• COMING SOON!

    2016 Big Island Film Festival
  • Breaking News

  • World Botanical Garden
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • RSS Mayor Kenoi’s Blog

  • Say When

    April 2016
    S M T W T F S
    « Mar    
     12
    3456789
    10111213141516
    17181920212223
    24252627282930
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

Hawaii Bills to Address Homelessness, Housing, Health, Good Governance Head for Final Vote

State lawmakers have passed a number of important measures ahead of tonight’s final decking deadline that align with the Senate Majority’s Legislative Priorities outlined at the start of the 2016 Legislative Session.

Capital

Approved by members of the Senate and House conference committees include bills that address housing and homelessness such as SB2561 SD2 HD1 which establishes a goal of developing or vesting the development of at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units ready for occupancy between 01/01/17 and 12/31/26 and SB2559 SD1 HD1 which addresses homelessness by making available emergency and transitional shelter space and appropriates general funds to improve homeless shelter space.

Measures addressing health include SB2083 SD1 HD1 which prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle in which a minor is present.

Other Legislative priorities in which lawmakers approved bills:

Mālama ‘Ohana (Providing for our Families)

SB2557 SD2 HD1 expands the concussion educational program established under Act 197, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012, and incorporates additional concussion protocol program requirements. Appropriates funds to develop and implement the concussion monitoring and education program for school athletics and youth athletic activities, administer concussion testing to high school student athletes, and implement a concussion awareness program for Hawaii public school students aged 11 to 13.

SB2315 SD2 HD2 which exempts from jury duty a woman who is breastfeeding or expressing breast milk for a period of two years from the birth of the child.

SB2476 SD2 HD2 CD1 enhances early intervention language services for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.

Mālama Honua (Nurturing the Earth)

SB2647 SD1 HD2 which prohibits the sale, offer to sell, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product from various animal and marine species.

SB2659 SD2 HD1 establishes an industrial hemp pilot program to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp and distribution of its seed in Hawaii through limited activities by licensee-agents of the Board of Agriculture for purposes of agricultural or academic research.

Mālama Kaiaulu (Sustaining our Communities)

SB2566 SD1 HD1 CD1 transfers excess moneys from the rental assistance revolving fund to the rental housing revolving fund.

SB3077 SD1 HD1 which designates the Office of Planning as the lead state agency for transit-oriented development coordination.

SB3109 SD1 HD1 CD1 supports and appropriates funds for the manufacturing development program with the High Technology Development Corporation.

SB2618 SD1 HD2 requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system.

Mālama Aupuni (Good Governance)

SB2954 SD2 HD1 which authorizes county police departments to enroll firearms applicants and individuals who are registering their firearms into a criminal record monitoring service used to alert police when an owner of a firearm is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country.

SB2512 SD1 HD2 increases penalties for animal desertion, except where the animal is released as part of a game management program.

These bills will be forwarded to the full Senate for Final Reading or have passed Final Reading and have been enrolled to the Governor.

A list of all the Senate bills that have passed the Legislature or been decked for Final Reading is on the Hawaii State Legislative website.

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

Hawaii Senate Confirms Ching Nagata to Hawaii Third Circuit Court

Members of the State Senate today confirmed Darien W.L. Ching Nagata to serve as a district court judge of the Third Circuit, State of Hawai‘i.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

Ms. Ching Nagata was born and raised on Oahu, attended Iolani School, and graduated from Santa Clara University.  After studying in Shanghai and Singapore, she attended the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i, where she was a Student of the Year and served as president of the Student Bar Association.

Ms. Ching Nagata joined the office of the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Hawai‘i in 1998.  Currently, she oversees litigation in the district court and family court, including domestic violence and juvenile cases. Her career has also included serving as the Violent Crimes Unit Litigator, and Circuit Court Unit Supervising Attorney and Litigator. She has been cross-deputized since 2008 to serve as a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney’s Office to assist with their Project Safe Neighborhood initiative.

“Throughout her career as a prosecutor, Darien Ching Nagata has shown patience, compassion, diligence and a willingness to put in the long hours necessary to seek justice for the people of the Big Island,” said Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D 5th District), chair of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.  “I have no doubt that the Third Circuit Court as a whole and the district court to which she has been nominated will benefit greatly from her experience, energy and dedication.”

Ching Nagata was appointed by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of District Court Judge Barbara T. Takase. Ching Nagata will serve a term of six years.

Hawaii House Passes Bills on Social Media Sharing of Marked Ballots, Firearms Possession and Gender Based Discrimination

The full House today passed three measures relating to: the sharing of digital images of a voter’s marked ballot, possession of firearms by individuals who have misdemeanor convictions of stalking or sexual assault, and discrimination based on gender identity. Capital

HB27 SD1, allows a voter to distribute or share an electronic or digital image of the voter’s own marked ballot via social media or other means. The intent of the measure is to repeal the prohibition against willfully exhibiting one’s own ballot at polling places during an election.  The prohibitions originally related to the operation of polling places, where it was meant to prevent voters from declaring how they voted in order to encourage others to vote in the same way.

The prevalence of electronic mobile devices and social media applications and platforms increases the opportunities for people to display their ballots via social media, which are commonly known as “ballot selfies.”  This measure clarifies that voters may exhibit their own ballots, which includes the dissemination of ballot images electronically or digitally.

HB625 HD1, SD1 prohibits a person from legally owning, possessing, or controlling any firearm or ammunition, if he or she was convicted of misdemeanor stalking or sexual assault.  The Honolulu Police Department, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Domestic Violence Action Center, Center for American Progress, BradyHawaii, IMUAlliance, and others testified in support of this measure.

Supporters noted that actions such as stalking and misdemeanor sexual assault are precursors to more extreme acts of domestic violence and that precautions are necessary to prevent individuals convicted of these offenses from accessing firearms.  Disqualification from firearms ownership for a misdemeanor offense requires a conviction, unlike disqualification for a felony offense which only requires an indictment.

HB2084 HD2, SD1 prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit societies, health maintenance organizations, and health benefits plans under chapter 87A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, from discriminating against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

The bill was initiated in response to the fact that many health insurance plans and policies include some form of transgender-specific exclusions.  As a result, transgender individuals may be excluded from healthcare coverage based on actual gender identity or perceived gender identity, rather than because of lack of medical necessity of treatment.  In addition, these exclusions may also prevent transgender individuals from obtaining common wellness care treatment.

The three bills, which were amended by the Senate, now go to the Governor for his review along with 13 other bills passed today.

Hawaii House and Senate Budget Conferees Agree on Funding to Increase Vector Control Staffing – Concern for Dengue and Zika Drives Need

House and Senate conferees on the state budget today agreed to provide $1,270,120 to bolster the state Department of Health Vector Control Branch to focus on controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease.

Mosquito Bite

Hawaii Island’s recent outbreak of dengue fever and the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, which are spread by mosquitoes, have highlighted the continued importance of vector control, and House and Senate conferees want to ensure that the state is prepared to adequately short circuit, monitor and respond to any future outbreaks.

“This funding will help re-establish the vector control branch, which has been reduced over the past few years by furloughs and budget cuts,” said Sylvia Luke, chairperson of the House Finance Committee.  “In making these appropriations, the department will be able to add 20 new positions to monitor populations of vectors such as mosquitoes and rats, and to respond appropriately when a threat arises.”

Before the dengue fever outbreak in October, 2015, the state had 25 vector control positions, but 8 were vacant. With the added 20 new positions, there will be a total of 45 people in vector control when all positions are filled.

