Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Anticipation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed an emergency proclamation in preparation for the June 27 lava flow crossing Highway 130 near Pahoa, potentially isolating communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

abercrombieheaderThe proclamation suspends certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activates the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

“State agencies are working with the County of Hawaii to provide alternative access to lower Puna if lava crosses the main highway,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This proclamation will ensure that isolated communities receive a continuation of services.

“Health officials are also advising all residents living near the lava flow to plan ahead for potential smoke from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide. Conditions for nearby communities may vary widely due to the unpredictability of wind and weather.”

The disaster emergency relief period specified in the proclamation begins today and continues through Oct. 15, 2014.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at:

Governor Abercrombie Offices Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

After a rigorous six-month planning process made possible by a federal grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the state today announced the release of its healthcare transformation plan. Under CMMI’s State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, Beth Giesting, the state’s healthcare transformation coordinator, convened more than 100 stakeholders from across the state to design Hawaii’s roadmap to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health and lower costs.

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

“Transforming our state’s healthcare system is a high priority of my administration, and under the leadership of Beth Giesting, we’ve made substantial progress since her appointment two years ago,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “This healthcare transformation plan outlines clear, tangible steps we can take to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care in Hawaii.”

“The resources that accompanied the SIM planning grant came at just the right time to allow us to take our efforts to the next level,” added Giesting. “We firmly believe that the priorities outlined in our plan will improve the quality of care and outcomes for all residents, while addressing the long-term fiscal sustainability of our healthcare system. In addition, it will bring greater equity by reducing geographic and cultural barriers to care.”

As part of its roadmap for transformation, the state’s plan identifies six essential catalysts for transformation:

  1. Primary Care Practice Redesign: Enrolling at least 80 percent of Hawaii residents in a patient-centered medical home by 2017 and exploring strategies to integrate behavioral health services into the primary care setting
  2. Care Coordination: Implementing programs to help high-risk/high-need individuals receive the services they need in part by establishing Medicaid Health Homes and Community Care Networks
  3. Payment Reform: Transitioning all payers to value-based purchasing by aligning reimbursement strategies
  4. Health Information Technology: Improving connectivity and capability across the healthcare ecosystem by accelerating adoption of electronic health records and increasing utilization of health information exchange
  5. Workforce Development: Expanding capacity for team-based care, addressing workforce shortages and improving cultural competency of providers
  6. Policy Strategies and Levers: Aligning state resources to drive policy changes, including the creation of a permanent transformation structure within state government

The plan is now available in its entirety for review at:

In addition to Hawaii, 15 other states were announced as awardees of the SIM planning grant. Each state had six months to design and submit its own healthcare transformation plan, which will now be eligible for anticipated implementation awards later this year. CMMI expects to issue up to five such awards to the states to implement their plans, with each award valued between $20 and $60 million.

Governor Neil Abercrombie Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today commented on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which mirrors his investment in early childhood education and his push for increasing the minimum wage.

abercrombieheaderGov. Abercrombie stated:

“It’s encouraging that President Obama’s national priorities echo those I’ve outlined as top initiatives for the State of Hawaii.

“The President’s emphasis on early childhood education are in line with Hawaii’s plans to expand access to pre-kindergarten for all four year olds. We are investing in new partnerships to provide our keiki with the educational opportunities they deserve.

“As I stated in last week’s State of the State address, a hard-working sector in Hawaii has gone seven years without seeing their wages rise. I applaud the President’s proposal to increase the minimum wage for all federal employees.”

Governor Abercrombie Affirms Hawaii’s Fiscal Health in State of the State Address

In his fourth State of the State Address before the Hawaii Legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie emphasized the state’s restored financial stability, along with his administration’s long-term plan to sustain it, as an opportunity to act with confidence on key investments in Hawaii’s future. Areas highlighted by the Governor included efforts to expand early childhood education; tax relief and support for seniors; an increase in the minimum wage; and collaborative efforts to address homelessness, climate change, and invasive species.

