A Message From Senator Kahele – Rat Lungworm Disease


For this week’s legislative update, I want to focus on Senate Bill 272, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 1 (SB272 SD2 HD1), Relating to Rat Lungworm Disease. With the recent flurry of news stories covering Rat Lungworm Disease in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Civil Beat and even the Atlantic, I feel it particularly important to update you on what the legislature is doing to address the situation.

SB272 SD2 HD1 appropriates an unspecified amount of funds to the University of Hawai`i at Hilo for programs, studies, and activities related to the prevention and eradication of rat lungworm disease. We know that we have to appropriately fund these efforts to put an end to this menace.

Currently, SB272 SD2 HD1 has passed third reading in the House. The Senate has already communicated its disagreement to the HD1 version because it changes the effective date to July 31, 2150. This strategy is known as “defecting the effective date” and either kills the bill or forces it into conference since it is a forgone conclusion that neither house will pass a bill with such an unrealistic implementation date.

Hopefully, this bill will go to conference. If it does, Representative Richard Creagan and I will likely be the lead-chairs for the conference committee and we’ll be able to work with our colleagues to put out a draft both houses can support.

As we move forward, stay up-to-date on this effort by following its progress on our capitol website or our weekly updates. Mahalo for all your support!

Me ka ha’aha’a,
Kaiali’i Kahele

A Message From Senator Kahele – Student Loan Debt

Senator Kahele and some kid!

Aloha, I hope this week’s update finds you well. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, I have made it my mission to address the ever increasing costs associated with getting a University of Hawai’i System (UH System) degree.

To address this issue, my team and I crafted a Hawai’i Promise Program bill to create a “last-dollar” scholarship program for all UH System students who fell just short of the funds they would need to get a degree. We also introduced a Tuition Moratorium bill to preclude the UH System from increasing student tuition for an unspecified period, during which a detailed review of the UH System’s expenditures and revenue could take place.

In July 2015, President Barack Obama recognized the burden of the cost of higher education and issued Dear Colleague Letter GEN 15-14 to forbid loan guaranty agencies from charging fees for up to sixteen percent of the principal and accrued interest owed on Federal Family Education Program Loans (FFEPL), if the borrower entered the government’s loan rehabilitation program within sixty days of default. However, on March 16, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Dear Colleague Letter GEN 17-02 meant to revoke the federal guidance issued by President Obama.

By this action, President Trump is forcibly removing a safety net for FFEPL borrowers at the worst possible time. The total national student loan debt has grown to $1.3 trillion with a corresponding increase in the national average of debt per borrower at $37,172. Of the 44.2 million borrowers across the nation, 11.2% or just under 5 million borrowers are in default.

In response to President Trump’s action, my team and I put together SCR139 SD1, which urges the reinstatement of GEN 15-14 and requests legislative support or administrative action to allow borrowers in default a chance to rehabilitate their loans and successfully repay student debt without being charged steep collection fees by guaranty agencies. I hope you will join me in supporting this resolution. 

As the session continues, we will remain vigilant and committed to make higher education more affordable. We know education is the key to better paying jobs, job security, and economic stability for our families. That’s why it is critical that we make higher education 100% accessible to people of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Me ka ha’aha’a,
Kaiali’i Kahele

Senator Kahele on Goals for East Hawaii

“Ready to hit the ground running”

In my experience as Hawai’i Island’s State Senator for District Two, it is vital that the individual who represents East Hawai’i has the necessary Legislature and State Government relationships and contacts to make our government work for the people. 

It is difficult enough to get resolutions and legislation passed by the legislature. Thousands of new bills are submitted every year; less than 10% make it to the Governor’s desk for approval. If it is signed into law, we wait for the Governor to release the funds, (which is completely at his or her discretion). Once the funds are released, we must work with various State agencies and departments to administer the funds, break ground on the project and implement the law. We cannot wait for someone who has to develop those relationships on the job. Whoever represents Hilo must be someone who already has those critical relationships in place. 

