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    March 2018
    S M T W T F S
    « Feb    

Sen. Hirono Votes to Protect Dreamers

Sen. Mazie Hirono

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement today, Feb. 15, 2018, after voting to protect Dreamers:

“I have consistently supported a clean DREAM Act, and voted in favor of the Coons-McCain amendment today that came very close to it. And while it earned the support of a bipartisan group of 52 senators, the vast majority of Republicans blocked this effort.

“Unfortunately, we were left with only one option to protect the 800,000 current DACA recipients and an additional one million Dreamers who the President has threatened with deportation. It’s for them that I voted for the Rounds-King amendment.

“The Rounds-King amendment included a number of provisions I strongly oppose, including $25 billion for Trump’s wall. The Republicans also sought to dismantle our legal, family-based immigration system. Democrats fought hard to limit the damage.

“President Trump created this crisis when he cancelled DACA and threw 800,000 young people under the bus. And with his recent veto threat, he has made it abundantly clear that protecting Dreamers is the farthest thing from his mind.

“With this threat, the President made it clear that he wanted all of us to stand with him against the Rounds-King amendment. That, I would not do.”

Hawai‘i Telescope Spots SpaceX Tesla Roadster in Flight

ATLAS 2 on Mauna Loa. Courtesy photo.

The University of Hawaiʻi ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) telescope on Mauna Loa captured images on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 of the Tesla Roadster launched into space as part of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy test.

ATLAS is an asteroid impact early warning system being developed by the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA) and funded by NASA. It consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects. ATLAS was not looking for the Roadster – it was found during routine observations and automatically identified as a near-Earth object.

The Tesla Roadster was seen as a moving object in four separate observations. After it was detected by the automatic software system, the object’s positions were submitted to the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center, which is responsible for determining the orbits of asteroids and other small solar system objects. It was immediately identified as the recently launched Tesla Roadster. ATLAS’ orbit determination software pinned down the orbit from the four observations, measuring it about 0.005 astronomical units (about 500,000 miles) from Earth, speeding away at about 3.6 km/sec (8,000 mph).

ATLAS photo of Tesla Roadster

“We were lucky to catch the Roadster before sunrise during our regular observing,” said IfA’s principal investigator for the ATLAS project Larry Denneau. “This really demonstrates the power of our system to find small objects that could hit Earth, and accurately measure their orbits to see if they’re dangerous. Their mission is designed to look for things coming toward Earth, but this time investigators found something going away from Earth. As a fan of what SpaceX is doing, it is fun to be a part of advances in science.”

Falcon Heavy, billed as the most powerful rocket in the world, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Falcon Heavy’s payload was a midnight-cherry-colored Tesla Roadster owned by SpaceX CEO and lead designer Elon Musk.

Learn more about the Falcon Heavy at the SpaceX website.

Learn more about UH’s ATLAS telescope here.

Rep. Gabbard Denounces AG Sessions’ Escalation of Failed War on Drugs

Big IslandNow stock photo.

Following an announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama-era, non-interference policy and targeting states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) denounced his decision on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, and called on Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which removes marijuana from the federal controlled substances list.

Congresswoman Gabbard said:

“Attorney General Sessions’ reversal of the current non-interference policy that essentially allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference, tramples on states’ rights and is a dangerous escalation of the failed so-called War on Drugs. This overreach by the federal government undermines state governments like Hawaii’s that have legalized medical marijuana and threatens the livelihoods and rights of the people of Hawai‘i and those of the 29 states and Washington DC who have legalized some form of marijuana.

“This decision reinforces our outdated and destructive policies on marijuana that turn everyday Americans into criminals, tear families apart, and waste billions of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for nonviolent marijuana charges. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent tackling the many problems that plague the American people including combating the opioid epidemic, ensuring affordable housing, repairing aging infrastructure, and investing in education, healthcare, veterans’ care, and more.

“By continuing to pour billions of dollars down the drain with our archaic marijuana policies, we stifle our economy, society, and criminal justice system and leave the people of Hawai‘i and millions more devastated – all for a substance that is far less dangerous and harmful than alcohol. Our laws should accurately reflect scientific consensus – not misplaced stigma and outdated myths about marijuana.

