• Follow on Facebook

  • air-tour-kauai
  • what-to-do-media
  • RSS W2DM

  • puako-general-store
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • Say When

    February 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

Kupuna Caregivers Assistance Bill Clears Budget Committees

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary: Consequences of HB1586 – Relating to Taxation

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

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

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

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

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hawaii Lawmaker Calls for University of Hawaii Consolidation of Administration

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

Rep. Kaniela Ing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Senate Committee Passes Medical Aid in Dying Bill

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Tax Reform Bill Passes Committee

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

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

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

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

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

Zonta Hilo’s Mele Spencer Recognized at Hawaii State Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kupuna Caucus measures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Homeless Initiative Would Serve 2200 Households

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

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

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

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

Senate Launches Hawaiian Language Hearing Notice Pilot Project

The Hawai‘i State Senate this week will begin posting the hearing notices for two standing committees in both the English and Hawaiian language as part of the Senate’s continuing initiative recognizing the state’s official languages.

The Senate Committee on Water and Land (WTL), chaired by Senator Karl Rhoads (Dist.13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown) and the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs (HWN), chaired by Senator Maile Shimabukuro (Dist. 21 – Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua) are the piloting the initiative to have the hearing notices posted in both languages.

“Through our legislative materials, this project reflects the responsibility and role of the Senate in showing respect for our host culture,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi. “It makes sense these two important committees would be the first to expand on our Hawaiian language initiative.”

The Senate Order of the Day has been posted in dual languages along with the usage of Hawaiian diacritical markings in its public records since the Senate initiative on Hawaiian language was instituted in 2015.

“Government operations were conducted in the Hawaiian language up to the 1920’s so we have an entire lexicon that is the basis for all of our laws today,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “This initiative proudly reflects the language revitalization in Hawai‘i.”

To view all current committee hearing notices in the 2017 Legislative Session , visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hilo Community Supports State Efforts to Redevelop Banyan Drive and East Hawaii

Tonight at the Hilo Innovation Center in downtown Hilo business leaders, community leaders, tenants and lessees came together to listen to the Hilo Economic Development Plan presented by Jim McCully, spokesman of the Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association (KIAA).

Nearly 100 folks crowded the center and listened to presentations by McCully, HPM Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Jason Fujmoto and later on Senator Kai Kahele dropped in to say a few words.

SB1292/HB1479RELATING TO THE HILO COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DISTRICT.

Establishes the Hilo Community Economic District located in East Hawai`i and places it under the jurisdiction of the Hawai`i Community Development Authority.

SB1184/HB1310RELATING TO THE WAIAKEA PENINSULA REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT.

Establishes the Waiakea Peninsula Redevelopment District, Planning Committee and Revolving Fund.

Jason Fujimoto opened the meeting explaining why the meeting was called together. Fujimoto stated, “I know to some that the words economic revitalization may sound big and scary but in my mind it really boils down to the definition of community and community is a place where we live, where we work, where we learn and where we play and all of the components that make that happen.”

Fujimoto turned the microphone over to Jim McCully who explained some of the history of Banyan Drive and why economic development throughout all of Hilo, especially areas like KIAA are so important.

Senator Kai Kahele was able to make the end of the meeting and he stressed how important it was for the community to stand behind all the bills introduced this session and to contact our State legislators that will hear the bills in committee. He also thanked the broad range of community members that attended and also thanked his fellow Hawaii Island Legislators, Hawaii County Council members as well as the County of Hawaii Planning Department for their support and collaboration.

Hawaii State Legislative Candidate Charged for Distribution of Unauthorized Mailers

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Eric H. L. Ching, a candidate in 2016 for the state house of representatives district 31 seat (Moanalua, Red Hill, Foster Village, Aiea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua Gardens, Aliamanu, Lower Pearlridge), was charged yesterday with two misdemeanors for sending mailers without identifying the individual or organization that had paid for it. Incumbent state representative Aaron Ling Johanson defeated Ching in the general election.

Click to read the complaint

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission required Ching to pay a civil penalty of $25 on four previous violations. After repeatedly being warned to follow the same campaign law related to advertisements. Ching sent two more mailers that lacked the required disclaimers. The Commission only referred the matter to the Attorney General’s office for criminal prosecution after the fourth civil fine was assessed.

