Hawaii Good Government Groups Announce 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have identified HB 15, CD 1 (Act 173, Session Laws of Hawaii 2015) “Relating to Elections” as their 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” winner.  The “Rusty Scalpel” recognizes enactment of a bill whose subject has been substantially amended without opportunity for public input and legislative review as required by the Hawaii Constitution.

Click to view bill

Click to view bill

The Hawaii Constitution sets procedures for enactment of new laws.  The purpose of these procedures is to facilitate public participation and to discourage “fraud” and “logrolling”.  Article III, Section 14 provides “Each law shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed in its title.”

In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill which addresses 2 or more unrelated subjects.  Article III, Section 15 provides that “No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.”  In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill whose subject has not had three separate readings in the State House and three separate readings in the State Senate.

During the 2015 session, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii identified more than 20 bills which did not comply with Article III, Section 14 and/or Article III, Section 15.  The 2015 Legislature actually passed seven bills whose subjects did not receive 3 readings in both the House and Senate. (These are Acts 104, 118, 126, 142, 173, 186 and HB 540, CD 1 which was vetoed.) From these seven “candidates”, the League and Common Cause Hawaii have selected Act 173, Session Laws of Hawaii 2015, for our 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” award because:

  1. Act 173 addresses three unrelated subjects (absentee ballot procedures, terms of Election Commission Chair, evaluation of Chief Elections Officer).
  2. One subject of Act 173 (terms of Election Commission) did not have either 3 readings or      a public hearing in the House.
  3. Another subject of Act 173 (evaluation of Chief Elections Officer) did not have 3 readings or a public hearing in either the House or the Senate.

Last year the League and Common Cause chose Act 81, SLH 2014, for our 2014 “Rusty Scalpel” award.  The subject of Act 81 (which authorized the Hawaii Tourism Authority to acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay using revenue bonds amortized with hotel tax revenues) did not have 3 readings or a public hearing in either the House or the Senate.  This year the League and Common Cause are pleased to report that the Legislature followed appropriate procedures, and held numerous public hearings, before passing legislation to clarify, replace, and “fix” Act 81.

Statement of Support on Senator Harimoto

State Senator Breene Harimoto, 61, (16th Senatorial District – Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, Aiea, Royal Summit, Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor) has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Senator Breene Harimoto

Senator Breene Harimoto

Under the advice and care of his physicians, Senator Harimoto will soon be undergoing treatment. 

“Senator Harimoto is a valued member of our Senate body and a friend to all of us here at the Legislature.  Our thoughts are with Senator Harimoto and his family, and we wish him a speedy recovery” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi.

Senator Harimoto has expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of Aloha, and asks for privacy and prayers for himself as well as for his family in the coming weeks. 

Hemp Harvested Legally in Hawaii for First Time

The first stalk of legal hemp in Hawaii was harvested today.
Hemp in HawaiiHawaii Representative Chris Lee tweeted, “Harvesting the very first stalk of hemp in Hawaii. Uses less water, 100% organic, tremendous economic commodity

Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus Commends Governor for New Laws to Protect Women and Families

Measures signed into law provide security, protection against

Governor Ige today signed a package of bills into law which are measures that were introduced or advocated for by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus at the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Session.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications  (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

A total of six measures were enacted and two resolutions adopted by the Legislature this session that provide protection for victims of domestic violence, improve reporting and enforcement of domestic violence and sexual assaults, and makes an effort to reduce violence and sexual assaults on college campuses and restore public trust of Hawai‘i’s law enforcement community.

“The Women’s Legislative Caucus is pleased with the bills enacted this session. Having the Governor’s recognition and support for these measures is critically important as we strive to empower survivors of domestic violence and work towards improving the lives of women and families across the state,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Mānoa).

“We appreciate the support from the Governor on these sound legislative policies we believe will improve the health and well-being of women, children and families throughout our State,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock). “The efforts of the Caucus this past session show how together we can create stronger communities.”

The bills signed into law are:

HB538 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 219)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires wireless telecommunications service providers to release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon request and with documentation.  Authorizes the family court to order wireless providers to transfer billing authority for or release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon petition by a victim.

HB858 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 220)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Permits the termination of residential rental agreements in cases of domestic violence.  Specifies additional procedures under the residential landlord-tenant code for instances of domestic violence.

SB226 SD2 HD1 (Act 221)

RELATING TO ABUSE OF FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER.

Adds the definition of “business day” to the offense of abuse of a family or household member.  Repeals the 48-hour no contact provision and specifies that the period of separation a police officer orders for the person whom the police officer reasonably believes to have inflicted the abuse of a family or household member commences when the order is issued and expires at 6:00 p.m. on the second business day following the day the order was issued.

SB387 SD2 HD3 CD1 (Act 222)

RELATING TO AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT.

Establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

SB388 HD1 (Act 30)

RELATING TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS

Requires each county police department to post its policies relating to domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, and standards of conduct on its official website.

HB448 (Act 203)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence fatalities, near-deaths, and suicides.  Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HR19 and SR9 are resolutions introduced by the Women’s Legislative Caucus which received bi-partisan support and were adopted at the end of the 2015 Legislative Session.

HR19

Requests the State Department of Defense to establish and fund a Veteran Women Services Coordinator position with the Office of Veterans’ Services

SR9

Requests the Honolulu Police Department to establish a family violence unit staffed with officers specifically trained to handle all complaints of family violence.

Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus

The Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus consists of female members from both the state Senate and House. Senators Rosalyn Baker and Suzanne Chun Oakland and Representatives Della Au Belatti and Cynthia Thielen serve as co-chairs of the Caucus. This year’s package of bills introduced by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus was dedicated to the Women’s Coalition in recognition of their commitment and advocacy for women and girls.

New Law Helps Children Born With Facial Abnormalities

The measure signed into law today by Governor Ige dramatically impacts the lives of several dozen Hawaii families that include children born with cleft palates or other facial abnormalities.

Anya Maga with Governor Ige and Reps. Gregg Takayama (bill introducer), Della Au Belatti, and Henry Aquino.

Anya Maga with Governor Ige and Reps. Gregg Takayama (bill introducer), Della Au Belatti, and Henry Aquino.

In Hawaii, approximately one in every 500 babies is born with what is called an “orofacial anomaly.”  For example, between 2007 and 2012, 61 babies were born with a cleft lip or palate and 83 were born with other craniofacial defects at the Kapiolani Medical Center.

Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee Chair, said it’s crucial to correct these defects, not just for visual appearance, but because this condition affects basic functions such as eating, chewing, speech and breathing.  The complicated treatment to correct these kinds of birth defects usually requires multiple surgeries ranging from about $5,700 to $20,000 or more.

House Bill 174, introduced by Rep. Gregg Takayama (D-Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades), requires health insurers to cover such orthodontic treatment, as do 16 other states.

“For families whose children have a cleft lip and palate, the range of medical, dental and other services can exceed $100,000 from birth until late adolescence,” testified Eileen Matsumoto, a registered nurse for more than 35 years.

The cost of reconstructive surgery is covered by medical insurance but not the full cost of the medically necessary orthodontic procedures required to prepare for these surgeries, which usually amount to more than $10,000 over a child’s lifetime.

These treatment costs are already fully covered by Med-QUEST for poor families but not by private health insurers for Hawaii’s working families.

The State Legislative Auditor reports the cost to all policyholders would be minimal – probably increasing premiums by two cents to four cents per member per month, based on the experiences of California and Massachusetts.

The measure has been called “Anya’s Law” after one of its active supporters, 6-year-old Anya Maga, who testified for the measure along with her parents, who are residents of East Honolulu.

Senator Ruderman Hosting Talk Story Sessions

Senator Russell Ruderman is hosting talk story sessions to discuss the outcome of the 2015 legislative session and how some of the new legislation will affect you and the community.

Senator RudermanIdeas and issues for next year’s legislative session will also be discussed.

  • Pahoa Community Center – Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, Kauhale Street, Pahoa
  • Cooper Center – Thursday, June 4th, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, 19-4030 Wright Rd, Volcano Village

Light refreshments will be served.

