Mililani High School Valedictorian Receives Scholarship From National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures

A Mililani High School graduate is one of just eleven students from across the U.S. selected to receive a college scholarship award from the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures (NHCSL).

Isis Usborne, a valedictorian from the MHS Class of 2014, will use the $3,000 grant to help with tuition and expenses as she enrolls at UH Manoa for the fall semester. The John S. Martinez Closing the Achievement Gap Scholarship was created in memory of the late Connecticut State Representative and former NHCSL President John S. Martinez to recognize the values most important to him – leadership, innovation, compassion and public service.

Applications for the award are accepted from high school seniors of Hispanic ethnicity who attend schools in legislative districts represented by state lawmakers who are also of Hispanic descent. Mililani High School is located in Senate District 18, represented by Senator Michelle Kidani who is of Puerto Rican descent. The school also serves students and families in the adjacent District 22, represented by Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, also of Puerto Rican descent. Both Senators are active members of the National Hispanic Caucus.

“Mililani is a diverse community where we celebrate and share each other’s heritage,” Senator Kidani said. “I encourage Hispanic students in my district to apply for this prestigious award each year, and we are so pleased to congratulate Isis for her outstanding accomplishments that easily qualified her for the Martinez scholarship.”

Isis has displayed admirable leadership, academic excellence and a passionate commitment to community. She was a Valedictorian in her graduating class with a 4.089 GPA – achieved while successfully completing six Advanced Placement classes. She received multiple honors for her academic work, including awards at district and state science and engineering fairs, and as a member of the Mililani High School We the People constitutional studies team that travelled to Washington, D.C. for national competitive events.

In her community, Isis has been a legislative intern and participated in numerous service activities – including tutoring and mentoring fellow students, campus beautification programs and events to promote health and environmental awareness. “Students like Isis who are high achievers always have a terrific support team behind them,” Senator Kidani added. “We are grateful to her dedicated teachers and mentors at Mililani High School and to her family and friends who have been with her through the last four years.”

Senator Thielen Participates in Emerging Leaders Program

This past week, Senator Laura Thielen was at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the State Legislative Leaders Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

Senator Thielen joined other ambitious state legislators across the nation who recently began their careers in public service in forming the 2014 class of the ELP.  The highly interactive program enhances the leadership potential of emerging political leaders and prepares them to be more thoughtful public servants and effective leaders.This specialized educational and enrichment program challenges the new legislators to think critically, serve thoughtfully, and lead positively. Additionally, it gives the participants a venue to openly share knowledge and grow their network so that they may better serve their state and constituency.

Senator Thielen wrote about her experiences participating in ELP which you can read about on her blog:

Town Hall Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Little Fire Ant Infestation of Residential Areas in Mililani Mauka

Senators Donovan Dela Cruz and Michelle Kidani have scheduled a town hall meeting for concerned Mililani residents to discuss how the community can work together with city and state agencies to stop the spread of Little Fire Ants (LFA).

The meeting will be held on Monday, July 14 from 7-9 p.m. at Mililani Mauka Elementary School Cafeteria. Agencies invited to the meeting are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Department of Health, and the Invasive Species Council.

The Dept. of Agriculture last week confirmed that at least eight homes on Auina Street in Mililani Mauka are positive for LFA and the infestation has spread to the gulch.

“We wanted to take swift action and bring our community together,” said Senator Kidani. “The best way for us to control the spread of the Little Fire Ants is to educate the public on how to detect and treat infestations.”

The LFA is considered the world’s most invasive species. It has been found on Hawaii Island since 1999 and in December 2013 was detected on hapuu logs (Hawaiian fern) on Maui and Oahu. More recently, six acres in Waimanalo has been treated after detection of LFA.

“We also want to give the community an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns,” added Senator Dela Cruz. “With this being residential areas, it’s a serious discovery, and surely triggers a lot of fear and questions in people. The meeting is intended to bring awareness and set a community effort in motion to help the state combat Little Fire Ants.”

