avoided.

In short, the Government elected to implement the stay in a manner that jeopardizes the rights of countless Americans and keeps the Government on the deeply flawed trajectory it has pursued since the release of the first Executive Order.

Hawaii filed its reply memorandum today, one day early, because the people that the Trump Administration has excluded from the definition of “close family members” might already be denied entry into the country.

Click to read full memo

10,000 Attend Waikiki 4th of July Floatilla – Rep. Ing Response

The Coast Guard and local authorities wrapped up a busy Fourth of July holiday handling multiple incidents off Waikiki, Tuesday.

Coast Guard crews partnering with Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and the Honolulu Police Department, rescued more than 30 persons in the water.

The Coast Guard and local authorities wrapped up a busy Fourth of July holiday handling multiple incidents off Waikiki, July 4, 2017. Coast Guard crews partnering with Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and the Honolulu Police Department, rescued more than 30 persons in the water. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Ito/Released)

“Our overall objective yesterday was to ensure everyone was safe on the water and to deter possible violations of federal, state and local law,” said Lt. j.g. Brian Waters, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Enforcement. “Our crews worked closely with HPD, DLNR and Ocean Safety to assist in the rescue of over 30 persons in the water, which included multiple intoxicated and underage youths.”

It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

An estimated 10,000 people were in attendance for the floatilla celebration, which included numerous personnel in various types of watercraft from motorized boats, kayaks, canoes, dinghies to inflatable floats.

Coast Guard crews also recovered over 100 inflatable floats to prevent future unnecessary search and rescue cases.

Sector Honolulu crews dispatched a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Station Honolulu and four 25-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrews from Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu (91107) to conduct safety and security patrols throughout the day.

“We want to thank our state partners for their close coordination and assistance with the floatilla,” said Waters. “The joint effort highlights the importance of our partnership for these large holiday events.”

Representative Kaniela Ing, Chair of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs, responds to the July 4 Floatilla event:

Rep. Kaniela Ing

“Reports of yesterday’s ‘Floatilla’ event are alarming. I know that the Department of Land and Natural Resources and city officials have attempted to address this issue in the past, but it has taken a turn for the worse,” said Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-11, Kihei, Wailea, Makena). “Organizers have had numerous chances to clean it up and keep attendees safe, but nothing has changed for the better. We are talking about public underage drinking, trash on our beaches and in our waters, 10 young people being rushed to the hospital, one 19-year-old woman in critical condition, and lifeguards having to rescue over 100 event goers, all during one party. Look, I’m young, and am all for having fun responsibly, but this has crossed way over the line.”

Ing believes that certain legal loopholes might make enforcement by city officials or DLNR impossible, and it is up to the legislature to amend the law. He plans to explore the issue by introducing and hearing a bill led by the committee he leads.

Nation’s Broadest Wildlife Trafficking Ban Takes Effect

As the “endangered species capital of the world,” Hawai‘i knows first-hand the devastating impacts of losing significant and iconic native species. And now state has taken a historic step in helping to prevent the further loss of critically endangered species within its own borders and abroad.

Senate Bill 2647 (Act 125), sponsored by Senator Mike Gabbard, is the most comprehensive U.S. state law targeting the illegal wildlife trade. The bill prohibits the sale, offer for sale, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter for any part or product of any species of elephant, mammoth, rhinoceros, tiger, great ape, shark and ray, sea turtle, walrus, narwhal, whale, hippopotamus, monk seal, lion, pangolin, cheetah, jaguar, and leopard, all identified as threatened with extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act.  This law does not prohibit the mere possession of such items.

While the bill passed in the 2016 legislature, enforcement of the law was delayed until June 30, 2017, to grant individuals and businesses with wildlife products in their possession time to lawfully dispossess of the items. The law also provides continued reasonable exemptions for bona fide antiques, musical instruments, guns and knives, and traditional cultural practices.

“I worked on this issue for a number of years after learning that a 2008 investigation identified Hawai‘i as having the 3rd largest ivory market in the US, only behind New York and California. Many may not be aware that globally, wildlife trafficking falls right behind, and often hand in hand with illegal drugs, weapons and human trafficking crimes. Act 125 now serves as a model for other states and nations to emulate,” said Senator Mike Gabbard.

