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Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose New Electronic Vehicle Charging Rates

The Hawaiian Electric Companies have asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve discount electric vehicle charging rates in a new time-of-use program.

The new rates aim to promote plug-in electric vehicle use by offering simpler terms and sign-up procedures compared to the existing EV discount charging pilot and to foster more use of excess electricity generated by rooftop solar systems during the middle of the day.

Hawaiian Electric is recommending that customers enrolled in the present EV time-of-use pilot program have the option to continue at their existing rates when the current pilot expires at the end of September, 2015.

“EV numbers continue to increase and automakers are bringing more advanced plug-in electric vehicles to market. And with over 70,000 customers statewide who have or will soon have rooftop solar, we see increasing amounts of excess solar electricity available at mid-day,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

“The proposed new rates will help make greater use of that solar electricity and accelerate EV adoption in Hawaii,” Alberts said.

In addition to upgraded discount charging rates, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are installing up to 25 DC fast chargers across Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island to alleviate EV drivers’ “range anxiety” and working with stakeholders on other endeavors as new ideas and technologies enter the market.

The proposed rates will have only two time-of-use schedules over 24 hours instead of three. Charging an EV at home using electricity from the grid will be most expensive during peak electricity demand from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. All other hours will be at the less expensive off-peak rate. EV owners may still choose to add a separate meter just for EV charging or keep a single meter for all household and charging use.

Signing up for EV rates will also be simpler. Customers need only certify ownership of a plug-in electric vehicle. As with the discount charging pilot in place for the last five years, customers on Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Oahu would be eligible to participate, upon PUC approval.

For commercial customers, the proposed new EV rates will waive “demand charges” during off-peak periods and eliminate demand charge minimums. This will make it less expensive for commercial customers who wish to provide charging for EV fleets or their customers with EVs.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are asking the PUC to approve this proposal by the end of September when the present pilot ends. The companies suggest the new program last until June 30, 2020, when all EV rates would be re-considered for the future.

The new rate is designed to provide more off-peak hours for home EV charging with a 6.1¢ per kWh savings for a typical residential customer on Oahu. By charging off-peak, that driver is estimated to save half the cost to “fuel” an electric vehicle (compared to a mid-sized gasoline-fueled sedan) by buying no gasoline but paying a slightly higher monthly electric bill. The proposed per kWh savings for off-peak EV charging for a typical residential customer on Hawaii Island is 9.2¢; on Maui is 7.3¢; on Lanai is 7.1¢; and on Molokai is 9.4¢.

Here are comparative sample driving costs under the proposed rates based on Oahu electricity and gasoline costs:

energy costs

Hurricane Advisory Issued for Hawaii

8215 hur

  1. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, Hawaii is issuing advisories on hurricane Guillermo located about 680 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and moving west-northwest near 10 miles an hour. Guillermo advisories are being issued under AWIPS header TCPCP4 and WMO header WTPA34 PHFO.
  2. A weak low pressure area, the remnant of post-tropical cyclone Eight-E, was located about 515 miles south-southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. This feature was moving west at 10 to 15 miles an hour. Atmospheric conditions are expected to remain unfavorable for redevelopment over the next couple of days.

* Formation chance through 48 hours, low, near 0 percent.

  1. Isolated thunderstorms had been occurring in the vicinity of a weak low pressure area centered about 1245 miles west-southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. This area was moving west around 10 miles an hour. Upper level winds will likely inhibit tropical cyclone development in this area over the next couple of days.

Seven Hawaii Schools to Offer Free Meals to All Students

This school year, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will implement a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program this school year at seven public schools, which will allow all students at those schools to receive free meal service.

Free Lunch

The program, called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to everyone even if they do not qualify for the free or reduced lunch reimbursement.

The CEP program has been adopted by jurisdictions around the country. “One major factor in the future of the program is the high cost of a meal in Hawaii compared with the much lower rates around the country,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to participate in this pilot to benefit families in need.”

The schools participating in the pilot program are:

To qualify for CEP, a district, grouping or school must have a minimum of 40 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program.

Currently HIDOE pays an average of $5.50 a meal (including food costs, labor, utilities, etc.). The USDA reimburses the state $3.85 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.40 for those paying for a meal. HIDOE charges $2.50 for elementary school lunch for a total of $2.90 in recouped cost for the state.​

Under the program, all students in a CEP school would qualify for the higher $3.85 reimbursement. While the seven pilot schools will no longer be collecting meal monies and ensuring accounts have sufficient funds, families will be required to provide information for data collection.

