Governor Abercrombie on the Big Island Tomorrow

Governor Neil Abercrombie will be at the Laupahoehoe School Band Room TOMORROW TUESDAY June 17th from 4-6PM to talk story with the community.

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Please join the Governor for light refreshments with family, friends and neighbors to discuss issues that matter to you and other community members in the North Hilo District.
For more information please call 808-498-4272

Hawaii Applauds Obama Administration’s Climate Change for Power Plants – Rest of the Country Following Hawaii’s Lead

The White House today released new rules under the Clean Air Act governing what existing power plants must do to reduce earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.  These rules provide states flexibility to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as outlined in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), as compliance measures.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014.

Gov. Abercrombie applauded the new rules, stating, “Hawaii is at the forefront of responding to climate change through our Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which serves as a substantial economic driver while reducing our dependence on imported oil.  By building such flexibility into the rules, President Obama is encouraging the rest of the country to follow Hawaii’s lead in pursuing clean energy.”

New financial tools under development by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) to increase deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are well-timed to empower the state’s energy consumers to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions through use of renewable energy like rooftop solar.

“Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization financing tool, or GEMS, will expand low-cost financing to clean energy solutions while helping the state gain credit for reducing carbon through lesser use of petroleum products to generate electricity,” said DBEDT Director Richard Lim.

Proposed by the governor in his 2013 State of the State address and signed into law later that year, GEMS is an innovative, clean energy financing program designed to make clean energy improvements affordable and accessible to Hawaii consumers, especially underserved markets such as low- and moderate-income homeowners, renters and nonprofits.

These new rules requiring carbon dioxide emissions reductions from power plants were issued pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  During the its extensive process to hear from stakeholders throughout the nation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached out to Hawaii.  The state submitted a set of consolidated comments developed by the Hawaii Department of Health, Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and DBEDT regarding state plans to meet federal carbon emission reduction targets for existing electricity generation units.

Mark Glick, the administrator of the State Energy Office, acknowledged EPA’s innovative approach and outreach to Hawaii.  “EPA is clearly recognizing innovative policies like the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, by allowing states to utilize energy efficiency and renewable energy as greenhouse gas compliance measures.   Hawaii is able to comply with little or no financial impact on our businesses and residents by allowing our ongoing clean energy agenda to count for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Glick said.

Gov. Abercrombie added:  “Hawaii is working with the Obama Administration to align our state’s commitment to go beyond 40 percent renewable energy in the electrical power sector by 2030 and our federal and state policies to reduce our carbon footprint.   As a leading test bed for clean energy, Hawaii can demonstrate to the world how to stimulate our economy while improving the environment for future generations.”

The new EPA rules allow states to employ a range of measures to meet carbon emission targets, including renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. In Hawaii, numerous such initiatives are underway in the power generation sector under the umbrella of the HCEI.

Ongoing PUC dockets include those relating to energy efficiency portfolio standards, requests for proposals for renewable energy production, and interconnection matters. In addition, the PUC and DBEDT are working with the Hawaiian Electric Companies to better align the utility’s business model with consumer interests and the state’s public policy’s goals.

President Obama Reappoints Gov. Abercrombie to Council of Governors

President Barack Obama has reappointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the Council of Governors, the White House announced this week. The council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard.

Abercrombie Council of Governors“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving on the Council of Governors, which gives Hawaii a strong voice, together with our congressional delegation, in future decisions regarding the protection of our state and nation,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “During a productive and successful trip this month to the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., I attended a Council of Governors meeting that addressed the Pentagon’s recently proposed cuts to the Army and Air National Guard. During the meeting, I was able to help formulate and sign a bipartisan letter from 50 governors, urging further discussion on budget and policy issues involving the National Guard.”

While in Washington, the Governor also participated in NGA sessions focusing on education, job training, homeland security and public safety, as well as attended four meetings/events at the White House.

The Council of Governors was established by Section 1822 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 and implemented by Presidential Executive Order 13528. In addition to the 10 council members (five from each political party), charter federal participants include the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, presidential homeland security and counterterrorism advisors, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, the commandant of the Coast Guard and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

District 5 Democrats Complete Review of Candidates for Vacated State House Seat

The District  V Council of the Hawaii Democratic Party met on Friday, December 27, to consider nine candidates who applied for the State House District 5 seat recently vacated by Representative Denny Coffman.

Rep. Denny Coffman

Rep. Denny Coffman

The nine candidates who applied to be among the three nominees submitted to Governor Neil Abercrombie for selection were: Abigail Au, Kaliko Chun, Richard Creagan, Barbara Dalton, Una Greenaway, Lei Kihoi, Gene “Bucky” Leslie, Michael Matsukawa, and Steve Sakala.

Thirteen members of the District Council participated in the  ranking and selection process to determine the three nominees to the House Seat.  Four members of the District Council – Creagan, Dalton, Greenaway, and Matsukawa – applied for the position and were recused from the meeting and the selection process.

According to District 5 spokesperson, John Buckstead, “the ranking and selection process maximized the preferences of the Council members, and folks were pleased that we are able to submit three well qualified nominees to the Governor and that the process of making the selection was very fair and transparent to the voters.”

