Statement from Senator Espero

 

On the Governor’s Veto of SB2589, Relating to the Transfer of Harbor Police to the Department of Public Safety


Senator Will Espero, chair of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, issued the following statement regarding Governor Neil Abercrombie’s veto of SB2589, relating to the transfer of harbor police from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Espero introduced the measure.

 

“I am disappointed the governor chose to veto SB2589, which transfers harbor police to the Department of Public Safety. It appears he listened to government bureaucrats more interested in protecting the status quo rather than making positive changes to the state’s law enforcement authority.

“The bill had support from both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety during the 2014 legislative session. There was no opposition. It appears that after Director Glenn Okimoto left the top post, underlings in DOT convinced the interim director to request a veto of the bill.

“The bill was part of a long-term plan to eventually consolidate all state law enforcement duties under one state agency. Currently, DLNR also has law enforcement officers as well.

“I believe the governor was given bad advice by his staff on this measure. I would like to see the issue revisited next session and once again passed out so that we can bring positive change to our law enforcement authority.”

 

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Completely Stopped Drivers Exempted from Electronic Device Ban

Other Amendments to the Law Go into Effect July 1, 2014


Changes to the cell phone ban passed by the Legislature in 2013, Act 74, which prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a vehicle, takes effect today.

The amendments to the law include exempting drivers who are completely stopped, changing the penalties for violations and making a violation a traffic infraction.

“After the law was passed in 2013, we at the Legislature received a lot of complaints about the vagueness of the law and the severity of requiring violators to go to court,” said Sen. J. Kalani English, a Maui senator and chair of the Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, who introduced the measure. “It was never our intention to require violators to go to court instead of mailing in a fine. We also wanted to be very clear about what a violation was. If someone is on their phone while pulled over and completely stopped with the engine turned off in a safe location out of traffic – that seems like a reasonable and safe use of an electronic device while in a vehicle.”

The fines for the new law have changed to a flat fee of $250 for first and multiple violations and $300 for violations in a school or construction zone.

“Driving while using your cell phone or any other electronic device is just plain dangerous and irresponsible,” added English. “Fines have proven to deter people from breaking the law, but more importantly, we want to keep the people of Hawaii safe. A person’s life is significantly more important than that Facebook post or text message.”

For more information on the law, visit: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2729&year=2014

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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: http://www.cochawaii.org/hits-event-hawaii-infrastructure-transportation-summit/

 

Senator Espero Expresses Opposition to Attempts to Stop Construction on PM Zipper Lane

In response to the headline in today’s Start Advertiser, Senator Will Espero has expressed his opposition to any attempt to stop the construction on the PM zipper lane.  He believes that it would be short-sighted to not build the zipper lane at this time.

“The zipper lane is about better mobility for West Oahu commuters.  It is about quality of life issues and handling the projected future growth slated for this region.  The DOT would be wrong to stop the zipper lane since millions have already been spent and millions have been appropriated by the state legislature.  We have shown our support for this project.” stated Espero.

He also commented that it is an economic issue as well for businesses in West Oahu and tourists staying at Ko Olina and the west side.

“At least 200,000 more residents will be living in West Oahu in the next 40 years. The business and economic activity will increase. The existing road work being done today will not be sufficient to handle the large number of residents in the future.  The zipper lane and rail are two significant projects that will provide relief.  They both must be built for overall planning purposes”, Senator Espero added.

Senator Espero will send correspondence to the Governor asking that his administration support the zipper lane.

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Senator English on the Completion of the Kaunakakai Harbor Ferry Terminal

Senator Jenglish. Kalani English’s remarks on the completion of the Kaunakakai Harbor Ferry Terminal on Moloka‘i:

Today’s dedication of the Kaunakakai Harbor Ferry Terminal stands as vital recognition of the place our harbors continue to play in Hawai‘i’s economy. An active waterfront is a sign of economic activity, and improving our Ferry terminal will preserve our ability to serve our citizens transportation and economic needs.

