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Statement from Senator J. Kalani English on the Signing into Law of SB274, Establishing a Resilience and Sustainability Partnership

Senator  J. Kalani English today released the following statement on the signing into law of SB2742, a bill that establishes the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability. Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, Senator English is the primary introducer of the measure and worked with stakeholders and colleagues throughout session to see the bill pass out of the legislature.

The measure creates a revolutionary and innovative public-private partnership to better approach community resilience and improve how the world addresses disruptive changes through necessary collaboration on a global level. It would in essence create a significant and well-trained network of support for the issues facing the Pacific-Asia region. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor will act as the State’s liaison to assist the Institute in carrying out its duties, and the Institute will be eligible for grants and subsidies under chapter 42F.

“A lot of people put so much work into creating the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability and I am thrilled that the governor signed it into law today. Right now, here in Hawaii, we have concerns about rising seawater threatening our shoreline, and as lawmakers we are looking ahead at how we will face these challenges and adapt to changes. The foundation of the Institution is based on helping communities become resilient and sustainable through preventive measures: assess vulnerability, identify solutions and provide support.

“An example of the Institute’s work in practice is the collaboration of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Defense (DoD), the Pacific Disaster Center with Hawaiian Electric, U.S. Pacific Command, IBM and Mehta Tech Inc. to study the potential enhancement of the security, reliability and dependability of the electric grid on Oahu, and ways to apply analytics to better predict potential risks such as natural disaster,” he added. “The partners will look at how to improve the overall grid reliability and bridge the gap between efforts to integrate alternative energy solutions and efficiently manage consumption.

“We’ll see more of these types of efforts thanks to the establishment of the Institute.”

For more information on the law, visit: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2742&year=2014




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: http://professionalfellows.americancouncils.org/

Senator Glenn Wakai Appointed as Palau’s Honorary Consul

Honolulu – A local lawmaker is now a diplomat. State Senator Glenn Wakai was recently appointed as Palau’s honorary consul to Hawaii by Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr.

In appointing the State Senator, Remengesau expressed his appreciation for Wakai’s contribution and support to Palau and its citizens in Hawaii.  As Palau’s honorary consul, Wakai will be working with the Republic of Palau to seek ways to strengthen Palau’s emergency relief capacity and bolster the nation’s relationship with the U.S.

This appointment is truly an honor, which I accept with happiness and determination. I don’t plan to simply attend events and smile at cameras. I recognize our neighbors in the Pacific sometimes have difficulty adjusting to life in Hawaii. I aim to empower the Palauan community in Hawaii,” says Senator Glenn Wakai (Kalihi, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Foster Village). “I have already organized meetings with their local leaders to map out a game plan for more community involvement and creation of individual success stories.  This new relationship between Palau and Hawaii will lead to Better Days in the Pacific.”

Wakai is serving his second term as a Hawaii State Senator, following eight years in the State House of Representatives. He is the current chair of the Senate’s Committee on Technology and the Arts. He has created a non-profit, Reach out Pacific, which takes containers of medical and educational supplies to impoverished islands throughout the Pacific.

Prior to his political career, Wakai spent more than a decade as a television newscaster, first in Guam and Saipan, before returning to Hawaii to work at KHON2 and KHNL.

Wakai is a graduate of Mid-Pacific Institute and the University of Southern California.

Taiwan Minister to Address Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs

Honolulu –  Minister Jung-Tzer Lin, Taiwan Executive Yuan Minister without Portfolio and Governor of Taiwan Province, will be addressing the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs at an informational briefing on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10 a.m., in the State Capitol’s Conference Room 414.

Minister Lin will be discussing the significance of strengthening the existing sister-state relationship between Taiwan and the State of Hawai‘i, which was established in 1993.

We should continuously look for ways to strengthen our sister-state relationship with Taiwan.  With the recent addition of Taiwan to the United States Visa Waiver Program, our economy is expected to get a boost from an increased number of visitors from the region,” said Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs.

To strengthen ties with Taiwan, the Legislature recently adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 61.  The measure urges the Governor, Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii; Board of Education and Hawaii congressional delegation to strengthen the sister-state relationship with Taiwan in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Hawai‘i and Taiwan.

Senator English will be presenting a certified copy of the resolution to Minister Lin during the informational briefing.