“The schools were chosen so that the Department can analyze how families and students in a single island community such as Molokai, respond to the program while also giving officials the chance to study the impact of individual schools in separate and distinct districts on Oahu and Hawaii Island,” Office of School Facilities and Support Services Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said.

For more information about CEP visit: http://bit.ly/HawaiiCEP

 

Department of Education Updates Income Qualifications for Free and Reduced Lunch

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is announcing its policy update for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs for the 2015-16 school year. Copies of the policy are available at public schools. Children from households with income at or below the following levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals: 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out one application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. Applications for the current school year (2015-16) are now being accepted. The application information will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

For DOE officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child’s name, date of birth, grade, school code and their SNAP or TANF case number and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list: 1) the names of everyone in the household; 2) the amount of income received by each person, how often the income is received and the source of the income; 3) the name and social security number of either parent/guardian who is the primary wage earner or the adult household member who signs the form or the word “none” if neither adult household member has a social security number; and 4) the signature of an adult household member.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. View our program page here​.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the DOE will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request for a hearing on the decision in writing to:

Glenna Owens, SFA Director, 1106 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone Number: (808) 733-8414 or toll-free 1-800-441-4845.

In certain cases foster children are also eligible for school meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for them, the household should contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

As Climate Warms Hawaiian Forest Birds Lose More Ground to Mosquitoes

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

Palila Bird

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

Mosquito-carried diseases such as avian pox and avian malaria have been devastating native Hawaiian forest birds. A single mosquito bite can transfer malaria parasites to a susceptible bird, where the death rate may exceed 90 percent for some species. As a result, many already threatened or endangered native birds now only survive in disease-free refuges found in high-elevation forests where mosquito populations and malaria development are limited by colder temperatures. Unlike continental bird species, island birds cannot move northward in response to climate change or increased disease stressors, but must adapt or move to less hospitable habitats to survive.

“We knew that temperature had significant effects on mosquitoes and malaria, but we were surprised that rainfall also played an important role,” said USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit scientist Michael Samuel. “Additional rainfall will favor mosquitoes as much as the temperature change.”

With warming temperatures, mosquitoes will move farther upslope and increase in number. The authors expect high-elevation areas to remain mosquito-free, but only until mid-century when mosquito-friendly temperatures will begin to appear at higher elevations. Future increases in rainfall will likely benefit the mosquitoes as well.

Scientists know that historically, malaria has caused bird extinctions, but changing climates could affect the bird-mosquito-disease system in unknown ways. “We wanted to figure out how climate change impacts birds in the future,” said Wei Liao, post-doctorate at University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the article.

As more mosquitoes move up the mountainside, disease-free refuges will no longer provide a safe haven for the most vulnerable species. The rate of disease infection is likely to speed up as the numbers of mosquitoes increase and more diseased birds become hosts to the parasites, continuing the cycle of infection to healthy birds.

Researchers conclude that future global climate change will cause substantial decreases in the abundance and diversity of remaining Hawaiian bird communities. Without significant intervention many native Hawaiian species, like the scarlet ‘I‘iwi with its iconic curved bill, will suffer major population declines or extinction due to increasing risk from avian malaria during the 21st century.

There is hope for the birds. Because these effects are unlikely to appear before mid-century, natural resource managers have time to implement conservation strategies to protect these unique species from further decimation. Land managers could work toward preventing forest bird number declines by restoring and improving habitat for the birds, reducing mosquitoes on a large scale and controlling predators of forest birds.

“Hawaiian forest birds are some of the most threatened forest birds in the world,” said Samuel. “They are totally unique to Hawai‘i and found nowhere else. They are also important to the Hawaiian culture. And at this point, we still don’t fully understand what role they play as pollinators and in forest dynamics.”

The article, “Will a Warmer and Wetter Future Cause Extinction of Native Hawaiian Forest Birds?” can be found in the online edition of Global Change Biology.

The work was supported by the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, which is managed by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The center is one of eight that provides scientific information to help natural resource managers respond effectively to climate change.

Police Officer and Woman Shot – Man Barricades Himself in North Kohala

At 7:48 p.m. Monday (July 13), patrol officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at a home on the 53-4200 block of Akoni Pule Highway in Halaula, North Kohala.