“Infectious disease has been and will continue to be one of our key challenges in a world made smaller and more connected with modern day air travel,” said Jill Tokuda, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  “The state’s recent slow response to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island was a wake-up call for all us.  We must be more vigilant in anticipating and responding to such outbreaks spread by mosquitoes and other vectors.”

In addition, the budget items agreed upon today included:

  • $6.9 million for public school transportation services;
  • $5.2 million for utilities for public schools;
  • $2.5 million for new fire trucks, firefighter equipment and fire retardant suits to ensure airport safety;
  • $1.5 million to fund a U.S. geographical survey study on Hawaii streams;
  • $1.4 million for port security and safety boats to reduce impact of natural disasters;
  • $1.25 million for maintenance and replacement of equipment at UH community colleges;
  • $400,000 to support beach restoration and protection projects and studies;
  • $180,000 for hydrologist and project development specialist positions for public land management for the disposition of water rights lease management and oversight; and
  • $162,354 for physician salary increases for better access to medical services for the Department of Public Safety.

The agreements were part of House and Senate conferees continued negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill.  Earlier in the session, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget.

Lawmakers will continue to meet to iron out differences between the two versions through April 29, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.  A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2016budget.aspx

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene on Friday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m. in room 309.

Hawaii Legislature to Meet in Special Joint Session to Consider Three Key Appointments

The state House and Senate will meet Friday, April 22, at noon in the House chambers in a special joint session to vote on three key legislative appointments, including the ombudsman, the director of the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and the legislative auditor.  Nominees for those positions include Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi as the director of LRB, Robin Matsunaga as the ombudsman, and Leslie Kondo as legislative auditor.

CapitalRobin Matsunaga has been director of the Office of Ombudsman since 1998 and is up for reappointment to a six-year term.  The ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about actions by state and county executive-branch agencies.

Prior to his appointment, Matsunaga worked for 12 years in the Legislature, starting as a budget analyst in the House Finance Committee under Rep. Ken Kiyabu, and later as chief of staff for Speaker Souki.

“Robin has provided strong and consistent leadership to the Office of the Ombudsman, ensuring that impartial and independent investigations are conducted whenever complaints are registered to that office,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi.  “We look forward to his continued guidance in matters of concern from the public relating to our state agencies.”

The ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints about actions of executive branch agencies of the state and county governments.  The office has the power to obtain necessary information for an investigation and to recommend corrective action if a complaint is found to be substantiated.  The ombudsman serves as a neutral, independent intermediary between the public and the state agencies.

Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi has been acting director for LRB since 2010.  She began her career with the bureau as a research attorney, and was appointed as the assistant director for research in 2003 and the first assistant in 2008.  If approved, she will be appointed for a six-year term.

Prior to her appointment, Carter-Yamauchi was in private practice, served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, and worked as a staff attorney for the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“The LRB has been an outstanding and invaluable resource to not only the Legislature but to the general public as well, and Charlotte has provided strong leadership since becoming acting director,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.  “It is with great confidence that we ask her to continue to lead the LRB in support of the Legislature’s mission.”

The Legislative Reference Bureau is a nonpartisan legislative service agency that provides a wide variety of services to legislators, legislative committees, and in some cases, members of the public.

The LRB was originally founded in 1943 when the Territorial Legislature created it as a department of the University of Hawaii.  Originally, LRB was established to provide research services for the Governor, the Legislature, and the various departments, institutions, and agencies of the territory.  In 1972, the bureau was transferred to the legislative branch and its mission broadened to provide informational services to the general public.

Leslie Kondo is currently executive director and the chief legal counsel of the state Ethics Commission.  Prior to joining the Ethics Commission, he was a commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission and headed the Office of Information Practices from 2003 to 2007.  He is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law and Northwestern University, where he majored in industrial engineering.

“When we began discussing the position of the auditor, we wanted someone who could refocus the auditor’s office beyond financial audits to help the departments become more efficient and performance driven in all facets of their operation,” Kouchi said.

“We strongly believe that Les brings that kind of discipline, integrity and independence to the office,” added Souki.  “His background in industrial engineering will also be an advantage in his new position in helping the departments operate more efficiently—a goal we’ve focused on over the last several years through the budgeting process at the Legislature.”

If approved, Kondo will be appointed to an eight-year term.  Created by the first state constitutional convention in 1950, convention delegates envisioned an auditor who would help eliminate waste and inefficiency in government, provide the Legislature with a check against the powers of the executive branch, and ensure that public funds are expended according to legislative intent.

If approved by the joint session, all three candidates will begin their terms starting May 1, 2016.

Hawaii Senators Pass More Than 250 House Bills for Second Crossover

Members of the State Senate today passed 150 House bills that addresses areas of the environmental protection, economic development, crime victim protections and water rights.

Capital

More than 250 bills have passed third reading on the floor of the Senate and will be returning to the House ahead of the final crossover deadline of Thursday, April 14, 2016. A majority of the bills will move into conference committees where the House and Senate Conferees will convene to discuss the House and Senate drafts and come to an agreement on a final amended version.

“We attempted to move forward measures we felt reflected the priorities of the Senate,” said Sen. J. Kalani English, (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Senate Majority Leader. “There are a number of areas in which the House and Senate share a mutual concern. We’ll work on the details in conference and I’m hopeful the outcome will be responsible bills.”

A top priority for the Hawai‘i Senate Majority concerns homelessness and housing. A number of measures that focuses on these issues were passed by the Senate, including HB2647 HD2 SD2, which establishes a three-year Work for a Day pilot program to be administered by the City and County of Honolulu that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities and HB2244 HD1 SD2 which appropriates funds to support housing programs.

Measures passing third reading that protect the environment, another priority of the Senate program, include HB1050 SD2 which appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture to address the interisland spread of invasive species and HB2646 HD2 SD2  that creates a permanent fuel tank advisory committee to study, monitor, and address fuel tank leak issues.

The Senate also passed bills that support good governance including HB1653 HD1 SD1 implementing election by mail beginning with the primary election in 2018 and HB2632 HD2 SD2 which requires firearms owners who are diagnosed with a significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder or for treatment for organic brain syndromes, or due to emergency or involuntary hospitalization, to immediately surrender their firearms and ammunition to the Chief of Police.

Other significant House measures passed by the Senate include:

HB260 HD1 SD1 establishes motor vehicle insurance requirements for transportation network companies and transportation network company drivers.

HB1072 HD1 SD2 enables the board of psychology to accept applications for prescriptive authority privilege and grant prescriptive authority to prescribing psychologists who meet specific education, training, and registration requirements.

HB1700 HD1 SD1 adjusts and requests appropriations for Fiscal Biennium 2015‑-17 funding requirements for operations and capital improvement projects of Executive Branch agencies and programs.

HB1713 HD2 SD2 exempts extracurricular service of employees from the state ethics code if certain conditions are met. Defines detached remuneration and extracurricular service.

HB1787 HD3 SD2 creates and appropriates funds for Erin’s Law Task Force to review policies, programs, and curricula for educating public school students about sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention, and report recommendations for the establishment of a program to educate public school children on sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curricula.

HB1902 HD2 SD1 replaces the term “promoting prostitution in the first degree” with the term “sex trafficking,” as a class A felony and establish that prosecution is required to prove only that the person committing the offense of sex trafficking acted negligently if the person knowingly advanced or profited from prostitution of a minor. Includes the offense of sex trafficking in the department of the attorney general’s statewide witness program.