The names of the three nominees will be released by the Governor or the Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.  With the opening of the Legislative session being less than three weeks away, a selection by the Governor is expected soon.

 

Governor Abercrombie Releases $14.3 Million for Big Island Harbors, State Highways

Continuing to invest in capital improvement projects (CIP) that further strengthen Hawaii’s economy, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $14.3 million to advance harbor improvements to two Hawaii Island harbors and various highways across the state.

“These priority investments in state infrastructure add further stimulus and jobs to the economy in order to build upon our state’s $1.1 billion turnaround,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “These CIPs will realize significant and in some cases long-awaited improvements, such as those in Hilo and Kawaihae Harbors on the Big Island. Others heighten safety, mitigate erosion, and address other needed structural enhancements along our state’s highways.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by members of the state Legislature, has been approved by the Governor:

Harbors

$6,000,000 – Hilo Harbor, Pier 1 Shed Modifications, Phase II, Hawaii Island – Pier improvements and modifications, including construction of a new end wall, repaving and associated utility adjustments; 40 percent of the footprint will subsequently be used for container cargo operations, which require open yard space, while the remaining 60 percent of Pier 1 will continue to serve as covered shelter for storage, administrative and passenger operations

Hilo Harbor

Hilo Harbor

$80,500 (in addition to $241,500 of federal funds) – Kawaihae Commercial Harbor, Hawaii Island – Construction for enhanced physical security measures and critical infrastructure, including security fencing; this will delineate the secured area of Kawaihae Commercial Harbor and allow recreational users greater access to the small boat harbor.

Highways

$3,055,000 (in addition to $10,200,000 in federal funds) – Farrington Highway Intersection Improvements at Nanakuli Avenue and Haleakala Avenue, Oahu – Additional design and construction for left-turn lanes in the Honolulu-bound direction at the intersections of Farrington Highway and Nanakuli Avenue as well as Farrington Highway and Haleakala Avenue; additional funds are needed due to additional design requirements resulting from environmental impact and historical preservation permitting activities

$2,200,000 – Interstate Route H-1, Pearl City Viaduct and Waimalu Viaduct Improvements, Phase I, Oahu – Additional construction to replace the deteriorated surface of the eastbound concrete deck of the Pearl City and Waimalu Viaducts; future phase(s) will include deck repair in the westbound direction (Additional funds are needed to fund major remediation work in two separate areas caused by a collapsed drainage culvert at the Waimalu Viaduct, and to install geosynthetic reinforced soil fill and concrete under the pavement in the vicinity of Radford High School to prevent erosion and reduce settlement)

$1,500,000 – Honoapiilani Highway, Shoreline Improvements for Tsunami Damage in Ukumehame, Maui – Additional construction to restore roadway shoulders along Honoapiilani Highway damaged by the March 11, 2011, tsunami including boulder revetments and the construction of retaining structures; additional funds are necessary to complete the project due to high level erosion control measures required by the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Hawaii Department of Health Clean Water Branch

$1,500,000 – Honoapiilani Highway, Shoreline Improvements, Maui – Additional construction to restore roadway and shoulders along Honoapiilani Highway in the vicinity of Launiupoko, which have been damaged by repeated high surf and wave action; additional funds are required for a retaining structure that was redesigned to meet water quality and Army Corps of Engineers concerns

$11,000 – Farrington Highway Drainage Improvements, Oahu – Land and design for drainage improvements along Farrington Highway in the vicinity of Olohio Street to reduce flooding fronting the makai side of the highway

Farrington Hwy Nanakuli Ave Intersection

Farrington Hwy Nanakuli Ave Intersection

$4,000 (in addition to $16,000 in federal funds) – Guardrail and Shoulder Improvements at Various Locations, Kauai – Design to construct guardrail and shoulder improvements on Kuhio Highway, Route 560, at Milepost 6.25 and at Route 56 near Milepost 3.70, as part of the DOT Highways Division Guardrail and Shoulder Improvement Program; both areas have steep drop-offs that would benefit from guardrails to keep vehicles from leaving the roadway and going down the steep slopes.

Hawaii Airports to Go Green, Reduce Energy Costs by $518 Million

Gov. Neil Abercrombie unveiled an unprecedented energy efficiency program for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Airports Division that will cut energy use by 49 percent, saving at least $518 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Honolulu International Airport

Honolulu International Airport

The airports will be modernized with the latest in energy-efficient and green technology, providing a high-impact solution for the Abercrombie Administration’s aggressive pursuit of 70 percent clean energy use for the state of Hawaii by 2030.

“These important upgrades at our airports will help Hawaii reach its clean energy goals,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This project is a long-term investment, which will cut the energy use at our airports nearly in half, reduce our dependence on imported energy sources, provide savings on future energy costs and add jobs to our economy.”

The project will deliver results by replacing 372 transformers and 74,500 light fixtures, installing 9,100 solar photovoltaic panels; and include upgrades and replacement of chilled water and air conditioning systems, installation of smart controls, and deferred maintenance such as roof repairs to accommodate the upgrades. The $150 million contract was awarded to Johnson Controls through a state competitive procurement process for Energy Performance Contracting (EPC).