53-4200 Block Akoni Pule Highway

53-4200 Block Akoni Pule Highway

Responding officers contacted several neighbors in the area who reported loud yelling and screaming coming from the residence. Several people were then seen running from the house as officers approached from the driveway. A gunshot was fired at the officers, striking one officer in his right forearm.

A woman from the house approached the officers and said she had been shot in her outer thigh by her boyfriend.

Both the officer and the woman were taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The 37-year-old man barricaded himself in the house and remains there. He is believed to be the only occupant.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Special Response Team responded and neighboring residents were evacuated as a precaution.

The wounded 43-year-old officer is a 14-year veteran with the Hawaiʻi Police Department. He is listed in stable condition. The 32-year-old woman is also listed in stable condition.

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigations Division are continuing the investigation.

Because of this ongoing incident, Route 270 in North Kohala is closed in both directions near the 25-mile marker.

Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus Commends Governor for New Laws to Protect Women and Families

Measures signed into law provide security, protection against

Governor Ige today signed a package of bills into law which are measures that were introduced or advocated for by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus at the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Session.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications  (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

A total of six measures were enacted and two resolutions adopted by the Legislature this session that provide protection for victims of domestic violence, improve reporting and enforcement of domestic violence and sexual assaults, and makes an effort to reduce violence and sexual assaults on college campuses and restore public trust of Hawai‘i’s law enforcement community.

“The Women’s Legislative Caucus is pleased with the bills enacted this session. Having the Governor’s recognition and support for these measures is critically important as we strive to empower survivors of domestic violence and work towards improving the lives of women and families across the state,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Mānoa).

“We appreciate the support from the Governor on these sound legislative policies we believe will improve the health and well-being of women, children and families throughout our State,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock). “The efforts of the Caucus this past session show how together we can create stronger communities.”

The bills signed into law are:

HB538 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 219)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires wireless telecommunications service providers to release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon request and with documentation.  Authorizes the family court to order wireless providers to transfer billing authority for or release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon petition by a victim.

HB858 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 220)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Permits the termination of residential rental agreements in cases of domestic violence.  Specifies additional procedures under the residential landlord-tenant code for instances of domestic violence.

SB226 SD2 HD1 (Act 221)

RELATING TO ABUSE OF FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER.

Adds the definition of “business day” to the offense of abuse of a family or household member.  Repeals the 48-hour no contact provision and specifies that the period of separation a police officer orders for the person whom the police officer reasonably believes to have inflicted the abuse of a family or household member commences when the order is issued and expires at 6:00 p.m. on the second business day following the day the order was issued.

SB387 SD2 HD3 CD1 (Act 222)

RELATING TO AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT.

Establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

SB388 HD1 (Act 30)

RELATING TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS

Requires each county police department to post its policies relating to domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, and standards of conduct on its official website.

HB448 (Act 203)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence fatalities, near-deaths, and suicides.  Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HR19 and SR9 are resolutions introduced by the Women’s Legislative Caucus which received bi-partisan support and were adopted at the end of the 2015 Legislative Session.

HR19

Requests the State Department of Defense to establish and fund a Veteran Women Services Coordinator position with the Office of Veterans’ Services

SR9

Requests the Honolulu Police Department to establish a family violence unit staffed with officers specifically trained to handle all complaints of family violence.

Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus

The Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus consists of female members from both the state Senate and House. Senators Rosalyn Baker and Suzanne Chun Oakland and Representatives Della Au Belatti and Cynthia Thielen serve as co-chairs of the Caucus. This year’s package of bills introduced by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus was dedicated to the Women’s Coalition in recognition of their commitment and advocacy for women and girls.

Innovative Wave Power Device Starts Producing Clean Power in Hawaii

With support from the Energy Department and the U.S. Navy, a prototype wave energy device has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing.

The device, called Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.

The project supports the Energy Department’s mission to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from clean energy resources, including water. Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical.

With further progress towards commercialization, MHK technologies could make substantial contributions to our nation’s electricity needs. To accelerate commercialization of wave energy devices, the Energy Department funds research and development—from laboratory and field-testing of individual components, up to demonstration and deployment of complete utility-scale systems.

The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype—at the same scale as the new deployment—in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those successful tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.

