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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.

# # #

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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Compromise Leads to Legislature’s Approval of Over 135 Measures Ahead of Sine Die

Lawmakers pass fiscally responsible state budget bill supporting keiki, measures supporting kupuna and the environment, and flagship bills raising the minimum wage and funding the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement


The Hawaii State Legislature approved more than 135 on final reading ahead of the adjournment sine die this Thursday, including the state supplemental budget, measures supporting kupuna and protecting the environment, and flagship bills raising minimum wage and funding the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement. The measures will now be enrolled to Governor Neil Abercrombie for consideration. The Governor has until Monday, June 23 to notify the legislature of an intent to veto and until Tuesday, July 8 to sign.

“Through the diligence and efficiency of my colleagues in both the Senate and House, not to mention their willingness to compromise, we have passed key measures that support our workers, kupuna, keiki and environment,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

“Caring for our kupuna and protecting our environment was a priority of the legislature this year,” said Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria. “The four measures we passed will help fund preventive measures to care for our aina and seniors.”

State Supplemental Budget*

HB1700 includes funding for core services such as education, health, the University of Hawaii, human services, the environment, public safety, and supporting and caring for the lives of Hawaii’s people.

Through prudent money management, and in order to reflect a weak economic forecast, lawmakers reduced Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s executive budget request by $173 million in general funds over fiscal biennium 2013-15. The governor’s $200 million budget request for FY2015 was significantly cut down to $65.7 million.

Funding for capital improvement projects amounted to just over $5 billion, of which $2.3 billion is funded in general obligation (GO) or reimbursable bonds. This number includes the lapse and reauthorization of $339 million in GO Bonds for the State Educational Facilities Improvement (SEFI) Fund. The budget includes $40 million for grant-in-aid (GIA).

“We’ve had some challenges balancing the budget this session, especially with lower-than-expected tax revenue projections,” said Sen. David Ige, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, “but through the commitment of both Senate and House members to work together to balance the needs and concerns of everyone in our community, we were able to make the smart financial decisions to close the budget.”

Flagship Measures Passing Final Reading:

Increasing Minimum Wage

Senate Bill 2609 will boost the income of Hawaii’s lowest paid workers giving them more money to spend and invest, increasing economic activity and growth, while allowing them to care for their families. The final version of the bill increases the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over the next four years. For workers who earn at least $7 more than the minimum wage, businesses can deduct a 75 cents tip credit. The current tip credit is 50 cents.

Preserving Hawaii’s Lands

House Bill 2434 will provide the $40 million needed to complete the agreement reached last week between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort (TBR) to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku.

JOINT MAJORITY PACKAGE BILLS

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.

The final joint majority package bill, HB1716, which 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.

Although the Senate passed out SB2478, a bill updating the chiropractic scope of practice, the House voted to recommit the both measures to committee. Both the House and Senate recommitted SB2799, relating the salary of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation Executive Director.

The Senate deferred a vote on HB1652, a bill establishing a 5-year pilot program at the University of Hawaii Hilo School of Pharmacy and a University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy Special Fund, until Thursday, May 1. And the House deferred vote on SB3065, the Dole land exchange bill, and until then as well.

Thursday, May 1, is adjournment sine die, the final day of the 2014 Legislative Session and the last day for the lawmakers to vote on measures. Senate will convene session at 11 a.m.

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*Highlights of the budget include:

Education

  • $15 million for the weighted student formula, which are funds given to schools based on enrollment and other factors.
  • $2 million for school athletics.
  • $1.925 million for Strive-HI performance system, which was designed to measure and better understand school performance and progress, and to help tailor rewards, supports and interventions for school improvement.
  • $600,000 for the educator evaluation system.
  • $579,208 for the professional development management system.
  • $256,000 for teacher induction and mentoring program.
  • $200,000 for a contract with Teach for America.
  • $3 million for early learning through the prekindergarten program.
  • $9 million to cover the shortfall in utility costs
  • $592,000 in general funds for sabbatical leave for teachers

Charter Schools

  • $800,000 for additional funding to mitigate charter school commission costs.
  • $134,802 for charter school per-pupil allotment

Public Libraries

  • $685,000 for electricity budget shortfall in libraries statewide.
  • $200,000 to increase security services at libraries statewide.
  • $600,000 to maintain computers and other technological services offered by Hawaii State Public Libraries System to patrons.

