Big Island House Representative Denny Coffman Resigns From State House of Representatives

Speaker Joseph M. Souki today shared the following statement on the resignation of Representative Denny Coffman from the Hawaii House of Representatives:

Rep. Denny Coffman

Rep. Denny Coffman

“It is with deep sadness and regret that I accept the resignation of Rep. Coffman from the State House. I am grateful for all that he has done for state and the Legislature where he has been a respected and positive proponent of environmental progress. I am honored to have been able to call Denny a colleague and I, along with the members of the House, offer our sincere sympathies and wish him and his family the best. He will surely be missed.”

Big Island Representative Denny Coffman announced earlier today his resignation from the State House of Representatives. In a letter to State leaders, he expressed his plans to spend time with his family as his daughter faces a medical issue. His resignation is effective December 20, 2013

The Hawaii House District 5 seat (Na’alehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) will officially be vacant on December 21, 2013. Upon the seat’s vacancy, the Democratic Party of Hawaii must submit within thirty days a list of three prospective appointees to the Governor for his consideration. The Governor must then appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of Rep. Coffman’s seat within 60 days of the vacancy from the list of candidates provided by the party.

Konawaena Student is Driving Force Behind Sustainability Resolution

Two years ago an essay contest on sustainability caught the attention of Trevor Tanaka, currently a senior at Konawaena High School on Hawaii Island. He realized that he did not know a lot about sustainability and, more importantly, while private schools incorporated sustainable education into their courses, it was woefully absent from the public school curriculum.

Trevor Tanaka

Trevor Tanaka

Trevor’s journey to do something about this began at the Hawaii State Student Council’s Secondary Student Conference in the fall of 2011 where he presented a resolution requiring public schools throughout the State to incorporate sustainable education into their science curriculum.  At the conference, the resolution garnered the support of 85% of the student delegation.  He was then nominated by Nancy Redfeather from The Kohala Center to join the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative (SHYLI) and presented his resolution at the 2012 Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, last July and at the SHYLI Youth Leadership Forum in Kamuela in January 2013.

In addition to drafting HCR 178 and its companion SCR192, Tanaka solicited officials like Mayor Billy Kenoi and other Big Island community leaders to submit testimony.  Earlier this week Trevor came to Honolulu to testify on his resolution before the House Committee on Education. HCR178 passed the House committee and will go to the full House for a vote before being sent to the Senate for its consideration.

“When I meet someone like Trevor I know that the future of Hawaii is in good hands,” said  Rep. Denny Coffman (District 5: Na’alehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) who introduced the resolution on Trevor’s behalf.

“Trevor discovered a gap in his school curriculum and decided to take the initiative and do something about it.  We could all learn a thing or two from this exceptional young man,” Coffman added.

Rep. Denny Coffman Receives Certificate in Energy Policy

Hawaii State Representative Denny Coffman (District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau), who serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, announced today that he has received a certificate in Energy Policy from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute, a partnership between The Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), the National Conference of State Legislatures, the University of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Institute was created to educate state lawmakers on the infrastructure and delivery systems of North American energy resources.  Participating legislators are often chairs of committees within their respective state legislatures and are responsible for developing state energy policies.   The 18-month program focuses on issues associated with energy, natural gas and petroleum infrastructure; regulation governing this infrastructure, and interdependencies.

“It is critical that we in Hawaii obtain a more comprehensive understanding of energy issues, and the nuts and bolts of infrastructure and delivery systems, as we strive to develop the best policies for the islands,” said Rep. Coffman.  “Developing more efficient energy systems is one of the most important issues that each state faces for the future.  The policies we adopt today will impact the cost of energy and the way we consume energy for generations to follow.”

As part of the program, Rep. Coffman completed 60 credit hours of webinar training and coursework, including two out-of-state seminars.  He traveled to Portland, Oregon for an extensive 4-day workshop last July, and to Washington, D.C. for the final training and graduation during June 14 – 16, 2012.  The graduating class of 37 lawmakers from the United States and Canada received their certificates at the Canadian Embassy on Saturday, June 16th.

“Legislators learn how our energy infrastructure actually works and is built, including the resources they can access to make better energy policy decisions,” said Jeff Morris, Director of the institute.  Information on the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute and the graduating class of 2012 can be found here:

$1.5 Million Released for Kealakehe Community Center

From the Hawaii House  Blog:

Rep. Denny Coffman today praised the release of $1.526 million in design and planning funds to Laiopua 2020, an organization under the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), to build a new community center and medical clinic in Kealakehe.

“This project was my number one capital improvement priority during the 2010 legislative session,” said Rep. Coffman (District 6 –North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau.)  “In addition to creating construction jobs and permanent employment, the Laiopua Community Center will provide core government service facilities in a key location of the Kailua-Kona community. I want to thank my legislative colleagues for including this project in the CIP budget during a year when we face many fiscal challenges, and applaud the Governor for releasing the funds.”

The site is next door to the 1,500-student Kealakehe High School and nearby to the 800-student Kealakehe Intermediate School and the 1,000-student Kealakehe Elementary School.  On the immediate north side of this 26-acre community complex, is over 325 Native Hawaiian homes with another 900 homes in the planning stage.  On the immediate south side of the community complex is the planned Kamakana Villages Project; a 2,300-unit affordable housing development being planned by Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC) and developed by Forest City.

According to DHHL, groundbreaking is anticipated to take place in July 2011.  The community center is currently planned to include a computer lab and learning center, audio-visual center, after school and summer enrichment programs, culinary program and community kitchen, and space for community meetings and gatherings.  In addition, the community center will include space for social service programs related to existing agencies.

“When completed, this project will provide childcare, healthcare, Hawaiian cultural, recreation and family support services,” continued Rep. Coffman.  “The Big Island team of legislators believe that this is a model community project in the right place at the right time.”

The Ledge (Episode 9): Big Island Rep. Denny Coffman on HB 366 Protecting Manta Rays

Once again Rep.  Morita’s office has come out with another excellent segment of “The Ledge“:

HB366 HD2
Manta Rays; Poaching and Commercial Fishing Prohibited
Establishes fines and penalties for any person who knowingly captures or kills a manta ray within state marine waters. Provides an exception for special permits granted for scientific, education, management, or propagation purposes. (HB366 HD2)