To further advance Azura towards commercialization, NWEI recently launched its grid-connected 20-kilowatt demonstration project at WETS. The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deepwater, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology.

NWEI, with $5 million in additional funding from the Energy Department, will apply lessons learned from this current phase of development to modify the device design in order to improve its efficiency and reliability. NWEI plans to then test the improved design with a full-scale device rated between 500 kilowatts and one megawatt at WETS at even deeper test berths of 60 meters to 80 meters over the next several years, further supporting efforts to build a robust and competitive MHK industry in the United States.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative approaches that reduce both the risk and costs of bringing MHK technologies online. Watch our Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy video, and learn more about the Department’s efforts to support MHK research and development.

Big Island Medical Marijuana Collective Open for Business

Alternative Pain Management Pu`uhonua’s Collective is celebrating being open for 6 months.

medical marijuana in jarsThe Big Island’s First Medical Cannabis Collective is dedicated to providing a medical cannabis community, access to an uninterrupted supply of medical cannabis in all forms, safe disposal of excess medical cannabis for compensation, expert consultations, legal resources, access to other members strains and techniques, professional advise on the safe consumption of medical cannabis in all forms, discount medical supplies and much more. As member’s health and safety is important, MyDx purity testing device is coming soon and starting in July all medicine will be analyzed prior to being transferred.

It is free to join! All members must have a valid medical marijuana certification, state ID, complete an intake and agreement form and sign a confidentiality statement.

The Collective is located in Mountain View and is your one stop shop for all of your medical cannabis needs. New members are processed on MondaysWednesdays and Fridays. Once you’ve joined, the Collective is open 7 days a week from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M.. Call 968-0633 and ask for Mike to make your appointment to join.

Big Island Senator Urges Action on Federal Highway Fund Extension

The recently appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy is expressing grave concern over the looming expiration date on federal transportation funding.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – N. Kona, Kohala, N. Hilo, Hāmākua) addressed Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation in a letter urging action on federal funding authorization to avoid a lapse in funding that would severely impact state projects and to support the passage of a bill that will create a more sustainable funding stream for individual transportation projects on a long-term basis.

“Hawai‘i relies greatly on federal funds, as do other states, and our State’s transportation projects depend on long-term commitments from federal funding,” said Sen. Inouye. “It is imperative for Congress to continue to fund projects that have already started while looking for additional long-term solutions that continue to support Hawai‘i’s needs.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved HR 2353, the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2015.  The bill extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund until July 31 through a series of “reconciliation of funds” measures amending the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The bill now goes on to the Senate.

Congress has until May 31 to take action on authorizing federal funding for state highway, bridge, and transit projects.  Without action prior to this date, federal aid funds for state projects would be halted. 

Hawaii Ranks Fourth for Senior Health According to Annual America’s Health Rankings Senior Report

Hawaii ranked fourth for senior health this year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

2015 Senior Report

Nationwide, the report shows positive trends for senior health, especially for those measures that look at whether seniors are getting the right care in a setting of their choice. Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission rates and preventable hospitalization rates compared to last year, while hospice care use and the number of home healthcare workers have increased.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a vital tool for understanding where we, as a state, are making strides in senior health and where key challenges for Hawaii’s seniors remain,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare’s Community Plan for Hawaii. “With America’s senior population poised to double by 2050, we must continue to invest in programs and solutions that address our seniors’ health needs and help them live the best lives they possibly can.”

Hawaii’s Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low geriatrician shortfall
  • Low hip fracture rate

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of underweight seniors
  • High prevalence of activity-limiting arthritis pain
  • High percentage of hospital deaths

50-State Snapshot: Vermont is the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states. Louisiana ranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47) and Oklahoma (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

The report shows that seniors are improving in key care trends, particularly in metrics that examine whether seniors are getting the right care in the setting of their choice, pointing to a health system that may be working better for seniors.

