Lawmakers Hold Briefing on the State’s Application and Plan for Community Services Block Grant

The Hawaii State Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor and the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment will hold an informational briefing Friday to get an update on the State of Hawaii’s Application and Plan for Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) for fiscal years (FY) 2015 and 2016.

“The Community Services Block Grant provides federal funding for Hawaii to determine its goals and objectives and implement initiatives to address poverty issues,” said Senator Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “CSBG grant funding improves the quality of life and raises the welfare of our state’s residents.”

“We rely on this federal funding to enhance the livelihood of our state,” said Representative Mark Nakashima, chair of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment. “When we address the root causes of poverty, we can begin to plan for improvements to lessen poverty’s effect.”

The State of Hawaii’s CSBG Application and Plan for FY 2015 and 2016 was released for public comment on June 9, 2014. Federal law requires the state to post its plan and hold public hearings on the matter.

CSBG is administered federally by the Office of Community Services within the Administration of Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services and by the State of Hawaii Department of Labor’s Office of Community Services at the local level. CSBG funding is used to support efforts to assist low-income families and individuals. Funding is available to all four county Community Action Agencies including Honolulu Community Action Program, Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, Maui Economic Opportunity, and Kauai Economic Opportunity.

The State CSBG Application and Plan for FY 2015 and 2016 is available online at: http://labor.hawaii.gov/ocs/files/2012/11/CSBG-State-Plan-2015-2016.pdf

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State Hospital Administrators Subpoenaed to Testify Before Senate Investigative Committee

The Hawaii State Senate continues its investigation into allegations of misconduct at the State Hospital on Wednesday, July 30 at 10 a.m. in Room 16 of the Hawaii State Capitol.

Scheduled to testify are the following individuals for which subpoenas were issued:

  • William May, Hawaii State Hospital Administrator
  • William Sheehan, Hawaii State Hospital Associate Administrator of Clinical Services

“We’re continuing our investigation into the Hawaii State Hospital and asking the relevant and hard-hitting questions so that we can make it a safer place for employees and patients while ensuring proper execution in employment policies practices,” said Sen. Clayton Hee, co-chair of the Senate Investigative Committee on the State Hospital. “We are also looking forward to discussing with Mr. May the future of the hospital and how he anticipates to get there.”

“We have held nine hearings thus far and each time we learn something new do about the environment of the hospital,” added committee co-chair Sen. Josh Green, who is also an emergency department physician. “As the process moves on, we’re seeing some changes and by the end of our investigation I expect to have comprehensive understanding of all its problems, from worker injuries to accusations of nepotism and mismanagement.”

Senator Clayton Hee and Senator Josh Green at the July 16, 2014 hearing of the Senate Special Investigative Committee on the Hawaii State Hospital.

The Special Investigative Committee on the State Hospital was formed during the 2014 legislative session to conduct an investigation of the workplace safety of psychiatric workers and allegations of administrative improprieties and failure to conform to established employment policies and practices at the Hawaii State Hospital. The hearings began in March to receive testimony from subpoenaed individuals and has been ongoing as senators take a wide-ranging and in-depth look at the State Hospital.

For more information on the investigative committee, please visit: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/specialcommittee.aspx?comm=hsh

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State Hospital Administrators Subpoenaed to Testify Before Senate Investigative Committee

The Hawaii State Senate continues its investigation into allegations of misconduct at the State Hospital on Wednesday, July 16.

The Special Investigative Committee on the State Hospital was formed during the 2014 legislative session to conduct an investigation of the workplace safety of psychiatric workers and allegations of administrative improprieties and failure to conform to established employment policies and practices at the Hawaii State Hospital. The hearings began in March to receive testimony from subpoenaed individuals and has been ongoing as senators take a wide-ranging and in-depth look at the State Hospital.

“There are a growing number of concerns at the State Hospital,” said Senator Clayton Hee, co-chair of the Senate Special Investigative Committee on the State Hospital. “As we learn more about the inner workings at the State Hospital, it’s become clear that there are many issues that need addressing. We need to hold workers accountable for improper actions, but also equip them with the tools necessary to do their jobs.”

“The first step in solving a problem is to assess the current situation” said Senator Josh Green, co-chair of the Senate Special Investigative Committee on the State Hospital. “The hearings we hold attempts to gives us insight into what exactly is happening at the State Hospital so that we can begin to address and solve those issues with open and transparent governance.”

The next hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 16 at 11:00am in Room 16 of the Hawaii State Capitol to receive testimony from the following individuals for which subpoenas were issued:

  • Mark Fridovich, Adult Mental Health Division Administrator
  • William Elliott, Acting Hawaii State Hospital Administrator
  • Linda Rosen, Director of the Department of Health

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Special Investigative Committee on the Hawaii State Hospital Meets Again

The Senate Special Investigative Committee on the Hawaii State Hospital yesterday continued questioning top administrators in a hearing held at the Capitol. During the hearing, concerns were raised about nepotism and if there was a possibility of overtime pay being awarded unfairly. The Hawaii Legislature subpoenaed a top administrator, Bill Elliott, to inquire specifically whether clerks at the hospital were unfairly giving more overtime to one employee over another.

