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Lingle Signs Law Which Will Hire More Inspectors and Strengthen Sanitation Inspection Programs

From the House Majority Communications Office:

Governor Lingle today signed into law HB2688 which strengthens the state’s sanitation inspection program, including the hiring of more inspectors.

The measure, now Act 176, changes the name of the “Environmental Health Education Fund” to the “Sanitation and Environmental Health Special Fund”, and allows the money in the fund to be used for sanitation programs and activities, including monitoring Hawaii’s restaurants and food establishments.

“Proper sanitation in public areas is critical to the health and safety of our population,” said Rep. Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Committee on Health.  “I’m pleased that the Governor signed this bill into law since it will allow the Department of Health to hire needed sanitation and vector control inspectors and to provide greater support to Hawaii businesses which have an impact on public health.”

The sanitation branch is charged with implementing programs related to:

  • Food protection
  • The regulation of barber shops, beauty parlors, massage parlors, tattoo shops, mortuaries, public swimming pools, and public laundries;
  • The inspection of tenement houses, lodging houses, and boarding houses;
  • The licensing of tattoo artists and embalmers; and
  • Enforcing the sanitation requirements for hospitals and medical facilities.

“Even before the infamous video of the rats in certain food vendor areas, I’ve been concerned that the number of sanitation inspectors is woefully low for the number of food establishments in Hawaii,” said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the introducer of the bill.  “It’s irresponsible to create that kind of health risk for the general public.

This new law sets up a special fund that allows the sanitation branch, which brings in much of the fees through their activities, to use the money for sanitation purposes and not just for environmental health.  It’s a good bill that will greatly benefit the public.”

Governor’s West Hawai’i Community Advisory Council to Focus on Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative

Media Release

The Governor’s West Hawai‘i Community Advisory Council will meet on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) Gateway Center, at 73-4460 Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway #101 in Kailua-Kona. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

Ted Peck, energy administrator, Strategic Industries Division from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism will discuss the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s work to achieve energy independence through the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI). The HCEI, a partnership between the State of Hawai‘i and the U.S. Department of Energy, in collaboration with Hawaiian Electric companies, the business and academic sectors, the Legislature, the counties, the military and the community, seeks to move Hawai‘i toward having 70 percent of its energy use come from clean energy sources by 2030.

“The Governor encourages the public to attend the meeting and share any concerns or suggestions they may have regarding efforts to develop solutions to increase Hawai‘i’s energy independence, especially innovative ways to utilize the Big Island’s abundant supply of renewable energy sources,” said Andy Smith, the Governor’s West Hawai‘i Liaison.

Governor Linda Lingle created community advisory councils to give the neighbor islands a stronger voice in state government. The West Hawai‘i Community Advisory Council holds monthly public meetings to seek community input and advise the Governor of important issues and recommendations for state boards and commissions.

Members of the Governor’s West Hawai‘i Community Advisory Council are Rick Vidgen, Estela Halverson, Lei Kihoi, Glennon Gingo, Dale Fergerstrom and Elaine Watai from Kona; Doug Carr from Waikoloa; Joanne Ralston from Kapa‘au; and Beverly Byouk from Ocean View.

Anyone requiring special assistance or accommodations to participate at this meeting may call 327-4953. For additional information on neighbor island councils of advisors, including meeting minutes and agendas, visit the Governor’s Web site at www.hawaii.gov/gov.

Lingles Plan to Close Revenue Shortfall

Press Release

Governor Linda Lingle today submitted to the State Legislature the Administration’s plan to meet a projected $650 million revenue shortfall for the remainder of the current fiscal year (FY09) and biennium budget fiscal years 2010 through 2011.

The Administration’s plan balances the budget without raising taxes, without any layoffs or furloughs of state employees, and without making significant cuts to essential public services or programs.  It combines the use of federal stimulus funds, tobacco funds, interest from and charges to various special funds, adjustments to selected benefits for state employees, and further tightening Act 221 tax credits.

“While we are working to take maximum advantage of the federal funds available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the additional federal funds alone will not be sufficient to close the projected revenue shortfall,” said Governor Lingle.