“This important project is part of a strategy and vision to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “DOT will make a large impact since the state airports system is the third largest consumer of electricity in Hawaii. This project will save the state millions of dollars and it will serve as a model for other state agencies.”

“Energy efficiency is Hawaii’s cleanest, fastest, and cheapest clean energy resource,” said Jeff Mikulina, CEO of Blue Planet Foundation, an organization working to clear the path for clean energy in Hawaii. “Every kilowatt hour avoided is fossil fuel that we don’t import–and carbon pollution that we don’t export.”

“It is both suiting and symbolic for Hawaii’s airports–the gateways for Hawaii residents and visitors–to be models of energy efficiency,” he added. “Blue Planet applauds the Governor, his Administration, and the private sector partners who are making this record-setting energy savings project a reality.”

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Governor Abercrombie Submits Supplemental Budget to State Legislature

In compliance with Article VII, Section 9, of the Hawaii Constitution, the Abercrombie Administration today submitted its Executive Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Biennium 2013-2015 and updated Program and Financial Plan for 2013-2019 to the state Legislature.

2014 Abercrombie Budget

“The supplemental budget and plan continue responsible management of state fiscal affairs in order to build upon the $1.1 billion turnaround our state has achieved,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “At the same time, we recognize that Hawaii’s improved fiscal position allows us to better address important issues such as early learning and development, support for our seniors, environmental protection, and homelessness. The supplemental budget provides an opportunity to navigate our economic environment for the maximum benefit of the people of Hawaii.”

The administration further committed to building the financial strength of the state by outlining in the plan a strategy to recapitalize state reserves to higher than pre-recession levels.

“We have set a targeted objective to build state reserves to 10 percent of general fund revenues,” said Kalbert Young, state finance director. “These reserves will allow the state to weather future economic downturns and mitigate against cyclical public service cutbacks.”

Accordingly, the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund will receive $50 million in fiscal year 2014. The Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund will receive $50 million in fiscal year 2014, which is in addition to the $55.5 million in general excise tax revenues transferred this fiscal year, pursuant to Act 62, SLH 2011.

Through separate legislation, the administration will also be proposing the transfer of $50 million to each fund in fiscal year 2015. The estimated balance of Hawaii’s reserves after these transfers will be more than $372 million, or 5.6 percent of projected general fund revenues in fiscal year 2015 –already more than halfway to the 10 percent target.

Simultaneously, the state’s commitment to forward fund its Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) unfunded liability begins this fiscal year with a landmark payment of $100 million and, in fiscal year 2015, a payment of $117.4 million.

The supplemental budget continues to provide stimulus to the economy while still adhering to the optimized debt profile that has been achieved through proper management of the state’s long-term debt. The budget includes funding for an additional $351.7 million in new general obligation bond-funded capital improvement projects. The state will more appropriately address much needed repair and maintenance projects by converting $187.4 million in previously approved bond-funded expenditures to general funds. The budget also proposes to fund an additional $100 million in repair and maintenance in fiscal year 2015. By directing more bond funds to long-term assets and using general funds to address immediate and short-term repair and maintenance, the state continues its more fiscally prudent management of capital improvement projects.

In addition, the budget includes the following increased support for a variety of initiatives:

Investments in Hawaii’s Children

  • More than $5.4 million additional for early learning and development initiatives, a priority of the administration. Approximately $4.4 million of that would aid the Executive Office on Early Learning in working with the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) to establish prekindergarten classes on DOE campuses, and $1 million would fund Family-Child Interaction Learning (FCIL) programs for family engagement for four-year-olds.
  • $2.5 million more proposed for Preschool Open Doors. The new voluntary program administered by the state Department of Human Services enhances access to school readiness services for 4-year-old children, with priority extended to underserved or at-risk keiki and those who are not eligible to attend public school kindergarten in the school year they turn 5 because their birth date occurs after the kindergarten eligibility date.

Support for Seniors

  • More than $4.5 million requested for programs that support older residents, of which $4.2 million is proposed for the Kupuna Care program and $427,937 for Adult Disability Resource Centers.

Environmental Preservation

  • An additional $40 million for conservation purposes at Turtle Bay, as proposed by the Turtle Bay working group last month. The working group was established by Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR164) during the 2013 legislative session and tasked with developing a conservation action plan to explore and identify conservation alternatives for the undeveloped portions of the Turtle Bay property and surrounding lands with conservation or historic value.

Other Investments

  • $1.5 million requested for the Housing First program to assist the most vulnerable of Hawaii’s homeless.
  • Ten positions and $1 million to expand Healthcare Transformation initiatives.
  • Restoration of eight positions and an additional $188,269 for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture within the department’s pesticides program.
  • $3.1 million for Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui’s R.E.A.C.H. Initiative for afterschool programs for middle and intermediate afterschool programs
  • Approximately $33.5 million to the University of Hawaii, whose Board of Regents committed a portion of such funds towards issuance of revenue bonds for addressing much needed repair and maintenance projects. This amount represents collectively bargained salaries for the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly salaries. But, instead of paying for the salaries out of the tuition special fund, which only affects tuition rates, the funds will free up resources so that the tuition fund remains stable and assists UH’s repair and maintenance $400 million backlog.

