• Follow on Facebook

  • what-to-do-media
  • RSS W2DM

  • puako-general-store
  • air-tour-kauai
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    April 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Mar    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

  • Recent Comments

Commentary – Mayor’s Administration Has Taken Action Against Me

Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless,  his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises.

The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.I was able to get  that  part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects.

In addition,  I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers,  or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that  have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments.

This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works  staff over the years. This is why I believe  this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Kicks Off Statewide Town Hall Tour With 500 Kona Residents

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) kicked off her statewide Town Hall Tour in Kona last night, where nearly 500 residents of West Hawaiʻi packed the Kealakehe Intermediate School cafeteria to hear from their congresswoman and discuss issues affecting the people of Hawaiʻi, our country, and the world.

More than 30,000 viewers tuned in via Facebook Live for the first of seven Town Halls that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is hosting during the April District Work Period on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lanaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about her work in Congress and the bills she’s introduced and cosponsored that affect Hawaiʻi communities, including legislation to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever and to combat invasive species like the coffee berry borer, macadamia felted coccid, albizia trees, coconut rhinoceros beetle, little fire ants, and the fungus that causes rapid ohia death. She also highlighted her bills to support local farmers, small businesses, the agriculture industry, and sustainability efforts.

The congresswoman spent the majority of the meeting answering questions from the audience on topics including ending the counterproductive regime change war in Syria, defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, Trump’s recent attack on Syria, federal spending, civil liberties, healthcare, education, military issues, and veteran services.

The next stops on Tulsi’s Town Hall Tour are below. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at least one day prior to the meeting date at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

  • Lānaʻi – Thursday, April 13th, 4:45 – 6:30 PM, Lānaʻi Senior Center, 309 Seventh Street Lānaʻi City, HI 96763
  • Oʻahu – Saturday, April 15th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Kainalu Elementary School, 165 Kaiholu Street Kailua, HI 96734
  • Molokaʻi – Monday, April 17th, 4:30 – 6:00 PM, Mitchell Pauole Center, 90 Ainoa Street Kaunakakai, HI 96748
  • Hawaiʻi Island – Hilo, Tuesday, April 18th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Waiakea High School, 155 W. Kawili Street Hilo, HI 96720
  • Kauaʻi – Wednesday, April 19th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM, Kauaʻi Veterans Center, 3215 Kapule Hwy Līhuʻe, HI 96766
  • Maui – Thursday, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Tropical Plantation, 1670 Honoapiilani Hwy Wailuku, HI 96793

“Dear Republican Leaders” – Hawaii Representative Explains Why She Quits the Republican Party

Dear Republican Leaders,

Since becoming a member eight years ago, I’ve suggested our local party should reflect our uniquely diverse community. And I believed that if I was committed to this cause, I could help attract more people to the party.

But, a little more than a year ago, a fellow caucus member told me “We are the party of middle America.  I don’t care if the demographics don’t fit.” He declared that Republicans are the national majority and that it is our responsibility to represent “middle American” values here in Hawaii.

It was in that moment that I was finally able to identify the colonial mindset I’d unknowingly run up against for years. No ethnic group in our state is a majority, and more than 70 percent of the population isn’t white. But our Hawaii Republican Party leaders wanted us to adopt “middle American” values instead of holding on to Republican principles that also reflect our own local values, such as responsible stewardship over things like wealth and power.

This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women. So, when I listened as our now top office holder refused to condemn the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, speaking out didn’t seem like a choice.

A little over a year ago, I was in Washington, D.C. with a group of Republican friends talking about my concerns with Donald Trump’s candidacy and, more specifically, his suggestion about a Muslim registry. They told me it was just rhetoric. I reminded them that a registry was only one step away from internment camps. Less than an hour later, we saw the breaking news headline, “Trump says he may have supported Japanese Internment.” As a woman and the only Japanese-American in our (then) seven-member caucus, I had something valuable to add about why our party continues to lose.

My Japanese-American grandparents owned a small grocery store in Hawaii during World War II with a small house attached to the back where my father’s family all lived in cramped space. When word spread through the community that the government was placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps, my grandpa destroyed everything written in Japanese, smashed my family’s beautiful Japanese dolls, and buried everything else that would make them look “less American” in the backyard.

Despite his devastatingly heroic actions, they took my grandpa anyway. He was fortunate enough to be detained for only a few hours, however, thousands of families across the United States weren’t so lucky.

Every immigrant group has a story of hardship and suffering. Every woman has a story about sexism or inequality. Most people’s stories are worse than mine. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in life, and I truly believed that the Republican Party was a group that believed in creating more opportunities for everyone.

President Trump’s meteoric success and his unabashed prejudices should have forced our party to address the elements of racism and sexism within the base. But for years, the party allowed it, fearing Democrats, primaries and third-party challenges. With electoral successes across the nation, concerns about disenfranchising minority voters are being buried. The party has ended conversations about how Republican rhetoric and actions threaten any ability to win amongst an increasingly diverse electorate.

So, I continued to speak out. The day after the inauguration, I spoke at the Hawaii’s Women’s March. I said we should all agree that the campaign remarks made by our president about women and minorities were unacceptable, and that it was our responsibility, regardless of who we voted for, to show our kids that everyone should be treated with respect.

A call for kindness and respect should have been a non-partisan message, but it was controversial within the party. Within 24 hours, calls for my resignation or censure abounded. My caucus told me that they would remove me from leadership unless I promised to not criticize the president for the remainder of his term. That was a promise I simply could not make.

Since I became a Republican eight years ago, I’ve served the party at every level from envelope stuffer to party chair. And, I’ve served our Republican legislators as a file clerk, an office manager, a research director and eventually, the Minority Leader. I dedicated myself to making the Republican party a viable, relevant party in Hawaii. But, what I’ve experienced over the last eight years is that the GOP doesn’t want to change.

