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Death With Dignity Bill Passes Key Hurdle

Hawai‘i House lawmakers voted to legally permit medically aided death in Hawai‘i this afternoon, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, after an emotional floor debate in which lawmakers recalled their own family members who suffered before they died

Nine Democrats and three Republicans in the 51-member House opposed the bill.

House Bill 2739 would allow patients with less than six months to request prescriptions for lethal doses of medication.

The measure now goes to the state Senate, where it is expected to win approval.

House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman John Mizuno contends House Bill 2739 has the strongest safeguards to prevent abuse of any state. Five states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical aid in dying, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Under the procedures in the bill, patients would be required to submit two verbal requests a minimum of 20 days apart and one written request to their attending physicians for a prescription.

The written request would have to be signed by two witnesses who can attest the patient is of sound mind, and is acting voluntarily. One of the witnesses cannot be a relative and one witness cannot be someone who stands to inherit anything upon the patient’s death.

The bill also requires counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker after two physicians confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and competence.

Hawai‘i House Passes 131 Bills to Senate

Hawai’i State Legislature file photo.

The Hawai‘i House of Representatives passed 131 bills on third reading on Friday, March 2, 2018, moving them to the Senate for their consideration. The bills include housing, homelessness, education, health, the environment, public safety, governmental affairs, the environment and other important issues.

Here are some of the highlights:

Homelessness and Housing

HB2281 Establishes within the Department of Human Services an Ohana Zones program to provide housing to homeless individuals and families based on principles similar to Housing First and appropriates unspecified funds for the program.

HB2753 Establishes the Ohana Zone Pilot Program. Defines the intent of the pilot program, and sets preliminary milestones that shall be met by the Department of Human Services, Homeless Programs Office in establishing the pilot program.

HB2472 Specifies that certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code related to at-risk rules and deductions and to passive activity loss do not apply with respect to claims for the state low-income housing tax credit.

HB2703 (1) Allocates a portion of the conveyance tax revenues to the rental assistance revolving fund to be used to subsidize rents for persons who meet certain income requirements; (2) Increases the income tax credit for low-income household renters to an unspecified amount; and (3) Makes the state earned income tax credit refundable and changes the amount of the credit to an unspecified percentage of the federal earned income tax credit.

HB2744 Appropriates funds to provide additional rent supplement subsidies.

HB2745 Expands the rental assistance program by increasing the minimum percentage of affordable units a rental housing project is required to maintain for eligible tenants from 20% to 30%. Appropriates funds to support new rental assistance program contracts.

HB1727 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, or due to a public health emergency. Gives employers flexibility to offer paid sick leave to minimum wage and other employees or to pay minimum wage employees a salary that is more than the minimum wage.

Education

HB1720 Allows for a state income tax deduction for teacher supplies purchased for use in the classroom and for professional development courses; provided that the teacher obtains a written certification from the Department of Education.

Health

HB1911 Requires home care agencies to be licensed or certified. Authorizes the Department of Health to inspect home care agencies. Requires the Department of Health to establish a home care aid registry. Authorizes the Department of Health to establish procedures for the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints against home care agencies. Authorizes the Department of Health to enter a care facility when investigating a facility or home. Allows the Department of Health to establish a forum where state-licensed care facilities may post job vacancies. Imposes criminal penalty for the intentional operation of a community-based foster family home, adult foster family home, adult day care center, or home care agency without a license. Requires the Department of Health to establish a working group to discuss and provide feedback for the implementation of the job vacancy forum.

HB2611 Appropriates moneys for Department of Health to fund substance abuse treatment programs relating to persons with multiple chronic conditions, a centralized referral system, case management programs, and a peer mentoring or coaching program.

HB2208 Requires association health plan policies to comply with the laws of this State regardless of the association’s domicile. Enables certain voluntary associations, including employer associations that issue association health plans, to qualify for authorization to transact insurance in the State.

HB2128 Requires that health insurance policies include coverage for clinical victim support services for victims of sexual violence and abuse who suffer from mental disorders.

HB2729 Amends the reciprocity program and adds a visiting patient certifying fee. Extends expiration of a written certification to three years for chronic conditions. Permits retesting of a failed batch of medical cannabis or products. Permits dispensary licensees to distribute devices that provide safe pulmonary administration. Increases the maximum allowable tetrahydro cannibinol limit for multi-pack cannabis products and single containers of oil.

Public Safety

HB1614 Automatically imposes a restraining order upon parties filing for annulment, divorce, or separation to preserve the financial assets of the parties and their dependents and maintain the current island of residence and school of enrollment of a minor child of the parties.

HB2131 Creates a Hawaii Sexual Assault Response and Training Program to address the manner in which sexual assault evidence collection kits are processed and tracked, and to ensure that victims of sexual assault are informed of their rights under the law.

HB2200 Allows an employer to seek a temporary restraining order and injunction against further harassment of an employee or invitee who may be harassed at the employer’s premises or worksite, provided that the provisions do not apply to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations or any of its employees with investigatory duties and responsibilities.

HB2169 Appropriates moneys for youth suicide early intervention, prevention, and education initiatives in Maui county.

