Hawaii Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of SB 2077

The State House and Senate today voted to override Gov. David Ige’s veto of SB 2077 to preserve the management transfer of three state run Maui hospitals to Kaiser Permanente.

The bill, now a state law, authorizes severance benefits or early retirement incentives for employees who would be directly affected by the impending privatization of state hospital operations on Maui and Lanai.

Last year state lawmakers authorized the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital, and the state reached an agreement in January, 2016 to have Kaiser Permanente operate all three.

Lawmakers were concerned that if they did not override the veto, the transfer would be in jeopardy along with the health and safety of Maui residents and visitors.

The hospital transfer would be the largest privatization of public facilities in state history, and Gov. Ige has predicted it will save the state $260 million in hospital subsidies over the next decade.

Veto Votes

The House with 43 votes… voted to override the Governors veto of SB2077. It is now law. Photo via Senator Kahele Facebook page.

Hawaii Senate Looking to Override Governor’s Veto, May Amend Bill

Hawaii Senators are looking at overriding a bill that Governor Ige had previously vetoed.

Today, Hawaii State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting an opinion as to whether at this point in time during special session the Senate may override the governors veto as you indicated we may amend a bill

Chin RequestFrom what it appears to me there appears to be a small war going on between the Governor, Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) and the Legislature.

A list of the bills vetoed and the governors rationale can be found here:  http://damontucker.com/2016/07/13/hawaii-governors-veto-list-and-rationale-summary/

I’m not sure what bill in particular the Senate is looking at overriding so this should be interesting to see what the Attorney Generals opinion is in the next 24 hours per rule 86 of the Senate Rules: Questions to State Officers.

Gov. Ige Supports Foster Youth and Resource Caregivers with Bill Signing

During the 2016 legislative session, Department of Human Services (DHS) advocated alongside the community for two bills that expand the opportunities for young people to discover who they are through education and experiences, supported by people who care for them. On June 29, Governor David Ige signed into law these two pieces of legislation.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

In a bill signing ceremony, Gov. Ige first signed House Bill 2350 into law as Act 133. This law supports resource caregivers, giving them more discretion to allow youth to participate in activities that will help them grow, learn, and thrive. Additionally, Gov. Ige signed Senate Bill 2878 into law as Act 134. This law extends the application period for former foster youth to access higher education benefits to age 26 and supports Imua Kākou, helping ease the transition for foster youth to adulthood.

The two laws brought together the community, DHS, and the very young people whose lives are impacted by the bills to work with legislators and stress the importance of these supports. The legislature’s passage and governor’s signing of these laws demonstrate the power of these young people and our government’s commitment to supporting them. The two laws represent shared commitment across the community and the three State of Hawai‘i branches of government, which was displayed in each branch’s presence at the bill signing ceremony.

Hawaii Governor’s Veto List and Rationale Summary

Gov. David Ige announced the vetoes of seven bills that were on his Intent to Veto list submitted to the State Legislature on June 27.

Governor Ige Profile

The governor notified legislative leaders of the vetoes on Monday, July 11, a day before the July 12 deadline.

The following bills have been vetoed:

SB 2077 Relating to Separation Benefits: This bill would have offered benefits to Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) employees who are facing the abolishment of their positions or workforce restructuring at Maui Region hospitals due to the transition from a state operation to a private operation.

RATIONALE:  There are three primary reasons for this veto.

  • The Employees Retirement System (ERS) believes this bill jeopardizes its tax-qualified status because it allows the affected employees to choose between a lump-sum cash payment that is taxable as wages, and a special employer subsidized early retirement benefit.

Under the IRS code, sections governing the state’s ERS plan, this is not permitted and therefore it threatens the plan’s tax-exempt status.

  • Affected employees were given a lump-sum cash payment upon separation from state service. However, the bill does not appropriate funds for this purpose. Nor does it provide authority to Hawai‘i Health Systems to make the payments.
  • Finally – the bill adds an additional unfunded liability of about $17.2 million to the ERS and $18.4 million to the Employer Union Benefits Trust fund (EUTF) to cover Maui employees separated from state service.

This undermines the state’s moratorium on enhanced benefits and puts the state’s long-term financial plan in jeopardy because the state’s long-term financial position is judged by bond rating agencies based upon the state’s outstanding unfunded liabilities.

Adding to the unfunded liabilities raises concerns for these agencies, about the state’s commitment to financial sustainability.

“This transition to a new system of care has never been done before. It is complex, and there are multiple stakeholders and issues at play. I have exercised my Constitutional duty to veto the bill and submit a remedy so the transition can move forward. My proposed cure remedies legal, technical and fiscal issues while respecting public employees and the collective bargaining process as the employees separate from state service. It is a path forward,” said Gov. Ige.

Proposed Amended Bill:

Governor David Ige submitted a proposed amended bill to the legislature that balances the needs of the various stakeholders and constituents on Maui. The proposal addresses the three primary concerns and are summarized as follows:

  • The state of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation as the employer – will negotiate with the exclusive representatives — for separation benefits for affected employees who separate from state service.
  • Affected employees would be authorized to purchase retirement credits for the amount of time they would have received if they had remained in state service up to June 30, 2017.
  • An appropriation of $25 million in general funds for allocation by the Director of Finance to HHSC – for the payment of the separation benefits and related fringe costs.

HB 1850 Relating to Taxation: This bill would have allowed transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents with the state.

RATIONALE: Looking at this bill from the single lens of taxes owed to the state, this measure did provide a mechanism to achieve that goal.

However– the use of an intermediary system — such as “tax accommodations brokers” as tax collection agents also provided a shield for owners who do NOT currently comply with county laws.

This could have also encouraged owner-occupants to choose “transient accommodation renters” at a time when affordable rental housing in our state is severely stressed and homelessness remains a critical concern statewide.

HB 1739 Relating to Employment: Would have prohibited employers from accessing or obtaining employees’ social media accounts and passwords by coercion or other means.

RATIONALE:  It remains unclear the extent to which this is occurring in workplaces at a level that requires state intervention at this time.