Hawai‘i and Taiwan benefit greatly from this sister-state relationship.  Along with the cultural exchange, ideas on the development of clean energy can be shared as well as many other important policymaking matters,” said Senator English.  “It’s a win-win relationship.”

Conference Discusses Impacts of Climate Change in the Pacific Islands

((L-R): Senator J. Kalani English, Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, Waves of Change Conference organizer, at the conference.)

Honolulu–  A conference called, “Waves of Change” is underway at the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s East-West Center and Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.  The conference, which began yesterday, discusses the environmental, social, cultural, political, economic, and legal impacts of climate change in the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii.

While the issue of climate change has been an ongoing discussion for years, this conference brings to light how the Pacific Islands are already experiencing its impact,”said Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs.   He is among several policymakers,natural scientists, academics, university students, and community members attending the event.

Related migration and the implications of climate change for Hawaii, which is already home to many Pacific Islanders, will also be discussed.

Due to the changing climate, there is potential for increased migration from the Pacific Islands to the State of Hawaii,” said Senator English.  “Islanders believe Hawaii is able to provide them the economic security and welfare they need, which has become challenging to achieve because of how climate change is impacting their home.”

The Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment report released in December 2012 warns that Hawaii and other Pacific Islands have experienced “higher average surface air temperature;decreased groundwater discharge to streams over the past century; more frequent and prolonged drought; and habitat changes affecting native species” as a result of climate change.

It is important that we become aware of these major shifts in our environment so that we can address the issues and take action to reduce the impact of climate change today for the future generations,” added Senator English.

Prior to elected office, Senator English worked at the United Nations (UN) in New York as an advisor to the permanent mission of the Federated States of Micronesia.  He continues to be active with the United Nations Development Programme, a global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. The UNDP exists in 177countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.

Senator J. Kalani English to Attend Asia Pacific Forum in Tahiti

Honolulu- Senator J. Kalani English will be attending the Club de Madrid Asia Pacific Forum, “Building a More Resilient Pacific in the 21st Century World Order,” on July 5 and 6, 2012 in Papeete, Tahiti.  Hosted by the Club de Madrid and the Government of French Polynesia, the forum is aimed at identifying and discussing strategies to promote greater socio-economic development in the Pacific and render the region more resilient, connected to the world, and capable of effectively delivering to its citizens.

Hawaii and other communities in the Pacific cannot sit idly by and watch the world evolve around us,” said Senator J. Kalani English, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs. “Hawaii’s unique geographical position, history, and diverse ethnic and cultural ties with others in the Pacific have played pivotal roles in the shaping of our socio-economic position in the world. It is important that we continue to work together with our friends in the Pacific to build on each others’ strengths and encourage a better, more sustainable future for all.”

This forum is the first major gathering that the Club de Madrid, the world’s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, has ever organized in the Asia Pacific.  Leaders, policymakers, and scholars both from in and outside the Asia Pacific region will come together during the forum to address a wide range of issues, including geopolitical, socio-economic and environmental.

Hawaii and Hiroshima Prefecture Celebrate 15th Anniversary of Sister-State Relationship

(Senator Brian Taniguchi meets with the Governor of Hiroshima, Hidehiko Yuzaki.)

Honolulu- Senator Brian T. Taniguchi joined fellow sister-state delegates during the month of May to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between the State of Hawaii and Hiroshima Prefecture. Held in Hiroshima from May 29 to 31, 2012, the commemoration included an economic forum featuring the State of Hawaii Division of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, meetings for the U.S. Japan Council, a 15TH Anniversary Sister-State Celebration and a “Hawaii Day” promotion at the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium during a baseball game of the Hiroshima Carps.

(Senator Brian Taniguchi speaks at a business seminar in Hiroshima for the 15th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between the State of Hawaii and Hiroshima Prefecture.)

Hiroshima Prefecture and the State of Hawaii share innumerous ties spanning across more than 100 years. In the early years of the arrival of Japanese to Hawaii, many Japanese immigrants were from Hiroshima Prefecture.