Government

HB1656 Increases the amount of the fine that may be assessed against a noncandidate committee making only independent expenditures for campaign spending violations. Allows the Campaign Spending Commission to order that a fine assessed against a noncandidate committee, or any portion thereof, be paid from the personal funds of officers of the noncandidate committee.

HB2541 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020, and allows any election to be conducted by mail prior to the 2020 primary election.

HB1799 Allows only nonprofit corporations to be recipients of grants in aid appropriated by the Legislature under Chapter 42F, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The Environment

HB 2728 Establishes a Clean Transportation Initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of fossil fuels in all public ground transportation by 2035.

Click here for a list of all bills passed by the House of Representative so far this session.

$86 Million Sought for Puna CIP Projects

Rep. Joy San Buenventura

Hawai‘i Rep. Joy San Buenventura submitted House Bill 1617 relating to Capital Improvement Projects, seeking to appropriate more than $86 million in funds to help with the Puna District of Hawai‘i.

“Its about time that the children of Pāhoa Elementary School have their own cafeteria,” said Rep. Buenventura. “Kids should not need to cross the street and share a cafeteria with the teenagers of Pāhoa High & Intermediate. With a growing population, Pāhoa Elementary School should have its own cafeteria. Pāhoa Intermediate School needs a covered play court—separate from the older children of Pāhoa High School. The Highway 130 four-lane project has been in the books for awhile and is already in the 2019 budget. Having it in this bill is a reminder to have it funded.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2018, the bill was introduced and it passed the first reading.

The following projects were included on HB1617 that Rep. Buenventura is seeking appropriations for.

Pāhoa Elementary School:

Design and construction to renovate restrooms:

  • Design $10,000
  • Construction $50,000

Total $60,000

Design and construction for campus-wide repair and maintenance projects to reroof buildings and repaint building interiors and exteriors:

  • Design $105,000
  • Construction $440,000

Total $545,000

Also included in the elementary school appropriation, $9 million for construction for a new cafeteria and administration building.

Total funding sought for Pāhoa Elementary School: $9.605 million.

Pāhoa High and Intermediate Schools:

Plan, design, construction and equipment for a covering for the middle school play court:

  • Plans $100,000
  • Design $100,000
  • Construction $500,000
  • Equipment $300,000

Total $1 million

Plans, design, construction and equipment for a covered courtyard next to the gym:

  • Plans $10,000
  • Design $10,000
  • Construction $50,000
  • Equipment $30,000

Total $100,000

Plans, design, construction and equipment for a covered walkway from the cafeteria to the upper portables:

  • Plans $30,000
  • Design $30,000
  • Construction $150,000
  • Equipment $90,000

Total $300,000

Plans, design, construction and equipment to upgrade the track field:

  • Plans $1.5 million
  • Design $1.5 million
  • Construction $7.5 million
  • Equipment $4.5 million

Total $15 million

Total funding sought for Pāhoa High and Intermediate Schools: $16.4 million.

Highway 130 Map provided by Kea‘au-Pahoa Advisory Group (KPAG).

The bill also would appropriate $15 million for construction of a “Highway 130 Bypass Road” between Milo Street and Hawaiian Paradise Park as an alternate to Highway 130.

Also included in the initial version of the bill is $40 million for Highway 130 road improvements so  construction to expand the highway from two to four lanes or alternate alignments in that corridor between Kea‘au and Pāhoa can be completed.

Total funding sought for Highway 130 projects: $55 million.

Finally, the bill includes $5 million to plan, design, construct and for land acquisition for a wastewater treatment plant:

  • Plans $600,000
  • Design $750,000
  • Construction $1.75 million
  • Land acquisition $1.9 million

Total Funding: $5 million

Total funding requested for appropriation in HB1617: $86,005 million

Residents wishing to submit testimony, may do so online.

Rep. Saiki 2018 Legislative Session Opening Day Remarks

The 2018 Hawai‘i Legislative Session started on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, with opening day remarks by House Speaker Scott Saiki:

These are tumultuous times.

This year, we must step up to the plate.

The State of Hawai‘i requires leadership now and the House of Representatives can and should provide that leadership.

Unfortunately, one need only look to the past weekend to see a glaring instance of the inability of government at various levels to manage major issues facing our state.

Saturday’s events reinforce the importance of the role of government. It also shines light on the role of the Legislature as the policymaker and as the check on the other branches of government. It is our duty to ensure that the three branches abide by their respective constitutional duties so that we all do our jobs well.

We rely on the executive branch to competently and efficiently implement our laws and to administer programs. This begins with basic functions. Some of these functions must be carried out without mistakes because, when mistakes happen, the public loses confidence in all of us.

We also rely on the Judiciary to fairly adjudicate and dispense justice. It is not the role of judges to make policy decisions from the bench. It is the Legislature’s duty to set policy, and we do this with the benefit of broader public input and context.

The legislative branch, and particularly we as the House of Representatives, begin this session with a renewed sense of purpose.

The House is in a unique position to provide leadership. Part of the reason is our composition. Our 51 members are diverse, experienced, and energetic. We represent some of the smallest units of government. Our members have a pulse on what real people actually think, what they do, and what they want.