While the intent of this bill is commendable, it contains no provisions for enforcement or due process. The measure states that “an employer found in violation…  shall be subject to a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $100, to be collected by the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.”

However, DLIR does not currently have the staff, resources or expertise to administer the measure, which would include taking complaints, determining violations, education of rights, determination and collection of fines and administrative review.

HB 1747 Relating to Motor Vehicles: Would have authorized police officers to request towing of motor vehicles if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence.

RATIONALE:  This measure would have authorized police to tow vehicles only for the offense of driving under the influence. This severely limits this bill, particularly for repeat offenders. The original intent of this bill was to allow police to tow for VARIOUS traffic offenses, including driving without a license, habitually driving under the influence and operating a vehicle while a license has been revoked.

This bill would have also undermined a law that permits towing of a vehicle when an operator has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, without a valid driver’s license or with fraudulent license plates or registration emblems.

HB 2016 Relating to Public Employees: This measure would have required the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to transfer contributions by retirees and beneficiaries to the Hawai‘i Employer Union Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) for health insurance payments.

After January 1, 2017, the EUTF would have been required to authorize automatic electronic payments to EUTF in lieu of withholdings.

RATIONALE: This bill would have required “information system” modifications. The process development procedures will take longer to implement than the January 1, 2017 deadline will allow. Also – the ERS Board of Directors expressed concerns about the lack of authorization to expend funds from the ERS Trust Fund, to make the necessary modifications that would have been required to implement this bill.

HB 2277 Relating to the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission: This measure aimed to clarify the membership and mission of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

RATIONALE: The specific number of commission members was deleted from the bill. This created a problem in determining quorum. This problem can be resolved by either restoring the maximum membership number or providing a specific number of members required for quorum.

SB 3102 Relating to the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism: This measure would have required state agencies to implement inter-agency agreements without entering into a memorandum of agreement or memorandum of understanding.

The measure also aimed to diversify the economy by establishing the High-Growth Grant Program, and appropriate $1 million to the HGGP special fund to provide business grants.

RATIONALE: The concern is that this bill did not provide a clear rationale for requiring the implementation of inter-agency agreements without MOAs or MOUs. Also – the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) does not have the expertise and resources to develop inter-agency agreements for all programs statewide.

In addition – the purposes of the High-Growth Grant program were very broad. The program’s special fund would likely not have been self-sustaining without more clarity about the program’s purpose.

A complete list of vetoed and approved bills can be found here: http://governor.hawaii.gov/

Hawaii House and Senate Meet in Special Session to Amend Maui Hospital Workers Bill

The House and Senate met today in special session following Gov. David Ige’s veto of SB2077.

Click to see bill

Click to see bill

The bill provides state benefits to workers facing position abolishment, reduction-in-forces or workforce restructuring as the state moves forward with an agreement to have Kaiser Permanente assume control of operations at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

Legislative leaders said they will not move to override the governor’s veto, but will work with him to fashion a bill that will protect the health, safety and welfare of Maui residents and ensure a smooth transition from public to private management of Maui hospitals.

The legislature will be in recess until Monday morning when it will reconvene at 11 a.m. to take up amendments to the bill. The recess will also give time for the governor to negotiate a settlement with the UPW in its lawsuit objecting to the transition.

A final vote on the amended bill is expected on Wednesday, July 20.

Good Government Groups Announce 2016 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner

scalpel award
The outcome of all 2016 legislative measures transmitted to the Governor will be known by July 12, which is the deadline for final approval or veto of the legislature’s bills from this year.  Unfortunately, the Governor has not announced his intent to veto HB1689, CD1 “Relating to Taxation,” which the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have identified as their 2016 “Rusty Scalpel” winner.  The “Rusty Scalpel” award 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.

Towards the end of the 2016 legislative session, without meaningful opportunity for public or agency comment, a conference committee replaced the contents of HB 1689, SD 2 with a totally unrelated bill whose subject never had a public hearing in the Senate.  The original HB 1689 amended the existing ethanol facility income tax credit to include other renewable fuels.
hb1689
All House and Senate committee hearings on HB 1689 concerned tax credits for production of renewable fuels.  But inexplicably, HB 1689, CD 1 did not in any way concern tax credits for production of renewable fuels.  Instead, to everyone’s surprise, HB 1689, CD 1 proposed a new tax credit for production of organic food. 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.

Ann Shaver, League President, said “This makes a travesty of the democratic process.   Just because there are enough votes to pass a measure doesn’t make it Constitutional.  HB1689, CD1 was obviously unrelated to the bill’s original purpose.  The content of the CD1 stunned us; it was passed without a single public hearing.  There clearly was no justification.”


The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit http://www.lwv-hawaii.com

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and improving Hawaii’s political process and holding government accountable to the public interest. For more information, visit hi.commoncause.org

From Senate President Ron Kouchi to Attorney General Douglas Chin Requesting a Formal Legal Opinion

The following letter dated July 6, 2016 from Senate President Ron Kouchi to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting a formal legal opinion on Article V, Section 6, Hawaii State Constitution vis-à-vis HRS Sections 26-34 and 269-2 was sent to Hawaii Senators today:

Senate to Attorney GeneralTo: Douglas S. Chin, Esq., Attorney General

RE: Request for Formal Legal Opinion: Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Article V, Section 6 Hawaii State Constitution vis-à-vis HRS sections 26-34 and 269-2

Dear Attorney General Chin:

I am informed that by letter dated June 27, 2016, you provided Governor David Y. Ige with an informal opinion relating to the Public Utilities Commission – Interim Appointment and by letter dated June 30, 2016, you essentially reissued the June 27, 2016 informal opinion to Senator Rosalyn Baker.

The issue presented by Governor Ige and Senator Baker was whether Governor Ige had the authority to make an interim appointment naming Thomas Gorak to the PUC to replace Commissioner Michael Champley, a de jure holdover commissioner pursuant to statute, after the Hawaii State Legislature, including the Hawaii State Senate, had adjourned sine die.

You assert that Hawaii State Constitution Article V, Section 6 confers interim appointing authority to Governor Ige and this authority cannot be limited by statute (HRS sections 26-34 and 269-2).