“Wildlife trafficking remains a high priority for enforcement. We support any legislation that recognizes the importance of protecting species that are at risk of exploitation. Hawai’i is doing its part to be globally aware of this issue”, said the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell.

In the past 4 years, a number of states across the U.S. have pushed for stricter laws to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking.  New York, New Jersey, California and most recently Nevada have each passed laws prohibiting the purchase and sale of products made with elephant ivory and rhino horn and other imperiled species.   Washington and Oregon enacted similar measures through ballot initiatives. State measures are a critical tool to complement federal and international efforts to combat transnational wildlife crime.

The Hawai‘i bill was supported by local residents and dozens of grassroots and national conservation and animal protection groups including The Humane Society of the United States, Conservation Council for Hawaii, NSEFU Wildlife Foundation and the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Vulcan Inc., International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Information Public Meetings for Hawaii County’s FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is at the end of a multi-year effort to update and modernize the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Hawai‘i County.  The FIRM has been finalized and will become effective on September 29, 2017.  The opportunities to appeal the maps were over last year.  The FIRM will help community officials better identify known flood risks and will be used for flood insurance, land use, development, and regulatory purposes.  Use of the FIRM is required for the County’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes the County eligible for federal disaster aid in the event of a federally declared natural disaster.

The main purpose of these informational public meetings is:

To inform property owners, residents, and interested parties about the impacts the final Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) will have on flood insurance.  It will help them make an informed decision about flood insurance options and flood protection measures.  The details on the two informational public meetings are shown below:

  • Hilo – Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi St., Suite 1, Hilo, HI  96720, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Kona – Thursday, July 13, 2017, West Hawaii Civic Center, Bldg. G, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua Kona, HI  96740, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.,

Two short formal presentations will start at 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The meetings will be an open house format with multiple stations

(The stations will discuss a structure’s particular flood zone, flood insurance, building criteria, etc.)

Personnel from FEMA, State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Hawai‘i County will be available to answer questions, concerns, and provide information on flood insurance and property specific flood zone determinations.

The final FIRMs are currently available for viewing at the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works Engineering offices at either 101 Pauahi St., Suite 7 in Hilo (808 961-8327) or 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Hwy., Building D, 1st  floor of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona (808 323-4850). They are also available for online viewing on the State of Hawai‘i’s Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT) at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat.  To learn how to view the preliminary maps using the FHAT, click on the tutorial link provided on the Hawai‘i NFIP Website http://dlnreng.hawaii.gov/nfip/.

Be advised that flood insurance rates will be based on the new flood data.  If a property is mapped into a high-risk area (an SFHA labeled with letters starting with “A” or “V”) on the new FIRM and the owner has a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, flood insurance will be required when the FIRM becomes effective.  Property owners who obtain flood insurance before the FIRM becomes effective may be able to benefit from the NFIP’s “grandfathering” insurance rating process and pay a lower premium.

Everyone is at some risk from flooding, even those behind levees or in low or medium-risk areas. Therefore, FEMA encourages everyone to purchase flood insurance.  Property owners should contact their insurance agent or visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more information.

If you require special accommodations or auxiliary aid/ and or services to participate in this meeting, (i.e. Sign language interpreter, large print,) please call (808) 961-8321 by July 10, 2017.

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on the Request for Voter Roll Data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

Governor Ige’s Statement on the request for voter roll data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The State of Hawai‘i has received no request for voter roll data from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  Taking a look at what other states have received, I’m skeptical.  At this point, we have no assurance that personal information would be secured.  It also appears that the commission aims to address voter fraud.  By all accounts, incidents of actual voter fraud are extremely rare.  I’m concerned this type of investigation would lead to a denial of voter access.  When we get the request, I will share my concerns with state and county elections officials.

From what I’ve heard, I don’t think we should share these records.

Newly Enacted Laws Support Women’s Health, Improves Healthcare Access, Protects Children

Members of the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC) were on hand as Governor David Ige signed several measures into law which provide greater assurance for families who utilize child care services, supports women’s health and access to healthcare, and addresses the growing opioid abuse epidemic.

The three measures signed into law were part of a package of bills submitted this session by the WLC.  An additional resolution, HCR 158, was adopted by the Legislature. HCR 158 encourages the continuation and expansion of community-based work furlough programs to assist female inmates transition back into society.

