Hawaii Senate Committee Advances Bills Protecting the Environment

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

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

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

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

The environment protection measures passed today include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary – Dear Legislators “Video on Frankenstein Bill”

Dear Legislators:
I am seeing quite a few bills that don’t meet the standards of an open and accessible government.
HB 252 Frankenstein
Such as, SB252 which unrelated language was inserted without notice or discussion.
Here is my view on this practice.  Enjoy the video.

Frankenstein Bill from Jonas William on Vimeo.

SB 252

Bill for Publicly Funded Elections Advances

Advocates for campaign finance reform were pleased today when the House of Representatives passed House Bill 1481, a law that would modernize Hawaii’s outdated partial public funding program for elections.  The measure passed with three legislators voting “no”.

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The original public funding program was implemented during the 1978 Constitutional Convention, but has become ineffective over time.  In the 2012 election cycle, only one house candidate used the the funds.  Advocates in favor of house bill 1481 say it is now time to upgrade the old program.

“Delegates in 1978 fought hard to implement this important program, and we owe it to them to modernize it to make it useful once again”, said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii, a non-partisan non profit organization working to pass the bill.

Representative Chris Lee (D – 51, Lanikai, Waimanalo), a supporter of the bill added “this is a first big step toward limiting the influence of money and special interest influence in our political process.”

In 2008, Voter Owned Hawaii led and effort to implement a similar program for Big Island County elections.  That program ran in the 2010 and 2012 elections and was largely deemed successful.  Currently, five out of nine councilors on the Big Island were elected without accepting money from special interests.

According to Payne, the program is intended to serve taxpayers.  “Special interests donate to politicians to get a return on their investment, and right now they’ve cornered the market on elections and the public is not invited to the party.  Publicly funded elections will save taxpayer money by allowing politicians to make decisions based upon what’s best for the people instead of campaign donors,” he said.

Forty-eight out of fifty-one legislators voted in favor of HB 1481, and Richard Fale, Marcus Oshiro, and Sharon Har voted “no”.

Hawaii Senate Passes Bill 369 – Relating to Video Conferencing

This afternoon in the Hawaii State Capital Chambers, members of the Hawaii Senate listened to testimony provided by video conferencing from Big Island residents that were in support of Hawaii Senate Bill 369, Relating to Video Conferencing.

Here is a screen shot from me providing testimony from here on the Big Island:

Talking to Senator Wakai before the hearing begins.

Talking to Senator Wakai before the hearing begins.

I provided the following testimony:

My name is Damon Tucker and I’m from Pahoa here on the Big Island of Hawaii and I’m here to testify via videoconferencing in support of Senate Bill 369.

Many of us folks on the neighbor islands would like to submit testimony in person at the legislature but we simply can not for many factors whether it be; time, money, jobs, kids, etc.

I’m sure that you folks as our Representatives get flooded with written testimony.  I ask you folks how often do you actually read all of the testimony.

Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words… how many words do you think video could represent?

Keeping the public informed and maintaining transparency in the legislative process are key to a democratic system of government.

I believe that these hearings should not only be available to neighbor island constituents, but Oahu residents as well.  Legislative committee hearings are notorious for going late into the night often forcing some who would like to speak or listen to the debate to give up and go home.

With governments at all levels looking to maximize the return on every dollar invested in infrastructure and training, turning to video conferencing as the backbone of a forward-thinking communications strategy makes financial, environmental, and technological sense.

Executive Order 13589, issued by President Obama on November 11, 2009, states:

To ensure efficient travel spending, agencies are encouraged to devise strategic alternatives to Government travel, including local or technological alternatives, such as teleconferencing and video conferencing.

Two other folks testified in support of the bill and after listening to the testimony the Senate had a quorum and passed Senate Bill 369 unanimously.

 

Bills Providing More Legislative Access For Neighbor Island Residents Pass Out of Key Committee

Legislation designed to allow neighbor island residents increased access and participation in the legislative process was introduced by State Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).