The public should report concerns of LFA infestation at the toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

For questions about the town hall meeting, please call Senator Dela Cruz at 586-6090 or Senator Kidani at 586-7100.

Click the image to view a flyer on how to test for Little Fire Ants.

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Senator Chun Oakland Visits Armenia to Strengthen Relations

Senator Chun Oakland at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia with Ambassador Heffern, a PFP Fellow, and representatives from the American Councils for International Education

Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland is in Armenia this week as a part of the Professional Fellows Program (PFP), a cultural exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Councils for International Education.

Last interim, Senator Chun Oakland hosted Arshak Gasparyan, an Armenian PFP fellow who studied Hawaii’s public policy to develop ideas to reform the juvenile justice system in his home country. This interim, she had the opportunity to travel to Armenia to continue in the sharing of knowledge from other public sector leaders.

At the U.S. Embassy in Yervan, Armenia, Senator Chun Oakland met with Arshak Gasparyan, representatives from the American Office of the American Councils for International Education and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John A. Heffern.

The PFP promotes mutual understanding between nations by strengthening the understanding of the U.S. legislative process and building a network of professional leaders interested in public policy around the world.

For more information about the Professional Fellows Program, please visit:

Senator English Participates in Transportation and Infrastructure Summit

Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs participated in the first Transportation and Infrastructure Summit hosted by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce today.

The summit brings together top transportation leaders in the state to address topics such as air and sea transportation, the physical state of infrastructure in Hawaii, and the Honolulu rail project.

Senator English was a part of a round table discussion on the challenges of planning, paying for and addressing the backlog of infrastructure projects.

The day-long summit was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. For more information about the summit, please visit:


Senator Brickwood Galuteria Attends National Conference of State Majority Leaders

Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria recently attended the State Legislative Leaders Foundation’s (SLLF) second annual Conference of State Majority Leaders.

The conference is the only national educational program designed exclusively for all House and Senate Majority Leaders. Over the course of the program the Leaders meet with peers to take a close look and explore strategies for making their caucuses and institutions more effective while exploring the unique challenges associated with being Majority Leader.

The program is a mix of substantive discussions led by a preeminent faculty as well as a closed-door (everything is on the table) session open only to Majority Leaders. It is a gathering of individuals who share one of most important jobs in the legislature.

“In order to be an efficient and effective leader, it’s important to take part in these skills-training sessions to learn and share with others who are tasked with the same job our common goals, successes and problems,” said Majority Leader Galuteria. “I’ve heard the perspective of leaders from across the nation and will be able to bring that back to Hawaii to make our caucus and institution more effective.”

During one plenary session, lawmakers heard from West Virginia policy makers and administrators about innovative education programs such as “Feed to Achieve.” This program allows schools to offer free meals to all its students regardless of income. It establishes nonprofits to raise funds through private donations to pay for the meals and other food-related programs in the state’s public schools.


Maui Senators Discuss the 2014 Legislative Session in Maui Mana‘o Episode 15

In case you missed its broadcast on ‘Olelo, the latest episode of Maui Mana‘o is now available to view online on our YouTube channel.

In Episode 15 of Maui Mana‘o, Maui senators Roz Baker, J. Kalani English, and Gilbert Keith-Agaran give a wrap-up of the 2014 legislative session by highlighting the measures that passed and the capital improvement project funding awarded to Maui County.

Episode 15 of Maui Mana‘o will also re-broadcast on ‘Olelo Channel 49 on the following dates:

  • May 17, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
  • May 18, 2014 at 9:30 p.m.
  • May 19, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.
  • May 20, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.

Hot Off the Press: The Latest Episode of Maui Manao

The Maui senate delegation consisting of Rosalyn Baker, J. Kalani English and Gilbert Keith-Agaran, talk about issues affecting Maui County in the latest episode of Maui Mana‘o.

Watch the senators answer frequently asked procedural questions detailing the legislative process and discuss some of the bills being negotiated in conference committee.

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.

The Hawaii State Legislature Honors Bruno Mars with Certificate of Appreciation


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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