Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Here in Hawai‘i, we are lucky to live in a place with diverse ecology and unique environments. As such, we must actively strive to be stewards of our ‘aina and protect our islands for the future.

Celebrating Earth Day at the State Capitol, students from Farrington High School, Waialua High and Intermediate School, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, Leilehua High School, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Hongwanji Mission School, ‘Iolani School, and Le Jardin Academy rallied to support a clean energy future  and an end to Hawai‘i’s dependency on fossil fuels.


Students sign waive for clean energy along Beretania Avenue in front of the State Capitol


Students display their homemade rallying signs supporting clean energy


Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, addresses students at the rally


Senator Roz Baker encourages students to support clean and renewable energy

In addition to rallying for clean energy, students also participated in the legislative process. They visited Senate and House galleries to see legislators at work during the legislative floor session, and urged lawmakers to support clean energy policies under current consideration.


Students fill the Senate visitors’ gallery during the Senate floor session

The event was organized by the Blue Planet Foundation, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for Hawai‘i residents by supporting a clean energy future.

Statement from Maui Senators on $305 Million for New Car Rental Facility for Kahului Airport

Maui’s Kahului Airport will receive $305,500,000 in capital improvement projects (CIP) funding appropriated by the legislature. Governor Neil Abercrombie released funds for the construction of a new multi-level consolidated car rental facility and roadway improvements at Kahului Airport.

The car rental facility will include a customer service building, quick turnaround, ready return vehicle parking spaces, four 15,000-gallon fuel storage tanks, a people mover system to and from the terminal, site improvements, roadway connections to airport terminal roadways, additional employee parking spaces and potential flat-plate, non-reflective photovoltaic panels. A new access road to the facility will run from Hana Highway to Airport Loop Road.

“Residents and visitors alike will see improvements in customer service as the new car rental facility will streamline the car rental process,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui. “Airport modernization is good for Maui and the State, and projects like this will certainly improve our tourism industry.”

“Right now customers have to drive through the terminal roadway system to get to the existing rental car facilities, causing congestion in front of the terminals,” said Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, who represents H?na, east and upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe. “A new access road from Hana Highway to Airport Loop will help to alleviate traffic congestion at the airport.”

“I’m glad the governor released funds appropriated by the legislature for this large and important project that benefits all of Maui,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who represents Wailuku, Waihe‘e, and Kahului. “It will create more local construction jobs, stimulate the economy, and improve the overall customer experience for residents and visitors. I am looking forward to work on this project breaking ground.”

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The Hawaii State Legislature Honors Bruno Mars with Certificate of Appreciation

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The Hawaii State Legislature  honored local boy Bruno Mars for his great successes in his musical career. Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, along with Jerry Chang, UH Hilo’s director of university relations, and Bruce Coppa, Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s chief of staff, presented Bruno with a certificate recognizing his outstanding career and saluting the impact he has made on the world with his music.

“Bruno Mars is an extremely talented young man and Hawaii is very proud of him,” said Kim. “He represents our state well and I congratulate him for pursuing his musical gifts.”

“His extraordinary career began as a musical child prodigy, and since then he has honed his skills as a performer, composer, songwriter and producer,” she added. “He’s an inspiration to many and has a bright future ahead of him.”

Bruno, 28, played his last sold-out show Monday after a weekend of wowing fans. Hawaii is the first stop on Mars’ second leg of his Moonshine Jungle World Tour.

Highlights of the Senate Certificate Honoring Bruno Mars 

His friends and classmates at Roosevelt High School remember him as Peter Gene Hernandez, but even as a teenager he was showing signs of the tremendous talent within. The son of musical parents and professional entertainers, Bruno, as he was nicknamed at an early age, formed a band with friends and performed with his family’s act at the Ilikai Hotel.

Already a prodigy as a child, he honed his act and repertory, not to mention his musical gifts, during his many years of performing in Waikiki.Following his graduation from high school in 2002, Bruno Mars left the islands to seek his fortune in Los Angeles.

His career developed slowly, and it was only after he turned his creativity to composing did he begin to enjoy greater exposure. Bruno made a decision to focus on his songwriting and producing skills, helping other performers develop their careers. It was not until 2010 that Atlantic Records gave him the opportunity to sing in the chorus for his composition, “Nothin’ on You” recorded by rapper B.o.B., and he finally found himself as a pop performer as well as a composer.