The leaders that remain in the party either condone the problems I’ve identified or they agree with me but are unwilling to stand up and fight. For those reasons, I am resigning from the Republican party.

If I chose to stay, I would simply become an obstructionist in a political party that doesn’t want to hear my voice or my message. I don’t believe that I can make a difference in the Hawaii Republican Party, but I still believe there’s hope for other Republicans in other states.

I want to see all Americans fight for diversity of opinion, moderation, minorities, women, and ultimately, a better party system. Without confronting this problem, Republicans across the country will inevitably discover what it’s like to be a super minority, or a Republican in Hawaii. No matter how many walls are built and travel bans enacted, America’s demographics will keep changing, and the Republican party can’t keep marginalizing voices like mine and the people that care about what I’m saying.

Thank you,

Representative Beth Fukumoto

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana

Continuing her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana.

If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.

“Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country. They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate. I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform.”

“There is growing consensus acknowledging that the effects of marijuana are less harmful than its criminal prohibition, which has increased incarceration rates, divided families, and burdened state governments with the high cost of enforcement, prison and probation. It’s clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness. Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment,” said Karen Umemoto, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and juvenile justice researcher.

“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees. Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings,” said Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on Hawaiʻi Island.

“Descheduling cannabis will benefit Hawaiʻi patients by allowing for more rapid research to identify the best medical marijuana strains and dosages for individual medical conditions. Also, eliminating the barriers to banking will make it easier and safer for Hawaiʻi patients to purchase the medicine they need and eliminate unnecessary expense and complexity for dispensaries,” said Brian Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Mānoa Botanicals, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary on Oʻahu.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. Last month, she visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

 

Hawaii Senate Forwards 384 Bills Pass on Third Reading

Hawai‘i State Senators today approved 318 bills on third reading. Sixty-six bills were approved earlier on third reading for a total of 384 measures that have been transmitted to the House for consideration.

The bills align with the 2017 Senate Legislative Program the Senate Majority recognized as priorities ahead of session convening.

“Before the start of the legislative session, Senators worked collaboratively to set out and establish the top concerns for each of our districts and for the State.  The Legislative Program provides a directive of how to move forward to achieve our initiatives that will improve the quality of life in our communities and our state,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “Many of these principals are embedded in the bills being transmitted to the House.”

The following are a few of the measures to pass on third reading:

Ola Lehulehu (People and Communities)

Affordability

S.B. No. 964, S.D. 1 Establishes that emergency shelters may provide partitioned space for homeless persons or families based upon guidelines determined by the department of human services. Extends the effective date for Act 234, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2016, by one year.

S.B. No. 1244, S.D. 2  Authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable units developed with government assistance when a government entity waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit. Authorizes counties to waive a first right of refusal to repurchase a privately-developed affordable housing unit built pursuant to a unilateral agreement or similar instrument.

S.B. No. 912, S.D. 2 Expands the Down Payment Loan Program to provide greater assistance for eligible borrowers to become first-time homebuyers.

S.B. No. 2, S.D. 2 Requires the auditor to conduct a study to assess the impact of using medicaid funds to provide coverage for the treatment for homelessness. Requires the auditor to submit a report to the legislature.

Education

S.B. No. 683, S.D. 2 Proposes amendments to the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i to advance the State’s goal of providing a public education for the children of Hawai‘i by authorizing the legislature to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations.

S.B. No. 686, S.D. 2  Establishes an education surcharge on residential investment properties and visitor accommodations for the purpose of funding public education.

S.B. No. 500, S.D. 2 Establishes the R.E.A.C.H (resources for enrichment, athletics, culture, and health) program in the Department of Education’s community engagement office to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Requires the community engagement office to report to the legislature. Establishes that the R.E.A.C.H. program will be run by a program specialist to be appointed by the governor. Establishes a special fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program.

Social Services

S.B. No. 534, S.D. 2  Requires the executive office on aging to establish the kupuna caregivers program to assist community members in obtaining care for elders while remaining in the workforce. Makes establishment of the kupuna care program mandatory rather than discretionary. Clarifies the kupuna service and support options provided by area agencies on aging within the kupuna care program. Appropriates funds for establishing and implementing the kupuna caregivers program.

Health Care

S.B. No. 1129, S.D. 2 Establishes a medical aid in dying act that establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may obtain a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

S.B. No. 384, S.D. 2 Authorizes and establishes procedures and criteria for prescriptive authority for clinical psychologists who meet specific education, training, and registration requirements, including requiring prescribing psychologists to adhere to all applicable statutory regulations. Requires the board of psychology to report to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2021.

S.B. No. 347, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for establishing, staffing, and operating two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

S.B. No. 1312, S.D. 2  Establishes the board of midwifery to regulate the practice of midwifery by certified midwives and certified professional midwives. Requires licensing of certified midwives and certified professional midwives to commence beginning on July 1, 2020. Requires the department of commerce and consumer affairs to convene a working group of interested stakeholders and submit a report to the legislature.

S.B. No. 380 Permits licensed dental hygienists in the State to operate under general, rather than direct, supervision of a licensed dentist.

S.B. No. 510, S.D. 2  Formally establishes the Hawai‘i keiki healthy and ready to learn program within the Department of Education. Establishes a special fund and appropriates moneys to expand and sustain the program and for an evidence-based vision screening tool. Appropriates funds to establish school health service coordinator positions in DOH and DHS.