Questions presented:

  1. You assert that Article V, Section 6 is “self-executing; it does not contain the phrase “as provided by law”, and therefore, “the holdover provision contained in HRS section 269-2 cannot be read to qualify the self-executing powers conferred upon” Governor Ige to make an interim appointment. If Article V, Section 6 contains the phrase “as provided by law” in relation to the “term of office and removal of such members”, can Article V, Section 6 be limited by HRS sections 26-34 and 269-2?
  2. Assuming that Article V, Section 6 contains the phrase “as provided by law” in determining the “term of office and removal of such members”, does the language contained in HRS section 269-2(a) stating that the PUC members “shall be appointed in the manner prescribed in section 26-34” limit the governor’s interim appointing authority in Article V, Section 6?
  3. Assuming that Article V, Section 6 contains the phrase “as provided by law” in determining the “term of office and removal of such members”, does HRS section 26-34, Selection and terms of members of boards and commissions, prohibit replacement of a de jure holdover member? See, HRS section 26-34(b).
  4. Assuming that Article V, Section 6 is indeed “self-executing” and does not contain the phrase “as provided by law”, are HRS section 269-2(a), requiring the appointment of members “in the manner prescribed in section 26-34” and HRS section 26-34(b) unconstitutional?
  5. In light of your informal opinions via letters dated June 27, 2016 and June 30, 2016, are Attorney General Opinions 73-7 and 80-4 null, void and overturned?
  6. Assuming that Article V, Section 6 is indeed “self-executing” and does not contain the phrase “as provided by law”, are the at least fifteen other holdover statutes relating to various boards and commissions likewise unconstitutional?

In responding to the questions presented, please state your reasons therefore with specificity and detail, in order that this office will be able to properly inform the Senate in exercise of all of its rights and responsibilities as provided by law.

As time is of the essence, request is made that a formal Attorney General Opinion be issued forthwith. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Sincerely,
RONALD D. KOUCHI

Senate President, 8th Senatorial District

“Joel’s Law” to Become Law in Hawaii – Broadens Offense of Murder One

Tomorrow at a bill signing ceremony at the Hawaii State Capital, Governor Ige will sign into law HB 1726, otherwise known as “Joel’s Law”.

HB 1726 broadens the offense of murder in the first degree to include cases in which the victim was restrained as a shield, hostage or for ransom or reward.

Joel Botelho's sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual "Joel Bowl" football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Joel Botelho’s sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual “Joel Bowl” football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Joel Botelho, an all-star quarterback for Castle High School, was shot and killed outside his parent’s home in 2011. His mother, Nonohe Botelho, worked with Vice Speaker Mizuno in drafting the bill and shepherding it through the legislative process.

“Under Hawaii statute convictions for First Degree Murder are rare because the criteria that needs to be met is quite limited.” Says Vice Speaker Mizuno. “As a result murders that are committed in a particularly heinous manner are often convicted of the lesser charge of second degree murder. A mother’s love of her child is the greatest love and it was my honor to work with Nonohe in crafting this piece of legislation.”

Joel Botelho’s sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual “Joel Bowl” football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Women’s Health, Safety Gets Hawaii State Support with New Laws

Measures that toughen the laws on violence against women, increase healthcare access, and provide more help for female veterans are among the bills signed into law today by Governor David Ige.

2016 Women's Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

2016 Women’s Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

A total of nine bills have been signed into law that were part of a package of bills submitted this session by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC).  Additionally, five resolutions were adopted by the Legislature. The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan organization comprised of women legislators in the House and Senate who support an agenda designed to improve the lives of women, children, and families in Hawai‘i. This year, the WLC expanded their membership to include women lawmakers at the City and County level.  The WLC co-conveners for 2016 are Senators Rosalyn H. Baker and Laura H. Thielen and Representatives Della Au Bellati and Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto.

“I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Caucus this year,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai). “The bills we advocated for this session address serious concerns about violence against women and healthcare and will make a difference in the lives of women and children throughout the state.”

“I’m pleased that these important measures made it to the Governor’s desk and are now law,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (South and West Maui). “There’s much more work to be done to improve the lives of women and children here and I look forward to continuing these efforts with our colleagues in 2017. These new laws, however, demonstrate a strong commitment by our state to address health and safety concerns for women and families throughout Hawai’i.”

“By collaborating with our community partners and all of our colleagues in the Legislature, the Caucus has been successful in passing laws and policies that will improve the health and well-being of women and families throughout the State.  I am incredibly proud to be part of this bi-partisan Caucus that is committed to tackling complex and challenging problems, year after year, to find solutions that will benefit the people of Hawaii,” said Rep. Della Au Bellati (Makiki, Tantalus, McCully, Pawa‘a, Mānoa)

“The bills the Governor is signing today represents this Legislature’s continued commitment to women and addressing key issues such as sex trafficking, HIV/STD, jury duty and breastfeeding, and veterans issues statewide.  While there is still more work to be done, I am incredibly proud of the work our bi-partisan caucus has accomplished this year and I look forward to continuing our work in the next legislative session,” said Rep. Lauren Matsumoto (Schofield, Mokulē‘ia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipi‘o Acres, Mililani)

The House and Senate bills signed by the Governor today:

  • HB1902 CD1: Creates the offense of sex trafficking where a person advances prostitution by the use of force, threat, fraud, or intimidation or where a minor is prostituted.  Sex trafficking is classified as a violent crime and a class A felony.
  • HB1907 CD1: Requires all law enforcement agencies and departments charged with maintenance, storage, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits to conduct an inventory of all stored kits and report to the Attorney General.  Requires the Department of the Attorney General to report to the Legislature on the number of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits being stored, plans and procedures for the disposition of new and untested kits, and related information.
  • HB 1897 CD1: Ensures that all insurers in the State provide insurance coverage for sexually transmitted disease screenings, including HIV and AIDS.
  • SB2319 CD1: Requires health insurers in the State, including health benefits plans under the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and Medicaid managed care programs, to cover reimbursement for contraceptive supplies intended to last for up to a twelve-month period for an insured.
  • SB2317 CD1: Requires and appropriates funds for the Department of Health to conduct child death reviews, implement a program to perform maternal death reviews, and submit annual reports to the Legislature relating to child and maternal deaths and death reviews in the State.
  • HB2772 CD1: Adopts the preliminary recommendation of the affirmative consent task force including requiring the University of Hawaii to train employees and students on sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking policies.
  • HB2489 CD1: Appropriates funding for a veterans services counselor IV position within the Office of Veterans’ Services to address problems and needs of all veterans, with a primary focus on female veterans.

