Senate Advances Bills Supporting Job Creation, Economic Recovery and Restoring the Safety Net

HONOLULU — Ahead of Thursday’s Second Crossover deadline, the Hawaii State Senate advanced several bills today that align with its 2012 Legislative Session priorities: job creation, economic recovery and restoring the safety net. The overarching themes and priorities set forth also align with Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawaii.”

Creating jobs and putting people back to work has been critically important to the Senate. The Senate passed House Bill 2145, which includes the Senate’s flagship initiative, known as “The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012.” The measure is an aggressive $500 million general obligation bond-funded Capital Improvement Program package aimed at creating jobs by investing and stimulating our local economy from all corners of the state.

The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012 would give a big boost to the economy and put people to work by appropriating funds for shovel-ready jobs for all trades in the construction industry – from carpenters to consultants. The measure would appropriate funds for much needed repair and maintenance projects that would extend the useful life of our aging facilities and infrastructures. According to estimates by DBEDT’s job multiplier, this measure could create or sustain more than 5,000 jobs.

With construction bids coming in below estimated costs and interest rates at historic lows, money allocated for state construction projects has never gone further. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to make significant reductions to the state’s repair and maintenance backlog,” said Sen. David Y. Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The Senate today also passed its version of the $11 billion supplemental budget for the State of Hawaii, House Bill 2012. The Senate’s version of the budget is both responsible and responsive to the governor’s budget requests. Most of the governor’s initiatives have been funded as they pertain to maintaining the safety net and restoring the ability of government to perform necessary functions.

As a result of the mild economic recovery, the safety net could be strengthened. Additional funds for child welfare, domestic violence shelters, Medicaid, and various shortfalls across the Department of Human Services were included. Additionally, $18.2 million were directed to the temporary assistance for needy families program and $3.6 million to information technology initiatives to modernize the Department of Human Services.

The Senate also continues its strong support for education. Notably, the Senate has underscored education as a top priority by adding $44 million to the Department of Education’s budget. Specifically, the Senate’s budget focuses on key areas of investment in education, including: the weighted student formula, student meals, the community school for adults program, early learning and student transportation.

In the area of technology, the Senate calls for investing in the State’s information technology (IT) infrastructure in order to improve government and to better serve the public. The investment in IT upgrades aims to increase productivity, making government more efficient. The governor’s budget includes funding to significantly improve the infrastructure for IT throughout state government, an area in which the Senate has led by example. The Senate’s budget includes more than $27 million dollars for critical infrastructure IT projects that will support increased efficiency in the transformation of state government. The Senate also supports the governor’s broadband initiative to improve services and deployment of broadband to ensure that each and every citizen has access.

The Senate passed 197 measures today, which includes bills and resolutions.
For more information click here.

The Maui Senatorial delegation offered the following comments on House Bill  2145:

I encourage our colleagues in the House to seriously consider this measure because interest rates are at an historic low and there is no better time to make a significant investment in our state-owned facilities,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who represents District 4, encompassing Wailuku, Waihee, Kahului, Paia and Lower Paia.

This bill puts investment toward renewable energy and information technology upgrade initiatives throughout our schools, hospitals, and office buildings, which will lead to future cost savings and a reduction in the State’s carbon footprint,”  said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents District 6, encompassing Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

All businesses will benefit from this bill.  We encourage any company, including small businesses, to register with the State Procurement Office’s online system in order to be eligible to bid for projects.  The process is totally transparent and open- with bids posted publicly for anyone to see,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents District 5, encompassing South and West Maui.

 

 

Hawaii State Senate Recognizes Maui Invasive Species Committee

Maui Senators congratulate members of the Maui Invasive Species Committee .(L-R) Sen. Shan Tsutsui, Sen. Roz Baker, Lori Buchanan, Teya Penniman, and Sen. J. Kalani English

Honolulu — The Hawaii State Senate honored the county-based Invasive Species Committees (ISCs) and Dr. Mohsen Ramadan of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) biological control program with a Certificate of Recognition yesterday.

The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), along with its counterparts from each county, was recognized for its work to guard their islands from invasive species.

MISC was the first Invasive Species Committee to form in 1999. The group works to protect the Valley Isle from coqui frogs, pampas grass, veiled chameleons, and miconia. Many of MISC’s original founders still participate today in meetings to share information and set priorities. The partnership brings together scientists, resource managers, foresters, botanists, wildlife biologists, and representatives from county, state, and federal agencies to contribute their time and expertise. MISC works island-wide with a Hana-based crew that focuses almost exclusively on miconia. Other MISC staff work out of their headquarters in upcountry Maui to tackle 20 differently species of invasive plants and animals.

It is important to recognize all of the invasive species committees, especially the Maui and Molokai committees, because they are on the front lines of protecting Hawaii’s ecosystem from invasive species,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents District 6, encompassing the areas of Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, and Kaho‘olawe.