Historically, the State of Hawaii and Hiroshima Prefecture are forever linked as World War II in the Pacific started with the unfortunate attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Oahu on December 7, 1941 and ended with the tragic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Fifteen years ago, on May 30, 1997, a sister-state relationship was formed to promote a friendship, cultural ties, and good will between the State of Hawaii and the Hiroshima Prefecture. Since then leaders of the two states have worked collaboratively to strengthen this sister-state bond through numerous educational, cultural, athletics, commercial exchanges and peace initiatives.

At the 15th Anniversary banquet, retired Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, who conceived the idea of creating a sister-state, was honored with a proclamation from Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki and Hiroshima Prefecture for initiating the sister-state relationship.

A possible “Hawaii” celebration to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Sister-State Relationship is being planned for late August 2012.

The myriad of historic ties that exist between the State of Hawaii and Hiroshima Prefecture have forged a special bond between our two states,” said Senator Taniguchi, vice chair of the Hiroshima Hawaii Sister-State Committee. “I am extremely honored to have had the opportunity to take part in this celebration and I look forward to our continued work together.”

Statement on the Passing of King George Tupou V of Tonga

HONOLULU — Senator J. Kalani English, Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs Chairman, released the following statement on the passing of Tonga’s King George Tupou V.

I express my deep condolences to the people of Tonga, as well as Hawaii’s Tongan community on the passing of King George Tupou V.   His foresight to grant his people democracy will be his legacy to Tonga. I want to express my deepest heartfelt aloha to His Majesty’s family and to the people of Tonga. The Pacific mourns for the loss of a great leader.”

Senator Speaks at Forum on Micronesian Issues in Hawaii

 Honolulu –  Senator J. English, who serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, was among several notable panelists at a forum called, “Micronesian Connections.”  Held yesterday, the forum was sponsored by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Ethnic Studies Department and Center for Pacific Island Studies.

The ideal in the United States is non-discrimination, however putting it into practice is the challenge,” said Senator English.   “There are so many productive members of the Micronesian community, but it’s unfortunate that the negative stories are the ones that gain attention.”

Students discussed personal stories of struggles and discrimination while experts in the field of health, housing and education discussed the status of the Micronesian community.

Senator English has been active with the Micronesian community.  Earlier this month, he hosted newly elected Republic of Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak and First Lady Anono Lieom Loeak during their inaugural visit to Hawaii.

Senator English has been a strong supporter for the Center for Pacific Island Studies over the years.  The Center serves is both an academic department and a place that brings together people and resources to promote an understanding of the Pacific Islands.

The Center for Pacific Island Studies is a great place to begin discussion on how the community can improve the perception of Micronesians,” said Senator English.


Republic of the Marshall Islands President Makes Inaugural Visit to Hawaii

(L-R) Noda Lojkar, Marshall Islands Consul General, State of Hawaii; Christopher deBrum , Chief of Staff to President Loeak; Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance; President Christopher Loeak; Hawaii State Senator J. Kalani English; and Bruce Kijiner, Aide to President Loeak.

HONOLULU — Newly elected Republic of Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak and First Lady Anono Lieom Loeak made their inaugural visit to Hawaii on February 2, 2012. President Loeak and his delegation met with Governor Neil Abercrombie as well as other state officials. While meeting with officials, President Loeak discussed issues relating to the Compact of Free Association and to reaffirm the RMI government’s commitment towards a mutually beneficial outcome to the significant issues.

“I would like to thank the people of Hawaii for their hospitality during my visit,” said Republic of Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak. “Hawaii is such a beautiful place and we can see why many of our residents have chosen to make their home here. I thank the people of Hawaii for opening their hearts to them and for their generous compassion.”

“This was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen ties with the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as well as forge a relationship with their newly elected president,” said Senator J. Kalani English, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs. Last month, Senator English was invited by the United Nations Development Programme to conduct an Induction Seminar for the Nitjela (Parliament) of Marshall Islands in Majuro. The seminar was intended to support members and assist them in identifying a better use of the parliamentary process to support the delivery of Government services. Senator English spoke on topics including, responsible government, leadership roles, the role of the majority party and the importance of committee hearings.

Prior to being elected to the Hawaii State Legislature, Senator English worked at the United Nations in New York. He continues to be active with the organization, which has enabled him to be invited to participate in seminars such as the Induction Seminar for the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ Nitjela (Parliament).

“It is fulfilling to be able to help other countries improve their democratic system,” said Senator English.

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