HB1907 HD2 SD2 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 kits they store and transmit a report of the number of untested sexual assault evidence kits they possess to the department of the attorney general.

HB2263 HD1 SD1 appropriates funds for the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to conduct an economic assessment study on the development and economic viability of a small satellite launch and processing facility on the Island of Hawai‘i.

HB2501 HD2 SD2 requires that where an application has been made for a lease to continue a previously authorized disposition of water rights, a holdover may be authorized annually until the pending application for the disposition of water rights is finally resolved or for three years, whichever is sooner. Requires that the holdover is consistent with the public trust doctrine and any applicable law.

HB2605 HD1 SD2 appropriates funds to establish, administer, and support on-the-job training for individuals who are unemployed and dislocated due to the closure of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company and the Makena Beach and Golf Resort on Maui.

A full list of the House bills passed by the Senate can be found on the Hawai‘i State Legislative website www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

The Hawai‘i Senate Majority’s Legislative Program can be viewed at www.hawaiisenatemajority.com.

Hawaii House of Representatives Passes More Than 100 Senate Measures on Final Crossover

The state House of Representatives passed today more than 100 Senate measures dealing with heat abatement for schools, homelessness and affordable housing, crime victims’ rights, body-worn cameras for police, the creation of a law enforcement review board, senior care facility and medical marijuana dispensary inspections, an interisland ferry study, and the Judiciary budget.

Capital

“These bills represent a broad range of concerns for the state, from affordable housing and homelessness to interisland transportation,” said Joseph M. Souki, Speaker of the state House of Representatives.  “They address the needs of our keiki, victims of crime, medical patients, and our kupuna, and go a long way in making life and lives better in Hawaii.  I would like to thank the representatives, their staff, the state departments, the private and nonprofit organizations, and every Hawaii resident who took the time to provide input so that we could create and improve the laws that govern us all.”

Among the bills passed by the House were:

EDUCATION

SB3126 SD2 HD2, which authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and the use of funds from the Green Infrastructure Loan Program to implement and expedite cooling measures in public school classrooms, and requires the Department of Education to become net-zero with respect to energy use by January 1, 2035;

SB2624 SD2 HD1, which provides a state income tax credit for certain expenses paid or incurred by school teachers, special education teachers, school librarians, and counselors for supplementary materials used in the classroom, as well as for accompanying students for educational travel;

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

SB2833 SD2 HD2, which amends the state low-income housing tax credit and bases the amount of the tax credit on whether a building is financed by tax-exempt bonds;

SB2566 SD1 HD1, which transfers excess moneys from the rental assistance revolving fund to the rental housing revolving fund;

SB2563 SD1 HD1, which amends operations of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and funding eligibility criteria of the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to make HPHA projects eligible for loans and grants from the Revolving Fund and granting the Authority preferences and priority in loan and grant applications.  Requires the Authority to coordinate with other state agencies in developing transit-proximate affordable housing;

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB3034 SD1 HD2, known as Marsy’s Law, which proposes a ballot question for an amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution to provide the victims of crimes with specific rights related to the criminal justice process;

SB2411 SD2 HD2, which establishes requirements, restrictions, and implementation timelines for body-worn cameras and vehicle cameras for county police departments, and appropriates funds for each county to purchase body-worn and vehicle video cameras;

SB2439 SD1 HD1, which establishes exceptions to the offense of obstructing government operations and the offense of violation of privacy in the second degree for a person making a video or audio recording or photograph of a law enforcement officer while the officer is in the performance of duties in a public place or under circumstances in which the officer has no reasonable expectation of privacy;

SB2196 SD2 HD1, which establishes a law enforcement officer independent review board within the Department of the Attorney General to investigate incidents of officer-involved death;

SB2816 SD1 HD2, which adds the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands to the penal code, amends criminal trespass in the second degree to apply to government agricultural property regardless of whether it is fenced, enclosed or otherwise secured;

HEALTH

SB2384 SD1 HD1, which requires the Department of Health to conduct unannounced visits and inspections, including inspections for relicensing and recertification, for certain state-licensed or state-certified care facilities and unannounced inspections for license renewals for medical marijuana production centers and dispensaries;

SB2181 SD2 HD2, which permits manufacturers of investigational drugs or biological products beginning on January 1, 2017, to make these drugs and products available to terminally ill patients under certain conditions;

SB2319 SD1 HD3, which 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 12-month period for an insured;

SB3084 SD1 HD2, which authorizes the state Department of Health to establish a cesspool tax credit or rebate program to facilitate cesspool conversions or improvements by residents;

TRANSPORTATION

SB2618 SD1 HD2, which directs the state Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study on establishing an interisland and intra-island ferry system;

AGRICULTURE

SB1374 SD2 HD2, which requires the Department of Agriculture to negotiate land exchanges with Dole Food Company, Inc. to conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency, and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands for the future;

HIGHER EDUCATION

SB2398 SD2 HD2, which establishes a collective bargaining unit for graduate student assistants employed by the University of Hawaii;

ENDANGERED SPECIES

SB2647 SD1 HD2, which prohibits the sale, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product, including ivory, from animal species that are threatened with extinction;

The House also passed the Judiciary supplemental budget.  Both chambers have until Thursday, April 14, to pass on third reading any remaining bills before the Second Crossover deadline.

Following the deadline, the amended Senate bills passed by the House, along with the amended House bills passed by the Senate, will go into conference committees where House and Senate conferees will negotiate differences in the measures and determine which will be presented for final consideration.

For more information on all of the Senate bills passed by the House so far this session, see the links to the (amended) and (unamended) bills.

Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee Proposes Fiscally Equitable Budget

The Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee today introduced and passed budget amendments in HB1700 HD1 SD1 that reflects the priorities facing our communities, yet broadly represents and addresses needs across the state.

Capital

The Governor’s operating budget proposed to add approximately $335 million in general funds for fiscal year 2016-2017.  The Senate draft reduced this amount by approximately $215 million in general funds, resulting in a total operating budget add of $120 million in general funds for fiscal year 2016-2017.  The Senate draft did not include 100% pre-funding of Other Post-Employment Benefits, which was included in the Governor’s draft, and amounted to approximately $163 million dollars.

“The Senate draft of the supplemental budget balances priority needs with existing resources, ensuring programs and services can be maintained over time,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda (Dist. 24 –Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), WAM Committee chair.  “Our Committee once again identified ways to encourage efficiencies and better utilize base appropriations to do more with less, without unsustainably adding to our budget.”

The Senate draft reflects a significant investment in operating support for homeless programs, totaling over $7.3M.  These include the following:

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for the Housing First Program
  • $1,100,000 in general funds for Homeless Outreach Services
  • $2,000,000 in general funds for Rapid Re-housing Services
  • $450,000 in general funds for a new homeless shelter in Kakaako
  • $200,000 in general funds for a Stored Property Program

In addition, the Senate draft included operating and capital improvement projects to increase the supply of affordable housing statewide.  These include:

 Operating

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for the State Family and Elderly facilities’ operations, deferred maintenance, and repair.
  • (36) positions and $2,703,581 in revolving funds for the Multi-Skilled Worker Pilot Program in the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.  These funds will be used to repair vacant public housing units.
  • (29) positions and $1,125,584 in general funds for the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to issue more housing vouchers and secure additional federal funds.

Capital Improvements Projects

  • $29,150,000 in general funds and $6,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority
  • $50,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the Rental Housing Trust Fund
  • $33,289,000 in general obligation bond funds for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund

Working with the housing agencies in each county, an additional $59,612,000 in revolving funds was provided for shovel ready housing projects statewide, which will provide for the renovation of 850 current units and the creation of an additional 1,600 units for our communities.