We appreciate the work of the Maui Invasive Species Committee. They are helping to ensure the survival of our native species,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents District 5, encompassing South and West Maui.

The Maui Invasive Species Committee has been working diligently to protect our native ecosystem, and we commend the Committee’s continued efforts to keep invasive species from changing our environment,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who represents District 4, encompassing Wailuku, Waihee, Kahului, Paia, and Lower Paia.

The Invasive Species Committees are projects of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit and the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii. The ISC’s are island-based partnerships on Kauai (KISC), Oahu (OISC), Maui (MISC), Molokai (MOMISC), and the Big Island (BIISC) that work with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private businesses and landowners to protect each island from the most threatening pests with a proactive approach.

Baldwin High School Junior Selected as 2012 Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii Youth of the Year

Maui Senators congratulate members of the Maui Boys and Girls Club. (L to R) Raquel Zane, Leah Kinores, Lopaka Mattos, Sen. English, Sen. Baker, Sen. Tsutsui, Courtney Galarita and Tiera Conley

HONOLULU — Shortly after receiving his Senate Certificate of Recognition as a finalist of the 2012 Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii Youth of the Year program today, Maui native and Baldwin High School junior Lopaka Mattos was selected as the club’s representative to the regional level.

The selection was announced at a Boys and Girls Club luncheon following Hawaii State Senate floor presentation. Maui’s Senatorial delegation is proud of Lopaka’s achievement.

I congratulate Lopaka for this wonderful accomplishment. He has impressed many throughout the Boys and Girls Club organization with his strong faith, sense of community and volunteerism,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents District 6, encompassing the areas of H?na, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, L?na‘i, and Kaho‘olawe.

This is a well-deserved honor for Lopaka. He is an extraordinary young man who has been able to rise above many personal challenges,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who represents District 4, ecompassing Wailuku, Waihee, Kahului, Paia, and Lower Paia.

He will make us proud as he represents the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii at the regional level. At 17-years old, he has already demonstrated his perseverance against adversity, which makes this achievement even more gratifying,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents District 5, encompassing South and West Maui.

Maui club winners were also recognized during the Senate floor presentation. They are Leah Kinores, Raquel Zane, Tiera Conley and Courtney Galarita.

David Teixeira, an active member of the Nanakuli Boys and Girls Club, was the other finalist vying for the title of 2012 Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii Youth of the Year.

Since 1976, the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii (BGCH) has prepared young people for leadership roles on all islands. The annual BGCH Youth of the Year program offers exceptional teens the opportunity to compete for the title of Youth of the Year at the organizational, state, regional, and national levels. Youth of the Year finalists are selected by their respective clubhouses for their leadership, resilience, and demonstrated commitment to serve their families, communities, and the Boys and Girls Club organization.

Hawaii State Senate Confirms Maui Resident as Commissioner to the Public Utilities Commission

(Photo Caption: Maui Senators congratulate Michael Champley on his confirmation)(L-R: Senate President Shan Tsutsui, Senator J. Kalani English, Michael Champley and Senator Roz Baker)

HONOLULU –  The Hawaii State Senate today voted to confirm Maui resident Michael Champley as commissioner to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).  Champley was appointed by Governor Abercrombie in September 2011 and began serving on the PUC on an interim basis immediately. His appointment was subject to Senate confirmation.

Mr. Champley’s extensive professional experience in the energy industry, commitment to public service, and proven leadership throughout his career are all important characteristics that make him an asset to the PUC,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui, and chairs the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee that recommended Champley’s confirmation.

Mr. Champley’s extensive experience and analytical skills make him an excellent choice for the PUC.  He has the reputation on knowing how to address complex and crucial issues relating to the utility industry,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who represents Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului, Pa‘ia, Lower Pa‘ia.

With more than four decades of experience in the industry, Mr. Champley has proven to have a thorough understanding of the regulatory process from a utility perspective and is highly qualified to serve as a member of the Public Utilities Commission,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe.

Prior to his appointment, Champley worked as a Maui-based senior energy consultant focused on clean energy resource integration in Hawai’i. He has over 40 years of experience analyzing, integrating and managing complex economic, public policy and technical issues confronting an evolving regulated energy utility industry. Champley was a senior executive with DTE Energy, a major electric and gas energy company where he held various executive positions, including Senior Vice President-Regulatory Affairs and Senior Vice President-Power Supply.  Champley holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University with emphasis in finance and public utility economics and regulation.

Senate Passes The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012

HONOLULU–  The Senate unanimously passed The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 2012) today.  The bill will go to the House next for consideration.

Garnering bipartisan support, Senate Bill 2012, is an aggressive $500 million general obligation bond-funded Capital Improvement Program package aimed at creating jobs by investing and stimulating our local economy from all corners of the state.

