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Hawaii Senate Adjourns Special Session

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned Special Session today after the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 4 to provide funding for the completion of the City and County of Honolulu’s rail transit project and bills to approve collective bargaining costs.

During this Special Legislative Session, as part of its constitutionally mandated duties, the Senate considered for advise and consent and approved a total of 50 gubernatorial appointments to 34 boards and commissions and one deputy director position.

Among those confirmed this week:

  • James Griffin, to the Public Utilities Commission
  • Douglas Shinsato to the U.H. Board of Regents
  • Robert Masuda as Deputy to the Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources
  • Marcus Oshiro as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

A complete list of actions taken during the Special Legislative Session can viewed at capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Senate Adjourns 2017 Session

The Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned the 2017 regular session today taking action on a number of priority areas including homelessness, healthcare, education, and the environment.  These priorities align with the Senate’s commitment to the Legislative Program set forth at the start of the 2017 session.

Members of the Senate, along with their House counterparts, approved the allocation of about $40 million over the next two years on homeless programs, a top priority of the Legislative Program, including $500,000 each year for services for homeless individuals with serious and persistent mental health challenges; $800,000 for outreach and counseling services for chronically homeless individual families with severe substance use disorders and $300,000 each year for clean and sober housing for chronically homeless individuals.

Investing in our children, from preschool to college, reflects the Senate’s priority in education.  $90 million was allocated to address conditions for school facilities statewide. The Legislature passed SB423 which ensures that public school students will receive a school meal, even if the student’s meal fund account balance is zero. $1 million in general funds was appropriated in each fiscal year for the Early College High School Initiative.

Lawmakers passed measures to address our environment including funding to fight invasive species such as the Coffee Berry Borer and to provide support in the Rapid Ohia Death response.  They also passed SB559 which ensures statewide support for Hawai‘i’s green initiatives and measure the efforts being made to mitigate the effects of climate change throughout the state.

By passing HB607, Hawai‘i becomes the first state in the nation to pass legislation which authorizes a program to support those who provide care for the elderly.  In addressing a disease making headlines locally and nationally, $1 million was appropriated to address Rat Lungworm disease.

In his closing remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Dist. 8 -Kaua’i, Ni’ihau) said despite trying and difficult times during the Session, he was grateful and proud of his colleagues and Senate staff for “working as professionals each and every day.”

“I’m pleased with the work done over the last 60 days,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe).  “There were certainly challenges throughout this session, particularly in the area of the budget, where tough choices had to be made.  However, my Senate colleagues always kept in mind the best interest of the people of Hawai‘i. I’m hopeful that what issues remain unresolved at the end of this session, we can work together to find solutions and move forward.”

On the stalemate over funding for the rail project, the Senate remains open to negotiate an agreement with the House to ensure adequate financing to complete the project, yet minimize the impact on the most vulnerable citizens of the community.

Under Senate Rules and Senate Resolution 96, during the interim, the membership of each Standing Committee can be appointed by the President subject to action by the Senate. Should there be changes to a Standing Committee, the new assignments will be announced.

To view all the bills passed in the 2017 Legislative Session, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii Senate Looking to Override Governor’s Veto, May Amend Bill

Hawaii Senators are looking at overriding a bill that Governor Ige had previously vetoed.

Today, Hawaii State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting an opinion as to whether at this point in time during special session the Senate may override the governors veto as you indicated we may amend a bill

Chin RequestFrom what it appears to me there appears to be a small war going on between the Governor, Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) and the Legislature.

A list of the bills vetoed and the governors rationale can be found here:  http://damontucker.com/2016/07/13/hawaii-governors-veto-list-and-rationale-summary/

I’m not sure what bill in particular the Senate is looking at overriding so this should be interesting to see what the Attorney Generals opinion is in the next 24 hours per rule 86 of the Senate Rules: Questions to State Officers.