Ching is now charged with two counts of Unauthorized Advertisements, in violation of sections 11-391(a)(1) and 11-412(a) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. The maximum penalty for each count is a $2,000.00 fine and up to one year in jail.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Campaign laws keep Hawaii elections fair and transparent.”

Bills to Ban Coral-Killing Sunscreens Move Forward

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today passed House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone.

The bill was introduced in response to recent studies that have concluded that oxybenzone disrupts coral development and growth.

“Our reefs are an essential economic driver of our tourism industry, they sustain our fish populations for fishermen, and are home to many species found nowhere else in the world. Safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to oxybenzone are available already. How can we, in good conscience, continue to needlessly allow the use of this chemical that we know causes damage to coral?” said Rep. Lowen.

The committee also moved a bill forward that would allow continued sale of oxybenzone products, but impose new labelling requirements. HB 600 will next go to the House Floor and then to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Hawaii Keiki Caucus Sets Priorities in 2017 Legislative Package

Expanding the eligibility age for children to attend the preschool open doors program, support for teacher training on social and emotional learning, and funding to establish an after-school program for public middle and intermediate schools are just some of the measures included in this year’s Keiki Caucus Legislative Package.

Photo courtesy: House Communications

“These bills and resolutions address a variety of issues that assure Hawai‘i’s children and their families are happy, healthy and ready to learn and to succeed,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads (S Dist. 13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown). “The work we do together as a caucus is an investment in our future.”

Sen. Rhoads and Rep. Matt LoPresti are this year’s co-conveners of the Keiki Caucus. Keiki Caucus is a bipartisan group of House and Senate members and is supported by dozens of community advocates. Since 1994, the Keiki Caucus has been working with the community to develop proposals and initiatives that address the health and well-being of Hawai‘i’s youth.

“There is nothing more important in Hawaii than our keiki. As lawmakers, we need to do everything we can to protect and educate them,” said Rep. LoPresti (H Dist. 41 -‘Ewa, ‘Ewa Beach, ‘Ewa Gentry, ‘Ewa Villages, Hoakalei, Ocean Pointe). “This proposed legislation is thoughtful and proactive in reaching that goal. It’s never too early for social and emotional learning and anti-bullying education for our keiki – especially when children may be confused by current online rhetoric. They need better role models and we in the legislature can provide support to provide anti-bullying education this legislative session.

The Senate and House bills and resolutions submitted by the Keiki Caucus for the 2017 session include:

SB497/HB578  RELATING TO PRESCHOOL OPEN DOORS PROGRAM

Expands the qualifying age for the preschool open doors program to children four years old and younger.

SB 498/HB580  RELATING TO EDUCATION

Appropriates funds for the P4C Program of the University of Hawai‘i Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education and for teachers of the Department of Education to train with the P4C Program.

SB496/HB579  RELATING TO SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Requires the Department of Education to provide training on social and emotional learning to all youth-serving educators, health care professionals and counselors, and agencies and programs, as well as parents of students enrolled in public schools or public charter schools.  Appropriates funds to the Department of Education to conduct training on social and emotional learning.

SB499/HB581  RELATING TO THE ZERO TO THREE COURT

Appropriates funds for staff positions and various services to support the Hawai‘i zero to three court.

SB500  RELATING TO AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Establishes the R.E.A.C.H (resources for enrichment, athletics, culture, and health) program in the office of youth services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Establishes that the R.E.A.C.H. program will be run by a program specialist to be appointed by the governor. Establishes a special fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program. Requires the office of youth services to report to the legislature.

HB577  RELATING TO A NON-BINDING REFERENDUM ON STATEWIDE COMMUNITY WATER FLUORIDATION

Proposes a non-binding, statewide referendum on whether the State should pursue policies and programs for community water fluoridation in order to improve the overall dental health of Hawaii’s children and adults.

SCR8/HCR11  ENCOURAGING THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES MED-QUEST DIVISION TO IMPLEMENT AN INCOME DISREGARD PROGRAM FOR WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES

The Med-QUEST Division of the Department of Human Services is encouraged to implement an income disregard program that will enable workers with disabilities to seek or maintain employment, while also retaining necessary Medicaid benefits and supports.