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HB 358, relating to videoconferencing, requires both the House and Senate to implement rules to permit residents to present testimony through audiovisual technology.

HB 361 requires the governor, legislature, and judiciary to ensure public access to information, services, and proceedings of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The bill also authorizes the governor to convene a fair access commission to review public access issues for the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.

“These bills were introduced to help make it easier for neighbor island residents to actively participate in the legislative process,” said Representative Lowen. “Neighbor island residents have to fly to Oahu on short notice and at their own expense if they want to testify before the legislature in person.  For many people, that isn’t possible, and the result is that we don’t hear from them.  Advances in communication technology makes it possible to provide better access, and we should be doing all we can to put systems in place to make government as accessible as possible.”

The bills now move on to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

 

Bills on Taro, GMOs, and Local Agriculture to be Heard at the Legislature

Bills on Taro, GMOs, and Local Agriculture to be Heard

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WHAT:            The Committee on Agriculture will be hearing several bills relating to taro, GMOs, and growing our local agriculture industry.

WHEN:            Monday, February 4, 2013, 8:30 A.M.

WHERE:           Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium

WHY:               The Constitution of Hawaii mandates that the State “shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.” These goals are also highlighted as a major priority in the Governor’s “New Day” plan. The Legislature aims to do its part to move Hawaii forward this Session.

WHO:               Chair Jessica Wooley, Vice Chair Richard H.K. Onishi, Reps. Tom Brower, Romy Cachola, Isaac Choy, Takashi Ohno, Gregg Takayama, James Kunane Tokioka, Clift Tsuji, Lauren Kealohilani Cheape, and Gene Ward comprise the Committee.

“This is a really exciting time for local agriculture,” said Rep. Jessica Wooley. “These bills could represent a turning point in the future of agriculture in Hawaii. Food security, increased local food production, recognizing consumers’ right to know what they’re eating, and protecting the most culturally significant crop in Hawaii are at the forefront of our agenda.”

The Hearing Notices posted below contain the bills on Monday’s agenda as well as links to submit online testimony.

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/hearingnotices/HEARING_AGR-WAL_02-04-13_.HTM

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/hearingnotices/HEARING_AGR_02-04-13_.HTM

 

 

Legislative Workshops to Be Held on the Big Island

Beginning next Monday, December 10, Suzanne Marinelli will travel to Big Island on behalf of the Legislative Reference Bureau’s non-partisan Public Access Room to conduct a series of free workshops on our state’s legislative process.

Public Access Workshops 2

This outreach is part of a longstanding program developed by our office in which we travel throughout the state in advance of the legislative session beginning each January, to help our citizens develop a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s legislative process.

The workshops provide an easy path to helping people become more effective advocates for the issues that concern them.  They demystify the goings-on at the Capitol; they help people understand that their perspectives, their experiences, are crucial to the development of good laws for Hawaii.

If you have any questions, feel free to call us directly at 808 587 0478.  The toll-free number from the Big Island is 974 4000, ext. 70478.

Hawaii Capitol Idol – Our State Senators and Reps Have Some Talent!

Senator Josh Green gets into the juggling act

House and Senate lawmakers battled for bragging rights in the 1st annual Capitol Idol held on April 16, 2012 at 5 pm in the Capitol Auditorium.

[youtube-http://youtu.be/BWT22KkUBpg]

Capitol Idol 2012 was the brainchild of the Senate to raise money for the Hawaii Food Bank.

The House team included Reps. Tom Brower, Cindy Evans, Faye Hanohano, Ken Ito, John Mizuno, Dee Morikawa, and Marcus Oshiro.

Senators Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria, Josh Green, Pohai Ryan, and Malama Solomon represented the Senate.

