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Hemp Day at the Capitol

State Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 20 – Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and Waipahu), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment, will lead a day focused on the production and uses of industrial hemp at the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 29th.

Waimanalo, Oahu Hemp field blessing on April 15, 2015

“Hemp is an incredible crop that has big potential in our islands”, said Senator Gabbard. “This is an opportunity to bring some attention to what kind of exciting opportunities are just around the corner as our state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program is rolled out. I’m confident hemp will be a niche crop for our farmers that will make good use of the Hawai‘i brand.”

The day begins with a floor presentation in the State Senate Chambers at 11:30 a.m. as Senator Gabbard honors Dr. Harry Ako, Principal Investigator of the Industrial Hemp Research Project, and his team for their efforts in proving industrial hemp can grow well in Hawai‘i. In December 2015, the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources released a report on a successful, two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research project that was conducted in Waimanalo in compliance with Act 56 (2014): https://www.hawaii.edu/offices/eaur/govrel/reports/2016/act56-slh2014_2016_industrial-hemp_report.pdf

The Senate floor presentation will be followed by a joint Informational Briefing at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 224 to provide an update about industrial hemp research, the current status of the state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, and the future of hemp development in Hawai‘i.

The informational briefing will include presentations by the following:

The hearing notice can be accessed at this link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_AEN-AGR_03-29-17_INFO_.HTM

For questions about the informational briefing, contact the office of Senator Mike Gabbard at 586-6830.

Hawaii Death With Dignity Bill Killed

The House Health Committee today deferred Senate Bill 1129, the medical aid in dying bill, effectively killing the measure for this session.

In announcing the decision, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Chair of the House Health Committee, said this was not the time to move the “aid in dying” bill forward.

“Our community is divided on this issue. Our job is to consider a full range of policy options and consequences, and base our decisions on data and evidence,” Belatti said. “We must balance the right to choose with protecting those who are most vulnerable. There must be a broader discussion about safeguards and oversight to this ‘aid in dying’ proposal.”

SB 1129 SD2 would establish a medical aid in dying act that establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may obtain a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

Dozens of community members on both sides of the issues testified before the committee.

Several committee members said there were problems with the details in Senate Bill 1129 and the issues needs more discussion and input from healthcare providers and government regulators.

Currently, six states have legalized aid in dying — Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Montana, and Vermont.

“Dear Republican Leaders” – Hawaii Representative Explains Why She Quits the Republican Party

Dear Republican Leaders,

Since becoming a member eight years ago, I’ve suggested our local party should reflect our uniquely diverse community. And I believed that if I was committed to this cause, I could help attract more people to the party.

But, a little more than a year ago, a fellow caucus member told me “We are the party of middle America.  I don’t care if the demographics don’t fit.” He declared that Republicans are the national majority and that it is our responsibility to represent “middle American” values here in Hawaii.

It was in that moment that I was finally able to identify the colonial mindset I’d unknowingly run up against for years. No ethnic group in our state is a majority, and more than 70 percent of the population isn’t white. But our Hawaii Republican Party leaders wanted us to adopt “middle American” values instead of holding on to Republican principles that also reflect our own local values, such as responsible stewardship over things like wealth and power.

This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women. So, when I listened as our now top office holder refused to condemn the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, speaking out didn’t seem like a choice.

A little over a year ago, I was in Washington, D.C. with a group of Republican friends talking about my concerns with Donald Trump’s candidacy and, more specifically, his suggestion about a Muslim registry. They told me it was just rhetoric. I reminded them that a registry was only one step away from internment camps. Less than an hour later, we saw the breaking news headline, “Trump says he may have supported Japanese Internment.” As a woman and the only Japanese-American in our (then) seven-member caucus, I had something valuable to add about why our party continues to lose.

My Japanese-American grandparents owned a small grocery store in Hawaii during World War II with a small house attached to the back where my father’s family all lived in cramped space. When word spread through the community that the government was placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps, my grandpa destroyed everything written in Japanese, smashed my family’s beautiful Japanese dolls, and buried everything else that would make them look “less American” in the backyard.

Despite his devastatingly heroic actions, they took my grandpa anyway. He was fortunate enough to be detained for only a few hours, however, thousands of families across the United States weren’t so lucky.

Every immigrant group has a story of hardship and suffering. Every woman has a story about sexism or inequality. Most people’s stories are worse than mine. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in life, and I truly believed that the Republican Party was a group that believed in creating more opportunities for everyone.

President Trump’s meteoric success and his unabashed prejudices should have forced our party to address the elements of racism and sexism within the base. But for years, the party allowed it, fearing Democrats, primaries and third-party challenges. With electoral successes across the nation, concerns about disenfranchising minority voters are being buried. The party has ended conversations about how Republican rhetoric and actions threaten any ability to win amongst an increasingly diverse electorate.

So, I continued to speak out. The day after the inauguration, I spoke at the Hawaii’s Women’s March. I said we should all agree that the campaign remarks made by our president about women and minorities were unacceptable, and that it was our responsibility, regardless of who we voted for, to show our kids that everyone should be treated with respect.

A call for kindness and respect should have been a non-partisan message, but it was controversial within the party. Within 24 hours, calls for my resignation or censure abounded. My caucus told me that they would remove me from leadership unless I promised to not criticize the president for the remainder of his term. That was a promise I simply could not make.

Since I became a Republican eight years ago, I’ve served the party at every level from envelope stuffer to party chair. And, I’ve served our Republican legislators as a file clerk, an office manager, a research director and eventually, the Minority Leader. I dedicated myself to making the Republican party a viable, relevant party in Hawaii. But, what I’ve experienced over the last eight years is that the GOP doesn’t want to change.

The leaders that remain in the party either condone the problems I’ve identified or they agree with me but are unwilling to stand up and fight. For those reasons, I am resigning from the Republican party.

