Senate Hawaiian Affairs Caucus and OHA Take Issue with “Hula” App

Hawaii Leaders Urge CEO to Cease Use of the Native Hawaiian Word Hula

In defense of the cultural practice and intellectual property of Native Hawaiians, two leading state organizations on Hawaiian affairs are asking the creator of an app that helps people get tested for STDs to stop using and branding the word “Hula.”

The app, which at one point used marketing phrases as “it helps you get lei’d,” connects users to various STD testing facilities and promotes itself as the new platform to have discussions about STD.

The letter, signed by members of the Hawaii State Senate Hawaiian Affairs Caucus and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), is addressed to the chief executive office of, Inc., Ramin Bastani, and identifies two key issues that are of concern:

  • Hula is a sacred Native Hawaiian cultural expression and important cultural property;
  • Naming a commercial product after a Native Hawaiian sacred cultural expression without meaningful consultation is inconsistent with state, international, and the Native Hawaiian people’s policies.

Although recognizing and appreciating the efforts of the company to support STD awareness and prevention, the letter also notes that the use of word “Hula” is hewa (or wrong) because it “represents a highly insensitive, tactless and inappropriate misappropriation of a culturally sacred and cherished practice.”

“It’s unfortunate some think that it’s okay to throw culturally-meaningful expressions around without thinking about the group of people it may affect. Hula is a sacred dance that Native Hawaiians cherish,” said Senator Malama Solomon. “As Hawaiians it is our kuleana (or responsibility) to protect our cultural traditions. We don’t want to see continued disrespectful and inappropriate commodification of our culture.”

According to the letter, hula remains an important medium for the perpetuation and preservation of Native Hawaiian history and culture, and continues to be vital for the mental, physical and spiritual health of individuals as well as the Native Hawaiian Community.

The Hawaii State Constitution recognizes and protects Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, including cultural expressions and practices such as hula. The state legislature has also affirmed “that the Native Hawaiian people are recognized as indigenous, traditional knowledge holders and they have collective intellectual property rights. Additionally, the United States supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”), which confers upon indigenous peoples the right to maintain and control traditional knowledge, cultural traditions and intellectual property relating to their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression and manifestations.

Senators who signed the letter include: Senators Malama Solomon, Committee on Water and Land; Brickwood Galuteria, Senate Majority Leader; Clayton Hee, Judiciary Committee; J. Kalani English, Transportation and International Affairs Chair; Maile Shimabukuro, Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chair; Gilbert Kahele, Tourism Committee Chair and Michelle Kidani; Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair.

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To read the full letter, click here:  Hawaiian Affairs Caucus Letter to

Solomon Supports New Laws Honoring Veterans and their Families

With a family of veterans, including a brother who lost his life during the Vietnam War, Senator Malama Solomon today attended the bill signing of HB2071 and HB1770 by Governor Neil Abercrombie in the ceremonial room to show her support of these bills.









Photo Credit: Office of Senator Malama Solomon

HB2071 designate the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Family Day,” and HB1170 requires notation of veteran status on state driver’s licenses and identification cards if desired by the applicant. Hawaii will join Illinois, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Guam in celebrating this day of remembrance

“Our military men and women deserve as much support and honor as we can provide,” said Solomon. “Today is a special day for my family and I. Both my father and brother, Randolph Solomon Sr. and Randolph Solomon Jr., are veterans, with my brother giving the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War. We love them very much and are so proud of their service to this great country.”


Hawaii Could Be Ground Zero For Improving NASA Communications With Next-Generation Spacecrafts

Senator Will Espero, along with officials from NASA, today held a press conference urging the approval of Senate Bill 2583 Senate Draft 1, a bill related to launching Hawaii’s aerospace industry through investment in a laser optical communications ground station. The measure is awaiting a hearing in the House Finance committee.

The purpose of the measure is to appropriate funds, on a matching fund basis, for an engineering assessment of a proposal to establish a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii to be conducted jointly by NASA and the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). The study would include site surveillance and selection, an analysis of power and cooling requirements, environmental assessments and permits, an assessment of structural pads, and an analysis of roadways and clearances for the transportation of communications equipment. NASA also has the potential of investing up to $75 million into the project.