Food Security

S.B. No. 624, SD2  Requires the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the office of the Governor, to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and exports by 2020. Requires the Department of Agriculture to submit the strategic plan to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2018 in order to codify the strategic plan and benchmarks. Makes an appropriation.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu (Preparedness)

Community Development

S.B. No. 640, S.D. 2  Establishes a model project at a location selected by DLNR to designate areas for planting and growing coconut trees for Hawaiian traditional and customary gathering practices. Appropriates funds for the model project.

S.B. No. 1200, S.D. 2  Appropriates funds to the department of accounting and general services to create a master plan and environmental impact statement for the construction of a new Aloha Stadium.

S.B. No. 1148, S.D. 2  Appropriates moneys for the executive director of the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority to conduct a feasibility study regarding: (1) the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority assuming the role of planning, developing, and redeveloping all state-owned lands, except lands administered by the Hawai‘i public housing authority, within one mile of the Honolulu rail transit system; and (2) creating a new community development district along the Honolulu rail corridor. Requires report to legislature.

S.B. No. 1183, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that 10% of revenues from the county surcharge on state tax be withheld to reimburse the State for administrative costs. Sunsets if an ordinance that allows the capital costs of a rapid transportation system to be paid from county funds is not enacted before December 31, 2017. Requires the mayor of the county to submit certain plans with respect to the rapid transportation system.

S.B. No. 767, S.D. 2  Establishes the high-growth grant program and special fund to provide grants to qualified businesses for certain business development activities. Makes appropriations.

Government Services

S.B. No. 334, S.D. 2 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

S.B. No. 655, S.D. 2  Allows the news media, under certain conditions, to access areas that are closed pursuant to emergency management powers of the governor and mayor. Limits the liability of the State and counties. Specifies that the State, counties, and emergency management authority are not responsible for providing logistical support to media accessing emergency areas.

S.B. No. 511, S.D. 2  Requires DHS to publish reports of child care facility inspections beginning on 1/1/2018, and complaint investigations on DHS’s website. Creates an oversight committee for implementation of and compliance with publication requirements. Requires annual reporting to the Legislature. Makes an appropriation.

S.B. No. 21, S.D. 2  Increases monetary penalties for violating the laws relating to child care facilities. Authorizes the Department of Human Services to refer to the attorney general or respective county prosecutor any intentional, knowing, or reckless violation of the laws relating to child care facilities or certain criminal offenses.

S.B. No. 522, S.D. 1 Strengthens the safe sleep policy for child care facilities for children less than one year of age, including requiring placement of children on their backs for sleeping and establishing notice and annual training requirements; requires such facilities to report death of a child, employee, or household member, within one day of occurrence, to DHS.

Financial Analysis

S.B. No. 1290, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that a certain amount of the allocation of transient accommodations tax revenues to the tourism special fund be used for the development and implementation of initiatives to take advantage of expanded visa programs and increased travel opportunities for international visitors to Hawai‘i. Increases the allocation to the counties from $93,000,000 to $108,000,000 for fiscal years beginning after 6/30/2017.

S.B. No. 382, S.D. 2 Makes various updates to the structure and operations of the public utilities commission to increase efficiency and effectiveness, including: establishing guiding principles; establishing docket review and decision-making processes; permitting teleconference and videoconference abilities; specifying senior staff members who must file public financial disclosures; beginning 01/01/18, increasing the number of commissioners to five; updating the composition of the commission; specifying training requirements; clarifying commissioners’ ability to appoint and employ staff; clarifying the roles of the executive officer and chief counsel; permitting neighbor island members to receive per diem compensation and compensation for travel expenses; requiring the commission to report to the legislature regarding certain staff duties; and requiring a management audit of the commission.

Aloha Honua (Climate Change and Energy)

Environment

S.B. No. 1150, S.D. 2 Prohibits the use or application of sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic containing oxybenzone while on a beach or in the ocean unless the sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic is a prescription drug.

S.B. No. 700, S.D. 1 Amends the offense of cruelty to animals in the first degree to include indigenous birds.

S.B. No. 1239, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for research on prevention and mitigation of Rapid Ohia Death.

Sustainability

S.B. No. 352, S.D. 1 Appropriates moneys to and from the agricultural loan revolving fund.

S.B. No. 803, S.D. 2 Establishes an income tax credit to assist farmers with expenses associated with compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Establishes the Food Safety Modernization Act special fund.

S.B. No. 612, S.D. 2 Repeals language requiring documentation of animal feed development costs to be effective for feed development costs incurred after July 1, 2016. Appropriates unspecified funds to the Department of Agriculture for the feed developer grant program and reimbursements to qualified producers for feed costs.

S.B. No. 559, S.D. 1 Enacts relevant provisions of the Paris Agreement as Hawai‘i state law. Requires annual reports. Makes an appropriation.

Pono Kaulike (Transforming Justice)

Rehabilitation

S.B. No. 1039, S.D. 2  Requires PSD to work with the Social Security Administration to enter into an agreement to obtain replacement social security cards for inmates. Requires PSD, in conjunction with DOH, DOT, and the examiner of drivers of each county, to provide Hawaii-born inmates with copies of birth certificates and driver’s licenses or civil ID cards free of charge. Requires PSD to assist inmates born outside of Hawai‘i to obtain birth certificates and photo IDs. Requires PSD to initiate the process of obtaining social security cards, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and civil ID cards at least ninety days prior to release for inmates released to work furlough, extended furlough, or community placement programs.

Public safety

S.B. No. 221, S.D. 2 Establishes the photo red light imaging detector systems program. Authorizes counties to administer the program. Requires proceeds of fines to be expended in the county from which they were collected for operation of the program. Makes an appropriation. Establishes Red Light Running Committee.