The following bills were signed into law earlier this session:

  • SB2315 HD2 (Act 46) which exempts from jury duty a woman who is breastfeeding for a period of two years from the birth of a child.
  • SB2310 (Act 4) provides further safeguards and protections for victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting the court from granting mutual protective orders unless separate petitions are filed and reasonable notice of the filing of a separate petition is provided.

The following resolutions were adopted by the Legislature:

  • HCR137 SD2: Requesting the Department of Education to convene a working group to review after-school programs in Hawai‘i’s public middle and intermediate schools.
  • HR89: Requesting the Department of Education to affirm its commitment to uphold the tenets of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972.
  • SCR85 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR56 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR57 SD1: Requesting the convening of a paid Family Leave Task Force to examine the benefits and costs of a potential paid family leave program in Hawai‘i.

Governor Ige Signs Groundbreaking Birth Control Access Bill Into Law

Today, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) celebrated Governor David Ige’s signing of Senate Bill 2319, a groundbreaking bill that will dramatically expand access to birth control in Hawaii. SB 2319 makes Hawaii just the first state in the country to require all public and private insurance providers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time, meaning that women will only have to pick up their prescription once a year.

Governor Ige Profile“We are proud to support this commonsense solution to reduce barriers to birth control in Hawaii. At a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at reproductive health care access, Hawaii is bucking the trend and setting a confident example of what states can do to actually improve access.

Everyone deserves affordable and accessible birth control that works for us, regardless of income or type of insurance,” said Laurie Field, Hawaii Legislative Director for PPVNH. “We thank Governor Ige and the sponsors of SB 2319 for taking a stand on reproductive health and rights in Hawaii.”

Consistent access to birth control gives women the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and education opportunities, healthier pregnancies, and making them less likely to depend on government programs. Today, most women have to refill their birth control every month, which is a burden for many and leads to inconsistent use, and accounts for 43 percent of all unintended pregnancies.

Women without reliable access to transportation or living in rural areas have more barriers to dependable access to birth control, leaving them at a greater risk for unintended pregnancies. By requiring that women get 12 months of birth control at a time, Hawaii will take a substantial step towards reducing barriers to birth control access and decreasing unintended pregnancies.

“To be truly accessible, birth control must be affordable. The passage of this bill makes that possible. Women should be able to access affordable birth control without unnecessary hurdles such as extra charges or unnecessary time restraints. Many women, especially low-income women, women in rural communities and women of color face barriers that make it challenging to get the prescriptions they need.

We are proud to be the first state in the country to offer 12 months of birth control and expand women’s access,” said Senator Rosalyn Baker, Senator Laura Thielen and Representative Della Au Belatti of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

This is the second time in the past month that birth control access was improved in Hawaii. In May, Planned Parenthood launched an innovative app allowing women anywhere in the state to securely speak to a provider and receive prescriptions to hormonal contraceptives that are then discretely shipped to their home address.

Together, SB 2319 and the Planned Parenthood Care app have given Hawaii women significantly greater access to birth control in 2016, putting our state on the forefront of reproductive health nationwide.

Big Island Political Poll Results Week Ending 7/3/16

It’s been an interesting few days as I started up the Big Island political polls again.  This year I have made polls for all the races that Big Island residents can vote on in the upcoming elections.
Vote Vote
Here are some things I have found interesting about the polls:

  • The most popular poll as well as the closest race has been Hawaii Senate District 2 with 497 votes cast so far.
  • Three current council members are behind in their polls.
  • The U.S. Senate poll is interesting, however, I think it’s not reflective of what things will be down the line.
  • These polls are not scientific and some people are getting more worked up over them then they should.

Some folks have said that these polls are slanted, but I’m not sure how they are possibly slanted.  Yes, folks can vote multiple times if they access different IP Addresses/Cookies.

YES – VOTING IS ENABLED SO THAT FOLKS CAN VOTE ONCE PER WEEK from the same IP Address/Cookies (I’ve designed it this way as peoples opinions of candidates may change as it gets closer to the actual elections)

So without further a due… here are the first Poll Results for the week ending Sunday, July 3rd 2016:

RESULTS:

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii State Senate District 1?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(L) ARIANOFF, Kimberly    7          3.89

(D) KAHELE, Kaiali’i           117      65

(D) ONISHI, Dennis (Fresh) 37        20.56

(D) ROBINSON, Kaloa R.N             19        10.56

180 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii State Senate District 2?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(L) FOGEL, Frederick F        4          0.8

(D) ILAGAN, Greggor          258      51.91

(D) RUDERMAN, Russell E.            235      47.28

497 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 1?

Answer Text   Votes   %

  (D) KIMBALL, Heather L.    50        50    

(D) NAKASHIMA, Mark M.            44        44

(R) YOUNG, Byron   6          6

100 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 2?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(D) COWSER, Janis E.          3          2.83

(N) LARSON, Grace Dei       3          2.83

(D) TSUJI, Clifton K. (Clift) 52        49.06  

(D) WONG, Jonathan             48        45.28

106 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 3?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(L) ARIANOFF, Gregory      5          2.86

(D) NANIOLE, Ainoa (Alexander)   52        29.71  

(D) ONISHI, Richard H.K.    45        25.71

(G) PISCIOTTA, Kealoha      73        41.71

175 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 4?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(N) JONES, Luana     24        22.22

(D) SAN BUENAVENTURA, Joy A           79        73.15  

(C) STEPHENS, Moke           5          4.63

108 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 5?