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

“I am able to report to you, our state government’s financial house now stands on solid ground,” Gov. Abercrombie said, extending his appreciation to legislators, public employees, local businesses, and the people of Hawaii for sharing in the tough decisions and sacrifices that made the state’s unprecedented financial turnaround possible. “We are now entering a new phase. The administration’s package and supplemental budget do not rely on any new taxes or fees. On the contrary, I believe we may be able to reduce taxes in key areas. We also have the resources to deliver services to the people of Hawaii while living within our means.”

The Governor reaffirmed his administration’s steadfast commitment to early childhood development and education, saying he looks forward to building upon his ongoing initiatives by strengthening relationships with the private and nonprofit sectors. “Our plan is to build and strengthen Hawaii’s mixed-delivery system of early learning programs,” he said. “Community-based preschools are now and will be a key component.”

Gov. Abercrombie also emphasized the necessity to match investments in building this foundation with consideration of ways to promote security and dignity for Hawaii’s seniors. To provide practical and immediate benefits, the Governor proposed to:

  • exempt any presently taxed income from all sources for taxpayers age 65 and older with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $25,000, $35,000 for seniors who are heads of households, or $45,000 for seniors joint filing (affecting approximately 25,000 Hawaii seniors);
  • double the current refundable food/excise tax credit for taxpayers 65 years or older whose AGI is less than $50,000 (affecting approximately 110,000 Hawaii seniors); and
  •  increase the Kupuna Care budget by $4.2 million and make it permanent (enabling seniors to remain in and receive care in their homes – an investment that will prove beneficial as our senior population ages, grows in numbers, and lives longer).

“These proposals address the practical everyday reality of expenses for seniors, provide across-the-board fairness in application, can take effect immediately, and fit comfortably into our long-term financial stabilization plan,” he said.

In addition, the Governor announced that his administration will be submitting a bill to increase the minimum wage to at least $8.75 starting in January 2015. Average weekly earnings have increased 16 percent since 2007, while the minimum wage has remained unchanged. Currently, 21 other states plus the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than Hawaii while minimum wage earners in the state are confronted by much higher living costs.

Addressing the “myth” that increases to the minimum wage only benefit entry-level workers, the Governor cited that 85 percent of minimum wage earners are 21 years old or older. He added that the last four times the minimum wage was raised, the number of jobs increased by an average of 2.2 percent over the following 12 months.

To address the ongoing issue of homelessness, the Governor urged legislators to join him in support of the action plan submitted by the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, a first-of-its-kind body established by Gov. Abercrombie in 2011.

“Mayors and county councils across the state are united in coming to grips with this issue,” he said. “On Oahu, where the need is greatest, we could not have a better partner than Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council led by Council Chair Ernie Martin. “We must now deliver on the Council’s plan; for example, by giving support to the ‘Housing First’ program, which houses and cares for the chronically homeless and those who suffer from a disability.”

Recognizing Hawaii’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the Governor, recently appointed to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, announced that he will be holding Resilient Hawaii Forums this year to engage stakeholders and create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. The forums will build upon the significant progress already achieved by the state Office of Planning in updating Hawaii’s Ocean Resources Management Plan, and call on the state’s new sustainability coordinator to work across department lines for planning.

The Governor also emphasized the need to protect Hawaii’s environment from invasive species, endorsing legislative initiatives proposing up to $5 million to meet operating costs of invasive species programs. In addition, his administrative package this session will include additional support for watershed protection, farming infrastructure and invasive species management.

The Governor concluded his address by remembering the late Loretta Fuddy, a lifelong supporter and advocate of public health measures. Recalling her affection and advocacy for families and children, the Governor announced his intent to request additional funding for the Department of Health’s Early Intervention Services. The program provides critical services to children with developmental delays from birth to three years of age, as well as positive intervention in the crucial areas of cognitive and physical function, social and emotional well-being and adaptive skills.