S.B. No. 518, S.D. 2 Requires barber, beauty operator, and instructor licensees under the board of barbering and cosmetology to complete a one-time, three-hour training program on intimate partner violence awareness and education.

S.B. No. 664 Increases fines for persons who commit the offense of driving a motor vehicle at an excessive speed.

S.B. No. 421, S.D. 2  Establishes requirements for body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers. Establishes policy guidelines for the use and discontinuance of use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Establishes certain restrictions on the use of body-worn cameras by on-duty law enforcement officers. Adds retention and deletion requirements for body-worn camera footage. Prohibits certain uses of body-worn camera video footage. Establishes violations of recording and retention requirements. Appropriates funds as a grant-in-aid to each county for the purchase of body-worn video cameras; provided that no funds appropriated to a county shall be expended unless matched dollar-for-dollar by the county. Requires the county police departments to report costs of implementing and maintaining the body-worn camera program to the legislature.

S.B. No. 424, S.D. 1 Requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s discharge or second suspension in a five-year period. Requires disclosure of certain information under the Uniform Information Practices Act after a police officer’s second suspension in a five-year period.

S.B. No. 261, S.D. 1  Prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle in which a person under the age of eighteen is present. Requires the Department of Health to report on the enforceability of this Act and coordination of related data collection activities of the respective law enforcement agencies.

S.B. No. 494, S.D. 2  Requires persons charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant to be fitted with a continuous alcohol monitoring device if the person: (1) has a prior conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant within the past five years; or (2) is currently pending criminal investigation or prosecution for one or more prior charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. Establishes a process for certain persons to receive financial relief for the cost of the monitoring devices.

S.B. No. 898, S.D. 2  Allows law enforcement to seize and retain firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by a person who poses a serious risk of violence or harm to public safety, pursuant to court order.

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

Hawaii House Sends 159 More Bills to Senate

As the Thursday deadline to crossover bills to the Senate approaches, the House passed bills to alleviate prison crowding, support affordable housing initiatives, protect kupuna from physical and financial exploitation, and fighting invasive species.

The House voted to pass on to the Senate today another 159 bills including measures addressing the state’s goals on cyber security, crime, homeless support and tax relief.  These measures reflect the focus of the House majority on improving the lives of the people in Hawaii.

“Among the many needs that we are addressing this session is helping our low- and middle-income families ease their financial burden and increase rental and affordable housing support for them,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “We have passed bills to expand the renters income and food tax credit for low-income households, authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing and mixed use affordable rental housing, updated the loan program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers, and established a loan fund for developers to finance infrastructure costs of affordable rentals and fee simple housing developments.”

The House now stands in recess and will reconvene to take action on any remaining final measures for third reading on Thursday, March 19 at noon. To date, the House has approved more than 360 bills this session.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Prison Crowding

HB1246 HD2 authorizes electronic monitoring and surveillance of offenders in programs that offer alternatives to incarceration.

HB462 HD2 requires the Department of Public Safety to solicit proposals for a new correctional facility.

Housing Support

HB488 HD2 authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing, mixed-use affordable rental housing, a multi-use juvenile services and shelter center, and public housing. Appropriates funds for public housing security improvements, renovation, and repairs.

HB207 HD2 expands the low-income household renters’ income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status.

HB530 HD2 updates and expands the Downpayment Loan Program under the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and establishes the Downpayment Loan Loss Reserve Program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers.

HB660 HD2 establishes the Infrastructure Development Loan Revolving Fund to make loans to developers to finance the costs of the infrastructure of affordable rental and fee simple housing developments, and appropriates funds for this purpose.

Kupuna Protection

HB199 HD2  authorizes the Department of Human Services to investigate allegations of the physical isolation of vulnerable adults and take corrective action including obtaining judicial relief.

HB432 HD2 makes financial exploitation of an elder by a caregiver a felony.

Invasive Species

HB655 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to assist the National Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the negative impacts of the rose-ringed parakeet on Kauai and develop and implement a control plan to reduce the negative impacts.

HB1006 HD1 appropriates funds to the Hawaii ant lab for personnel and equipment to support mitigation of the little fire ant.

HB1301 HD2 provides that a person or entity that is determined by the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to have introduced an invasive species into the state may be strictly liable for all or part of the expenses to eradicate the invasive species from the state.

HB606 HD2 authorizes the counties to enter private property to control or eradicate invasive species and pests.

Other important bills passing the House today and moving to the Senate include:

Homeless Support

HB1240 HD2 appropriates funds to the Department of Human Services for the coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative to prevent homelessness and rehouse individuals in the State.

Taxes

HB209 HD1 HB209 HD1 expands the low-income household renters income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status. Establishes a state earned income tax credit.  Restores the tax rates for high income brackets that were repealed in 2015.  Removes the sunset date for the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB932 HD1 Gradually increases the credit amounts and amends the income brackets of the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB1012 HD2  temporarily disallows the deduction for dividends paid by real estate investment trusts for a period of 15 years, but with an exception for dividends generated from trust-owned housing that is affordable to households with incomes at or below 140 percent of the median family income as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HB1471 HD3 requires transient accommodations 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. Ensures that the subject property is in compliance with applicable land use laws. Allocates $1 million of TAT revenues to each county for FY 2017-2018 to comply and enforce county ordinances regulating transient vacation rentals. Creates a surcharge tax on transient accommodations brokers.

HB263 HD2 amends provisions related to licensed medical marijuana dispensaries by imposing general excise tax on a percentage of dispensaries’ gross proceeds or gross income and allocating a portion of GET revenues received from dispensaries to the Medical Marijuana Registry and Regulation Special Fund.

Agriculture

HB961 HD2 excludes for income tax purposes a portion of income earned by farmers who grow or raise food or value–added food products within the state and whose annual gross income does not exceed a certain amount.