“Although there are many priority needs that must be addressed, fiscal sustainability is essential,”Young added. “This plan will allow the state to address its priority needs while positioning itself to best handle uncertainties, such as economic slowdowns or the recent federal government shutdown, by building up our reserves and exercising continued fiscal prudence.”

The Budget in Brief is available for download from the Department of Budget and Finance website, here: http://budget.hawaii.gov/budget/

 

Governor Releases $3.03 Million in Capital Improvement Grants to Local Nonprofits

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $3.03 million for various capital improvement grants to Hawaii-based nonprofit organizations whose missions benefit island communities.

From the Governor's Desk

“We recognize that nonprofit organizations are the state’s partners in providing services that are important to the people of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Through this collaboration, we are better able to address issues that range from pediatric health care, foster care and elderly assistance; to support for the arts and preservation of Hawaii’s most treasured landmarks.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects were identified by members of the state Legislature and approved by the Governor:

$1,500,000 – Friends of Shriners Hospital, Oahu – Final construction of the capital improvement project for the Hale Ohana Family Center that will provide temporary housing needs for needy families residing outside the urban area of Honolulu accompanying their children for treatment at the hospital (The facility is part of the national network of children hospitals specializing in orthopedic and burn care. The Honolulu hospital is a 24-bed pediatric orthopedic hospital, providing care for children with bone, joint and neuromuscular conditions in Hawaii and throughout the Asia/Pacific region. It serves a geographic area larger than the continental United States with health care services to children from such locations as American Samoa, Chuuk, Fiji, Guam, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Saipan.)

$435,000 – Hale Opio Kauai, Inc., Kauai – Renovation and upgrading of Hale Opio’s three-story administration building, including renovating the broken air conditioning system, replacing the current windows with energy efficient ones, upgrading the lighting system, and installing a photovoltaic system on the roof to reduce energy costs (Hale Opio administers more than 20 residential and community-based programs, including therapeutic foster homes, emergency shelters, intake and assessment, Kauai Teen Court, violence prevention, First Job Academy, teen programs, and truancy prevention.)

$500,000 – Maui Economic Opportunity Transportation Center, Maui – Construction of a centralized facility to provide a one-stop service for bus washing and vacuuming (MEO provides county-subsidized on-demand transportation services to the elderly, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, and medically needy residents, as well as to preschool children and disadvantaged youth in Maui County.)

$250,000 – Friends of Iolani Palace, Oahu – Restoration, repair and refinishing of interior and exterior walls, ceilings, flooring and windows at Iolani Palace, Iolani Barracks and the Kanaina Building; funds will also be used to address termite damage, complete electrical system improvements, and install security cameras and other security improvements (The nonprofit organization has been managing and maintaining Iolani Palace, which is the only royal palace in the United States; approximately 61,000 visitors tour the palace each year.)

$230,000 – Waikiki Community Center, Oahu – Repairs and improvements to three of the center’s buildings to enhance public safety, including replacing damaged exterior face boards, eaves, flashing and roof support beams; applying waterproof membranes and sealants onto new roofing materials to prevent leakage and reduce the interior heat by 10 degrees; installing and replacing damaged gutters and re-positioning misplaced drainage downspouts; and repairing small structural cracks and painting the exterior of the buildings (The nonprofit center serves as a “one-stop” center for health and human services, social support, counseling, lifelong education and wellness, and community building for Waikiki’s children, families and elderly as well as a gathering place for the community.)

$120,000 – Honolulu Academy of Arts, Oahu – Planning for a new Teacher Resource Art Center adjacent to the Art School for the Museum (Due to space constraints, the current art school cannot meet the demands of the local constituencies requesting art classes. As such, the “Our Museum, Our Community, Our Future” planning project will include plans for a new facility for studio art classrooms, teacher training, a community library/knowledge center, and additional art storage.)

Governor Abercrombie Goes To White House – Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Ensuring the State of Hawaii has a strong voice in the national discussion on climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today shared Hawaii’s unique perspective as an island state at the first meeting of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The meeting was held at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Governor Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Governor Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

The President established the task force to advise his administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are currently dealing with or anticipate extreme weather, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change. This first meeting focused on building climate resilience into efforts to better prepare for and recover from natural disasters. In addition, task force members had the opportunity to share their expertise and experience in implementing climate preparedness measures, and begin to consider recommendations for the President.

Named to the task force last month, Gov. Abercrombie attended along with Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Oshiro and Hawaii State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. Gov. Abercrombie’s congressional experience (including serving on the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces and as a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee) and ability to provide insight into the needs of the Asia-Pacific were cited as factors in his selection.

Obama administration officials participating in the meeting included: Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (pictured), Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller.