For more information call Senator Ruderman’s Office @808-586-6890 or email: senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Final Reading – Dispensaries in Hawaii Next Step

On the last day of the 2015 regular session, the House passed on final reading HB321, CD1, which creates a statewide distribution system for medical marijuana and establishes the parameters for individuals and entities to apply to set up the dispensaries. Medical Marijuana

“There are an estimated 13,000 qualifying patients throughout the state who are desperately looking to find a safe, reliable and convenient access to medical marijuana.  This bill is a reasonable and compassionate response to the needs of our citizens,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully Pawaa, Manoa), who co-introduced the bill along with House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).  Both are long-time supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries.

“While the Legislature made legal the medical use of marijuana on June 14, 2000, the law has remained silent for 15 years on how patients can obtain medical marijuana if they or their caregivers are unable to grow their own supply,” Souki added.  “There has been a desperate need for a safe and reliable dispensary system statewide for medical marijuana for a long time.  This bill finally answers that need.”

The measure follows closely the recommendations of the Task Force commissioned by the Legislature in 2013 to study the implementation of medical marijuana dispensaries.  It also provides for opportunities to improve the system and correct any shortcomings on a go-forward basis.

The bill, which also passed the Senate, now goes to the Governor for his signature, veto or passage without his signature.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL:

  • Allows for eight (8) dispensary licensees in the state: three (3) on Oahu, two (2) on Big Island and two (2) on Maui County; one (1) on Kauai;
  • Each licensee may own, operate or subcontract up to two production centers and up to two retail dispensing locations; prohibits dispensary from being located in same place as production center;
  • Requires the Department of Health to engage in public education and training regarding medical marijuana;
  • Requires the Department of Health to adopt interim rules by Jan. 4, 2016, for the establishment and management of the medical marijuana dispensary system;
  • Tasks the Department of Health with accepting applications for dispensary licenses from Jan. 12, 2016, to Jan. 29, 2016, and announcing licensees by April 15, 2016;
  • Tasks the Department of Health to select licensees based on minimum requirements and merit based factors including: the capacity to meet the needs of patients; ability to comply with criminal background checks, inventory controls, and security requirements; ability to operate a business; and financial stability and access to financial resources;
  • Allows the Department of Health to license additional operators after Oct. 1, 2017, based on qualifying patient need;
  • Dispensaries must comply with all zoning regulations and will not be permitted within 750 ft. of a playground, public housing or school;
  • Licensees may begin dispensing marijuana and manufactured marijuana products on July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health;
  • Licensed applicants must pay (a) $5,000 non-refundable application fee, (b) an additional $75,000 fee for each license approved, and (c) a $50,000 annual renewal fee;
  • Establishes the criteria for license applications to require that an individual applicant: be a legal resident of the State for not less than five years, be over the age of 21, and have no felony convictions;
  • Establishes the minimum criteria for license applications to require that an entity applicant: be organized under the laws of the state and have a Hawaii tax ID number, have a 51 percent or greater Hawaii based ownership stake, have at least $1,000,000 under its control for each license applied for with an additional $100,000 available for each retail dispensing location;
  • Imposes regular general excise taxes onto the sale of marijuana and manufactured products within the dispensary system and does not include any additional taxes;
  • Allows qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana from primary caregivers who cultivate or by personally cultivating marijuana until Dec. 31, 2018;
  • Allows a primary caregiver or legal guardian to cultivate marijuana after Dec. 31, 2018, if qualifying patient is a minor or adult lacking legal capacity or who is located on any island with no dispensary;
  • Expands the definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing use to include post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Expands the Department of Health’s authority to conduct criminal background checks;
  • Requires dispensaries to allow announced and unlimited unannounced inspections and to conduct annual financial audits; and
  • Requires the Department of Health to file annual report to Governor and Legislature on dispensaries.

Additional details of the measure can be found in the bill text and the committee report at the links below:

Hawaii State Senate Reorganizes Committees – Big Island Senators Elected to Key Positions

The Hawai‘i State Senate today announced a new line up of committees and committee chairs as part of its recent reorganization.

capital

“This new alignment is consistent with our policy of making the best use of our members’ skills and interests,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald Kouchi (Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau). “We believe these assignments will make us more effective as a body moving forward.”

The following are the new committee assignments:

Consumer Protection (CPN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Rosalyn Baker
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani

Economic Development and Technology (EDT)

  • Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Sam Slom

Education (EDU)

  • Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Higher Education and the Arts (HEA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Brian Taniguchi
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele

Housing (HSG)

  • Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro

Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs (PSM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Will Espero

Tourism (TSI)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Lorraine Inouye
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard

Water, Land and Agriculture (WLA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara

Ways and Means (WAM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Jill Tokuda
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

In addition, Senate Leadership has assigned Sen. Laura Thielen the chair of the Committee on Health and the Environment (HEV) and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland the chair and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as Vice Chair of the Committee on Human Services (HMS). These assignments are awaiting confirmation.  Sen. Rosalyn Baker has been confirmed as Vice Chair of HEV.

The new confirmed committee assignments will take effect immediately.

As the Senate reorganizes, members of Senate leadership will not act as committee chairs. This division of duties allows the Senate to more broadly balance and distribute power within this chamber and better respond to the needs of our state. Senate leadership will be as follows:

  • Senate President: Sen. Ronald Kouchi
  • Senate Vice President: Sen. Will Espero
  • Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Josh Green
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Hawaii House of Reps Passes Bills on Final Reading

As the close of session quickly approaches, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues, including extending the rail tax for another five years, funding the Turtle Bay land purchase, and approving the state budget.

capital

Other significant measures that passed final reading in the House included increasing the tax state credit for low-income residents; providing additional funds for preschool for low-income families; requiring health insurers to provide coverage for children with autism; making sex trafficking a Class A felony; and establishing an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The House took on some tough issues relating to the rail tax, Turtle Bay and the Maui public hospitals, and worked collaboratively with the Administration and the Senate to come up with sound and reasonable solutions,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu).

“We also crafted a responsible budget that addressed our long-term obligations and took care of our immediate social services needs and capital improvement requirements.”

HB500, CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium, fiscal years FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, will now go to the Governor for his signature.  The bill includes nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

In crafting the budget, House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) looked to create a “better budget” in four ways, by: (1) limiting growth in the budget, (2) fueling economic growth through selective tax credits, (3) investing in people who need help the most, and (4) reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities and building up its Rainy Day funds.

Earlier, the House passed and sent on to the Governor a bill that raised the smoking age in Hawaii to 21 that put the state in the lead in national efforts to prevent nicotine addiction.  The bill also banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes in public places to anyone under 21.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

EDUCATION

SB64, CD1, makes an appropriation of $6,000,000 for the Preschool Open Doors Program.

HB820, CD1, establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools.

HB11, CD1, authorizes an additional per year bonus for teachers who maintain current national board certification under the national board certification incentive program and teach at a school in a focus, priority, or Superintendent’s Zone, as determined by the Department of Education.

SB1345, CD1, requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Appropriates funds to the Department of Education for the development of a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

SB854, CD1, requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, CD1, renames the “running start program” as the “dual credit program”. Broadens participation to include ninth and tenth graders. Broadens participation to include home-schooled students for courses offered on University of Hawaii campuses. Replaces a standardized test with an assessment. Repeals tuition and fees requirement.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, CD1, requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address. Requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for original or renewal identification cards for homeless individuals upon verification of homeless status. Establishes a working group to develop a plan to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA

SB964, CD1, appropriates $3,000,000 for the Kupuna Care Program.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, CD1, appropriates $2,000,000 for the operations of the Hawaii Health Connector.

HB576, CD1, narrows the scope of work of the State Innovation Waiver Task Force to facilitate the development of an Affordable Care Act waiver in a timely manner.

SB1117, CD1, makes an emergency appropriation of $15,000,000 to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB1291, CD1, prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB791, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

HB631, CD1, establishes the documentation required when requesting the Department of Health to issue a new birth certificate with a sex designation change.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, CD1, establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

HB553, CD1, allows part-time and full-time graduate student assistants employed by UH to collectively bargain their wages, hours, and other terms; provided that no collective bargaining agreement shall take effect prior to July 1, 2016. Requires UH and the relevant exclusive representatives to meet and report to the Legislature.

HB547, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to provide guidance to students to increase the rate of on-time graduation through a Graduation Pathway System. Appropriates funds for the Graduation Pathway System and to the John A. Burns School of Medicine for repairs.

