Big Island Senators Welcome Public to Art at the Capitol

Big Island Senators Gilbert Kahele, Josh Green, Russell Ruderman and Malama Solomon opened their doors for an evening at the capitol “museum” during the 6th Annual Art At The Capitol event on Friday, April 4 from 4:30 – 7 p.m. Each senator brings a distinct perspective to the décor of their offices through the personalization of their walls according to interest and taste. The works of art are placed in public areas of the Capitol as part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ “Art in Public Places” program, which was established in 1967, and was the first program of its kind in the nation.

Senator Gilbert Kahele, his nine-year-old grandson Maka'i Okalani Snyder and Senate Sergeant at Arms Ben Villaflor enjoy music by the Hawaii Youth Symphony during the 6th Annual Art at the Capitol, featuring chandeliers hanging in the House and the Senate. The House Sun and the Senate Moon were done by kinetic sculptor Otto Piene.   Photo courtesy of the Senate Communications Office.

Senator Gilbert Kahele, his nine-year-old grandson Maka’i Okalani Snyder and Senate Sergeant at Arms Ben Villaflor enjoy music by the Hawaii Youth Symphony during the 6th Annual Art at the Capitol, featuring chandeliers hanging in the House and the Senate. The House Sun and the Senate Moon were done by kinetic sculptor Otto Piene. Photos courtesy of the Senate Communications Office.

More than 500 residents and visitors toured the capitol taking in all the art on display.

In Kahele’s office attendees viewed a 1972 oil painting depicting Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole by artist Patric Bauernschmidt, who is internationally recognized for her portraits of historical people. Bauernschmidt was the first artist to paint a complete set of works of Hawaiian royalty in a single style.

Kahele Office Art

“This is an elaborate piece representing Prince Kuhio, and it reminds me of my lineage and the history of our island state,” said Kahele.

Solomon’s latest acquisition is a work of art by Honolulu resident Alison Manaut called “Nonolo,” an acrylic painting completed in 1975.

Nonolo

“This piece talks about involving each person as an observer,” said Malama. “Each person will probably have a unique perspective on what it means to them. I wanted this piece in the office because it reminds me of how we legislate and create policy. We have to be creative and solve many complex problems by taking in all kinds of perspectives to come up with a creative solution.”

In Ruderman’s office is a gorgeous photograph called “Volcano House Fireplace,” an image of the lava ocean entry superimposed beneath a carving of the Pele, which is located above the fireplace in Volcano House on Hawaii Island.  The shot was an in-camera double exposure made in 1991.

Ruderman Art

“We are honored to display art from the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts,” Ruderman said.   “Paul Buklarewicz is a resident of Volcano and he is a talented photographer. The Volcano House Fireplace allows our office in Honolulu to have a piece of Hawaii Island with us every day.”

A stunning sand-blasted hand blown glass with gold lead is displayed in Green’s office. It’s called “The Sea Before Me” and was done in 1998 by Wilfred Yamazawa, who keeps an active hot glass sculpture studio in Kealakekua, where he was born.“The Sea Before Me” refers to the nurturing ocean that surrounds the Hawaiian Islands. For Yamazawa, the sea personifies the life blood that defines us because man and nature are bound by the sea – the three are inseparable.

Green Art

“This piece of art specifically reminds me of the richness and beauty that Hawaii has to offer,” said Green. “We’re humbled to have so many unique artwork from talented artists line our capitol walls and shelves.”

Community Forum Features Mayor Kenoi and Senior Officials

If you want to learn more about current activities and projects of our county officials and staff, come to the free Community Enterprises’ April 8, 2014 West Hawaii Community Forum. The forum will feature Mayor Billy Kenoi and his senior officials.

Community Forum with Mayor Kenoi

Council member Dru Kanuha will also share issues before the Hawaii County Council. And a special presentation will be made to the youth who lobbied Hawaii County Council with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii which resulted in raising the age to buy cigarettes to 21.

The April 8 West Hawaii Community Forum will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Maka`eo Old Airport Pavilion. Pupus and beverages will be served.

Community Enterprises Inc. is a private non-profit organization with a 501c (3) designation from the IRS. Its mission is to bring educational resources to the residents of West Hawaii so they can better participate in the public policy issues that affect their lives and their communities. Visit us at our website www.konatownmeeting.org.