“In developing this balanced budget plan, our top priorities were to ensure we do not take any more taxpayer money out of the economy to support government, that we not add to the state’s unemployment by laying off employees, that we preserve essential public services, and that we continue to invest available resources in projects that will create jobs in the near term and achieve our long-term priorities such as energy independence.  This budget accomplishes those goals,” the Governor added.

In December, Governor Lingle submitted her Administration’s FY10-FY11 biennium budget which included a detailed plan to make up for a $1.1 billion revenue shortfall projected by the Council on Revenues.  On January 9, 2009, the Council lowered its revenue projections further by an additional $650 million for FY09, FY10 and FY11.

The Governor subsequently submitted an $81 million plan to close the FY09 shortfall through a combination of transferring funds from various special funds, including the rainy day fund, implementing additional restrictions on discretionary spending and utilizing additional federal reimbursements for Medicaid.

“Over the past year, we have made difficult but necessary decisions to reduce spending to ensure the state lives within its means,” the Governor said.  “At the same time, unprecedented national and global fiscal and economic challenges continue to impact our local economy and these realities mandate that we cannot continue to operate in a business-as-usual manner.

“We also must resist the impulse to raise taxes and fees because Hawai‘i’s families and small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges. We must ensure they keep as much of their money as possible.”
The Governor pointed out that additional budget adjustments will likely be needed when the Council on Revenues meets again on March 12, because it is anticipated that the Council will revise its revenue forecasts downward.

In addition to the plan to close the FY09 shortfall, the Administration is proposing the following nine action items to provide the state with additional general fund revenues needed to close the revenue shortfall:

  • Utilize federal stimulus Medicaid funds. Nearly half of the shortfall will be covered by an estimated $320 million in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funds. The matching federal funds for treating Medicaid patients are part of the $15 billion in Medicaid assistance being made available to the states under the recently passed federal stimulus plan. Hawai‘i is scheduled to receive $106.7 million for FY09, $142.2. million in FY10 and $71.1 million in FY11.  As of last week, states were allowed to start accessing FMAP funds (Impact: $320 million, FY09-FY11.)
  • Redistribute a portion of the Tobacco Settlement Funds. The Administration supports a bill (HB1731) currently before the Legislature to reallocate the distribution of the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund, including depositing 14 percent into the state’s general fund.  This action would add $7 million per year to the state’s revenues.  (Impact: $14 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Transfer tobacco tax revenues to the general fund. The Administration supports a bill (HB1732) currently before the Legislature which would allow the use of tobacco tax revenues. The redistribution of the tobacco tax is expected to add $33 million to the state’s general fund in the upcoming biennium. (Impact: $33 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Advance the general excise tax filing date. The Administration supports a bill (HB1735) currently before the Legislature to change the filing date for the general excise monthly tax return from the last day of the calendar month following the month in which taxes accrue to the 20th day of that month.  The earlier collection of taxes within the fiscal year will generate a one-time revenue gain of $40 million in FY11.  (Impact:  $40 million, FY11.)
  • Remove the exemption for certain special funds from assessments. The Administration proposes removing a provision that currently exempts certain special funds from paying their fair share of assessments to support central services and departmental administrative expenses.  A bill (HB1740) currently before the Legislature would remove the exemption for all but a handful of special funds, including the Hawai‘i Hurricane Relief Fund, Convention Center Enterprise Special Fund and Tourism Special Fund.  The Administration supports this measure, but proposes also allowing the following special funds to retain the exemption from assessments:  State Educational Facilities Improvement Special Fund, Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation Special Fund and University of Hawai‘i Special Fund.  This action would result in an additional $9.8 million annually. (Impact: $19.6 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Transfer interest earned on certain special funds to the general fund. The Administration supports a measure (HB1733) before the Legislature to allow the transfer of interest earned on investments of special funds, revolving funds and special accounts into the general fund.  This action would not impact the amount in these funds that are generated through user fees or charges.  The use of the interest earnings would result in an estimated $38.2 million in general fund revenues. (Impact: $38.2 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Discontinue employer-funded group life insurance. The Administration supports a bill (HB1726) currently before the Legislature to prevent the Hawai‘i Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund (EUTF) from providing group life insurance benefits if the premiums are paid for by the state or a county.  Currently, the employer (the state or a county) pays the entire premium for the life insurance benefit.  Premiums are more expensive than paying death benefits directly to survivors.  Discontinuing this practice would save the state $4.1 million in FY10 and $4.3 million in FY11.  (Impact: $8.4 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Seek adjustments to the EUTF health benefits plan. The Administration will seek adjustments to the current Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund health plan through collective bargaining negotiations. If the current health benefits plan is sustained, with the state covering 60 percent of the cost, the premiums will increase by an estimated 29.4 percent.  This proposal would not affect retirees and their dependent beneficiaries. This effort would provide a cost savings of approximately $48 million per year.  (Impact: $96 million, FY10-FY11.)
  • Further tighten Act 221 to reduce tax credits to investors in technology businesses. Rather than allowing investors to get back a full dollar for each dollar they invest, investors will receive 50 cents for each dollar invested, sharing their risk with state taxpayers.  This effort will save an estimated $43.9 in the biennium. (Impact: $43.9 million, FY10-FY11.)