HB541, CD1, requires each UH campus to prepare an operations plan, to be reviewed by the President and VP for Budget and Finance and CFO of UH, for each fiscal year. Requires the moneys in the UH Tuition and Fees Special Fund for each UH campus to lapse to the credit of Program ID No. UOH900 (University of Hawaii, system wide support)

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB448, CD1, requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence, near-deaths, and suicides, in addition to fatalities. Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HB436, CD1, amends the definition of “emergency vehicle” to include sheriff division vehicles, Hawaii emergency management agency vehicles, civil defense vehicles, DOT harbors division vehicles, DLNR division of conservation and resources enforcement vehicles, and county emergency management vehicles to require approaching vehicles to slow and change lanes when nearing the emergency vehicle when it is stopped for official duties.

SB265, CD1, replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program and adds various other amendments relating to sex trafficking.

SB1211, CD1, increases the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys. Increases the ceiling for additional funds required for matching federal disaster relief funds.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure. Appropriates funds for deposit into the Major Disaster Fund.

SB871, CD1, authorizes the Director of Transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another country or state, under certain conditions. Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges. Repeals the driver’s license reciprocity committee.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

HB444, CD1, authorizes the use of a portion of transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation. Makes additional general fund appropriations for the same purpose for fiscal years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

SB284, CD1, authorizes the B&F to issue $35,000,000 in reimbursable general obligation bonds and to deposit the proceeds into the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Appropriates $35,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund for the DLNR to acquire a conservation easement and other real property interests at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Allocates TAT revenues of $1,500,000 annually to the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund. Provides that a nonprofit land conservation organization shall file an application annually with the BLNR requesting $1,500,000 from the Land Conservation Fund to be used for the reimbursement of debt service on the Turtle Bay reimbursable general obligation bonds. Appropriates $3,000,000 out of the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement Special Fund to reimburse the state general fund for payment of debt service on the reimbursable general obligation bonds.

SB359, CD1, applies the state environmental response, energy, and food security tax to fossil fuels other than petroleum products and bases the tax on one million British thermal units. Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax. Clarifies the purposes for which the environmental response revolving fund may be used. Provides for the transfer of moneys from the environmental response revolving fund into the general fund. Requires the Director of Health to report to the Legislature information regarding the environmental response revolving fund.

AGRICULTURE

HB573, CD1, establishes and appropriates funding for the Hawaii Good Agricultural Practices Program to develop and support good agricultural practices for Hawaii farms growing agricultural food products.

SB1060, CD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, CD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and a Farm to School Coordinator position.

TAXES

SB555, CD1, increases the refundable food/excise tax credit. Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above and for heads of households, married couples filing jointly, and married couples filing separately, with adjusted gross incomes of $50,000 or above. Repeals residency requirement. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015. Repeal and reenactment on 12/31/2017.

HB134, CD1, reauthorizes the counties’ authority to establish a county surcharge on state tax for a limited time period, with the surcharge to be effective until 12/31/2027, if adopted. Requires counties to adopt an ordinance to establish or extend a surcharge prior to 7/1/2016. Limits the use of surcharge revenues by counties that have already established a county surcharge on state tax to capital costs. Expands the definition of capital costs for counties with a population greater than 500,000.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1001, CD1, establishes and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program, through which the High Technology Development Corporation may distribute grants to Hawaii manufacturers for various activities.

SB519, CD1, authorizes fines to be deposited into the tax administration special fund. Increases the balance that may be retained in the tax administration special fund in each fiscal year. Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations and resort time share vacation plans. Authorizes DOTAX to issue citations for failure to provide the registration identification number or link to the number and the contact information of the local contact in an advertisement for a transient accommodation or resort time share vacation plan. Takes effect 1/1/16.

SB892, CD1, makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

HB1509, CD1, requires the University of Hawaii to establish collective goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035.

SB717, CD1, repeals existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of ten per cent ethanol. Effective December 31, 2015.

HB623, CD1, which increases the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045. Requires the Public Utilities Commission to include the impact of renewable portfolio standards, if any, on the energy prices offered by renewable energy developers and the cost fossil fuel volatility in its report to the Legislature.

SB1050, CD1, requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by October 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects. (CD1)

SB1316, CD1, establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB349, CD1, establishes a five-year renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit. Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim a refundable income tax credit equal to 20 cents per seventy-six thousand British thermal units of qualifying renewable fuel, capped at $3,000,000 per taxable year. Caps the credit at $3,000,000 per year in aggregate. Requires DBEDT to certify all tax credits and submit a report regarding the production and sale of qualifying renewable fuels to the governor and legislature each year. Directs DOTAX to create forms for the tax credit. Applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

SB1214, CD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, CD1, requires persons charging a consumer’s credit or debit card or account for automatic renewal or continuous service offer to first obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent. Requires acknowledgment of terms, cancellation policy, and information on how to cancel the automatic renewal or continuous service to be provided to the consumer. Requires free trial offers to clearly and conspicuously disclose how to cancel the agreement prior to the consumer being charged for goods and services.

HB261, CD1, requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to post and update information on drug formularies via a public website and toll-free number for the benefit of insureds, potential insureds, and providers. Establishes a formulary accessibility working group.

SB1009, CD1, requires hotels to distribute porterage service charges to employees in full or disclose to customers that the charges are being used for other purposes.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, CD1, allows the Department of Education to continue, until June 30, 2020, awarding high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the armed services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

HB1153, CD1, exempts qualifying totally and permanently disabled veterans from paying the state motor vehicle registration fee. Requires the Director of the Office of Veterans’ Services to report the number of qualifying veterans to the Legislature and Department of Taxation.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB996, CD1, appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB654, CD1, reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function. Takes effect on 1/1/2016.

HB179, CD1, specifies the in-state mailing address in a voter’s registration record as the forwarding address for receiving absentee ballots permanently. Requires voters seeking to have permanent absentee ballots forwarded to another address to re-apply for an absentee ballot.

SB508, CD1, requires noncandidate committees to file an additional preliminary report on October 1 of each general election year.

HB15, CD1, specifies that the Chief Election Officer is an at-will employee. Requires Elections Commission to provide notice and reason for removal of a Chief Election Officer. Requires a performance evaluation of the Chief Election Officer after a general election. Requires a public hearing on the Chief Election Officer’s performance for purposes of considering reappointment. Creates a statewide standard for the distribution of absentee ballots.

HB1491, CD1, strengthens reporting requirements for organizational reports, noncandidate reports, and late contributions reports submitted by noncandidate committees making or receiving large contributions.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, CD1, requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable. Intends that the requirement apply to the judiciary. Effective 7/1/2016.

HB1140, CD1, provides a temporary income tax credit for the cost of upgrading or converting a qualified cesspool to a septic system or an aerobic treatment unit system, or connecting to a sewer system. Permits DOH, as a pilot program, to certify no more than 2 residential large capacity cesspools as qualified cesspools. Defines terms. Effective 7/1/2015. Sunsets 12/31/2020.

SB1312, CD1, appropriates $10,000,000 from the general revenues into the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund in FY 2014-2015 to comply with article VII, section 6, of the Hawaii State Constitution, which requires, under certain economic conditions, that the legislature provide a tax credit to state taxpayers or make a deposit into one or more funds.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, CD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, that the Foundation needs to improve its management to ensure the accountability, accessibility, and protection of the Foundation’s resources.

OTHERS

SB868, CD1, authorizes county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol. Requires liquor commissions that do regulate dancing to adopt or amend administrative rules, no later than October 1, 2015, regarding dancing in premises licensed to sell liquor for consumption thereon and include a definition of “dancing” in those rules.

HB1090, HD2, prohibits non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants that forbid post-employment competition for employees of a technology business to stimulate economic development in Hawaii’s technology business sector.

HB1366, CD1, appropriates $500,000 to perform due diligence, plan, and enter into negotiations to acquire the Alii Place building in Downtown Honolulu to provide office space for state governmental agencies and offices.

Hawaii Senate Approves 160 Bills in Final Reading

The full Senate today passed 160 bills including measures to protect undeveloped land on Oahu’s North Shore, increase the food/excise tax credit, and ensure funding so that Hawai‘i’s elderly are cared for. capital

“I am proud of the Senate’s accomplishments this session,” said Senate Majority Leader, Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “We resolved a number of lingering issues, including Turtle Bay. We also provided support for some of our most fragile members of our community; the homeless, our seniors, our preschoolers, as well as provided safeguards for our natural resources.”