The Senate draft also provides extensive support for hospitals and healthcare needs for the State, including:

Operating

  • $10,000,000 in general funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, to be used at the discretion of the Board in allocating to the regions as well as for any necessary seed capital for the Maui Health System
  • $7,900,00 in general funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation in order to meet the shortfall of the corporate allocation costs due to the Maui transition, which would have otherwise been assessed to the regions without additional funding support
  • $21,000,000 in general funds for an operating subsidy to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to continue to provide healthcare services statewide

Capital Improvement Projects

  • $160,000,000 in general obligation bonds is provided for the Hawai‘i State Hospital for a new forensic facility to house the high-risk patients
  • $5,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the purchase of two parcels owned by the Wahiawa Hospital Association, resulting in an immediate cash infusion ensuring greater financial stability for the hospital.  The intent is for the State to provide a long-term lease to the Wahiawa Hospital Association at a nominal rate.

 Other operating and capital improvement funding highlights include:

Department of Agriculture
Funding for efforts to support Hawai‘i farmers

Operating:

  • $500,000 in general funds for pesticide regulation expenses
  • (1) position and $98,800 in special funds for General Administration for the Farm to School Program

Capital Improvement Projects:

The Senate draft includes $107,074,000 in general obligation bond funds to purchase over 8,000 acres of agricultural land which will help support local farmers, decreasing Hawaii’s dependence on importing agricultural products and another $33,700,000 in general obligation bond funds for upgrades and improvements to water infrastructure systems statewide.

Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
Funding for programs that are sustainable and bolster the economy

Operating:

  • $30,000 in general funds for repair and maintenance for the statewide film program for Creative Industries Division
  • $100,000 in general funds for Creative Industries Division for Creative Lab Program
  • $150,000 in general funds for unmanned aerial systems test site for Office of Aerospace Development
  • (1) temporary position and $100,000 in general funds for Hawaii broadband initiative
  • $5,000,000 in general funds and $5,000,000 in revolving funds for HI Growth initiative for Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation

Capital Improvement Projects:

Focused on reversing the brain drain, creating jobs, diversifying our economy, the Senate draft includes investments of $3,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to develop the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox in Kakaako, $5,200,000 in general obligation reimbursable bond funds to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in Kona, $6,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for infrastructure upgrades at Kalaeloa, and over $38,800,000 in general obligation bond funds for a Creative Media Facility at the University of Hawaii West Oahu.

Department of Defense
Funding to support and recognize Hawai‘i veterans

Operating:

  • (7) positions and $160,036 in general funds for multi-skilled worker team to provide services at the Hawaii State Veterans’ Cemetery
  • $500,000 in general funds for veterans’ memorials and commemoration events

Department of Education
Funding to provide student services support, transportation and libraries

 Operating:

  •  $10,000,000 in general funds for Weighted Student Formula for English Language Learners
  • $16,537,791 in general funds for Weighted Student Formula
  • $1,000,000 in general funds for classroom supplies and equipment for new facilities
  • $6,984,689 in general funds for Public School Transportation Services
  • $5,215,919 in general funds for Utilities
  • $200,000 in general funds for repair and maintenance backlog for public libraries statewide
  • Add $250,000 in general funds and $250,000 in special funds for Hawaii State Public Library System

 Capital Improvement Projects:

$358,175,000 in general obligation bond funds, $30,603,000 in federal funds and $4,349,000 in general funds for funding Department of Education projects including $30,000,000 in general obligation bond funds to address the cooling and air conditioning needs of public schools, $40,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for a new secondary school in Kapolei and $38,000,000 in general obligation bond funds for the continued construction costs for new high school in Kihei.

Office of the Governor

Funding to provide staff support

Operating:

(2) temporary positions and $300,000 in general funds for Office of Military Affairs and Federal Grants Maximization

Department of Human Services

Funding to ensure social safety nets and improve IT infrastructure for better service delivery

Operating:

  • $6,000,000 in general funds for Preschool Open Doors Program
  • $4,799,926 in general funds and $7,664,177 in federal funds for preventive adult dental benefits
  • $4,294,333 in general funds and $3,343,667 in federal funds for increased cost of Medicare Part B supplements
  • $4,878,120 in general funds and $5,721,880 in federal funds for services to Medicaid recipients through age 6 with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • $8,000,000 in general funds and $9,383,746 in federal funds for Medicaid recipients with chronic Hepatitis C infections
  • $1,553,559 in general funds and $1,775,971 in federal funds for increase in nursing home payments by the Data Resources Incorporated Rate
  • $5,905,962 in general funds and $17,717,886 in federal funds for Department Enterprise System maintenance and operations
  • $770,000 in general funds for A-Plus Program fee subsidies for employed low-income families
  • $3,196,346 in general funds and $17,714,682 in federal funds for information technology for the Department of Human Services

Department of Human Resources Development
Funding to increase effectiveness

Operating

$250,000 in general funds for workers’ compensation claims

Department of Health
Funding to support healthcare services, assist in fight against Dengue Fever, address Red Hill Consent Order

Operating:

  • (33) positions and $1,777,362 in general funds for the management of the dengue fever outbreak and newly emerging public health threats
  • (3) positions and $88,362 in general funds for Red Hill Administrative Order of Consent for Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch
  • $2,829,923 in general funds for the home and community based services waiver

Capital Improvement Projects:

To continue to provide quality healthcare services for our communities, $31,982,000 in general obligation bond funds and $19,704,000 in federal funds to address critical repairs and maintenance for health safety needs statewide.

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Funding to provide support to ensure protection of civil rights

Operating:

(1) position and $25,388 in general funds for Hawaii Civil Rights Commission

Department of Land and Natural Resources
Funding for protection of land and wildlife, small boat harbor access

Operating:

  • $3,000,000 in special funds from transient accommodation tax to Special Land and Development Fund for various programs
  • $1,700,000 in special funds from conveyance tax to Land Conservation Fund for land acquisition
  • $400,000 in special funds for beach restoration
  • $600,000 in general funds for wildfire contingency Aloha+ initiatives
  • $250,000 in general funds for endangered species management
  • $1,500,000 in general funds for United States Geographical Survey study on Hawaii streams
  • (18) positions and $617,544 in general funds for operation of small boat harbor facilities six days a week

Department of Public Safety
Funding to enhance safety enforcement

Operating:

$869,165 in general funds for the Department of Public Safety Administration building and State Narcotics Enforcement Division offices

Department of Taxation
Funding to reinforce ability to bring in revenues for the state

Operating:

  • (9) positions and $503,327 in general funds for Investigation Branch
  • (2) positions and $69,462 in general funds for Criminal Investigation Section
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Maui
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Hawaii
  • (1) position and $21,684 in general funds for Audit Branch Kauai

Department of Transportation
Funding to support requests that are sustainable and targeted

Operating:

Honolulu International Airport

  • $402,500 in special funds and $1,132,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement
  • $252,500 in special funds and $682,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement

Hilo International Airport

$580,000 in special funds for airport seating replacement

Kahului Airport

$402,500 in special funds and $1,132,500 in federal funds for motor vehicle replacement and other current expenses

Lihue Airport

$613,500 in special funds for routine maintenance contracts

Harbors Administration

$1,000,000 in special funds for pier and wharf insurance

Kauai Highways

$800,000 in special funds for replacement of bridge inspection equipment

Highways Safety

$517,000 in federal funds for highway safety improvement program flex funding

University of Hawai‘i
Funding to support UH Cancer Center, UH West Oahu

Operating:

  • $3,000,000 in general funds for University of Hawaii Cancer Center for faculty and administrative support
  • (4) positions and $197,604 in general funds for University of Hawaii, West Oahu Campus

Capital Improvement Projects:

Acknowledging the deferred maintenance and backlog of projects at our University of Hawai‘i  campuses, the Senate draft provides the funding for the full capital improvement request of the University and it’s Community Colleges by providing $224,925,000 in general obligation bond funds, $113,000,000 in revenue bond funds, and $5,750,000 in special funds and by granting the University of Hawai‘i revenue bond authority.