This collective insight is very powerful and should not be taken lightly. We should use this insight to be bold and creative. We should always be thinking of how to make things better.

There are two painfully obvious challenges that confront our state – the lack of affordable housing and the increasing homeless population. They are full of complexity and competing interests that make them hard to solve. They will require commitment and courageous action, sustained over several years.

But the time to start is now.

HOUSING

There is a shortage of 65,000 housing units in Hawai‘i. The State has set a goal of building 22,500 affordable rental units by the year 2026, and encouraging the development of housing for all income levels.

There is a huge gap between what our working families are able to pay and the cost of building new housing in Hawai‘i. The state and counties must continue to partner with private and nonprofit developers to add to the affordable housing inventory and make these projects pencil out.

To address the financing gap, we should consider increases to programs such as the Rental Housing Revolving Fund, Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund and the Rental Assistance Revolving Fund.

These programs will subsidize rents, infrastructure and construction costs.

For the very low income, elderly and disabled, we should upgrade our public housing inventory. We should also invest in infrastructure in areas that are conducive to such housing, including areas near the proposed rail stations.

HOMELESSNESS

There are now over 7,000 homeless persons throughout the state, including 667 families.

The approach to homelessness is multifaceted and requires short and long-term action. But there is a model that we can adopt. That model is Kahauiki Village.

Kahauiki Village is an example of a successful public-private partnership that included the combined work of the state, the city, nonprofits, and the private sector, some of whom had not interfaced before.

It is a self-contained community that is comprised of 153 transitional homes, a preschool, a market, and a police meeting room. It also operates from a PV-generated battery system and is off the electric grid.

This model can be extended to homeless populations with substance abuse and mental health conditions.

One important takeaway is that Kahauiki Village represents what is possible if people and agencies at different levels work towards a common goal.

And even as we develop more transitional housing, we must also increase law enforcement to avoid encroachment into public spaces. This encroachment affects the quality of life for all, and we must find ways to divert it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA

These are the kinds of issues that our residents are counting on us to solve. But leadership is more than solving issues.

A year ago, President Obama said something in his Farewell Address to the Nation that reminds me of Hawai‘i’s situation today.

He spoke of the youth, diversity, and drive of Americans, and the potential that these traits offered to our country.

But the President also offered this warning:

“[T]hat potential will be realized,” he said, “only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.”

The people of Hawai‘i are looking to us for more than problem solving.

They are also looking to us to articulate and demonstrate a sense of shared purpose that calls others, calls on everyone, to join in.

The House will play a critical role in calling people together in common purpose, but to do it, I believe that each of us must embrace three things.

First, let’s be open to reform and to challenge the status quo. We can still honor the past, but build upon the foundation that was left for us. It is okay to do things differently.

Second, let’s view challenges through the lens of those who are impacted by them. Some of the most contentious issues in Hawai‘i arise when people believe that government does not consider their perspective or history. We need to do better at reconciling these differences – by drawing on the knowledge of all our people – including those impacted by the policies we create – to shape the path forward.

Third, let’s take a global approach to decision-making. Sometimes government is too focused on jurisdiction and turf. We need to move beyond that.

CONCLUSION

Members, we are at a moment in history where we cannot just be stewards. This legislative session is a call to broader involvement and decisive action. We must be courageous activists because the issues facing our state are too urgent to wait. I know that we are up to the challenge.

This year, we will rebuild a foundation that will help many residents throughout our state. And by doing so, we will advance Hawai‘i’s tradition of pioneering justice, fairness, and opportunity for all.

Thank you and best wishes for a productive session.

Committee Assignments for the Second Biennium of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature Announced

The committee assignments for the Second Biennium of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature were announced today and it reflects the division of the former Judiciary and Labor committee into the two separate committees, Labor (LBR) and Judiciary (JDC) committees:

  • President: Ronald D. Kouchi
  • Majority Floor Leader: Will Espero
  • Vice President: Michelle N. Kidani
  • Majority Whip: Kaiali’i Kahele
  • Majority Leader: J. Kalani English
  • Majority Whip: Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Brickwood Galuteria

AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT (AEN) – Gabbard, Mike (Chair) Riviere, Gil (Vice Chair) Nishihara, Clarence K. Rhoads, Karl Ruderman, Russell E.

COMMERCE, CONSUMER PROTECTION, AND HEALTH (CPH) – Baker, Rosalyn H. (Chair) Jill N. Tokuda (Vice Chair) Chang, Stanley Espero, Will Ihara, Jr., Les Nishihara, Clarence K. Ruderman, Russell E.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TOURISM, AND TECHNOLOGY (ETT) –  Wakai, Glenn (Chair) Taniguchi, Brian T. (Vice Chair) Baker, Rosalyn H. Galuteria, Brickwood Thielen, Laura H.

EDUCATION (EDU) – Kidani, Michelle N. (Chair) Kahele, Kaiali’i (Vice Chair) Espero, Will Riviere, Gil Taniguchi, Brian T.

GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS (GVO) – Kim, Donna Mercado (Chair) Ruderman, Russell E. (Vice Chair) Galuteria, Brickwood Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S.C. Rhoads, Karl

HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS (HWN) – Shimabukuro, Maile S. L. (Chair) Galuteria, Brickwood (Vice Chair) English, J. Kalani Green, Josh Riviere, Gil

HIGHER EDUCATION (HRE) – Kahele, Kaiali’i (Chair) Kim, Donna Mercado (Vice Chair) Espero, Will Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S. C. Kidani, Michelle N.

HOUSING (HOU) – Espero, Will (Chair) Harimoto, Breene (Vice Chair) Kahele, Kaiali’i Nishihara, Clarence K. Shimabukuro, Maile S. L.

HUMAN SERVICES (HMS) – Green, Josh (Chair) Chang, Stanley (Vice Chair) Harimoto, Breene Tokuda, Jill N. Wakai, Glenn

LABOR (LBR) – Tokuda, Jill N. (Chair) English, J. Kalani (Vice Chair) Chang, Stanley Ihara, Jr., Les Shimabukuro, Maile S. L.

JUDICIARY (JDC) – Taniguchi, Brian T. (Chair) Rhoads, Karl (Vice Chair) Gabbard, Mike Kim, Donna Mercado Thielen, Laura H.

PUBLIC SAFETY, INTERGOVERNMENTAL, AND MILITARY AFFAIRS – (PSM) Nishihara, Clarence K. (Chair) Wakai, Glenn (Vice Chair) Baker, Rosalyn H. Ihara, Jr., Les Thielen, Laura H.

TRANSPORTATION AND ENERGY (TRE) – Inouye, Lorraine R. (Chair) Espero, Will (Vice Chair) English, J. Kalani Harimoto, Breene Shimabukuro, Maile S. L.

WATER AND LAND (WTL) – Rhoads, Karl (Chair) Gabbard, Mike (Vice Chair) Inouye, Lorraine R. Kim, Donna Mercado Thielen, Laura H.

WAYS AND MEANS (WAM) – Dela Cruz, Donovan M. (Chair) Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S.C. (Vice Chair) English, J. Kalani Galuteria, Brickwood Harimoto, Breene Inouye, Lorraine R. Kahele, Kaiali’i Kidani, Michelle N. Riviere, Gil Shimabukuro, Maile S. L. Wakai, Glenn

Hawaii Senate Passes 208 Bills on Third Reading

The Senate today passed 134 House bills on third reading that seek to address many issues including affordable housing, economic development, and protection from invasive species.  An additional 74 House bills previously passed third reading in the Senate, for a total of 208 bills, ahead of the Second Crossover deadline of April 13.

The bills passed on third reading will be transmitted to the House and many will be referred to a committee on conference where House and Senate members will meet jointly to remedy differences in House and Senate positions.  To follow the actions of conference, visit the “Reports and Lists” page of the legislature’s website capitol.hawaii.gov.

“These bills reflect the Senate’s focus on the priorities set forth in the Legislative Program which aim to support our communities, our environment, good governance and sustainability,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “The challenge will be to provide funding for all these measures and the proposed GIA in light of diminishing revenues and requirements to pay for increasing fixed costs such as pension payments.”

“The passage of these measures illustrate the continued effort of the Senate to improve the lives of the people of Hawai‘i,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 – Kaua’i, Ni’ihau). “However, as we head into conference, the onus continues to be on the legislature to find funding sources for measures,  ensure that we meet our current financial obligations while exercising fiscal responsibility.”

A few of the key measures passed today by the Senate which reflect the Senate Legislative Program:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities

Education

HB957 HD1 SD2 Authorizes the Department of Education to borrow moneys interest-free from the Hawai‘i green infrastructure loan program for heat abatement measures at public schools. Requires the Department of Education to make payments on the loan from revenues saved by energy efficiency measures.

HB480 HD1 SD1 Makes an appropriation to the Hawai‘i community college for the Hawai‘i community college and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the Agribusiness Development Corporation, to study agriculture and agricultural learning opportunities on the island of Hawai‘i. Requires the Hawai‘i community college to submit a report to the legislature.

Homelessness

HB527 HD1 SD2 appropriates funds to purchase, staff, and operate two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

HB1195 HD1 SD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, including the Office of Youth Services, to provide homeless outreach services and rental subsidies to reduce and prevent homelessness.

HB530 HD2 SD2 updates the Downpayment Loan Program under the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

Social Services

HB615 HD1 SD1 appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawai‘i’s kupuna.

HB607 HD1 SD2 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. Clarifies the kupuna service and support options provided by area agencies on aging within the program. Makes establishment of the kupuna care program mandatory rather than discretionary.

HB674 HD2 SD2 requires all child care providers subject to regulation by the Department of Human Services to obtain and maintain liability insurance as a condition of licensure, temporary permission, or registration and disclose insurance-related information to certain parents or guardians. Requires the Department of Human Services to submit a report to the legislature prior to the 2018 regular session.

HB4 HD1 SD1 requires certain 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.

Health Care

HB672 HD2 SD2 formally establishes the Hawai‘i Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn Program within the Department of Education. Establishes a dedicated special fund and positions within the Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services to support the program.