 

Low-Income Populations Fare Best in Hawaii – Performance of State Health System is Among the Nation’s Best

Hawaii ranks best in the nation according to The Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance for Low-Income Populations, 2013, a national scorecard that analyzed 30 indicators within four dimensions.  Hawaii ranks in the top quartile for three of four system dimensions – Access to Affordability, Potentially Avoidable Hospital Use, and Healthy Lives.  Hawaii ranks in the second quartile for the fourth indicator, Prevention and Treatment.  There are currently 292,000 individuals enrolled in Hawaii Med-QUEST programs, which are administered through the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Click to see how other states rank

Click to see how other states rank

“This 2013 Commonwealth Fund scorecard demonstrates that Hawaii is on the right track to improving access to affordable health care, and the state Med-QUEST Division is leading the way,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has made healthcare transformation a top priority of his administration. “Our healthcare system supports the optimum health of all state residents by providing a seamless, integrated and comprehensive healthcare system. This approach consistently demonstrates high-quality care, and a commitment to cost-effectiveness.  It also enhances the patient experience and engages patients in their own healthcare decisions.”

For low-income populations whose standard of living is 200 percent of the federal poverty level, Hawaii reported the second lowest percentage of uninsured adults, the second lowest percentage of uninsured children, and the lowest percentage of adults who went without health care in the past year due to cost.  Hawaii also is ranked first for the lowest rate of potentially avoidable hospital use and second for the lowest rate of potentially avoidable emergency department visits for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, and first for the lowest rate of poor health related quality of life for low-income adults 18-64 years old.

“It’s the prevention component that makes the difference,” said DHS Director, Patricia McManaman.  “When vulnerable individuals have access to affordable and reliable medical services, they are more likely to visit their doctor on a regular basis.  The Commonwealth Fund scorecard reflects the commitment of our healthcare providers to our community.”

While Hawaii is ranked the top state, there is room for improvement.  Hawaii ranked below average on four indicators – older adult preventive care, surgical care to prevent complications, hospital 30-day mortality, and hospital discharge instructions for home recovery.  Because the report is generally based on 2010 and 2011 data, these areas may have since improved.  No states ranked in the top quartile or even top half of the range for all 30 indicators.

To improve the overall health and economic well-being of low-income populations, states must invest in the health of their most vulnerable populations. Healthier adults are less expensive for taxpayers, and have greater workforce productivity.  Healthier children are more likely to succeed in school and participate in the future workforce. A healthy population is thus instrumental in maintaining strong local and state economies, as well as the nation’s economic health and well-being.

To read the complete 2013 Commonwealth Fund Scorecard visit http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/Fund-Reports/2013/Sep/Low-Income-Scorecard.aspx

Governor Abercrombie Appoints Jeffrey Portnoy to UH Board of Regents

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Jeffrey Portnoy to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. He assumes one of the board’s Honolulu seats, an interim position until confirmed by the state Senate.

Jeffrey Portnoy

Jeffrey Portnoy

“Jeff is a champion of the University of Hawaii and a respected leader in our community,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “He has always been a great friend to the university community, and his leadership, insight and expertise within and beyond his field will prove a valuable asset to the UH system.”

A member of State Bar of Hawaii since 1972, Portnoy has worked with Cades Schutte LLP since 1972; as a partner since 1979. A speaker, teacher and author, his practice specialties include media, insurance, employment and product liability law; personal injury defense; attorney and physician malpractice; and securities litigation and arbitration.

His prior involvement with the University of Hawaii includes serving as community representative on the UH Athletic Advisory Board for two 3-year terms (1996 to 2002) and as a UH adjunct professor in media law from 1985 to 1992.

Portnoy was president of the Hawaii State Bar Association in 2007 and director from 1989 to 1993. He was a member of the Ninth Circuit Advisory Board from 2005 to 2008, chairman of the U.S. District Court Advisory Committee from 1992 to 1996, State Chairman of the Defense Research Institute from 1989 to 1998, and president of the Hawaii Defense Lawyers Association from 1989 to 1995. In addition, he served as Lawyers Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference for two 3-year terms, is a past member of the Media Defense Resource Council, and is former editor-in-chief of The Hawaii Labor Letter.

Portnoy is an active member of the community outside the legal profession and is currently the president of Manoa Valley Theatre. He served as president of the Hawaii International Film Festival from 1994 to 2005, chairperson of the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission from 1984 to 1988, and chair of the Honolulu Community Media Council from 2001 to 2002.

His awards and honors include the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award (1995) and the SPJ Hawaii Chapter’s Freedom of the Press Award (1983). He was also selected by his peers for Best Lawyers in American and listed in Chambers USA America’s Leading Business Lawyers and Hawaii Super Lawyers.

Portnoy earned his bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in journalist, from Syracuse University (Cum Laude) and juris doctor degree from Duke University School of Law.

He is a resident of Honolulu.

 

Governor Releases $83.9 Million for University of Hawaii Campuses

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $83.9 million for capital improvement projects at University of Hawaii campuses systemwide.