Big Island Legislators Secure $389.3 Million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Funding

Big Island legislators secured more than $389.3 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island in the recently passed House proposed budget.

Capital

The proposed budget includes funding for various airport and highway improvements, Hawaii Community Correctional Center, Big Island facilities for Hawaii Army National Guard, monies for Big Island schools and Hawaii Community College, and regional community centers.

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

GENERAL

  • $55 million for construction of Kona judiciary complex (FY2016)
  • $30.2 million for construction of a new combined support maintenance shop for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $15 million for new housing and support offices for Hawaii Community Correctional Center
  • $9 million for lump sum CIP for Hawaii Community Correctional Center
  • $5.2 million for improvements and upgrades to the seawater system at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST)
  • $4 million for improvements to lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed project
  • $3.3 million for construction and renovation projects (Bldg. 621) at Hawaii Army National Guard’s Keaukaha Military Reservation
  • $3 million for improvements to Kohala Ditch irrigation system
  • $2 million for infrastructure and building of a post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant in Kamuela
  • $1.6 million for improvements to the Keaukaha Military Reservation’s Youth Challenge Academy
  • $1 million for construction of a storage warehouse at Pohakuloa Training Area
  • $800,000 for construction and completion of Miolii Community Enrichment and Historical Center
  • $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST)
  • $150,000 for plans and design for the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center

SCHOOLS

  • $13.1 million for design and construction of a classroom building for Waikoloa Elementary/Middle school
  • $9.5 million for renovation of former hospital into kitchen and classrooms for North Hawaii Education and Research Center, Hawaii Community College
  • $2.3 million for covered play court at Kohala Middle School
  • $2 million for construction of a covered play court at Haaheo Elementary School
  • $2 million for renovations at Hilo Intermediate School
  • $1.5 million for track and field facilities at Honokaa Park for Honokaa High School
  • $1.5 million for construction of portable trailers for Hawaii Community College
  • $1.2 million for community food kitchen for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School
  • $1 million for the transition from Keaau Elementary School to Keonepoko Elementary School
  • $735,000 for improvements to covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School
  • $511,000 for electrical upgrades and covered walkway at Waiakea Intermediate School
  • $355,000 for access road safety improvements for Kahakai Elementary School
  • $335,000 to replace lighting and scoreboards in Konawaena High School gymnasium
  • $300,000 for additional parking at Kealakehe Elementary School
  • $300,000 for additional office and storage space for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui
  • $290,000 for repair and maintenance at Naalehu Elementary School
  • $285,000 for a certified commercial kitchen for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences
  • $200,000 for covered walkway at Pahoa Elementary School
  • $150,000 for walkway safety lighting for Kau High School

TRANSPORTATION

  • $127.2 million for improvements, new training facility and federal inspection station at Kona International Airport
  • $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130
  • $8 million for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Ninole Bridge on Mamalahoa Highway
  • $7.9 million for demolition of Pier 2 shed and water tower and related improvements at Hilo Harbor
  • $7.6 million for a road maintenance facility near Mauna Kea State Park
  • $7.1 million for improvements at Hilo International Airport
  • $4.2 million for improvements to access ways in and out of Kawaihae Harbor
  • $3.6 million for drainage improvements of Kohala Mountain Road
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $1.2 million for rehabilitation for Wailuku Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $1 million for drainage and rockfall improvements along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $1 million for replacement of Pahoehoe Stream Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road
  • $660,000 for the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension
  • $$550,000 for water lines replacement at Santos Lane and Nohea Street
  • 400,000 for improvements to North Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor
  • $300,000 for repairs to Pohoiki Boat Ramp
  • $150,000 for installation of runaway truck ramp along Kawaihae Road
  • $101,000 for rehabilitation and/or replacement of Hilea Stream Bridge
  • $50,000 for feasibility study for a small commercial airport in South Puna

OTHERS

  • $8.5 million for a multi-purpose processing facility for Workforce Development
  • $6.7 million for reroofing and improvements to Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center
  • $2 million for land acquisition to Hilo Forest Reserve
  • $1 million for feasibility study for a new University Hospital in Kona
  • $1 million for dam compliance and improvements to Puu Waawaa dam
  • $600,000 for land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka
  • $500,000 for an education center for the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission
  • $315,000 for design and construction of the Kailapa Community Resource Center
  • $100,000 for fabrication and installation of exhibits at Hawaii Wildlife Center

Hawaii House to Launch Pilot Project to Accept Neighbor Island Video Testimony

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will launch a pilot project to accept video testimony from neighbor island residents during a hearing of the House’s Committee of Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs hearings.  Maui Judge Richard Bissen will be the first video testifier, speaking in support of his and Ing’s initiative to incorporate the Hawaiian language into the Judiciary website.
hb1595Initially, the pilot project will include only video testimony for the Committee of Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs.  The project will be the first of its kind in the Legislature, and simply requires a laptop with a camera and internet connection.  However, House Bill 1595, HD2 is currently moving through the Legislature to explore the possibility of expanding the program to all committees in both chambers.

  • WHO:  Rep. Kaniela Ing (Kihei, Wailea, Makena) and  Rep. Nicole E. Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau)
  • WHAT:  House Committee of Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiians Affairs hearing
  • WHEN:  Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 9 a.m.
  • WHERE:  Room 325, third floor, State Capitol

Hawaii Art at the Capitol Held Today

State Senators and Representatives put politics aside for a few hours today (March 12) and tapped into their inner artist for Art at the Capitol.

A few years ago, my sons art was awarded a cash prize for his art at the capital

A few years ago, my sons art was awarded a cash prize for his art at the capital

Legislators gave up their pen and picked up pastels for a lesson on creating a self-portrait.  The lawmakers’ comments on the class ranged from “therapeutic” to “stressful,” but the creative endeavor is just for fun.

The public is encouraged to view the finished artwork during Art at the Capitol from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Fri., April 1, 2016 at the State Capitol.  The self-portraits will be part of an art contest to be judged by professional artists and by the public that evening.

Art at the Capitol is an annual event that allows the public to access Lawmakers offices in the State Capitol to see the work of local artists in their offices. https://www.facebook.com/artatthecapitolhawaii/?ref=hl

Hawaii House of Reps Forwards More Bills to Senate

The House passed today more than 180 bills including measures to implement a heat abatement program in Hawaii’s public schools and to fund construction and relocation of Oahu and Maui prisons.

Capital

House Passes Bills that Provide For Cooling Classrooms and Funding of Oahu and Maui Prisons.

To date, the House has sent over 350 bills to the Senate for its consideration, including measures that allow teachers to accept “gifted” support when traveling with students and that block pre-approval from HMSA for certain medical services.

HB 2569 HD2 authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and the use of funds from the Green Infrastructure Loan Program to implement cooling measures in public school classrooms, and requires the Department of Education to expedite the cooling of all public school classrooms.  The bill also requires the school system to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2035.