Senators today also approved several measures that include provisions to support the Senate’s Legislative Agenda set forth at the beginning of the 2015 Session to move Hawai‘i towards a more resilient and sustainable state.

“The budget that was passed today is one that is fiscally prudent, yet addresses many of the priorities of the Senate and the House. Although we were working with a lean budget, we were able to position the State to be in a better position not just for this biennium, but for years to come,” said Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist 24 – Kāne‘ohe, Kāne‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, Āhuimanu), Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee. The State budget bill HB500 CD1 approved nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

A few of the bills that the Senate approved today include:

  • Autism Coverage: SB791 CD1 would mandate that insurance companies cover up to $25,000 a year in treatment until a child turns 14.
  • Turtle Bay: SB284 CD1 allows the state to enter into an agreement with the owners of Turtle Bay that would protect 665 acres of undeveloped land on the North Shore of Oahu.
  • Free Dual Credit Programs for High-Schoolers: SB374 CD1 would waive college tuition for high school students in dual credit programs, such as Running Start and Jump Start, at the University of Hawai‘i’s community colleges.
  • Health Connector Assistance: SB1028 CD1 would provide $2 million next year for the health insurance marketplace.
  • Food/Excise Tax Credit: SB555 CD1 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007.
  • Preschool Open Doors: SB64 CD1 would restore $6 million necessary to run the Preschool Open Doors Program, the statewide school readiness program, next year.
  • Community-Based Renewable Energy Projects: SB1050 CD1 would establish a community-based renewable energy program, which allows electric utility customers to participate in renewable energy projects that produce electricity, which they can sell back to electric utility companies.
  • Barrel Tax: SB359 CD1 would fund the Environmental Response Revolving Fund with the general fund instead of the barrel tax to ensure there is a consistent stream of funding that supplies investments in clean energy, local agricultural production and environmental emergency responses.
  • Kupuna Care: SB964 CD1 would provide an additional $3 million to fund the Kupuna Care program in fiscal year 2016, which is in addition to the base budget of $4.8 million.
  • Sex Trafficking: SB265 CD1 would ban sex trafficking and raise the penalties to a class A felony and promote the concept of treating prostitutes as victims rather than criminals.
  • Homeless ID cards: SB273 CD1 would allow homeless people to apply for state identification cards even without the required state and federal documents if a social service organization, attorney, member of the clergy, correctional institution staff or health professional presents a signed statement certifying their personal information. It would waive fees for homeless individuals.
  • Ethanol Repeal: SB717 CD1 repeals the existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of 10 percent ethanol.
  • Hawai‘i Resiliency and Sustainability: SB892 CD1 appropriates funding for Hawai‘i resilience and sustainability strategy in the areas of broadband, energy efficiency and smart grid, and water and sewer infrastructure.
  • Affirmative Consent: SB387, CD1 would establish an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawai‘i’s executive policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Multi-Track: SB1345 CD1would require the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

The bills approved today were also approved by the House and will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Passes Conference Committee

Senate and House conferees today reached a compromise on the bill that would establish a medical marijuana dispensary system in the islands.

Medical Marijuana

“This is a measure that many stakeholders have been working on for a very long time. It’s taken much discussion, collaboration and compromise to get where we are today and we believe this is a good measure that will get the medical marijuana dispensary system up and rolling,” said Senator Will Espero (D-19 ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages), chair of the Senate conference committee. “We are now on the verge of having a safe, secure product for our patients who need this, particularly the children who will benefit tremendously from medical cannabis.”

HB321, CD1 would allow applications for licenses to be available in the State of Hawai‘i starting January 4, 2016, with medical marijuana dispensaries being allowed to begin operations no sooner than July 15, 2016. A $5,000 non-refundable fee would be required to apply for a license.  An approved dispensary would pay a fee of $75,000 for a license, with a $50,000 annual renewal fee.  A total of eight dispensary licenses will be distributed throughout the state: three on Oahu, two on Maui, two on Hawai‘i Island, and one on Kaua‘i. Dispensary licenses will be selected on a merit basis and distributed through the State Department of Health (DOH).

The measure requires all dispensary licensees and employees to be subject to a criminal and background check. It restricts medical marijuana dispensaries within 750 feet of a playground, public housing complex or school. It also authorizes licensed dispensaries to be subject to annual unannounced inspections of its operations by the DOH.

The measure will be voted on by the full House and Senate on Thursday, May 7. If the bill passes both houses, it will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Big Island Legislators Secure Over $200 Million in Capital Improvement Project Funding

Big Island legislators secured over $200 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in HB500 CD1, the state budget bill for the next fiscal biennium.

capital

The proposed budget includes funding for various highway improvements, monies for Big Island schools, and continued financial support to complete the Kona Judiciary Complex.  The measure is scheduled next week for final reading in both the House and Senate.

Hilo

“Our Hawaii Island Legislative delegation has worked very hard to secure funding for many of the much needed projects throughout our island,” said Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano).  “Although we didn’t get everything we asked for and that is needed for our communities, our residents can be assured that we will continue to work hard during the interim to secure funding for those projects.”

“We have been successful in securing funds for Capital Improvement Projects for Hilo although we were faced with fiscal restraints,” added Sen. Gilbert Kahele (Hilo).

“For the last several years, I have been working with the tech community to increase the availability of jobs for Hawaii Island residents,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo).  “The $8.5 million available for the purchase of a Workforce Development Facility to support tech activities demonstrates the state’s commitment to growing this important economic sector.”

“House District 2 will see funding for schools, infrastructure improvements, and major construction for our airport, harbor, and roads,” added Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea).

“I am a strong supporter of alternative learning for our young men and women, and so I am grateful that an additional $1.7 million is being invested for the Youth Challenge Academy in Keaukaha. The Hilo Airport and Harbor continue to receive funding for necessary improvements.

“Other smaller projects are just as important, like Waiakea High School’s batting cage and pipeline replacement along Nohea Street and Santos Lane.  Regardless of the amount, project dollars will improve our quality of life and provide continued economic activity.”

Kohala, Waimea

“Two of my priorities are farming and agriculture and I am pleased that three projects in Senate District 4 have received funding,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).  “After being invited to visit the Kohala Ditch to witness the damage in December, improvements and repairs to the ditch became my top priority for the future of agriculture. With the collaboration of many constituents and the State Department of Agriculture, we submitted a CIP request and were approved for $1.5 million.

“The Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant, is another project and my office staff and I have met with them to clarify their needs” she added.  “This operation is vital to the farmers in the greater Waimea community. A CIP for $1 million to help repair their equipment has also been awarded. And finally, for Waipio Valley, and specifically Ha Ola o Waipio Valley, a GIA in the amount of $150,000 has been approved for flood control and stream bank stabilization work.”

“I’m pleased the budget contains funding for North Kohala and South Kohala and makes progress on locally grown produce and much needed improvements for our public schools,” said Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala).

Puna, Ka’u

“For Puna & Ka’u districts, I’m happy to announce that our district schools will receive $2.3 million for laptops and the school infrastructure needed to implement the ‘One on one’ computer learning program, starting with Pahoa and Mountain View public schools,” said Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka’u).

“This will expand the program that has been so successful in Keaau Elementary & Intermediate schools. Our Puna public school students, many of whom are extremely challenged economically, will have the tools to compete in our modern computer-based workplace.”

“Lower Puna is the fastest growing district in the State and I appreciate that the current budget recognizes our road and traffic problems by allocating $15 million for improvements to Highway 130,” added Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna).

Kona

“After many years fighting for projects like the Kona Courthouse, I was so pleased to see our team’s collaboration pay off for the Big Island,” added Sen. Josh Green (Kona, Ka‘u).

“The Kona Courthouse was a top priority for me and I’m very thankful that we now have full funding and the project will move forward,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).  “The funds in the budget for the airport are also really important for Kona’s future—the federal inspections stations will cement Kona as a destination for international arrivals to the state, and the planned regional ARFF training facility will serve as a source of revenue to keep our airports systems sustainable.