SCR9/HCR9  URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO CARRY ON ITS WORK TO BETTER ENGAGE COMMUNITY GROUPS IN THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN HAWAI‘I’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Department of Education is urged to carry on its work to better engage community groups in the education of children and youth in Hawai‘i’s public schools.

SCR10/HCR8  REQUESTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION EDUCATION TASK FORCE

The Department of Education is requested to establish a Sexual Abuse Prevention Education Task Force.

SCR11/HCR10  ENCOURAGING THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, AND JUDICIARY TO PERMANENTLY ESTABLISH AND ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION IN THE HAWAI‘I INTERAGENCY STATE YOUTH NETWORK OF CARE TO BETTER SERVE YOUTH AND FAMILIES WITH COMPLEX NEEDS IN THE STATE

The Department of Education, Department of Health and Department of Human Services are encouraged to form the Hawai‘i Interagency State Youth Network of Care (HISYNC) to increase collaboration among state agencies and to develop a system of care for children, youth and families.

SCR12/HCR7  URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO EXAMINE THE APPLICATION PROCESS FOR THE PRESCHOOL OPEN DOORS PROGRAM TO ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL FAMILIES

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is urged to examine the application process for the preschool open doors program to ensure accessibility for all families. DHS is also encouraged to consider a paperless or other, cost-free application process that is accessible for all families.

Children’s Health & Safety, Access to Healthcare and Violence Against Women Focus of Women’s Legislative Caucus in 2017

Women’s marches in Hawaii and around the world show solidarity for women’s rights

The health and safety of children, access to healthcare, and protecting women from violence is the focus of a House-Senate joint package of bills submitted this session by the Women’s Legislative Caucus.  The caucus consists of women members from the state Senate and House and county councils.

Members of the Women’s Legislative Caucus seek to promote sound legislation that represent the diverse interests of women across the state and improve the well-being of women, children and families.

“I want all women in Hawaii to know that they have rights and that those rights will be protected under the law,” said Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa). “I was proud to take part in the Women’s March in Honolulu to show that we stand together and will be heard.”

“By coming together as the Women’s Legislative Caucus, we’re able to focus on measures that make positive changes in our communities,” said Senator Rosalyn Baker (South and West Maui). “When we create equal access to healthcare and opportunities for the women and children of Hawaii, we create healthier and safer communities for everyone.”

“This package of bills covers two main areas that continue to be important to all women in the State of Hawaii including access to health care and decreasing violence against women,” said Representative Lauren Matsumoto (Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres, Mililani). “We continue to propose legislation that will protect and make life better for women.”

Many of the issues addressed within the caucus package reflect the concerns of women nationwide. Several state legislators joined in the Women’s March held in cities across Hawaii, the nation and around the world, in support of gender equality and civil.

5 generations of women march in Hilo at the Women’s March to Washington

“It was empowering and gratifying to be a part of the historic Women’s March in Washington D.C.,” said Senator Laura Thielen (Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai). “The work we do at the state level to ensure that women’s rights are not diminished will be an important step in taking action on the message of unity and solidarity demonstrated over the weekend.”

A full list of official measures in the Women’s Legislative Caucus’s package for the current biennium is available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?report=package&pkey=12&year=2017&name=Women%27s%20Legislative%20Caucus .

The House and Senate bills submitted by the Women’s Legislative Caucus for the 2017 session include:

ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE

HB663/SB501 Relating to Limited Service Pregnancy Centers

Requires all limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services. Establishes privacy and disclosure requirements for individual records and information. Authorizes civil penalties and civil actions for enforcement and remedy.

HB664/SB502 Relating to In Vitro Fertilization Insurance Coverage

Removes discriminatory requirements for mandatory insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization procedures to create parity of coverage for same-sex couples, unmarried women, and male-female couples for whom male infertility is the relevant factor.

HB665/SB503 Relating to Health Insurance for Victims of Sexual Violence

Requires health insurance coverage for case management services by licensed mental health providers for victims of sexual violence.

HB666/SB504 Relating to Controlled Substances

Limits initial prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines to a maximum of seven consecutive days.

HB667/SB505 Relating to Opioid Therapy Informed Consent Process

Requires an opioid therapy informed consent process agreement to be executed between a patient and any prescriber of opioids within the State under certain conditions. Requires the administrator of the narcotics enforcement division to develop and make available a template of an opioid therapy informed consent process agreement for use in the State. Specifies the contents of the template. Limits initial prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines to a maximum of seven consecutive days.