In addition to closing the revenue shortfall over the next two years, the Administration is also focused on ensuring long-term fiscal stability for the state.  The Administration supports a bill (HB1715) currently before the Legislature to increase by five years the minimum retirement age and minimum length of service before a state employee can receive full service retirement benefits.  The measure would only apply to employees who enter public service on or after July 1, 2009.  The annual savings for this proposal starting in FY2013 is approximately $39 million.

Lingle Releases $1,796,000 For Girls Locker Room at McKinley High School

I’ll file this under the holy cow file!

Governor Linda Lingle has released $1,796,000 in design and construction funds for a new girls’ athletic locker room and shower facilities at McKinley High School…

More Here

I don’t even want to think about what a 1.8 Million dollar locker room would look like.

Remember… it wasn’t that long ago that UH Football Players had to bitch and moan just to get soap in the locker rooms from the State.

“From the crusty locker room and the ancient carpet in the coaches’ offices to the lack of soap in the showers, Brennan gave several examples of what needed to be improved.”

Lingle Release $670,000 for Hilo High School

Mediar Release

Governor Linda Lingle has released $670,000 for two projects at Hilo High School on the Big Island.

The projects are in addition to the $1.8 billion public infrastructure construction plan unveiled by Governor Lingle in December 2008 to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

“These projects will provide students on the Big Island and other organizations that use our public schools with a safe, accessible and positive environment,” said Governor Lingle.

Hilo-Laupāhoehoe-Waiākea Complex Alternative Learning Center – $500,000
Funds will be used for the design and construction of an extended trailer for the Lanikila Learning Center, a full-day program located at Hilo High School for at-risk high school students who attend public schools in the Hilo-Laupāhoehoe-Waiākea complex area. The new facility will include two instructional spaces with restrooms.

Governor Lingle previously released $375,000 for project design and construction.

Design is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in October 2009. Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2010 and be completed in December 2010.

Hilo High School – $170,000
These funds will cover the design and construction of accessibility enhancements, including the installation of a chairlift to the second floor of Building C and improved directional signage to accessible entrances. Design is scheduled to begin in September 2009 and be completed in February 2010. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2010 and be completed in December 2010.

Lingle Releases Funds for Park Improvements… 3 Big Island Parks to See Improvements

Governor Linda Lingle has released $250,000 to improve the energy efficiency of state parks and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) facilities on the Big Island, Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu. This project is in addition to the $1.87 billion public infrastructure construction plan unveiled by Governor Lingle in December 2008 to stimulate the economy and create jobs…
…The following parks and DLNR facilities will receive improvements:

Big Island:
Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area and Baseyard
Kalōpā State Recreation Area
Wailoa River State Recreation Area and Baseyard

Full list of other State Parks on other Islands as well as more on the Governors release here.