NASA currently communicates with its spacecraft through the use of Radio Frequency (RF) ground antennas. However, the ever increasing data rate requirements from more sophisticated instruments will soon surpass NASA’s ability to support ground antennas.

For the same mass and power, space laser communications technology has the potential to provide 10 to 100 times higher data rates than traditional RF systems. In 2013, this new technology was demonstrated with the Luna Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) experiment aboard the Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, which is now orbiting the moon.

“Aerospace technology research is a rapidly growing industry that has a lot of potential here on the islands,” said Espero, who introduced the measure. “NASA’s statistical analysis of weather patterns have found Hawaii to be the best location for its first operational laser communications station in a planned global network of ground stations. The project would have an astronomical effect on the economic future, by providing opportunities for improvements in Hawaii’s broadband and fiber optic infrastructure and providing high-tech jobs for our people.”


Maui’s Keone Kali Confirmed as Chief Information Officer for the Hawai‘i Office of Information Management and Technology

The Senate today confirmed Keone Kali as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Hawai‘i Office of Information Management and Technology. Kali previously served as the State’s Deputy CIO for operations and was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to fill outgoing CIO Sanjeev Bhagowalia’s position when he was appointed as Chief Advisor for Technology and Cyber-Security. Kali also served as the Director of Information Technology and acting Chief Technology Officer for the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui and the CIO for the City of Beverly Hills.

Maui’s Senate delegation join Keone Kali flanked by his parents for a photo after a floor vote confirming Kali as CIO of the Hawai‘i Office of Information Management and Technology

“I am pleased that my colleagues joined me in confirming Keone Kali as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents Hana, east and upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe. “With nearly twenty years of experience in information technology, business development and management, I believe that Kali is the best person to lead the State’s 12-year technology plan to modernize its IT systems.”

“Kali has a proven record of success,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui. “I have no doubt that under Kali’s leadership, the State will improve the delivery of government programs and services to the people of Hawai‘i.”

“Kali has the experience and skills needed to propel the State’s e-gov goals,” Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who represents Wailuku, Waihe‘e, and Kahului. “Embracing new technologies will improve government services and increase its accessibility to Hawai‘i’s residents.”

The plan also emphasizes open government, a concept that has been the centerpiece of Bhagowalia’s IT career. It will reinforce the state’s e-gov goals by improving mobile and online access to all government services, and the planning for it all will involve the people who actually do the separate jobs throughout the government.


Hawaii Senate Committee Passes Bill to Establish a Commission on African American History and Culture

The Hawaii Senate Committee on Ways and Means today favorably passed Senate Bill 2598, a bill that would establish the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture.

African Americans first arrived in Hawaii in the 18th century and have since positively influenced the development and culture of Hawaii. However, their contributions are neither well known nor preserved. By establishing the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture, the people of Hawaii gain a fuller understanding of the cultural exchanges between the state and African Americans.

“Establishing the Hawaii Commission on African American History and Culture will allow us to honor the significance and impact of the African American experience in the state and promote awareness for Hawaii’s diverse multicultural society,” said Espero. “As Black History Month comes to a close, I am pleased that the Senate Committee on Ways and Means recognizes the significant contributions of African Americans in the state and the need to educate our citizens and visitors about them.”

The bill will go to the Senate floor for third reading and is expected to cross over to the House for consideration.


Battle of the Microbes

In “a battle of the microbes,” the vibrio fischeri was unfortunately a casualty this legislative session.

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Technology and the Arts (TEC) deferred SB 3124, a measure that would designate vibrio fischeri as Hawaii’s official microbe.

The bacteria lives in the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and gives the aquatic creature the power to produce bioluminescence, or light from a living organism. This allows it to project light that minimizes the dark shadow of its body to alert predators.

Bobtail squid. Photo credit: Flickr user, PacificKlaus

Senator Glenn Wakai, chair of TEC, believes that an interesting cephalopod molluscs, such as the illuminating squid, would ignite more student interest in microbiology.

“The value to me of a state microbe is to ignite the imagination and creativity of our young people,” he said during the hearing on the bill yesterday.

With more testimony in opposition to the measure, it was deferred indefinitely. Those in opposition prefer the designation of flavobacterium akiainvivens, which is native to Hawaii and lives on an endemic shrub, as the state microbe.