For more information please call Shirley David at 756-1633 or email at shirleydavid@hawaii.rr.com

New County Council District 4 Office Opens in Pahoa

Councilman Greggor Ilagan, of District 4, reopened his office in Puna after months of renovations and building improvements to the old Pāhoa Police Substation. “The public needs easy access to their government and this new office will help achieve that goal,” said Councilman Ilagan.

Councilman Illagan enters the new office.

Councilman Illagan enters the new office.

The new office is located at 15-2879 Pāhoa Village Road, Pāhoa HI, 96778, and is open Monday through Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. The previous office, located at the Malama Marketplace in Pāhoa, was closed due to budgetary concerns. This office move saves taxpayers over $24,000 annually in rent and associated fees.

This space will also be available for other County departments to utilize as needed. Immigration services will operate from this office beginning April 4, and will continue thereafter on every first Friday of the month. Other services from the Housing and Mass Transit Department may become available in the future.

“Please come and visit; our doors are open for anyone with concerns, comments and suggestions,” said Councilman Ilagan. The video conferencing site for public testimony will remain at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2710 Kauhale Street, Pāhoa HI, 96778.

 

Former Hawaii Councilman Fred Blas Files to Run Against Rep. Faye Hanohano

Former Hawaii Councilman Fred Blas has filed to run against House Representative Faye Hanohano amongst others in the State Representative District 4 race.

Fred Blas House Run

Bill Proposes Sunshine Law Exemptions for City Council Members

Sunshine Week is next week, March 16-22, 2014.  This is an occasion for all of us to celebrate and facilitate citizen participation in government decision making.

But there’s little to celebrate with HB2139 HD 1 Relating to Public Agency Meetings. If passed by the Legislature this measure would create a loophole in Hawaii’s Sunshine Laws and allow a quorum or all members of a county council to attend and participate in discussions at free in-state meetings and presentations held by private interests.

It is common for private interests seeking county land use approvals, private businesses seeking county contracts and ad hoc “NIMBY” groups  to hold “informational meetings and presentations” for the purpose of advocating for or against special interest projects.  Currently, Hawaii’s Sunshine Law does not allow a council quorum to attend a “meeting or presentation”.  This helps prevent one-sided presentations, discussions and vote-trading in private followed by pro-forma public meetings where official votes are taken.

The Sunshine Law ensures that county councils conduct the public’s business in public.  The existing law guarantees the public both advance notice and the opportunity to hear, question, and disagree with any private presentation to a county council quorum.  The existing law also guarantees the public both advance notice and the opportunity to listen to all discussions and decisions by a county council quorum.

HB2139

If HB 2139 HD 1 becomes law, all county council members could be invited to attend an “informational meeting or presentation” organized by proponents of a special interest project.  Prior public notice would not be required.  Only invitees might know about the “meeting or presentation” even if the event were open and “free” to the public.   At the “meeting or presentation”, the proponents could make a one-sided presentation in support of a special interest project and then discuss the project with a quorum or even all council members.  It would be possible for the host to structure the “meeting or presentation” to prevent the public from asking questions or participating in discussions.  Regardless of how many council members participate, minutes would not be required.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii are not unsympathetic with county councils members who wish to remain actively engaged with their constituents. However, this does not justify amending the sunshine law to allow county council quorums to attend one-sided private presentations and discuss special interest projects without public notice.

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest. For more information, visit www.commoncause.org/HI

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

Senator Donna Mercado Kim to File for US House of Representatives

Hawaii State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is filing her nomination papers to run in the 1st Congressional District race today.

Donna Mercado Kim and son Micah

Donna Mercado Kim and son Micah

Kim will be flanked by friends and supporters as she takes the Oath and signs the paperwork to formally enter the race to represent Hawaii in Washington D.C.  This will take place at the State Office of Elections at 802 Lehua Avenue in Pearl City.

“Today, I am formalizing my candidacy for the US House of Representatives.  I look forward to a vigorous campaign where I plan to personally meet as many residents in the 1st Congressional District.  By filing these papers, I offer the voters the choice for a candidate with extensive experience at the local and state level, in starting a running a small business and proven leadership,” said Kim.