HB2 HD2 authorizes tiny homes of less than 500 square feet for farm workers in agricultural districts in a county with a population of more than 180,000 but less than 250,000.

Veterans

HB168 HD1 appropriates funds for the planning and design of a memorial to honor service members of the recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the various theaters of the Global War on Terrorism, to be located at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe and replicas to be located at state veterans cemeteries statewide.

Cyber Security

HB 598 HD2 authorizes and provides funding for the University of Hawaii to participate in and contribute funding for the development of a Hawaii cyber ecosystem and related aspects of cyber security.

HB814 HD2 adopts uniform laws on protecting the online accounts of employees and students from employers and educational institutions, respectively.

UH Promise Program

HB1591 HD2 establishes the Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at a University of Hawaii community college.

Crime

HB1501 HD2 reclassifies drug paraphernalia possession and delivery offenses from felonies to violations subject to a fine of $100.

HB1172 HD2 allows probable cause for fireworks offenses to be established from statements from witnesses and photographs, video, and other recordings authenticated by witnesses.

HB680 HD2 Requires licensees under the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to complete a one-time awareness education program on intimate partner violence awareness and education

Police disclosure

HB456 HD1 requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s second suspension in a five-year period or discharge, as well as certain employment misconduct related information upon an officer’s second suspension in a five year period.

Transportation

HB727 HD1 Allows motorcycles and motor scooters to pass between two same-bound lanes when traffic is stopped.

Civil Rights

HB1489 HD1 prohibits a state agency or program or activity receiving state financial assistance from excluding from participation, denying benefits to, or discriminating against a qualified individual by reason of disability, sex, including gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

Quiet Title

HB860 HD1  provides that: (1) actions for quiet title of kuleana lands shall be subject to mandatory mediation; (2) court cases by the same plaintiff that seeks quiet title for separate kuleana lands within the same court circuit shall be consolidated; (3) defendant’s access for cultural and traditional practices shall not be alienated or extinguished; and (4) plaintiff shall not recover costs, expenses, or attorney’s fees from the defendant.

Finley’s Law

HB561 HD2 called “Finley’s Law,” this bill requires dentists who administer general anesthesia, deep sedation, or moderate (conscious) sedation to post notice of contact information for verification of the dentist’s licensure and authorization or permit to administer anesthesia and perform sedation.

Sex Abuse Prevention

HB 930 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.

Elections

HB1581 HD1 requires candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to disclose their federal income tax returns in order for their names to appear on a Hawaii ballot and prohibits Hawaii’s electoral college electors from voting for a candidate who has not disclosed this information.

Landlord-Tenant Code

HB223 HD2 allows a landlord or landlord’s agent to charge an application screening fee as part of the applicant screening process for renting residential property. Sets limits on the amount of the application screening fee and requires the landlord or agent to return any unauthorized fee amounts to the applicant.

Reef Fish Collecting

HB1457 HD2 Places a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new aquarium fish collecting permits until the Department of Land and Natural Resources has developed a comprehensive plan for the sustainable management of nearshore reef wildlife.

Drones

HB314 HD1 establishes prohibited uses of unmanned aerial vehicles for individuals, law enforcement agencies, and public agencies. Provides certain exceptions for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Makes certain uses of an unmanned aerial vehicle a petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor and Class C felony for a second of subsequent violations.

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

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement Against Trump’s Refugee Ban

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement of a newly revised travel ban:

“True to our history and values as a nation, we have served as a place of refuge to the most vulnerable in the world. We should not be putting in place a blanket ban of refugees, especially when we have actively been fueling the counterproductive regime change wars that have caused them to flee their homes. These people would much rather stay in their homes and live in peace. That’s why we must address the cause of this refugee crisis and end the destructive U.S. policy of counterproductive regime-change wars, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.”

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker Cruising The Big Island

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has been making his way around the Island of Hawaii the last few days. Many people believe that Booker is being groomed to become the next Democratic Presidential Candidate.  A couple weeks ago he was seen with Hawaii Senator Kaiali’i Kahele who some feel would make a great governor of Hawaii:

Captured from Senator Kahele’s Facebook page.

Booker is pretty close with Hawaii’s own Senator Mazie Hirono and the other night a fundraiser was held here on the Big Island of Hawaii for the New Jersey Senator where folks got to meet with Senator Booker.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker, Agent Abbas Hassan, Senator Cory Booker and Bobby Chang Co-Owner of KC Hawaii

Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting College Scholarships, Green Energy and Kupuna Care

Other measures include paid sick leave, honoring veterans and voting by mail

With the Legislature’s crossover deadline just one week away, the House today passed more than 60 bills, sending them to the Senate for its consideration.  Among the House bills passing third reading by the full House were measures that provide for paid sick leave for employees, create a green energy fund at the University of Hawaii and funding for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program for Hawaii’s kupuna. Representatives also passed bills on honoring veterans, voting by mail and the UH Promise Program to support students.

HB4 HD1 Paid sick leave: Requires employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill or needs medical care.

HB615 HD1 Kupuna Care: Appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna.

HB794 HD1 Green energy: Establishes the University of Hawaii Green Special Fund to fund energy conservation measures to reduce the University’s energy consumption and costs.

HB1401 HD1 Elections: Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020.

HB1438 World War I Centennial: Appropriates moneys for the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of World War I.

HB1594 HD1 UH Promise Program: Establishes the University of Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at any campus of the University of Hawaii system.

Other important bills passed today by the House include:

HB115 HD1  Road ownership: Requires each county with a population of 500,000 or more to take ownership and jurisdiction over all roads over which there is a dispute over ownership between the State or any of its political subdivisions and a private party.