If I chose to stay, I would simply become an obstructionist in a political party that doesn’t want to hear my voice or my message. I don’t believe that I can make a difference in the Hawaii Republican Party, but I still believe there’s hope for other Republicans in other states.

I want to see all Americans fight for diversity of opinion, moderation, minorities, women, and ultimately, a better party system. Without confronting this problem, Republicans across the country will inevitably discover what it’s like to be a super minority, or a Republican in Hawaii. No matter how many walls are built and travel bans enacted, America’s demographics will keep changing, and the Republican party can’t keep marginalizing voices like mine and the people that care about what I’m saying.

Thank you,

Representative Beth Fukumoto

Hawaii House Budget Includes $360.8 Million for Big Island Capital Improvement Projects

Big Island legislators secured more than $360.8 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in the recently passed House proposed budget.

The two largest single amounts were in transportation: $89 million for the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension and $64.8 million for projects at the Kona International Airport.

The budget includes a total of nearly $1.9 billion for FY2018 and $926 million for FY2019 for capital improvement projects throughout the state.

The budget bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

These numbers do not reflect numerous statewide projects, which includes work in all counties.

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

GENERAL

  • $4.3 million for a new maintenance shop for the Hawaii Army National Guard at Keaukaha Mililtary Reservation
  • $5.5 million for Hawaiian Home Lands to build a Kau water system
  • $4.5 million to renovate the Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center
  • $2 million to create a telehealth unit at Hilo Medical Center
  • $850,000 to build a West Hawaii Vet’s Center
  • $500,000 for Hawaiian Home Land for development of Kaumana subdivision
  • $300,000 for repairs to state-owned roads to benefit agricultural producers
  • $300,000 to build a throw away ditch and drainage area at Puupulehu Reservoir
  • $250,000 to build a swimming are at Pohoiki

SCHOOLS

  • $7.2 million for Hilo High School to upgrade the track and field and renovate building B
  • $6 million for Waikeawaena Elementary School to renovate and expand the cafeteria
  • $3.6 million for Kealakehe High School to build a synthetic track and plan a performing arts center
  • $3.4 million for Kohala Middle School to build a play court/assembly area
  • $1.2 million for Naalehu Elementary School for covered walkways $950,000 for Hilo Intermediate School to renovate the locker rooms
  • $700,000 for Hawaii Community College, Palamanui campus for improvements for the trade and apprenticeship program and to convert a classroom to a physics lab
  • $500,000 for Pahoa Elementary School to plan a new cafeteria and administration building
  • $450,000 for Hawaii Community College, Hilo campus to reroof the automotive building
  • $400,000 for Paauilo Elementary School to renovate a the home economics classroom to meet state health standards for a certified kitchen
  • $186,000 for Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino for campus-wide repair work

TRANSPORTATION

  • $89 million for the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension from the Hilo terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway
  • $64.8 million for the Kona International Airport for a new agriculture inspection station, an aircraft rescue and fire fighting center, install an emergency generator, build a federal inspection station, replace the perimeter fence, renovate the restrooms
  • $55.3 million for the Hawaii Belt Road for improvements to drainage, rockfall protection, repairs to the Umauma Stream Bridge, replace an arch-deck bridge near Papaikou, and replace Wailuku Bridge
  • $40 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements and widening
  • $16.6 million for Hilo International Airport to reconstruct the aircraft aprons, improve the Arcade building, build noise attenuation dwelling at the Keaukaha subdivision, improve the ticket lobby, holdrooms, and restrooms
  • $14.3 million for Mamalahoa Highway drainage improvements, replacing Hilea Stream Bridge, replacing Ninole Bridge and guardrail and shoulder work
  • $13 million to replace the one-lane 4 mile Creek Bridge for commuters between Hilo and Puna
  • $8 million for Kawaihae Road to replace Waiaka Stream Bridge and realign the approaches
  • $3 million for Akoni Pule Highway for widening and guardrails on the Pololu Valley side of Aamakao Gulch
  • $2 million to build acceleration lanes on Highway 11
  • $2 million for guardrail and shoulder improvements on state highways
  • $1.1 million for Kawaihae North and South Small Boat Harbor for paving and drainage improvements
  • $1 million for Upolu Airport to install a security system and replace a storage shed
  • $600,000 for traffic operational improvements to existing intersections and highway facilities

Contact Information:

Representative Richard Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) (808) 586-9605 repcreagan@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala) (808) 586-8510 repevans@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) (808) 586-6530 repsanbuenaventura@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau) (808) 586-8400 replowen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo) (808) 586-6680 repnakashima@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Richard Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano) (808) 586-6120 reponishi@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Chris Todd (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea) (808) 586-8480 reptodd@capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii Senate Forwards 384 Bills Pass on Third Reading

Hawai‘i State Senators today approved 318 bills on third reading. Sixty-six bills were approved earlier on third reading for a total of 384 measures that have been transmitted to the House for consideration.

The bills align with the 2017 Senate Legislative Program the Senate Majority recognized as priorities ahead of session convening.

“Before the start of the legislative session, Senators worked collaboratively to set out and establish the top concerns for each of our districts and for the State.  The Legislative Program provides a directive of how to move forward to achieve our initiatives that will improve the quality of life in our communities and our state,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “Many of these principals are embedded in the bills being transmitted to the House.”

The following are a few of the measures to pass on third reading:

Ola Lehulehu (People and Communities)

Affordability

S.B. No. 964, S.D. 1 Establishes that emergency shelters may provide partitioned space for homeless persons or families based upon guidelines determined by the department of human services. Extends the effective date for Act 234, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2016, by one year.

S.B. No. 1244, S.D. 2  Authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable units developed with government assistance when a government entity waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit. Authorizes counties to waive a first right of refusal to repurchase a privately-developed affordable housing unit built pursuant to a unilateral agreement or similar instrument.

S.B. No. 912, S.D. 2 Expands the Down Payment Loan Program to provide greater assistance for eligible borrowers to become first-time homebuyers.

S.B. No. 2, S.D. 2 Requires the auditor to conduct a study to assess the impact of using medicaid funds to provide coverage for the treatment for homelessness. Requires the auditor to submit a report to the legislature.

Education

S.B. No. 683, S.D. 2 Proposes amendments to the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i to advance the State’s goal of providing a public education for the children of Hawai‘i by authorizing the legislature to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations.

S.B. No. 686, S.D. 2  Establishes an education surcharge on residential investment properties and visitor accommodations for the purpose of funding public education.

S.B. No. 500, S.D. 2 Establishes the R.E.A.C.H (resources for enrichment, athletics, culture, and health) program in the Department of Education’s community engagement office to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Requires the community engagement office to report to the legislature. Establishes that the R.E.A.C.H. program will be run by a program specialist to be appointed by the governor. Establishes a special fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program.

Social Services

S.B. No. 534, S.D. 2  Requires the executive office on aging to establish the kupuna caregivers program to assist community members in obtaining care for elders while remaining in the workforce. Makes establishment of the kupuna care program mandatory rather than discretionary. Clarifies the kupuna service and support options provided by area agencies on aging within the kupuna care program. Appropriates funds for establishing and implementing the kupuna caregivers program.

Health Care

S.B. No. 1129, S.D. 2 Establishes a medical aid in dying act that establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may obtain a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

S.B. No. 384, S.D. 2 Authorizes and establishes procedures and criteria for prescriptive authority for clinical psychologists who meet specific education, training, and registration requirements, including requiring prescribing psychologists to adhere to all applicable statutory regulations. Requires the board of psychology to report to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2021.

S.B. No. 347, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for establishing, staffing, and operating two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

S.B. No. 1312, S.D. 2  Establishes the board of midwifery to regulate the practice of midwifery by certified midwives and certified professional midwives. Requires licensing of certified midwives and certified professional midwives to commence beginning on July 1, 2020. Requires the department of commerce and consumer affairs to convene a working group of interested stakeholders and submit a report to the legislature.

S.B. No. 380 Permits licensed dental hygienists in the State to operate under general, rather than direct, supervision of a licensed dentist.

S.B. No. 510, S.D. 2  Formally establishes the Hawai‘i keiki healthy and ready to learn program within the Department of Education. Establishes a special fund and appropriates moneys to expand and sustain the program and for an evidence-based vision screening tool. Appropriates funds to establish school health service coordinator positions in DOH and DHS.

Food Security

S.B. No. 624, SD2  Requires the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the office of the Governor, to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and exports by 2020. Requires the Department of Agriculture to submit the strategic plan to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2018 in order to codify the strategic plan and benchmarks. Makes an appropriation.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu (Preparedness)

Community Development

S.B. No. 640, S.D. 2  Establishes a model project at a location selected by DLNR to designate areas for planting and growing coconut trees for Hawaiian traditional and customary gathering practices. Appropriates funds for the model project.

S.B. No. 1200, S.D. 2  Appropriates funds to the department of accounting and general services to create a master plan and environmental impact statement for the construction of a new Aloha Stadium.

S.B. No. 1148, S.D. 2  Appropriates moneys for the executive director of the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority to conduct a feasibility study regarding: (1) the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority assuming the role of planning, developing, and redeveloping all state-owned lands, except lands administered by the Hawai‘i public housing authority, within one mile of the Honolulu rail transit system; and (2) creating a new community development district along the Honolulu rail corridor. Requires report to legislature.

S.B. No. 1183, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that 10% of revenues from the county surcharge on state tax be withheld to reimburse the State for administrative costs. Sunsets if an ordinance that allows the capital costs of a rapid transportation system to be paid from county funds is not enacted before December 31, 2017. Requires the mayor of the county to submit certain plans with respect to the rapid transportation system.

S.B. No. 767, S.D. 2  Establishes the high-growth grant program and special fund to provide grants to qualified businesses for certain business development activities. Makes appropriations.

Government Services

S.B. No. 334, S.D. 2 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

S.B. No. 655, S.D. 2  Allows the news media, under certain conditions, to access areas that are closed pursuant to emergency management powers of the governor and mayor. Limits the liability of the State and counties. Specifies that the State, counties, and emergency management authority are not responsible for providing logistical support to media accessing emergency areas.

S.B. No. 511, S.D. 2  Requires DHS to publish reports of child care facility inspections beginning on 1/1/2018, and complaint investigations on DHS’s website. Creates an oversight committee for implementation of and compliance with publication requirements. Requires annual reporting to the Legislature. Makes an appropriation.

S.B. No. 21, S.D. 2  Increases monetary penalties for violating the laws relating to child care facilities. Authorizes the Department of Human Services to refer to the attorney general or respective county prosecutor any intentional, knowing, or reckless violation of the laws relating to child care facilities or certain criminal offenses.

S.B. No. 522, S.D. 1 Strengthens the safe sleep policy for child care facilities for children less than one year of age, including requiring placement of children on their backs for sleeping and establishing notice and annual training requirements; requires such facilities to report death of a child, employee, or household member, within one day of occurrence, to DHS.

Financial Analysis

S.B. No. 1290, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that a certain amount of the allocation of transient accommodations tax revenues to the tourism special fund be used for the development and implementation of initiatives to take advantage of expanded visa programs and increased travel opportunities for international visitors to Hawai‘i. Increases the allocation to the counties from $93,000,000 to $108,000,000 for fiscal years beginning after 6/30/2017.