As a compromise, Wakai remarked that he would like to collaborate with experts in the field and come to a consensus on which microbe would be the best fit with a dual interest of not only sparking microbe awareness and education for Hawaii’s keiki but also using it as a vehicle to highlight unique Hawaii environment.

The idea of introducing a Hawaii state microbe began in 2010 with the vision of honing in on a Hawaiian connection. Oregon was the first state to have an official microbe, where lawmakers designated saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as “brewer’s yeast,” as its state microbe due to its importance to Oregon’s beer and winemaking industries. Wisconsin has attempted to turn lactococcus lactis into its official microbe, in recognition of its role in creating cheese. Hawaii lawmakers have the same hope of connecting its future state microbe emblem to showcase Hawaii’s unique environment.

Senate Committee Tackles the Smallest Issues

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid – a two inch, glow in the dark creature – will have its moment in the spotlight tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, February 25. The Senate’s Committee on Technology and the Arts (TEC) will hear a bill designating vibrio fischeri as Hawaii’s official microbe.

Vibrio fischeri is a bacteria which lives in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, giving the animal the power to produce bioluminescence, or light from a living organism. The squid is endemic to Hawaii and hunts at night on reef flats. However, moonlight casts a shadow onto the sea floor, which alerts predators to the squid’s presence. To counter this effect, the Hawaiian bobtail squid cultures vibrio fischeri in a special light-emitting organ, which allows it to become stealthy by projecting light that minimizes the dark shadow of its body.

The study of this chemical reaction has numerous medical and practical applications, such as testing for toxic compounds in water.

“We anticipate having a State Microbe will ignite interest in science for our kids. What could be more appropriate than a bacteria that creates a glowing blue squid that thrives just off our shores,” says Sen. Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the TEC Committee, “With 70% of our planet covered in water, it makes perfect sense to have Hawaii’s microbe tied to the ocean.”

What:   Hearing on SB 3124, designating a State Microbe
When: 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, February 25
Where: Capitol, room 414

More information on the bill can be found by going to this link:

Here’s a link to a very easy to understand video about the squid’s abilities:

For a picture of the glowing blue squid, go to this link:

Oregon became the first state to have an official microbe.  Lawmakers there designated saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as “brewer’s yeast” as its state microbe due to its importance to Oregon’s beer and winemaking industries. Wisconsin has attempted to turn lactococcus lactis into its official microbe, in recognition of its role in creating cheese.


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

Students Testify via Videoconference

SB2441 establishes R.E.A.C.H. programs, SB2446 names new Maui school after late U.S. Rep. Mink

Honolulu – Students from across the state participated in the legislative process by testifying via videoconferencing during a Senate hearing on two education bills.

Senate Bill 2441 establishes the R.E.A.C.H. program within the Office of Youth Services to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. The bill establishes a revolving fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the program; appropriates funds for establishing the R.E.A.C.H. program to provide funding for after-school programs in middle and intermediate public schools; and establishes one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position to support the program and appropriates funds for that position. Students from Hana High and Elementary School, Waiakea Intermediate School, Mililani Middle School and Molokai Intermediate School testified before the committee on this measure via video conferencing.

SB2446 requires the Department of Education to name the new public high school in Kihei, Maui the “Patsy Takemoto Mink High School,” in honor of the late United States Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink. Students from Kihei Public Charter School, Maui Waena Intermediate School and Maui High School testified on this measure via video conferencing

“Increasing access and transparency has always been a top priority for the Senate, and utilizing technology is an effective way of achieving this goal,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “The measures before us impact our students and our schools, and the policies we draft are strengthened by their input and ideas. I look forward to seeing more individuals use this tool to provide testimony.”

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts. In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate. Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate. Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.


Hawaii Aerospace Caucus Explores the ‘Final Frontier’

Initiatives include studies for a space exploration R&D park, international flight training center and a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii — State Senate and House legislators today announced the formation of the Hawaii State Legislative Aerospace Caucus.

Among the measures it has introduced this session are bills that call for studies for a space exploration research and development park; an international flight training center and associated aeronautical training programs at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii Community College; and a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii.

Other measures call for the banning of unmanned aircrafts, except by law enforcement agencies, to gather information, and exempts from the general excise tax amounts received from the construction of a space launch facility in the State to help reduce the overall cost of such construction.