Hawaii State Senate Reorganizes Committees – Big Island Senators Elected to Key Positions

The Hawai‘i State Senate today announced a new line up of committees and committee chairs as part of its recent reorganization.

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“This new alignment is consistent with our policy of making the best use of our members’ skills and interests,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald Kouchi (Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau). “We believe these assignments will make us more effective as a body moving forward.”

The following are the new committee assignments:

Consumer Protection (CPN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Rosalyn Baker
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani

Economic Development and Technology (EDT)

  • Chair: Sen. Glenn Wakai
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Sam Slom

Education (EDU)

  • Chair:  Sen. Michelle Kidani
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

  • Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Higher Education and the Arts (HEA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Brian Taniguchi
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele

Housing (HSG)

  • Chair:  Sen. Breene Harimoto
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Brickwood Galuteria

Judiciary and Labor (JDL)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Maile Shimabukuro

Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs (PSM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Will Espero

Tourism (TSI)

  • Chair:  Sen. Gilbert Kahele
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. J. Kalani English

Transportation and Energy (TRE)

  • Chair:  Sen. Lorraine Inouye
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard

Water, Land and Agriculture (WLA)

  • Chair:  Sen. Mike Gabbard
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Clarence Nishihara

Ways and Means (WAM)

  • Chair:  Sen. Jill Tokuda
  • Vice Chair:  Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

In addition, Senate Leadership has assigned Sen. Laura Thielen the chair of the Committee on Health and the Environment (HEV) and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland the chair and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as Vice Chair of the Committee on Human Services (HMS). These assignments are awaiting confirmation.  Sen. Rosalyn Baker has been confirmed as Vice Chair of HEV.

The new confirmed committee assignments will take effect immediately.

As the Senate reorganizes, members of Senate leadership will not act as committee chairs. This division of duties allows the Senate to more broadly balance and distribute power within this chamber and better respond to the needs of our state. Senate leadership will be as follows:

  • Senate President: Sen. Ronald Kouchi
  • Senate Vice President: Sen. Will Espero
  • Majority Leader: Sen. J. Kalani English
  • Majority Floor Leader: Sen. Josh Green
  • Majority Caucus Leader: Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
  • Majority Whip: Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Hawaii Senate Honors Hokulea’s 40 Year History

In an historic gathering in the Senate chambers, Hawai’i’s State Senators recognized the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the twelve living crew members from the Hōkūle‘a’s maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. It is the first time all living members of the Hōkūle‘a’s original crew were together since the inaugural voyage.

Senatehonorshokulea

Recognizing the impact the Hōkūle‘a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society has made on the state of Hawai‘i, Senators honored the 40th anniversary of the legendary sailing canoe and its birth of the revival of traditional voyaging and wayfinding.

“This dedicated crew has inspired generations to be proud of their Pacific heritage and to continue to seek inclusive island wisdom of sustainability, responsibility and mutual respect and caring,” said Senator Gilbert Kahele (D 1st District – Hilo, Pi‘ihonua, Kaūmana, Waiākea, Keaukaha). “Hōkūle‘a is more than a voyaging canoe, she represents a design shared by the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific and the world to perpetuate and protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

“Forty years is a long time and it raises the question: ‘Is something like a voyaging canoe relevant? Does it still have meaning and value to our society?’” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator, president of PVS and crewmember of the 1976 maiden voyage. “We are grateful to have our governmental body take the time to celebrate the worldwide voyage and to me, it shows that Hawai‘i is still with us, that the canoe still matters. As the voyage now heads into the Indian Ocean, which is much more dangerous, it gives us the strength to set sail.”

Honored today on the Senate floor:

  • Ben Finney, Ph.D. – In 1973, Finney co-founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society with Herb Kāne and Tommy Holmes. He served as PVS’s first president.
  • Milton “Shorty” Bertelmann – Bertelmann first learned traditional, observational navigation from Mau Piailug during the sail from Hawai‘i to Tahiti. He served as captain on Hōkūle‘a in 1980 and 1985.
  • Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana – Often referred to as the “Mayor of Makaha,” Keaulana is the winner of the 1960 Makaha International.
  • John Kruse – Kruse is a pillar of the canoe community on Kaua‘i and continues to lead work on the Garden Isle’s own sailing canoe, Namahoe.
  • William “Billy” Richards – Richards serves as a director on several public service organizations, Native Hawiian and educational boards, including Paepae O He‘eia, Bishop Museum Association Council, and ‘Aha Kāne. He is presently the Director of Communications for Partners in Development Foundation, a public not-for-profit company that serves the Native Hawaiian community through social and educational programs.
  • Charles Nainoa Thompson – Thompson is the first Hawaiian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since such voyaging ended in Hawai‘i around the 14th century. He now teaches a system of wayfinding that he developed by synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern science.
  • Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee – Ah Hee is a veteran of the National Guard and served a tour in Vietnam.  He credits the Hōkūle‘a’s voyage for strengthening the Hawaiian culture in spirit.
  • Francis Kainoa Lee – Lee became a part of the Hōkūle‘a’s first crew after his wife signed him up for a workshop in Kualoa to get acquainted with sailing the wa‘a. Lee has sailed on many voyages since and continues to support the crews in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
  • Kimo Lyman – Lyman worked for the first fire department in Waialua. He is a veteran of many sails on Hōkūlea starting in 1976 and was the instrumental navigator on the voyage from Tahiti to Hawai‘i.
  • Gordon Pi‘ianai‘a – Pi‘ianai‘a’s career at sea began shortly after he graduated from the Kamehameha Schools for boys and he entered the Navy. Gordon started sailing on Hōkūle‘a in 1976 and has served as captain on numerous legs, while sailing a part of each of the voyages from 1980 through 2014.
  • Penny Martin – Martin is one of only two women who took part in Hōkūle‘a’s first voyage in 1976. She now works for Papahana Kualoa’s Lelekamanu Project where she teaches cultural- based environmental education.
  • Dr. Ben Young – Dr. Young served as the crew’s doctor on the first voyage in 1976. Young authored the article, Psychological Effects of Long Ocean Voyages, which is still used to educate new crewmembers on how to recognize and plan for the psychological effects that could be experienced during long voyages.

Volunteers and employees of the University of Hawai‘i Honolulu Community College and its Marine Education and Training Center and the                                                                                                                                                                                                        Polynesian Voyaging Society who have supported the many sails over the past 40 years were also recognized on the Senate floor.  They include:

  • Cecelia Lindo — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Haʻaheo Mansfield — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Bert Kaihe Barber — one of the first volunteers for PVS and Hōkūleʻa
  • Robert Perkins — Director of the Marine Education and Training Center (where Hōkūleʻa and PVS are housed)
  • Laura Thompson — PVS Board Member, wife of Pinky Thompson and mother of Nainoa Thompson
  • Clyde Nāmuʻo — CEO of PVS
  • Dennis Kawaharada — Kapiʻolani Community College, English faculty and long-time PVS documenter
  • Neil Hannahs — PVS Board Chair
  • Marisa Hayase — PVS Communications Director
  • Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa — PVS Board Member
  • Billy Ornellas — PVS Board Member
  • Erika Lacro — Chancellor of Honolulu Community College

“Hōkūleʻa continues to be Hawai‘i’s canoe, a floating classroom for Hawai‘i and Island Earth, building on the awareness and understanding generated from her historic launching forty years ago,” said Sen. Kahele. “We extend our best wishes for the safety and success in their journey on their Mālama Honua, the Worldwide Voyage.”

For more information on the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage: www.hokulea.com

Hawaii House of Representatives Moves 69 Bills Over to Senate

The Hawaii House of Representatives moved 69 Bills over to the Senate for consideration.

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Among the measures approved by the House several focused on  sustainability, the environment, the economy,  healthy living and improving the quality of life of Hawaii’s citizens.