HB552 HD1 SD2 ensures that benefits of the Affordable Care Act are preserved under state law in the case of repeal of the ACA by Congress. Preserves the individual mandate, minimum essential benefit requirements, extended dependent coverage, and prohibitions on preexisting condition exclusions and gender discrimination in premiums and costs. Establishes a trust fund and procedures to reimburse insurers for unrecouped costs of providing minimum essential insurance benefits.

HB1272 HD1 SD1 specifies that coverage for telehealth under the State’s medicaid managed care and fee-for-service programs includes psychiatric services delivered via telehealth through a behavioral health care manager who is present in a primary health care provider’s office.

Food Security

HB1475 HD2 SD2 Permits farmers’ markets and food hubs on lands in an agricultural district. Requires that value-added products displayed and sold by agricultural-based commercial operations in agricultural districts contain an unspecified per cent of Hawai‘i-grown content.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu – Preparedness

Government Services

HB1401 HD1 SD1 enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020, and allows any election to be conducted by mail prior to the 2020 primary election, in whole or in part, as determined by the chief election officer or county clerk, as appropriate.

HB206 HD2 SD2 establishes a prepaid wireless E911 surcharge of 1.5 per cent of prepaid wireless service purchased at the point of sale. Allows sellers to deduct and retain 3 per cent of the surcharges collected to offset administrative expenses, but requires sellers to remit the balance of surcharges collected to the Enhanced 911 fund on a specified periodic basis.

Community Development

HB1327 HD1 SD1 Appropriates funds for the Manufacturing Development Program.

Aloha Honua – Climate Change and Energy

Environment

HB1339 HD1 SD2 restructures the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council as the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Authority to coordinate implementation of the Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan and related duties.

HB904 HD1 SD1 establishes the invasive species rapid response special fund within DLNR. Establishes procedures for emergency declarations and expenditures.

Pono Kaulike – Transforming Justice

HB930 SD2 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.

Hawaii House Approves Bills on Master Plan to Build a New Stadium and Other Bills

With just about a month left in the 2017 legislative session, the House passed 35 Senate bills today.

The bills passed head back to the Senate for their consideration. If the Senate does not agree with the House amendments, the bills will be negotiated in conference committees.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Public Education

SB 683 SD2 HD1 proposes amendments to Articles VII and X of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii to authorize the Legislature to establish a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations to increase funding for public education.

Aloha Stadium

SB 1200 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to create a master plan and environmental impact statement for the construction of a new Aloha Stadium.

Red Light Photo Detector

SB 221 SD2 HD1 establishes a Photo Red Light Imaging Detector Systems Program to improve enforcement of traffic signal laws and requires the DOT to establish a Red Light Running Committee to review the program and make further recommendations.

Child Care Facilities

SB 511 SD2 HD1 requires the DHS to post reports of all child care facility inspections on its website, include all actions that involve complaints of suspected or actual violations, and appropriates funds to implement and comply with the reporting requirements for child care facilities.

Maui Hospitals

SB 944 SD1 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Budget and Finance for collective bargaining cost items to facilitate the transition of the affected Maui region hospital employees to employment with Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC.

Aquatic Life

SB 1240 SD2 HD1 requires the DLNR to submit their proposed legislation by 2019 including that a definition of “sustainable”, a policy for sustainable collection practices of near shore aquatic life, limits on collection, and any additional resources required by the apartment. It also prohibits issuance of new aquarium permits and transfer of existing aquarium permits.

A complete list of Senate 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&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

Hawaii House and Senate Meet in Special Session to Amend Maui Hospital Workers Bill

The House and Senate met today in special session following Gov. David Ige’s veto of SB2077.

Click to see bill

Click to see bill

The bill provides state benefits to workers facing position abolishment, reduction-in-forces or workforce restructuring as the state moves forward with an agreement to have Kaiser Permanente assume control of operations at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

Legislative leaders said they will not move to override the governor’s veto, but will work with him to fashion a bill that will protect the health, safety and welfare of Maui residents and ensure a smooth transition from public to private management of Maui hospitals.

The legislature will be in recess until Monday morning when it will reconvene at 11 a.m. to take up amendments to the bill. The recess will also give time for the governor to negotiate a settlement with the UPW in its lawsuit objecting to the transition.

A final vote on the amended bill is expected on Wednesday, July 20.

Hawaii House of Representatives Adjourns 2016 Regular Session – Passing Several Bills

The House of Representatives today adjourned the 2016 regular legislative session, passing several remaining bills, including Senate Bill 2077, House Bill 2086, House Bill 1654 and House Bill 2543.

Capital

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2 authorizes Hawaii Hospital Systems Corp. employees facing reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring to opt to receive either severance benefits or a special retirement benefit in lieu of exercising any reduction-in-force rights.  The bill is in response to the pending privatization of Maui Memorial Hospital.

HB2086 HD2 SD2 appropriates $37 million into the state highway fund as a subsidy, and requires the Governor to provide a plan to sustain the state highway fund.