Kim has raised more than $330,000 in the first few months of her campaign, giving her a financial lead over her competitors in fundraising.

She is also the most experienced candidate in the race, with more than 3 decades in elective office.  Born and raised in Kalihi, Kim has served on the City Council, State House of Representatives and in the State Senate.

Commentary: Hawaii Speaker Endorses Jones Act Reform

Commentary from the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii:

The effort to improve Hawaii’s economy has taken an important step forward with the introduction of a series of resolutions supporting a limited exemption to the US-build requirement of the Jones Act. House Speaker Joseph Souki (D) was among the group who introduced HR 113 and HCR 153, which note that the Act, “disproportionately imposes an economic burden on and adversely affects Hawaii.” The resolution goes on to carve out the specifics of the limited exemption, taking care to refute the claim that the Jones Act is necessary to national defense or effective in protecting the US shipbuilding industry.

“This is a great day for both political cooperation and our economy,” stated Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “The Grassroot Institute has long supported Jones Act reform, not only out of principle–for such protectionist legislation reduces our competitiveness and infringes on our liberty–but also out of simple compassion for Hawaii’s citizens and businesses. In cooperation with countless others, including Michael Hansen (President of the Hawaii Shippers Council and an advisor to Grassroot institute), Grassroot has worked hard to educate both legislators and the public on the need for Jones Act reform. The Jones Act is a burden on everyone who lives and works in Hawaii, acting as an invisible tax on every good that comes to our shores. A limited exemption, such as that envisioned by these resolutions, is a tremendous and positive step.”

Dr. Akina continued: “Moreover, we are happy to see that this is an issue that has gained bipartisan support. Not only was Speaker Souki one of the primary introducers, but he was joined by Reps. Ward (R), Brower (D), Cachola (D), Creagan (D), Evans (D) and Kobayashi (D). We also thank Senator Slom (R) for introducing SR 45 and SCR 93, the Senate versions. There should be no question of partisanship when it comes to improving the economy of our state, making it a better and more profitable place to do business and reducing the cost of living for our citizens. It is gratifying to see that this common sense issue is being treated with the gravity it deserves.”

Governor Names Jessica Wooley as Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced that subject to her confirmation by the state Senate, he has appointed Jessica Wooley to serve as the state’s Director of Environmental Control. In addition to serving as the head of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC), Wooley will serve the Governor in an advisory capacity on all matters relating to environmental quality control.

Jessica Wooley

Jessica Wooley

“Jessica is knowledgeable and experienced in issues pertaining to the environment, water resources, agriculture and land use,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “Her legal and public service background will be a great asset in protecting Hawaii’s fragile environment. Her energy and commitment to the issues involved with the OEQC is a big plus for Hawaii.”

“Today I am announcing that, if confirmed, I will be leaving the Hawaii State Legislature to work as the OEQC Director,” Jessica Wooley said. “As a public servant, I see this as a tremendous opportunity to have a greater impact. I will be honored to work with the Governor and his administration as we continually work to make sure our environment is resilient and able to support the public interest and all of Hawaii’s policy goals. We must always keep in mind that our very economy, our health and our safety depend on our ability to care for our environmental resources.”

Elected in 2008, Wooley currently represents District 48 (Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe) in the state House, serving as chair of the Agriculture Committee. Previously, she was an attorney at Legal Aid, an economist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Deputy Attorney General under Governors Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle.

Wooley earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics and a Juris Doctor from the University of California Berkeley.

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United Response to John Doe vs. County of Hawaii GMO Lawsuit

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United is aware of the legal action  “John Doe vs. County of Hawaii” filed in State Superior Court against the County of Hawaii…

Farmers and Ranchers UnitedWe “STRONGLY SUPPORT and Stand United with our fellow Farmers in this suit. Brought by Farmers who are frightened by the potential implications of complying with these unjustified and intrusive requirements – specifically, harassment of their family and employees and vandalism of their operations by anti-technology activists.

In John Doe vs. County of Hawaii, the complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief from implementing the registration and disclosure provisions of “Hawaii Bill 113.”

Due to the immediacy of the registration deadline, this complaint seeks relief only in connection with the registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113, even though the entirety of Bill 113 is legally invalid because it stands in direct conflict with numerous federal and state laws.