Answer Text   Votes   %

  (D) CREAGAN, Richard P.   53        79.1

(L) LAST, Michael L.             14        20.9

67 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 6?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(D) KOSSOW, Bronsten (Kalei)        13        18.31

(D) LOWEN, Nicole E.          50        70.42

(D) MANN, Thomas F. (Tom)            3          4.23

(R) PRATT, Bruce C.             5          7.04

71 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for in Hawaii House Representative District 7?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(R) COAKLEY, Jeffrey (Jeff)           5          5.62

(D) EVANS, Cindy    29        32.58

(D) TARNAS, David             55        61.8  

89 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee (Hawaii Island)?

Answer Text   Votes   %

KAHUI, Bo V. (Craig)           15        12.3

LINDSEY, Robert K. (Bob) 57        46.72  

TRASK, Mililani B.    50        40.98

122 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii Island Prosecuting Attorney?

Answer Text   Votes   %

KAGAMI, Michael S.            33        23.4

ROTH, Mitch 108      76.6  

141 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 2?

Answer Text   Votes   %

CHUNG, Aaron S.Y 61        58.65

HALVERSEN, William J       6          5.77

HOPKINS, Margarita (Dayday)        37        35.58

104 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 3?

Answer Text   Votes   %

CASTILLO, Grace     46        28.75

KELII, Moana M.H    23        14.38

LEE LOY, Susan (Sue)          91        56.88

160 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 4?

Answer Text   Votes   %

BERNARD, Michael R.         9          5.11

GREENE, Madie        71        40.34

OHARA, Eileen         96        54.55

176 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 5?

Answer Text   Votes   %

PALEKA, Danny       102      41.98

RUGGLES, Jen          141      58.02

243 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 6?

Answer Text   Votes   %

DAVID, Maile (Medeiros)     78        45.35

WHITING, Raina       94        54.65

172 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 7?

Answer Text   Votes   %

DOMINGO, Nestorio (Nestor)          25        24.75

KANUHA, Dru Mamo           76        75.25

101 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 8?

Answer Text   Votes   %

CITRON, Jeffrey (Jeff)          16        15.38

EOFF, Karen S.          88        84.62

104 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for Hawaii County Council District 9?

Answer Text   Votes   %

RICHARDS, Herbert (Tim)   100      65.36

WILLE, Margaret       53        34.64

153 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for the U.S. Senate Seat?

Answer Text   Votes   %

(C) ALLISON, Joy J.             2          0.89

(R) CARROLL, John             7          3.11

(D) CHRISTENSEN, Makani            112      49.78

(A) GIUFFRE, John M. (Raghu)       2          0.89

(R) GOTTSCHALK, Karla (Bart)      1          0.44

(D) HONEYCHURCH, Tutz             2          0.89

(L) KOKOSKI, Michael A     0          0

(R) PIRKOWSKI, Eddie       1          0.44

(D) REYES, Arturo    0          0

(R) ROCO, John P.     1          0.44

(D) SCHATZ, Brian   92        40.89

(D) SHIRATORI, Miles         5          2.22

225 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for U.S. Representative – District 2

Answer Text   Votes   %

(D) CHAN HODGES, Shay 14        8.59

(D) GABBARD, Tulsi            89        54.6

(R) HAFNER, Eric     51        31.29

(R) KAAIHUE, Angela Aulani          7          4.29

(N) TURNER, Richard L.      2          1.23

163 total votes

Poll Report: Who would you vote for the Mayor of Hawaii County?

Answer Text   Votes   %

AKINA, Alvin A., Jr 0          0

BRYANT, Paul (Amaury)      1          0.35

CUNNINGHAM, Daniel H. 0          0

HAPAI, Marlene (Nachbar)   9          3.18

HOFFMANN, Peter S. (Pete)            29        10.25

KA’EHU’AE’A, Wendell      7          2.47

KIM, Harry     79        27.92

LAU, Wally    143      50.53

LUTA, Helen O. (Ole)            0          0

MCCANDLESS, Shannon K.K.        4          1.41

TAMASHIRO, Gene             0          0

WAUGH, Timothy R. (Timmy)         1          0.35

WEINERT, Eric, Jr. (Drake) 10        3.53

283 total votes

Cool Schools Initiative – Hawaii First State to Mandate Clean Energy Schools

The Department of Education is expected to spend nearly $1 billion on electricity by 2035, but can save hundreds of millions through progress toward clean energy goals established by House Bill 2569, signed by Gov. David Ige today.

hb2569

“This bill will save hundreds of millions in future operating costs that can be better spent in classrooms and higher paid teachers instead of utility bills,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the bill’s introducer. “It also creates important accountability and transparency requirements for the $100 million the state has already given the DOE to cool classrooms.”

The measure requires the DOE to:

  • Establish a goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035;
  • Expedite the cooling of all public school classrooms; and
  • Submit an annual transparency and accountability report to the Legislature containing information about its progress toward the cooling of all classrooms and net-zero energy goal.

The state Department of Education spends about $48 million a year on electricity. By installing more efficient lighting, using natural ventilation, and investing in renewable technologies such as solar panels and batteries to power schools, energy costs will be reduced and student performance improved, according to Lee.

 

Hawaii is the first state to mandate that clean energy be used by all its public schools.

Governor Ige Signs Housing, Health Care Bills Into Law

Yesterday, Gov. David Ige signed into law six housing bills that aim to address the long-standing, complex housing shortage that has been a problem in Hawai‘i for decades.

Governor Ige Profile“My administration and the Legislature worked tirelessly and collaboratively on various measures to address the housing shortage this past session. We focused on maximizing the use of financing tools, we re-oriented target policies to boost production and we collaborated with the private sector and the counties to increase the housing supply,” said Gov. Ige.

The governor also signed into law bills relating to foster children, insurance and gender identity, long-term care facilities, health care and aging.

Here is a complete list of bill signed by the governor on Wednesday, June 29:

Housing Bills: SB 2561 (Act 127), SB 2566 (Act 128), SB 2833 (Act 129), SB 3077 (Act 130), HB 2293 (Act 131), HB 2305 (Act 132)

HB 2350 (Act 133) Relating to Foster Children – Expands opportunities for children in foster care to participate equally with classmates and peers by providing qualified immunity from liability for caregivers and childcare institutions for decisions regarding child’s participating in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural and social activities…

SB 2878 (Act 134) Relating to Youth Transitioning from Foster Care – Extends the application deadline for financial assistance for higher education available to foster or former foster youth.