“East Hawai’i, the Future of the State”

I see Hawai’i Island, East Hawai’i and in particular Hilo as leading the State in education, tourism, agriculture, sustainability and clean natural energy and power. As Oahu’s population continues to increase, overcrowding, traffic, real estate costs and the high cost of living in general will drive more people to Hawai’i Island. The laid back, small town atmosphere of Hilo, stable real estate prices and potential job opportunities will cause more families to move here to make a home and a living. Basic services will need to be increased, our schools need to be modernized, thus it is important that we plan for that population increase today rather than tomorrow. In order to do this quickly we need a Senator who can work collaboratively with the executive, legislative and county government to make State Government work for East Hawai’i and its current and future residents. 

As your State Senator, I have a plan and vision for Hilo and East Hawai’i. Listed below is the outline of my vision in both short term (immediate) and long term goals that will prepare Hilo for our future generations.

Mahalo! Senator Gil Kahele

Senator Gilbert Kahele





Short Term Goals

(* denotes high priorities)

  • Hilo Cargo Facility*: Work out the details of the project between the Contractor, Department of Transportation and the Department of Accounting and General Services. I want to secure the funding so that construction on the building can begin.
  • Hilo High School Gym*: Continue to work with State and County government to have this project “shovel ready” and construction can begin.
  • Lanakila Homes: Work with the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority and Department of Accounting and General Services to secure a contractor for the repair and remodel of the remaining units that have been in disrepair for years. Once remodeled, there will be 62 more units available for public housing families who desperately need a place to live.
  • University of Hawai’i Hilo: Facilitate the process between the Administration, Legislature and the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo to ensure progress on two critical projects:
    1. School of Pharmacy Building
    2. Student Housing
  • Capital improvement projects:Follow up on previously approved projects which have been “on the books” for East Hawai’i but for which monies have not been released. The vast majority of these projects are for maintenance and repair and could create immediate jobs for  Hilo contractors and businesses. There are also several new projects that can be expedited, including:
    1. A new Waiakea High School Track
    2. New Waiakeawaena School parking lot on Kino’ole Street
  • Geothermal power expansion in Puna, Volcano and Ka’u, which will reduce high energy costs for Hawai’i Island residents.
  • Bakers Beach to Reeds Bay walkway: A walkway (similar to the Coconut Island bridge) from the new Hilo Harbor expansion to the newly opened Reeds Bay beach park. Part of our long term goal of modernizing Banyan Drive.
  • State Highway 130 improvements: Work with the Department of Transportation to improve the highway between Hilo and Puna by expanding it to four lanes and building the planned roundabout at Kahakai. Install new traffic lights and signals.

Long Term Goals

  • Invasive species: Continue identifying and eradicating plants and animals that have the potential to decimate our critical agricultural industry and precious native species. Top priority: immediate 100% removal of the Axis Deer population.
  • Banyan Drive modernization and rejuvenation.
  • East Hawaii’s public schools: New infrastructure, new classrooms, temperature controlled environments, and technology.
  • Kulani Prison: Bring our local prisoners back from the mainland, allow local families to be closer to their loved ones and relatives, and save the State millions of dollars that can be re-invested in East Hawaii’s economy.
  • Papaya export: Increase export to Japan and Asia.
  • Lunar Aerospace Facility infrastructure at Shipman Industrial Park.
  • Aviation program at the University of Hawai’i Hilo in conjunction with the Hilo International Airport, encouraging education and economic development.
  • East Hawaiʻi Charter schools: Expansion, continued funding and additional resources.
  • University of Hawai’i at Hilo: Support new fields of study at the University to attract more students for research and technology, particularly in Agriculture, Astronomy, Pharmacy and Entomology.
  • University of Hawai’i at Hilo sports programs: Start new programs such as Men’s Volleyball, bringing more student-athletes to Hilo, more families visiting their children, more schools to compete against. This will help support our small businesses and increase tourism.
  • Tourism: Continue to work with the Director of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to expand tourism to East Hawai’i by increasing our air and cruise ship traffic.
  • “Sister Cities” relationships: Create a long-term partnership with India, the State of Hawai’i and Hilo to create “sister cities” and share knowledge and business opportunities for the future. India is expanding rapidly as a global power in the areas of business and technology. Let’s partner with them to expand East Hawaii in the areas of robotics, sustainable energy and new construction technologies.
These links below are from research I did last year on these critical projects for Puna and Volcano and are top priorities for me as well, especially State Highway 130.