ADDRESSING AND REDUCING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

HB668/SB506 Relating to Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits

Requires annual reporting to the legislature by the AG of statistical data pertaining to the testing of sexual assault evidence collection kits. Provides certain rights to sexual assault survivors. Institutes mandatory testing requirements in accordance with AG guidelines. Requires AG to report to 2018 legislature on the progress of implementing AG guidelines.

HB669/SB507 Relating to Domestic Abuse

Removes redundant investigating and reporting requirements of the Department of Human Services and the family courts in cases where temporary restraining orders are sought for alleged domestic abuse involving a family or household member who is a minor or incapacitated person.

HB670/SB508 Relating to Tax Credit

Creates the Hawaii Working Family Tax Credit, a refundable credit capped at 10 percent of the federal earned income tax credit.

HB671/SB509 Relating to Equal Pay

Prohibits enforced wage secrecy and retaliation or discrimination against employees who disclose, discuss, or inquire about their own or co-workers’ wages.

CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND SAFETY

HB672/SB510 Relating to Hawaii Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn Program

Formally establishes the Hawaii keiki: healthy and ready to learn program within the department of education. Establishes a special fund and appropriates $4,000,000 to expand and sustain the program.

HB673/SB511 Relating to Child Care Facilities

Requires DHS to publish reports of child care facility inspections and complaint investigations on DHS’s website. Creates an oversight committee for implementation of and compliance with publication requirements. Requires annual reporting to the Legislature. Makes an appropriation.

HB674/SB512 Relating to Child Care Providers

Requires all child care providers subject to regulation by the Department of Human Services to obtain and maintain liability insurance as a condition of licensure, temporary permission, or registration.

OTHER

HB675/SB513 Relating to Contraceptive Supplies

Authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptive supplies to patients, regardless of a previous prescription from an authorized prescriber. Specifies requirements pharmacists must meet prior to prescribing and dispensing contraceptive supplies.

HB676/SB514 Relating to Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

Authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and administer the human papillomavirus vaccine to persons between eleven and seventeen years of age. Specifies requirements pharmacists must meet prior to administering the human papillomavirus vaccine.

HB677/SB515 Relating to In Vitro Fertilization Procedure Coverage

Amends insurance coverage requirements for in vitro fertilization to allow for expanded applicability.

HB678/SB516 Relating to Family Leave and Domestic Violence

Allows an employee to take family leave in addition to victim leave when the leave is related to domestic or sexual violence against the employee or the employee’s minor child. Requires an employee to submit certification related to domestic or sexual violence of the employee or the employee’s minor child. Requires employer confidentiality of information related to domestic or sexual violence against the employee or the employee’s minor child.

HB679/SB517 Relating to Domestic Violence Training for State and County Employees

Requires any state or county agency to provide domestic abuse intervention training to their personnel whose job duties require or may require intervention in a domestic abuse situation.

HB680/SB518 Relating to Intimate Partner Violence

Requires licensees under the board of barbering and cosmetology to complete a one-time, one-hour training program on intimate partner violence awareness and education.

HB681/SB519 Relating to Officer-involved Domestic Violence

Specifies that citizen complaints against a police officer that involve allegations of domestic abuse against a family or household member on the part of the police officer shall not be required to be in writing or sworn to by the complainant.

HB682/SB520 Relating to Police Commissions

Amends the composition of the county police commissions to require that three commissioners on each police commission have backgrounds, including equality for women, civil rights, and law enforcement, for the benefit of the public.

HB683/SB521 Relating to Paid Leave

Establishes a 6-week paid maternity and paternity leave policy for government employees to ensure that Hawaii’s working families are adequately supported during times of needing to provide care to a newborn or bond with a new child.

HB684/SB522 Relating to Safe Sleep Policy

Strengthens the safe sleep policy for child care facilities for children less than one year of age, including requiring placement of children on their backs for sleeping and establishing notice and annual training requirements; requires such facilities to report death of such a child to DHS.

HB685/SB523 Relating to Civil Actions for Sexual Offenses Against Minors

Allows a civil action for recovery of damages to be brought by persons subjected to sexual offenses as a minor against the person who committed the act at any time by repealing the statute of limitations. Repeals the period during which a victim of child sexual abuse may bring an otherwise time-barred civil action against the victim’s abuser or an entity with a duty of care, including the State and counties.