Bruno released his first solo single, “Just the Way You Are,” several months later and hasn’t looked back since. The few short years following his breakthrough as a performer have been nothing short of remarkable, as he earned a Grammy Award for best male pop vocal performance, had his debut album reach platinum status, sold 45 million singles to date around the world, copped numerous industry honors in the United States and elsewhere, been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and wowed football fans as the featured half-time act at the 2014 Super Bowl.  Bruno Mars, a young man born in Hawaii, has become a musical phenomenon and a global icon, and an exceptional representative of the people of these islands.

The Senate and House of Representatives of the Twenty-seventh Legislature of the State of Hawaii hereby commends and congratulates Bruno Mars on his outstanding career and extends our best wishes for his continued success throughout the years to come.

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Senators Break from Conference to Observe Good Friday

Happy Good Friday. Legislators are breaking from conference committee meetings today after a week of getting together to hash out differences between House and Senate versions of bills.

The first bill out of conference was SB2901 SD1 HD1, a bill that would bring the State into compliance with federal motor carrier safety regulations by deleting any existing statutes or provisions containing federal requirements that are currently addressed in Hawaii Administrative Rules. This would help ensure exact compliance and avoid the possibility of a contradiction between federal and state rules and statutes.


Senators and Representatives meet in conference to discuss differences in SB2901

Throughout next week, senators and representatives will continue to meet in conference meetings to settle difference between the two chambers bills. If legislators come to a consensus on a conference draft of the bill, it will be decked for final reading and voted upon in each chamber. If a bill survives that last vote by May 1st, the adjournment date of the regular legislative session, it will be delivered to the governor to sign into law.

Women’s Legislative Caucus Donates Easter Baskets to Help Families in Need


Senator Baker with the Easter Bunny and donated baskets for the Institute for Human Services 

The Women’s Legislative Caucus today donated more than 100 Easter baskets full of essential household items to the Institute for Human Services (IHS) to help families in need.

Baskets filled with laundry soap, utensils, dishes, toiletries, towels, and school supplies will benefit clients who get help and support in transitioning out of homelessness. The items in the baskets will be a nice welcome for the families and individuals who are just starting off in a permanent home.

“The Caucus has been doing these drives for about 10 years now,” said Senator Roz Baker (D – South and West Maui). “Community support really helps nonprofits like IHS. We’re so grateful to everyone who took the time to make these beautiful baskets and share aloha with those in need.”

The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bipartisan organization which consists of the women Senators and women members of the House of Representatives.  The Caucus works closely with women’s organizations and concerned individuals across the State, as well as with the Governor, state agencies and other legislators to advocate for programs and services that benefit women.

For information on how you can organize a food, toiletry, clothing or other drive for IHS, email drives@ihs-hawaii.org.

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Senate’s Capitol Idol Raises Over $1,700 for the Hawaii Foodbank

The Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show, raised over $1,700 for the Hawaii Foodbank. In 2012, the event raised $1,400.

Members of the executive branch and legislature didn’t hold anything back to win the coveted individual and team perpetual trophies. However, Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Neil Abercrombie, and his backup dancers outshone everyone with “Last Dance.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard organized the fundraiser and comedian Champ Kaneshiro volunteered as emcee.

“We all had a lot of fun for a good cause as we approach a hectic time during the legislative session,” said Gabbard. “We surpassed what we brought in last year and it’s all thanks to our guests and the performers.”

Performers included:

Team Executive Branch: Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff

Team House: Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito

Team Senate: Sen. Russell Ruderman, backed by Sens. Rosalyn Baker, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Michelle Kidani and Suzanne Chun-Oakland;  Sen. Mike Gabbard; Sen. Malama Solomon with back-up singers Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and senate staff; and Da Kolohe Bruddahs, consisting of Sens. Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria and Russell Ruderman.

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Kupuna Power Celebrates Seniors

Kupuna Power Flyer 2014As the “silver tsunami” approaches, it has become even more urgent to empower seniors through education, awareness and exercise. Senator Brickwood Galuteria is hosting the second Kupuna Power Day at the Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda. It’s a fun-filled event bringing together more than 30 organizations providing vital information for the health, safety and well- being for Hawaii’ s Kupuna. The public, especially Kupuna, are invited to enjoy a program jam packed with entertainment and information on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 9 – 11:30 a.m.