“We were gratified the two projects in District 5 received grant-in-aid money,” said Rep. Richard Creagan (Na’alehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona).  “The community kitchen project at Kona Pacific Charter School will receive $1.2 million.  This project will help provide healthy food and value added products to the Kona community.

“The Community Enrichment and Historical Center in Precinct 3 will receive $800,000 which should help complete this very important and long-awaited project.”

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $55 million in continued funding for the design and construction of a Judiciary Complex in Kona
  • $4.99 million for photovoltaic projects for East Hawaii HHSC region (I believe this was bundled up in last year’s CIP for HHSC)
  • $1 million for the design and construction of a Kamuela post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant
  • $1.5 million for improvements to the Kohala ditch irrigation system
  • $30.212 million for the construction of a new combined support maintenance shop complex for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha military reservation
  • $1.675 million for Youth Challenge Academy renovations and improvements at Keaukaha military reservation
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $1 million for the plans, design, construction and equipment for the transition from Keaau Elementary School to Keonepoko Elementary School
  • $230,000 for the construction of drainage improvements and a raised covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School
  • $2.3 million for laptop computers and the installation of necessary infrastructure for laptop use in Senate District 2 schools, especially at Pahoa High and Intermediate School and Mountain View Public Schools
  • $450,000 for a new baseball batting cage at Waiakea High School
  • $1.58 million for the design of a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $2 million for the design of Building A phase 1 renovations at Hilo Intermediate School
  • $8.5 million for the land acquisition, design, construction and equipment for a multi-purpose workforce development processing facility
  • $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $1 million for the design and construction for Pu’u Wa’awa’a structure improvements and dam compliance
  • $400,000 for the plans and design for improvements at the North Kawaihae small boat harbor
  • $600,000 for the land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka
  • $550,000 for the replacement of water lines and service laterals along Nohea Street and Santos Lane
  • $3.5 million for airfield improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $3.89 million for the demolition of existing structures at the west ramp and construction of site improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $61 million for the design and construction of a new airport rescue firefighters regional training facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $2.5 million for the plans and design of a federal inspection station at Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $50,000 for a feasibility study of constructing a small commercial airport in south Puna
  • $1.425 million for physical modifications to improve navigational safety and operational efficiencies at Hilo Harbor
  • $660,000 for land acquisition to extend the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Hilo terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway
  • $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130
  • $2.45 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements to widen the two lane highway to four lanes or implement alternate alignments
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements by mile post 10.60
  • $8 million for the rehabilitation of Ninole Bridge along Mamalahoa Highway (route 11)
  • $1.5 million for the construction of portable trailers at Hawaii Community College
  • $800,000 to the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council #1 for the construction of Milolii community enrichment and historical center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $150,000 to the Panaewa Community Alliance for the design of the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $285,000 to the Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Science for the design and construction of a certified commercial kitchen (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $1.2 million to the Friends of Kona Pacific Charter School for the design, construction and equipment for community food kitchen for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School (Grant-in-Aid)
  • $315,000 to the Kailapa Community Association for the design and construction of the Kailapa community resource center (Grant-in-Aid)

Hawaii State Lawmakers Star in “Capitol Idol III” – Talent Show Raises Money for the Hawai‘i Foodbank

Brave members of the Legislative and Executive branches of our state government will showcase their hidden talents when they take the stage for a good cause.

capital

Capitol Idol III kicks off on Monday, April 20 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. The public is invited to the show where members of the Senate and the Ige Administration vie for the audience’s support in the hopes of winning the perpetual individual and team trophies, not to mention major bragging rights. This year’s show will be emceed by radio show host, actor and former State Representative Devon Nekoba.

The event is FREE, but state employees will be voting for their favorite acts by purchasing $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrip. The winner of Capitol Idol III will be the act with the most votes (scrip). There is no limit to the number of scrip a state employee can purchase.

In 2012, Capitol Idol raised $1400 for the Hawai‘i Foodbank and in 2014, $1700 was collected. “This is the time of the year when my fellow colleagues voluntarily offer themselves up for public scrutiny and possible embarrassment all to support an incredibly important agency in our community, the Hawai‘i Foodbank,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, the show’s organizer. “We want to encourage everyone to join us in supporting this worthy cause and have a good time smiling and laughing with us as well.”

Past performances have been a lineup of Legislators singing original songs, juggling, dancing hula and more.  Previous winners have been Representative Marcus Oshiro dressed in drag, dancing and belting out “I Will Survive” and Blake “Disco” Oshiro of the Governor’s office. With his Executive branch dancers, Oshiro stole the show last year.

So who will be the next champion in Capitol Idol III?  Join us to find out!

Family Urges Passage of “Cinderella” Bill

Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto are living separately now because the State does not allow two private pay clients in a community care foster family home (CCFFH) as space needs to be available for Medicaid clients.

noburo2Noboru and Elaine are able to pay their own way (private pay) but because of the State requirement Elaine has to live away from Noboru and only sees him on weekends. Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley and portion of Lower Kalihi) introduced HB600 which would allow married private pay couples to be cared for in the same CCFFH.

noburo1Janice Stinson, daughter of Elaine and Noboru, and her daughter Emiko, arrived on Tuesday to visit and to assist her parents in their efforts to get back together. “I find it difficult to believe that there is a State law that bars my parents from living together after 67 years of marriage.

They dearly love each other and miss each other because they are separated.” said Janice. “I am a health care professional in California with a PHD in Nursing and spent 38 years in the Navy Nurse Corps. Throughout my career I have understood the need for married couples to be together.”

Granddaughter Emiko adds “I don’t understand how there can be a law keeping a married couple of 67 years apart. My grandparents have been great role models for me my whole life and to see them kept apart now, makes me sad.”

The Kawamoto’s son Norman says “We have always been a close knit family. My Mom and Dad really miss each other very much being separated. There is nothing complicated about it; they simply want to live out their days together. They enjoy the basic things in life: watching TV together, singing songs together. The passage of HB600 will allow them to return to the life they have always enjoyed.”

Jonathan and Arlene Hanks, Noboru’s caregivers, offered “We support the Kawamoto family, Noboru and Elaine, we are here for them, and will help them in any way possible. We want to see HB600 pass into law. It’s just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.”

HB600 has passed both houses and is going to a conference committee next week to hopefully iron out the differences in the House version and the Senate version.

Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno adds “HB600 is the Cinderella bill of the 2015 legislative session because it involves a love story of a married couple of 67 years, separated by a State regulation which does not allow them to live in the same community care foster family home. I’ve always said that marriage is a fundamental right and the State should not have the right to deprive this married couple the right to live together in the same community care home.

Noboru fought in World War II and defended our country and now that he is 94 years of age, we feel the urgency to pass this bill and allow Elaine and Noboru to enjoy their golden years together.”

Senate Passes Nearly 200 Measures on Crossover

Measures include marijuana dispensaries, funding for rail tax, construction for Kona courthouse and body cameras for police

The State Senate today passed 135 House bills that addresses areas of domestic violence, beach protection, education, public safety, energy, and a number of other measures aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of the residents of Hawai‘i.

capital

A total of 197 bills have passed third reading by the Senate and will be returning to the House. A majority of the bills will go into conference committees where the House and Senate conferees will convene to settle differences between the House and Senate drafts and negotiate a final amended version.

Among the most substantial bills passed by the Senate: HB321, HD1, SD2 that establishes a system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers; HB134, HD1, SD2 which extends the half percent county surcharge on State tax for two, ten-year extensions to fund additional Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) transit routes; HB290, HD2, SD1 that appropriates funding for the construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex; and HB365, HD1, SD1 which appropriates money for body cameras for police officers.

“The Senate was prudent in passing out responsible House bills,” said Senator J. Kalani English (D 7th District), Senate Majority Leader. “These are reasonable proposals and we’re looking forward to conference to work out the details.”

Other significant House measures passed by the Senate include:

HB124, HD2, SD2, relating to elections. Requires the office of elections to implement elections by mail in a county with a population of less than 100,000, beginning with the 2016 primary election; and in each county with a population of less than 500,000, beginning with the 2018 primary election. Beginning in 2020, requires all federal, state, and county primary, special primary, general, special general, and special elections to be conducted by mail.

HB58, HD1, SD2, relating to protective orders. Establishes a protective order card pilot program within the Honolulu family justice center to issue protective order cards upon request of individuals holding a long-term protective order issued by a court of the first circuit of the State.