HB646 HD1 Visually handicap parking: Allows individuals who are blind or visually handicapped to apply for and obtain a removable windshield placard to use a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities

HB942 HD1 Filipino veterans: Authorizes the State to commission an artist to design and build a monument to honor and commemorate Filipino veterans of World War II.

HB1195 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, including the Office of Youth Services, to provide homeless outreach services.

HB1276 HD1 Student tax deduction: Provides an additional state income tax deduction for student loan interest paid on qualified education loans.

HB1281 HD1 Homelessness: Establishes a three-year Work-for-a-Day Pilot Program that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities and connects them with service providers

Tomorrow marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate. Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

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

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Hawaii Delegation Introduces Legislation to Protect Drinking Water and Improve Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility

The Hawai‘i congressional delegation introduced legislation to ensure the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meet their obligations to the State of Hawai‘i to protect drinking water and improve the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu.

Inside one of the Red Hill fuel tanks.

“The EPA, the Navy, and the State agree that protecting the aquifer that supplies Oahu’s drinking water is essential,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “Our bill firms up that commitment into federal law by making sure the agencies responsible for improving Red Hill have the federal funding they need to implement the actions that are agreed to.”

“Red Hill is critical military infrastructure and we want the Navy to succeed in successfully remediating environmental concerns associated with past fuel leaks above Oahu’s aquifers,” said U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01). “Working together, this will be a win-win for military readiness and Oahu residents.”

“Completing the necessary infrastructure upgrades at Red Hill Fuel Facility will safeguard our water and environment, while also protecting a critical asset to our national security,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i). “Providing budget flexibility and conducting strict oversight of EPA and DOD’s progress towards meeting their commitments is an appropriate way to stretch a short supply of critical federal dollars.”

“These fuel storage tanks sit above aquifers that provide drinking water for up to 30% of Oahu’s residents,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “It’s essential the Department of Defense commit the necessary resources to eliminate any threat these tanks pose to our most precious resource – water.”

The legislation, written and introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, ensures the Navy, DLA, and other federal agencies charged with protecting Oahu’s drinking water from fuel leaks follow a set of actions the agencies agreed to take following the January 2014 leak of jet fuel from the Red Hill facility. The Navy’s investigation of the January 2014 leak determined that it was the result of contractor error. In September 2015, the Navy, DLA, and EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent/Statement of Work (AOC/SOW) with the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health (DOH). That agreement establishes a roadmap for how the Navy and DLA will protect Oahu’s drinking water from future fuel leaks by making improvements to Red Hill, including the fuel tanks. The bill requires the Department of Defense, which includes the Navy and DLA, and the EPA to include the necessary funding in their respective budgets to make the improvements identified in the agreement.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Hawaii Senators Kim and Inouye Appointed to Leadership Position for National Organization

Two Hawai‘i State Senators have been selected to serve in leadership roles for the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL), the nation’s oldest non-partisan organization addressing the needs of elected women at the city, county, and state levels of government.

Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14 – Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea) was recently appointed to serve on the 2017 Policy Committee for the NFWL.

As a member of the Policy Committee, Sen. Kim will contribute to all committee business by developing education policy programs on policy issues, engaging with policy partners, and recommending which areas of policy the Foundation shall focus on.  The Committee will focus on shared legislation by encouraging elected women to exchange legislative ideas.  This is a new emphasis for NFWL and the Policy Committee will play an integral role in the launch and maintenance of shared legislation.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve on the Policy Committee,” said Sen. Kim, who has been a member of NFWL since 2015. “This year more than ever, there are timely, pressing issues facing our communities.  Hawai‘i is not alone in many of these problem areas such as homelessness, the economy, and education. Being on this Committee allows me to collaborate with other women legislators across the country and find creative solutions.”

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) was recently appointed to serve as the 2017 State Director for the NFWL.

“I’m proud to serve as the State Director for this distinguished organization,” said Sen. Inouye.  “The greatest rising force in politics is not a political party, but women. I know that there is much that can be accomplished to help our state and our country by working together as elected women.”

“We are so honored Senators Kim and Inouye have accepted leadership positions in our foundation,” shared Minnesota State Senator Carrie Ruud, NFWL’s 2017 Chair. “They will play a crucial role in the continued success of NFWL, as we embark on our most exciting year yet.”

Sens. Kim and Inouye begin serving in their new positions immediately, and will hold this office through the end of 2017.

About the National Foundation for Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)

Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports elected women from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.   www.womenlegislators.org

Hawaii Lawmaker Calls for University of Hawaii Consolidation of Administration

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

Rep. Kaniela Ing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Leaders From Hilo and Kalaheo High Schools Chosen for Week-Long Program in Washington DC

Jessica Valdez from Hilo High and Matthew Darrah from Kalaheo High have been selected to represent Hawaii at the annual United States Senate Youth Program. The student delegates will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Hearst Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C.

Jessica Valdez (Hilo High) and Matthew Darrah (Kalaheo High) Photo Credit: Department of Education

Jessica Valdez, president of Hilo High’s Student Association, and Matthew Darrah president of Kalaheo High’s Student Association, will be heading to Washington D.C. for the 55th annual Washington Week in March. The duo was selected to represent Hawaii at the annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).

“Congratulations to Jessica and Matthew for being selected for this prestigious program,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This is a wonderful opportunity for these student leaders to see how their experience serving at their school and state councils could turn into a career in public service by seeing it firsthand in our nation’s Capitol.”

The student delegates will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Hearst Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C. where they will tour the national monuments and museums, as well as have the opportunity to attend meetings and briefings with legislators, an ambassador to the U.S., a justice of the Supreme Court and other government leaders.

