Hawaii Governor’s Statement Regarding Marriage Equality

Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2011 signed into law civil unions, which represented Hawaii’s diversity, protected people’s privacy, and reinforced our core values of equality and aloha.

In 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Gov. Abercrombie in his official capacity claiming discrimination for failing to allow same sex couples to marry. The governor has declined to contest the lawsuit citing elements of the civil union law. The Attorney General is defending the Department of Health in carrying out its duty under the current law. This legislative session, there are bills to address marriage equality and Gov. Abercrombie is urging the Hawaii State Legislature to hear those measures.

Gov. Abercrombie stated:

“I have always supported human equality and agree with President Obama and our Congressional Delegation that all of our citizens should be treated equally. “Hawaii is a state defined by our diversity, compassion and aloha.  I encourage our state legislators to hold hearings on the marriage equality bill so that we can further discussions on equal treatment under the law.”


Committee on Agriculture to Hold Taro Informational Briefing on Monday

Committee on Agriculture to Hold Taro Informational Briefing on Monday


WHAT:  The Committee on Agriculture will be holding an informational briefing to discuss the current and future availability of taro as well as the protection and utilization of taro producing lands.

WHEN:  Monday, February 11, 2013, 10:45 A.M.

WHERE:  Hawaii State Capitol, Conference Room 423

WHY:  Taro is the most culturally significant plant in Hawaii. This briefing will provide the Committee and the general public with a picture of the current status and future outlook of taro in the state.

WHO:  Chair Jessica Wooley, Vice Chair Richard H.K. Onishi, Reps. Tom Brower, Romy Cachola, Isaac Choy, Takashi Ohno, Gregg Takayama, James Kunane Tokioka, Clift Tsuji, Lauren Kealohilani Cheape, and Gene Ward comprise the Committee.

Taro farmers and representatives from the Taro Task Force have also been invited to participate in the conversation.

GMO Labeling Bill Advances in House

The House Committee on Agriculture (AGR) unanimously adopted HB174, which would require all GMO produce imported into the state to be labeled. The measure also passed Second Reading and advances to the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce. The advancement of the bill puts Hawaii on track to become the first state in the nation to require some form of GMO labeling.


The bill was originally heard on Monday in a hearing that spanned more than 5 hours in the Capitol Auditorium. Hundreds of pieces of testimony from key stakeholders surrounding the issue were used to develop a draft that could keep the conversation on GMO labeling moving.

The latest version of HB174 is much narrower in focus than the original and addresses a great deal of the concerns voiced during Monday’s hearing. Under the most recent draft, only imported GMO produce would require labeling. GMO produce that is grown in Hawaii, most notably Rainbow Papaya, would not require a label. Processed foods, meat, poultry and dairy would also be exempt from the labeling requirement.

“This was the first time in the history of the House that a GMO labeling bill has made it out of committee,” said AGR Chair Jessica Wooley (Kaneohe, Heeia, Ahuimanu, Kahaluu, Haiku Valley, Mokuoloe). “The draft that was adopted was a true compromise that resulted in a victory for the people of Hawaii. Local farmers will not be negatively impacted, we will not have to pay for labeling on processed foods, meat or dairy, and, most importantly, people will be able to know what they’re eating.”


Hawaii Teen Musicians Win a 55th Annual Grammy Experience for Original Song

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the Creative Industries Division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) congratulate Hawaii teens, Colby Benson, a senior at Mililani High School, and Haley Michelle Kagimoto, a student at Punahou, who were selected as second place winners of the third annual GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Teens! Make Music Contest. The teens were selected for their original song that highlights how those who have struggled with addiction can find hope in recovery. The contest winners were honored during National Drug Facts Week, and are attending the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Backstage Experience, a special backstage tour that takes place while artists rehearse for the live GRAMMY Awards, as well as tours of Capitol Records and the Grammy Museum to acquaint teens interested in a career in the music industry.

Haley and Colby

The contest asked young musicians, ages 14 – 18, to compose or create an original song and/or music video that explored, encouraged and celebrated a healthy lifestyle or accurately depicted a story about drug abuse. Benson and Kagimoto won for their song titled, “Change Who We’ll Become,” inspired by friends and family faced by substance abuse. Their powerful lyrics, “we can rise up once we’ve fallen, change who we’ll become,” highlight how those who have struggled with addiction can find hope in recovery.

First place winners were Vinny Cavalcanti, a senior at West High School, and Nick Miller, a junior at Rowland Hall Academy from Utah, and third place winner was Hannah Rand, a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School in Illinois. The winning entries can be heard at www.drugfree.org/teensmakemusiccontest. Benson and Kagimoto’s music video can be viewed here:


The DOH recognizes that the more informed young people of Hawaii are regarding addiction and recovery the better able the community will be in reaching out to address substance abuse and its impact on people’s lives. Haley and Colby are a great example of informed teens with a powerful message to share through the language of music.

The DOH Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division collaborates and partners with public and private agencies across the state to promote healthy lifestyles and provide prevention, intervention and treatment services for adolescents and adults. All substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services are contracted to non-profit, community-based agencies. For the 2,326 adolescent admissions (five-year average for fiscal years 2008 through 2012), the primary substances cited at admission are marijuana (58 percent) and alcohol (34 percent). For the 3,341 adult admissions (five-year average for fiscal years 2008 through 2012), the primary substances cited at admission are methamphetamine (42 percent), alcohol (33percent) and marijuana (14 percent).

The Creative Industries Division (CID) in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), provides professional development programs to accelerate the growth of Hawaii’s creative sectors through strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as the Grammy Foundation, MusiCares, The Recording Academy and the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) to advance opportunities for Hawaii’s emerging artists in the music sector.

About MusiCares.

Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy®, MusiCares® provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, please visit www.musicares.org. For breaking news and exclusive content, please like “MusiCares” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/musicares and follow MusiCares on Twitter @MusiCares at www.twitter.com/musicares.


Hearing Scheduled for PLDC Bills

Hearing Scheduled for PLDC Bills


WHAT: The Committees on Water & Land (WAL) and Finance (FIN) will be hearing 6 bills relating to the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) and will be joined by the Committee on Education (EDU) to hear a bill relating to public school redevelopment. Decision making will follow.

WHEN:  Saturday, February 9, 2013, 9:00 A.M.

WHERE:  Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium

WHY:  The public has voiced serious concerns with the PLDC and the Legislature has taken swift action in hearing these bills, which represent a variety of options to comprehensively address the issue.

WHO:  WAL Chair Cindy Evans, Vice Chair Nicole E. Lowen, FIN Chair Sylvia Luke and Vice Chairs Scott Y. Nishimoto and Aaron Ling Johanson will be joined by members from their respective committees to hear the bills.

The hearing will be broadcast live on Olelo, Channel 54.

The notice posted below contains the bills on Saturday’s agenda as well as links to submit online testimony.