HB464, HD1, SD1, relating to health. Appropriates funds for the purchase of an additional ambulance unit for the Kakaako community, HB1063, HD2, SD1, which provides funding for an additional ambulance for the Moanalua, Aliamanu, Red Hill, Salt Lake and Foster Village

community, and HB481, HD1, SD1 that makes an appropriation for an ambulance based in Makalei on the island of Hawai‘i.

HB444, HD3, SD2, relating to beach protection. Authorizes the use of certain transient accommodations tax revenues for beach restoration and conservation.

HB1042, SD1, relating to important agricultural lands. Appropriates funds for grants-in-aid to the counties for identifying and mapping important agricultural lands, preparing the final submission package to the land use commission, and assistance with exploring county incentives for important agricultural lands.

HB1489, HD1, SD2, relating to special license plates for national parks. Authorizes the issuance of special license plates for Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

HB858, HD2, SD2, relating to domestic violence. Permits the termination of residential rental agreements in cases of domestic violence.

HB538, HD2, SD2, relating to domestic violence. Requires wireless telecommunications service providers to release individuals from shared or family wireless plans, without charge, upon written request in documented instances of domestic violence.

HB1112, HD2, SD2, relating to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. Requires the auditor to conduct a financial and management audit of HHSC every five years. Authorizes HHSC to negotiate master collective bargaining agreements for its employees. Authorizes a regional system of the Hawaii health systems corporation, in collaboration with a private entity, to transition any one or more of its facilities to management and operation by a new nonprofit management entity. Appropriates an unspecified amount to the department of budget and finance for an unspecified number of positions to coordinate the review of documents and examine the fiscal implications posed by a transition of any Hawaii health systems corporation facility to management and operation by a nonprofit management entity.

HB1354, HD1, SD2, relating to housing. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds to several state agencies for the purposes of improving and increasing the existing public and affordable housing stock in the State. Requires a report to the 2016 and 2017 legislature on the set-aside plan for upkeep and maintenance of the housing facilities to be constructed.

House Passes Nearly 150 Measures on Final Crossover

Includes bills on marijuana dispensaries, turtle bay, voting by mail, sexual assault, human trafficking and transportation network companies

The state House of Representatives passed today nearly 150 Senate measures dealing with education, housing and homelessness, health, seniors, agriculture, invasive species and the environment, public safety and improving the quality of life for Hawaii residents.  

capital

Among the most significant bills passed by the House were SB1028 that attempts to harmonize the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with those of Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care; SB1291 that establishes a regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers; SB284 that sets up a funding mechanism for the purchase of the Turtle Bay conservation easement; SB287 that mandates and establishes a timetable for voting by mail for all Hawaii elections; SB1280 that requires the PUC to regulate transportation network companies such as Uber; SB387 that creates an affirmative consent task force on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking at the University of Hawaii; and SB265 that makes sex trafficking a Class A felony.

The majority of the bills, along with the nearly 140 House bills passed by the Senate, will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

Other notable Senate measures passed by the House included:

EDUCATION

SB64, SD3, HD1, relating to the Preschool Open Doors Program.  Makes appropriations for positions and the continued implementation of the Preschool Open Doors Program and for subsidies for the program.

SB822, SD1, HD2, relating to education and student hours.  Clarifies the implementation schedule and calculation method for minimum number of days and student hours required for Department of Education schools in each school year. Applies the requirement for a 180 day, 1,080 hour school year to all school years beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

SB1345, HD2, relating to multi-track schools.  Requires the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and report to the Legislature regarding the plan and any proposed legislation. Requires the DOE to give priority to overpopulated schools in making its annual capital improvement budget request to the Director of Finance.

SB854, SD2, HD2, relating to public school lands.  Requires public school lands that are leased to benefit public educational purposes rather than simply to be used for public purposes. Authorizes the Department of Education to enter into leaseback agreements.

SB374, SD2, HD2, relating to UH/DOE dual credit education programs.  Renames the “Running Start Program” as the “Dual Credit Program.”  Broadens participation to include public and home-schooled ninth and tenth graders.  Replaces a standardized test with an assessment.  Repeals tuition and fees requirement.  Requires that all additional qualifications be uniform across all campuses. Appropriates moneys to the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii for positions.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SB273, SD2, HD2, relating to identification cards for the homeless.  Requires the examiner of drivers to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address; requires the Director of Transportation’s rules to direct the examiner of drivers to waive all fees for homeless individuals; and establishes a working group to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.

KUPUNA 

SB964, SD2, HD1, relating to aging.  Appropriates funds for the Kupuna Care Program and the Aging and Disability Resource Center.  Requires appointment of an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator no later than July 1, 2017.  Appropriates funds for the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator, fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly, the Healthy Aging Partnership Program, and an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.

HEALTH AND HEALTH CONNECTOR

SB1028, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector.  Attempts to harmonize requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act with the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act by implementing federal requirements for provider network adequacy through requiring that insurer contracts with federally-qualified health centers.  Authorizes other means of generating revenue through provision of benefits administration services.

SB1338, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector.  Authorizes large group insurance coverage under the Connector.  Beginning Oct. 1, 2016, ends authorization to renew or issue transitional renewal policies.  Requires notice to group health plans that offer continuation of coverage about options for affordable coverage under the Connector, in addition to the requirements under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).

SB1228, SD2, HD3 establishes a process for special innovative procurement and generates a framework for public-private partnership in Hawaii.  Appropriates funds for a temporary position to assist the Procurement Policy Board.  Appropriates funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to procure services to develop a master plan for the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital.

SB1117, SD2, HD1, relating to Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.  Makes an emergency appropriation to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB682, SD2, HD1, relating to medical marijuana.  Establishes a regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers.  Specifies that the number of licensed dispensaries and production centers increase gradually over an initial phase-in period.  Prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations or rules that prohibit the use of land for licensed dispensaries and production centers.

SB1291, SD2, HD2, relating to medical marijuana.  Prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, employers, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB1095, SD1, HD1, relating to health insurance.  Defines the term “habilitative services” to be included in health care services, including but not limited to physical and occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, speech and swallowing therapy, applied behavior analysis, medical equipment, orthotics, and prosthetics, that help a person keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.

SB791, SD1, HD2, relating to autism spectrum disorders.  Requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

SB1036, SD2, HD1, relating to substance abuse treatment.  Establishes within the Department of Health a working group to address publicly-funded substance abuse treatment services.  Appropriates funds.

SB768, SD1, HD1, relating to in vitro fertilization insurance coverage.  Provides in vitro fertilization insurance coverage equality for women who are diagnosed with infertility by making available to them expanded treatment options, ensuring adequate and affordable health care services.

SB1032, SD2, HD2, relating to tobacco products.  Expands the definition of “tobacco products” to include tobacco-free products containing nicotine that are intended for human consumption. Increases the license fee for wholesalers or dealers of cigarettes or tobacco products.  Increases the retail tobacco permit fee for retailers engaged in the retail sale of cigarettes and tobacco products.

SB1030, SD1, HD2, relating to health.  Increases the minimum age for the sale or possession of a tobacco product in a public place, and the sale or furnishing of a tobacco product, from 18 to 21.  Defines “tobacco products” to include electronic smoking devices.

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

SB387, SD2, HD3, relating to affirmative consent.  Establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

SB1146, SD1, HD1 requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to submit to the Legislature a program performance report for each fiscal quarter showing a comparison of actual revenues and expenditures versus budgeted revenues and expenditures.  Extends the University of Hawaii’s authority for independent fiscal management and oversight for one additional year.

SB325, SD1, HD2 makes comprehensive omnibus changes affecting the University of Hawaii System. Appropriates funds.

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB265, SD1, HD1, relating to sex trafficking.  Replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony.  Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program.

SB1211, SD1, HD1, relating to the Major Disaster Fund.  Intends to increase the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys.  Requires the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of Fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure.

SB871, SD1, HD3, relating to highway safety.  Authorizes the director of transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another jurisdiction, under certain conditions.  Authorizes the examiner of drivers to waive the demonstration of the ability to operate a motor vehicle for individuals with licenses from other jurisdictions who receive reciprocal licensing privileges.