“I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the federal controlled substances list, treating it the same as alcohol and tobacco. Our bipartisan legislation will end this unnecessary and costly debate once and for all by federally decriminalizing marijuana and kick-starting long overdue, common sense criminal justice reform.”

Congresswoman Gabbard is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list, as part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform.

IRS Advisory: Prepaid Real Property Taxes May Be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed & Paid

The Internal Revenue Service advised tax professionals and taxpayers today that pre-paying 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible under certain circumstances.

The IRS has received a number of questions from the tax community concerning the deductibility of prepaid real property taxes. In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.  A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.  State or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed.

The following examples illustrate these points.

Example 1:  Assume County A assesses property tax on July 1, 2017 for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  On July 31, 2017, County A sends notices to residents notifying them of the assessment and billing the property tax in two installments with the first installment due Sept. 30, 2017 and the second installment due Jan. 31, 2018.   Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on Dec. 31, 2017, and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer’s 2017 return.

Example 2:  County B also assesses and bills its residents for property taxes on July 1, 2017, for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  County B intends to make the usual assessment in July 2018 for the period July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  However, because county residents wish to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017, County B has revised its computer systems to accept prepayment of property taxes for the 2018-2019 property tax year.  Taxpayers who prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017 will not be allowed to deduct the prepayment on their federal tax returns because the county will not assess the property tax for the 2018-2019 tax year until July 1, 2018.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that a number of provisions remain available this week that could affect 2017 tax bills. Time remains to make charitable donations. See IR-17-191 for more information. The deadline to make contributions for individual retirement accounts – which can be used by some taxpayers on 2017 tax returns – is the April 2018 tax deadline.

Trump Sending Astronauts Back to the Moon

President Donald Trump is sending astronauts back to the Moon.

The president Monday signed at the White House Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

President Donald Trump signs the Presidential Space Directive – 1, directing NASA to return to the moon, alongside members of the Senate, Congress, NASA, and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” The effort will more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” said President Trump. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”

The policy grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, after its first meeting Oct. 5. In addition to the direction to plan for human return to the Moon, the policy also ends NASA’s existing effort to send humans to an asteroid. The president revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

Two members of the BASALT project, a NASA Mars-analog mission, conduct a high-fidelity, simulated exploration of basaltic (lava-rock) terrain. The geology of their actual location – Kilauea Iki crater on Hawaii Island – is similar to basalt-rich landscapes found on Mars (see below). This provides a good training ground for the group conducting research, designing procedures, and developing tools to make similar missions possible one day on Mars. Pictured are: Stan Love, a NASA astronaut from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Alex Sehlke, a post-doctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
Credits: NASA

“Under President Trump’s leadership, America will lead in space once again on all fronts,” said Vice President Pence. “As the President has said, space is the ‘next great American frontier’ – and it is our duty – and our destiny – to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage, and values. The signing of this new directive is yet another promise kept by President Trump.”

Among other dignitaries on hand for the signing, were NASA astronauts Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson and Christina Koch. Schmitt landed on the moon 45 years to the minute that the policy directive was signed as part of NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, and is the most recent living person to have set foot on our lunar neighbor. Aldrin was the second person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Whitson spoke to the president from space in April aboard the International Space Station and while flying back home after breaking the record for most time in space by a U.S. astronaut in September. Koch is a member of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013.

Work toward the new directive will be reflected in NASA’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request next year.

“NASA looks forward to supporting the president’s directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “This work represents a national effort on many fronts, with America leading the way. We will engage the best and brightest across government and private industry and our partners across the world to reach new milestones in human achievement. Our workforce is committed to this effort, and even now we are developing a flexible deep space infrastructure to support a steady cadence of increasingly complex missions that strengthens American leadership in the boundless frontier of space. The next generation will dream even bigger and reach higher as we launch challenging new missions, and make new discoveries and technological breakthroughs on this dynamic path.”

A piece of Moon rock was brought to the White House as a reminder of the exploration history and American successes at the Moon on which the new policy will build. Lunar Sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon’s surface and returned by Schmitt’s Apollo 17 crew. Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land astronauts on the Moon and returned with the greatest amount of rock and soil samples for investigation.