The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan organization comprised of women legislators in the House and Senate, as well as the County level, who support an agenda designed to improve the lives of women, children, and families in Hawai‘i.

“I’m pleased the Governor joins us in striving to make our state stronger by supporting women and families,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (S Dist. 6 – South and West Maui) and WLC Co-convener. “It’s a joy to work alongside these women legislators who consider the health, safety and well-being of the women and families of our state as a priority.”

“We are a caucus that is persistent. We not only passed bills, we also passed key resolutions that really build upon the collaboration of state, county and community stakeholders,” said Representative Della Au Bellati (H Dist. 24 – Makiki, Tantalus, McCully, Pawa‘a, Mānoa) and WLC Co-convener. “Signing the bill is just one thing, we now have to implement these measures. So, by partnering with our department agencies and folks within the communities, we make sure these bills actually deliver on the policies we put in place.”

The House and Senate bills signed by the Governor today:

SB505 SD1 HD2 CD1 (Act 66) Relating to Health

Requires prescribing healthcare providers to adopt and maintain policies for informed consent to opioid therapy in circumstances that carry elevated risk of dependency. An informed consent process is considered a best practice in tackling over prescriptions of opioids. Establishes limits for concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. Clarifies Board of Nursing authority to enforce compliance with Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Repeals 6/30/2023.

SB513 SD1 HD2 CD1 (Act 67) Relating to Contraceptive Supplies

Authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptive supplies to patients regardless of a previous prescription, subject to specified education and procedural requirements. Enables pharmacists to be reimbursed for prescribing and dispensing contraceptive supplies.

SB514 SD1 HD1 CD1 (Act 68) Relating to Health

Authorizes pharmacists to administer the human papillomavirus, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), meningococcal, or influenza vaccine to persons between eleven and seventeen years of age. Specifies requirements pharmacists must meet prior to administering the human papillomavirus, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), meningococcal, or influenza vaccine.

City and County of Honolulu Donates Buses to Hawai’i County Mass Transit

Hawai’i County Mass Transit will soon take delivery of seven buses donated by the City and County of Honolulu, a much-needed boost to the Big Island’s beleaguered bus fleet.

The seven buses, built in 1997, have been retired from service on O‘ahu, but are still in working condition. According to a press release from Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office, similar buses have a typical lifespan of a million miles, and are still used in TheBus operations.

Pictured (left to right): Hawai‘i County Mass Transit Administrator Curtis Sharp, Mayor Caldwell, O‘ahu Transit Services General Manager Roger Morton, Honolulu Transportation Services Deputy Director Jon Nouchi.

Honolulu has regularly donated retired buses to Hawai’i, Maui and Kaua‘i Counties. The most recent donation to the Big Island was five buses in 2014. This year’s entire allotment of seven buses to the Neighbor Islands went to the Big Island due to its urgent needs.

The donated buses this time are expected to go into service here during the week of July 10.

Mass Transit consultant Curtis Sharp said that the donation was sorely-needed, with many of the HeleOn fleet sidelined. Five of the seven donated buses will replace five vehicles needing maintenance; repairs will proceed with an eye to getting a total of 10 buses on the road.

“We’re shooting for the end of July to have 10 buses running effectively,” Sharp said. “The two remaining donated buses will serve as back-ups.”

O‘ahu Transit Services maintenance personnel have kept thorough maintenance records of these vehicles and are turning over these records, preventative maintenance schedules, and service manuals to ensure Hele-On’s maintenance team a successful transition into their fleet.

“We sincerely appreciate the hand that Honolulu has offered us,” Sharp said. He thanked Young Brothers for waiving shipment charges for the buses.

Dead Snake Found in Kauai Garden & Preserve

A jogger came across a dead snake on her morning jog today along Kuhio Highway in Haena, Kauai. The woman who found the snake is an intern with the Limahuli Garden & Preserve, which is near to where the snake was found. Another employee from the preserve retrieved the snake and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the snake soon after it was reported.

The snake has been identified as a boa constrictor measuring about five feet in length. It is not known at this time what the sex of the snake is or how it died. It will be transported to Honolulu and arrangements have been made with a zoologist at the Bishop Museum who will examine and catalog the snake.

Both the Limahuli Garden & Preserve and HDOA are very concerned that this snake was found in an area that is a preserve for many endangered native birds and other biota.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America.  They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.