Key findings include:

  • Preventable hospitalizations dropped 8.6 percent, from 64.9 percent of discharges for Medicare beneficiaries last year to 59.3 percent of discharges in 2015. The decrease marks an 11 percent decline in preventable hospitalizations since the 2013 edition.
  • More seniors are spending their last days in the setting they prefer. Hospice care – which can be delivered in a home setting – increased from 47.5 percent to 50.6 percent of decedents aged 65 and older, while hospital deaths decreased from 25 percent to 22.8 percent of decedents. Hospice care rose 38 percent since the report’s inception in 2013.
  • The number of home healthcare workers increased 9.3 percent compared to last year, which may indicate that home care is an increasingly accessible option for today’s seniors.
  • More seniors received the flu vaccine compared to last year, rising from 60.1 percent of seniors in 2014 to 62.8 percent this year. Seniors are particularly susceptible to flu and flu-related complications, making it vital that they receive the vaccine each year.
  • Seniors are reporting feeling better. The findings showed a 4.8 percent increase in self-reported high health status to 41.8 percent this year, contributing to a 9 percent increase over the past two years.

“It is heartening to see seniors’ health is improving, but our societal challenge remains finding ways to encourage more seniors to be more active,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Strong community support is an essential part of promoting positive health among seniors. We must work together – across states, communities and our own families – to encourage all seniors to find ways to be as active as they’re able to be.”

After showing promising improvements in last year’s edition, physical inactivity rates increased in 2015; one-third of seniors (33.1 percent) did not get any physical activity or exercise outside of work, marking a 15.3 percent increase from the previous year (28.7 percent). Other worrisome trends for senior health include:

  • 37.6 percent of seniors have four or more chronic conditions;
  • 26.7 percent of seniors are obese;
  • 8.7 percent of seniors smoke; and
  • 16.1 percent of seniors have had all of their teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease.

In addition, despite promising gains in end-of-life care metrics, community support spending per capita for seniors – support that helps older adults stay in their homes – has declined by 23.9 percent in the past two years.

“Progress in key metrics such as preventable hospitalizations and hospice care show that more seniors are aging comfortably and receiving preferred types of support – a trend that not only benefits our healthcare system but helps ensure seniors’ well-being at each step of the aging process,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We are excited to be making progress toward strong, personalized care for all seniors and look forward to seeing continued momentum in this area.”

To see the state Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

Spot the International Space Station tonight.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, April 25 at 8:10 PM. It will be visible for approximately 1 minute.  Maximum Height: 43 degrees, and it will appear in the West Northwest part of the sky and disappear to the Southwest.

Venomous Spiders Found in Foreign Container

A venomous spider was captured by agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Honolulu on Mon., April 13th.

Spider2

The spider was found in a container of granite and flagstone from Brazil that was being off-loaded in Honolulu. The CBP agents sealed the container and immediately turned the spider over to entomologists at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), who identified it as a venomous Brazilian wandering spider (genus: Phoneutria). The brown-colored spider had a leg span that measured about 3.5 inches.

Yesterday, a second container from the same shipment was opened and another spider was found and  killed immediately by a worker unloading the container. The spider was destroyed to the extent it could not be positively identified, but the worker said it looked like the photo of the Brazilian wandering spider. The second container was sealed and quarantined. The Plant Quarantine Branch is working with the importer to have the containers shipped back to Brazil.

“This incident emphasizes the importance of coordinated efforts between federal and state inspection agencies in preventing invasive species from entering Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We each have our own inspection areas and duties, but communication is key in protecting the state.”

spider

The CBP is responsible, not only for keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., but also screening international visitors and foreign cargo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with inspection of agricultural material and animals transported from foreign countries into the U.S. and the HDOA is responsible for agricultural inspections from ports within the U.S. entering the State of Hawaii.

The Brazilian wandering spider is found in most areas of South America; however, it is not established in North America. They are considered one of the most venomous spiders in the world and may grow to have a leg span of five inches. Their venom is a strong neurotoxin that can cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, blurred vision and intense pain where the bite occurs.

This species of spider does not spin webs, but wanders around for their food – thus the name. Their diet consists of insects, other spiders, lizards and small rodents.
Suspected invasive species should be reported immediately to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE –

643-PEST (7378).

Family Urges Passage of “Cinderella” Bill

Noboru and Elaine Kawamoto are living separately now because the State does not allow two private pay clients in a community care foster family home (CCFFH) as space needs to be available for Medicaid clients.

noburo2Noboru and Elaine are able to pay their own way (private pay) but because of the State requirement Elaine has to live away from Noboru and only sees him on weekends. Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley and portion of Lower Kalihi) introduced HB600 which would allow married private pay couples to be cared for in the same CCFFH.

noburo1Janice Stinson, daughter of Elaine and Noboru, and her daughter Emiko, arrived on Tuesday to visit and to assist her parents in their efforts to get back together. “I find it difficult to believe that there is a State law that bars my parents from living together after 67 years of marriage.