Mayor Kenoi and Gov. Abercrombie at the Palamanui Campus Groundbreaking

Mayor Kenoi and Gov. Abercrombie at the Palamanui Campus Groundbreaking

“These priority projects are investments in the state’s economy and vitality. They address needed maintenance and repair work and create jobs, while expanding affordable, academic opportunities for residents,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “This is especially the case for the new UH Palamanui campus, which will serve as an anchor in the community and increase access to higher education opportunities in West Hawaii.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects were identified by members of the state Legislature and approved by the Governor:

  • $50,000,000 — Systemwide Capital Renewal and Deferred Maintenance — Planning, design and construction for repair and maintenance projects at UH Manoa ($37,606,000), UH Hilo ($1,938,000), UH West Oahu ($41,000), UH Community Colleges ($10,164,000) and other projects systemwide ($251,000)
  • $28,000,000 — Systemwide Health, Safety and Code Requirements — Design and construction for health and safety projects at UH Manoa ($5,085,000), UH Hilo ($9,400,000), and UH Community Colleges ($13,515,000); projects include structural repairs, lighting, traffic safety, electrical system upgrades, and other safety and code requirements
  • $3,500,000 — University of Hawaii West Oahu — Design and construction for Road B connection to Kualakai Parkway, a second entry/exit to the campus; it will consist of a paved, landscaped four-lane roadway and provide access to water, sewer and drainage systems (Road A, which has been completed, connects to Farrington Highway and serves as the main entrance to the campus)
  • $2,400,000 — University of Hawaii Palamanui Campus, Phase I, Hawaii Island — Construction to complete Phase I of the Palamanui campus in West Hawaii; funds will be used to complete the simultaneous construction of Phases 1A (Culinary Arts Building) and 1B (Health Science and Student Services Building)
UH Palamanaui Campus Rendering

UH Palamanui Campus Rendering

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Historic Marriage Equity Legislation into Law

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed into law a bill that will legalize marriage for same-sex couples in the State of Hawaii. The Governor signed Senate Bill 1 in a ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center.

abercrombieheader

This new law recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex and extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.

The new law takes effect on Dec. 2, 2013. Hawaii is now the 15th state in the nation to fully embrace marriage equity.

“The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “Many people have worked tireless to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives.”

“We have moved into a new era of Aloha for same-sex couples, who can now share in the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Attorney General David Louie.

“Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn’t be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally,” said Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state’s history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law.”

Gov. Abercrombie has always been a strong advocate for equal rights. In 2011, the first bill he signed into law as Governor legalized civil unions, making Hawaii the seventh state to grant such privileges to same-sex couples.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were married under state law. The court’s decision means that same-sex couples who are married in states where it is legal can take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits available to married couples.

 

Hawaii Boaters Have 12 Months to Take Required Safety Course

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is reminding Hawaii boaters they now have a year’s time to take a boating safety course approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators and the State of Hawaii.

DLNR

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Hawaii Administrative Rule Chapter 13-244 on Oct. 30, 2012. This law provided for a two-year period before the rule could be enforced to allow the DLNR time to develop multiple compliance methods and give the boating community time to make use of those methods to become compliant.

Hawaii boaters now have 12 months to take a boating safety course approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators and the State of Hawaii to comply with HAR 13-244-15.5, which became effective on Nov. 10, 2012.

Enforcement of the new rule will begin on the second anniversary of the rule’s effective date, on Nov. 10, 2014. After that date in 2014, boaters will be required to show proof of successful completion of an approved boating safety course.

“Our primary goal in pursuing and formalizing the Mandatory Education rule was safety,” said William Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.  “The use of the ocean continues to diversify.  People are venturing far from shore to enjoy our waters. All boaters should be well versed in the state current boating laws to prevent accidents and loss of life.”

“In Hawaii, approved boating safety courses must include Hawaii-specific information that can help our boaters survive at sea after an accident or better yet, help boaters avoid trouble so their sea voyages are safe and enjoyable.  It is our hope that boaters will not perceive mandatory education as a burden but rather as a way to ensure safety for our ‘ohana and enhance their enjoyment of our waters,” said Aila.

The Mandatory Education Rule, HAR 13-244-15.5 is a part of the administrative rules under DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) and will be enforced by DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Any person violating this rule shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $1000 or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days, or both, for each violation; the court may also prevent an individual from operating a vessel in State waters of the State for up to 30 days.

Information about the mandatory education rule and how to sign up for courses is posted on the DOBOR web site at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/mandatory-boating-safety-education-qa/

The public may also contact DOBOR offices on each island.

The division has worked with boating safety partners to provide Internet and classroom courses, is nearing completion on a home study course and plans to issue its own proof of compliance cards.  People who have previously taken NASBLA boating courses may be able to take an abbreviated course just on state-specific information to comply with the new rule.

Mandatory education for boaters has been endorsed as a method to reduce boating related fatalities by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, National Safe Boating Council, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

 

Governor and Attorney General Statement on Amendments to SB 1 – Relating to Equal Rights

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and State Attorney General David Louie released the following statement regarding amendments to Senate Bill 1 – Relating to Equal Rights.

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“The amendments outlined in House Draft 1 strike a balance between the bill that was introduced by the Legislature and concerns raised in written and oral testimony during public hearings.

“We support the principle that any measure on marriage equity must protect religious freedom, which the Legislature has clearly worked to achieve.

“The bill as amended is legally sound and is in accord with the Hawaii State Constitution.

“We urge the Legislature to pass this bill, which will provide marriage equity and fully recognize religious beliefs in that context.”

 

President Obama Appoints Gov. Abercrombie to Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

President Barack Obama has appointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve on the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, the White House announced today.