You can  read about the event here Hawaii House Blog and view more clips on their YouTube channel here: Hawaii House Blog

2011 Legislative Recap and Talk Story with Senator Malama Solomon and Representative Cindy Evans

“Gapping Deficit” only part of the 2011 Legislative Story:

Media Release:

The 2011 State Legislature faced a gaping deficit, and an urgent need to shrink government, create new 21st century jobs and protect essential services.

Richard Ha and Senator Malama Solomon share a moment

Richard Ha and Senator Malama Solomon share a moment

“These challenges dominated the news, but they are only part of the story,’ said Waimea-Hamakua-North Hilo Sen. Malama Solomon.

“Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised ‘A New Day for Hawai’i,’ and toward this end, we moved forward powerful new ideas – such as honoring our native Hawaiian host culture, re-prioritizing critical programs, and shifting gears toward energy and food self sufficiency,” she said. “Our greatest challenge wasn’t the bottom line.  It was being mindful that whatever we do impacts lives.”

To recap the 2011 Legislative session and discuss progress, urgent concerns and what they can do to best represent residents in the district, Sen. Malama Solomon and Rep. Cindy Evans invite the community to a talk-story at 5 p.m., Thurs., May 19, 2011 in Waimea School Cafeteria.

Everyone is invited.  Light refreshments will be provided.

This is the first of a series of community meetings to be hosted by the legislators.

If unable to attend or residents have urgent questions or concerns, they are invited to call or email:

Sen. Malama Solomon (974-4000 Ext. 67335 or 885-3553), email: SenSolomon@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Rep. Cindy Evans (974-4000 Ext. 68510), or email: RepEvans@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Japanese Consul General to Address Hawaii State Legislature on Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Aftermath

Media Release:

WHAT:  The Honorable Yoshihiko Kamo, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, will address the Hawaii State Legislature in a special joint session of the House and Senate.  The Consul General will give remarks on the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, including an update on how the devastation continues to impact the lives of those across Japan.

Yoshihiko Kamo

Yoshihiko Kamo

WHEN:  Tuesday, April 26, 2011 – 12 noon

WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol – House of Representatives Chamber

WHY:   The Hawaii State Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 319 – Requesting the Japanese Consul General in Honolulu to Address the Legislature Assembled in Joint Session.  Online copy: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/bills/HCR319_.htm

WHO:  The Honorable Yoshihiko Kamo has served as the Consul General of Japan in Honolulu since August 2009.  His profile from the Consulate General of Japan website is provided below:

http://www.honolulu.us.emb-japan.go.jp/en/about_cg_en.htm

Consul General Kamo was born in 1952 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from Tokyo University, Faculty of Engineering, in 1976 and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served in Tokyo, as Director, Southwest Asia Division, MOFA and Director General, International Affairs Department, Secretariat of the House of Representatives. His overseas assignments include the Embassies of Japan in Bangladesh, Thailand, Canada, Myanmar and Finland. He also served as the Consul General in Houston.

Hawaii Legislative Tweets (Leg. Tweets)

With the advance of technology, we can now eavesdrop on the Legislators in action as they work towards hammering out bills in the Hearing rooms.

There are a couple people in general that I’m following.

Hawaii House Blogger:  Twitter – @georgettedeemer (Communications Director Hawaii House of Reps; former state film commissioner.)

Honolulu Advertiser Capitol Blogger: Twitter – @ddepledge (The state government and politics reporter for the Honolulu Advertiser)

All News Hawaii Blogger: Twitter – @nancylauer (Hawaii Capitol researcher, reporter)

I’ll post some of their tweets up top… along with other folks who happen to drop by the legislature from time to time.

These tweets provide interesting insight to the legislature that you will very rarely read in the newspapers, and they are happening on the floor of the legislature live while they are happening… not an edited version a few hours later.

Hawaii Considers Marijuana Stamps???

Kudos to Nancy Cook Lauer over at All Hawaii News for blogging about the legislatures considering “Marijuana Stamps”.

