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

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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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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.

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.

In the Community: Senator Espero’s Busy Week

Senator Espero (District 19, Ewa Beach) had a busy week meeting with students, and leaders and members of community organizations.


For his leadership on animal protection issues, Senator Espero was presented with the Humane Hawaii State Legislature Award from the Hawaiian Human Society. (Photo Credit: Office of State Senator Will Espero)


Senator Espero also spoke with students from Campbell High School during a rally in support of air conditioning in public school classrooms. (Photo Credit: Office of State Senator Will Espero)


Senator Espero met with the American Council of the Blind (Photo Credit: Office of State Senator Will Espero)


Members of AARP met with Senator Espero to discuss their concerns. (Photo Credit: Office of State Senator Will Espero)

In the Community: Senator Tokuda Attends the 34th Annual Windward District Fitness Meet

Today, Senator Jill Tokuda, Senate District 24 (Kailua, Kaneohe) attended the 34th Annual Windward District Fitness Meet at Castle High School in Kaneohe. 3rd through 6th grade students from elementary schools in Windward Oahu competed in various physical fitness elements. Eleven windward Oahu elementary schools were presented with the 2014 Excellence in Wellness Award. The success of today’s event was credited to a number of community partners, including the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.


Students participate in the 34th Annual Windward District Fitness Meet at Castle High School. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Jill Tokuda


Senator Tokuda addressing students at the Windward District Fitness Meet. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Jill Tokuda

Additional photos of today’s event can be found at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hawaiisenatemajority/sets/72157641980652525/ 

Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week Kicks Off Today

Photo Credit: Hawaii Invasive Species Council

Today marks the start of Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week that runs through Sunday, March 9. A proclamation and awards ceremony was held this morning at the Capitol Auditorium to kick off the week.


Senator Ruderman presenting a Senate certificate honoring the Hawaii County Council 

This is the second year the State has hosted Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW). The purpose of HISAW is to promote information sharing and public engagement to eradicate and prevent the growth of invasive species.


Representatives from Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership pose with their display boards on their efforts to preserve and protect Oahu’s water supply.

All week long, events will be taking place throughout the state to bring awareness to the issue of invasive species. For a full list of the events, please visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/2014events/


Senator Ruderman with a fire ant mascot 

Through Act 85, Session Laws of Hawaii 2003, the legislature stated that “the silent invasion of Hawaii by alien invasive species is the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy, natural environment, and the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people and visitors.” The Hawaii Invasive Species Council, an inter-departmental collaboration, was created as a result to provide policy level direction, coordination, and planning among state departments, federal agencies, and international and local initiatives for the control and eradication and prevention of harmful invasive species infestations throughout the State and for preventing the introduction of other invasive species that may be potentially harmful.

Hawaii is one of the first states in the Nation that recognized the need for coordination among all state agencies, at a cabinet level, that have responsibility to control invasive species on the ground, as well as regulate or promote the pathways in which invasive species can gain access into the State.

This legislative session, the State Senate has considered several bills to support efforts to eradicate, control and prevent the spread of invasive species in the state.

SB2423 would appropriate $5,000,000 to fund the mission of the Invasive Species Council.

SB2347 SD2 would prevent the spread invasive species such as coqui frogs from one island to another by requiring nursery stock to treat plants for pests before the sale or transfer of potted plants.

SD2920 SD2 would establish a little fire ant pilot project to address the spread of the pest and to develop strategies to eliminate the threat of the pest statewide.

SB2423, SB2347 SD2 and SD2920 SD2 have all passed out of committee and sent to the Senate floor for third reading where, if approved, will then move to the House for consideration. Senators are expected to take these measures up during a full floor session on Tuesday, March 4.

Senators visit Moanalua Middle School as implementation of Access to Learning pilot project begins

State senators Jill Tokuda and Michelle Kidani, along with members of the State House of Representative, Board of Education, and staff from the Department of Education,  visited Moanalua Middle School Friday, February 21.

In July 2013, Moanalua Middle School was one of eight public schools, and the only middle school, chosen to participate in the Hawaii Department of Education pilot project, Access to Learning. The eight schools were given a tablet or laptop for every student and teacher, as well as new curriculum and training on Google Apps for Education. The schools were selected based on their technological readiness, commitment to integrating technology in the classroom and readiness to implement a large school-wide project.

DSC_0219(1)_edited-1Moanalua Middle School students giving a presentation of their blog post on idioms

The Access Learning pilot project strives to harness the power of technology to support innovations in teaching and learning by implementing a 1:1 student to computer ratio. It supports schools’ implementation of new digital curricula aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which are new learning standards for language arts and math.