HB 2084 (Act 135) Relating to Insurance – Prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit plans under chapter 87A, HRS, from discriminating with respect to participation and coverage under a policy, contract, plan or agreement against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

HB 1943 (Act 136) Relating to Long-Term Care Facilities – Provides an inflationary adjustment to the methodology used to reimburse facilities for long-term care of Medicaid recipients for FY 2016-17.

SB 2076 (Act 137) Relating to Health Care – Establishes a license program for suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and related supplies through the Office of Health Care Assurance.

HB 1878 (Act 138) Relating to Aging – Appropriates funds for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly.

Governor Ige Releases Intent to Veto List

Gov. David Ige notified legislative leaders and key lawmakers that nine bills are on the Intent to Veto list. The Hawai‘i State Constitution requires the governor to give notice to the Legislature by today’s deadline.

Governor Ige Profile

On July 12, any measure that has not been signed or vetoed by Gov. Ige will become law with or without his signature.

Intent to Veto List:

HB1370 HD1 SD2 CD1          RELATING TO DIVORCE

This measure authorizes the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to make direct payments to a divorced spouse of an ERS member or retired ERS member upon order of the court.

Rationale: The ERS must modify its information technology systems before direct payments can be made. It will need state resources to do so. The ERS trustfund cannot be used to pay for ITS work.

HB1739 HD2 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT

This measure prohibits employers from accessing and/or obtaining employees’ social media accounts and passwords via coercion or other means.

Rationale: In reviewing testimony on this measure, it remains unclear if this practice is occuring in workplaces at a level that requires state intervention at this time.

Also, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was not provided with any additional financial resources to undertake enforcement. DLIR will need both time and resources to establish an enforcement mechanism.

HB1747 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLES

This measure authorizes police officers to request towing of motor vehicles if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

Rationale: Current enforcement does not allow drivers to operate their vehicles anyway, once they’ve been arrested or cited for DUI.

Also, there are other motor vehicle violations where police should be authorized to request towing. We suggest that this bill be expanded to include the other violations for consistency across the state.

HB1850 HD1 SD3 CD1          RELATING TO TAXATION

The intent of this measure is to allow transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents with the state. This would allow companies such as Airbnb to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of the hosts and visitors who use their services.

Rationale: We believe there could be unintended consequences of this proposed measure. Vacation rentals fall under the city’s jurisdiction. In order for this bill to work as intended, counties must more actively enforce their own laws on vacation rentals before they claim additional tax revenues.

HB2016 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

This measure requires the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to transfer contributions by retirees and beneficiaries to the Hawai‘i Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) for health insurance payments.

Rationale: While we understand the practical reasons for this bill, the ERS would be required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects health insurance information.  Additionally, the ERS would need sufficient time and resources to make modifications to information technology sytems to process such payments.

HB2277 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO THE KING KAMEHAMEHA CELEBRATION COMMISSION

The intent of this measure is to clarify the membership and mission of the King  Kamehameha Celebration Commission (KKCC).

Rationale: Unfortunately, the amendments proposed in this measure create an ambiguity in the law on how the commission will make decisions.

The specific number of commission members was deleted from the bill.  Consequently, the commission will not be able to determine a quorum for the purpose of conducting business.

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2           RELATING TO SEPARATION BENEFITS (Maui Region hospitals transition)

This measure offers benefits to Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation employees facing position abolishment, reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring.

Rationale: This measure is still undergoing fiscal, legal, and policy review at this time.

SB2542 SD2 HD1 CD1       RELATING TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE

This measure establishes a full funding policy and budgetary procedures for routine repair and maintenance of state-owned buildings, including judiciary-owned facilities.

Rationale: This measure is still undergoing fiscal, legal, and policy review at this time.

SB3102 SD1 HD1 CD1           RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND TOURISM

This measure mandates that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourist (DBEDT) develop —  and state agencies enter into – inter-agency agreements with the department rather than memoranda of agreements (MOAs) or memoranda of understanding (MOUs).  This measure also establishes a state grant program to fund business development  for qualified businesses.

Rationale: It is not clear from the testimony why state agency inter-departmental agreements are more efficient or effective in directing resource allocation.

Hawaii Senator Calls for Ban on Sunscreen with Oxybenzone

Compound found in sunscreen and personal care products blamed for damaging coral reefs

Some sunscreens known to have Oxybenzone

Some sunscreens known to have Oxybenzone

As the 13th annual Coral Reef Symposium comes to end in Waikīkī, State Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19 – ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has announced he will introduce legislation for Hawai‘i to ban sunscreen with oxybenzone beginning in 2018.

“A ban is the right thing to do in order to protect our fragile marine eco-system,” said Sen. Espero. “Since our ocean environment is key to our tourism industry and our economic lifeline, banning a chemical substance that harms our coral and other marine animals should be a top priority next year in the state legislature.”

Speakers and scientists at the Symposium shared the dangers of oxybenzone on our coral reef and other marine life. Scientists said testing has revealed high levels of oxybenzone in Hawai‘i waters. Oxybenzone is found in personal care products and is a component of many sunscreen lotions.  It has been found to kill coral and negatively affect other Marine organisms.

“At the very least, a serious discussion should be had on the value and need of oxybenzone in sunscreen and other products,” Sen. Espero noted.

Hawaii Senate Confirms Judges for District Court and District Family Court

The Hawai‘i State Senate today unanimously confirmed M. Kanani Laubach to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit and James S. Kawashima to the District Court of the First Circuit.

Judges confirmed

Kanani Laubach is a Partner at Laubach & Frenz, AAL, LLLC in Hilo, where she focuses her legal practice on criminal cases heard in District, Family, and Circuit Courts and family law cases involving temporary restraining orders. Prior to entering private practice, Laubach served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Hawai‘i. She also previously served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu.

In addition to her legal experience, Laubach previously worked as a family therapist for Felix assigned families and a visitation specialist with Parents and Children Together where she taught parenting skills and child development.  Laubach attained her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Chaminade University. She earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 2003.