HB1654 HD1 SD2 allows a permanent absentee voter to temporarily receive a ballot at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle. Clarifies that certain conditions that normally lead to a termination of permanent absentee voter status do not apply if the voter resides in an absentee ballot only area. Replaces references to facsimile ballots with references to electronically transmitted ballots. Allows a voter to receive an absentee ballot by electronic transmission if the voter requires such a ballot within five days of an election, or the voter would otherwise not be able to return a properly issued ballot by the close of polls.

HB2543 HD2 SD 1 makes permanent the requirement that the state and the counties take action within 60 days for broadband-related permit applications, take action within 145 days for use applications for broadband facilities within the conservation district, and establish other requirements regarding broadband-related permits, and weight load for utility poles to capacities established by the FCC and PUC.

Click on this link for all bills passed during the 2016 session.

During the session, the House approved major funding for affordable housing and homelessness, air conditioning and heat abatement for 1,000 classroom statewide, the largest ever disbursement to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, help for displaced Maui sugar workers and significant pay down of the state’s unfunded liabilities.

“In January, I asked you to use the momentum created from our last session to keep us and Hawaii moving forward.  During this session, you did just that with hard work and perseverance,” according to House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu) in written remarks to state representatives.

“You helped shape a budget that is fiscally prudent, forward looking, and addresses the state’s priorities on the homeless and affordable housing, our classrooms and education, our public hospitals and healthcare, our prisons and public safety, and Hawaiian Home lands and our host culture.”

Souki thanked House members for providing $100 million for air conditioning in public school classrooms, $650,000 to retrain and support displaced Maui sugar plantation workers, $2.5 million to sustain Wahiawa General Hospital, $150 million to replenish the state’s Rainy Day fund, and $81.9 to pay down unfunded liabilities (owed toward the state retirees’ post-employment benefits).

“You also put us on a path toward building affordable housing units on state owned parcels along our future rail system,” Souki wrote.  “This effort offers great potential for not just home building but community building.

“An essential part of community building is to make that community sustainable for the long term.  That’s why it was important for us to protect prime agriculture land between Wahiawa and Waialua and invest $31.5 million to purchase those lands from Dole Food Co.”

Finally, Souki thanked the representatives for providing funding to support Maui workers and their families affected by the closure of Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company, as well as for working out a compromise measure dealing with the issue of water rights among competing interests on Maui.

“It is never an easy task to deal with competing interests and priorities,” Souki wrote.  “Each priority seems so obvious in isolation.  But the devil is never in a single priority, but always in the prioritization process itself.

“It’s easy enough to throw your hands up and call them no-win situations.  But our job is to provide leadership and make the difficult decisions.  In doing so, you may not win any popularity contest.  But you will have earned the respect and appreciation from those who see the big picture, and understand your position and your responsibility to all the people of Hawaii.”

Hawaii Senate Approves 160 Bills in Final Reading

The full Senate today passed 160 bills including measures to protect undeveloped land on Oahu’s North Shore, increase the food/excise tax credit, and ensure funding so that Hawai‘i’s elderly are cared for. capital

“I am proud of the Senate’s accomplishments this session,” said Senate Majority Leader, Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “We resolved a number of lingering issues, including Turtle Bay. We also provided support for some of our most fragile members of our community; the homeless, our seniors, our preschoolers, as well as provided safeguards for our natural resources.”

Senators today also approved several measures that include provisions to support the Senate’s Legislative Agenda set forth at the beginning of the 2015 Session to move Hawai‘i towards a more resilient and sustainable state.

“The budget that was passed today is one that is fiscally prudent, yet addresses many of the priorities of the Senate and the House. Although we were working with a lean budget, we were able to position the State to be in a better position not just for this biennium, but for years to come,” said Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist 24 – Kāne‘ohe, Kāne‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, Āhuimanu), Chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee. The State budget bill HB500 CD1 approved nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

A few of the bills that the Senate approved today include:

  • Autism Coverage: SB791 CD1 would mandate that insurance companies cover up to $25,000 a year in treatment until a child turns 14.
  • Turtle Bay: SB284 CD1 allows the state to enter into an agreement with the owners of Turtle Bay that would protect 665 acres of undeveloped land on the North Shore of Oahu.
  • Free Dual Credit Programs for High-Schoolers: SB374 CD1 would waive college tuition for high school students in dual credit programs, such as Running Start and Jump Start, at the University of Hawai‘i’s community colleges.
  • Health Connector Assistance: SB1028 CD1 would provide $2 million next year for the health insurance marketplace.
  • Food/Excise Tax Credit: SB555 CD1 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007.
  • Preschool Open Doors: SB64 CD1 would restore $6 million necessary to run the Preschool Open Doors Program, the statewide school readiness program, next year.
  • Community-Based Renewable Energy Projects: SB1050 CD1 would establish a community-based renewable energy program, which allows electric utility customers to participate in renewable energy projects that produce electricity, which they can sell back to electric utility companies.
  • Barrel Tax: SB359 CD1 would fund the Environmental Response Revolving Fund with the general fund instead of the barrel tax to ensure there is a consistent stream of funding that supplies investments in clean energy, local agricultural production and environmental emergency responses.
  • Kupuna Care: SB964 CD1 would provide an additional $3 million to fund the Kupuna Care program in fiscal year 2016, which is in addition to the base budget of $4.8 million.
  • Sex Trafficking: SB265 CD1 would ban sex trafficking and raise the penalties to a class A felony and promote the concept of treating prostitutes as victims rather than criminals.
  • Homeless ID cards: SB273 CD1 would allow homeless people to apply for state identification cards even without the required state and federal documents if a social service organization, attorney, member of the clergy, correctional institution staff or health professional presents a signed statement certifying their personal information. It would waive fees for homeless individuals.
  • Ethanol Repeal: SB717 CD1 repeals the existing requirement that gasoline for motor vehicles be composed of 10 percent ethanol.
  • Hawai‘i Resiliency and Sustainability: SB892 CD1 appropriates funding for Hawai‘i resilience and sustainability strategy in the areas of broadband, energy efficiency and smart grid, and water and sewer infrastructure.
  • Affirmative Consent: SB387, CD1 would establish an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawai‘i’s executive policy on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Multi-Track: SB1345 CD1would require the Department of Education to develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools.