We are proud of this legislation, which has united all members of the Senate,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.  “This bill will get our economic engine going and create much-needed jobs that will get thousands of people off the bench and back to work.”

With Hawaii experiencing the lowest interest rates on record and significant savings made from the State’s most recent bond authorization and issuance, now is the time to invest in our State. The program will appropriate funds for shovel-ready projects that will create jobs for all trades in the construction industry – from carpenters to consultants.  According to conservative estimates by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s (DBEDT) job multiplier, this measure could create or sustain more than 5,000 jobs.

We have an opportunity to address long-standing needs in a cost effective manner.  Interest rates are at an historic low and bids for contracted work are currently coming in at discounted rates,” said Senator David Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “The convergence of these factors makes now the opportune time to make an aggressive investment in our state’s infrastructure.”

Projects under consideration will focus on repair and maintenance needs to address aging infrastructure concerns and to extend the useful life of existing state-owned assets and facilities.  It will also include those that address health and safety code concerns.  A portion of Governor Abercrombie’s $300 million request for construction projects that are shovel-ready or address repair and maintenance concerns are funded by the measure.

The State departments currently identified as part of the Program are:  the Department of Education, including the State Public Library System; the University of Hawaii, including athletic facilities; the Department of Accounting and General Services; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Defense; the Department of Health, and health care facilities of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, the Department of Human Services; the Department of Land and Natural Resources; the Department of Public Safety and the Judiciary.  Funding will be allocated depending on each department’s needs and ability to commence work immediately.

Here are highlights of the funding:

–$150,000,000 for repair and maintenance projects and to address infrastructure needs, such as science and technology, electricity, and other utility infrastructure improvements, within the public school system.

–$3,000,000 for repair and maintenance projects within the Hawaii State Library system.

–$90,000,000 for capital renewal and deferred maintenance projects of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

–$25,000,000 for capital renewal and deferred maintenance projects within the University of Hawaii community college system.

–$60,000,000  for repair and maintenance projects of the Department of Accounting and General Services.

–$40,000,000  for repair and maintenance projects of the Department of Human Services.

–$40,000,000  for repair and maintenance projects of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

Another priority of the bill is to develop sustainable and renewable energy resources, such as photovoltaic technology.  Investing in renewable energy and upgrades to information technology initiatives throughout schools, hospitals, and office buildings will ultimately lead to cost savings and a reduction of the State’s carbon footprint.

In order to expedite the backlog of repair and maintenance projects, Senate Bill 2012 makes revisions to the State’s permitting, approval and procurement processes.  As a result, the accelerated processes will expedite the creation of jobs and facilitate the return to work for many of our residents.

This measure means that badly needed repairs and deferred maintenance projects that many state facilities have waited years to do can finally be given the green light to proceed.  Passing this legislation now would be an excellent way for us to create the needed jobs for our unemployed trade workers.  All companies, including small businesses, are encouraged to register with the State Procurement Office’s online system in order to be eligible to bid on projects,” said Senator Michelle Kidani, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and oversees Capital Improvements Projects for the Senate.   “The process is fair and transparent with bids posted publicly for everyone to see.”

If the measure passes the House and the Governor approves the bill, projects could begin immediately.

For more information on the bill:  http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/.

Hawaii Legislature Show Support for holding NFL Pro Bowl game in Hawai’i

Honolulu, Hawaii. Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Speaker Calvin Say today announced the continued support by the Hawaii State Legislature for hosting the NFL Pro Bowl game at Aloha Stadium.

The two-year contract with the NFL in which the state pays the NFL $4 million per game expires this year. Although contract negotiations with the Hawaii Tourism Authority are in progress, the NFL has said that they are keeping their options open and looking at other venues for the game.

In a letter signed by Say and Tsutsui and sent to Mike McCartney, President and Chief Executive Office of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, lawmakers expressed their “continued support for holding the Pro Bowl game in the State of Hawaii at Aloha Stadium, and we are willing to provide necessary support and assistance to help ensure that Hawai’i will once again play host to the Pro Bowl in the future. We encourage you to make every effort to secure a new contract with the NFL.”

The NFL Pro Bowl is a national sporting event that Hawaii families and fans look forward to every year. I strongly support its return, “ said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.  “The organization has become an important part of our community and its players have given so generously to our local charities and to the people of Hawaii.”

The Pro Bowl generates about $28 million in visitor spending and in excess of $3 million in state tax revenues. It has been held in Hawaii since 1979, except in 2010 when it was moved to Miami. Boasting sold-out games and over 13 million viewers each year, the Pro Bowl has provided invaluable global exposure to the Hawaiian Islands.

 

 

Senate President’s Reaction to Governor Abercrombie’s State of the State Address

Following Governor Abercrombie’s State of the State address today, Senate President Shan Tsutsui issued the following statement:

The Governor delivered an inspiring and encouraging speech.  He talked about his new day initiatives and his vision for the State, while sharing a lot of details regarding those proposals.  It is encouraging to hear that the Governor and the Senate are on the same page in terms of moving Hawaii forward.  He reiterated the Senate’s theme, ‘Pupukahi I Holomua – Unite to Move Forward’ and our shared objectives – growing a sustainable economy, investing in people and transforming government.  We also look forward to working with the Governor and the House in passing our initiative, The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012, in order to make it a better day in Hawaii.”

Hawaii State Senate Confirms Maui Attorney as District Court Judge

(L-R Senate President Shan Tsutsui, Senator Roz Baker, Judge Mimi DesJardins and Senator J. Kalani English)

HONOLULU –  The Hawaii State Senate today confirmed the appointment of Mimi DesJardins as judge for the District Court of the Second Circuit, located on Maui.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald appointed DesJardins to fill the vacancy left by the Honorable Rhonda Loo, who was promoted to the position of Circuit Court Judge of the Second Circuit.

“Judge DesJardins has the reputation of being a person with great integrity and character,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.  “We are honored to confirm her to Maui’s District Court.”

“Judge DesJardins has established herself as a hardworking and fair-minded jurist who has keen knowledge and understanding of complex issues,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe.

“The people of Maui will be well-served with Judge DeJardins’s experience combined with her preparation and even temperament.  I believe the qualities that she exhibits are both rare and admirable,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui.

DesJardins currently has a her own private practice, concentrating in family law, including the areas of paternity, guardianship, divorce, custody, and visitation; child protective proceedings; custody evaluations and guardian ad litem appointments; and juvenile proceedings. She also has extensive practice experience in the area of criminal defense, including felony and misdemeanor jury trials; and family and district court bench trials. Prior to entering private practice, DesJardins served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Deputy Public Defender, and Deputy Corporation Counsel, all in the County of Maui. Since 2006, she has served as a Per Diem Judge for the District Court of the Second Circuit.

DesJardins received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and her degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Puget Sound School of Law.

Hawaii State Senate Adopts Social Media Use Policy

HONOLULU- The Hawaii State Senate today adopted a social media use policy.   The Policy provides guidance to users, both internally and in the public.

Currently, the use of social media in the public sector is a new and emerging phenomenon across the country. The Hawaii State Senate is one of the few state senate bodies that have formally adopted a social media use policy.

The State Senate endeavors to increase public accessibility to legislative policies and information to best serve the needs of citizens and has found it necessary to explore and embrace the use of social media.

“The recent growth of social media use to communicate with government officials and organizations underscores the importance for government agencies to incorporate social media services (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr) as integral components to governments’ overarching communication initiatives,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui . “At the same time, it is equally vital that we, as agencies and representatives, harness the potential of these tools in the most appropriate and responsible manner. That’s what this policy guides us to do.”

The Senate policy supports growing adoption of social media by its members and staff while providing guidance and standards of its use to ensure appropriate and effective use is consistent and in compliance with Federal and State rules and regulations.

“Social media is continually changing the way we communicate and engage with one another,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria. “While traditional vehicles of communication, such as print and broadcast hold much value, we cannot negate the importance of new and emerging technology. It is important for us to reach out to all of our citizens, and that includes the use of social media. This policy provides the appropriate structure for doing so.”

The Hawaii State Senate Social Media Use Policy includes guidance on social media application, use, security, approval, content, and management. All official accounts will be monitored by the Senate Communications Office to assure compliance with the use policy.

Here’s a link to the Senate Social Media Use Policy:http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/senate.aspx.

Hawaii State Senate Congratulates Governor’s New Deputy Chief of Staff


Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced Representative Blake Oshiro will be joining the Abercrombie Administration as his deputy chief of staff. Representative Oshiro who currently serves in the House of Representatives as its Majority Leader will be stepping down from his seat on December 7, 2011.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui and Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, on behalf of the Senate, congratulate Representative Blake Oshiro as Governor Abercrombie’s new deputy chief of staff. They offer the following statements on Representative Oshiro’s appointment:

“Congratulations to Representative Blake Oshiro on his appointment as Governor Abercrombie’s new deputy chief of staff. He is certainly a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable addition to the administration. We look forward to working with Representative Oshiro as he works with the governor and members of the administration to direct Hawaii under the “New Day” plan,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.

“Governor Abercrombie’s appointment of Representative Blake Oshiro as his new deputy chief of staff is very fitting. As my counterpart, while Representative Oshiro served as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with him. He is thorough, diligent, but equally important, he understands the nuances of the legislature and we look forward to working with him as deputy chief of staff,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

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