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.

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.

Celebrate Kupuna Power Day at the Hawaii State Capitol

Save the Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It’s never too late to start planning for the future. The public is invited to attend Kupuna Power Day on Wednesday, April 16 from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda at the Hawaii State Capitol.

Kupuna Power Day is for and about seniors and empowers them through education, entertainment and exercise. More than 30 organizations will have display tables set up to give information to Hawaii’s Kupuna on health, safety and well-being. The program includes live entertainment, guest speakers and Silver Sneakers Stretch.

Attending Kupuna Power Day will help those who are planning for long-term care by providing essential information and resources. This event is an opportunity for the public to talk with representatives of various service providers, start planning for one’s financial future, take charge of one’s health, and learn about Medicare and Medicaid options.

Progress in Hawaii’s Prison System

The Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental Affairs and Military Affairs, and the House Committee on Public Safety held a joint informational briefing on the status of the implementation of the Hawaii Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) yesterday.

Senators and representatives meet to hear  from the Council of State Governments Justice Center on the status of the State’s JRI.

JRI is a data-driven initiative that aims to reform the criminal justice system by making it more efficient, reducing prison populations, lessening crime rates, saving money and increasing public safety. The Council of State Governments Justice Center provided technical assistance by conducting a comprehensive analysis of Hawaii’s criminal justice data to identify challenges facing the state.

In response to the findings by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Hawaii State Legislature in 2012 passed two bills, SB2776 CD1 and HR2515 CD1, that were signed into law, that reduces spending on corrections, and reinvest savings generated in strategies to reduce recidivism and crime, and increase public safety.

Policy analysts from the Council of State Governments Justice Center updated lawmakers on the current status of the JRI, one year after its implementation. Some highlights of its success include:

  • Passage of legislation requiring the use of a pretrial risk assessment which reduces sentences for certain parole violations and drug offenses, expands parole, and enhances community-based treatment and victims’ services
  • Hawaii’s incarcerated population declined 4 percent after the first year of implementation
  • The State saved $2.5 million from corrections population reductions in Fiscal Year 2013
  • The state allocated $3.4 million in Fiscal Year 2013 for expanding treatment programs and victims’ services, and initiating plans to establish a research and planning office

For more information about the Hawaii JRI, please visit the Council of State Governments Justice Center at

Art at the Capitol 2014 Concludes

Last Friday was the 6th annual Art at the Capitol, where lawmakers welcomed the public to tour their offices to view the publicly held artwork there.

This year’s theme was Illuminating the Legislative Process for the featured complementary chandeliers hanging in the Senate and House chambers at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The “Sun” and “Moon” by kinetic artist, Otto Piene, hang in the House and Senate chambers of the Hawaii State Legislature at the State Capitol

The kinetic light sculptures were commissioned by the State of Hawaii and installed in the koa-lined chambers of the House and Senate in 1971. The House Sun is a gold-plated sphere with 132 smaller golden orbs while the Senate Moon is a silver ball of 630 chambered nautilus shells. The featured artist, Otto Piene was unable to attend the event, but was interviewed speaking about the two complementary sculptures.

Art at the Capitol began in 2008 as Senator Brian Taniguchi’s initiative to welcome the public to view the variety of state-owned artwork displayed not just in the open areas of the State Capitol, but the legislative offices as well.  More than 900 pieces of artwork in the collection of the Hawaii State Foundation on Arts and Culture’s Art in Public Places Program are displayed at the State Capitol.

Two string quartets in the Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra played music for guests as they enjoyed the artwork in various legislators’ offices.

Many of the artwork in the Art in Public Places collection are done by artists local to the area. Some were on hand to talk about the works displayed in various offices.

Senator Ige with artist Steve Martin, who created the stoneware vessel displayed in his office.

Some senators provided additional entertainment and refreshment for guests.

Senator Gabbard shows off his Jean Charlot painting and offers his wife’s homemade toffee treats to constituents and guests.

Senator Jill Tokuda entertains guests with music from a harpist and flutist in her office for Art at the Capitol

Many legislators personally welcomed visitors to their offices.

Senator Espero greets guests to his office

Senator Kidani describes painting above her workstation a calming window

Senator Nishihara poses with guests in his office

Senators’ staff were also on hand to discuss the artwork in the offices.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s staff members rest under a wall of photographs.

Many people brought their families to the First Friday because appreciation of art has no age limits.

Guests in show off their 2014 Art at the Capitol packet in Senator Green’s office.

Senator Kahele and Senate Sergeant of Arms, Ben Villaflor taking a break to listen to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra quartet

The evening was a fun and successful one and we hope that you will join us next year at Art at the Capitol.