“I was honored to be part of the program last year. It gave me a newly found sense of confidence, and once in a lifetime experiences that I’m applying in Hawaii as a college student and intern at the legislature,” shared Zachary Espino, 2016 USSYP Hawaii delegate. “My advice to Jessica and Matthew would be to take a lot of notes, and listen and engage in conversations with the other delegates. These are students who share the same passion and drive, and are valuable connections that you may rely on down the road.”

Valdez serves as the chairperson of the Hawaii State Student Council. She was elected to this position to effect positive change and promote the voice of Hawaii’s public school students. At Hilo High, she has served as vice president, recording secretary and representative of her School Council. Valdez has also held a variety of leadership positions including chair of the Inter-Club Council, and secretary, treasurer and president of the Rainbow Friends Club, which raises money for and awareness about a local nonprofit sanctuary protecting, caring for and sheltering the community’s animals in need.

Darrah serves as sergeant at arms of the Hawaii State Student Council, the secretary of his school’s organization of clubs as well as a member and representative of state and district councils. He intends to attend the University of Florida to major in environmental studies and minor in political science, with the hopes of a career at the Environmental Protection Agency or an environmental institute.

The USSYP was established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution, is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. For more information, visit http://ussenateyouth.org.

Hawaii Tax Reform Bill Passes Committee

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Call For Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined 26 Members of Congress in introducing the Return to Prudent Banking Act today. The bipartisan legislation, endorsed by Public Citizen and the AFL-CIO, would reinstate important consumer protections put in place after the Great Depression and require separation between commercial and investment banking.

(Left to right) Reps. Walter B. Jones, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marcy Kaptur call for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

“From the Great Depression through the turn of the 21st Century, Glass-Steagall helped keep our economy safe. Repealing it allowed too-big-to-fail banks to gamble with the savings and livelihoods of the American people, with devastating, irrevocable consequences. Hawaiʻi, along with communities across the country, paid the price in 2008 with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the banks that were “too big to fail” in 2008 are even bigger and more powerful now. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall and create a financial system that works for every American—not just Wall Street banks,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)

“The 2008 crash nearly took down our entire economy and led to the great recession which wiped out average Americans’ income. But now, Democrats and Republicans have memorialized support for Glass-Steagall in their respective political platforms. Even President Trump has declared his support for a new Glass-Steagall law,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09). “That is why we are here, to build on the momentum and the movement to reinstate Glass-Stegall.”

“Wall Street banks should not be allowed to use taxpayer-insured consumer deposits to gamble in the markets and then get taxpayer bailouts for failed decisions,” said Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-03). “It’s time to put American taxpayers and depositors first.  It’s time to pass the Return to Prudent Banking Act and reinstate Glass-Steagall.”

“I am proud to cosponsor the Return to Prudent Banking Act, which revives the separation between commercial banking and securities companies as written in the Glass-Steagall Act. These are smart financial reforms designed to protect our economy from another financial crisis and hardworking American taxpayers from another Wall Street collapse. We know that the climate of deregulation led to the financial crisis. We can’t let that happen again,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13).

Background: In 1933, the Banking Act—also known as the Glass-Steagall Act—passed amid an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty to address banking failures of the Great Depression. The goal of its lead cosponsors, Rep. Henry Steagall and Sen. Carter Glass, was to separate commercial and investment banking and restore confidence in the American banking system.

In 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act and removed the barriers between investment banking and traditional depository banks. This action gave financial institutions and investment firms access to the deposits of the American consumer, which then were used to gamble on the Wall Street casino. This misguided deregulation allowed the creation of giant financial supermarkets—that could own investment banks, commercial banks, and insurance firms—and created companies too big and intertwined to fail. This lack of regulation also allowed Wall Street to leverage their debt past sustainable ratios using consumer mutual funds and the pension accounts of American workers as collateral.

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

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

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

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

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

University of Hawaii Keeping Close Watch on Impact of U.S. Travel Restrictions

University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner and the chancellors of the 10 campuses shared a message on January 30 to UH students, faculty and staff.

UH President David Lassner

To our UH System ʻohana:

With the issuance of the recent Executive Order on travel, our first concern is for our impacted students, faculty and staff who are currently abroad or have plans to travel abroad. The situation is fluid as courts weigh in and different guidance is provided to holders of green cards. Out of an abundance of caution, the best advice as of this writing is that individuals with immigrant or non-immigrant visas or with green cards who are originally from the seven named countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) should defer travel outside the U.S.

Our international students and scholar support offices are already reaching out directly to the impacted students and faculty we know of with additional support and guidance. Faculty and scholars from across the UH System with specific questions and concerns about their situation can reach out to our Faculty and Scholar Immigration Services office. Students who have specific questions should reach out to their campus international student service office.

More fundamentally, we stand in support with the broader higher education community in our concern over the impact of this restriction on the free flow of information and ideas that is enriched by our international students and scholars. The University of Hawaiʻi, State of Hawaiʻi and our nation have been immeasurably strengthened through the diversity of the students and faculty we attract. The fundamental values of our nation and our state have long supported the welcoming of others to our shores and embracing them into our communities.

Diverse knowledge, ideas, cultures and perspectives enrich us immensely as we work toward a better future for all. We will support our professional associations and colleagues who are working to promote more effective solutions to keeping our nation safe.

Aloha,
President and Chancellors

Hawaii Democratic Party to Release “Haven of Aloha” Call to Action Letter and Petition

With the prospect that the themes and statements of intolerance from the 2016 presidential and congressional elections could find their way into the laws and policies of our national government, the Democratic Party of Hawai’i releases a statement on Thursday explaining how that outcome is unacceptable to the people of Hawai’i and contrary to the core values of our society.