Laubach will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Melvin H. Fujino to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.

“Ms. Laubach’s legal experience in the government and private sectors makes her a well-rounded practitioner with substantial trial experience. Her background in psychology, her extensive courtroom experience, and her many years of interaction with the community through her personal and family experiences will no doubt provide her with the special insight and temperament necessary for the often challenging cases brought in family court,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “Her reputation for being a person of integrity who treats everyone equally and fairly and has the ability to relate to and is respectful toward everyone makes her an exceptional appointment to the court system.”

Since 2010, James S. Kawashima has received appointments as a per diem judge with the District Court of the First Circuit.  He maintained a private legal practice specializing in labor and employment law, state and federal criminal defense, trust and probate litigation, commercial litigation and personal injury, although he has devoted himself to his per diem judicial appointments over the last four years. Earlier in his career, Kawashima served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the Special Prosecution Unit of the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.  He went on to serve as a Deputy Attorney General in the Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  He also worked at private law firms in both Hawai‘i and California, handling litigation in construction, bankruptcy, employment cases, and insurance defense.

Kawashima graduated from Princeton University and received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Southern California Law Center. He was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 1992.

“Along with the experience he’s gained and judgment displayed during his periodic duties as a per diem judge, Mr. Kawashima brings experience and skills to the bench in areas other than the usual legal research, writing and reasoning expected,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The term of office for both judgeships is for six years.

Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Providing Options for Marine Resource Violations

Hawai‘i Governor David Ige today signed Senate Bill 2453 authorizing alternative sentencing for aquatic violations.

Ige Bill

The new law provides clear legal authority to judges, allowing them to more effectively tailor sentences when aquatics statutes are violated.  The bill covers most regulations under the jurisdiction of the DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, including most fisheries violations. Judges will still be able to impose jail time or fine defendants.  Now they’ll also be able to sentence offenders to an educational course or resource-specific community service work.

Alternative sentencing authority was one of the key priorities of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Environmental Court Working Group, which made recommendations prior to the establishment of Hawaii’s Environmental Court in 2015. The Court is the first of its type in the nation. It provides a dedicated forum for resource violations, with presiding judges who are specially trained in the nuances of resource law and the cumulative effect of seemingly innocuous resource violations.

“From the DLNR perspective, we’re thrilled that Governor Ige signed this bill into law,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair. “It provides us with an opportunity to educate and rehabilitate resource law violators, and in doing so, encourage pono approaches to extractive use of Hawaii’s natural resources.”  Under the State’s regulatory scheme, boaters and hunters must take an educational course before obtaining licenses. Because Hawaii doesn’t require a recreational fishing license, there is no such requirement for fishers.

“Senate Bill 2453 gives judges the opportunity to reduce recidivism among resource offenders,” said Judge Barbara Richardson, one of the bill’s key supporters. “When we fine someone, we teach them that their individual act was prohibited by law. By requiring them to complete an educational course, that person has the opportunity to learn why their conduct was illegal, in addition to learning about other resource laws of which they should be aware, as well as the sustainable management principles that are a common thread between Hawaiian traditions and the resource laws we have today.”

The bill also creates an opportunity for violators to restore the resources they’ve harmed, as it provides for resource-specific community service opportunities when cases are heard in Hawaii’s Environmental Court. “It’s very simple,” Chair Case noted, “If a person is convicted for poaching ‘ama‘ama (mullet) out of season, we want them to work restoring a fish pond, cleaning the beaches, or engaging in some other activity that gives back to the resource. DLNR’s educational course will be an adapted version of its Makai Watch curriculum, which is currently used to train community groups on aquatic resource laws and how to identify violations.”

The educational curriculum is already available online, and contains cultural references that illustrate the importance of marine resources in pre-contact Hawaii.

Puna Lawmakers to Hold Town Hall Meeting

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka‘u) will host a community Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at the Pahoa Community Center on Hawaii Island to talk about and provide a wrap up of the 2016 legislative session.

Medical MarijuanaAt the Town Hall Meeting they will also discuss the future of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the islands.

Residents are encouraged to attend to ask questions, voice their opinions and present suggestions to address community concerns.

WHO:  Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka‘u)

WHAT:  Town Hall Meeting to discuss the 2016 legislative session and the future of medical marijuana dispensaries

WHEN: Thursday, June 9, 2016,  5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road

State Budget Includes Over $389 Million for Capital Improvement Project Funding on Hawaii Island

Under the state budget passed by the Legislature last week, Big Island representatives secured more than $389 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for the biennium of Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 for various projects across Hawaii County.  Hawaii lawmakers were also able to secure $8.5 million in Grants-In-Aid CIP for Big Island nonprofit organizations.

Capital

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $126 million for Kona International Airport improvements
  • $55 million for construction for a new Kona Judiciary complex
  • $33.5 million for Keaukaha Military Reservation projects
  • $21 million for Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a new housing and a support building
  • $15 million for Highway 130 repair.
  • $12.5 million for a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $9 million for Hawaii Community College renovations
  • $8.5 million for Workforce Development to build a multi-purpose center
  • $8 million for Mamalahoa Highway, Ninole Bridge rehabilitation
  • $7.9 million for Hilo Harbor improvement.
  • $7.6 million for Saddle Road Maintenance Baseyard improvements
  • $7.1 million for Hilo International Airport improvements
  • $6.7 million for Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center Improvements
  • $5.5 million for improvements at the Research Campus at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $4.2 million for improvements at Kawaihae Harbor
  • $4 million for the improvements to the lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements
  • $3.2 million for Hawaii Belt Road improvements
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $2 million for Haaheo Elementary School to design and build a covered playcourt
  • $2 million for Hilo Forest Reserve land acquisition
  • $2 million for Hilo Intermediate School for Building A renovations
  • $1.6 million for Youth Challenge Academy upgrade and improvements
  • $1.5 million for Honokaa High and Intermediate School for restrooms in the auditorium
  • $1.5 million for Zero Waste Conversion to develop biofuel and animal feed in Keaau
  • $1.5 million for Kapiolani Elementary School to build a covered playcourt
  • $1.5 million for a Kohala water study
  • $1 million for Puu Waawaa structure improvement and dam compliance
  • $1 million for a Kamuela vacuum cooling plant
  • $830,000 for Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School
  • $800,000 for the Pohakuloa Training Area construction
  • $735,000 for Mountain View Elementary School improvements
  • $660,000 for extending the Daniel K. Inouye Highway
  • $600,000 for Keaukaha Elementary School for cafeteria equipment and improvements
  • $511,000 for Waikea Intermediate School for electrical upgrades and other improvements
  • $500,000 for a feasibility study for a new university hospital in Kona
  • $450,000 for Waiakea High School to build a baseball batting cage
  • $355,000 for Kahakai Elementary School road safety improvements
  • $335,000 for Konawaena High School improvements
  • $300,000 for Kealakehe Elementary School improvements and parking
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui for office space and storage
  • $300,000 for Pohoiki Boat Ramp repairs
  • $290,000 for Naalehu Elementary School repairs and maintenance
  • $200,000 for Pahoa Elementary School improvements
  • $200,000 for Keaau Elementary School improvements
  • $150,000 for Kau High School improvements