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, the County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most GE crops.

The registration and disclosure requirements of Bill 113 unfairly target growers of genetically engineered crops, primarily papaya growers, by forcing them to disclose personal and commercially confidential information about themselves and their operations without any scientific or factual justification:

Without any assurances that the County can or will protect the registration information from public disclosure as allowed under Bill 113, these farmers and growers have good reason to believe that providing this information could result in real harm – including the vandalizing of their crops or intimidation or harassment of their family and/or employees.  Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-genetically engineered or anti-GMO agriculture political activism in Hawaiʻi (and throughout the United States) has crossed the line from a spirited debate to extremism, vandalism, and violence.

The lawsuit alleges that the disclosure provision of Bill 113 is in direct conflict with two State laws – the Uniform Information Practices Act and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act – and violates Plaintiff’s rights to privacy and due process under the Constitution of Hawaii.

Accordingly, it asks the court to enjoin or suspend the registration process until the court ultimately determines the lawfulness of the disclosure provision and how this information will be treated under state law.

Friday – Rally for Clean Elections

This Friday, March 7 from 5-6pm in front of Hopaco (280 Makaala St.) in Hilo everybody is invited to Sign Wave for Clean Elections. In 2008, Hawaii became the 9th state in the country to implement a comprehensive public funding (Clean Elections) program.

hb2533

A program was created for the Hawaii Island County Council elections beginning with the 2010 elections. That program was successful with the majority of winning county council members financed by the program. House Bill 2533 is currently making its way through the Hawaii State Legislature. It would create a Clean Election program for state representatives. Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said, “This bill is one of the most significant democracy reform measures currently before the Hawaii Legislature.

House Bill 2533 has the potential to change Hawaii’s political landscape by requiring the candidates who opt-in to this program to focus on the concerns of the average constituent, instead of large donations from the wealthy donors and special interests who currently have a stronghold on Hawaii’s politics.” The Clean Elections bill from last legislative session, HB 1481 was killed in conference committee by Oahu legislator, Clayton Hee. Supporters of the bill are determined to pass Clean Election legislation this session. Supporters include: The League of Women Voters, The Sierra Club, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, the Star Advertiser and the Honolulu Weekly.

Bill Establishes Commission on African American History and Culture

The Hawaii Senate Committee on Ways and Means today favorably passed Senate Bill 2598, a bill that would establish the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture.

Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Senate Communications Office: Senate Committee on Ways and Means advance measures before the First Decking deadline on Friday, Feb. 28

Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Senate Communications Office: Senate Committee on Ways and Means advance measures before the First Decking deadline on Friday, Feb. 28

African Americans first arrived in Hawaii in the 18th century and have since positively influenced the development and culture of Hawaii. However, their contributions are neither well known nor preserved. By establishing the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture, the people of Hawaii gain a fuller understanding of the cultural exchanges between the state and African Americans.

“Establishing the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture will allow us to honor the significance and impact of the African American experience in the state and promote awareness for Hawaii’s diverse multicultural society,” said Espero. “As Black History Month comes to a close, I am pleased that the Senate Committee on Ways and Means recognizes the significant contributions of African Americans in the state and the need to educate our citizens and visitors about them.”

The bill will go to the Senate floor for third reading and is expected to cross over to the House for consideration.

Hawaii Senate Advances Bills Investing in Education

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced bills that support Hawaii’s keiki through a variety of education initiatives. If passed, the measures would restore funds to support school athletic programs, improve the learning environment for students and invest in Hawaii charter schools.

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“Hawaii’s keiki are our greatest resource and it’s important that we give them every advantage for a better future,” said Senator David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “To do that, we need to invest in every aspect of their education from academics to athletics to their learning environment.”

These measures will go to the Senate floor for third reading and if approved will move to the House for consideration.

The education measures passed today include:

SB2424 SD1: RELATING TO AIR CONDITIONING

Requires the department of education and department of accounting and general services, in consultation with the Hawaii state energy office of the department of business, economic development, and tourism and the Hawaii natural energy institute of the University of Hawaii, to develop a cooling master strategy and comprehensive study for the public schools and to report findings to the 2015 regular session of the legislature. Appropriates funds.