Lingle Releases $833,00 for Advanced Traveler Information System for Oahu Travelers

Governor Linda Lingle has released $833,000 to implement the first phase of an Advanced Traveler Information System for H-1, H-2 and H-201 (Moanalua) Freeways to help motorists avoid traffic and reduce their commute times

More Here

Lingle Unveils Comprehensive Highway Modernization Plan… $524 Million for Big Island

Governor Linda Lingle, together with Senate Transportation Chair Kalani English, House Transportation Chair Joe Souki and State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka today unveiled a $4.2 billion dollar, six-year Highway Modernization Plan.  The statewide plan would implement critical highway projects and programs aimed at reducing traffic congestion, improving highway safety, maintaining roads, and saving motorists time and money.

“This is a truly innovative proposal that will change the way the state Department of Transportation does business when it comes to funding, planning and implementing highway upgrades and maintenance,” said Governor Lingle.  “This Highway Modernization Plan will provide the type of results that all users of our roadways have been waiting for and deserve.  It builds on the State’s overall efforts to upgrade Hawai‘i’s transportation infrastructure, and will complement our Airports Modernization and Harbors Modernization plans that are already underway.”

The Highway Modernization Plan focuses on 183 projects, including 161 projects in the four counties:  76 projects on O‘ahu ($1,905,033,000), 36 projects for Maui County ($578,940,000), 27 projects on the Big Island ($524,712,000) and 22 projects on Kaua‘i ($263,410,000).  In addition, there are 22 statewide projects ($968,119,000)…

More Here

Lingle Nominates Former Student Regent Michael Dahilig as UH Regent At-Large

This is strange:

Governor Linda Lingle today announced she has nominated Michael A. Dahilig to fill the remaining University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents at-large seat. His name will be submitted to the Hawai‘i State Senate for its advice and consent.

I find this strange because he just submitted a resignation letter from his student regent position 6 weeks ago:

resignation

Letter lifted from Capsun's Corner, Click letter to see his breaking news earlier in the year on this.

I blogged earlier that this was the Student Regent that supported UARC despite the student wishes:

…He said personally for him it came down to a question of academic freedom. He said the three-year moratorium on classified research was “a fair compromise.” Ultimately, he said, “the pros outweighed the cons,” so he voted for the military research program…

…He said that while he is “not 100% proud” of the vote, that he felt he “tipped his hat” to the overwhelming student opposition by voting yes with reservations…

More Here

New Legislation Proposed to Improve Safety on Roadways

Governor Linda Lingle, Senator Kalani English, Rep. Joe Souki and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled five pieces of legislation today all aimed at improving traffic safety on Hawai‘i’s roadways…

  • Distracted Driving Bill for New Drivers
  • Reckless Driving Bill
  • Driving Under the Influence for Commercial Drivers Bill
  • Moped and Motor Scooter Helmet Law Bill
  • Red Light Photo Enforcement Program

More on these in the Governors release here.

Governor to Select Gil Keith-Agaran to Replace Rep. Nakasone on Maui

*update*  Governor’s office just confirmed this.

Just got the following twit “TWEET” from Advertiser Reporter Derrick Depledge:

“Governor to Select Gil Keith-Agaran to Replace Rep. Nakasone on Maui”

Gil Keith-Aragan

Gil Keith-Aragan

Mr. Gil Keith-Agaran An attorney practicing in Wailuku, Keith-Agaran spent a decade in public service as Chair of the State Board of Land and Natural Resources, State Director of Labor and State Deputy Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and as County Public Works Director. He presently serves on the boards of the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, the Maui Food Bank, the Maui Coastal Land Trust, the Tri-Isle Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Maui High School Community Council, and A Keiki’s Dream. Keith-Agaran has a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. from Yale College. He is married and is the guardian of a niece who is a senior at his alma mater, Maui High School.

From the Maui Democratic Party Blog.

(Nakasone recently passed away if you didn’t know)

Governor Calls for Contraflow and Other Road Projects… Puna Left Out of This Batch of Projects

This hurts!

I’ve been trying to suggest contra flowing H-130 since I started on this dang Highway 130 Project and now Oahu seems to be able to get one with no problems at all.

We get $56 Million for 11 miles of widening and beautification for the H-130 Project that will take 10 – 20 years, and they get $40 million for 5-6 miles of contraflow that will be done in a few years.