VIDEO: Senator Kahele Announcing the “Hilo Community Economic District” Bill

Senator Kai Kahele announces the “Hilo Community Economic District” Senate Bill that he is about to introduce during the 2017 Hawaii State Legislature.

Building on the work of the Banyan Drive Hawai‘i Redevelopment Agency, this bill will expand the application and scope of their effort and move toward crafting a master plan of all state lands in the Hilo urban core, including Banyan Drive, Wailoa State Park, Kanoelehua Industrial Area, the Hilo International Airport and Pier, and other nearby state lands.

“This initiative combines the strengths of the public sector, private enterprise, and the community to conduct long-range planning and community building unlocking the economic potential of East Hawaiʻi,” said Sen. Kahele. “This is truly a game-changer for Hilo. With this kind of synergy, we can build a Hilo for the future. A Hilo that our children can thrive in.”

Hawaii Chief Justice Delivers 2017 State of the Judiciary Address

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald delivered the State of the Judiciary address today at a joint session of the State Senate and House.
The Chief Justice began by thanking Judiciary supporters, including the Hawaii State Legislature: “I thank the Legislature for its strong support of the Judiciary.  We are grateful to all of you for funding construction of a new courthouse in Kona,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “When that courthouse opens in 2019, it will provide the people of West Hawaii with a modern, efficient and secure place for obtaining justice.”

The Chief Justice also thanked Governor Ige for his strong support of the Kona courthouse and the Judiciary’s efforts to increase access to our civil justice system.

He acknowledged the Judiciary staff and judges for working every day to accomplish the Judiciary’s mission: “I am grateful to our eighty-two full time judges, many of whom are here today, and our dedicated staff who strive to ensure that everyone is treated with fairness and respect when they come before our courts.”

“One of the most fundamental roles of the courts is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.  We do that in many different ways.  First and foremost, we provide a fair and transparent forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes.  We do a lot of that: this past fiscal year, alone, more than 100,000 cases were filed in Hawaii’s courts, along with hundreds of thousands of traffic and parking citations,” Chief Justice Recktenwald stated.

Although the Judiciary’s core mission is deciding cases, the Chief Justice shared about the court’s role that goes beyond the courtroom.  He talked about how the courts are helping to address the underlying problems that affect our community such as drug addiction and homelessness through programs like the Veterans Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, Drug Court, HOPE Probation, and the Steps to Avoid Eviction program.

The Chief Justice also discussed Family Court and the work being done to protect families and children.  He highlighted an innovative program to address truancy, started by judges in First Circuit (Oahu) Family Court, in partnership with the Departments of Education and the Attorney General, as well as the Office of the Public Defender.  Waianae Intermediate School was selected as the site to implement this pilot project last school year, since it had the highest rate of truancy among middle schools on Oahu.

“Of the 63 students in the program, most had missed more than 3 months of the prior school year,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “The results were amazing.  78% of those students completed the school year with less than 10 unexcused absences.”

Another area with tangible results is the Judiciary’s efforts to increase access to justice.  In 2016, Hawaii was ranked among the top three states in the country for practices that provide access to justice.  These practices and initiatives include partnerships for Self-Help Centers, Hawaii’s Online Pro Bono (HOP), and self-help interactive form software, all of which assist individuals who cannot afford a lawyer to better navigate the legal system.  A recent study showed that for every dollar spent on civil legal services in Hawaii, more than $6 is returned to the economy.

Chief Justice Recktenwald also unveiled Hawaii Courts mobile, a free mobile app that will make it easier to access a wealth of information about the courts.  Hawaii is only the second statewide judiciary in the country to offer this service.  “We view technology as an opportunity to make the courts more transparent, more accessible, and more responsive,” he said.

The Chief Justice concluded the address by talking about the challenges of the future and the values that will guide the Judiciary as it moves forward.  These values include transparency and integrity.

“Integrity means standing up for what is right, even when it is not easy or comfortable to do so,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “For judges, it means faithfully applying the law to the facts of each case, without regard to the popularity or status of the parties, or fear of reprisal.  Throughout Hawaii’s history as a state, our courts have been open to all.  Our merit-based system of judicial selection and retention gives judges the independence to make the call when the legal interests of a minority are challenged by the will of the majority. Our judges are grateful for that trust and ever mindful of the great responsibility that accompanies it.