The letter, entitled ‘Haven of Aloha” is intended to serve as a recognition of the need for protecting members of the Party and community at large as well as a call for state and local officials to stand up for these values and fill the void of leadership in protecting the social safety net for all.

“We felt it necessary to articulate the values that we stand for and will not compromise. Other municipalities and states have issued similar statements, but ours is unique to our culture and place because it is framed in the Aloha spirit.” said Tim Vandeveer, Chair of the DPH. According to the statement, this is because in Hawai‘i, ‘we are defined by diversity and guided by Aloha.’

“We have much to be proud of in these islands. By the greatest margins in our nation, we overwhelmingly rejected the politics of bigotry, misogyny and hatred. But still, we must redouble our efforts,” Vandeveer stated, “It is in this context that the job of local city and state governments and judiciaries, becomes so important.”

“Our congressional delegation will stand up for us to ensure that we have a voice as the party in opposition to the potentially hostile agenda of the GOP-majority Congress and the President. However, where the social safety net is torn asunder at the federal level it will become incumbent upon our local leaders to utilize our values to bind together and preserve our quality of life and character of our society– to take leadership and responsibility for the most vulnerable among us as well as our youth and coming generations.”

The message is the core of a document the DPH created and invited the Congressional Delegation, State Executive, Senate and House leadership, the Mayor and City Council, and others to sign onto as a unified public statement of shared values to send notice of recognition and protection to potentially affected communities.

The letter serves as a call to action for party members and elected officials to stand up for all people, and fight to protect abiding values of liberty, social justice, economic justice, protection of the environment, and compassion and respect for the dignity and worth of the individual. It urges residents to continue to respect and welcome immigrants, refugees, people of all religions, races and sexual identities, as we work for the betterment of humankind.

“Hawai‘i must continue as a diverse, inclusive, and positive model for our fellow citizens across the ocean and beyond. May we always be an inspiring ‘Haven of Aloha’,” said Vandeveer.

Please join us at DPH Headquarters located at 627 South St. #105 on Thursday, January 26 at 2pm for a formal unveiling and release of the ‘Haven of Aloha’ document, list of signatories, additional statements of support and invitation for public participation via an islands-wide petition.

Hawaii State Senate 29th Biennium Legislative Session Convenes

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate convened the 29th Biennium Legislative Session reaffirming their commitment to work collaboratively in addressing the state’s most pressing problems and ready the state to be sustainable and prepared for the future.

A photo from Senator Kahele’s Facebook page.

Today’s opening session commenced with an oli by kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao and included an invocation by Kahu Curt Kekuna, Pastor of Kawaiahao Church. The National Anthem was performed by Ms. Nalani Brun and Hawai‘i Pono‘i by Mr. Nick Castillo.  The Kahaluu Ukulele Band and Na Hoku Hanohano nominee Shar Carillo and Kaua‘i artists Loke Sasil and Shay Marcello also provided entertainment during today’s program.

Among the honored guests in the Senate Chamber were government officials from the Fukuoka Prefecture, Consul General Yasushi Misawa of Japan, Commander Ulysses Mullins, United States Coast Guard, Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, Governor David Ige, Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, and former Governors George Ariyoshi, John Waihe‘e, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie, and mayors from the neighbor islands.

In his remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi pressed his Senate colleagues to work towards building our economy and creating educational opportunities for the younger generation in Hawai‘i.

Senator Kouchi recognized Chenoa Farnsworth, managing partner of Blue Startups, a Honolulu-based startup support program, for her efforts in supporting entrepreneurship and creating jobs to build the economy in Hawai‘i.  Farnsworth also manages the Hawai‘i Angels investment network, which has invested over $40 million in startup companies. She also co-founded Kolohala Ventures, a Hawai‘i-based venture capital firm that invested $50 million into Hawai‘i-based technology start-ups.

In highlighting the successes of Hawaii’s education system, Senator Kouchi mentioned Waimea High School principal and Masayuki Tokioka Award winner, Mahina Anguay. The Senate President said Anguay represents the best of Hawai‘i’s school administrators and under her leadership, a record number of students at Waimea High School are now the first in their family to attend college.

Senate President Kouchi also introduced Sarah Kern, who is currently a teacher at Wai‘anae High School. Kern was Valedictorian at Kaiser High School and graduated with a degree in Biology from Tufts University where she made the Dean’s List throughout her four years. The Senate President said Kern was a shining example of Hawai‘i’s young people who come home to pursue noble, but not necessarily high-paying careers, such as teaching.

“We need to create the economy to support all of our citizens,” said Senator Kouchi. “We need to support principals like Mahina and just as importantly we need to support teachers like Sarah who are on the frontline, so that we can create the educational opportunities for our young people.”

Senator Kouchi went on to say, “the only equalization that we can offer our children is a quality education to ensure that they get the tools and the skills to compete in the global market that they are going to enter.”

The Senate President introduced Mr. Kevin Johnson, the former Mayor of Sacramento and professional basketball player, whom he lauded for his work in establishing award-winning after school programs, reading programs and programs for the homeless.

Senate President Kouchi said he has been meeting with Johnson and hopes to work with him to address many of the concerns in Hawai‘i that mirror those of the Mayor’s hometown. “Our problems are not unique to the rest of the world. Where we have others who have found success why not find those who can help us solve our problems,” said Senator Kouchi.

The Senate President also referenced the Senate Majority Legislative Program which outlines the main themes for the State Senate.

“The Senate Majority Legislative Program serves as a guide as to where we will focus our work over the next sixty days and continue to build upon the work from the previous session,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English.

The public can access more information on hearings and session activities on the Hawai‘i State Legislature’s website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov