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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

Hawaii House of Representatives Opening Day Remarks

In his opening day remarks, Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki called on members of the House of Representatives to extend the general excise tax to finance rail, to find viable alternatives to prison incarceration and to provide human compassion to those who are mentally ill and terminally sick.

“We have a lot on our plate for this session. And the last revenue forecast by the Council on Revenues does not make our job any easier,” Souki told legislators. “But we’ve been there before, as lawmakers and as a community. And we will together find solutions to our most pressing issues.”

In his speech, Souki also supported making needed changes to our public education system and completing the privatization of Maui’s public hospitals.

He called on legislators “to look for solutions like rail to relieve traffic on our roads. It does come with a high cost, but make no mistake, rail is the key to the future of Oahu.”

Souki wants to remove the sunset date on the original general excise tax financing bill, but only if we reduce the tax rate with the city making up the difference. He also wants to reduce administrative costs from 10 to 5 percent.

He proposed a feasibility study to see if elevated toll roads would make sense for Honolulu.

“We must employ a multi-faceted approach, utilizing our buses, flex scheduling and technology that allows distance learning, tele medicine and alternative workplaces to reduce commuter travel,” he said.

With our prisons severely overcrowded and an estimated 10 years needed to build a new one, Souki suggests using electronic bracelets to confine those guilty of misdemeanor, white collar or non-violent crimes to their homes.

“With new technology, we can employ varying degrees of restrictions based on the crime committed, and monitor movements of those under supervision,” he said. “What I’m talking about is creating a whole new level of Non-Institutionalized Incarceration.”

Souki said human compassion is important to everyone in Hawaii and we can see our family members who are near death that need our support.

“Those who are suffering from a terminal illness and are of sound mind should be given the opportunity to decide how they will end their own lives,” Souki said.

He will submit a bill to allow medical aid in dying this session.

The House will continue to provide food and rental tax credits for low income families that are about to expire, Souki said.

“There is nothing more important to human dignity than food on the table and a roof over your head,” Souki said.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki welcomed the five new members to the House and asked the returning representatives to draw from their aspirations to be constructive and find solutions to our most pressing challenges.

“The need for Hawaii to be functional has never been more critical. In just two days, the United States will undergo profound change,” Saiki said. “We need to be ready and we need to overcome differences so that we can make Hawaii more effective and viable.”

Saiki asked the representatives to heed the words of President Obama to not demonize each other but listen, fight for our principles and find common ground.

(LINKS TO FULL SPEECHES, SOUKI, SAIKI)

Hawaii State Senate Unveils 2017 Legislative Program

Our communities, environment, sustainability and public safety are areas of which the Hawai‘i State Senate will focus in the 29th Legislative Biennium.

The areas are incorporated under four over-arching themes that embrace Hawaiian values and collectively form the Legislative Program the Hawai‘i State Senate will use as a guide throughout the Regular Session of 2017.   

“On many of these issues, we’re continuing the work that had begun in the previous legislative sessions,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “We recognize the importance to be self-reliant and take care of our island home. There’s also a responsibility to be prepared for the future, ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with problems we can do our best to address right now.”

The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities

  • Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.
  • Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i’s extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.
  • Social Services – We will support the State’s core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.
  • Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.
  • Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.

 Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu – Preparedness

  • Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.
  • Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State’s information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.
  • Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.

 Aloha Honua – Climate Change and Energy

  • Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i’s natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i’s unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State’s water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State’s fragile marine ecosystem.
  • Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i’s natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.

 Pono Kaulike – Transforming Justice

  • Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.
  • Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.

It is the Hawai‘i State Senate’s sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives, the Governor, and the Judiciary to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.

Hawaii Women’s March: January 21, Day After Inauguration

The day after the inauguration of the new President of the United States, Hawaii, other states and at least seven countries will hold marches in solidarity with the Women’s March at the Capitol in Washington D.C. These non-partisan events are focused on the protection of women’s rights, safety, health and families. In Hawaii, there will be five marches: on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and two on Hawaii Island (Hilo and Kona). Several thousand are expected at the Oahu March.

The marches on the Hawaiian Islands will be the closing events for those across the United States. Families, friends and allies interested in supporting human rights and social justice will take part.

WHO: All Hawaii residents and visitors are invited to participate
WHEN: January 21, 2017, 9:30 a.m. March start 10 a.m.
WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol (Ewa side), 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Rally to follow. Brown bag lunch. Download march route map.

“We are sending a message to the new administration on its first day in office,” said Amy Monk, Oahu Womens March co-chair. “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized and threatened many of us. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. We will move forward in solidarity with all individuals, our partners, and our allies who are committed to empowering women and strengthening communities.”

Participating organizations: AF3IRM, Ceeds of Peace, Friends of Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women, Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights, Hawaii State AFL-CIO, LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, Pretty Peacock Productions, Pride@Work-Hawaii, and The AiKea Movement of Unite Here! Local 5.

Co-chairs of Oahu Women’s March: Della Au Belatti, Khara Jabola, Amy M onk, Essence Malaya Jane Kaiulani Sylvester, Morgen Trube, and Elizabeth “Annie” Valentin. Additional co-chairs to be announced.

Route for the march: Start on the Ewa grounds of the State Capitol along Richards Street, left onto South King Street, left up Alapai Street, left onto South Beretania Street, and ending in the Capitol Rotunda.

Donations for O‘ahu’s Women’s March can be made: https://womensmarchoahu.wordpress.com/support/

If your group or organization would like to participate in the march as a team, please contact co-chair Amy Monk at amonk20@yahoo.com.

If your group or organization would like to have a table or participate in the rally program, please contact co-chair Della Au Belatti at Honoluluwomensmarch@gmail.com.

For more information about how to support or participate in the Women’s Marches in Hawaii, please email Honoluluwomensmarch@gmail.com.

The Women’s March movement began when Teresa Shook of Maui took to Facebook the night after the election and began inviting friends to join her in a march on Washington. She awoke the next day to more than 40,000 people expressing interest in the event.

Mayor Kim Takes Oath of Office – Outlines Past Accomplishments

Mayor Harry Kim took the “Oath of Office” at the Hawaii County Inaugural Ceremonies on Monday, December 5th at the Hilo Civic Center.

Soon after, the Hawaii County website changed to reflect the new mayor’s vision with a statement from him on the side of the website along with a couple announcements talking about what he accomplished the previous time he was in office:

The following are some highlights of my previous administration from 2000-2008. The key at the bottom of the post indicates what level of involvement we had from identifying a site, negotiating, conducting an EA, acquiring a site, preliminary planning, obtaining funding, planned, funded, construction started, to construction completed.

Budgeting Through Hard Times & Good Times

In 2000, the economy was bad, and it soon got worse after 9/11/01. Immediate mid-year budget cuts were required and taken. A tax rate increase was passed in May 2002 just to maintain current services. Property values started increasing around 2004, so relief for homeowners was proposed and passed:

  • 3% cap on increase in value per year
  • Higher exemption based on % of value
  • Improved Homeowner Dedication program

Also proposed were revisions to agriculture tax laws for fairness and relief. As property values continued soaring, we prepared for future hard times:

  • Created and proposed funding reserves
  • Created “Rainy Day” Fund
  • Disaster & Emergency Fund
  • We were also able to address long needed priorities and programs that were neglected during many years of hardship.

In November 2008 – County’s bond rating by Standard & Poor’s was upgraded due to sound financial management.

Environment

HI5 redemption (“bottle bill”) When bill was proposed at legislature and seemed unlikely to pass, Hawai‘i County offered to be a “pilot program” to promote passage.

Recyling

  • Hired first Recycling Coordinator
  • Increased land ll diversion from 13.9% in 2001 to 29.1% in 2008
  • Established at 19 transfer stations

Reuse Center

  • First one developed at Keaau Transfer Station, 2003

Hilo Landfill

  • Increased life by up to 10 years

Scrap metal

  • Established long-term contract for scrap metal recycling to encourage private investment – succeeded in eliminating decades-old scrap metal piles

Programs & Initiatives

2005 General Plan

  • Included “important ag lands” designation
  • Community Development Plans

Free bus rides

An economic stimulus, as free bus rides allowed those who use the bus to spend more money on family and other things

Aging and Disability Resource Center

First in state, bringing together agencies dealing with seniors and caregivers in a single facility

Community Development Plans

Initiated & adopted

  • Kona (2005-2008)
  • Puna (2006-2008)
  • North and South Kohala (2007-2008)

Shoreline public access

  • Ten miles new public access in N. Kohala
  • Three miles new public access in Pepeekeo
  • Kohanaiki compromise, new park
  • Donation of Hakalau Mill site
  • Honl’s (Waiaha) beach park, Kailua-Kona
  • Honuapo, 145 acres purchased
  • Waipio Ranger Program

“Concurrency”

Concept introduced in 2004

Fiber optic

Upgraded County’s telecommunications network with fiber optic

Waste to Energy

Followed the County’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan and pursued a waste to energy project. Issued a nationwide RFP and the final selection of Wheelabrator was made after committee review. Project fell short of implementation because of Council concern over costs.