The event celebrates Kupuna and seek to empower them with important information relating to everyday life. However, it’s not all serious business on Kupuna Power Day.  The fun-filled event features notable local entertainers taking the stage and seniors will be asked to lace up their sneakers and take part in healthy exercise, including Silver Sneakers Stretch. Entertainment will be provided by Danny Kaleikini, Marlene Sai and Tony Silva. The events are free to attend.

“This day is all about empowering the Kupuna with education, entertainment and exercise,” said Senator Brickwood Galuteria, organizer of the event.  “Our population is aging and we need to continue to provide our Kupuna with support so that they can live self-sufficiently. The silver tsunami is coming and we want to prepare all our residents for when that time comes.”

Here is the schedule of events:

9:00 a.m.          Welcome Kupuna Power – Sen. Brickwood Galuteria
PULE  -  Kahu David Kaupu
Flag Procession  -  McKinley High School Color Guard
Pledge of Allegiance – Wesley Lum, Dir., Exec. Office on Aging
Star Spangled Banner  -  Danny Kaleikini
Hawai’i Pono’i  -  Marlene Sai
Kupuna Power Day Proclamation – Gov. Neil Abercrombie

9:15 a.m.          What is Kupuna Power?  Knowing Your Resources:   Sen. B. Galuteria

9:20 a.m.          Silver Sneakers Stretch:  Merita Compton, Dir. Kokua Kalihi Valley Kupuna Program

9:25 a.m.          Medicaid/Medicare update:  Pamela Cunningham

9:35 a.m.          Danny Kaleikini .. entertainment w/Kit Ebersbach & Steve Jones

9:45 a.m.          Avoiding Identity Theft:  Scott Spallina – Deputy Prosecuting Atty

9:55 a.m.          Silver Sneakers Stretch:    Merita Compton

10:00 a.m.          Marlene Sai .. entertainment w/Kit Ebersbach & Steve Jones

10:10 a.m.          Long Term Insurance:    Pamela Cunningham

10:20 a.m.          SPECIAL GUEST:  DaBruddha’s/Tony Silva – “How you know if you one kupuna…age is just one numbah!”

10:30 a.m.          Silver Sneakers Stretch:  Merita Compton

10:35 a.m.          Kupuna Power Recap … Knowing Your Resources:  Sen. B. Galuteria

10:45 a.m.          “Hawaii Aloha” … sing & visit w/all vendors

11:30 a.m.           PAU!!

Vendors represented at the event are as follows:

  •  AARP
  • Aloha Care
  •  Alu Like Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna Project
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Attention Plus Home Health Care
  • Blue Jay Wireless
  • Catholic Charities Hawaii
  • City & County of Honolulu – Department of Transportation
  • DCCA -  Insurance
  • DCCA – Consumer
  • DCCA – Securities
  • DHS – Ho’opono For The Blind
  • DHS – Senior Companion Program
  • DHS Foster Grandparent Program
  • Elderly Affairs
  • Emeritus Club
  • Hawaiian Memorial Park & Mortuary
  • Hawaiian Tel
  • HECO
  • HGEA
  • Honolulu Community College Emeritus Club
  • HSTA
  • Ke Ola Mamo Kupuna Program
  • Kokua Kahili Valley
  • Lanakila Meals On Wheels
  • Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center
  • Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
  •  Office of the Prosecuting Attorney – Elder Abuse
  • ‘Olelo
  • Palolo Chinese Home
  • Premier Benefit Consultants
  • Retired and Senior Volunteer Program
  • Sage Plus
  • Scott Gardner
  • Senior Medical Patrol
  • Territorial Savings Bank
  • Waikiki Health Center
  • Walgreens

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State Leaders Take the Stage for Capitol Idol II

Everyone’s got talent, right? We’ll see about that at Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show fundraiser for the Hawai‘i Foodbank, featuring a handful of brave government leaders from the executive and legislative branches.  Members of the Senate, House and executive branch will sing, dance, and showcase other talents to win the applause of audience members on Monday, April 14 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. Admission is FREE. The event is hosted by Senator Mike Gabbard, with Champ Kaneshiro, of The Champ Show on OC16, emceeing.