SB979, SD2, HD1, relating to youth.  Requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program until June 30, 2021.  Establishes the Safe Places for Youth Program Coordinator position.  Allows youth in crisis who are at least 14 but under 18 years of age to consent to accept services in the Pilot Program under certain circumstances.  Appropriates funds.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INVASIVE SPECIES

SB284, SD2, HD2, relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax and Turtle Bay.  Allocates monies      to the Turtle Bay conservation easement special fund.  Authorizes B&F to issue reimbursable general obligation bonds and to use the proceeds to acquire a conservation easement in Turtle Bay, Oahu.  Requires B&F to transfer the conservation easement to DLNR.  Allocates monies to B&F to reimburse to the state general fund the debt service on the reimbursement general obligation bonds and ongoing expenses related to the bonds.  Requires the Office of Planning to investigate acquiring lands owned by Dole Food Company, Inc.

SB1260, HD1, relating to recycling.  Mandates the recommendations made by the Office of the Auditor to the Department of Health regarding advance disposal fee glass containers and glass recycling. Requires the Department of Health to report on its implementation of the recommendations to the Legislature.

SB359, SD1, HD1, relating to the environmental response energy and food security tax.  Removes the revenue distribution from the barrel tax to the environmental response revolving fund beginning July 1, 2015.  Removes the sunset of the various funds related to the barrel tax.  Appropriates funds.

AGRICULTURE

SB1059, SD2, HD2, relating to invasive species.  Mandates the Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to perform specified tasks to address the spread of invasive species, particularly between islands.  Mandates the Department of Agriculture to establish a little fire ant pesticide treatment coupon pilot project and site map. Appropriates funds.

SB1060, SD2, HD1, allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects to assist the livestock industry by establishing a low-interest biosecurity loan program within the Department of Agriculture for construction, improvements, purchase of equipment and other costs related to biosecurity projects.

SB376, SD2, HD1 establishes the Hawaii Farm to School Program and an unspecified number of Farm to School Coordinator positions.

SB512, SD2, HD1, relating to agriculture.  Establishes the Hawaii One Plan Steering Committee to provide Hawaii farmers access to the Hawaii One Plan, an online interface to develop and obtain conservation plans that are necessary to seek Federal Farm Bill funding and comply with county grading and grubbing ordinances.  Appropriates funds.

SB382, SD2, HD2, establishes within the Livestock Revitalization Program a grant program for Qualified Feed Developers.  Appropriates funds for the grant program, reimbursements to Qualified Producers for feed cost, and a survey of local feed ingredient sources.  Appropriates funds for the Future Farmers of America Program.

LABOR

SB1122, HD1, relating to wage and hour law.  Increases the amount of guaranteed monthly compensation required to exempt an individual from minimum wage, overtime and record keeping requirements under the Hawaii Wage and Hour Law.

TAXES

SB555, SD1, HD1, relating to tax credits.  Increases the refundable food/excise tax credit.  Repeals credit for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 or above.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

SB1280, SD2, HD2, relating to transportation network companies.  Requires the public utilities commission to regulate transportation network companies and transportation network company drivers.  Requires drivers to register as business entities with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Establishes insurance requirements and qualifications for persons who operate or serve as drivers for transportation network companies.

SB1001, SD2, HD1, relating to manufacturing.  Establishes a temporary, nonrefundable income tax credit for taxpayers who incur certain expenses for manufacturing products in Hawaii.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.  Sunsets Jan. 1, 2023.

SB519, SD2, HD3, relating to vacation rentals.  Extends Act 326, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, for one year and requires the Department of Taxation to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the implementation of the law.  Authorizes DOTAX to enforce civil penalties for operators and plan managers who fail to display the certificate of registration and registration ID numbers for transient accommodations.  Authorizes fines to be deposited into the Tax Administration Special Fund.  Amends the definition of “transient accommodations.”

SB892, SD2, HD3, relating to omnibus Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.  Makes various appropriations for the Hawaii resilience and sustainability strategy.

ENERGY

SB717, SD2, HD1, relating to ethanol. Adds two individuals from the biotech and biofuel industries to the Petroleum Advisory Council.  Requires the Petroleum Advisory Council to study the effects that repealing the requirement that gasoline sold in the state for use in motor vehicles be composed of ten percent ethanol would have on Hawaii.

SB1050, SD2, HD3, relating to energy.  Requires electric utilities to file proposed community-based renewable energy tariffs with the public utilities commission by Oct. 1, 2015. Authorizes ratepayer participation in eligible community-based renewable energy projects.

SB1316, SD2, HD2, relating to electric vehicles.  Establishes a working group to examine the issues regarding requests to the board of directors of an association of apartment owners, condominium association, cooperative housing corporation, or planned community association regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging systems.

SB1047, SD1, HD1, relating to waste to energy.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Pelatron Q, LLC, with the development of waste-to-energy power plants in Hawaii.

SB349, SD2, HD2, relating to renewable energy tax credits.  Establishes a renewable fuels production tax credit and repeals the ethanol facility tax credit.  Allows qualifying taxpayers to claim an income tax credit for qualifying renewable fuel.  Applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.

SB1214, HD1, relating to the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds.  Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Maui Electric Company, Limited, and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.  Requires electric utilities to unbundle customer rates and charges to be eligible to receive financing assistance through SPRBs. 

CONSUMER PROTECTION

SB464, SD1, HD2, relating to consumer protection.  Requires disclosure in a form that may be retained by a consumer of terms, conditions, and cancellation procedures for automatic and continuous service offer contracts.  Requires a means for cancelling a contract prior to the expiration of a free trial period.

SB737, SD1, HD2, relating to check cashing.  Creates standards, including authorization for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to adopt rules, for check cashing businesses, including requirements for registration, surety, recordkeeping, examinations, and confidentiality.  Sets new penalties for check cashing businesses that violate the established standards.

MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS

SB181, SD1, HD1, relating to veterans.  Allows the Department of Education to continue awarding (until June 30, 2020) high school diplomas to qualified veterans who did not receive a high school diploma as a result of compulsory induction into active service in the Armed Services of the United States or any person whose high school education was interrupted due to wartime practices such as internment during World War II.

SB559, SD2, HD2, relating to the military.  Establishes and funds a Military Affairs Advisor position and an Assistant Military Affairs Advisor position in the Office of the Governor, with the Military Affairs Advisor reporting directly to the Governor.

TRANSPARENCY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

SB286, SD2, HD1, relating to the Office of the State Inspector General.  Establishes the Office of the State Inspector General, to be headed by the State Inspector General, to investigate complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption by a state agency or quasi-public agency, or by the officers or employees of a state agency or quasi-public agency.  Appropriates funds.

SB140, HD2, relating to government records.  Requires agencies to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of all government records under its control that are required to be made available for public inspection under Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act.

SB996, SD2, HD2, relating to ethics.  Appropriates funds to the State Ethics Commission to design and develop a system that allows filers to electronically file required statements and reports with the State Ethics Commission.

SB475, SD1, HD2, relating to open government.  Allows the electronic mailing of meeting notices; requires the posting of the notice on the state or appropriate county’s electronic calendar; and clarifies potential posting disputes.  Adds emergency meetings to the public meeting notice requirements.

SB652, SD1, HD2, relating to public agency meetings.  Requires a public agency board to report any discussion or final action taken during an executive meeting; provided that such disclosure is not inconsistent with the purpose of convening the executive meeting, but giving the board discretion to maintain confidentiality.

ELECTIONS AND CAMPAIGN SPENDING

SB287, SD2, HD2, Beginning with the primary election in 2016, requires the office of elections to implement election by mail in a county with a population of fewer than 100,000.  Beginning with the 2018 primary election, implement election by mail in each county with a population of fewer than 500,000.  Thereafter, election by mail is required for all elections.  Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

SB654, SD1, HD2, relating to campaign contributions.  Reduces from less than $500 to less than $100, the aggregate contribution amount a candidate may receive from ten or more anonymous persons at the same political function.

SB452, SD1, HD2, relating to campaign spending.  Requires that supplemental campaign spending reports be filed annually on January 31.

SB364, SD2, HD1, relating to elections. Establishes a process for the recounting of ballots cast in a contest. Authorizes that contests for cause challenging a contest result may also be based upon unlawful activity or force majeure.