S.B. No. 382, S.D. 2 Makes various updates to the structure and operations of the public utilities commission to increase efficiency and effectiveness, including: establishing guiding principles; establishing docket review and decision-making processes; permitting teleconference and videoconference abilities; specifying senior staff members who must file public financial disclosures; beginning 01/01/18, increasing the number of commissioners to five; updating the composition of the commission; specifying training requirements; clarifying commissioners’ ability to appoint and employ staff; clarifying the roles of the executive officer and chief counsel; permitting neighbor island members to receive per diem compensation and compensation for travel expenses; requiring the commission to report to the legislature regarding certain staff duties; and requiring a management audit of the commission.

Aloha Honua (Climate Change and Energy)

Environment

S.B. No. 1150, S.D. 2 Prohibits the use or application of sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic containing oxybenzone while on a beach or in the ocean unless the sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic is a prescription drug.

S.B. No. 700, S.D. 1 Amends the offense of cruelty to animals in the first degree to include indigenous birds.

S.B. No. 1239, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for research on prevention and mitigation of Rapid Ohia Death.

Sustainability

S.B. No. 352, S.D. 1 Appropriates moneys to and from the agricultural loan revolving fund.

S.B. No. 803, S.D. 2 Establishes an income tax credit to assist farmers with expenses associated with compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Establishes the Food Safety Modernization Act special fund.

S.B. No. 612, S.D. 2 Repeals language requiring documentation of animal feed development costs to be effective for feed development costs incurred after July 1, 2016. Appropriates unspecified funds to the Department of Agriculture for the feed developer grant program and reimbursements to qualified producers for feed costs.

S.B. No. 559, S.D. 1 Enacts relevant provisions of the Paris Agreement as Hawai‘i state law. Requires annual reports. Makes an appropriation.

Pono Kaulike (Transforming Justice)

Rehabilitation

S.B. No. 1039, S.D. 2  Requires PSD to work with the Social Security Administration to enter into an agreement to obtain replacement social security cards for inmates. Requires PSD, in conjunction with DOH, DOT, and the examiner of drivers of each county, to provide Hawaii-born inmates with copies of birth certificates and driver’s licenses or civil ID cards free of charge. Requires PSD to assist inmates born outside of Hawai‘i to obtain birth certificates and photo IDs. Requires PSD to initiate the process of obtaining social security cards, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and civil ID cards at least ninety days prior to release for inmates released to work furlough, extended furlough, or community placement programs.

Public safety

S.B. No. 221, S.D. 2 Establishes the photo red light imaging detector systems program. Authorizes counties to administer the program. Requires proceeds of fines to be expended in the county from which they were collected for operation of the program. Makes an appropriation. Establishes Red Light Running Committee.

S.B. No. 518, S.D. 2 Requires barber, beauty operator, and instructor licensees under the board of barbering and cosmetology to complete a one-time, three-hour training program on intimate partner violence awareness and education.

S.B. No. 664 Increases fines for persons who commit the offense of driving a motor vehicle at an excessive speed.

S.B. No. 421, S.D. 2  Establishes requirements for body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers. Establishes policy guidelines for the use and discontinuance of use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Establishes certain restrictions on the use of body-worn cameras by on-duty law enforcement officers. Adds retention and deletion requirements for body-worn camera footage. Prohibits certain uses of body-worn camera video footage. Establishes violations of recording and retention requirements. Appropriates funds as a grant-in-aid to each county for the purchase of body-worn video cameras; provided that no funds appropriated to a county shall be expended unless matched dollar-for-dollar by the county. Requires the county police departments to report costs of implementing and maintaining the body-worn camera program to the legislature.

S.B. No. 424, S.D. 1 Requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s discharge or second suspension in a five-year period. Requires disclosure of certain information under the Uniform Information Practices Act after a police officer’s second suspension in a five-year period.

S.B. No. 261, S.D. 1  Prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle in which a person under the age of eighteen is present. Requires the Department of Health to report on the enforceability of this Act and coordination of related data collection activities of the respective law enforcement agencies.

S.B. No. 494, S.D. 2  Requires persons charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant to be fitted with a continuous alcohol monitoring device if the person: (1) has a prior conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant within the past five years; or (2) is currently pending criminal investigation or prosecution for one or more prior charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. Establishes a process for certain persons to receive financial relief for the cost of the monitoring devices.

S.B. No. 898, S.D. 2  Allows law enforcement to seize and retain firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by a person who poses a serious risk of violence or harm to public safety, pursuant to court order.

A complete list of bills passed by the Senate to date is available at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii House and Senate Become First in Nation to Pass Bills Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns

PRESS CONFERENCE: On passage of bills requiring presidential candidates to release

  • WHO:  REP. CHRIS LEE, SEN. KARL RHOADS WITH COMMON CAUSE AND THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
  • WHAT:  Press conference to discuss HB1581 HD1 and SB150 SD1 requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the Hawaii ballot
  • WHEN:  Wednesday, March 8 10 a.m.
  • WHERE:  At the Eternal Flame Memorial across Beretania Street from the Hawaii State Capitol

State Representative Chris Lee and State Senator Karl Rhoads join Common Cause the League of Women Voters, and other stakeholders to announce the passage of HB1581 out of the House and SB150 out of the Senate. Both bills require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot or secure the vote of Hawaii electors.

“The president and vice president are the only federal offices exempt from conflict of interest laws, so the only way to be sure the president is making decisions in the nation’s interest rather than his own businesses is to transparently disclose his financial interests,” said Rep. Lee.

“For decades presidential candidates have publically released their tax returns.  The information is valuable to voters when they decide who to vote for President and Vice President.  That’s why I introduced the Senate bill.” said Sen. Rhoads.

Examples of potential conflicts of interest have already been widely reported in the media, such as President Trump’s partial investment in the parent companies of the firm building the Dakota Access pipeline, a situation in which the president intervened upon taking office. However, other conflicts that could compromise decision-making may not be as apparent unless additional information from the president’s tax returns is made public.