State Highway 130 Expansion and Improvements – Puna District

Volcano School of Arts and Sciences Public Charter School-Keakealani Campus

Highway 130 and Malama Market Intersection to Become Round-A-Bout

Anyone that has driven through the intersection at Highway 130 and Old Government Road (Malama Market Intersection) knows how dangerous that intersection is and how danger Highway 130 is in general.

Well it looks like that intersection is going to be turned into a round-a-bout fairly soon.

Department of Transportation (HDOT), Highways Division is seeking qualified consultants to provide general engineering services for Keaau-Pahoa Road, Intersection Improvements at Old Government Road, Island of Hawaii.

The Intent of project is to improve operations and address and reduce the number of crashes at subject intersection by converting existing T-Intersection into a single-lane modern roundabout.

I just read about the consultation contract and the contract will be a Definite Quantity Contract, in accordance with §3-122-142, HAR. A contract time of performance of 6 months, and a budget of $500,000 are anticipated.

You can read more about the solicitation for the project here,  and let’s hope this thing gets fixed before we have any more serious accidents there.

In other Highway 130 related news, Senator Gilbert Kahele will be continuing his talk stories about Highway 130 on Thursday, December 1st from 6-8 pm at the Pahoa Community Center.

State Senator Gilbert Kahele Hosts His Final “Talk Story” Forum

Hawai’i Island’s District 2 State Senator Gilbert Kahele hosts his final “Talk Story” forum this Wednesday at Waiakea High School in Hilo.

At least Senator Kahele knew how to show some Aloha attire to the world at the APEC Summit!

Building upon the completion of a successful legislative session as Hawai’i Island’s District 2 State Senator, Senator Kahele is using this final forum to hear the concerns of his constituents in the largest community in East Hawai’i, Hilo. These forums have allowed him to help prepare for the upcoming 27th legislative session in January as well as provide a re-cap of his recently completed freshman legislative term. Some topics of discussion will cover various pieces of legislation that Senator Kahele helped become law, future projects at the University of Hawaii Hilo and surrounding area and the recently begun Hilo harbor and airport expansion.

Members of the community can email the Senator with issues and questions for the forum. He will make every effort to address those questions and report on the findings of those issues at the forum.

Senator Kahele’s final “Talk Story” forum date and location:


November 16th 2011, 5:30-7:30PM at Waiakea High School Cafeteria
Email your issue(s) to:


or call/fax in your issue to:

1-808-586-6760 (Office)

1-808-586-6689 (Fax)

Puna Infrastructure and Town Hall Meeting Agenda for Tonight with Senator Kahele

Infrastructure and Town Hall Meeting Agenda

September 22, 2011

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Kea‘au Elementary School Cafeteria

Highway 130 Project Map

Highway 130 Project Map

5:30 PM – Opening remarks and introductions by Senator Kahele

5:40 PM – State Department of Transportation Presentation by Director Glenn Okimoto, Deputy Director, Projects Jadine Urasaki, Deputy Director, Airports Division Ford Fuchigami, and Deputy Director, Harbors Division Randy Grune.

Topics to include:

  • All Hwy 130 project updates (all Keaau Pahoa Projects) & corridor study
  • Puainako extension update
  • Cargo facility update at Hilo Airport
  • Plans for rent-a-car facilities at Hilo Airport
  • Energy efficiency initiatives
  • Hilo Airport paving and circulation changes
  • Hilo Harbor Master Plan update
  • Hilo Pier 4
  • Hilo Pier 1

6:10 PM – Q&A regarding DOT presentation

6:25 PM – Break to allow County time to set-up and prepare

6:30 PM – Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works presentation by Director Warren Lee and staff

Topics to include:

  • Puna Makai Alternate Route
  • Roads in limbo
  • Repaving plan
  • Water spigots

7:00 PM – Q&A regarding County presentation

7:15 PM – Closing remarks and Mahalo by Senator Kahele