Public Safety

During the second term, County was able to finally address long-unmet needs for increased police and reprotection, especially
in the fast-growing districts of Kona and Puna. Personnel shortages were caused by the many years of hiring freeze due to the extreme revenue shortages of the 1990s and early 2000s. We were able to support department requests for new positions:

  • Police – Added 143 new positions
  • Fire – Added 141 new positions

Buildings

  • West Hawaii Civic Center (2)
  • Aupuni Center (1)
  • Pahoa Fire Station (2)
  • Pahoa Police Station (4)
  • County Building Renovation (2)
  • East Hawaii Detention Facility (1)
  • Makalei Fire Station Site (6)

Roads

  • Keanalehu-Manawalea Connector Road (2)
  • Ane Keohokalole Highway (prelim planning) (5)
  • Puainako (Saddle Road) Extension (1)
  • Kuakini Highway, Palani to Hualalai (1)
  • Palani Rd Improvements at Kealaka’a St (2)
  • Mamalahoa Hwy Impr, Honalo to Captain Cook (2)
  • Pohoiki Road Realignment (1)
  • Waikoloa Emergency Road (1)
  • Mamalahoa Resurfacing, S. Kohala (1)
  • Mud Lane Resurfacing (1)
  • Puako Escape Route (1)
  • Coastview/Wonderview-Palisades connectors (2)

Parks

  • Pohoiki/Isaac Hale Beach Park Improvement (1)
  • Reeds Bay Beach Park Improvements (2) West
  • Hawaii Veterans Cemetery Expansion (1)
  • Waiaha Beach Park (Honi’s) (1)
  • Pahoa park land – 50 acres purchased (1)
  • Pu’umaile/Lehia Beach Park (King’s Landing) (1)

Other (Managed by DWS)

  • HOVE Water Well (State funded) (2)
  • Island-wide Water Spigots (2)
  • Kona Coastview/Wonderview Water I.D. (1)

Infrastructure Key

  1. Planned, funded, construction complete
  2. Planned, funded, construction started
  3. Site identified and acquired, master plan approved
  4. Site identified and acquired, planning phase
  5. Preliminary planning and EA done so ready to go
  6. Site identified, in negotiations

Civic Projects:

Kona Community Development Plan (CDP)

Initiated the General Plan’s intent of community development plans that provide a forum for community input into managing
growth and coordinating delivery of government services.

  • 2005: Kona selected as the first of seven geographic districts to begin the process of creating a CDP.

    The process involved hundreds of meetings and thousands of individuals.

  • 2008: Kona CDP adopted by ordinance, and the work of the Action Committee continues.

West Hawai‘i Civic Center

Identified the need to bring County services together in one place and prioritized the construction of a new West Hawai‘i civic center. Extensive community input guided the design of the facility as a “gathering place”, resulting in an inviting and energy-efficient civic center that received LEED Silver certification.

  • 2002: Site selected; land acquired from State by E.O. 3952
  • 2005: Contract awarded for design and community input
  • 2008: $50.5M of County funds committed for design/build contract; groundbreaking in October
  • 2011: Construction completed

Road Projects

The following projects were initiated by the Kim Administration and were in various stages of completion by the end of 2008:

Keāhole to Hōnaunau Regional Circulation Plan:

Completed in 2003, this plan comprehensively analyzed options to address the growing commuter traffic from Ka’u and South Kona traveling through North Kona. The recommendations were incorporated into the Kona CDP and is the foundation for
Kona road projects.

Ane Keohokalole Highway:

The Keāhole to Kailua Development Plan introduced the concept of a Mid-Level Road in 1991. In 2007 started engineering and an environmental assessment. In 2008 the Kona CDP officially recognized this road as a priority. These actions positioned
this project to qualify for federal stimulus funding.

Keanalehu-Manawalea Connector Road:

This road connects the Villages of La‘i ‘Ōpua, Kealakehe Elementary School, Kealakehe Intermediate School, Kealakehe High School, and the Kealakehe houselots to reduce the travel times for school children. In 2007 secured funding and started construction.

Kuakini Highway Improvements:

This project widened Kuakini Highway from two to four lanes from Palani Road to Hualālai Street. Weekly meetings were held among the contractor, Public Works staff, and the community. Completed in 2006.

Palani Road Safety Improvements at Kealaka‘a Street:

This project realigns Kealaka‘a Street to intersect with Palani Road and Palihiolo Street with a traffic light. In 2006 funds secured and construction started.

La‘aloa Avenue:

This project improves mauka-makai connectivity between Ali‘i Drive and Kuakini Highway for traffic flow and emergency evacuation purposes. In 2004 secured funds for engineering, environmental assessment, and land acquisition. In 2008 final environmental
assessment culminated months of meetings with the community; funding secured for construction.

Māmalahoa Bypass:

Negotiated with the Hokuli‘a developer to grant an easement to the County for the use of the Māmalahoa Bypass on a limited basis for southbound afternoon traffic. Introduced amendments to the rezoning ordinance and traffic code to allow use of Haleki‘i Street as a connector prior to the opening of entire bypass to Nāpō‘opo‘o, and specify improvements to Ali‘i Drive and Haleki‘i Street to accommodate the increased traffic.

Traffic Flow Improvements:

Completed a number of smaller projects to improve traffic flow on existing streets — Hina Lani/Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway, right turn lane; Hina Lani/Māmalahoa Highway, traffic signal; Kaiminani/ Queen Ka‘ahumanu and Kaiminani/Māmalahoa Highway, right turn lanes; various improvements to Māmalahoa Highway, Honalo to Captain Cook.

Housing, Water, & Public Safety Projects

“A Friendly Place” for Homeless:

When previous attempts to locate a homeless service center and shelter faced community resistance, the Administration relocated a County baseyard in the Kailua Industrial area to build a homeless intake and service center. The structure was donated by developer Stanford Carr.

Emergency Housing for Homeless:

The Administration initiated a homeless shelter on the Friendly Place site. In 2008 a partnership between the County, State and HUD allowed construction to go forward.

Kaloko Housing Program:

This project provided decent, safe and sanitary housing and support services to qualified homeless families with children. This was an urgent need due to the pending closure of the Kawaihae transitional housing. In 2006 secured the site by working with the private developer of the Kaloko Industrial Park, TSA Corporation, to acquire eight acres of land along Hina Lani Street.

Kona Coastview/Wonderview Water System Improvement District:

Responded to a community’s outcry for assistance through an innovative partnering of County and federal resources. This project constructed a County dedicable water system serving 437 Kona households to replace aging private water systems and leakage-prone
“spaghetti lines”.

Mākālei Fire Station:

Upon determining a previous site as too costly and not suitable, in 2007 secured a site donated by a landowner with assistance of Mr. Yamamoto and Mr. Lynch. In 2008 Final EA published.

Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura Chosen for 2016 Western Legislative Academy

The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators of both parties in 13 Western states, has selected Hawaii Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura as a participant in its prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service.  The purpose of the Western Legislative Academy is to build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region.

rep-joy-fb-pictureAdmission to the Western Legislative Academy is very competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process.  Out of 88 applicants from throughout the Western United States, 44 state legislators were selected as members of the Western Legislative Academy Class of 2016.

The Western Legislative Academy convenes from November 30 – December 3, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado for three and a half days of intensive training in subjects such as legislative institutions, ethics, communications, negotiations, time management and leadership.  Faculty is drawn from academia, former military and the private sector.  A highlight of the training is an afternoon at the US Air Force Academy working on personal assessments and team building.

San Buenaventura is a 2nd term Hawaii State Representative for the District of Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii. She is vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee and is a member of Transportation and Housing committees.  She is one of only two state representatives in the medical marijuana working group.

Prior to being a legislator, she has been a country attorney for more than 30 years specializing in appeals, litigation and family law.  She has volunteered as a mediator with Kuikahi mediation, as an arbitrator with the Judiciary and as a lawyer with Volunteer Legal Services and with the Judiciary’s self-help clinic.  Joy has had several jury trials and multiple bench trials, and 25 years ago, she was the first attorney in the state to pursue breast implant litigation. She has won all of her appeals to the Hawaii Supreme Court; is a former per diem District Court Judge from 1991-1995, the youngest judge then; and a former University of Hawaii lecturer.

The Council of State Governments West is the Western region of the national Council of State Governments, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky.  Regional offices of CSG are located in Sacramento, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Funding for the Academy comes from the Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation, which is dedicated to excellence in nonprofit organizations, and from Western state legislatures and corporate sponsors. The El Pomar Foundation also donates the campus for the Western Legislative Academy.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline

In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.

tulsi-dakota“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.

“The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.

“Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.

“Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”

“This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.

“Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.

“Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.

“This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.

“We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”

Background: In September, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and 18 House Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama calling on the United States Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill their responsibility of holding meaningful consultation and collaboration with the Standing Rock Sioux over the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Full text of the letter is available here.

Hawaii House Majority Announces Committee Assignments

The House of Representatives Majority today announced its Committee Members assignments for the 2017 legislative session.

capitalThe committee assignments for the House minority party members are pending.

House Leaders, Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs and Members are:

Speaker: Joseph M. Souki
Speaker Emeritus: Calvin K.Y. Say
Vice Speaker: John M. Mizuno
Majority Leader: Scott K. Saiki
Majority Floor Leader: Cindy Evans
Majority Policy Leader: Marcus R. Oshiro
Majority Whip: Ken Ito
Assistant Majority Leaders:
Chris Lee
Dee Morikawa
Roy M. Takumi

Agriculture (AGR)
Chair: Richard P. Creagan
Vice Chair: Lynn DeCoite
Members:
Cedric Asuega Gates
Kaniela Ing
Matthew S. LoPresti
Gregg Takayama

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)
Chair: Angus L.K. McKelvey
Vice Chair: Linda E. Ichiyama
Members:
Henry J.C. Aquino
Ken Ito
Calvin K.Y. Say
Gregg Takayama
Ryan I. Yamane

Economic Development & Business (EDB)
Chair: Mark M. Nakashima
Vice Chair: Jarrett K. Keohokalole
Members:
Daniel K. Holt
Aaron Ling Johanson
Roy M. Takumi
Kyle T. Yamashita

Education (EDN)
Chair: Roy M. Takumi
Vice Chair: Sharon E. Har
Members:
Richard P. Creagan
Mark J. Hashem
Kaniela Ing
Takashi Ohno
Richard H.K. Onishi
Justin H. Woodson

Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)
Chair: Chris Lee
Vice Chair: Nicole E. Lowen
Members:
Ty J.K. Cullen
Cindy Evans
Linda E. Ichiyama
Sam Satoru Kong
Calvin K.Y. Say
Ryan I. Yamane

Finance (FIN)
Chair: Sylvia J. Luke
Vice Chair: Ty J.K. Cullen
Members:
Romy M. Cachola (Unfunded Liability)
Nicole E. Lowen (Grants in Aid)
Kyle T. Yamashita (CIP)
Isaac W. Choy
Lynn DeCoite
Cedric Asuega Gates
Daniel K. Holt
Jarrett K. Keohokalole
Bertrand Kobayashi
Matthew S. LoPresti
Nadine K. Nakamura
Sean Quinlan
James Kunane Tokioka

Health (HLT)
Chair: Della Au Belatti
Vice Chair: Bertrand Kobayashi
Members:
Sharon E. Har
Dee Morikawa
Marcus R. Oshiro

Higher Education (HED)
Chair: Justin H. Woodson
Vice Chair: Mark J. Hashem
Members:
Richard P. Creagan
Sharon E. Har
Kaniela Ing
Takashi Ohno
Richard H.K. Onishi
Roy M. Takumi

Housing (HSG)
Chair: Tom Brower
Vice Chair: Nadine K. Nakamura
Members:
Henry J.C. Aquino
Mark J. Hashem
Sean Quinlan
Joy A. San Buenaventura

Human Services (HUS)
Chair: Dee Morikawa
Vice Chair: To be announced
Members:
Della Au Belatti
Sharon E. Har
Bertrand Kobayashi
Marcus R. Oshiro

Intrastate Commerce (IAC)
Chair: Takashi Ohno
Vice Chair: Isaac W. Choy
Members:
Romy M. Cachola
Ken Ito
Richard H.K. Onishi
James Kunane Tokioka
Justin H. Woodson

Judiciary (JUD)
Chair: Scott Y. Nishimoto
Vice Chair: Joy A. San Buenaventura
Members:
Della Au Belatti
Tom Bower
Aaron Ling Johanson
Chris Lee
Dee Morikawa
Mark M. Nakashima
Marcus R. Oshiro

Labor & Public Employment (LAB)
Chair: Aaron Ling Johanson
Vice Chair: Daniel K. Holt
Members:
Jarrett K. Keohokalole
Mark M. Nakashima
Roy M. Takumi
Kyle T. Yamashita

Legislative Management (LMG)
Chair: Bertrand Kobayashi
Vice Chair: John M. Mizuno
Members:
Cindy Evans
Scott K. Saiki

Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)
Chair: Kaniela Ing
Vice Chair: Cedric Asuega Gates
Members:
Richard P. Creagan
Lynn DeCoite
Matthew S. LoPresti
Gregg Takayama

Public Safety (PBS)
Chair: Gregg Takayama
Vice Chair: Matthew S. LoPresti
Members:
Richard P. Creagan
Lynn DeCoite
Cedric Asuega Gates
Kaniela Ing

Tourism (TOU)
Chair: Richard H.K. Onishi
Vice Chair: James Kunane Tokioka
Members:
Romy M. Cachola
Isaac W. Choy
Ken Ito
Takashi Ohno
Justin H. Woodson

Transportation (TRN)
Chair: Henry J.C. Aquino
Vice Chair: Sean Quinlan
Members:
Tom Bower
Mark J. Hashem
Nadine K. Nakamura
Joy A. San Buenaventura

Veterans, Military & International Affairs & Culture and the Arts (VMI)
Chair: Ken Ito
Vice Chair: James Kunane Tokioka
Members:
Romy M. Cachola
Isaac W. Choy
Takashi Ohno
Richard H. K. Onishi
Justin H. Woodson

Water and Land (WAL)
Chair: Ryan I. Yamane
Vice Chair: Sam Satoru Kong
Members:
Ty J.K. Cullen
Cindy Evans
Linda E. Ichiyama
Chris Lee
Nicole E. Lowen
Calvin K. Y. Say

Hawaii House of Representatives Names 2017 Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs

The House of Representatives Majority named its 2017 Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs during a caucus meeting today.

capitalA new committee, Intrastate Commerce, will focus on regulations and licensing of Hawaii businesses such as banking, telecommunications and property insurance.

House Leaders, Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs are:

  • Speaker: Joseph M. Souki
  • Speaker Emeritus: Calvin K.Y. Say
  • Vice Speaker: John M. Mizuno
  • Majority Leader: Scott K. Saiki
  • Majority Floor Leader: Cindy Evans
  • Majority Policy Leader: Marcus R. Oshiro
  • Majority Whip: Ken Ito

Assistant Majority Leaders:

  • Chris Lee
  • Dee Morikawa
  • Roy M. Takumi

Agriculture (AGR)

  • Chair: Richard Creagan
  • Vice Chair: Lynn DeCoite

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)

  • Chair: Angus L.K. McKelvey
  • Vice Chair: Linda Ichiyama

Economic Development & Business (EDB)

  • Chair: Mark M. Nakashima
  • Vice Chair: Jarrett Keohokalole

Education (EDN)

  • Chair: Roy M. Takumi
  • Vice Chair: Sharon E. Har

Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)

  • Chair: Chris Lee
  • Vice Chair: Nicole Lowen

Finance (FIN)

  • Chair: Sylvia Luke
  • Vice Chair: Ty J.K. Cullen

Health (HLT)

  • Chair: Della Au Belatti
  • Vice Chair: Bertrand Kobayashi

Higher Education (HED)

  • Chair: Justin H. Woodson
  • Vice Chair: Mark J. Hashem

Housing (HSG)

  • Chair: Tom Brower
  • Vice Chair: Nadine Nakamura

Human Services (HUS)

  • Chair: Dee Morikawa
  • Vice Chair: To be announced

Intrastate Commerce (IAC)

  • Chair: Takashi Ohno
  • Vice Chair: Isaac W. Choy

Judiciary (JUD)

  • Chair: Scott Y. Nishimoto
  • Vice Chair: Joy San Buenaventura

Labor & Public Employment (LAB)

  • Chair: Aaron Ling Johanson
  • Vice Chair: Daniel Holt

Legislative Management (LMG)

  • Chair: Bertrand Kobayashi
  • Vice Chair: John M. Mizuno

Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)

  • Chair: Kaniela Ing
  • Vice Chair: Cedric Gates

Public Safety (PBS)

  • Chair: Gregg Takayama
  • Vice Chair: Matthew S. LoPresti

Tourism (TOU)

  • Chair: Richard H.K. Onishi
  • Vice Chair: James Kunane Tokioka

Transportation (TRN)

  • Chair: Henry J.C. Aquino
  • Vice Chair: Sean Quinlan

Veterans, Military & International Affairs & Culture and the Arts (VMI)

  • Chair: Ken Ito
  • Vice Chair: James Kunane Tokioka

Water and Land (WAL)

  • Chair: Ryan I. Yamane
  • Vice Chair: Sam Satoru Kong

County of Hawaii Inaugural Ceremonies Information

County of Hawaiʻi Executive and Legislative Inaugural Ceremonies for the newly elected Mayor, Prosecuting Attorney, and Council Members will be held at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium, 323 Manono Street, Hilo, at 12 Noon on Monday, December 5, 2016.  The public is invited to attend.