Moanalua Middle School is using the pilot to cover all content areas for its students, not just in English and math. Additionally, teachers and staff had extensive training and professional development to prepare them for the implementation of the Access to Learning pilot project.

Students using Google Forms to complete assignments in band class

Apple MacBook Air laptops were recently issued to every student and lawmakers visited classrooms at Moanalua Middle School to see how they are being used and integrated into classroom instruction.

The Senate and House Committees on Education will hold a joint informational briefing to hear updates from the Hawaii Department of Education on the Access to Learning pilot project on Friday, February 28 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 309 of the State Capitol.

Senator Michelle Kidani sitting with students at Moanalua Middle School

Senator Jill Tokuda observing students using Google Docs to peer edit one another’s writing

“We the Powerful!”- Discover the Public’s Power in the Legislative Process

(Press Release- Public Access Room)

Honolulu, Hawaii – Between December 12 and December 18, the Public Access Room (the “PAR”) will conduct a series of free neighborhood workshops on Hawaii Island entitled, “We the Powerful!”  These meetings are designed to demystify the State lawmaking process, and will demonstrate ways that people can speak out at the legislature without ever having to leave the Big Island.  All are welcome.  No registration or prior experience is required.

Part 1 (1st hour): How the Legislative Process Works (and How to Work It)

Part 2 (2nd hour): Digging Deeper (interactive session) - Delving further into the legislature’s website and other resources.

People are welcome to attend either or both sessions.  The PAR, a division of the State of Hawaii’s non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, is the public’s office at the State Capitol and has long been devoted to assisting residents as they engage in State legislative government. There is never a fee for services.

PAR’s workshops are designed to be useful to both newcomers and veterans of the legislative process.  Covered topics will include an overview of the Legislature’s website, understanding the legislative process, delivering effective testimony, and making sense of the calendar and deadlines.  Renewed inspiration to be part of the solution will be the overriding theme.

The schedule of PAR’s December Hawaii Island presentations is as follows:

Thursday        December 12             6:00 p.m.           Pahala Plantation Manager’s House

                                                                                          (at the corner of Maile & Pikake Streets)

Friday            December 13             6:00 p.m.             UH Hilo Ho’oulu Terrace, UCB Room 127

Saturday        December 14           12:00 noon            Kailua-Kona Civic Center’s Liquor                                                                                                      Control Conference Room

Monday          December 16             6:00 p.m.            Pahoa Community Center

Tuesday         December 17             6:00 p.m.             Waimea Parker Library Conference Room

Wednesday    December 18              6:00 p.m.           Laupahoehoe Library Conference Room

 

For additional information, or to arrange for individual tutorials or group workshops, residents are invited to contact the Public Access Room toll free from the Big Island at 974 4000 ext.70478 or via email at par@capitol.hawaii.gov. Please contact PAR directly to make arrangements if special assistance or services such as sign language interpreters are needed.

FREE WORKSHOP: DISCOVER THE PUBLIC’S POWER IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS

(Press Release- Public Access Room)

Honolulu, Hawaii – Between December 3 – 6, the Public Access Room (PAR) will conduct a series of free neighborhood workshops on Maui entitled, “We the Powerful!” These meetings help to demystify the State lawmaking process, and demonstrate ways people can participate at the legislature without ever having to leave Maui. All are welcome. No registration or prior experience is required. People are welcome to attend either or both parts of the sessions.

Part 1 (1st hour): How the Legislative Process Works (and How to Work It)

Part 2 (2nd hour): Digging Deeper (interactive session)

The PAR, a division of the State of Hawaii’s non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, is the public’s office at the State Capitol and has long been devoted to assisting residents as they engage in State legislative government. There is never a fee for services.

PAR’s workshops are designed to be useful to both newcomers and veterans of the legislative process. Covered topics will include an overview of the Legislature’s website, understanding the legislative process, delivering effective testimony, and making sense of the calendar and deadlines. Renewed inspiration to be part of the solution will be the overriding theme.

“We the Powerful!” Maui Workshop Schedule

December 3           12:00 noon     Pukalani Tavares Community Center; 91 Pukalani St. (mtg rm by pool)

December 3             5:30 p.m.      Kihei Community Center; 303 E. Lipoa St. (large hall)

December 5           12:00 noon     Kahului Community Center; 275 Uhu St. (in Kahului Community Park)

December 5             5:30 p.m.      Wailuku Public Library; 251 High St.

December 6             3:00 p.m.      Lahaina Kaunoa West Maui Senior Center; 788 Pauoa St.

For additional information, or to arrange for individual tutorials or group workshops, residents are may contact the Public Access Room toll free from Maui at 984-2400 ext.7-0478 or via email at par@capitol.hawaii.gov. Please contact PAR directly to make arrangements if special assistance or services such as sign language interpreters are needed.

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