According to President Trump’s financial disclosure, he has investments in or owns companies in at least 20 different countries. Unlike his domestic business, President Trump could run afoul of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution by continuing to profit off these deals. In addition to emoluments, the president’s foreign policy decisions could be called into question in any country in which the Trump Organization does business, for example by exempting countries with Trump Organization presence from a travel ban executive order.

Hawaii House Sends 159 More Bills to Senate

As the Thursday deadline to crossover bills to the Senate approaches, the House passed bills to alleviate prison crowding, support affordable housing initiatives, protect kupuna from physical and financial exploitation, and fighting invasive species.

The House voted to pass on to the Senate today another 159 bills including measures addressing the state’s goals on cyber security, crime, homeless support and tax relief.  These measures reflect the focus of the House majority on improving the lives of the people in Hawaii.

“Among the many needs that we are addressing this session is helping our low- and middle-income families ease their financial burden and increase rental and affordable housing support for them,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “We have passed bills to expand the renters income and food tax credit for low-income households, authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing and mixed use affordable rental housing, updated the loan program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers, and established a loan fund for developers to finance infrastructure costs of affordable rentals and fee simple housing developments.”

The House now stands in recess and will reconvene to take action on any remaining final measures for third reading on Thursday, March 19 at noon. To date, the House has approved more than 360 bills this session.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Prison Crowding

HB1246 HD2 authorizes electronic monitoring and surveillance of offenders in programs that offer alternatives to incarceration.

HB462 HD2 requires the Department of Public Safety to solicit proposals for a new correctional facility.

Housing Support

HB488 HD2 authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing, mixed-use affordable rental housing, a multi-use juvenile services and shelter center, and public housing. Appropriates funds for public housing security improvements, renovation, and repairs.

HB207 HD2 expands the low-income household renters’ income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status.

HB530 HD2 updates and expands the Downpayment Loan Program under the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and establishes the Downpayment Loan Loss Reserve Program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers.

HB660 HD2 establishes the Infrastructure Development Loan Revolving Fund to make loans to developers to finance the costs of the infrastructure of affordable rental and fee simple housing developments, and appropriates funds for this purpose.

Kupuna Protection

HB199 HD2  authorizes the Department of Human Services to investigate allegations of the physical isolation of vulnerable adults and take corrective action including obtaining judicial relief.

HB432 HD2 makes financial exploitation of an elder by a caregiver a felony.

Invasive Species

HB655 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to assist the National Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the negative impacts of the rose-ringed parakeet on Kauai and develop and implement a control plan to reduce the negative impacts.

HB1006 HD1 appropriates funds to the Hawaii ant lab for personnel and equipment to support mitigation of the little fire ant.

HB1301 HD2 provides that a person or entity that is determined by the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to have introduced an invasive species into the state may be strictly liable for all or part of the expenses to eradicate the invasive species from the state.

HB606 HD2 authorizes the counties to enter private property to control or eradicate invasive species and pests.

Other important bills passing the House today and moving to the Senate include:

Homeless Support

HB1240 HD2 appropriates funds to the Department of Human Services for the coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative to prevent homelessness and rehouse individuals in the State.

Taxes

HB209 HD1 HB209 HD1 expands the low-income household renters income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status. Establishes a state earned income tax credit.  Restores the tax rates for high income brackets that were repealed in 2015.  Removes the sunset date for the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB932 HD1 Gradually increases the credit amounts and amends the income brackets of the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB1012 HD2  temporarily disallows the deduction for dividends paid by real estate investment trusts for a period of 15 years, but with an exception for dividends generated from trust-owned housing that is affordable to households with incomes at or below 140 percent of the median family income as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HB1471 HD3 requires transient accommodations to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services. Ensures that the subject property is in compliance with applicable land use laws. Allocates $1 million of TAT revenues to each county for FY 2017-2018 to comply and enforce county ordinances regulating transient vacation rentals. Creates a surcharge tax on transient accommodations brokers.

HB263 HD2 amends provisions related to licensed medical marijuana dispensaries by imposing general excise tax on a percentage of dispensaries’ gross proceeds or gross income and allocating a portion of GET revenues received from dispensaries to the Medical Marijuana Registry and Regulation Special Fund.

Agriculture

HB961 HD2 excludes for income tax purposes a portion of income earned by farmers who grow or raise food or value–added food products within the state and whose annual gross income does not exceed a certain amount.

HB2 HD2 authorizes tiny homes of less than 500 square feet for farm workers in agricultural districts in a county with a population of more than 180,000 but less than 250,000.

Veterans

HB168 HD1 appropriates funds for the planning and design of a memorial to honor service members of the recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the various theaters of the Global War on Terrorism, to be located at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe and replicas to be located at state veterans cemeteries statewide.

Cyber Security

HB 598 HD2 authorizes and provides funding for the University of Hawaii to participate in and contribute funding for the development of a Hawaii cyber ecosystem and related aspects of cyber security.

HB814 HD2 adopts uniform laws on protecting the online accounts of employees and students from employers and educational institutions, respectively.

UH Promise Program

HB1591 HD2 establishes the Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at a University of Hawaii community college.

Crime

HB1501 HD2 reclassifies drug paraphernalia possession and delivery offenses from felonies to violations subject to a fine of $100.

HB1172 HD2 allows probable cause for fireworks offenses to be established from statements from witnesses and photographs, video, and other recordings authenticated by witnesses.

HB680 HD2 Requires licensees under the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to complete a one-time awareness education program on intimate partner violence awareness and education

Police disclosure

HB456 HD1 requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s second suspension in a five-year period or discharge, as well as certain employment misconduct related information upon an officer’s second suspension in a five year period.

Transportation

HB727 HD1 Allows motorcycles and motor scooters to pass between two same-bound lanes when traffic is stopped.

Civil Rights

HB1489 HD1 prohibits a state agency or program or activity receiving state financial assistance from excluding from participation, denying benefits to, or discriminating against a qualified individual by reason of disability, sex, including gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

Quiet Title

HB860 HD1  provides that: (1) actions for quiet title of kuleana lands shall be subject to mandatory mediation; (2) court cases by the same plaintiff that seeks quiet title for separate kuleana lands within the same court circuit shall be consolidated; (3) defendant’s access for cultural and traditional practices shall not be alienated or extinguished; and (4) plaintiff shall not recover costs, expenses, or attorney’s fees from the defendant.

Finley’s Law

HB561 HD2 called “Finley’s Law,” this bill requires dentists who administer general anesthesia, deep sedation, or moderate (conscious) sedation to post notice of contact information for verification of the dentist’s licensure and authorization or permit to administer anesthesia and perform sedation.

Sex Abuse Prevention

HB 930 creates and appropriates funds for Erin’s Law Task Force to review policies, programs, and curricula for educating public school students about sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention, and report recommendations for the establishment of a program to educate public school children on sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curricula.

Elections

HB1581 HD1 requires candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to disclose their federal income tax returns in order for their names to appear on a Hawaii ballot and prohibits Hawaii’s electoral college electors from voting for a candidate who has not disclosed this information.

Landlord-Tenant Code

HB223 HD2 allows a landlord or landlord’s agent to charge an application screening fee as part of the applicant screening process for renting residential property. Sets limits on the amount of the application screening fee and requires the landlord or agent to return any unauthorized fee amounts to the applicant.

Reef Fish Collecting

HB1457 HD2 Places a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new aquarium fish collecting permits until the Department of Land and Natural Resources has developed a comprehensive plan for the sustainable management of nearshore reef wildlife.

Drones

HB314 HD1 establishes prohibited uses of unmanned aerial vehicles for individuals, law enforcement agencies, and public agencies. Provides certain exceptions for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Makes certain uses of an unmanned aerial vehicle a petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor and Class C felony for a second of subsequent violations.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Legislative “Crossover” Update From Senator Kai Kahele

Aloha!

We are a third of the way through the 2017 Legislative Session and just six days out from First Crossover. Now that the Senate Committees on Ways and Means; Judiciary and Labor; and Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health have completed their deliberations, bills that are still alive will make their way to third reading next week Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Thanks to you, many of our priority bills are still alive:

If these bills are approved next week, they’ll crossover to the State House for further deliberations by our colleagues. In turn, House approved bills will crossover for further deliberation by the Senate. As we move forward, be sure to stay tuned for our weekly updates.

Me ka ha’aha’a,
Kaiali’i Kahele

Hawaii Senate Confirms DHS Director, Appeals Court and First Circuit Court Judges

The Hawai‘i State Senate today gave their consent on Governor Ige’s nominees to the Department of Human Services, Intermediate Court of Appeals Court, and three Judges to the First Circuit Court – O‘ahu.

In a unanimous decision, Senators confirmed Pankaj Bhanot as the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Bhanot received a BA in political science and a law degree from the University of Delhi.  He graduated in 1991 with an LL.M. degree from Cornell University, School of Law.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

His career in human and social services began in August 1998 as the Family Development Director with the Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity.  Bhanot went on the serve as a program specialist with the state DHS Employment and Child Care Program Office of the Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and the Employment and Child Care Program Administrator.  He most recently served as DHS Deputy Director before being appointed to lead the department.

The Senate also voted to consent to Derrick H.M. Chan as an Associate Judge to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Chan was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in August 2000.  Prior to this, he was the First Deputy Prosecutor for the County of Kaua‘i. He also served as an attorney for the Hawai‘i Carpenters Union, as Deputy Public Defender for the state, law clerk to Judge Wilfred Watanabe, and Deputy Attorney General for the state. Chan is a 1985 graduate of California Western School of Law. Chan will fill the vacancy created by the retirement in December 2016 of former Associate Judge Daniel R. Foley.

“Throughout his tenure, Judge Chan has cemented a reputation for diligence, hard work and integrity, as well as decisiveness, courage, and street smarts which allows him to “cut to the chase,’” said Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5- Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului), chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.  “With Judge Chan’s background, character, quiet passion, and even-keeled demeanor, he will be a very good addition to Hawai‘i’s appellate courts.”

Senators gave their unanimous consent to Catherine H. Remigio to the First Circuit Court.  Remigio most recently served as Family Court judge after being appointed in 2011.  Prior to that, she served in the Judiciary as a Per Diem District Court Judge and Circuit Court Grand Jury Counsel.  Remigio has also practiced law in several private firms, including as a partner at Bryant & Remigio, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

She served as a deputy public defender for the State of Hawai‘i and as a law clerk to Judges Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Jr. and Eden Elizabeth Hifo in the First Circuit Court.  Remigio is a Kamehameha Schools graduate and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and earned her juris doctorate at the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1992.  Remigio replaces former Circuit Judge Steven S. Alm who retired in August 2016.

“Thoughtful, considerate, smart and well-prepared is how others have described Judge Remigio,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Judge Remigio’s strong background and character, steady demeanor, and determination promise that she will be a solid addition to the First Circuit Court,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The State Senate also unanimously approved the appointment of Keith K. Hiraoka to the First Circuit Court.  Hiraoka has practiced law for the last 34 years, focusing on insurance coverage and defense. He has tried cases before juries, judges and arbitrators, participated in many mediations and briefed and argued appeals before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

Hiraoka is a graduate of the University Hawai‘i at Mānoa and earned his juris doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1983.  Hiraoka fills the vacancy created by the retirement in June 2016 of former Circuit Judge Karen S.S. Ahn.

“Mr. Hiraoka’s background, character, professionalism, and demeanor promise that he will be a very good addition to the circuit court, the busiest circuit in Hawai‘i’s legal system,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The State Senate unanimously voted to consent to Todd Eddins joining the First Circuit Court. Eddins graduated from the College of William & Mary and the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawai‘i Law Review.  He served as a law clerk to Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. Eddins worked as a trial lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender for more than ten years. In private practice he has concentrated on complex civil, criminal, and appellate litigation. Eddins fills the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Richard K. Perkins in June 2016.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

“Mr. Eddins brings to the bench nearly 25 years of experience from the criminal bar and as a trial lawyer, where he has distinguished himself as one of the top defense lawyers in our state,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Clearly, he has the background, character and demeanor to be a very good addition to the first Circuit Court.”

The term of office for the judgeships is for ten years.

Hawaii House Sends 137 Bills to Senate

The Hawaii House or Representatives today passed 137 bills including measures relating to helping homeless people, fighting invasive species, protecting health care and flood insurance coverage, and reducing the blood quantum requirement in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

HB83 HD1 Homelessness: Allows the Department of Human Services to establish puuhonua safe zones where homeless persons may reside.

HB453 HD1 Agriculture Grant: Requires the Department of Agriculture to provide grants to farmers to assist them in paying for the costs of compliance with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and state food safety laws.

HB527 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to purchase, staff, and operate two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

HB552 HD1 Health Insurance: Ensures that benefits of the Affordable Care Act are preserved under state law in the case of repeal of the ACA by Congress.

HB1418 Flood Insurance: Amends the county exemptions from building permit and building code requirements to ensure that Hawaii’s communities are not suspended from participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

HB1339 HD1 Invasive Species: Restructures the Hawaii Invasive Species Council as the Hawaii Invasive Species Authority to coordinate implementation of the Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan and related duties.

HB904 HD1 Invasive Species: Establishes the invasive species rapid response special fund within DLNR. Establishes procedures for emergency declarations and expenditures.

HB1300 HD1 Coral Reefs: Requires UH Environmental Center to conduct ongoing studies of the environmental impacts of sewage spills on affected coral reefs.

HB450 HD1 Coral Reefs: Requires UH to conduct a study on the effects of sunscreen on Hawaii’s coral reefs and report to the Legislature. Appropriates funds.

HB451 HD1 Blood Quantum: Reduces the minimum Hawaiian blood quantum requirement of certain successors to lessees of Hawaiian home lands from one-quarter to one thirty-second.

Other bills that passed third reading by the House today include measures that relate to identification for prisoners, heat abatement in our public schools, biosecurity in agriculture, vehicle tax, and pesticides.

HB386 HD1 Environment: Appropriates funds for the two-year extension of the Post-Bypass Beach Monitoring Program of the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor Sand Bypass Operation at Waimea, Kauai.

HB844 HD1 At-Risk Youth: Requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a two-year Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program in partnership with private organizations to coordinate a network that youth can access for safety and where youth can obtain advice, guidance, programs, and services.

HB845 HD2 Prisoner ID: Requires the Department of Public Safety in collaboration with county and state agencies and, upon request of the inmate, to issue civil identification cards to inmates and to assist inmate in obtaining the inmate’s birth certificate, social security card, and other relevant identification necessary for successful reentry into society.

HB848 HD2 Microgrids: Exempt microgrids that promote and serve public higher education institutions from regulation as a public utility by the Public Utilities Commission.

HB889 HD1 Pesticides: Increases the pesticide licensing fee and requires annual renewal of the license.

HB916 HD1 Loan Repayment: Makes an appropriation for the health care professionals loan repayment program administered through the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

HB957 HD1 Heat Abatement: Authorizes the Department of Education and Budget and Finance to borrow moneys from the Hawaii green infrastructure loan program for heat abatement measures at public schools.

HB1244 HD1 Cesspool Tax Credit: Amends the cesspool upgrade, conversion, or connection income tax credit to make it assignable and refundable, applicable to more cesspools, and applicable through 12/31/2022.

HB1325 HD1 Biosecurity: Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish parameters and construction requirements for biosecurity facilities that provide for and ensure the safety of agricultural and food commodities.

HB1378 HD1 Access Road: Requires the Department of Transportation to develop plans for the construction of secondary access roads for the Waianae district of leeward Oahu. Appropriates funds.

HB1587 HD1 Vehicle Tax: Replaces the state vehicle weight tax with a tax based on the assessed value of a vehicle.

Today marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate.  Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

Following next Thursday’s crossover deadline, the House will focus its attention on HB100 relating to the state budget, which must be passed out of the committee on Finance by March 13 and voted on by the full body by March 15.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting College Scholarships, Green Energy and Kupuna Care

Other measures include paid sick leave, honoring veterans and voting by mail

With the Legislature’s crossover deadline just one week away, the House today passed more than 60 bills, sending them to the Senate for its consideration.  Among the House bills passing third reading by the full House were measures that provide for paid sick leave for employees, create a green energy fund at the University of Hawaii and funding for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program for Hawaii’s kupuna. Representatives also passed bills on honoring veterans, voting by mail and the UH Promise Program to support students.

HB4 HD1 Paid sick leave: Requires employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill or needs medical care.

HB615 HD1 Kupuna Care: Appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna.

HB794 HD1 Green energy: Establishes the University of Hawaii Green Special Fund to fund energy conservation measures to reduce the University’s energy consumption and costs.

HB1401 HD1 Elections: Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020.

HB1438 World War I Centennial: Appropriates moneys for the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of World War I.

HB1594 HD1 UH Promise Program: Establishes the University of Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at any campus of the University of Hawaii system.

Other important bills passed today by the House include:

HB115 HD1  Road ownership: Requires each county with a population of 500,000 or more to take ownership and jurisdiction over all roads over which there is a dispute over ownership between the State or any of its political subdivisions and a private party.

HB646 HD1 Visually handicap parking: Allows individuals who are blind or visually handicapped to apply for and obtain a removable windshield placard to use a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities

HB942 HD1 Filipino veterans: Authorizes the State to commission an artist to design and build a monument to honor and commemorate Filipino veterans of World War II.

HB1195 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, including the Office of Youth Services, to provide homeless outreach services.

HB1276 HD1 Student tax deduction: Provides an additional state income tax deduction for student loan interest paid on qualified education loans.

HB1281 HD1 Homelessness: Establishes a three-year Work-for-a-Day Pilot Program that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities and connects them with service providers

Tomorrow marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate. Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Kupuna Caregivers Assistance Bill Clears Budget Committees

Today, the House Finance committee and the Senate Ways and Means committee approved legislation to assist families caring for aging seniors in their home.

The Kupuna Caregivers assistance bill HB607 / SB534 received strong support from the community, with dozens of allies, advocates and individuals from across the state, submitting more than a hundred pages of testimony in favor of the bills. Many families who would be helped by this legislation shared their personal experiences and the challenges they have faced, trying to balance their work and personal lives, while caring for their loved ones at home.
The strong show of support for the bill is consistent with a recent Ward Research poll that found that over 90% of those who work at least 30 hours per week and qualify for caregivers’ assistance, welcome the relief that SB534/HB607 would afford them

Dr. Clementina Ceria-Ulep, who chairs the long term care task force at Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), welcomed the passage of the bill through these critical committees as another step forward in what has been a more than a two-decade-old effort to secure assistance for unpaid family caregivers.

“The need to address the care of our kupuna has been growing steadily,” she said. “This is an important step towards addressing that need by giving people the ability to pay for trained caregivers from time to time so that they can attend to other aspects of their work and personal life. It’s a bit of respite for caregivers that can go a long way, and we applaud the members of the committee, and the committee chairs, Representative Sylvia Luke and Senator Jill Tokuda, for moving the bill forward,” she added.

The bills, HB607 and SB534, now move on to be heard by the entire House and Senate, respectively.

Commentary: Consequences of HB1586 – Relating to Taxation

There will be unintended consequences if HB1586 passes, especially if the disbursement of transit accommodation tax revenue to the counties is eliminated. The County of Hawaii receives 19.5 million dollars in TAT funds. This is their second highest funding
source after property taxes.

The TAT revenue source is used to the mitigate the impact of tourism industry on each county. I firmly believe the residents of each county shouldn’t have to pay entire cost for lifeguard, police, fire, etc services used by these tourists.

The elimination of this funding source will force the county to increase taxes on all property classes, not just on properties owned by wealthy off island homeowners. This will undoubtedly passed on to homeowners, who rent out to individuals (and families) with lower incomes.

These individuals (and families) would be seeing relief in state taxes, but they’ll be seeing higher rental costs as a result. These folks are living on the edge and can ill afford to pay more for rental housing.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hawaii Lawmaker Calls for University of Hawaii Consolidation of Administration

Representative Kaniela Ing, a member of the House Higher Education Committee, responded to University of Hawaii President David Lassner’s decision to end the search for a Chancellor of the University of Hawaii – Manoa campus with a call to consolidate the administrative offices.

Rep. Kaniela Ing

Ing stated that regardless of what Lassner intended, his decision to cease the search for a new chancellor raises some important questions on the efficiency and redundancy in the University of Hawaii’s administration.

“If the president or his administration can provide the services assigned to the chancellor, and the university can still function, why does the chancellor’s office even exist in its enormous capacity? This points to a probable waste of taxpayer and student tuition dollars,” Ing said.

Ing noted a stark change between his time as the Student-President of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii (ASUH) in 2009 and his experience as a legislator today.

“I always felt that the University of Hawaii administration was top-heavy,” Ing said. “When cuts were needed, students and faculty suffer through tuition raises and slashed salaries, while the administration remained bloated. President Lassner’s leadership, through his dual-capacity as Chancellor, has resulted in much greater efficiency.”

Ing is currently writing a House Concurrent Resolution calling for a study to explore the cost savings and other benefits of consolidating the chancellor and president’s offices. Ing claims that this is how the UH administration was structured for most of its existence.

“Tuition and taxes keep rising, making it harder for everyday people to get by. I just want to make sure that working folk’s hard earned dollars are ending up where it counts, and not being wasted in redundant, wasteful, administrative expenses,” he said.

“The last full-time chancellor made nearly $439,000 dollars a year before benefits. Imagine how many students that money could help?”

Hawaii Senate Committee Passes Medical Aid in Dying Bill

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Tax Reform Bill Passes Committee

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

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

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

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

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

Zonta Hilo’s Mele Spencer Recognized at Hawaii State Senate

On February 1, Mele Spencer was recognized at the Hawaii State Capitol for assuming the volunteer post of Zonta International District 9 governor for 2016-18. The ceremony was arranged by State Senator Lorraine Inouye.

Mele Spencer with recognition at the State Capitol with Hawaii State Senators and members from the Zonta Clubs of Hilo and Leilehua.

Zonta is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

“How super to have our state senators recognize Zonta International’s work to empower women across the world,” said Spencer. “What a personal honor for me. Big mahalo to Senator Lorraine Inouye for arranging.”

As governor, Spencer serves as the link between the district and Zonta International and administers affairs of the district, which is comprised of 25 clubs and 543 members in Hawaii, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. District 9 also includes seven Z clubs (high school) and six Golden Z clubs (college), one of which is at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Spencer is one of 31 governors worldwide and nine Zontians in the United States serving as a district governor this biennium. She has been a member of the Zonta Club of Hilo since 1998.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kupuna Caucus measures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Homeless Initiative Would Serve 2200 Households

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

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

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

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto