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2017 Hilo World Peace Festival Set for October 21

The 8th Annual Hilo World Peace Festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Festivities are free and open to the public.  This is a partnership event coordinated by Soka Gakkai International USA, the International Committee of Artists for Peace, Destination Hilo and the County of Hawaii. The Festival celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the creation of a peaceful world. The festival features performances, food and beverages, as well as opportunities to experience cultural expressions of dance, music and art.

The Hilo World Peace Festival was created to promote the spirit of Aloha; the universal language of love; which encourages acts “to honor and revere our elders; to love, nurture, and protect our children; and to respect the harmony of our families; thus creating a healthy community and island lifestyle.”

The entertainment line-up includes Lopaka, Hula by the Hilo SGI Group, Randy Skaggs, Lori Lei Shirakawa, contemporary music by Vaughn Valentino and To’a Here Tahitian Revue. The 2017 Hilo World Peace Festival is a true partnership event where community organizations, private enterprise, and government work together toward a common goal.

More information can be obtained by calling the County of Hawaii, Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.

Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Hawai‘i Ranks Third in Nation in U.S. News’ Best States for Aging Ranking

The State of Hawai‘i ranks third in the country when it comes to states that are best at serving their older population. U.S. News and World Report based its rankings on the cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care and life expectancy.The publication says that Hawai‘i’s residents have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., with its 65-and-older population expected to live 20 years longer than in other states. U.S. News has also found that Hawai‘i has the best nursing home quality in the country.

“It’s part of our culture in Hawai‘i to respect and honor our kupuna or elders. Our programs reflect these values and aim to keep our older population active and contributing members of society,” said Gov. David Ige.

Colorado ranked first, with one of the healthiest and most physically active older populations in the country. Maine is second, where a fifth of the population consists of residents 65 and older, a higher percentage than in any other state.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

In 2016, Americans 65 and older accounted for 15.2 percent of the total population, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2000. Not only are baby boomers aging, but advances in medicine and technology are resulting in a longer life expectancy.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that one in five Americans will be 65 years and older by 2030.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Hawaii Opposes Travel Ban 3.0

Today the State of Hawaii, Dr. Ismail Elshikh, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, and two prospective Doe plaintiffs filed a proposed Third Amended Complaint in Hawaii v. Trump. The proposed complaint was accompanied by a motion for temporary restraining order.

Click to read

As stated in the memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order:

On September 24, 2017, the President issued a proclamation that imposes an indefinite nationality-based ban on travel and targets an overwhelmingly Muslim population. The President has fulfilled his prior promises: He has issued a “larger, tougher, and more specific” version of the travel ban that this Court and the Ninth Circuit found violative of the Nation’s laws and most basic constitutional commitments.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the new order replicates all of the legal flaws evident in its precursors. It again openly “discriminate[s] * * * in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of * * * nationality.” It still fails, despite its elaborate rationalizations, to make any “find[ing]” remotely adequate to support its sweeping ban of millions of foreign nationals. It exceeds the limits on the President’s exclusion authority that have been recognized for nearly a century, by supplanting Congress’s immigration policies with the President’s own unilateral and indefinite ban. And it continues to effectuate the President’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.

Copies of the proposed third amended complaint and memorandum in support of the motion for temporary restraining order are attached.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Senator Schatz Statement on Trump Administration’s Decision to Repeal the Clean Power Plan

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

“Once again, the administration has put partisan ideology above the health of the American people, our economy, and our planet.  Like their failed attempts to undermine clean water and methane rules, this effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan has no basis in law and will absolutely be challenged in court.

“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. It’s our obligation as the indispensable nation to lead and take action. The administration’s short-sighted decision today abdicates that role. But in the absence of leadership from the White House, momentum behind clean energy is growing, as states, cities, and the private sector continue to move ahead. Our commitment to fighting climate change won’t be weakened. We will continue to take action, with or without the administration’s help.”

Live Stream with Bernie Sanders at UH Hilo – Proposed Legislation to Make Tuition Free

Tomorrow, Tuesday October 10th, the University of Hawaii Hilo registered group Global Hope, will be showing a nation-wide streaming of Bernie Sanders proposed legislation to make public colleges and universities tuition free.

The presentation will be at 7:00pm at University of Hawaii Hilo in UCB 100.

Many in Hawaii support Bernie Sanders and will be interested in this proposal.

Legislation Helps Provide More Body-Worn Cameras to Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Last week, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced the Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act of 2017.  This legislation would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights.

“We can’t restore trust between our communities and law enforcement without transparency and accountability. Body cameras alone won’t repair that relationship, but they have proven to be effective and can do a great deal to keep both police officers and community members safe and accountable,” said Senator Schatz

“Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Senator Paul. “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian are respected.”

“Justice is supposed to be blind, but it is not supposed to be blind to the facts. Police body cameras can help provide evidence and restore some much-needed trust between police and the communities they serve,” said Congressman Cohen. “The cameras could show the officer’s actions for what they were, proving both lawful and unlawful activity. The vast majority of police are well meaning, dedicated public servants, and we depend upon them to keep us safe from criminals. But the fact remains some officers go beyond the law in a callous disregard for due process.  Their actions damage the public trust that is essential for good police to be able to serve and protect our communities. Police body cameras, alone, will not solve this problem, but they are an important step in the right direction. I would like to thank Senators Schatz and Paul for their leadership on this issue and for partnering with me on this legislation.”

The Police CAMERA Act of 2017 would establish a pilot grant program using existing funding to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with the purchasing or leasing of body-worn cameras. It would also authorize an impact-study after two years. The study would assess the impact body-worn cameras have on reducing the use of excessive force by police, its effects on officer safety and public safety, and procedures to protect the privacy of individuals who are recorded.

“The resulting benefits of the body-worn cameras after almost two years of usage have greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Darryl D. Perry, Chief of Police of the Kauai Police Department. “Not only have our officers embraced this technology wholeheartedly, but our community has commended KPD for being open and transparent.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

Click to read full release

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Visits Local Farm, Addresses Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United Convention

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today addressed the 7th Annual Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United (HFUU) Convention held at Kahumana Farms in Waiʻanae.

The congresswoman recognized the Hawaiʻi chapter’s achieving charter status with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and spoke about opportunities for Hawaiʻi in the upcoming 2018 farm bill, and her work to fight for funding for important grant programs that empower Hawaiʻi’s communities to live more sustainably, strengthen local and regional food systems, and empower those growing food to feed Hawaiʻi’s people, leveling the field, rather than more giveaways to big, agribusiness corporations.

The three day convention brings together members of the NFU, including NFU President Roger Johnson, NFU leadership from across the country, local farmers, small businessowners, and others to explore the concepts of Aloha ‘Aina and Malama ‘Aina to create regenerative agricultural systems for Hawaiʻi. This year’s conference includes panels and presentations on polyculture cover crops, agro ecology systems, soil and human health, hemp in Hawaiʻi, sustainable and organic farming, and much more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “As a community, we have great potential for Hawaiʻi to empower our local farmers, strengthen our food security, secure funding for critical research, and empower our local communities through locally grown agriculture. Over the last several years, we’ve seen a rise in local farm-to-school programs, improved value of our coffee industries, and increased engagement among our local community to buy local and invest in community farming. There is much to be done to build on these successes, and events like today’s bring together all the necessary community components to make it happen.”

Hawai`i Joins Coalition of 18 States Opposing President’s Contraception Coverage Rollback

Attorney General Doug Chin today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general warning the Trump administration that it should expect legal action over its discriminatory, ill-considered, and dangerous move to effectively end the contraception coverage rule created by the Affordable Care Act. The 18 attorneys general have written Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Don Wright, Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta, and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin expressing their strong opposition to the Trump administration’s action that will increase healthcare costs for women, lead to more unplanned pregnancies, and place even more strain on state budgets.

Attorney General Doug Chin

Attorney General Chin said, “We are talking about basic access to health care for women. Contraception provides women the autonomy they deserve. It’s also used to treat a variety of serious conditions having nothing to do with birth control. And the public has had no opportunity to comment.”

For millions of women the contraception coverage rule has reduced their healthcare costs, helped address medical conditions, and allowed them to make their own decisions about when and if to have children. Before the contraception coverage rule, birth control accounted for 30-44% of a woman’s out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Now, 62 million women across the country have access to contraception without a co-pay, saving an average of $255 per year for oral pill contraceptives, and the percentage of women who have a co-pay for contraception has fallen from more than 20% to less than 4%.

“Allowing any employer or insurance company with a religious or ‘moral’ objection to contraception to opt out of this requirement will take away women’s autonomy to make their own reproductive decisions and put those decisions in the hands of their employers,” write the attorneys general. “Subjecting women to the religious and moral beliefs of their employers violates the right to privacy that is so evident in Supreme Court doctrine. Women should have coverage for their critical health care just as men do.”

The attorneys general also informed the relevant cabinet secretaries that “we will closely monitor any legal challenges to this rule that discriminates against women in our states and negatively impacts our state budgets. We stand ready to take action to protect the best interests of our states and constituents.”