The DOE currently spends approximately $62 million a year on electricity, gas and water services.  By installing more efficient lighting, natural ventilation and integrating innovative renewable technologies, such as solar panels and batteries to help power schools, the state could reduce electricity costs and improve student performance.

Another school-related measure passed by the House, HB1713 HD2, would exempt school employees traveling with students from the State Ethics Code rules relating to gifts, gift reporting and conflicts of interest if certain conditions are met.

Last year, the State Ethics Commission ruled that teachers could no longer accept “free travel” to accompany students on field trips across the state and to the mainland.  The bill allows teachers serving as a chaperone on non-publicly funded trips to accept gifted support.

HB2388 HD3 clarifies the governor’s authority to negotiate for the construction of correctional facilities and aligns environmental impact statement and assessment requirements as generally applicable requirements.  The bill appropriates funds for a new Oahu Community Correctional Center and relocating Maui Community Correctional Center.  It also requires a feasibility report on development of Oahu Community Correctional Center land.

House lawmakers also approved HB2740 HD1, which prohibits insurers from requiring pre-authorization of medical treatment or services that cause undue delay in a patient’s receipt of such treatment or service.  The bill specifies that insurers, not health care providers, are liable for civil damages for any injury to a patient because of undue delay.

The bill is in reaction to a new rule by the Hawaii Medical Service Association to use third parties on the mainland to approve diagnostic imaging exams in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs.  Doctors say delaying critical tests and could have harmful consequences for patients.

Other bills passing third reading by the full House today include measures that provide for housing, gun control, voting rights and fighting crime.

Higher Education

HB2240 HD2, establishes a green special fund within UH to reduce energy consumption and costs.  Requires the University of Hawaii to submit annual report to Legislature.

HB539 HD2 requires that the UH-Manoa Athletics Department have a separate program ID in the State Budget Act and requires that funds be transferred to the UH-Manoa Athletic Department for scholarship expenses.  The bill prohibits allocation of general funds to the UH-Manoa Athletic Department except for Title IX compliance and requires that UH-Manoa men’s teams collectively be fiscally self-sufficient.

HB1613 HD1 grants tuition waivers to students at community colleges who meet certain criteria. It initiates the waiver program as a pilot program in a county with a population of less than 100,000.

Housing and Homelessness

HB2293 HD1 enables the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to create mixed-use developments in partnership with state and county departments and agencies.

HB2166 HD1 expands the low income-household renter’s income tax credit based on adjusted gross income, filing status and the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

HB2647 HD2 establishes a Work for a Day Pilot Program to be administered by the City and County of Honolulu that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities.

Tourism

HB1850 HD1 allows transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services.

HB1847 HD2 establishes the Sports and Entertainment Authority to coordinate and develop an entertainment and sports industry in the state, including oversight of the stadium and attracting local, national and international events, as well as developing state-of-the-art facilities for the benefit of professional, amateur and youth athletes.  It also establishes the Sports and Entertainment Authority Special Fund and allocates a portion of transient accommodations tax revenues to the Special Fund.  The bill repeals the Stadium Authority and transfers jurisdiction over stadiums and related facilities and the Kapolei Recreational Sports Complex to the Sports and Entertainment Authority.

HB2563 HD2 appropriates funds for the restoration of a continuous beach and multi-use infrastructure for public access along the Waikiki waterfront.

Energy

HB1851 HD1 Requires at least one of the three members of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to be a resident of a county other than Honolulu and receive per diem compensation.  It also allows commissioners to participate in PUC public hearings via teleconference and videoconference.

HB2085 HD2 aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for electrical generation and ground transportation by 2045.

HB212 HD2 establishes a nonrefundable income tax credit for taxpayers who purchase and install battery backup systems for solar energy systems.

HB2567 HD1 establishes “substantial net benefit” as the Public Utilities Commission’s standard for a transfer or assignment of an electric utility and specifies certain guidelines to address when examining whether a substantial net benefit exists.

Voting rights

To increase voter participation, HB1652 HD1 requires an affidavit on application for voter registration to be included with applications for driver’s licenses or civil identification cards and prevents the processing of an application for a driver’s license or civil identification card until the voter affidavit is completed or declined.

HB1654 HD1 allows a permanent absentee voter to receive ballots at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle and clarifies that certain conditions that normally lead to a termination of permanent absentee voter status do not apply if the voter resides in an absentee voter only area.  It also allows a voter to receive an absentee ballot by electronic transmission if the voter requires such a ballot within five days of an election, or when the voter would not otherwise be able to return their properly issued ballot by the close of polls.

Environmental Protection

Bills passed relating to the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility fuel tanks include HB2646 HD2, which creates a permanent fuel tank advisory committee to study, monitor and address fuel tank leak issues; and HB2165 HD2, which makes appropriations to the Department of Health to hire employees and consultants to install monitor wells, to monitor compliance with the Administrative Order on Consent, and to evaluate and remediate environmental damage from fuel leaks.

HB2517 HD2 adds county-certified cesspools within 200 feet of an existing sewer system to the definition of “qualified cesspool” for the purposes of determining eligibility for an upgrade, conversion or connection income tax credit.

HB1749 HD1 amends the goals of the Hawaii water plan to include the 100 per cent utilization of reclaimed water in all state and county facilities.

HB2200 HD2 authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson to transfer public land trust funds to the Kahoolawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund.  Authorizes the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to expend public land trust funds for purposes consistent with those of the Kahoolawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund.

Agriculture

HB2501 HD2 allows for a holdover disposition of water rights previously authorized, pending approval for a lease renewal.

HB2657 HD2 provides reimbursements to Molokai farmers and ranchers for mandated food safety compliance audits and other related costs and appropriates moneys to the Maui Office of Economic Development to review and approve applications for the loan program.

Public Safety

HB2188 HD2 authorizes Hawaii Correctional Industries to sell products and services on the open market to the general public.

HB1902 HD2 replaces the offense of promoting prostitution in the first degree with sex trafficking to be classified as a violent crime.  It makes sex trafficking a class A felony and a strict liability offense if a minor is the victim of sex trafficking.  The bill expands the Department of the Attorney General’s Statewide Witness Program to include sex trafficking, provides victims with access to criminal injury compensation, and amends laws relating to civil liability for cases of coercion into prostitution.

HB1907 HD2 establishes the Sexual Assault Kit Tracking Program in the Honolulu Police Department, including requirements for submission of kits for testing, reporting information to state and federal DNA databases, obtaining consent prior to testing, and admissibility of evidence in judicial proceedings.  It also requires reporting on program implementation and kit testing backlog.

HB1580 HD1 appropriates funds for grants to maintain and expand the Weed and Seed Strategy, which is a collaborative crime fighting effort to reclaim, restore and rebuild communities.

HB1516 HD1 clarifies that the Internet Crimes Against Children fee is to be assessed against every defendant who is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony regardless of the nature of the offense.

Gun Control

HB2629 HD2 authorizes county police departments to enroll firearms applicants and individuals who are registering their firearms into a criminal record monitoring service used to alert police when an owner of a firearm is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country.

HB2632 HD2 requires firearms owners who have been disqualified from owning a firearm and ammunition due to mental illness, including emergency hospitalization, to immediately surrender their firearms and ammunition to the chief of police.

HB1813 HD1 temporarily prohibits a person listed in the federal Terrorist Screening Database from owning, possessing, or controlling a firearm or ammunition and requires surrender or disposal of firearms and ammunition.