Latest Episode of Maui Mana‘o is out

Maui senators J. Kalani English, Rosalyn Baker and Gilbert Keith-Agaran talk about the issues affecting Maui and how the State Senate is addressing those issues in the latest episode of Maui Mana‘o.

If you’ve been curious about airport and highway modernization on Maui, the status of naming the new high school in Kihei after the late U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink, funding for Maui Memorial Medical Center, and issues facing Hawaiian Homelands, then watch Maui Mana‘o.

The Senate Celebrates the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation 60th Anniversary

The Senate today recognized the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation (JSWF) for their service to our Hawaii community and joined them in celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The Japanese Women’s Society was founded in 1954 to promote culture and provide education and quality services to the community while promoting friendship between the United States and Japan, cultivating fellowship among its members and encouraging members to engage in community service.  With the goal of being trendsetters in health and aging issues, and with an emphasis on women, JWSF helped to build Hale Pulama Mau, a progressive health care center at Kuakini Hospital, to serve elderly women of limited means. Since 2006, JWSF has offered scholarship awards to graduate students in the health care, social work, and arts and sciences fields whose focus is in gerontology and geriatrics.

The JSWF holds regular “friendship teas” with the women at Hale Pulama Mau, and the organization’s “Angels” welcome new residents as they transition from home to hospital.

The Hawaii Senate congratulates the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation in celebrating 60 years of JWSF’s efforts to serve elderly women.

Partners in Development Foundation’s Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program is first program of its kind to receive accreditation

The Senate today recognized Partners in Development Foundation’s Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program on receiving full accreditation from the prestigious National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program is the first program of its kind in the nation to receive full NAEYC accreditation. Ka Pa‘alana assists homeless families with young children on the Waianae coast by delivering or providing access to essential services, such as a parent-child participatory preschool, FoodBank, toiletry, and dental supplies distribution, and more. Ka Pa‘alana has assisted in transitioning 325 families from the beach to shelter and distributed over 50 tons of food and life necessities.

The Senate expresses its warmest aloha to Partners in Development Foundation for continued success in all future endeavors.

Save the Date: April 4, Art at the Capitol

The 6th Annual Art at the Capitol will be held next week on First Friday, April 4, 2014.  On this night, the Hawaii State Capitol turns into an art museum as senators, representatives, the governor and lieutenant governor invite you to tour the public artwork in their offices. This is an opportunity for the public to view more than 500 pieces of artwork held in the collection of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ Art in Public Spaces Program. Fifty-three offices will be participating this year. This year’s Art at the Capitol features the “Sun” and “Moon” chandeliers by Otto Piene in the House and Senate chambers that symbolically illuminate the legislative process. In addition to viewing art, the event will have music and other performances. Art at the Capitol is active on social media. “Like” the Facebook Page, “Join” the Facebook Event, Follow on Instagram, and Subscribe to the YouTube Channel to watch “What’s on Your Wall?” teaser videos. Use #HICapitolArt to tagging on social media.

State Legislature Awards Medal of Honor to Fallen Heroes

The Hawaii State Legislature honored our state’s fallen soldiers by bestowing upon them the Hawaii Medal of Honor in a special ceremony yesterday.

Program of the 2014 Hawaii Medal of Honor Ceremony

The Medal of Honor is Hawaii’s expression of gratitude to those who gave their lives courageously protecting our nation. Four servicemen, US Army Sergeant Tofiga J. Tautolo, US Air Force Captain Reid K. Nishizuka, US Army Sergeant Drew M. Scobie, and US Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward Ballo were awarded the Medal of Honor this year for their ultimate sacrifice.

Lawmakers, family members, friends and guests gather in the House Chambers of the Hawaii State Capitol to honor Hawaii Medal of Honor recipients

The Hawaii Medal of Honor was created in 2005 under Act 21 to awarded to individuals with Hawaii ties who were killed in action while serving in dangerous, volatile and unstable areas of the world, and to express Hawaii’s appreciation and gratitude to the loved ones of family members who sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation and its freedoms. Recipients of the award include members of the armed forces, the Reserves and the Hawaii National Guard.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa offers a Hawaiian blessing at the start of the ceremony

Major General Darryll Wong, Adjutant General for the State of Hawaii, gives remarks honoring the fallen heroes

The Hickam Air Force Base Honor Guard gives a 3-Volley Salute at the conclusion of the ceremony

On behalf of all of Hawaii, we thank and honor the Medal of Honor recipients and we offer our deepest condolences to their family and friends. With a heavy heart, we celebrate their lives and shall not forget the sacrifice that our fallen heroes gave in service to our nation.

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