Lunar Sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon’s surface and returned by NASA’s Apollo 17 crew. The sample is a basaltic lava rock similar to lava found in Hawaii. It crystallized 3.84 billion years ago when lava flowed from the Camelot Crater. Sliced off a parent rock that originally weighed 8,110 grams, the sample weighs 14 grams, and is very fine grained, dense and tough.
Credits: NASA

The sample is a basaltic lava rock similar to lava found in Hawaii. It crystallized 3.84 billion years ago when lava flowed from the Camelot Crater. Sliced off a parent rock that originally weighed 8,110 grams, the sample weighs 14 grams, and is very fine grained, dense and tough. During the six Apollo surface excursions from 1969 to 1972, astronauts collected 2,196 rock and soil samples weighting 842 pounds. Scientific studies help us learn about the geologic history of the Moon, as well as Earth. They help us understand the mineral and chemical resources available to support future lunar exploration.

Continue reading

TODAY at 4:00 – Hawaii Representative to Participate in Protest Against Trump

State Representative Kaniela Saito Ing will join “Resistance” groups at 4 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Hawaii State Capitol to send a clear message to President Donald Trump who is visiting Oahu before embarking on a trip to Asia.

Rep. Kaniela Ing

Ing will hold a sign that reads “Aloha means goodbye.”

“Aloha is a Hawaiian value rooted in the idea of love for one another, that we are all connected. I deeply support this concept,” said Rep. Ing. “But in order for Hawaii to remain a welcoming place of tolerance and aloha, we need to draw the line at leaders who incite fear and hate for personal gain. Trump rose to power by telling whole groups of people – ¬like immigrants, women, and transgendered individuals – that they are not welcome in our society.

“Hawaii is the most diverse state in the nation, and just a few days ago Trump literally said, ‘Diversity sounds like a good thing, but it is not a good thing.’ That statement alone undermines the values that make Hawaii, Hawaii. So yes, aloha means ‘hello,’ but it also means ‘goodbye.’ ”

Ing explained that Trump’s policy is personal to him and many others in Hawaii.

“My grandfather was a Japanese-American WW II veteran who fought overseas for our country, despite facing discrimination back home,” Ing said. “This administration evidently supports the idea of internment camps, in 2017, people.

“I’m afraid of turning on the news around my toddler son because I fear this president will teach him it’s OK to sexually assault women. We cannot afford to normalize any of this behavior.”

Ing will also be marching and speaking at the “The Nightmare Must Go!” protest at Ala Moana Beach Park starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

Rep. Gabbard: DNC Rigged Presidential Primary & Damaged Party

Some have said that the Democratic National Committee rigged the presidential primary, which, in turn, damaged the party so badly that the Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election.

Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Hawaiʻi Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released a statement on Thursday, Nov. 2, calling for major reform to the DNC in response to an exposé of a rigged presidential primary written by Donna Brazile, the interim DNC chair who stepped in after Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was removed:

“Today we heard from Donna Brazile that what many suspected for a long time, is actually true: the DNC secretly chose their nominee over a year before the primary elections even occurred, turning over DNC control to the Clinton campaign. The deep financial debt, closed door decision-making, complete lack of transparency, and unethical practices are now front and center.

“Today’s news points to how deeply broken our campaign finance laws are, and how they have only served to weaken individual candidates, while empowering political parties and special interests. These laws essentially allowed the Clinton campaign to bypass individual campaign contribution limits by funneling millions of dollars through the DNC and state parties, taking control of the DNC in the process.

“Along with the recent retaliatory purge of Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison supporters from the DNC’s Executive Committee, this is further evidence of a party and a campaign finance system that needs to be completely overhauled and reformed. These reforms must empower the people and take our party back from the special interests of a powerful few.

“We must bring about real campaign finance reform. The DNC must get rid of the undemocratic system of super delegates, who have the power to swing an election, making up one-third of the votes any candidate needs to secure the nomination. The party must push for open or same-day registration in Democratic primaries in every state across the country to ease and encourage voter engagement instead of making it more difficult. If there is any hope of strengthening our party, they must stop this ‘more of the same’ mentality and start caring more about people than protecting the status quo.

No more games. No more retaliation. No more picking winners and losers. We must act now to take back our party—a party that belongs to the people—and fight for a new path forward that is open, transparent, accountable, inclusive, and that actually strengthens our democracy.”