  • HB 503 Relating to the General Excise Tax.  The bill provides local farmers with a tax deduction for all produce grown and sold within the state.
  • HB 478 Relating to the Department of Education.  The bill allows schools to establish their own gardens and to utilize the produce in their meal programs.
  • HB 560 Relating to Affordable Housing Urban Gardening.  The bill encourages development projects to incorporate urban gardening into their plans.
  • HB 1365 Relating to Urban Agriculture.  The bill  allows for a rooftop garden on the State Capitol roof to promote agricultural innovation and greater food security in Hawaii and  serve as a symbol of the importance our  the State places on agriculture sustainability.
  • HB 726 Relating to Film and Digital Media Industry Development.  The purpose of the bill is to encourage new film, television, entertainment, digital media and music video production in Hawaii by enhancing existing incentives and thus adding to the diversification of our economy.
  • HB 1339 Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax.  The bill intends to help the tourism industry retain its competitive edge in its promotional and marketing efforts by repealing the $10 daily hotel tax collected on rooms furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis.
  • HB120 Relating to Health.  The bill protects the health and safety of the public by enhancing public access regarding information on care homes.
  • HB 358 Relating to Video Conferencing.  The bill would make it more accessible for neighbor  island residents to participate in state government.  It requires that the legislature establish audio visual procedures for people on the neighbor islands to provide oral testimony at legislative committee hearings.
  • HB 1432 Relating to Aging and Disability Resource Centers.  The bill would support the elderly and aging population by appropriating an unspecified amount of funds to statewide aging and disability centers.

Senator Ruderman Clarifies Communication Made With Local Resident Regarding Highway 130 Lighting

On behalf of Senator Ruderman, we request that a correction to be made to the January 21, 2013 post “Seeing Highway 130 at Night in the Rain – A Community Member Speaks Up.” On January 18, Senator Ruderman did reply to Mr. Banta’s facebook message copied below and attached.

In the reply, Senator Ruderman apologized to Mr. Banta for the delay in replying to his message concerning the dangerous driving conditions faced by his wife at night. Senator Ruderman has been very busy preparing for the 2013 legislative session, but has still made a great effort to respond personally to scores of calls and emails from constituents through official means of contact. It has taken some time for our staff to transition the former campaign facebook account into a formal channel of communication, according to Hawaii State Senate rules, but we will strive for more prompt replies via facebook in the future.

We would greatly appreciate if you could communicate to constituents that the best way to ensure their concerns about District 2 are responded to promptly are to contact Senator Ruderman:

1.       Via email at:  senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov

2.       Toll free telephone at:  974-4000 x66890

3.       By post at:  Senator Russell Ruderman, Hawaii State Capitol, 415 S. Beretania St. Rm. #217, Honolulu HI 96813.

Also, would you kindly share Mr. Banta’s contact information with us so that we are able to directly address his concern directly and update him on our progress on Highway 130?

Mahalo for providing the Big Island community with free press and your assistance in creating clear channels of communication with the constituents of District 2. We appreciate you sharing Senator Ruderman’s SB377 in Bill Introduced to Bring $65 Million for Capital Improvements Projects to Puna Area. If you require any further information on the correction or information on Senator Ruderman and his work, please feel free to contact me directly.

Aloha,

Dayva Keolanui,  Office Manager

Office of Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Senatorial District 2 – Puna-Ka’u

Phone: (808) 586-6890 Fax: (808) 586-6899 d.keolanui@capitol.hawaii.gov

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Views From the Ongoing Senate Hearing

Here are some pictures courtesy of The Hawaii Senate Twitter feed of today’s hearing that is going on.

Senators @carolfukunaga, @rozbaker and Reps listen to testimony on the impact of possible elimination of film industry/programs

Senators @carolfukunaga, @rozbaker and Reps listen to testimony on the impact of possible elimination of film industry/programs

Room was at capacity

Room was at capacity