President Barack Obama has appointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve on the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, the White House announced today.   Co-chaired by Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director David Agnew and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, the task force consists of a select group of governors, mayors and other leaders who will develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts. “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on this task force, which will allow the State of Hawaii to have a strong voice in the national discussion on addressing the impacts of climate change,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the only island state in nation, Hawaii is unquestionably vulnerable to changes in climate such as rising temperatures, droughts, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification.” In conjunction with the announcement, Gov. Abercrombie introduced State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, recently appointed by the Governor to the newly created position. Thiel is charged with coordinating across departments and with counties, federal agencies, and community partners to support progress on Hawaii’s sustainability goals.  “The task force established by President Obama gives Hawaii a direct line to provide recommendations on removing barriers to federal resources, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and developing tools to better support our unique needs and local efforts,” Thiel said. “Gov. Abercrombie’s congressional experience, particularly on the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, as well as a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee, was cited as a factor in his selection, along with his ability to provide insight into the needs of the Asia-Pacific.

President Barack Obama has appointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve on the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, the White House announced today.
Co-chaired by Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director David Agnew and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, the task force consists of a select group of governors, mayors and other leaders who will develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts.

Co-chaired by Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director David Agnew and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, the task force consists of a select group of governors, mayors and other leaders who will develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on this task force, which will allow the State of Hawaii to have a strong voice in the national discussion on addressing the impacts of climate change,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the only island state in nation, Hawaii is unquestionably vulnerable to changes in climate such as rising temperatures, droughts, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification.”

In conjunction with the announcement, Gov. Abercrombie introduced State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, recently appointed by the Governor to the newly created position. Thiel is charged with coordinating across departments and with counties, federal agencies, and community partners to support progress on Hawaii’s sustainability goals.

“The task force established by President Obama gives Hawaii a direct line to provide recommendations on removing barriers to federal resources, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and developing tools to better support our unique needs and local efforts,” Thiel said. “Gov. Abercrombie’s congressional experience, particularly on the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, as well as a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee, was cited as a factor in his selection, along with his ability to provide insight into the needs of the Asia-Pacific.

Governor Abercrombie’s statement:

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on this task force, which will allow the State of Hawaii to have a strong voice in the national discussion on addressing the impacts of climate change,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the only island state in nation, Hawaii is unquestionably vulnerable to changes in climate such as rising temperatures, droughts, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification.”

In conjunction with the announcement, Gov. Abercrombie introduced State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, recently appointed by the Governor to the newly created position. Thiel is charged with coordinating across departments and with counties, federal agencies, and community partners to support progress on Hawaii’s sustainability goals. She has been working to care for Hawaii’s environment and communities for over a decade, most recently with the interagency Hawaii Invasive Species Council. She earned her master’s in urban and regional planning as an East-West Center Fellow with a focus on implementing sustainability plans.

“The task force established by President Obama gives Hawaii a direct line to provide recommendations on removing barriers to federal resources, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and developing tools to better support our unique needs and local efforts,” Thiel said. “Gov. Abercrombie’s congressional experience, particularly on the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, as well as a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee, was cited as a factor in his selection, along with his ability to provide insight into the needs of the Asia-Pacific region.”

In September, Hawaii was the first sub-national government to sign onto the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, joining other islands and nations in making bold commitments to reduce carbon emissions and invest in adaptation.

William J. Aila Jr., chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, said: “Hawaii is especially vulnerable but we have made significant commitments toward mitigation and investments in adaptation. We know that our weather will be drier, and managing and protecting our native forests and watersheds is the best investments in capturing and delivering greater water quantity and quality. The state’s Rain Follows the Forest Watershed Initiative protects this vital resource needed for our survival.”

State Office of Planning Director Jesse Souki added: “Hawaii is the only state to have adopted both a climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. In 2012, Gov. Abercrombie signed Act 286, codifying into law the state’s Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines, which will help us to build resiliency in agriculture, conservation lands, coastal and marine areas, education, health, transportation, and the built environment.

“We also recently updated the Ocean Resources Management Plan, which includes two priority management measures that address climate change impacts to marine resources and coastal areas. The State of Hawaii has approximately 1,052 miles of coastline with a vast majority of its communities located on or near coastal areas that may be impacted by sea-level rise.”

President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience will convene for the first time as early as next month in Washington, D.C., with its recommendations to the President expected within one year.

In June 2013, as part of his Climate Action Plan, President Obama called for the establishment of a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal leaders to advise on key actions the federal government can take to better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts.

Link to the White House’s news release here:

Hawaii District Teachers of the Year Announced – One Will Be Named 2014 State Teacher of the Year

DOE ReleaseWho: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Education Officials, and seven District Teachers of the Year, one of whom will be named 2014 State Teacher of the Year:

  • Teresa Cramer (Central Oahu District, Hale Kula Elementary)
  • Dayna Hironaka (Windward Oahu District, Kahaluu Elementary)
  • Matthew Lawrence (Honolulu District, Waikiki Elementary)
  • Elizabeth Timbal (Hawaii District, Keaau High)
  • Terra Wight (Leeward Oahu District, Nanakuli High and Intermediate)
  • Anthony Williams (Maui District, Paia Elementary)
  • Justin Yamagata (Kauai District, Waimea Canyon Middle)

When: Friday, Oct. 25, 3 p.m.