“Loretta Fuddy was their champion,” the Governor said. “I am asking for specific attention to make funding for Early Intervention Services a priority. This will serve as a fitting tribute and appropriate legacy to honor Loretta. There will be lasting benefits for the affected families and children – the children she loved and cared for passionately to her last day.”

The entire text of the State of the State Address is posted on the Governor’s website, Link directly to the address here:

Justin Fujioka Joins Governor Abercrombie’s Communications Team – Other Staff Advance Into New Roles

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced several updates to his communications team, including the addition of Justin Fujioka as press secretary, effective Jan. 27, 2014.

Justin Fujioka

Justin Fujioka

Fujioka will work alongside other team members who are also stepping into new roles. Christine Hirasa will advance to director of communications to oversee to all aspects of communications for the executive branch, supported by Keith DeMello who has been promoted to deputy director of communications. Tyler Kruse will take on additional responsibilities as communications and digital media specialist.

“Each a product of our University of Hawaii System, the members of my communications team have strong ties in our community and offer a wide array of experience that includes news, public and private sector communications, and social media,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “As the newest member of my staff, Justin will further strengthen our communications efforts and transparency as we head into the new year and a new legislative session.”

Justin Fujioka has reported news and served as chief meteorologist for KITV since 2002, receiving an Emmy Award and a Mark Twain Award from the Associated Press Television-Radio Association for his work. Fujioka is a professional member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. Born and raised in Honolulu, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he also reported and edited for the school’s newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, and worked as a public relations assistant at the UH Shidler College of Business serving as a media liaison and helping to coordinate news conferences and special events. He has a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.

Christine Hirasa has served as deputy director of communications since joining the Governor’s Office in November 2012. Prior to that, she served as a communications specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education and the executive assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. Hirasa worked as a public information officer at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs from 2005 to 2010 and at the Hawaii State Judiciary from 2003 to 2005. She has also worked in the news industry as a producer at KHON from 2001 to 2003 and at KHNL/KFVE from 1997 to 2001. Born on Oahu and raised in East Honolulu, Hirasa earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Keith DeMello joined the Governor’s Office in December 2011 as communications manager. Previously, he worked in the private public relations sector, accumulating more than 15 years of experience across a wide spectrum of industries and earning various honors from the Hawaii chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and American Marketing Association. Born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua, DeMello holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and also worked at Ka Leo O Hawaii as a copywriter and story contributor. He is a past president of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter, and past president of the Hawaii Council on Portuguese Heritage.

Tyler Kruse has served as the Governor’s new media specialist since March 2013. As communications and digital media specialist, he will continue to manage social media operations while integrating them with traditional communications efforts and serving as the Governor’s chief photographer. Previously, Kruse worked in the private public relations sector. Born on Kauai and raised in Eleele, Tyler graduated from the UH Shidler College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing. He also served as the communications chair of Ad 2 Honolulu and the collegiate and communications chair of the American Marketing Association Hawaii Chapter.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $18.7 Million for Capital Improvement Projects

Governor Abercrombie announced the release of more than $18.7 million in capital improvement project (CIP) and grant funds for priority repairs and improvements at state facilities and public schools, as well as installation of a new photovoltaic system for a charter school on Kauai.

“Our economy is getting stronger, and capital improvement projects are key to maintaining our positive momentum while enriching state services, improving public areas and enhancing learning environments throughout Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “A portion of these funds will go toward the installation of a new photovoltaic system at Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha Charter School on Kauai, allowing the school and its K through 12 students to meet 100 percent of their classrooms’ energy needs.”