The first Capitol Idol was held in 2012, with Rep. Marcus Oshiro (aka “Madame Moshiro”) stealing the show. People are still talking about the lady in the red dress today. However, the word lingering about Capitol hallways is that the Senate will definitely be rocking the House this year.  Individual and Senate/House perpetual trophies are at stake, but more importantly, bragging rights go to the winners for a year.

“We hope to see lots of smiling faces in the audience this year,” said Gabbard. “We want to surpass what we raised last year and encourage everyone to dig deep and support this very worthy cause. You won’t be disappointed in the show.”


Senator Gabbard plays the guitar for Capitol Idol 2012

Competing from the executive branch are Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff.

In the House’s corner, Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito will take the stage on behalf of their 51 members.

Representing the Senate are Sens. Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard and Malama Solomon. In addition, a group called Da Kolohe Bruddahs, given their name, will surely rouse laughter in the auditorium. The group wishes to remain anonymous, so the only way to find out who they are is to attend.

Senator Solomon dancing at Capitol Idol 2012

Although this is a FREE event, it is also a fundraiser to raise money for the Hawaii Food Bank. Therefore, state employees are encouraged to donate $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrips.

Votes (scrips) from the audience will determine the winner. Scrips can be picked up in Gabbard’s office, Capitol Room 201, until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 14. After 5 p.m., scrips can be picked up in Capitol Room 016 until 15 minutes after the end of the show. There is no limit on the number of scrips that a state employee can purchase. And people can vote for their favorites as much as they wish.

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Senate Special Investigative Committee on the Hawaii State Hospital Meets Again

The Senate Special Investigative Committee on the Hawaii State Hospital yesterday continued questioning top administrators in a hearing held at the Capitol. During the hearing, concerns were raised about nepotism and if there was a possibility of overtime pay being awarded unfairly. The Hawaii Legislature subpoenaed a top administrator, Bill Elliott, to inquire specifically whether clerks at the hospital were unfairly giving more overtime to one employee over another.

The investigation will be ongoing as senators look in depth at the Hawaii State Hospital as a whole. Further investigation and questioning will resume on April 30th.


Bill Elliott, acting administrator of the state’s only public mental hospital prepares to testify before the Senate Special Investigative Committee.

Senate Approves More than 170 House Bills at Second Crossover

Conference Committees to Convene Next Week


At Second Crossover, the Hawaii State Senate advanced several bills that align with its 2013 legislative session priorities:  improving the lives of Hawaii’s people through k?puna support, environmental protection, community investment and fiscal responsibility. Lawmakers advanced legislation relating to education, housing and homelessness, health, public safety, agriculture, veterans, and tourism.

The Senate passed more than 170 measures, including those supporting Hawaii’s k?puna and protecting the environment. Lawmakers passed three joint majority package bills related to these issues. The k?puna measures advanced include HB1713, which will provide funding to support healthy aging programs and services and require the Executive Office on Aging to conduct a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care, and HB1715, which appropriates funds for the operation of investor education and related financial education programs targeted to k?puna. Senators also approved HB1714, a bill that addresses sea level rise due to climate change. Voting on HB1716, a bill addressing invasive species, has been deferred until passage of the state budget bill.

The Senate also advanced HB1866, a compromise bill that addresses the concerns of both developers and critics of the Hawaii Community Development Authority while moving the state forward in a positive direction. The bill amends the HCDA membership and appointment, creates a 418-ft height limit, and makes requirement changes for notice, hearing, approval and vesting of rights for development permits. It will also permit sales of reserved housing units and cash-in-lieu payments for reserved housing requirements.

To expedite discussions on the state supplemental budget, the Senate last week approved the HB1700, the supplemental appropriations act of 2014, which includes less spending while continuing to support education, health, human services, the environment and public safety.

Following lower tax revenue projections, the Senate’s version of the bill reduces all funds by $46.1 million, inclusive of a general fund reduction of $45.8 million. For FY2014-2015, the bill reduces all funds by $167.9 million, inclusive of a general fund reduction of $158.7 million.