The bills approved today were also approved by the House and will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

Puna Representative San Buenaventura Announces 2015 Package of Bills

First-term Puna Representative Joy San Buenaventura has introduced a slate of Puna related bills, in the aftermath of last summer’s Hurricane Iselle and in response to the ongoing lava flow from the Pu’u O’o vent.

Joy San Buenaventura“The residents of Puna face distinct issues that require us to take special action,” says San Buenaventura.  “By working together we can take on these problems and build a better and more vibrant community.  That’s why I’ve introduced these measures addressing a broad range of issues that Puna faces collectively and individually and will continue to face in the aftermath of this current flow activity.”

The following bills relate to the Puu Oo lava flow:

  • HB1314 Emergency Home Relocation Special Fund; Appropriation.  Establishes the emergency home relocation special fund to assist persons dispossessed of their homes as a result of a natural disaster. Appropriates funds.
  • HB1369 CIP; County of Hawaii; Road Repair and Maintenance; GO Bonds; Appropriation.  Authorizes general obligation bonds and appropriates funds to the county of Hawaii for the repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for highway 130 and any portion of highway 130 under the jurisdiction of the county.
  • HB1106 CIP; 4th Representative District.  Authorizes issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates moneys for capital improvement projects in the 4th representative district.
  • HB737 Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund; Hawaii Property Insurance Association.  Authorizes the Hawaii property insurance association to spend funds in the Hawaii hurricane relief fund to pay for extraordinary losses caused by the flow of lava or other volcanic activity.
  • HB1320 Emergency Management; Tree Maintenance.  Authorizes entry into private property to mitigate hazards posed by trees to utility and communications lines and roadways. Assesses a fine of $150 per day against a landowner whose property must be entered for this purpose.
  • HB383 Emergency Medical Services; Advanced Life Support Ambulance.  Makes an appropriation for one advanced life support ambulance to be based in Puna on the island of Hawaii and to be used from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and to include a vehicle, equipment, and personnel costs.
  • HB377 Mobile Health Unit; Appropriation.  Appropriates a grant to the Bay Clinic, Inc., for a mobile health unit to service the Puna district due to the threat of inaccessibility from the lava flow.
  • HB374 Transportation; Harbors; Kapoho Bay; Feasibility Study.  Requires DOT to contract for a study on the feasibility of establishing a harbor or port at Kapoho bay.
  • HB370 HPIA; Policy Renewals; Continued Coverage.  Requires member insurers of HPIA to renew policies that were in effect as of 1/1/2014. Provides for continued coverage under an existing HPIA policy upon a transfer in ownership of the property.
  • HB380 HPIA; Mandatory Issuance of Policies; Removal of Moratorium.  Requires member insurers of HPIA to offer a minimum number of policies proportionate to their market share on properties that are situated in the areas designated for coverage by the insurance commissioner and that have been previously and continuously insured since 06/01/2014. Prohibits HPIA from issuing or continuing a moratorium on issuing policies on those same properties.

 The following bills relate to Puna and the Big Island in general:

  • HB1107 Bookmobile; Big Island; Educational Materials; Department of Education; Appropriation.  Appropriates funds for the establishment and maintenance of a bookmobile that shall serve the rural areas of the island of Hawaii.
  • HR6 Cellular; Broadband; Rural Communities. Requests reports regarding state agency action to ensure access by rural communities to cellular and broadband services.
  • HB376 Chief Election Officer; Elections Commission; Evaluation; Term Length.  Changes the term of the chief election officer to 2 years. Requires the elections commission to conduct a performance evaluation of the chief election officer within 2 months of certifying election results, and hold a public hearing relating to the performance evaluation.
  • HB378 After School Bus Program; Island of Hawaii; Appropriation.  Restores funding for the after school bus program on the island of Hawaii that was excluded from the 2015-2017 executive biennium budget. Appropriates moneys.
  • HB1155 Albizia Trees; Conservation and Resources Enforcement Special Fund; Appropriation.  Makes an appropriation from the conservation and resources enforcement special fund to DLNR for the removal of albizia trees on public and private land.
  • HB1134 Judiciary; Third Circuit; Ho‘okele; Appropriations.  Appropriates moneys for equipment, supplies, and salaries for Ho‘okele legal self-help service centers in Hilo and Kona.
  • HB88 County Fuel Tax; Hawaii County.  Permit’s Hawaii County to expend its share of fuel tax revenues for maintenance of private subdivision roads. Specifies that public entities are not required to install infrastructure on these roads upon a private sale.

 The following bills relate to overall state issues:

  • HB87 Process Server; Criminal Trespass.  Shields process servers from prosecution under criminal trespass statutes when performing their duties.
  • HB371 Foreclosures; Asset.  Prohibits a mortgage creditor from executing on any asset of the debtor beyond the asset that is secured by the mortgage.
  • HB372 Marijuana; Civil Penalties for Possession of One Ounce or Less.  Establishes a civil violation for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana that is subject to fines.
  • HB373 Transient Accommodations Tax.  Amends amount of transient accommodations tax revenues allocated to the counties from a specified sum to an unspecified percentage of the revenues collected.
  • HB375 Attachment or Execution of Property; Exemptions.  Amends the thresholds for the exemption of real property from attachment or execution to be based upon the most recent real property tax assessment, regardless of value and for all types of property owners. Clarifies that attachment or execution does not apply to a debtor who is not delinquent in payment of income taxes, real property taxes, or mortgages. Bases the value threshold of certain personal property exempted from attachment and execution on the fair market value as adjusted by the consumer price index. Exempts child support moneys and tax refunds from the federal earned income tax credit and federal or state child support tax credit from attachment and execution.
  • HB381 Homeowners’ Associations; Planned Community Associations.  Expands the law on planned community associations to apply to homeowners’ associations so that all disputes are mediated instead of going to court.
  • HB382 Employees’ Retirement System; Division of Pension.  Requires the Employees’ Retirement System to divide pensions between a retired employee and non-employee former spouse or civil union partner, upon application and pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order. This has the effect of ensuring that employees for the full pension benefits and in the event of domestic violence spouse, victim need not ask for their share of pension.
  • HB833 Transient Accommodations Tax; Counties; Revenues.  Makes permanent the current amount of transient accommodations tax revenues allocated for distribution to the counties. This allows the county of Hawaii to file and the State cannot lessen the county’s share of the annual hotel room tax
  • HB834 Check Cashing; Deferred Deposits.  Requires the written agreement for the deferred deposit of checks to also state that all cumulative fees charged for deferred deposit transactions shall not exceed an annual percentage rate of 39%.
  • HB1204 Procurement; Sustainable Procurements Manager; Appropriation.  Appropriates funds for a new position within the state procurement office tasked with facilitating the development and implementation of procurement processes for public agencies and private organizations for the purpose of food sustainability in Hawaii.
  • HB1205 Hawaii-grown Food Procurement Task Force; Procurement; Appropriation.  Establishes and appropriates funds for the Hawaii-grown food procurement task force for the purpose of creating recommendations for increasing procurement of food grown in Hawaii by State departments and agencies.
  • HB1206 University of Hawaii Sustainability Office; Appropriation.  Establishes the University of Hawaii sustainability office.  Appropriates funds.

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bills by logging onto the Capitol website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

A full list of measures proposed by Rep. San Buenaventura is available at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?report=intro&year=2015&leg=San%20Buenaventura&rpt_type=first_pri.

 The public is also invited to a community meeting later this month at the Pahoa Community Center on Feb. 27, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. The community is welcomed to stop by to voice their concerns and to receive a legislative update from Rep. San Buenaventura.

Anyone wishing to receive information and updates via email can join Rep. San Buenaventura’s email list by sending a request to sanbuenaventura1@Capitol.hawaii.gov.

“Revenge Porn” Bill Clears Conference Committee

Vice Speaker John Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, and Lower Kalihi), the author of HB1750, the revenge porn bill, provided, “I applaud the House and Senate Judiciary Chairs and conferees for passing HB1750, to make it a crime to distribute, transmit or display photos, images or videos of sexual representation or nude photos without the consent of the person represented.  With technology comes different crimes, today our Judiciary conferees passed a very important and progressive bill to address a gap in the law and criminalize such offensive crimes.”

HB1750Mizuno added, “The consequences of posting private images with the intent to hurt the person in such publications is degrading, humiliating, career threatening and at times may cause the person to commit suicide.”  A 15-year old girl in California committed suicide after nude photos were posted of her and a 17-year old Brazilian girl, who was reportedly the victim of revenge porn, also committed suicide.

HB1750 will go to a full House and Senate vote on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

According to Rep. Mizuno, “The Hawaii State Legislature will have the opportunity to pass major legislation to address this type of hate crime. I believe my colleagues will support this bill and after it goes to the Governor, we could become the third state in the nation to have such legislation, behind California and New Jersey.”

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.

[vimeo 64870360 w=500 h=281]

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.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/oa5jWtJb_QQ]

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

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxpMky-RRUE&feature=relmfu]

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

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmPEok0gnQ8&feature=relmfu]

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