They dearly love each other and miss each other because they are separated.” said Janice. “I am a health care professional in California with a PHD in Nursing and spent 38 years in the Navy Nurse Corps. Throughout my career I have understood the need for married couples to be together.”

Granddaughter Emiko adds “I don’t understand how there can be a law keeping a married couple of 67 years apart. My grandparents have been great role models for me my whole life and to see them kept apart now, makes me sad.”

The Kawamoto’s son Norman says “We have always been a close knit family. My Mom and Dad really miss each other very much being separated. There is nothing complicated about it; they simply want to live out their days together. They enjoy the basic things in life: watching TV together, singing songs together. The passage of HB600 will allow them to return to the life they have always enjoyed.”

Jonathan and Arlene Hanks, Noboru’s caregivers, offered “We support the Kawamoto family, Noboru and Elaine, we are here for them, and will help them in any way possible. We want to see HB600 pass into law. It’s just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.”

HB600 has passed both houses and is going to a conference committee next week to hopefully iron out the differences in the House version and the Senate version.

Vice Speaker John M. Mizuno adds “HB600 is the Cinderella bill of the 2015 legislative session because it involves a love story of a married couple of 67 years, separated by a State regulation which does not allow them to live in the same community care foster family home. I’ve always said that marriage is a fundamental right and the State should not have the right to deprive this married couple the right to live together in the same community care home.

Noboru fought in World War II and defended our country and now that he is 94 years of age, we feel the urgency to pass this bill and allow Elaine and Noboru to enjoy their golden years together.”

Office of Information Practice Advising Agencies to Disclose P-Card Records to Requesters

In light of numerous inquiries about the disclosure of P-Card usage by government employees, the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) is generally advising agencies to disclose unredacted P-Card records to requesters, because all purchases made on the cards are supposed to be justified as work-related expenses.

pcard

In rare circumstances, there may be confidential information that should be redacted because of a significant privacy interest, such as medical information.

P-Card usage is distinguished from personal credit card reimbursements sought by employees for work expenses.  In the case of employees’ requests for reimbursement of work-related expenses paid for by their personal credit cards, it is proper to redact all personal or confidential information on the personal credit card invoices, such as all non-work related purchases, personal address, credit card number, interest rates, balances, payments due, and rewards points.

P-Card records to requesters, agencies are further cautioned to redact confidential P-Card account numbers and any taxpayer identification numbers for vendors.  Oftentimes, a vendor’s taxpayer ID number is a person’s social security number, which should be redacted prior to disclosure.

For the latest open government news, check for archived copies of What’s New articles that are posted here, or e-mailed upon request. To be added to OIP’s e-mail list, please e-mail oip@hawaii.gov.  Also, if you would like to receive What’s New articles or attachments in a Word format, please contact OIP at (808) 586-1400 or oip@hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Moon RIDERS Honored at Capital

The House of Representatives today recognized the Iolani School and Kealakehe High School robotics team, known as the Moon RIDERS, for their work on the electrodynamic dust shield lunar project and their partnerships with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. 

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso, Moon RIDERS, and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

In February, the group was selected to take part in an experiment involving electrodynamic dust shield technology that will be conducted on the surface of the moon by the end of 2016. 

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

Kealakehe teacher Justin Brown, Kealakehe student Moon RIDERS, and Reps. Nicole Lowen and Mark Nakashima.

The selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.  The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project.

Big Island Hosting 11 Nations: Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting Begins

Eleven nations will be meeting tomorrow here on the Big Island at an undisclosed location  to work on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

U.S. failure to pass a trans-Pacific agreement would leave a political vacuum for China to fill.

Beginning tomorrow on the Big Island of Hawaii, U.S. officials will host trade negotiators from 11 nations spanning Asia and the Americas to work toward completing what could be the most significant trade deal in a generation. Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover 40% of global gross domestic product and a third of world trade.

Any such deal ultimately will have to make it through the U.S. Congress. In order to prevent lawmakers from amending the agreement and undoing years of international negotiations, Congress will first have to provide President Obama with trade promotion authority, also known as “fast-track,” that allows a yes-or-no vote on the package.