The investigation will be ongoing as senators look in depth at the Hawaii State Hospital as a whole. Further investigation and questioning will resume on April 30th.


Bill Elliott, acting administrator of the state’s only public mental hospital prepares to testify before the Senate Special Investigative Committee.

Happy Birthday to Senator Clayton Hee

Today is Senator Clayton Hee’s birthday. To celebrate, his staff got together for scrumptious cake.

His staff sends their best to Senator Hee on his special day.

Clayton Hee is the state senator for District 23 encompassing the neighborhoods of  Kane‘ohe, Ka‘a‘awa,Hau‘ula, La‘ie, Kahuku, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, and Kunia.

Senate Judiciary Chair Announce Effort to Establish “No Fishing Zone” Around Ni’ihau Island

(Two owners of the Island of Ni‘ihau, Bruce and Leiana Robinson joined eight other island residents, DLNR Director William Aila, Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina and members from the Senate’s Hawaiian Caucus- Senators Clayton Hee, Michelle Kidani and Brickwood Galuteria at a press conference today, announcing efforts to resolve issues relating to the depletion of near shore fisheries on the Island of Ni‘ihau.)

Honolulu- Hawai‘i State Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee in a press conference today announced that the Hawaii State Legislature and the Department of Land Natural Resources (DLNR) intend to respond individually to the depletion of near shore fisheries on the Island of Ni‘ihau.

Ni‘ihau is a constant and living reminder of the interdependence of man and nature,” said Senator Hee. “There is no question that unless the government takes dramatic proactive steps to reserve the near shore fisheries for the island population, their survival going forward is in jeopardy.”

Unlike every other populated Hawaiian Island, Ni‘ihau is the only island that does not have any commercial stores where food can be purchased.  As such, the near shore reef fishery serves as their predominant source of food.

With the fisheries of Kaua‘i Island becoming more depleted as the population has grown, accompanied by a disregard for taking care of the near shore fisheries, more and more people have been going to Ni‘ihau at greater frequency taking food sources upon which the native population of Ni‘ihau is totally dependent.

To protect these valued resources and resolve ongoing issues caused by the external exploitation of Ni‘ihau, Senator Hee announced that the Senate, in consultation with the Hawaiian Affairs Committee of the House, intends to introduce legislation to establish a “no fishing zone” law for Ni‘ihau Island. In addition, DLNR is currently analyzing a series of administrative rules to strike a balance between the protection of Ni‘ihau residents and offshore opportunities.

This is a unique situation unlike anywhere else in Hawai‘i and this unique situation calls for unique legislation,” said Senator Hee. “The Hawaiian Caucus of the Senate intends to introduce legislation that will in essence create a no-take zone around the island.”

Governor Signs Senate Bill 1, Relating to Equal Rights, into Law

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii, making Hawaii the 15th state to enact such legislation.

In a release by the Office of the Governor, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee stated, “Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn’t be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally. I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state’s history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law.”

Senate Bill 1, Relating to Equal Rights recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

The new law takes effect on December 2, 2013.

To view the Governor’s press release: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/gov-abercrombie-signs-historic-marriage-equity-legislation-into-law/.

Hawaii State Senate Sends Governor Measure to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Honolulu- In an historic vote, the Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure on final reading  to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii, accepting the House amendments to Senate Bill 1 (SB 1 HD 1), Relating to Equal Rights.  The measure will now go to the Governor’s desk for his approval.

Today’s passage of Senate Bill 1 marks a pivotal moment in our State’s history, a moment enshrined in equality and justice,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, who introduced the bill. “Working together with our colleagues in the State House we have come to a compromise which provides a balance between religious freedom and equal rights.”

SB 1 HD1 recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

I am pleased to have played a small part in this legislation which will bring equality, justice, and liberty for all regarding all Americans,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

Incorporating public input and changes proposed by the House, the measure takes into account the concerns expressed by both the religious community and same-sex advocates. Specifically, language regarding religious exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization has been amended to closely model similar provisions currently in effect in the State of Connecticut.

Under SB 1 HD1, religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempt from having to provide goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnization if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith. It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. In addition, the measure grants immunity from administrative, civil, and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, good, or facilities as described. Language has also been included that conforms the above exemptions to the existing civil union statute.

If signed into law by the Governor, same-sex marriages would begin December 2, 2013 in the State.

Statement by Senator Clayton Hee in Response to House’s Passage of SB 1 H1, Relating to Equal Rights

Honolulu- Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee released the following statement regarding the House’s passage of Senate Bill 1, House Draft 1 (SB 1 HD1), Relating to Equal Rights.

“The Senate is currently reviewing the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1,” said Senator Hee. “Each member will evaluate the House Draft and we will meet to discuss the next appropriate step for the Senate to consider.

I believe each member understands the weight of justice embodied in this legislative proposal. I also believe the Senate will act in the best interest in the State of Hawaii and in concurrence with the constitutions of the United States and Hawaii.”

The Hawaii State Senate will convene Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the proposed amendments.

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