Hawaii House Leadership Reacts to State of the State Address

House Speaker Joseph Souki said Gov. David Ige’s State of the State Address did not contain any real surprises, but he is happy the speech showed support for education, rail on Oahu and making adjustments to the administration’s proposed state budget.

Photo Courtesy House Democrats

“We need to collaborate to get this done. He’ll have to make some (budget) adjustments, but for the foreseeable future, the economy doesn’t look bad,” said Souki.

Souki said even though the Council on Revenues predicts less tax income for the state in the near future, the three basic elements of our economy – tourism, military support and construction – all are performing strong right now.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said he supports the governor’s goal of investing to create a better school system, but hopes to see the details of his plan flushed out in the bills he submits to the Legislature.

Hawaii Representative Urges Community-Based Measures to Protect Coral Reefs

Napili Bay project to study oxybenzone-pollution prevention

State Representative Angus McKelvey reinforced his commitment to protecting Hawaii’s coral reefs by endorsing the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation’s upcoming study on strategies to manage oxybenzone pollution.

Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens, and presents a serious threat to coastal coral reefs. Coral reefs are not just ecologically important; they are also highly valued by the tourism industry and residential communities. Evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of community-based management strategies is therefore important to a variety of stakeholders.

“I am especially happy that the Napili Bay foundation has been selected to conduct this study. This shows that businesses, community groups, and others share in the concern for our coral reefs,” said McKelvey. “Currently, no reliable data regarding oxybenzone-pollution management strategies exists.

Thanks to the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation’s proactive efforts, this critical information will be available to make informed decisions about protecting not only Napili Bay’s coral reefs, but also elsewhere across the globe.”

The study will determine the effectiveness of a multi-pronged public relations campaign to promote alternatives to using sunscreens that contain oxybenzone. It will encompass an environmental and demographic assessment pre- and post-campaign launch. Toxicity assays will be measured against two control sites, where no campaign will occur.

“As one who burns early and often, and is a skin cancer survivor, I know how important it is to protect yourself from the sun,” McKelvey said, “but there are many products that, along with sensible sun habits, can protect your skin and our reefs.”

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement in Response to Zuckerberg Lawsuit

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui) issued a statement in response to the controversy surrounding Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s 100-acre Kauai estate, and will be introducing legislation through his House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs to address issues with “quiet title” and “Kuleana Lands” law.

“Zuckerberg is using the same legal loophole that sugar barons have historically exploited to scoop thousands of acres of Hawaiian lands. Zuckerberg’s actions may be legal and slightly more transparent, but it doesn’t make them right,” Ing said.

“We need to look at this issue through the eyes of the families affected. Here we have the world’s sixth richest individual, with a team of the world’s best lawyers, suing you, then asking you to make a deal. Obviously, no matter how expensive, you will lawyer up too.”

Ing claims that in these cases, defendants typically spend more on attorney fees than any payout they may receive. “So in the end, you have a mainland billionaire exploiting our legal system, and bullying his way through local residents, all to build his beach playground. This is not the intent of the law.”

Ing said that the State should take partial blame, because of outdated Kuleana Land title laws. A major problem with Kuleana Lands is that over generations of inheritances, land is divided into such tiny parcels that are legally worth nothing and not worth fighting over, if records can even be found. But Ing says these incremental losses adds up, and that of the original 23,000 acres designated Kuleana Lands, only a few thousand remain.

Ing claims there are better ways to address the dispute. “I was always taught that when disputes arise, to approach folks with aloha, talk story, and try to ho’oponopono. In Hawaii, you don’t initiate conversation by filing a lawsuit,” said Ing. “If Zuckerberg truly cared about Hawaiian culture, and these families, he would (1) let them hui together as a trust, rather than fighting them off one by one, then, (2) he would pay for and enter mediation to reach a fair deal without litigation.”

Ing’s bill, which is being drafted and will be submitted by next Wednesday, will require just that. “My proposal is fair and will help address this and hundreds of other quiet title cases that are weighted too heavily for the plaintiff. It goes well beyond sympathy for Native Hawaiians, because it could happen to anyone. We must stop mainland billionaires from stacking money to tilt Hawaii’s legal system against local residents.”