The remainder of this Wall Street Journal opinion piece can be found here: A Trade Deal With a Bonus For National Security

Hawaii State Legislature Forms Outdoor Heritage Caucus

Today, Senator Laura Thielen (25th Senatorial District) and Representative Cindy Evans (7th House District) announced the launch of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus.

capital

The caucus’s mission is to identify, protect, and promote the State of Hawai‘i’s heritage of subsistence hunting and fishing, outdoor cultural practices and recreational activities, and to foster appreciation and respect for outdoor heritage.

The caucus will focus on: (1) ensuring public access to public lands for the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits; (2) safeguarding the integrity of user-pays trust funds, license revenues, and other dedicated financial contributions by hunter men and women, fishermen and women, and outdoor recreational users; and (3) enhancing state aquatic and wildlife habitat conservation for current and future generations. Legislators in this caucus will watch national debate on issues related to outdoor cultural practices, recreational activities, and hunting and fishing.

“We are pleased to announce the formation of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus,” Evans stated. “With population growth and challenges of liability, many people are looking at our natural resources from different aspects. We need to find balance to make sure that we can use the outdoors but still maintain protection of our natural resources so we can pass on our practices. The group of legislators in this caucus would like to send a strong statement that we value the quality of life in Hawai‘i and perpetuate the joys and opportunities outdoors for future generations.”

“The Outdoor Heritage Caucus is a great way to showcase and advocate for outdoor recreation in Hawai‘i,” said Thielen. As more and more residents and tourists explore our state’s varied outdoor recreational opportunities, it is important to ensure that there is adequate support and funding for these opportunities.”

outdoor caucus

DLNR Arrests Guide For Illegal Lava Tour Trespass On State Land

State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers last night arrested a tour guide involved in conducting illegal commercial tours within the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve.  The Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve has been closed by DLNR due to hazardous conditions related to ongoing volcanic activity in the area.  

Joel D. Scharer works at Ahui Tour Company.

Joel D. Scharer works at Ahiu Tour Company.

An investigation conducted by DOCARE officers resulted in their arrest of Joel D. Scharer, Jr., age 24, of Hilo.  The investigation revealed that Scharer was a tour guide who had led a tour into the closed natural area reserve.  Scharer was transported to the Hilo Police Station for booking.  He is being charged with the following:  criminal trespass in the 2nd degree which is a petty misdemeanor, and reckless endangering in the 2nd degree, prohibited entry into a Natural area reserve and illegal commercial activities within the natural area reserve, all of which are misdemeanor offenses.  

“The safety of the public remains our top priority,” said Carty S. Chang, Interim DLNR Chairperson.   “Illegal commercial tours into areas closed by volcanic activity are dangerous to both the public as well as rescue responders. Violators will face citation or arrest,” Chang added.  

To report suspected trespass or illegal commercial activity within the closed Kahaualea NAR as well as the closed Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve call DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at 643-DLNR.

Medical Use of Marijuana Program Transferred to Department of Health

Effective January 1, 2015, Hawaii’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health, according to Act 177.   Act 178  amends sections of HRS 329 Part IX , some notable changes, which became effective January 1, 2015, are:

  • “Adequate supply” changes from “three mature marijuana plants, four immature marijuana plants, and one ounce of usable marijuana” to “seven marijuana plants, whether immature or mature, and four ounces of usable marijuana at any given time.”
  • Notification of changes to information on the application – if the information provided to the department of health for registration changes, the registered program participant MUST report this change to the department of health “within ten working days” of the change. The previous requirement was “within five working days”

To get a complete understanding of ALL changes to the law, please read Act 178.

Medical MarijuanaClick Here to Learn What’s New About the Program

Click Here to Learn What’s Staying the Same

Click Here to Download the General Information FAQ

Other Documents related to Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program

Act 228 SLH 2000.  Hawaii’s initial Medical Use of Marijuana law.

Act178 SLH  2013 –  Makes several changes to the current law (such as: “adequate supply” of medical marijuana changes to 7 plants, regardless of maturity; useable marijuana changes to 4 oz; increase in registration fees from $25 to $35; and other changes) please read Act 178 for more information.

HRS-329 Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (see part IX – Medical Use of Marijuana).

Department of Public Safety Medical Marijunana Program Info

U.S. Department of Justice “Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy  Aug. 29, 2013.

U.S. Department of Justice “Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines”  Oct. 9, 2009.