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-In-Aid were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hawaii Island community:

  • $1.2 million for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School to plan, design, build and equip a community food kitchen
  • $1 million for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce to design and build an education facility
  • $1 million for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan design and build a health facility
  • $1 million for Lai‘i‘opua 2020 to desing and build a community center
  • $1 million for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $800,000 for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council to build and complete the Milolii Community Enrichment Historical Center
  • $535,000 for Ho‘oulu Lahui to build a commercial kitchen in Puna
  • $500,000 for Lyman House Memorial Museum to build a new island heritage gallery exhibit
  • $315,000 for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. to build a new adult day care facility in Hilo
  • $285,000 for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences to plan, design and build a certified kitchen
  • $250,000 for Hamakua Health Center to design and build and equip a modular building addition to the Kohala Clinic
  • $150,000 for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan and design the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center
  • $100,000 for Hawaii Wildlife Center to fabricate, install and operate exhibits
  • $88,000 for Anekona Ouli Kanehoa VFD Company to construct a volunteer apparatus garage
  • $35,000 for Holualoa Foundation for Art & Culture for repairs at the Donkey Mill Art Center

Hawaii State Senate Adjourns 2016 Regular Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2016 regular session with a sense of accomplishment in passing a fiscally responsible budget, addressing priority needs for the state, and tackling a number of challenging issues as highlighted in the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program at the start of the 2016 Session.

Capital

Over the course of this legislative session, Senators, along with their House counterparts, approved substantial funding to install air conditioning for our public schools, provided an unprecedented appropriation for homeless programs statewide, delivered additional support to meet the housing needs for Hawai‘i’s families, and improved health care services.

In his closing remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 -Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) reflected upon the trials the body faced this session with the passing of Sen. Gilbert Kahele, as well as the health challenges faced by Senators Breene Harimoto and Sam Slom.  He praised the courage of Senators Harimoto and Slom, and complimented the Senate staff for working hard under trying circumstances to get the work of the people done.

“In the face of difficulty, I congratulate each and every one of you for continuing to focus on the important work of the Legislature,” said Kouchi. “Through collaboration and cooperation, we are able to present not only a fiscally responsible budget, but also sound policy of which the citizens of Hawai‘i will see benefits.”

In alignment with the Hawai‘i Senate Majority Legislative Program theme of providing for our families (Mālama ‘Ohana), a $12 million lump sum appropriation for homeless programs is a recognition of this statewide concern and represents a significant opportunity to change the way to approach the homeless problem.  In understanding the holistic need to address this crisis, $160 million in funds for improvements at the Hawai‘i State Hospital, along with $3 million in general funds for the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority and $75 million allocated toward the rental Housing Assistance Revolving Fund and Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund will support efforts to approach the homeless issue from a variety of angles.

In an investment in our children, lawmakers took a bold step and increased Preschool Open Doors base funding to $10 million, which will help struggling families with real opportunities for school readiness. Lawmakers also found a fiscally creative solution to fund a $100 million emergency appropriation for air conditioning and heat abatement measures that will help move forward the Department of Education program to cool schools.

In terms of nurturing our earth, (Mālama Honua) lawmakers provided substantial resources to study in-stream flow standards and assess water availability, a number of bills along with $1.6 million in general funds for various water infrastructure support statewide and more than $4.7 million in general funds was provided in bills for conservation efforts and the fight against invasive species.  More than $4.8 in general funds in various measures provide a solid foundation to reinforce agriculture as an industry moving forward.

By focusing on growing jobs and our economy, appropriations and measures to provide $4 million in grants and allocating funds to strengthen our infrastructure and position in the Pacific through the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative, along with $1 million in general funds to budget for HI-Growth and $100,000 in matching general funds for the state’s Creative Labs program, fall in line with sustaining our communities (Mālama Kaiāulu).

Lawmakers passed measures that reflected good governance (Mālama Aupuni) by making steps toward taking care of our debts and obligations by approving $150 million for the Rainy Day Fund and $81.9 million to pay down unfunded liabilities.

“This puts us on a more solid financial footing going forward, knowing that if and when times get tough, paying less always helps,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda (Dist.24 – Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Lawmakers also provided $1.15 billion in general obligation bonds and $2.5 billion for projects funded by all other means of financing for capital improvement projects that will play a vital role in rebuilding our economy and strengthening our social infrastructure.

On the contentious issues this session, such as water rights and transient accommodations tax collection, the Senate displayed its ability to participate in healthy debate, yet continue to collaborate while keeping the best interests of the people of Hawai‘i in mind.

“One of the strengths of the Senate is our ability to have differing opinions, yet recognize when to put those sentiments aside to get to work and come up with solutions,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “The measures we passed this session achieved our goal of improving the quality of life for our keiki, kūpuna, and nā ‘ohana who are most in need and we will continue to work to ensure what we’ve put in place this session will continue to move our state forward.”

The Hawai‘i Senate Majority 2016 Legislative Program can be viewed on the website: www.hawaiisenatemajority.com