Rep. Gabbard is a Democrat who has served as the U.S. Representative for Hawai‘i’s Second Congressional District since 2013. She was vice chair of the DNC from 2013 to 2016, when she resigned to support Bernie Sanders for president. She has been calling for an end to superdelegates in the Democratic Party’s nomination process and open Democratic primaries. Rep. Gabbard is a major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard and has served on two Middle East deployments. She is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

33 State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Evaluate ‘Bump Stocks’

Expressing extreme concern about the role “bump stocks” played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Attorney General Doug Chin yesterday joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.

Click to read letter

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm’s stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.

It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with “bump stocks” to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machineguns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.

Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and “machineguns” have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act’s effective date.

According to the letter, bump stocks can “mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands.” The attorneys general also state that Congress “should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws” when considering any news laws.

Joining the letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is attached.

VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Tulsi Gabbard is calling for immediate action to put a stop to a dangerous move executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration. Unless the decision is overturned, thousands of jobs will be lost and an entire Alaskan watershed will be destroyed—killing the aquatic life within it and endangering the people who, for thousands of years, have depended on the fish and miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats it supports.

Tulsi Gabbard, a lifelong environmentalist with a proven record of protecting our environment, explains the critical situation facing Bristol Bay, Alaska and calls on Congress to take action to protect it.

Nearly half of the world’s Sockeye Salmon comes from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Its watershed employs over 14,000 full-and part-time workers, generates $1.5 billion dollars in economic activity, and is home to 25 federally recognized tribal governments—many of whom have maintained a salmon-based culture and subsistence-based way of life for more than 4,000 years.

Yet the world’s most valuable salmon fishery is facing a direct threat by the very government agency given the job to protect it—the Environmental Protection Agency. Its newest administrator and Trump nominee, Scott Pruitt, recently held closed-door meetings with Canadian-owned mining company Pebble Limited Partnership about developing a copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay larger than Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just over an hour after the meeting, Pruitt rescinded federal salmon protections in the area, opening the door for development and mining.

Despite numerous studies and historical data over the years that cite the ecological and economic importance of protecting Bristol Bay from mining project development, Pruitt has made it clear that he has no qualms with brokering deals at the expense of the American people and the planet.
To quote his own agency’s 2014 assessment, such a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources,” and the loss of miles of streams, wetlands, and other habitats. In addition, the EPA calculated a 95% chance of spill, per pipeline, in 25 years, threatening “acute exposure to toxic water and chronic exposure to toxic sediment” to fish and invertebrates.

Along with the virtual destruction of these species and wetlands, this would poison the watershed and needlessly endanger the communities who have relied upon the Sockeye Salmon for sustenance for thousands of years. The cost of destroying thousands of jobs and decimating the environment and resources these communities rely on is too great to measure.

The economics of Bristol Bay are everything President Trump promised to protect: American workers supplying American families and businesses through American jobs.

Yet the president and his administration have demonstrated time and again that they are eager to put their friends and business partners’ interests and profit before the health and wellbeing of the American people.

Hawaiʻi and Alaska have long shared a special and unique relationship, working together across party lines for the wellbeing of our people. For decades, we’ve worked together to empower our native communities, promote our local economies, secure resources for our rural populations, and much more. Now, we must stand together again and urge our colleagues in Congress to join the fight to protect Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable resources before it is too late.

Hawaii Joins Multistate Court Brief Opposing Ban on Transgender Individuals in the Military

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s plans to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

Click to read brief

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorney generals state that since adopting open service policies, “there is no evidence that it has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by Attorney General Chin for Hawaii, other states joining in today’s brief include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the amicus brief is attached.

Governor Ige to Travel to Philippines on Goodwill and Trade Mission

Gov. David Ige will embark on a goodwill and trade mission with the Filipino Chamber of Commerce from Oct. 14 through the 22.

The governor will be traveling with about 50 Hawai‘i business and community leaders who will tour several provinces, including Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Cebu.

While in the Philippines, Gov. Ige will lead a variety of meetings with local government, business and community members, as well as participate in cultural events, tours, activities and ceremonies. Among the significant events — the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation between the State of Hawai‘i and the League of Provinces, establishing Sister State relationships with several provinces in the Philippines. The governor will also take part in a wreath laying ceremony at Rizal Park and visit the University of the Philippines.