SB3083 SD1: RELATING TO SCHOOL ATHLETICS.

Appropriates general funds for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program of the department of education. Authorizes additional coaching and assistant coaching positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program.

SB2516 RELATING TO FACILITIES FUNDING FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS

Appropriates funds for the state public charter school commission to allocate to charter schools for facilities projects based, in part, on the need and performance of the charter schools. Requires annual reporting to the legislature.

SB2517 RELATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS

Authorizes the state public charter school commission to request the issuance of general obligation bonds from the director of finance and to allocate the proceeds for the design, planning, construction, repair, and maintenance of public charter school facilities. Creates a working group to determine criteria for and to prioritize the allocation of general obligation bond proceeds to the public charters schools. Specifies that public charter school facilities funded through the proceeds of general obligation bonds are owned by the State. Requires the state public charter school commission to report annually to the legislature. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds to the state public charter school commission. Repeals on June 30, 2024.

Hawaii Senate Committee Advances Bills Protecting the Environment

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced legislation to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources. The committee passed bills that, if made law, would have immediate and far-reaching effects on beach shorelines, invasive species control, conservation, sustainability, climate change and disaster planning efforts.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

“We must continually work together to maintain our unique island home for the health and pleasure of our families and, also, the stability of our economy through the visitor industry,” said Sen. David Ige, WAM Committee chairman. “These bills passed today touch on many facets of the environment both with immediate actions and long-term planning, and will require more meetings and consensus for success.”

The environment protection measures passed today include:

SB2742 – Establishes the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability to provide the structure and opportunity for a new generation of leaders to emerge who possess the ability to address Hawaii and the Pacific-Asia region’s risks from natural and man-made hazards and to develop solutions for sustainable economic growth within the region’s unique physical and cultural diversity.

SB3035 – Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for planning for and construction for the realignment of Kamehameha Highway mauka of Laniakea beach on the North Shore of Oahu.

SB3036 – Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to create a North Shore beach management plan for the North Shore of Oahu stretching from Sunset beach to Waimea Bay.

The Senate WAM Committee last week advanced two joint majority package bills that support efforts to address invasive species and climate change. The measures are:

SB2343 – Appropriates funds to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning.

SB2344 - Addresses climate change adaptation by establishing the interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to create a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report that addresses sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050. Tasks the Office of Planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations using the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other statewide climate impacts identified under Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012. Appropriates funds for staffing and resources.

Capital Improvement Funds Released for Kohala Elementary and Honoka’a High School

Senator Malama Solomon, District 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, today commended the release of $7.73 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) supporting student education in Hawaii.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

Portions of these funds will go toward work in District 4, including:

  • Kohala Elementary, for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) projects, portion of $7,554,000
  • Kohala Elementary, for a special education portable, $80,000
  • Honoka‘a High School, for science lab upgrades, $100,000 for design work

“Supporting schools in my district is one of my main priorities as a lawmaker,” said Solomon. “The Legislature secured the funds for these very important projects last session and I’m glad to see the monies released so that work can get started. It’s imperative that we continue to provide students, teachers and staff with the resources for a favorable learning environment.”

2014 Focus Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members tackle current Hawai`i County issues at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2014 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with County Department representatives in a casual setting. Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the Mayor and other Cabinet heads. Issues to be included in the discussion include the possible increase of the GET via a county surcharge; the County’s solid waste management plan; the controversial GMO bill; and, the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $45 for Chamber and Rotary members, $55 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

THE KONA-KOHALA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

 

Island Perspective With Governor Neil Abercrombie

Gov. Abercrombie was on the Kona side of Hawaii Island on Saturday and was able to sit down with Sherry Bracken to discuss Hawaii’s strong fiscal standing, paying our unfunded liabilities, early childhood education, the rural residency program for physicians, Honokohau Harbor, airports, his position on the President Obama’s Council of Governors, renewable energy and energy costs.

Senate Bill Restores Resources for Hawaii Public School Athletics

State Senator David Ige (D-16 Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Hālawa, Pearl Harbor), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has introduced Senate Bill 3083, which, if passed, would make an appropriation to restore resources to the athletic programs in public schools throughout the state. The measure would also increase the positions authorized for school athletics and allow the Department of Education to create, fill and fund full-time equivalent, permanent, or temporary positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for its athletic programs.