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


$9,895,000 – Kauai High School Gymnatorium, Kauai – Construction for a new gymnatorium (gymnasium/auditorium) building, which will include a wrestling room, boys and girls locker rooms, an athletic director’s office, and other support spaces

$2,500,000 – Heeia Elementary School, Oahu – Design and construction to provide covered play courts and help alleviate drainage issues due to frequent rain common in the Kaneohe area

$1,000,000 – Campbell High Athletic Track and Field Complex, Oahu – Design and construction for improvements to the existing cinder track and a new press booth; the project will also start design for a new synthetic track

$180,060 – Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha Charter School Photovoltaic System, Kauai – Capital improvement grant to Aha Punana Leo, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, for planning, design and construction of a new 30 kilowatt photovoltaic system to supply 100 percent of the charter school’s power


$2,597,000 – Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) CIP Administrative Services, statewide – Financing for wages and fringe benefits of DLNR’s project-funded positions for fiscal year 2014

$2,000,000 –  Puhawai Culvert, Oahu – Construction of culverts and other related drainage improvements to alleviate flooding along Puhawai Road in Waianae (The Lualualei Flats area is prone to flooding due to insufficient drainage infrastructure, lack of stream maintenance, and illegal dumping in streams and ditches)

$300,000 – Hilo Harbor Mooring Buoys, Hawaii Island – Construction to install five-day use mooring buoys (DMBs) as mitigative measures to comply with permit requirements for the dredging of Hilo Harbor (DLNR will install DMBs as part of the existing program to provide mooring opportunities in areas of high vessel traffic to reduce damage to natural resources from anchors)

$300,000 – Kewalo Basin Jetty Riprap Wall Repair, Oahu – Design to repair the riprap wall, located in a popular surfing area, which has been damaged by wave action creating potential danger to individuals


Governor Abercrombie Proclaims Today as Honoka’a Jazz Band Day

The Honoka’a Jazz Band played at the Hawaii State Capital rotunda today as part of their “Big City Tour” being held on Oahu.

The Honoka'a Jazz Band

State Senator Malama Solomon was on hand to greet the band.

State Senator Malama Solomon and Governor Abercrombie do a bit of two-stepping.

Governor Abercrombie then proclaimed today as “Honoka’a Jazz Band Day” in the State of Hawaii.

The Governor makes his proclamation

You can check out the rest of the pictures from today’s event on the Governors Facebook page here: Honoka’a Jazz Band Day at the Capital.

Click here to see a video of Governor Abercrombie and Senator Solomon doing the two-step.

Tomorrow, the 30-member band will perform at the Bishop Museum as part of the YMCA Healthy Kids Day.  Later, they will open the Twilight Jazz at Helumoa Concert in The Royal Grove at the Royal Hawaiian Center at 7 p.m. Joining the line-up will be The Kit Ebersbach Combo and Starr Kalahiki, performing at 8 p.m.

President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to Present Documentary at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Madame Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and daughter of former Chinese President Li Xiannian, will present her new documentary, Touching the Tigers, at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Monday, January 30, 2012, from 4:30 to 7pm.

Madame Li Xiaolin

The public is invited to attend the evening, which will take place in front of “The Flying Tigers” exhibit in Hangar 79, includes a lion dance, music, and a pupu reception.

Touching the Tigers, a 15-minute documentary, is the story of American Flying Tigers pilot Lt. Glen Beneda, who was shot down in his fighter jet and wounded while defending China from Japanese forces during World War II on his 81st mission with the 14th Air Force. Beneda was rescued by Chinese farmers and soldiers and escorted to a U.S. air base where he received aid and an unforgettable attachment to the Chinese people.  Mr. Beneda’s family will be in attendance at the Museum event.

The China Children’s Choir of Beijing will perform. A lion dance and a pupu reception will be a part of the festivities. Pacific Aviation Museum Board Chairman Admiral Ronald Hays, USN (Ret.), Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, and General Gary North, USAF, will be in attendance and will speak.

Governor Abercrombie at the Opening of the Flying Tigers Exhibit

The price for the event is $25 for Museum members and $35 for non-members. Tickets are available online at The Ford Island shuttle will be extended for the evening so guests may park at the Arizona Memorial parking lot and take the shuttle to and from the Museum. No bags are allowed on the shuttle. Baggage storage at the Arizona Memorial will be open for the event.