First Lady Dawn Amano Ige will join the governor for various events and ceremonies. She will also visit Pitogo Elementary School and a Consuelo Foundation orphanage.

One staff member will be traveling with the governor and first lady.
The total cost of the trip is estimated at $8,900.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will serve as acting governor until Gov. Ige returns to Hawai‘i on Oct. 22.

2017 Hilo World Peace Festival Set for October 21

The 8th Annual Hilo World Peace Festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Festivities are free and open to the public.  This is a partnership event coordinated by Soka Gakkai International USA, the International Committee of Artists for Peace, Destination Hilo and the County of Hawaii. The Festival celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the creation of a peaceful world. The festival features performances, food and beverages, as well as opportunities to experience cultural expressions of dance, music and art.

The Hilo World Peace Festival was created to promote the spirit of Aloha; the universal language of love; which encourages acts “to honor and revere our elders; to love, nurture, and protect our children; and to respect the harmony of our families; thus creating a healthy community and island lifestyle.”

The entertainment line-up includes Lopaka, Hula by the Hilo SGI Group, Randy Skaggs, Lori Lei Shirakawa, contemporary music by Vaughn Valentino and To’a Here Tahitian Revue. The 2017 Hilo World Peace Festival is a true partnership event where community organizations, private enterprise, and government work together toward a common goal.

More information can be obtained by calling the County of Hawaii, Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.

Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Hawai‘i Ranks Third in Nation in U.S. News’ Best States for Aging Ranking

The State of Hawai‘i ranks third in the country when it comes to states that are best at serving their older population. U.S. News and World Report based its rankings on the cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care and life expectancy.The publication says that Hawai‘i’s residents have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., with its 65-and-older population expected to live 20 years longer than in other states. U.S. News has also found that Hawai‘i has the best nursing home quality in the country.

“It’s part of our culture in Hawai‘i to respect and honor our kupuna or elders. Our programs reflect these values and aim to keep our older population active and contributing members of society,” said Gov. David Ige.

Colorado ranked first, with one of the healthiest and most physically active older populations in the country. Maine is second, where a fifth of the population consists of residents 65 and older, a higher percentage than in any other state.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

In 2016, Americans 65 and older accounted for 15.2 percent of the total population, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2000. Not only are baby boomers aging, but advances in medicine and technology are resulting in a longer life expectancy.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that one in five Americans will be 65 years and older by 2030.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Hawaii Opposes Travel Ban 3.0

Today the State of Hawaii, Dr. Ismail Elshikh, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, and two prospective Doe plaintiffs filed a proposed Third Amended Complaint in Hawaii v. Trump. The proposed complaint was accompanied by a motion for temporary restraining order.

Click to read

As stated in the memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order:

On September 24, 2017, the President issued a proclamation that imposes an indefinite nationality-based ban on travel and targets an overwhelmingly Muslim population. The President has fulfilled his prior promises: He has issued a “larger, tougher, and more specific” version of the travel ban that this Court and the Ninth Circuit found violative of the Nation’s laws and most basic constitutional commitments.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the new order replicates all of the legal flaws evident in its precursors. It again openly “discriminate[s] * * * in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of * * * nationality.” It still fails, despite its elaborate rationalizations, to make any “find[ing]” remotely adequate to support its sweeping ban of millions of foreign nationals. It exceeds the limits on the President’s exclusion authority that have been recognized for nearly a century, by supplanting Congress’s immigration policies with the President’s own unilateral and indefinite ban. And it continues to effectuate the President’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.

Copies of the proposed third amended complaint and memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order are attached.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Senator Schatz Statement on Trump Administration’s Decision to Repeal the Clean Power Plan

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

“Once again, the administration has put partisan ideology above the health of the American people, our economy, and our planet.  Like their failed attempts to undermine clean water and methane rules, this effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan has no basis in law and will absolutely be challenged in court.

“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. It’s our obligation as the indispensable nation to lead and take action. The administration’s short-sighted decision today abdicates that role. But in the absence of leadership from the White House, momentum behind clean energy is growing, as states, cities, and the private sector continue to move ahead. Our commitment to fighting climate change won’t be weakened. We will continue to take action, with or without the administration’s help.”