The bill does not include funding for certain administration requests that are intended to be funded under other appropriation measures, including joint majority package bills. These reductions should not be counted as actual “savings.” The reductions include $33.5 million for the UHPA salaries, $1.0 million for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, and $4.9 million for K?puna Care and other senior citizen programs.

Members of the Senate and House next week will convene conference committees to work out any differences in the measures.

OTHER SECOND CROSSOVER BILLS

Education

HB2109 HD2 SD1 establishes a five-year evidence-based physical-activity and nutritional-education pilot program within the A+ Program in Hawaii’s public elementary schools.

HB1777 HD2 SD2 authorizes DOE employees and agents with specified training to volunteer to administer auto-injectable epinephrine to a student with anaphylaxis. Allows DOE to make arrangements to receive auto-injectable epinephrine supplies from manufacturers and suppliers.

HB2598 HD1 SD2 renames the Hawaii 3R’s School Repair and Maintenance Fund the Hawaii 3R’s School Improvement Fund. Requires the transfer of moneys collected pursuant to section 235-102.5(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes, and authorizes the transfer of any other moneys received in the form of grants and donations for school-level improvements and minor repairs and maintenance to the Hawaii 3R’s School Improvement Fund.

HB1676 HD1 SD1 appropriates funds to, and authorize, the Executive Office on Early Learning to enter into agreements with the Department of Education and public charter schools to use available classrooms for public preschool.

HB1756 HD1 SD2 statutorily establishes the Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture, and Health program within the Office of Youth Services to provide after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Establishes a special fund.

Environmental Protection

HB2434 HD1 SD1 increases financial resources to support a conservation and natural resource protection program in the State. Specifies the distribution and allowable uses, subject to agreement between the HTA and the BLNR, of transient accommodations tax revenues allocated to the special land and development fund for resource and facilities management costs related to the HTA’s strategic plan.

HB2620 HD1 SD2 requires the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to submit a report updating the 1996 report on oil spills.

HB1514 HD1 SD2 appropriates moneys for mitigation of, and education relating to, the coffee berry borer.

Transient Accommodations Tax

HB1671 HD1 SD1 removes the current cap on transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties and establishes the distribution of these revenues as a percentage of TAT collected.

Community Investment

HB2217 HD2 SD1 (Workforce Development) authorizes DLIR to establish working groups to identify high growth industries and workforce needs and to develop training programs.

HB2007 HD1 SD2 (Agriculture) appropriates funds to the Local and Immigrant Farmer Education Program of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service to support the growth and sustainability of the agriculture industry.

HB2468 SD2 (Agriculture) authorizes DBEDT, in collaboration with DOA, to perform studies and analysis relating to: (1) Establishing facilities on the island of Hawaii for quarantine inspection and treatment and handling imported and exported commodities; and (2) Implementation of designated foreign-trade zone sites. Creates an agricultural technology park under the HTDC.

HB2169 HD1 (Tourism) provides an incentive for the private sector to invest in hotel and resort construction and renovation.

HB2371 HD1 SD1 (Tax relief) reduces the tax burden on the lowest income residents of the State by amending the amount and threshold of the refundable food/excise tax credit and income tax credit for low-income household renters, and creates a new low-income tax credit and earned income tax credit.

HB1934 HD1 SD2 (Homelessness) appropriates funds to various programs that provided housing, housing assistance, and supportive services to individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Other Notables

HB1667 HD3 SD2 (Veterans) provides qualifying totally and permanently disabled veterans an exemption of one-half of the state vehicle registration fee, rounded up to the nearest dollar. Requires the Office of Veterans’ Services to report the number of qualifying veterans to the Legislature and Department of Taxation.

HB1926 HD1 SD1 (Crime) amends the offense of prostitution to clarify that a law enforcement officer shall not be exempt from the offense if the law enforcement officer engages in sexual penetration while acting in the course and scope of duties; and establish that a person less than eighteen years of age shall not be prosecuted for prostitution or promoting prostitution offenses if the person is charged with a first and only prostitution charge; provided that a person’s exemption shall not affect the prosecution of any other person for a prostitution or promoting prostitution offense. Amends the offense of solicitation of a minor for prostitution. Clarifies sentencing of repeat offenders and enhanced sentences for repeat violent and sexual offenders.

For more information visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

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