SB3083

SB3083 is also supported by Senator Michelle Kidani (D-18 Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia), vice chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Jill Tokuda (D-24 Kāneohe, Kāneohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Āhuimanu), chairwoman of the Education Committee.

“During the time of the ‘Great Recession’, the athletic programs at public schools have borne much of the brunt of the budget cuts made in education. This measure will help to provide additional resources to assure the development and safety of our high school athletes,” said Ige. “For many students in our public schools, the opportunity to play sports motivates and positively impacts their success in the classroom. In recognizing the positive influence coaches and athletics can have on our students, this measure helps illustrate the investment we are making in our students to help them succeed in both the classroom and on the playing field.”

SB3083 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday, February 10 at 1:15 p.m.  Those wishing to submit testimony or to sign up to provide testimony via teleconferencing can do so by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Governor Neil Abercrombie Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today commented on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which mirrors his investment in early childhood education and his push for increasing the minimum wage.

abercrombieheaderGov. Abercrombie stated:

“It’s encouraging that President Obama’s national priorities echo those I’ve outlined as top initiatives for the State of Hawaii.

“The President’s emphasis on early childhood education are in line with Hawaii’s plans to expand access to pre-kindergarten for all four year olds. We are investing in new partnerships to provide our keiki with the educational opportunities they deserve.

“As I stated in last week’s State of the State address, a hard-working sector in Hawaii has gone seven years without seeing their wages rise. I applaud the President’s proposal to increase the minimum wage for all federal employees.”

Land Exchange Next Step in Creating Central Oahu Agriculture Hub

State senators introduced this session land exchange legislation that would help protect agricultural and conservation lands, boost the agricultural industry and put the appropriate entities in the proper places to grow a better Hawai‘i. The measure is supported by eighteen lawmakers in the Hawai‘i State Senate, including the bill’s main sponsor Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D- Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, and portion of Poamoho).

sb3065
The measure, Senate Bill 3065, Relating to Land Exchange, would allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to exchange state-owned parcels in Kapolei for 20,000 acres of agricultural and conservation lands in Central O‘ahu. The lands, currently owned by the Castle & Cooke, surround the 1,207 acres of arable land purchased by the state for $13 million in 2012.
The land acquisition was part of a detailed plan for the future of Hawai‘i known as the Whitmore Project, an initiative to revitalize Hawai‘i’s local agriculture industry by bringing farmers and the state together to increase local food production, create jobs, engage in partnerships, and provide affordable housing.

Castle & Cooke has listed the land for sale at $175,000,000 and has also been supportive of the idea of a land exchange. The State currently owns land near areas where transit-oriented development is in the works.

“A land exchange with Castle & Cooke makes real sense here,” said Sen. Dela Cruz, “We have to look at all our options and think outside the box to help diversify Hawai‘i’s ag industry and preserve our lands. The state would spend little to no taxpayer money, and the exchange would allow for the appropriate entity to oversee smart development around transit plans and put the State in a place where it can provide opportunities for farmers and preserve lands.”

“Wahiawā can be an ag industrial hub,” he added. “These lands are up for sale and anything can happen to them. Do we want to see them parceled out and developed or do we want to see them as part of a plan that supports agriculture and our farmers?”

Senate Offers Videoconferencing Option for Public Testimony Statewide

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees will now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

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 “Ensuring access and citizen and stakeholder participation is especially important when it comes to issues dealing with public education and our schools,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Expanding our use of this type of technology to connect people with policymakers will only strengthen and enhance the quality of legislation produced.”

The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program beginning with the Senate Committee on Education’s first hearing on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. and continue with hearings from both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts throughout the 2014 Legislative Session.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have to sit through a two-hour hearing just to speak for one minute on one measure,” added Senator Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate Technology and Arts Committee. “If we can reduce the barriers to civic engagement by reducing the cost and time people spend to voice their concerns, we are on our way to creating a better Hawaii.”

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

During Monday’s Senate Education Committee, lawmakers will take up two measures that address air conditioning in schools. The bills call for the creation of a master strategic plan for the cooling of public schools.

For more information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit testimony and/or participate via videoconferencing or in person, please refer to the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU_01-27-14_.HTM