In addition to Hawaii, Oregon, and Virginia, joining today’s letter opposing the Trump administration’s rollback of contraceptive coverage are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the letter is attached.

State Holds First Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Meeting

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in partnership with the State Office of Planning, will be holding the first-ever Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) meeting on October 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort, Coral Ballrooms 1 & 2 from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.

On June 6, 2017, Governor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris Climate Accord.  The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations on November 4, 2016, and is the largest, concerted global effort to combat climate change to date.

Unprecedented warming of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gas emissions poses a significant threat to the people of our State.  Suzanne Case, Co-chair of the Climate Commission said, “Hawaii and our Pacific island neighbors contribute a proportionately small amount to global warming, but will experience disproportionate significant effects due to sea level rise, drought, increased storminess, and ecological changes in our marine and terrestrial environments.   The Climate Commission will work with all stakeholders to address these challenges by systematically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our resiliency to its serious impacts, utilizing the principles and contributing to the goals set by the Paris agreement.”

It is anticipated that the new Climate Commission will provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies, federal agencies, and other partners about climate change mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and climate change resiliency strategies. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security, and natural resource stewardship.  The Climate Commission will be placed under DLNR for administrative purposes and is headed jointly by the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Director of the State Office of Planning, or their designees.

This first meeting will give Commission members a status update of the State Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report that is due to the State Legislature at the end of the year. It includes an open discussion for the setting of the Climate Commission’s priorities.  Governor David Ige will make an appearance.

The meeting is open to everyone. Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance, is asked to please contact the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at least four days prior to the public hearing.  For more information contact the OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

Hawaii to Challenge Travel Ban 3.0

Today Hawaii filed supplemental briefing with the United States Supreme Court regarding the Hawaii v. Trump litigation. Shortly after filing that supplemental briefing, Hawaii notified the U.S. Supreme Court that it intends to seek leave from the Hawaii federal district court to file an amended complaint challenging the lawfulness of the third travel ban.

Click to read full letter

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Hawaii fought the first and second travel bans because they were illegal and unconstitutional efforts to implement the President’s Muslim ban. Unfortunately, the third travel ban is more of the same. This new ban still discriminates on the basis of nationality, it still exceeds the President’s legal authority, and it still seeks to implement his Muslim ban. Simply adding an obvious target like North Korea to the list and banning travel by some government officials from Venezuela does nothing to disguise this. And – unlike the first two versions – Travel Ban 3.0 has no end date.”

Hawaii’s supplemental brief filed with the Supreme Court and its letter to the Supreme Court clerk are both attached.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Fights to Prevent the FCC From Dismantling Broadband Internet Standards

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) signed a bicameral letter to urge Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai not to relax Internet broadband standards for millions of Americans across the country which would most adversely affect rural, tribal, and low-income communities. The FCC announced in a Notice of Inquiry that it would consider lowering the standards of broadband Internet access speeds from 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload to 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, while also classifying a mobile Internet connection as a suitable replacement for home broadband.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“It is indisputable that high-speed broadband Internet access is essential to succeed in today’s economy, and that rural, tribal and low-income communities already face significant obstacles to accessing 21st century jobs, training programs, and educational opportunities.  According to the FCC’s own 2016 report, 39 percent of rural Americans and 41 percent of tribal communities lack access to acceptable internet speeds, creating significant obstacles that often inhibit them from doing things like promoting their business, communicating with their families, and accessing education tools.  I’ve heard this firsthand from constituents in my district who live in very rural communities.  Often, the only access to the Internet for kids in school was through a parent’s wireless hotspot signal.

“The FCC should be looking at how to expand and strengthen the infrastructure and high-speed Internet in America’s rural, tribal and low-income communities.  By opting instead to lower the bar and redefine what constitutes an acceptable Internet connection, the FCC continues on its current trend towards favoring corporate interests over American consumers.  Should the FCC’s proposals move forward, they will create more obstacles for working Americans by putting them behind the technology curve.

