Representative Nicole Lowen’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Representative Nicole Lowen

Damon,
I can’t give a yes or no answer about my vote on a bill that I haven’t seen yet, but I appreciate your concern about this and I intend to keep the interests of the Big Island and of my constituents at the forefront. I will be advocating to increase the share of TAT to the counties and for a bill that is in the best interests of taxpayers in my district and across the state.

Mahalo,

Nicole Lowen

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Aloha Rep. Lowen,

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Bills to Ban Coral-Killing Sunscreens Move Forward

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today passed House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone.

The bill was introduced in response to recent studies that have concluded that oxybenzone disrupts coral development and growth.

“Our reefs are an essential economic driver of our tourism industry, they sustain our fish populations for fishermen, and are home to many species found nowhere else in the world. Safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to oxybenzone are available already. How can we, in good conscience, continue to needlessly allow the use of this chemical that we know causes damage to coral?” said Rep. Lowen.

The committee also moved a bill forward that would allow continued sale of oxybenzone products, but impose new labelling requirements. HB 600 will next go to the House Floor and then to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Subsidy Program to Combat Coffee Berry Borer Signed Into Law

Coffee growers to receive direct financial assistance to control infestation

House Bill 1514, a measure introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6-Kailua Kona, Holualoa) to combat the devastating effects of the coffee berry borer (CBB) infestation, was signed into law today by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The law creates a five-year subsidy program under the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to grant subsidies for coffee farmers to assist in offsetting the costs of combating the coffee berry borer beetle. The law also includes $500,000 in funding for the program.

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

“Subsidy programs like this have helped in other coffee-growing regions to provide an incentive for farmers to adopt best practices, and I’m hopeful that it will do the same in Kona.  Direct assistance from the State is critical for our coffee farmers, and this bill accomplishes that,” said Rep. Lowen.

Under the program, a single coffee farmer may receive reimbursement for the expense of the organic fungus used to control the pest of up to $600 per year per acre of land in coffee production, but not more than $9,000 per year. The legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

In recent years the coffee berry borer beetle has become a major threat to Hawaii’s coffee industry, which is responsible for $30 million in revenue annually.  Past efforts by Representative Lowen have provided additional funds of $800,000 funds to help mitigate and study the infestation. This program will further help protect and maintain Hawaii’s coffee industry.

West Hawaii Legislators Encourage Public to Attend Healthcare Forum

Officials to Answer Questions About Major Upcoming Healthcare Changes

Community Enterprises, a community group dedicated to holding informative, educational and interactive forums for Kona area residents, is hosting a community health care forum in Kailua-Kona.

capital

State officials and West Hawaii legislators will be in attendance to answer questions on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Participating House Legislators include Health Committee Chair Della Au Belatti, Representative Denny Coffman (Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona), Representative Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), and Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau).

In a joint statement the lawmakers said, “Over the next year, we will see many changes to the healthcare system and these changes will affect residents throughout Hawaii. This forum will be an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how its enactment will impact them collectively and individually. We encourage people to take the time to attend the forum.”

Tom Matsuda, Implementation Manager of the Affordable Care Act in Hawaii, and Coral Andrews, Executive Director of the Hawaii Health Connector, Hawaii’s new online health insurance marketplace, will be the main presenters. They will also participate in a panel discussion with Senator Josh Green. Representatives from the West Hawaii Community Health Center, Hope Services Hawaii, and the HIV AIDS Foundation who have been trained as Marketplace Assisters regarding the ACA will also be available to provide personal assistance.

The program will be moderated by Sherry Bracken. Pupus and beverages will be served.

WHO:  Representative Denny Coffman, Representative Cindy Evans, Representative Nicole Lowen, Representative Della Au Belatti, Chair of Health Committee

WHAT: West Hawaii Community Healthcare Forum

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 15, 2013,  5:30 – 8:00 P.M.

WHERE:  Makaeo Pavilion (Old Airport Park)

Kona Rep. Nichole Lowen Thanks Senator Mazie Hirono for Securing Federal Funds to Fight Coffee Berry Borer

Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau) today praised U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono for successfully securing $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fight the coffee berry borer beetle that has been a blight on Hawaii Island coffee growers for the past three years.

Senator Nicole Lowen

Rep. Nicole Lowen

This past legislative session, Representative Lowen introduced and guided HB 353 through the State Legislature.  It was signed into law on June 26th, and will provide $800,000 in state money for mitigation of the coffee borer infestation.

“Thanks to Senator Hirono, the additional million dollars from the USDA coupled with the $800,000 in state funding and other resources will enable us to launch an offensive against this destructive insect before it decimates our coffee industry.  The industry brings in about $30 million dollars annually, and is an important part of Hawaii’s cultural heritage. We need to do all that we can to protect its viability.  I will continue to work with the State Legislature and with our congressional delegation to further preserve our coffee industry,” said Rep. Lowen.