The Hawaii House today advanced a bill that would issue cannabis distribution stamps to participants in the state’s medical marijuana program…

…Under the program, a farmer puts up some land for secure growing facilities and a certified facilitator serves as the go-between from farmer to user. Users are issued stamps at a cost of no more than 50 cents per gram of marijuana…

Full Blog here

In a poll I ran before the elections this year:

22 people said that police should make marijuana one of the lowest priorities while only 6 people said No, that it was a drug.

Legisature Makes it Easier to Submit Testimony Online

Hat tip to Georgette Deemer over at the Hawaii House Blog.  She alerts us to how easy it is to submit testimony to the Legislature now.

Submitting testimony to the Hawaii State Legislature is now as simple as a click of a mouse. If you go to the capitol website, you will be able to choose your bill number, select the committee hearing and date, upload your testimony, and click to submit. Just go to the Bill Status & Documents page, scroll down to the hearing notices, and click on Submit testimony online…

More Here

Legislature Gets TV Facilities… Cooking Show on Agenda?

I think it’s pretty cool that Olelo has opened up a place for legislators and their staff to produce videos and use equipment right at the capital building.

From the Senate Majority Caucus Blog:

It’s finally here! After much collaboration and anticipation,`Olelo Community Television unveiled their new video production studio today, Monday February 2, 2009, right here at the Capitol.

Studio@Capitol is a full in-house video production facility complete with video production equipment available for rent, two editing stations, and a DVD duplicating center. It is available to all members of the Hawai`i State Legislature, State Administration and staff to create, shoot and edit their own productions…”

studio

Now here is what is blowing me away… A senator has already mentioned the following:

…There is great interest and excitement about what this could mean in terms of new ways to reach out to the public and connect with constituents. You can bet each Senator has their own ideas on how to do that. Among them, there has been mention of hosting a cooking show, an end-of-session wrap up, weekly video podcasting, and much more!…

More Here

So I’m throwing around names of cooking shows that could be possible with some of our current Senators and this is what I’ve come up with… Feel free to add your own:

I know I’m missing a few… but I figured too many cooks would spoil the broth.

I just love when our tax money is spent on a good cooking show.

Tracking Legislative Bills Via RSS Feeds

Press Release

The bill introduction deadline has passed, and there are now 1,680 Senate bills and 1,843 House bills in the pipeline.

Many of you have participated in the Public Access Room (PAR) workshops – either here at the Capitol or in your community – and have learned handy tips on finding and tracking the bills you’re interested in.  I’m writing to let you know about a slight change in procedure regarding one of those tips – subscribing to RSS feeds to allow you to easily track hundreds of bills and know at a glance if there’s been any activity.  While you can still track your bills using this method, an extra step is required due to a temporary technical difficulty – the feed link does not currently appear on the status sheet pages.  Don’t panic!  There’s just an added step.

Here’s what you do:

· Collect your bill numbers as you find them (via text search, reviewing the list of Senate or House bills filed, etc. – call or email us if you need assistance).

· Go to the Bill Status and Documents page of the Legislature’s website (www.capitol.hawaii.gov ).

· Enter the bill numbers in the top box (separate the bill numbers by commas, as shown – you can put in more than a dozen at a time).

· Click “Go.”

· You’ll see a list of hyperlinks to the measures’ status sheets with the RSS subscription links symbols () next to them.

· Click each subscription link to subscribe.

· You’ll be on top of things!  The subscriptions work as well as ever.

Note:  The folks in data systems are working diligently on any number of issues amidst the usual flurry of session – they have every intention of returning the subscription links to the status pages as soon as possible.  This is just a work-around until that happens.  We’ll send another alert then to let you know the links have been restored.

If this email leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed, baffled or confused, feel free to contact us at the Public Access Room.  We’ll be happy to walk you through the procedure for RSS subscriptions, or help you find a tracking method that works better for you.

2009 Hawaii Legislature

I’ve added some links to the left hand column relating to the Legislature.

If you know of any good blogs related specifically to the Hawaii Legislature, please let me know.