“I firmly support the expansion of high-speed Internet access to rural and tribal areas, which is why I cosponsored H. Con. Res. 63, which calls for the availability of high-speed Internet for all Americans.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Immigration Telephone Townhall Draws Nearly 4,000 Across Hawaiʻi

Nearly 4,000 Hawaiʻi residents participated in Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s immigration-focused “telephone townhall” on Wednesday afternoon. Local and national guests included:

  • Mateo Caballero, Legal Director of ACLU Hawaiʻi and a member of the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition
  • Clare Hanusz, a Hawaiʻi immigration attorney and a member of the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Coalition and the Hawaiʻi Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • Shiu-Ming Cheer, Senior Staff Attorney & Field Coordinator at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

The congresswoman discussed the status of DACA and the need for Congress to urgently pass legislation that will provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients. She also talked about the United States’ broken and outdated immigration system and the need for reforms, family reunification for WWII Filipino veterans in Hawaiʻi, her work to restore access to federal healthcare for Compact of Free Association (COFA) migrants, expanding access to federal immigration services on the neighbor islands, and more. She and her guests also answered questions on education rights for DREAMers, fees for naturalization, qualifications to receive DACA, backlogs on citizenship applications, rules regarding re-entry for foreign-born relatives of U.S. military personnel, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “The majority of Americans can trace their history through their relatives and ancestors who, against all odds and great difficulties, found their way to and made a home here in the U.S. But while our family histories remind us of how far we have come, the heartbreak and suffering faced by millions of families across the country due to our broken immigration system demonstrates the need for real reforms. Today, the lives of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and friends are on hold as they wait for U.S. leaders to take action on DACA. Congress must take action to pass legislation that will provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients, who are fearful they will be targeted and deported from the only home they’ve ever known. This telephone town hall was a great opportunity to engage with my constituents from every island across the state, answer their questions, and hear their concerns.  This is an issue that affects people in Hawaiʻi and all across the country in many unique and different ways. Rather than allowing the issue of immigration reform to divide us, let us work together in the spirit of aloha to bring about real, meaningful change.”

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office provide service to hundreds of Hawaiʻi residents every year to get assistance from U.S federal agencies, including United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and others. Her office can assist constituents with passports, visas, immigration and naturalization applications, Social Security claims, veterans benefits, and much more. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “casework staff office hours” to help residents with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming staff office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Hawaii Joins in Settling With Mylan Inc – Will Receive Over $700,000

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that Hawaii has joined the United States, the District of Columbia, and all 49 other states in settling allegations against Mylan Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. (collectively “Mylan”). The settlement resolves allegations that Mylan knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the Medicaid program for the drugs EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. (“EpiPen”) dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. Mylan owns the exclusive rights to sell EpiPen in the United States and possesses legal title to the New Drug Codes (“NDCs”) for EpiPen.

Pursuant to a settlement Mylan entered with the United States in August, Mylan was to pay up to $465 million to the United States and the states, depending on the number of states that joined the settlement. As of Friday, September 29th, all fifty states and the District of Columbia had joined the settlement; as a result, the states will share $213,936,000 of the total settlement of $465 million. Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $742,679.02, which will be split between the Med-Quest program at the Department of Human Services as restitution and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at the Department of the Attorney General for its continued enforcement efforts.

The Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute was enacted by Congress in 1990 to keep costs down for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs. The law requires participating drug makers and NDC holders such as Mylan to sign a rebate agreement with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That agreement is a precondition to drug makers getting Medicaid coverage for their drugs, and to pay quarterly rebates to state Medicaid programs for drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. NDC holders must provide information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) concerning their covered drugs. In particular, they must advise CMS regarding the classification of a covered drug as an “innovator” or “noninnovator” drug. This is because the amount of rebates owed varies depending on the drug’s classification. The amount of the rebate also depends on pricing information provided by the manufacturer. For drugs classified as “innovator” drugs, NDC holders must report their “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter.

Specifically, this settlement resolves allegations that from July 29, 2010 to March 31, 2017, Mylan submitted false statements to CMS that incorrectly classified EpiPen as a “noninnovator multiple source” drug, as opposed to a “single source” or “innovator multiple source” drug. Mylan also did not report a Best Price to CMS for EpiPen, which it was required to do for all “single source” and “innovator multiple source” drugs. This meant Mylan submitted false statements to CMS and the States relating to EpiPen for Medicaid rebate purposes, and underpaid its EpiPen rebates to the State Medicaid Programs.

Hawaii Receives $427,000 in Federal Grants for Agriculture

Hawaii has awarded 11 projects to eligible non-profit and for-profit entities totaling more than $427,000 through the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The federal program, funded by the Farm Bill, provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

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The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) submitted the application to the USDA in June 2017 and will be administering the program. The approved projects support activities for research and increasing production of specialty crops, including cacao, taro, mango, cucumber, banana, legumes and Christmas trees. The projects funded include farmer education and agricultural marketing programs. A list of the projects funded by the SCBGP is attached.

The USDA SCBGP has awarded more than $60.5 million nationwide for this coming fiscal year. The grant period runs from September 2017 to September 2020.

For more information on the USDA SCBGP, go to: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/awards