2012 Hawaii County Inauguration.

2012 Hawaii County Inauguration.

The program will begin with a prelude of selections by Bandmaster Paul Arceo and the Hawaiʻi County Band.  The procession will be accompanied by the Hawaiʻi County Band.  The Administration of Oath will be administered by the Honorable Ronald Ibarra, Judge, Third Circuit Court.

J.E. Orozco will serve as master of ceremonies.  Address will be given by the Honorable Harry Kim, Mayor; the Honorable Mitch Roth, Prosecuting Attorney and the Honorable Valerie T. Poindexter, Chairperson, Hawaiʻi County Council.

There will be a Presentation of Colors by Hilo High School JROTC Color Guards, and Waiakea High School students will perform musical renderings.  The National and State Anthems will be sung by Alexandra Roth accompanied by the Hawaiʻi County Band.  Senior Pastor Sheldon Lacsina of New Hope – Hilo will provide the Invocation, and the Benediction will be provided by Kahu Charles Kama, of Hale Pule Ke Ola Hou.

Na Leo O Hawaiʻi will televise the inauguration live on Channel 55.

Rep. McKelvey Questions Gabbard’s Lack of Support in Condemning Trumps Appointment

Maui lawmaker says Congresswoman should stand with Democrats against racism

Rep. Angus McKelvey last week sent a letter to Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard asking why she has not joined in solidarity with many other Democrats in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen Brannon as chief strategist to the White House.

Letter attached below

Letter attached below

Brannon is known as a racist xenophobe with support from white nationalist hate groups.

In light of recent national reports that the Congresswoman has met with Trump, McKelvey said Hawaii’s residents have a right to know if Gabbard stands in opposition to Brannon.

McKelvey is perplexed as to why Gabbard would not join our congressional delegation, and other House Democrats, in opposing this disturbing appointment.

“Your refusal to stand with other Democrats in solidarity infers that you not only support Trump’s appointment, but are shifting your political views to fall in line with the incoming administration,” said McKelvey in his Nov. 17 letter.

Click to read the whole letter: Letter from Rep. McKelvey

Rep. Tsuji Remembrance Ceremony at State Capitol Dec. 2

The people of Hawaii are invited to pay their final respects to Hawaii  Island State Representative Clift Tsuji.

clift-tsujiOn Friday, December 2, a memorial service will be held in the House Chamber at the State Capitol.  A short program will begin at 10:30 a.m.  Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and following the memorial ceremony.

A book of condolence will be available for the public to sign at the ceremony.

There will be limited public parking at the State Capitol and motorists are encouraged to carpool or use public transportation.

On Sunday, December 4, a Memorial Service will be held in Hilo at Dodo Mortuary, 199 Wainaku Street in Hilo. Visitation will begin at 2:00 p.m. and the service at 4:00 p.m.

A private family burial will be held December 5.

Hawaii Congresswoman Gabbard Meets With President-Elect Trump

U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today released the following statement on her meeting with President-elect Donald Trump regarding Syria:

hayden-and-tulsi-kneeling“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face. I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government—a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.

“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.

“Serving the people of Hawaiʻi and our nation is an honor and responsibility that I do not take lightly.  Representing the aloha spirit and diversity of the people of Hawaiʻi, I will continue to seek common ground to deliver results that best serve all Americans, as I have tried to do during my time in Congress.

“Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement.  However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives. We cannot allow continued divisiveness to destroy our country.

“President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.

“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress—I saw firsthand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.

“Let me be clear, I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance.”

Hawaii County Democratic Party Seeking Candidates to Serve for House District 2

The Hawai’i County Democratic Party is seeking candidates who are interested in an appointment to serve as the Representative of House District 2.

democratic-party-of-hawaii-banner-logoI am sure you are aware of the recent and unfortunate passing of Representative Clift Tsuji who served humbly for more than a decade in this seat. Our party will hold a process to determine three names that will be forwarded to the Governor for his appointment to the seat.

To be eligible an individual must be a member in “good standing” of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i and reside in the district for a minimum of six months. The candidate must not be under current reprimand pursuant to Article I of the Constitution of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i. There will be a mandatory meeting of all candidates seeking the seat on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 2:00p.m. The location is still to be determined and more information regarding the venue will be forthcoming in the next few days.

Prospective candidates are to provide to the County Chair, Phil Barnes, for dissemination to the appropriate selection body a written application including the following:

1. Credentials and reasons for consideration for the position
2. Evidence of Party participation
3. Verified signatures of at least five active party members within House District 2.