HB626 HD1 prohibits the actual physical possession of any firearm while consuming alcohol outside of the home, a temporary residence, or place of sojourn.  Establishes violation as a petty misdemeanor.

Veterans

HB2490 HD2 would exempt certain disabled veterans from county motor vehicle taxes and the state annual vehicle registration fee.

Labor and Employment

HB2606 HD2 establishes a retirement benefit incentive for public employees, otherwise eligible to retire, whose positions are subject to layoff due to the consolidation or abolition of functions, or the privatization of the functions of the position as a result of Act 103 (2015).  Sunsets on June 30, 2017.

HB2446 HD2 authorizes public employees facing position abolishment, reduction-in-force, or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either voluntary severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.

HB2122 HD2 increases maximum potential unemployment benefits for employees separated from service from 26 to 39 times the individual’s weekly benefit amount commencing on or after March 7, 2016. Requires terminated or laid off Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company workers to complete a training or retraining program to receive the maximum potential benefits.

Animal protection

HB1592 HD1 prohibits certain restraints and tethers that endanger or deny sustenance to dogs.

HB 2245 HD1 establishes the penalties for animal desertion as a petty misdemeanor and a fine of $1,000, but if the animal suffers death or injury, the fine increases to $2,000.

HB2502 HD2 prohibits the trafficking of protected animal species, with limited exceptions.

Other issues

HD2080 HD2 includes fuel cell electric vehicles in the definition of electric vehicles for purposes of parking exemptions, HOV lane use, registration, and required parking spaces in places of public accommodation.  Grants procurement priority for fuel cell electric vehicles for state and county vehicle purchases.

HB1736 HD1 renames the Kona International Airport as the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport.

HB1739 HD2 prohibits, subject to certain exemptions, employers from requiring, requesting, or coercing employees or potential employees to provide access to their personal social media accounts.

HB1753 HD3 requires the annual registration of mopeds and the Director of Finance to issue moped number plates.  The bill stipulates a registration fee for a moped of $50.

HB2008 HD2 prohibits the state from hiring persons for more than two 89-day terms in a fully general-funded position per lifetime of the person but provides for limited exceptions.

The first “crossover” deadline is March 10 for non-budget bills to pass third reading in each chamber.  If successful, House bills are sent to the Senate and Senate bills are sent to the House for further consideration.

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

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2016&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Hawaii Senate Forwards More Than 260 Bills to House

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today passed 265 bills on Third Reading and sent them to the House for its consideration.

Capital

Measures crossing over to House include bills to address homelessness, invasive species, elections by mail, equal pay

Many of the measures that are crossing over to the House are bills that align with the 2016 Legislative Program the Senate Majority had established as priorities before session began.

“These bills reflect the work Senators have done to listen to and address the concerns of our constituents.  We’re hopeful that the House will agree that these bills will help to improve our island state,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English.

The Senate passed a number of measures that strategically address housing and homelessness, one of the major issues of the Legislative Program. Recognizing homelessness as a multi-faceted dilemma, the Senate passed bills that target the problem from various angles including SB2559, SD1 which creates minimum requirements for shelters based on discussions with advocates and increases the capacity of the Department of Human Services to provide oversight and support and SB 2561, SD1 which establishes a goal for state government to develop at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units for occupancy. SB2560, SD2 appropriates funds to provide treatment and care for homeless individuals with persistent mental health challenges

In another initiative of the Legislative Program, to sustain our communities, SB2938, SD2 was passed which increases the state fuel tax as a means to pay for road repairs and match federal funds.

“In considering SB2938, we looked at the totality of broad based tax increase proposals before us and understanding the burden each bear on our people, decided to move only this targeted measure forward,” explained Sen. Jill Tokuda, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee. “There are no favorable tax increases out there, but funds are needed to match federal funds to maintain heavily used roadways statewide, address emergency situations like what we’ve seen in Kaaawa, as well as for daily operations like the Freeway Safety Patrol and various multi-use contraflow lanes.”

Understanding the regressivity of the state’s tax system and the impact any increase will have on the state’s most vulnerable taxpayers, the Senate passed SB2454 SD1 that eliminates or reduces the tax burden on those in the lowest income brackets of the state, roughly accounting for 10 percent of our total population.

Measures that address our environment, another Legislative Program initiative, also passed Third Reading, including SB2799, SD2 that restructures the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council into a new entity to address the effort to protect Hawai‘i against environmentally harmful species and SB2773, SD1 which addresses efforts to achieve the state’s sustainability goals.

To support the Legislative Program initiative of good governance, SB2496, SD1 establishes an elections by mail system beginning with the primary election in 2018 for counties with a population of fewer than 100,000 and beginning with the 2020 primary election for all other counties. This follows the trend towards mail-in voting that has increased in Hawai‘i.

SB2313, SD2 addresses gender discrimination and prohibits an employer from paying wages at a rate less than a rate pays to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work and working conditions, with certain exceptions.

The “crossover” deadline is March 10 for non-budget bills to pass Third Reading and move to the other chamber.

Other bills that passed Third Reading today and are headed for crossover include:

SB2395, SD1 which enhances access to care via telehealth and will improve the quality of health care in the State by using available technology to enhance access to insured health care, especially among rural and underserved populations.

SB2085, SD2 addresses the needs of Hawai‘i’s kūpuna by appropriating funds for fiscal year 2016-2017 for the Kūpuna Care Program, Aging and Disability Resource Center, fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly, Healthy Aging Partnership Program, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Services Coordinator, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.

SB2688, SD2 prohibits, beginning January 1, 2017, the sale or offering for sale of certain e-liquid containers for electronic smoking devices unless the container is child-resistant and if the container is for an e-liquid product containing nicotine, is labeled with warning language.  This measure also establishes e‑liquid packaging standards that will help to protect young children from inadvertent exposure to the contents of e-liquid cartridges and also inform consumers whether an e-liquid product contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance.

SB2232, SD2 establishes the Erin’s Law Task Force to review policies, programs, and curricula for educating public school students about sexual abuse prevention, and to make recommendations for a program to educate all public school students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve on sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curricula.  Requires the Department of Education to implement the Task Force’s recommendations in the 2017-2018 school year, if possible.

SB2425, SD2 exempts extracurricular service, including planning and chaperoning educational trips, from certain provisions of the state Ethics Code.  Allows teachers to receive complementary airfare and accommodations when they travel with students on educational trips to provide support and chaperone services.

SB3070, SD1 ensures greater transparency and efficiency and provide equal opportunity for those seeking grants-in-aid from the Legislature by establishing legislative policies, subject to legislative discretion and funding availability, to make appropriations for grants during the Regular Session of each odd-numbered year for the ensuing fiscal biennium.  In addition, this measure requires that the Legislature not appropriate funds for more than one grant for each grant recipient during a fiscal biennium and places a low priority on requests to fund the general and administrative expenses of a grant applicant.

SB3073, SD2 establishes and appropriates funds for a school of aviation at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical science and allows the appropriation to be expended once the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents establish the school of aviation.

SB2231 establishes the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture, and Health (R.E.A.C.H.) program in the Office of Youth Services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools.  Authorizes the Office of Youth Services to establish R.E.A.C.H. program requirements and participation fees or other charges to be assessed to each participant for the cost of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program.

SB2411, SD2 provides guidelines and requirements for the use of body-worn and vehicle cameras by law enforcement officers and gives officers an increased ability to gather evidence for use in court and makes investigations of alleged officer misconduct more fair and transparent.