Health

  • $5 million for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.
  • $2 million for the Hilo Medical Center primary care residency program.
  • $750,000 for Hawaii Health Information Exchange for operational and technical support. 

University of Hawaii

  • 89 positions and $4 million for the University of Hawaii West Oahu campus.
  • $1 million for community college outcome based funding.
  • $19.5 million in general funds for UHPA employees’ salary increases.
  • Increase of the special fund ceiling by nearly $46 million to support UH-Manoa campus operations and programs.
  • 50 positions to support UH community colleges operations. 

Agriculture

  • 4 positions and $96,309 for the pesticides branch.

Human Services

  • $5.5 million for foster care payment rate increase.
  • $500,000 for the REACH program.
  • $200,000 for Hawaii Health Information Exchange for Medicaid services.

Environment

  • $577,000 for operating expenses for conservation and resources enforcement officers.
  • 12 temporary positions and $800,000 for community fisheries enforcement units.
  • $100,000 in general funds and $3.9 million in special funds for the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation 2016 Congress. 

Public Safety

  • 10 positions and $259,930 for hospital and suicide watch posts.
  • 6 positions and $155,958 for hospital and suicide watch posts.
  • 20 positions and $786,718 for mental health treatment at correctional facilities.

CIPs

HB1700 provides nearly $900 million to fund projects that continue the progress begun over the last few years in renovating, repairing and maintaining existing state-owned facilities to utilize our current resources and reduce general fund expenditures in the future. Including:

  • $700 million for the Department of Education and $90 million for the UH system
  • Remainder allocated to hundreds of other projects, mainly in the Department of Health, DLNR and DAGS.
  • Major funding in the amount of $1.9 billion is provided to the Department of Transportation for highways, harbors and airports, including an additional $280 million for the new Mauka concourse at Honolulu International Airport.

HB1700 addresses future capacity needs and economic growth. Including:

  • Funding for the much anticipated UH Hilo College of Pharmacy in the amount of $33 million.
  • Allied Health and Administration Building for the growing UH West Oahu campus at Kapolei in the amount of $28 million.
  • Following last year’s major investment in technology infrastructure, the budget this year includes an investment of $100 million in state and matching federal funds for Kolea, the new eligibility system for public assistance programs.

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Senate Water and Land Chair to Visit the Islands of Maui and Lana‘i

MAUI –Senate Water and Land Chair Malama Solomon will conduct site visits on the islands of Maui and Lana‘i from Wednesday, September 18 to Friday, September 20, 2013. Invited by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Senator will receive updates on various programs, projects, and concerns. Senator Gilbert Kahele, chair of the Tourism Committee, will also be joining the group.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
• Koa forest watershed project
• Iao Valley State Monument
• Lipoa Point

Thursday, September 19, 2013
• New DOCARE enforcement boat Ha’ena State Park
• Lahaina Harbor
• Manele Bay Small Boat Harbor
• Lana‘i Island watershed

Friday, September 20, 2013
• Lana‘i Island Baseyard

I applaud the Department of Land and Natural Resources for organizing these informative site visits and look forward to learning more about their work on the islands of Maui and Lana‘i,” said Senator Malama Solomon. “Through working collaboratively with the department we will be able to better define and address the needs of all of our islands.”

These visits are part of a number of statewide site visits the Senator and DLNR are conducting this interim.

Senate Water and Land Chair to Visit Kaua‘i Island

Kaua‘i –Senate Water and Land Chair Malama Solomon will conduct Kaua‘i Island site visits on Monday, September 16 and Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Invited by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the Senator will receive updates on various programs, projects, and concerns.

Monday, September 16, 2013

  • DLNR DOFAW Base Yard
  • Kalalau Valley
  • Koke’e and Waimea Canyon State Park

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

  • Wailua River Complex/ Drive to Ha’ena
  • Ha’ena State Park

I am appreciative of the Department of Land and Natural Resources for taking the initiative to set up these site visits,” said Senator Malama Solomon. “Through garnering firsthand knowledge of the progress and concerns of Kaua‘i Island we will be better able to work together to address the island’s current and future needs.”

The Kaua‘i Island visit is part of a number of statewide site visits the Senator and DLNR will conduct this interim.

Department of Land and Natural Resources to Update Senate Water and Land Committee

Honolulu- The Senate Committee on Water and Land will be holding an informational briefing to receive updates on several emergent issues being addressed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

The briefing will be held on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the State Capitol conference room 229.

During the briefing the committee and department will discuss:

 

  • Beginning at 9:30 a.m.: The effects of the Federal sequester within DLNR.
  • 10:30 a.m.: Concerns raised in the Audit of the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund regarding the trust fund itself and restoration plan.
  • 1:30 p.m.: The search for a new Division Administrator for the DLNR State Historic Preservation Division, as well as concerns regarding the National Park Service Corrective Action Plan.

This informational briefing is an opportunity for us to sit down with Department of Land and Natural Resources and discuss where they are in addressing key items concerning the State,” said Senator Malama Solomon, chair of the Senate Committee on Water and Land. “Through developing a stronger understanding of the organization’s current status we will be better able to plan for the future and prepare for the potential impacts of events such as sequestration.”

Other relevant issues will also be discussed.

Concerns on Public Land Development Corporation Must Be Addressed

Honolulu — “Insuring that the residents of Hawai’i directly benefit from the thousands of acres they own as public lands  throughout the State – and putting in place 21st century partnership strategies to protect and appropriately steward these lands now and for future generations – these are the reasons I voted for the Public Land Development Corporation – Act 55, which was passed by the 2011 Legislature,” said Hawai’i Island Senator Malama Solomon (District 1, Waimea, Hamakua, North Hilo, Rural South Hilo and Hilo).

But implementation of Act 55 has drawn a wave of concern during recent statewide public hearings on PLDC draft Administrative Rules.

“I am sorely disappointed that there is so much misinformation, but I also understand the concern.  Our public lands are a ‘treasure’ that must be protected.  Listening to the concerns raised, the Governor and the PLDC have agreed to work with the State Senate and House Committees on Water/Land and prepare a Strategic Plan that clarifies the vision, mission, goals and values of the PLDC, putting public benefits as the top priority,” said Sen. Solomon.

“Our state is very unique in the nation.  The State owns and manages most of the public lands, while in other states, the federal government is the owner and manager. This legislation is patterned after the Federal National Park Mission statement, which is to conserve the scenery, the natural and historic objects and to provide for the public’s enjoyment of these features in a manner that will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” said Sen. Solomon, who supported the legislation that created the PLDC as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Housing.

“Our committee and others in both the House and Senate spent a great deal of time in public hearings drafting this legislation to be sure environmental, cultural and sunshine laws and regulations were honored and that the end product really would put public interest first,” Sen. Solomon said.

“It is my hope and vision that PLDC creates a vehicle to replicate what I call “The Yosemite Model” — which incorporates the National Park Mission Statement, protecting the great beauty and environmental integrity of this national treasure, while providing recreational choices, employment and income generation to support essential health and safety services and caretaking.”

“Some of the concerns raised reflect misunderstandings.  PLDC projects shall comply with EIS (HRS 343), Historic Preservation (HRS 6E), Hawai’i Sunshine Law (HRS 92), Prohibition on sale of ceded lands (HRS 171-64.7), and Wage Rate Schedule (HRS 104).  There’s a laundry list of guidelines that delineates precautions imposed to insure that PLDC-initiated partnerships “improve our communities, create jobs, and expand public benefit.”

“For some, partnerships are a new way of doing business, but in today’s economic climate, partnerships are the only way we can effectively improve public benefit and make things happen without raising taxes or fees,” said Sen. Solomon.

Also, PLDC partnerships must have (1) value and significance to the community, (2) help preserve culture, agriculture, conservation and preservation; (3) be self-sustaining, (4) have a positive economic impact, and (5) have long-term value, according to the PLDC Operating Framework – 2012.

The agreement by the Governor and PLDC to prepare a PLDC Strategic Plan was announced in a letter Sen. Solomon wrote to Kalbert Young, Chair of the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC), specifically in response to concerns expressed at statewide public hearings regarding the intention of the PLDC’s purpose and mission.

“Concerns raised related to Native Hawaiian land rights seriously got my attention,” said Sen. Solomon, who has been at the forefront of protection of Hawaiian lands and rights issues for nearly 30 years, beginning with serving as one of the first elected Trustees Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

“Act 55 creating PLDC says that PLDC will pay OHA any ceded land revenues as required by HRS 10-13.5.  Further, to the extent that the PLDC has a role in addressing other Native Hawaiian issues, the legislature and governor have agreed to do everything in our power to ensure that the PLDC works collaboratively with the appropriate agencies.”

For more specifics on the PLDC Operating Framework, Mission, Vision, Values, Key elements, go to: http://manage.hawaii.gov/gov/faq/public-land-development-corporation-pldc.

Governor Enacts Measures to Support Local Farms

(Photo Courtesy: Office of the Governor)

Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Clarence Nishihara and committee member Senator Ronald Kouchi joined Governor Neil Abercrombie today as he signed Senate Bill 2375 and Senate Bill 2646 into law. Together, these measures aim to benefit local farmers who want to sell their products and/or establish agricultural-based commercial operations.

Senate Bill 2375 defines agricultural- based commercial operations and authorizes agricultural-based commercial operations in agricultural districts. Senate Bill 2646 intends to encourage and support diversified agriculture and agricultural self-sufficiency in the State by exempting certain nonresidential agricultural buildings that are on commercial farms from county building permit requirements.

For more information and to view other measures enacted by the Governor go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/report.aspx?type=acts.

Senate Bill Intended to Build Transit-Oriented Development Zones to be Heard Today

HONOLULU – Addressing the need to preserve agriculture lands while balancing the need to address population growth on Oahu, Senate Bill 2927 intends to build transit-oriented development zones along a bus transit center or rail transit station. The bus transit center areas that would be developed would be located within the county development or sustainable plans for Ewa, Central Oahu and the primary urban centers (Honolulu). The rail transit station areas that would be developed, as designated by the county to achieve density and ridership goals, would be located at east Kapolei, the University of Hawaii West Oahu, West Loch, Waipahu, or Leeward Community College.

Responding to the needs of the community, a conference draft of the bill was created. The bill is aimed at creating a process for residential and commercial qualified projects and to establish the transit-oriented or main-street redevelopment program. The measure will go before the conference committee Thursday, April 26 at 2:10 p.m. in the State Capitol’s room 224.

Under the bill’s concept, each transit station would be the hub of economic development through the creation of a mixed-used community. “By creating planning districts in and around the designated transit stations, we would reduce the number of cars on the road because we would be developing ‘walking cities’ where people can work and live,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who introduced the bill. “This is smart planning for the future. We would promote public transportation and preserve our agriculture and open land.”

In order to protect our unspoiled landscapes and farming lands, this bill also aims to create opportunity to increase the development of affordable housing facilities and vertical urban development in the vicinity of the transit stations. “Honolulu needs dense vertical urban development, and not suburban sprawl which has led to less green, congested roads, hefty infrastructure requirements, more pollution, and quality of life issues. We need parents spending three hours with their children, and not in their cars,” said Dela Cruz.

According to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, nine percent of Hawaii households are multigenerational, the highest percentage in the nation. “Owning a home has become entirely unfeasible for the majority of our workforce and Gen-Y’ers who are the backbone and future to our economy,” he added.

Developers would still need to adhere to an environmental impact study and/or environmental review before breaking ground on the project, which can only occur within a planning district designated by the county. Under this measure, the county would also be able to establish a criterion of development in order to preserve the unique characteristics of each community. The public will also have a chance to be part of the community planning process.

“An opportunity for Hawaii to become economically diverse presents itself. We have the chance to shape and to provide for today’s demanding industries so that Hawaii’s future generations have the opportunity to stay home and work rather than being limited to what we have now and move elsewhere.”

Settlement Regarding Ceded Lands Poised for Full Senate Vote

HONOLULU – Senate Bill 2783, relating to public trust lands, is expected to go before the full Senate for a vote tomorrow, March 6, 2012. If passed, the legislation will move to the House for consideration.  The Senate Committees on Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means passed the measure out of committee without amendments last Friday.

It was a landmark decision for the committees to pass the bill,” said Senator J. Kalani English, a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “This has been a long time coming and it is the first step in the right direction.”

Senate Bill 2783 would convey Kaka‘ako Makai lands to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).  The State and OHA agree that a $200 million approximate settlement amount represents a reasonable compromise of the disputed claims.  To satisfy that $200 million amount, the State is conveying contiguous and adjacent parcels in Kaka‘ako Makai.   The parcels are near Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park, including Fisherman’s Warf.

If the measure is ultimately approved by the Governor, all disputes and controversies relating to OHA’s portion of income and proceeds from the public trust lands will be extinguished and discharged as well as bar all claims, suits, and actions for the period November 7, 1978 through June 30, 2012.

I am satisfied we are moving forward with this bill to better the conditions of native Hawaiians and we at a certain point must trust the work of OHA and the administration in reaching this settlement,” added Sen. English, who represents District 6, encompassing Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.   “I thank Governor Abercrombie, OHA Chairperson Colette Machado and Attorney General David Louie for their efforts in reaching an agreement that Senators could consider.”

Public Land Development Corporation Executive Director Selected

HONOLULU — The board of directors for the Public Land Development Corporation, at its meeting on November 21, selected Lloyd Haraguchi as its executive director.

Haraguchi has more than 25 years of extensive experience in land use planning, zoning, development, government and community relations, and leasing in both the public and private sectors. He is currently the senior asset manager at Hawaii Land Management, where he manages all assets of the company consisting of agricultural land, water systems, telecom sites, and other zoned property. Haraguchi has been with Hawaii Land Management for 8 years. Prior to that position, he had worked for several other organizations, including Fort Street Investment Corporation and The Estate of James Campbell.

“Mr. Haraguchi brings a wealth of knowledge to his position,” said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Housing. “I am confident he will work diligently with the board in facilitating the process of drafting rules and policies that will guide the Corporation.”

Chair Dela Cruz introduced Senate Bill 1555 during the 2011 legislative session, which subsequently became law when Governor Abercrombie put his signature on the bill in May. The measure (Act 55), established the Public Land Development Corporation which will serve as an arm of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

The overall purpose of the Corporation is to generate revenues that may be applied to the regulatory functions of DLNR. The Corporation is tasked to administer a culturally appropriate sensitive program that will make optimal use of public lands for the economic, environmental and social benefit for the people of Hawaii.

The Corporation will also identify public lands that are suitable for redevelopment, administer marketing analysis to determine the best revenue-generating programs for the public lands, enter into public-private agreements to appropriately redevelop the public lands and provide the leadership for the redevelopment, financing, improvement, or enhancement of the selected redevelopment opportunities.

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