The caucus is a joint bipartisan effort in collaboration with the private sector to develop a strong, secure and internationally competitive aerospace sector in Hawaii. It will be a highly visible, proactive and solution oriented organization ensuring academia, industry and government are in step with programs and policies which support a robust aerospace economic sector.

The caucus is co-chaired by Senator Will Espero, Senator Glenn Wakai, Representative Angus McKelvey and Representative Gene Ward. The legislative membership also includes Senator Russell Ruderman and Representatives Isaac Choy, Cindy Evans, Richard Fale, Faye Hanohano, Sharon Har, Ken Ito, Derek Kawakami, Bob McDermott, Mark Nakashima, Calvin Say, Clift Tsuji.

“This collaborative effort is a significant step forward in building upon the aerospace industry that we are establishing here in Hawaii,” said Representative Angus McKelvey, Chair of the Consumer Protection & Commerce Committee.

The group also includes the Aerospace Advisory Committee and Starlight Reserve Committee—
advisory councils made of public and private space industry experts. At the announcement, the
founding charter members also voted to include former Governor George Ariyoshi, a member of
the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) board and champion
for aerospace growth in Hawaii, as an honorary member of the Hawaii Legislative Aerospace

“Hawaii can be at the forefront of this industry by ensuring a strong, secure and viable aerospace sector,” said Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee. “It starts by bringing together community members from the education, business and government sectors to help create good policy that will help us meet competitive challenges to support a robust aerospace economy.”

“Nothing ignites the imagination like space. Hawaii needs to boldly move forward into this
area,” said Senator Glenn Wakai, Chair of the Technology and Arts Committee, “There are many
sectors in technology that can be replicated in other parts of the world. When it comes to
aerospace, Hawaii is ground zero. This is an industry that cannot pick up and leave the islands. It provides infinite economic opportunities and will ignite exploration in the minds of our keiki.”

“Aerospace can be a game changer for our economy,” said Representative Gene Ward. “One of
the main purposes of the aerospace caucus will be to highlight those opportunities and promote
legislation and regulation of an enabling environment.”

The primary purpose of the Aerospace caucus is to promote legislation that will develop a robust, growing aerospace field in Hawaii. These measures include:

SB3092 / HB1967 Relating to Higher Education (Companion Bills): Appropriates $450,000 for a program coordinator and technical support staff member to complete the necessary planning required for an international flight training center and associated aeronautical training programs at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii community college.

HB2151 / SB2583 Relating to PISCES and NASA Laser Communications Ground Station
Initiative (Companion Bills): Appropriates $500,000 for an engineering assessment of a
proposal to establish a laser optical communications ground station in Hawaii.

HB2150 / SB2584 Relating to PISCES Planetary Sustainability Technologies Initiative
(Companion Bills): Appropriates $250,000 to support planetary sustainability technology
demonstrations and university-based competitions.

HB2152 / SB2585 Relating to PISCES (Companion Bills): Appropriates $1,500,000 to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) to support administrative and general tasks, strategic program initiatives, and the preliminary development of the PISCES Research and Development Park.

SB2608 Relating to Unmanned Aircrafts: Prohibits the use of unmanned aircrafts, except by law enforcement agencies, to gather information and establishes certain conditions for law enforcement agencies to use an unmanned aircraft to obtain information. Requires all law enforcement agencies using unmanned aircrafts and the courts to report on their activities relating to unmanned aircrafts.

SB2582 Relating to Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Requires individual consent or a search warrant to track an individual through the use of unmanned aircraft systems. Prohibits the repurposing of data without a search warrant. Prohibits unmanned aircraft systems from carrying weapons onboard. Requires the police departments to implement guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Aviation Committee.

SB3053 Relating to Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Sites: Establishes the Hawaii unmanned aerial systems test site chief operating officer position to, among other things, serve on the Pan-Pacific Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Range Complex management team. Establishes an advisory board to oversee and manage unmanned aerial systems test site operations. Appropriates the funds to staff and operate Hawaii’s unmanned aerial systems test site activities.
HB2614 Relating to Taxation: Exempts from the general excise tax, amounts received from the construction of a space launch facility in the State.

For more information, please contact:

Senator Will Espero 808-586-6360
Senator Glenn Wakai 808-586-8585

House of Representatives
Representative Angus McKelvey 808-586-6160
Representative Gene Ward 808-586-6420


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