Items 1 and 2, above should be sent to Chair Barnes by email, preferably as PDF files, for electronic distribution to selectors. His email address is greenhi3@yahoo.com. Your signatures to complete #3 need to be on an official form created by the Hawai’i County Democratic Party which you can easily obtain by emailing Chair Barnes and asking for one. Any and all forms need to be delivered by mail to Chair Barnes at 64 Amauulu Road, Hilo, HI 96720.

The deadline for applications to be in Chair Barnes possession is Monday, November 28, 2016 at 5:00 p.m.

Hawaii Senate Accepting Applications for Upcoming Legislative Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate is accepting job applications for the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

capitalWorking at the Hawai‘i State Senate offers individuals an opportunity to work in a dynamic public service organization, work closely with elected officials and the public, and learn more about the legislative process.

Session jobs require a 4 to 6 month commitment, depending on the position. Most begin on January 3, 2017 and end on the last day of the legislative session.

Senate employees working 20 hours or more per week are eligible for health insurance through the Hawai‘i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

More information about employment opportunities with the Hawai‘i State Senate can be found online at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sjobs.aspx.

To apply, please send a cover letter, position reference number, and resume to sclerk2@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent on Passing of Rep. Clift Tsuji

doe-logoRepresentative Clift Tsuji worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents. Superintendent Matayoshi reflects on his relationship with the Hawaii State Department of Education and extends condolences to his family.

It is with great sadness to learn that Representative Clift Tsuji has passed away. As a Hilo native, I knew Clift and his commitment to his community and public service. Two weeks ago we spoke about his district and he expressed his support for the educational progress made. Sincere condolences go out to his family during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.

Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hawaii President’s Statement on the Passing of Rep. Clift Tsuji

clift-tsuji“The Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hawaii is deeply saddened by the news of Rep. Clift Tsuji’s passing,” said Russell Arikawa, president of the Chamber.

“He was truly a public servant, and a long-time member of our Chamber. He served our country in the 442nd Infantry from 1959 to 1965, and our beloved Hawaii Island as State Representative since 2004,” Arikawa said.

Rep. Tsuji was a strong supporter of agriculture and economic diversity for our island and state and as a Chamber, we counted on him to support our island in the Legislature. Our hearts and prayers are with his family; his genuine, friendly spirit will truly be missed,” he added.

Hawaii Governor and Lt. Governor Statements on Passing of Rep. Clift Tsuji

clift-tsujiRepresentative Clift Tsuji was a quiet man with a big heart who had the courage to stand for his convictions. He was a passionate leader and a vigorous advocate for the Hilo community. His legacy of service will be remembered by his constituents and all Hawaii Island residents. He was a personal friend, and I am going to miss his presence at the State Capitol. Dawn and I send our condolences to his sons, Ryan and Ashley.

— Governor David Y. Ige


Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui has this statement to offer on the passing of State Representative Clift Tsuji:

“My deepest condolences go out to the ohana of Representative Clift Tsuji during this very difficult time.  Clift leaves behind a legacy as a strong voice for the people and a staunch advocate for Hawaii’s agriculture community.  I will always remember Clift’s booming voice coupled with his friendly and approachable nature.  Those who were fortunate to have known him will also remember his kindness and the aloha he shared with the countless people he touched.  He will be missed.”

Hawaii Judiciary on the Passing of Representative Clift Tsuji

judiciary“On behalf of the Judiciary, I extend our sincere thoughts and condolences to Representative Clift Tsuji’s family.  Representative Tsuji was a genuinely kind and caring person, and an outstanding public servant who represented the people of Hilo with pride.  He was also a strong supporter of the new courthouse in Kona, and the work being done by pro bono attorneys who volunteer their time providing legal assistance to the community.  We thank Representative Tsuji for his service and dedication to the people of Hawaii.”

— Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Hawaii State Supreme Court


“We are saddened by the news of the passing of Representative Clift Tsuji.  He has always been a big supporter of the Third Circuit and has attended numerous Judiciary- related functions because of his genuine care for people and our community.  We appreciate all his support throughout the years.  We will miss him and send our condolences to his family.”

— Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Third Circuit

Statement on the Passing of Representative Clift Tsuji From Senator Kaiali`i Kahele

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Clift Tsuji today. A proud graduate of Hilo High School, Clift represented Hilo honorably for over 12 years in the House of Representatives. He proudly wore our nations uniform in the 442nd Infantry and was recognized as the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year in 2015. I will always remember his warm smile, friendship and encouragement he extended to me as a new legislator at the Capitol.

He leaves behind a legacy of service, hope and a better Hawaiʻi for our children. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, many friends and his sons Ashley Allen and Ryan Kalei.”

kai-kahele-profileSenator Kaiali`i Kahele, District 1 – Hilo