FISCAL INITIATIVES

SB254, SD1, HD1, relating to the state’s CIP operating and deferred maintenance costs.  Requires information on the estimated operational costs of proposed capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance costs of state-owned buildings, facilities, and other improvements to be summarized in the multi-year program and financial plan and supplemental budget, as applicable.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

SB1177, SD1, HD1, appropriates funds to establish four full-time equivalent positions with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to address the findings contained in Auditor’s Report No. 14-11, “Audit of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.”

OTHERS

SB868, SD1, HD2, relating to liquor commissions.  Requires county liquor commissions to prescribe regulations on dancing in establishments licensed to serve alcohol through the adoption or amendment of administrative rules.

Video – Hawaii Dravet Syndrome Patient Treats Seizures with Cannabis Oil

MJ Kaneshiro has Dravet Syndrome (a rare form of epilepsy) and uses cannabis oil to treat her seizures.

Please support Senate Bill 682 SD2 HD1

Measure Title: RELATING TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA.

Report Title: Medical Marijuana; Patients and Caregivers; Protections; Certifying Physician

Description: Establishes a system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers. Requires that the number of licensed dispensaries and production centers increase gradually over an initial phase-in period. Prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations that discriminate against licensed dispensaries and production centers. Allows a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, or an owner or employee of a medical marijuana production center or dispensary to transport medical marijuana in any public place, under certain conditions. Replaces the requirement that a certifying physician be the qualifying patient’s primary care physician with a requirement that the physician have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient. Prohibits primary caregivers from cultivating medical marijuana after 6/30/2018, subject to certain exceptions. Appropriates funds. (HD1)

Hawaii Senate Honors Hokulea’s 40 Year History

In an historic gathering in the Senate chambers, Hawai’i’s State Senators recognized the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the twelve living crew members from the Hōkūle‘a’s maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. It is the first time all living members of the Hōkūle‘a’s original crew were together since the inaugural voyage.

Senatehonorshokulea

Recognizing the impact the Hōkūle‘a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society has made on the state of Hawai‘i, Senators honored the 40th anniversary of the legendary sailing canoe and its birth of the revival of traditional voyaging and wayfinding.

“This dedicated crew has inspired generations to be proud of their Pacific heritage and to continue to seek inclusive island wisdom of sustainability, responsibility and mutual respect and caring,” said Senator Gilbert Kahele (D 1st District – Hilo, Pi‘ihonua, Kaūmana, Waiākea, Keaukaha). “Hōkūle‘a is more than a voyaging canoe, she represents a design shared by the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific and the world to perpetuate and protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

“Forty years is a long time and it raises the question: ‘Is something like a voyaging canoe relevant? Does it still have meaning and value to our society?’” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator, president of PVS and crewmember of the 1976 maiden voyage. “We are grateful to have our governmental body take the time to celebrate the worldwide voyage and to me, it shows that Hawai‘i is still with us, that the canoe still matters. As the voyage now heads into the Indian Ocean, which is much more dangerous, it gives us the strength to set sail.”

Honored today on the Senate floor:

  • Ben Finney, Ph.D. – In 1973, Finney co-founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society with Herb Kāne and Tommy Holmes. He served as PVS’s first president.
  • Milton “Shorty” Bertelmann – Bertelmann first learned traditional, observational navigation from Mau Piailug during the sail from Hawai‘i to Tahiti. He served as captain on Hōkūle‘a in 1980 and 1985.
  • Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana – Often referred to as the “Mayor of Makaha,” Keaulana is the winner of the 1960 Makaha International.
  • John Kruse – Kruse is a pillar of the canoe community on Kaua‘i and continues to lead work on the Garden Isle’s own sailing canoe, Namahoe.
  • William “Billy” Richards – Richards serves as a director on several public service organizations, Native Hawiian and educational boards, including Paepae O He‘eia, Bishop Museum Association Council, and ‘Aha Kāne. He is presently the Director of Communications for Partners in Development Foundation, a public not-for-profit company that serves the Native Hawaiian community through social and educational programs.
  • Charles Nainoa Thompson – Thompson is the first Hawaiian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since such voyaging ended in Hawai‘i around the 14th century. He now teaches a system of wayfinding that he developed by synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern science.
  • Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee – Ah Hee is a veteran of the National Guard and served a tour in Vietnam.  He credits the Hōkūle‘a’s voyage for strengthening the Hawaiian culture in spirit.
  • Francis Kainoa Lee – Lee became a part of the Hōkūle‘a’s first crew after his wife signed him up for a workshop in Kualoa to get acquainted with sailing the wa‘a. Lee has sailed on many voyages since and continues to support the crews in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
  • Kimo Lyman – Lyman worked for the first fire department in Waialua. He is a veteran of many sails on Hōkūlea starting in 1976 and was the instrumental navigator on the voyage from Tahiti to Hawai‘i.
  • Gordon Pi‘ianai‘a – Pi‘ianai‘a’s career at sea began shortly after he graduated from the Kamehameha Schools for boys and he entered the Navy. Gordon started sailing on Hōkūle‘a in 1976 and has served as captain on numerous legs, while sailing a part of each of the voyages from 1980 through 2014.
  • Penny Martin – Martin is one of only two women who took part in Hōkūle‘a’s first voyage in 1976. She now works for Papahana Kualoa’s Lelekamanu Project where she teaches cultural- based environmental education.
  • Dr. Ben Young – Dr. Young served as the crew’s doctor on the first voyage in 1976. Young authored the article, Psychological Effects of Long Ocean Voyages, which is still used to educate new crewmembers on how to recognize and plan for the psychological effects that could be experienced during long voyages.

Volunteers and employees of the University of Hawai‘i Honolulu Community College and its Marine Education and Training Center and the                                                                                                                                                                                                        Polynesian Voyaging Society who have supported the many sails over the past 40 years were also recognized on the Senate floor.  They include:

  • Cecelia Lindo — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Haʻaheo Mansfield — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Bert Kaihe Barber — one of the first volunteers for PVS and Hōkūleʻa
  • Robert Perkins — Director of the Marine Education and Training Center (where Hōkūleʻa and PVS are housed)
  • Laura Thompson — PVS Board Member, wife of Pinky Thompson and mother of Nainoa Thompson
  • Clyde Nāmuʻo — CEO of PVS
  • Dennis Kawaharada — Kapiʻolani Community College, English faculty and long-time PVS documenter
  • Neil Hannahs — PVS Board Chair
  • Marisa Hayase — PVS Communications Director
  • Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa — PVS Board Member
  • Billy Ornellas — PVS Board Member
  • Erika Lacro — Chancellor of Honolulu Community College

“Hōkūleʻa continues to be Hawai‘i’s canoe, a floating classroom for Hawai‘i and Island Earth, building on the awareness and understanding generated from her historic launching forty years ago,” said Sen. Kahele. “We extend our best wishes for the safety and success in their journey on their Mālama Honua, the Worldwide Voyage.”

For more information on the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage: www.hokulea.com

Big Island Senator Named State of Hawaii Small Business Person of the Year

Senator Russell E. Ruderman was named the State of Hawaii Small Business Person of the Year, 2015 by the US Small Business Administration Hawaii District Office.

Along with awardees in 8 other categories, Senator Ruderman was honored by colleagues on the Senate and House floor.

Along with awardees in 8 other categories, Senator Ruderman was honored by colleagues on the Senate and House floor.

The award was given to Senator Ruderman as President and Founder of Island Naturals, a group of natural and organic food stores on the Big Island known for its commitment to quality and creativity. Established in 1997, Island Naturals now employs 150 people at three locations in Kona, Hilo, and Pahoa.

The U.S. Small Business Administration was founded in 1953, largely as a response to the pressures of the Great Depression and World War II. It has since delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses.

The Hawaii District Office, under the leadership of District Director Jane A. Sawyer, oversees the delivery of SBA’s programs throughout the State of Hawaii, the Territories of Guam and American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Hawaii Moon RIDERS Honored at Capital

The House of Representatives today recognized the Iolani School and Kealakehe High School robotics team, known as the Moon RIDERS, for their work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and their partnerships with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. 

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In February, the group was selected to take part in an experiment involving electrodynamic dust shield technology that will be conducted on the surface of the moon by the end of 2016. 

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

The selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.  The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project.