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

 

Monday – Puna Legislative Town Hall Meeting

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau) will host a community town hall to provide updates on and discuss the 2016 legislative session.

pahoa town meetingAlso presenting will be Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira, who will address the County’s efforts in combating the dengue fever outbreak.

They will also honor the students and faculty who built a replica of the space shuttle Challenger in honor of Ellison Onizuka and the 30th anniversary of the tragic loss of the space shuttle and its crew.

Ellison Onizuka Kids

The Town Hall Meeting will provide updates on bills along with other issues that may be heard during this session.  Questions, concerns and/or new ideas from those in attendance will be entertained.

  • WHO: Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau)
  • WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the 2016 Legislative Session
  • WHEN: Monday, February 29, 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road Pahoa, HI, 96778

Senator Kai Kahele Responds to Question of His Residency

I just spoke to Senator Kaiali’i Kahele and his office has sent me the following press release regarding a question of his residency:
Senator Kai Kahele Legislature Profile

In response to a recent inquiry regarding his residency, Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele (Dist. 1 – Hilo), offers this statement:

“I live in the First Senatorial District – Hilo. In 2012, I moved to Hilo and have resided in Hilo continuously from that time. At that time, my parents and I agreed to take out a mortgage to remodel their house to allow me and my family to live there. Since 2012, I have continuously had the residence in Hilo as my primary residence and have used that residence for all purposes, including voter registration.

The question has been raised regarding the agreement I entered into in 2011 with my Aunt, Sally Kahikinaokala Dacalio, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a property in Miloli’i.

In 2011, I was approached by extended family with a request to assume my Aunt’s lease for the property in question. My Aunt was in poor health and her family was afraid that the lease would be lost by our family. Under those circumstances, I agreed to pay off my Aunt’s mortgage and assume the lease with DLNR. The matter was handled informally without legal advisors. Since I became aware of the terms of the lease, I have contacted DLNR for the purpose of addressing the situation. I am hopeful and confident that I will be able to resolve this matter with DLNR in the near future.”

Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele to be Sworn in to Office Tomorrow During Regular Senate Session

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will administer the Oath of Office to Kaiali‘i Kahele at the opening of the Senate Regular Session on Wed., Feb. 17, 2016. 

Kai Kahele ProfileKahele was appointed to represent Senate District 1, which comprises the greater Hilo area.

  • WHO:  Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senate District 1 appointee
  • WHAT:  Administration of Oath of Office
  • WHERE:  Senate Chambers      
  • WHEN:  Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 11:30 a.m.

Hawaii State Senate Statement of Appointment of Kaiali’i Kahale

The Hawai‘i State Senate leadership welcomes the appointment of Kaiali‘i Kahele to the District 1 Senate seat.

Senate Chamber

“I congratulate Kai on his appointment to the Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English. “I know he has the best interests of the community at heart, and we will work with him to ensure his transition to the Senate is quick and seamless. I know Kai was well-trained by his father to handle the work of the Senate.”

“We welcome Kai to the Senate,” said Senate President, Ronald D. Kouchi. “I know he holds many of the strong convictions and commitment to community service as that of his father. I look forward to working with Kai in his new role as Senator for the first district.”

“I appreciate the work the staff of the late Senator Kahele has been doing to serve the constituents of District 1 during this time and I know they will be important in continuing to provide support for Kai as we move forward this Session,” said Sen. Kouchi.

Once the oath of office is administered, Kai Kahele will serve on the following Senate committees:  Higher Education and the Arts (HEA), Education (EDU), Judiciary and Labor (JDL), and Tourism and International Affairs (TSI). 

Hawaii Governor Ige Appoints Kaiali‘i Kahele to Late Father’s Seat in State Senate

Gov. David Ige has appointed Kaiali‘i (Kai) Kahele to his late father’s state Senate seat. Sen. Gil Kahele represented Senate district one which encompasses the greater Hilo area, when he died on Jan. 26, 2016.

Kai Kahele Profile“Kai has extensive community support and is committed to completing the work of his father. He has a broad vision for the future of this district and for all of Hawai‘i Island that will serve his constituents well,” said Gov. Ige.

“I thank the high-quality candidates who were willing to serve and the Senate district one Nominating Committee for working so quickly to get the names to me,” he said.

“My father led by example, and community service was part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am honored to carry on his legislative initiatives. In addition, I intend to focus on job creation by strengthening workforce opportunities and small business in Hilo and the state, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for Hawai‘i Community College and UH-Hilo,” Kahele said.

Kahele lives in Hilo where he is a Major in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard and a combat veteran C-17 instructor pilot. He has been honored many times for his military service. In 2005 he was awarded a National Defense Service Medal and a USAF Air Medal for combat missions flown in Afghanistan. Most recently Kahele received the Guard Officer of the Year award at Hickam Air Force Base (Feb. 2016).

He is also a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines, a UH-Hilo adjunct faculty member and the executive director of the nonprofit Pa‘a Pono Miloli‘i. In 2015, Kai was a crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s canoe Hikianalia.

Kahele is a graduate of Hilo High School and UH-Manoa where he earned a B.A. in education while playing on the UH-Manoa Men’s Volleyball team as an outside hitter. He was named Most Inspirational Player in 1997.

Kahele will take office once the state senate qualifies him and administers the oath of office.

Hawaii County Democrats Select Nominees to Replace Late Sen. Gilbert Kahele

This morning at Keaukaha Elementary School cafe, Hawaii County Democrats met to select three nominees for the late Sen. Gilbert Kahele’s seat on the Hawaii Senate.

Democratic Meeting

Last night, House Rep. Richard Onishi was disqualified for running which lead to Margarita “Day Day” Hopkins, Donald Ikeda, Kaialii “Kai” Kahele, Shannon Matson, Kaloa Robinson, and Dolly Strazar being the remaining contenders for office.

Each candidate had their chance to address the folks that would be selecting the nominees and the public and media that was in attendance.  The candidates then went into a “Speed Dating” type of format where questions were asked of them.

When all was said and done, the Democratic Party nominated the late senators son Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele along with Dolly Strazar and Kaloa Robinson as the three that would be passed on to Hawaii Governor David Ige to then nominate one of them to the position.

Hawaii House of Representative Richard Onishi Disqualified From Running for Late Senator Kahele’s Senate Seat

Hawaii House Representative Richard Onishi (D-3) has been disqualified from running for late Senator Gilbert Kahele’s Senate Seat according to the Hawaii County Democratic Party.

Richard Onishi

According to the Chair for House District 2, Micah Alamedia, Onishi submitted 11 names on his “Statement of Candidacy” to run for the vacant seat, however, only 3 of those names were registered democratic members.

Candidates needed to have at least 5 members sign the Statement of Candidacy that were in good standing with the Democratic Party.

Each candidate did have the opportunity to verify that each of the folks that signed on the Statement of Candidacy were in good standing, however it appears that Rep. Onishi did not double check the signatures against the registered voters list.

The Hawaii Island Democratic Party will be meeting tomorrow at Keaukaha Elementary School at 10:00 am where members of the party will hold a vote and then select 3 nominees to be sent on to Governor Ige.  Governor Ige will then decide which of the three will replace the late Senators spot in office.

The following folks are still in contention, Margarita “Day Day” Hopkins, Donald Ikeda, Kaialii “Kai” Kahele, Shannon Matson, Kaloa Robinson, and Dolly Strazar. Representative Onishi will remain in office as a House Representative and no penalty will be held for not having 5 confirmed signatures.