Reservations are required by Sunday, January 29. Please call the Museum at 441-1007 or email SpecialEvents

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization located at 319 Lexington Boulevard on Historic Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818.

Governor Neil Abercrombie “Kung Hee Fat Choy”

Governor Neil Abercrombie wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Years:


HSTA (Retired) Big Island President Confronts Governor Abercrombie at Today’s Big Island Visit

I mentioned the other day that Hawaii State Teachers Association-Retired (Big Island) President, Wayne Joseph was rallying the troops to have a demonstration against Governor Neil Abercomberie when he visited Hilo today.

Jacylynn Joseph, Neil Abercrombie and Wayne Joseph during happier days.

The following was posted on youtube today of the conversation held between the two of them today when Mr. Joseph had a chance to confront Governor Abercrombie.

On Facebook Wayne’s daughter Jacylynn,wrote:

My dad confronting the lying, underhanded Hawai’i Governor. If you know the issues (if you or a loved one is a teacher) then you’ll catch him in several lies. He also spends the entire 11 mins. blaming the union reps…

…At around 3:15 they ask me to TURN OFF THE CAMERA…you can hear my NO, as I continue filming. :P


HSTA-R Big Island President, Wayne Joseph, confronts governor Neil Abercrombie on retirement issues. Medicare Plan B reimbursement discussed, Governor criticizes HSTA negotiating team for backing out of deal in response to Joseph’s anti-collective bargaining remark. Governor comments about his no furlough days for teachers, which is a farse, as they have simply been renamed Directed Leave Without Pay days.

Governor Abercrombie Will Release Money for Bishop Museum and Polynesian Hall Restoration

Governor Neil Abercrombie receives the Charles Reed Bishop medal at the 13th annual Pauahi Awards and then announces that he will release $1.5 million for the Bishop Museum planetarium and $1 million for the Polynesian Hall restoration.


New Law Increases Freight Fees to Fund Fight Against Invasive Species

Media Release:

Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed House Bill 865 into law – a bill that increases the fee on the net weight of imported freight in order to strengthen the state’s invasive species programs, including the improvement of inspections at airports and harbors.

Coqui Frog

Coqui Frog

The new law increases the fee from 50-cents to 75-cents for every 1,000 pounds of freight, or part thereof, brought into the state.  The legislature determined that, due to insufficient funds, the state is unable to adequately inspect imports that may contain prohibited items and to stop the spread of invasive species throughout Hawaii.  The increased funding will go toward programs on the inspection, quarantine and eradication of invasive species.

“Hawaii does not have adequate resources to fight invasive species, and this new law will help provide the funds needed by our state agencies,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee.  “The threat of invasive species to our environment has become very serious.  If we don’t increase our inspection and eradication activities, our natural environment will rapidly deteriorate.  This is an important bill because the spread of pests like the coqui frog and others will negatively impact our economy and quality of life.”

The bill takes effect immediately upon approval.

Governor Abercrombie Comes to the Big Island Following Tsunami

Governor Neil Abercrombie toured Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua to see the damages that were caused by the Tsunami that hit on March 12th following the earthquake of Japan.

Here are some pictures he has posted on his Facebook account today:

Governor assessing damage near Kona Pier and Hulihe'e Palace on Hawaii Island

Governor assessing damage near Kona Pier and Hulihe'e Palace on Hawaii Island

Gov. Abercrombie surveying tsunami damage at Kealakekua Bay

Gov. Abercrombie surveying tsunami damage at Kealakekua Bay

After touring Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua he appeared before the Hawaii County Public Safety Committee.

Gov. Abercrombie appearing before the Hawaii County Council Public Safety Committee regarding tsunami damage

Gov. Abercrombie appearing before the Hawaii County Council Public Safety Committee regarding tsunami damage

Gov. Abercrombie appearing before the Hawaii County Council Public Safety Committee regarding tsunami damage