This project has been a long time coming, due mainly to the hard work and dedication of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the community members here on Moloka‘i. The upgrades made to Kaunakakai Harbor will provide both visitors and residents traveling between Maui and Moloka‘i with a new and improved experience.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, my colleagues and I worked toward the appropriation of state funds for the renovation of the Kaunakakai Harbor Ferry System. We understood how important it is to invest in our harbors, airports, highways and roads.

Enhancements to the ferry facilities include news restrooms and a covered waiting area, making travel more comfortable for passengers, and upgrades to the sewer and fire protection systems to improve the safety of the facility. Operations here will also be more efficient because of the separation created between the cargo barge and the docked ferry.

The facilities here accommodate interisland cargo and fuel barges and commuter ferry service for ever-increasing daily passenger and visitor travel from the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor on Maui.

Because of this, modernizing our harbors is vital to the economic and social well-being of our communities. With the closure of agriculture operations on Moloka‘i, many residents sought employment on Maui. Improving the ferry system and supporting infrastructure was an imminent project. Our state agencies did a great job in quickly identifying and seeking federal funding to undertake this project. It is through collaboration between the different parts of government – including the legislature, executive offices, and federal agencies – that we are able to build a better community for everyone.

State Senate Adjourns Session Approving More than 240 Bills Including Key Measures that Improve the Lives of Hawaii’s People

Lawmakers remain vigilant throughout legislative session striking a balance on measures supporting keiki, kupuna, workers and environment



The Hawaii State Senate today adjourned the 2014 session passing more than 240 bills that align with its initial priorities to make Hawaii a better place for everyone now and in the future through initiatives supporting Hawaii’s keiki, kupuna, workers and the environment.

“The ability to compromise and work together is essential to making good laws that help Hawaii’s people today and in the future,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “It is thanks to the patience and passion of our members and advocates that we were able to complete another successful session.”

“With anything we do in life, it’s always about balance. That’s the same way we look at it here in our majority caucus,” said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria. “Every issue will have two opposing sides. Our job as lawmakers is to come out at the end of session with worthy legislation that improve the quality of life of our people. I think we did just that and I’m proud of my colleagues in the Senate Majority.

The Senate Majority, whose members are Democrats, this afternoon took action on its final bills of the session. Some of the major bills discussed and approved were several education measures that align with earlier action emphasizing the Senate’s commitment to Hawaii’s keiki, the future of Hawaii.

Lawmakers passed four bills relating to education, one prohibiting teachers from using seclusion and creating conditions and procedures for the use of restraint in schools in order to promote the safety and well-being of students (HB2257), and another raising the salary cap of the superintendent of education in order to attract and retain exemplary candidates (HB2257). The third bill will allow charter schools to charge fees on the use of facilities to help cover operating costs (HB1745).

Overall, many of the notable bills this session focused on prevention and maintaining core services and projects. Lawmakers funded initiatives that address imminent problems (as part of the joint majority package) such as the rise in kupuna population, spread of invasive species, and effects of climate control. Lawmakers also remained committed to providing continued support for the people most in need, including Hawaii’s keiki, k?puna and workers who earn the lowest wages.

The governor has 45 days from the time a bill was received to veto it, sign it into law, or allow it to pass into law without his signature.

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Highlights of Bills Passed this Session

Minimum Wage Increase

SB2609: Increases minimum wage rate to $7.75 per hour beginning on 1/1/15, $8.50 per hour beginning on 1/1/16, $9.25 per hour beginning on 1/1/17, and $10.10 per hour beginning on 1/1/18. Increases the tip credit to 50 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/15, and 75 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/16; provided that beginning 1/1/15, the combined amount the employee receives in wages and tips is at least $7 more than the applicable minimum wage

TAT for Counties
HB1671: Increases the current cap on transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties for two fiscal years. Establishes a working group to determine future county allocation ceiling amounts and the appropriate division of the provision of public services between the State and counties.

Turtle Bay Resort Conservation Easement
HB2434: Establishes a method to use transient accommodations tax revenues to pay the debt service on revenue bonds issued by the Hawaii tourism authority to acquire a conservation easement in Turtle Bay, Oahu.

Joint Majority Package
Supporting Hawaii’s Kupuna
HB1713 SD2 and SB2346 SD1 HD2 supports Hawaii’s kupuna through funding of aging, long-term care and investor education programs

Protecting the Environment
HB1714: Establishes an interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee under the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

HB1716: Appropriates $5 million to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning, passed out of committee earlier this month.

Voter Registration
HB2590: Allows voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016 and late voter registration, including on Election Day, beginning in 2018. Appropriates funds.

Other Notable Bills

Government Reform
Lobbyist Disclosure
SB2629: Requires lobbyists and specified individuals to report to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, within 30 days of adjournment sine die of a special session of the Legislature, on contributions and expenditures made to lobby on legislative matters considered during that special session. (SD2629 HD1

SB2634: Requires individuals who spend more than $750 on lobbying during a statement period to itemize each expenditure in certain categories, as applicable.

Financial Disclosure
SB2682: Fifteen boards and commissions will be required to file public financial disclosure statements

Sunshine Exemption for Counties
HB2139: Authorizes a limited meeting where any number of county council members may attend a board’s or community group’s meeting to discuss council business, provided that certain requirements are met. Repeals 6/30/2016.

Police Misconduct
SB2591: Police departments will have to disclose more information about police misconduct. They will have to report to the Legislature how many officers were suspended or fired in a given year, and whether the disciplinary action resulted in criminal charges or was still subject to a union appeal.

Affordable Housing
Rental Housing Trust Fund
SB2542: Increases the allocation of conveyance tax collections to the rental housing trust fund from 30 percent to 50 percent beginning July 1, 2014. The rental housing trust fund is used to provide loans or grants for the development, pre-development, construction, acquisition, preservation, and substantial rehabilitation of rental housing units. It is estimated that restoring the allocation of conveyance ta collections to 50 percent will generate $33, 100,000 for the rental housing trust fund for fiscal year 2014-2015.

Bonds for Affordable Housing
HB 2448: Authorizes HHFDC to issue bonds for infrastructure for land owned by an eligible developer for the construction of affordable housing.

Housing Choice Voucher
HB1539: Requires the return of a housing choice voucher to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority upon the death or removal from assistance of the last original household member or upon the youngest minor of the family reaching the age of 21 or 23 if the minor is a full-time student. Prohibits adding legal guardians to the household unless the legal guardian is also eligible for participation in the program

Hula Mae Multifamily Revenue Bond
HB2251: Increases the Hula Mae Multifamily Revenue Bond authorization limit from $750,000,000 to $1,000,000,000. Hula Mae helps qualifying first-time homebuyers with 30-year mortgages at competitive rates and offers some down payment assistance.

Hawaiian Homelands
HB2288: Amends the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act to permit the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to dispose of department-owned or department-controlled improvements, or space within an improvement, on Hawaiian home lands through direct negotiation.

Public Safety
Nonviolent Offender reentry pilot project
HB2363: Provides systematic reentry programming for nonviolent, low-risk drug offenders by establishing and funding a reentry pilot project for nonviolent, low-risk drug offenders.

Statute of limitations on sex abuse cases
SB2687: Extends the period during which a victim of child sexual abuse may bring an otherwise time-barred civil action against the victim’s abuser or an entity with a duty of care, including the State and counties.

Sexual Assault, statute of limitations
HB2034: Removes the statute of limitations for criminal actions arising from sexual assault in the first and second degrees and continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of fourteen years.

Habitual property crimes
HB2205: Imposes a mandatory minimum term of one year imprisonment upon conviction for the offense of habitual property crime. Authorizes probation only for a first conviction of the offense of habitual property crime.

Prostitution
HB1926: Amends the offense of prostitution to include sadomasochistic abuse under the definition of “sexual conduct” and clarify that a law enforcement officer shall not be exempt from the offense if the law enforcement officer engages in sexual penetration or sadomasochistic abuse while acting in the course and scope of duties. Amends the offense of solicitation of a minor for prostitution. Clarifies sentencing of repeat offenders and enhanced sentences for repeat violent and sexual offenders. Amends the applicability of a deferred acceptance of guilty plea or nolo contendere plea.

Human Trafficking
HB2038: Establishes the Human Trafficking Victim Services Fund to be administered by the DLIR to provide support and services to human trafficking victims. Also establishes human trafficking victim fees to be imposed upon persons convicted of labor trafficking and prostitution offenses.

Internet Crimes Against Children
HB702: Establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Fee for each felony or misdemeanor conviction. Specifies order of priority for collection of fees. Establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Special Fund. Requires deposit of fees collected into the Special Fund. Appropriates funds

Health
Tanning
HB 611: Prohibits tanning facilities from allowing the use of tanning beds by anyone under 18 and imposes fines for violations.

Hawaii Health Connector Oversight
SB2470: Establishes the Hawaii health connector as the State of Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange.

West Maui Hospital
HB2213: Authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds to assist West Maui Hospital and Medical Center Foundation, Inc. in establishing a hospital in west Maui

Cost-Effective Healthcare
HB1752: Appropriates funds to provide primary medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare to uninsured and underinsured patients and restores basic adult dental benefits to Medicaid enrollees; and appropriates funds to community health centers to provide outreach.

Hawaiian
Geothermal on Hawaiian Home Lands
SB2953: Provides that all royalties from geothermal resources on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) lands shall be paid to DHHL. 

Higher Education
UH Hilo Astronomy Center
SB3093: Makes an appropriation to the University of Hawaii at Hilo to support its memorandum of agreement with RISE 21st Century After School Program.

Education
Charter Schools
HB1745: Authorizes the State Public Charter School Commission to assess fees on non-state entities and individuals to help offset its operating costs. Establishes pre-opening procedures and requirements for charter applicants. Clarifies that beginning with fiscal year 2015-2016, appropriations for the state public charter school commission are separate and in addition to appropriations for charter schools. Makes other amendments to Hawaii’s charter school law for clarity and consistency. Requires a report on the Commission’s staffing and operational expenditures.

Restraint and Seclusion
HB1796: Prohibits the use of seclusion in public schools; establishes conditions and procedures for the use of restraint in public schools; and requires collection and review of data. Requires reports. Makes an appropriation.

Superintendents Salary
HB2257: Adjusts the salary cap of the Superintendent of Education. Requires an annual evaluation of the Superintendent of Education based on outcomes determined by the Board of Education. Repeals June 30, 2024.

Hawaii 3R’s
HB2598: Renames the Hawaii 3R’s School Repair and Maintenance Fund the Hawaii 3R’s School Improvement Fund. Requires the transfer of moneys collected pursuant to section 235-102.5(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes, and authorizes the transfer of any other moneys received in the form of grants and donations for school-level improvements and minor repairs and maintenance to the Hawaii 3R’s School Improvement Fund.

Mandatory Kindergarten
SB2768: Makes kindergarten mandatory for children who will be at least five years of age on July 31 of the school year, unless otherwise exempt.

Agriculture
Milk Control
HB2009: Establishes a minimum reserve requirement in the Milk Control Special Fund to cover contingency costs in the administration of the State’s Milk Control Act. Specifically includes audits as a contingency cost.

Macadamia Research
HB1931: Appropriates funds to DOA to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of macadamia felted coccid. Makes an appropriation. Effective 7/1/2014.

Lower Hamakua Ditch
HB2179: Limits the toll that the Board of Agriculture may charge for water from Lower Hamakua Ditch. Takes effect on 7/1/2015.

Coffee Berry Borer
HB1514: Establishes a Pesticide Subsidy Program until June 30, 2019, for the purchase of pesticides containing Beauveria bassiana to combat the coffee berry borer

Energy and Environment
Utilities Regulation
SB2809: Aligns statutory language regarding utility ratemaking with widely accepted utility ratemaking principles and ratemaking practices already applied in Hawaii by allowing utilities in the State the opportunity to earn a fair return on utility property that is “used and useful” for public utility purposes.

Environmental Courts
SB632: Establishes environmental courts as divisions of the circuit courts and district courts to hear proceedings, including certain chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, proceedings arising from certain environmental laws. Requires the Judiciary to convene a working group and report to the Legislature the total number of environmental-related cases filed in the last five years and recommendations for implementing environmental courts in the State.

Energy Systems Development Special Fund
SB2196: Re-establishes the energy systems development special fund, which was repealed. Extends the repeal of various allocations of the environmental response, energy, and food security tax from 2015 to 2030.

Public Utilities Commission
SB2948: Transfers the administrative placement of the public utilities commission from the department of budget and finance to the department of commerce and consumer affairs. Clarifies the public utilities commission’s authority concerning standard administrative practices, including operational expenditures and the hiring of personnel. Enables the chair of the public utilities commission to appoint, employ, and dismiss an executive officer, fiscal officer, and personnel officer. Establishes that the executive director of the division of consumer advocacy shall be the consumer advocate. Appropriates funds to effectuate the transfer of the public utilities commission and for the hiring of an executive officer, fiscal officer, and personnel officer.

Grid Modernization
HB1943 – Eliminates technical and economic barriers that prevent customer-generators from interconnecting to the Hawaii electric grid

Veterans
General Excise Tax
HB1772: Exempts from the general excise tax amounts received by a contractor of the Patient-Centered Community Care Program established by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for costs or advances to third party health care providers

Veterans Cemetery
HB1564: Requires the counties to obtain approval from the office of veterans’ services prior to any action that may impact the State’s obligation to establish and maintain veterans cemeteriess

Driver’s License
HB1770: Requires notation of veteran status on state driver’s licenses and identification cards if desired by the applicant. Effective October 1, 2014.

Gold Star Family Day
HB2071: Designates the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Family Day”.

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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.

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.

Statement from Senator J. Kalani English on the Inaugural Flight of Ohana by Hawaiian to Molokai

Senator J. Kalani English, District 7 – Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lanai‘i and Kaho‘olawe, today released the following statement on the inaugural flight of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian to Moloka‘i, the first of two islands it will return to the Hawaiian Airlines network. On March 18, twice daily service between Honolulu and Lana‘i will launch. Sen. English is chairman of the Committee on Transportation and International Affairs.

 

“This is a special day for Moloka‘i and its residents. The last time Hawaiian Airlines flew to Molokai was 10 years ago and we are excited to welcome them back. The ‘Ohana by Hawaiian operation will better serve our residents while creating more than 100 new jobs locally.

“I am humbled by Hawaiian Airlines’ invitation to take the inaugural flight, provide remarks and tour the aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines is establishing a network of safe and reliable routes that connect families and friends daily and we look forward to the launch of the Lana‘i flights.”

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Senator English’s Statement on Lana‘i Plane Crash

Senator J. Kalani English (District 7- Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs, today issued the following statement after learning of the fatal plane crash near Lana‘i Airport:

“It is with great sadness that I extend my most heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of those who passed in last night’s fatal plane crash on Lana‘i. I continue to keep the survivors who are currently under the care of Queen’s Medical Center in my thoughts and prayers.”

“We lost two officials from Maui County’s Department of Planning and the pilot of the charter plane, with three others injured. They were on their way back from a Lana‘i Planning Commission meeting that ended at 8:30 p.m. Their flight left around 9:05, about an hour after the last commercial flight leaving Lana‘i. The Maui Planning Department officials played an integral part in development of the county and will be remembered for their service to the community.”

“Maui County has endured great tragedy in just a few months. We are still grieving the loss of Loretta Fuddy, Hawai‘i’s State health director, to a plane crash off the shores of Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i.”

“As a unique and isolated county, small chartered planes are necessary for travel within the county. As such, air travel safety is an issue that is highly important to us. Maui Air had a previously unblemished record and I trust that a thorough investigation of the crash will occur. For those traveling by air to and from Lana‘i, I want to assure you that services are safe and will continue.”

“We are grateful to the first responders in the crash and for their continued commitment to protecting Hawai‘i and those who visit our state.”

“On behalf of the Hawai‘i State Senate, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives and will keep the survivors in our thoughts and prayers.”

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