Where: Washington Place

More: The Polynesian Cultural Center, the State Teacher of the Year program’s corporate sponsor for 28 years, will provide monetary awards to each District Teacher of the Year and conduct a colorful performance featuring music and dance. SMART Technologies will present each District Teacher of the Year with gifts of instructional software, and other classroom technology to the State Teacher of the Year. The Hawaii Automobile Dealers’ Association will award the State Teacher of the Year with a free one-year lease on a new car.

 

Lt. Gov. Tsutsui to Lead New Sports Development Initiative

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today appointed Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui to spearhead the state’s Sports Development Initiative, which aims to coordinate efforts throughout Hawaii to build a thriving sports industry.

Shan Appointed

“This initiative will help to expand sports entertainment and participation opportunities in Hawaii, while also strengthening our visitor economy – particularly during the shoulder seasons when visitor arrivals are less robust,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “With Shan at the helm, we hope to take advantage of each island’s unique characteristics and bring athletic events that fit into their individual environments.”

While collaborating with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, University of Hawaii System, Stadium Authority, and private sports organizations, the initiative will identify, promote and engage opportunities to establish Hawaii as a premier sports destination for professional, amateur and youth athletics. The improvement of current facilities and development of world-class, state-of-the-art venues are also part of the initiative, intended to attract sporting events and athletic training opportunities not only on Oahu but throughout the state.

In addition to positive media exposure and awareness, professional sporting events have contributed well over $100 million to the state’s economy each year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

“With this Sports Development Initiative, we have the opportunity to diversify our visitor industry and generate more revenue for our state,” Lt. Gov. Tsutsui said. “Everyone can benefit from this initiative – from keiki to kupuna. They will be able to either participate in or attend a variety of sporting events.”

“With this Sports Development Initiative, we have the opportunity to diversify our visitor industry and generate more revenue for our state,” Lt. Gov. Tsutsui said. “Everyone can benefit from this initiative – from keiki to kupuna. They will be able to either participate in or attend a variety of sporting events.”

Through this initiative, community involvement and outreach will expand with more mentoring, camps and clinics to develop young athletes using unique concepts, utilizing teams, players and participants. It will also encourage active lifestyles and improve the health of keiki and adults

 

Governor Abercrombie’s Statement Regarding the Federal Government Shutdown

Gov. Neil Abercrombie recently met with bond purchasers and major credit rating agencies in Los Angeles and New York to confirm Hawaii’s solid fiscal condition.

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While meeting with the credit agencies, it was clear to them that the shutdown of the federal government could have serious detrimental effects on the economies for all states.  The federal shutdown could also compromise much of the accomplishments that Hawaii has achieved in the past few years emerging from the economic recession.

Gov. Abercrombie stated:

“The State of Hawaii cannot substitute for the federal government nor assume its obligations. However, with the report from the Sequestration Impact Response Team in hand, resources funded this past legislative session, and the readiness of all departments in the administration to respond to the shutdown, we are confident in our ability to address immediate contingencies.  It is the clear responsibility of Congress to end the shutdown as quickly as possible and to meet continuously until that is accomplished.”

Hawaii Ranked #2 Among States in Progress Made for Women

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today highlighted a recent report by the nonpartisan Center for American Progress that ranked the State of Hawaii as No. 2 among states in the progress made for women.

Click to view report

Click to view report

The report, titled The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women Are Faring Across the Nation, ranks each state based on 36 factors in the categories of economics, leadership and health, as well as an overall national ranking. Hawaii also received an overall grade of “A.”

“The Aloha State has benefited from the strong leadership of women at every level including government,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Hawaii’s own Congresswoman Patsy Mink championed Title IX legislation that transformed the way our entire nation addresses equality in education, which was a catalyst for ensuring further equity throughout our society.”

That legacy is continued by this administration, in which more than half of the appointed Cabinet and staff positions are held by women.

“Since this report was conducted, additional progress has been achieved this year,” Gov. Abercrombie added. “In collaboration with the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus and Commission on the Status of Women, we are addressing a wide variety of issues including early childhood education, protections for domestic workers, human trafficking, and recognition of the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding. These advancements are the result of the community investing in our future by getting involved in state government to protect the rights and well-being of women.”

Catherine Betts, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, is hopeful following the findings of this report: “This comes after years of advocacy from our women’s community and leadership in government that recognize the worth of Hawaii’s women and girls. Our women’s health community has been especially active in safeguarding our access to reproductive health care and ensuring our constitutionally protected rights remain intact. It is also timely to see how women fare in terms of paid family leave and an increase in the minimum wage – two policies that the commission is actively seeking to change.”

In Hawaii, 61 percent of our full-time minimum wage workers are women, and many of our women juggle the duties of full-time work and full-time caretaking, while struggling to feed their families and make ends meet. Gov. Abercrombie acknowledges that this study serves as a reminder that while Hawaii is doing well for our women and girls, there is always room for progress.

“I am confident that our ranking will improve,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We will continue to pursue transformative initiatives, ranging from early education to minimum wage, to benefit the people of Hawaii.”