The state Transportation Department is asking for $40 million to build an afternoon contraflow lane on the H-1 Freeway west-bound…

…Construction would start in January 2010, and wrap up within 12 to 18 months

…The afternoon contraflow lane, which would extend for a 6.2-mile stretch, is expected to save west-bound commuters about 5 to 10 minutes, the DOT said…

More Here

From Lingles News Release today:

Governor Linda Lingle, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Marilyn Lee and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled two major initiatives today aimed at easing traffic congestion along the most heavily traveled corridor in the state.

“Traffic congestion has a significant impact on the lives of our residents as well as our overall economy,” said Governor Lingle.  “My Administration is committed to continuing to work with the Legislature, our federal and county partners, the private sector and the community to develop transportation solutions that will ultimately improve the quality of life in Hawai‘i by allowing residents to spend less time in traffic and more time at home with their families.”

PM Contraflow

The first project focuses on improving the westbound afternoon rush hour commute on the H-1 Freeway from Honolulu to Central and Leeward O‘ahu by adding a 6.2-mile contraflow lane starting at the Radford Drive overpass and ending at the Waiawa Interchange (H1-H-2 merge).  The PM Contraflow Lane is expected to increase westbound capacity by about 17 percent during the afternoon rush hour commute, which translates to a five- to 10-minute reduction in average commutes…

More Here

Lingle Selects 5 New UH Regents

Governor Linda Lingle Saturday announced she has selected five individuals to immediately replace University of Hawai’i regents who have been serving as holdovers. The names will be submitted to the Hawai’i State Senate for its advice and consent when it convenes later this month…

List of names selected here.

Lingle Pardons Six More – Bringing Total to 77

Governor Linda Lingle announced today that she granted pardons to six individuals in 2008, in accordance with the power vested in her by the Hawai`i State Constitution (Article V, Section 5).

“These individuals made mistakes, which for some were one-time, isolated incidents. They served their sentences and completed probation, and have led law-abiding lives,” said Governor Lingle…
Governor Lingle has pardoned 77 individuals since taking office.

List of latest pardons Here

Lingle Names East Hawaii Liaison

Governor Linda Lingle has appointed Honoka‘a native Marc Miranda to serve as her liaison to the East Hawai`i community. Miranda will start his new duties on Jan. 12…

More Here

State Sells $125.2 Million in Highway Revenue Bonds

Governor Linda Lingle announced today that the State successfully completed its sale of $125.2 million of Highway Revenue Bonds to fund various highway capital improvement projects throughout the State…

…“Completion of the $125.2 million Highways Revenue Bond sale today, along with the sale of $227.8 million in general obligation bonds earlier this month, will provide a portion of the initial funding for our $1.8 billion public infrastructure improvement plan announced on Monday,” said Governor Lingle  “These resources will aid in boosting our construction industry, and support our five-point economic action plan to stimulate and strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy and create jobs,” added Governor Lingle…

More Here

Lingle on Capital Improvement Projects… The Video

Part I

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzeg87-qICU&hl=en&fs=1]

Part II

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbarAPMQXOE&hl=en&fs=1]

LIVE CONFERENCE NOW WITH LINGLE

Click HERE

newsconf121608

Today, Governor Lingle and Public Safety Director Clayton Frank will hold a news conference to announce a new program that will provide crime victims with accurate and real-time information about offenders incarcerated in the state correctional system or on parole.  The program is being funded through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

State Leaders Unveil $1.8 Billion Public Infrastructure Improvement Plan

Governor Linda Lingle, mayors, legislators, construction industry executives and labor leaders today unveiled a sweeping plan to implement $1,865,522,037 in public infrastructure improvement projects statewide as part of a comprehensive effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs.  Through a collaborative effort that includes the counties, construction industry organizations, and labor unions, this plan focuses on 1,521 projects statewide which have been already budgeted and approved by the Legislature and are ready to start construction within the next 18 months

More Here

Breakdown of expenditures Here

Shai Agassi Press Conference Announcing “Project Better Place”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-HGtlmFjHE&hl=en&fs=1]