Senator Hanabusa’s closing remarks at Gov. Lingle’s State of the State

“Thank you Governor Lingle. On behalf of Speaker Say, the legislature, and more importantly the people of the state of Hawaii, we thank you for your public service.

My colleagues and I have all commented on the fact that this will be the most difficult legislative session that we will all face, many of us, probably, for our whole legislative careers. This is a time when we must work collaboratively. And for the people of the state of Hawaii, collaboratively doesn’t mean that we will always agree. Debate is good. Discussion is good. And we know, Governor, that we have had many of those over these years.

But what that means for everyone is that we will leave no stone unturned. That is what we must do to meet this challenge. And I know that the legislature, the Governor, and her cabinet, we’re all up to it, because we must be, for you, the people of the state of Hawaii.

I do want to say something that has never been emphasized, and in the honoring of Coach Shoji the Governor didn’t mention it, but I think it is also very important that in Governor Lingle we saw the first woman governor of the state of Hawaii. And as we heard the stories of Coach Shoji’s amazing career, we have spent all these years thinking as a girl, “We’re better than the boys; look at all the things he wins.” And as I look up at the robotics team and see so many young girls, remember, remember in the future, that you saw the first woman governor of the state of Hawaii. And we all owe you, Governor, a debt of gratitude for that. Because that propels girls and women ahead.

So on that note, Governor, again, on behalf of all of us, we thank you. We look forward to working collaboratively with you in this last year.

And now, I declare this joint session adjourned.”

Premiere of the Senate paperless video documentary

We are pleased to announce the premiere of “The Senate Paperless Initiative,” a video documenting the Senate’s ongoing efforts to reduce paper use and streamline key operations. The Paperless Initiative helped cut the Senate budget by reducing personnel and operating costs.

The premiere will provide a status report reviewing the results achieved through the Initiative and inform the public how the Senate has reduced their legislative budget.

                        WHEN:           Friday, January 29, 2010
                                                10:30 a.m.

                        WHERE:         Auditorium
                                                Hawaii State Capitol

The program will feature an introduction by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Senator David Ige, a presentation of the video, and recognition of key individuals involved.

The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC so please join us! Contact (808) 586-7142 for more information.

Opening Day speech of the 2010 legislative session

by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa
District 21

The Capitol is quiet today. The crowds and celebrations that typically accompany an opening day of the Hawaii State Legislature are absent. Because while we still welcome with open arms anyone who wants to ask for our help or express their point of view, we know that this session will be different. Now is not the time to celebrate. Now is the time to work.

We face unprecedented challenges in our homes, in our communities, and in this Capitol. For our neighbors, friends and families, for the people who supported us, elected us, and entrusted their future to us, the question is often one of survival. How will they cope with an economic outlook that has continued to worsen, and a recovery that seems to forever sit at the farthest horizon?

For those of us in this chamber, the question is how we will make a difference in this, the most difficult session we are likely to see in our legislative careers.

How will we lay the foundation or our state’s success while confronting the inescapable reality that we must trim expenses and balance our budget again, while continuing to serve those in our community who truly rely on our assistance?

And, perhaps more importantly, how will we in state government regain the confidence of our community? How will we demonstrate that we are up to this task, that we can make a difference, that we will provide the vision and leadership that it will take to provide the promising tomorrow that everyone wants, and everyone should have a right to expect?

If ever there was a moment when we must rise to meet the challenge, now is the time.

Now is the time to work collaboratively, within this chamber, across the rotunda to the House of Representatives, and up to the fifth floor to engage the governor and make a united effort to seek real solutions. Now is the time to put aside differences in party and personal agendas and instead focus on what is truly best for our state and the people we represent.

Now is the time to prove that we have our priorities in order, that we reflect the values that have made Hawaii special, and that we possess the political will and leadership skills to work past the bad facts to good solutions.

Now is the time to stand up and show that we deserve the confidence of Hawaii’s people.

The Capitol is quiet today because we have work to do, and no time to spare. We will find time to celebrate when our job is done. There will come a moment in the future when others will look back at this session, and they will ask if we found it within ourselves to answer the difficult questions, make the hard choices, and do the hard work to accomplish what they trusted us to do.

My fellow senators, my colleagues, my friends, we have it in our power and in our hearts to make the answer to that question a resounding “yes.” Because we know that our time is now.

Thank you.

Special committee to consider approaches to teacher furloughs

Parents against furlough Fridays Rally at the Hawai‘i State Capitol, October 23, 2009.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa today announced that a Special Committee of the Hawai‘i State Senate will convene to consider the options available to address the question of teacher furloughs.

“I am proud that my colleagues are stepping up with a battery of ideas to solve the teacher furlough problem,” said Senator Hanabusa, “but every option raises questions. We need to look at not only whether money is available, but how we can ensure that any money we appropriate gets released by the governor and goes to education. We also need to answer some fundamental questions about whether any action we take will interfere with a collectively bargained agreement between the state, the DOE, and the teachers’ union. The right to collective bargaining is guaranteed in our state Constitution, so this is a significant concern.”

Hanabusa added that, “The worst thing we can do is build false hopes. We need to act responsibly. This is a complicated situation and a lot of different parties will have to come together to work out a solution. But this committee will get the ball rolling.”

The Senate Special Committee on Education Funding will be chaired by Senator Brian Taniguchi, and include Senators Will Espero (Vice-chair), David Ige, Dwight Takamine, Jill Tokuda, and Shan Tsutsui, along with Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings. “If other Senators would like to sit in on the committee hearings, they may,” Hanabusa said.

Senator Hemmings is looking forward to working with the committee. “I am most pleased as Senate Minority Leader that the Senate President is looking for ways to get kids back to school. I think this is certainly an issue where reasonable people can work together to find reasonable solutions.”

Senator Espero, the committee’s Vice-chair, believes immediate action is required. “The loss of seventeen classroom days is unacceptable and embarrassing,” he said. “We have a responsibility to take action and address the situation for the sake of our children, and I believe we have the means to do so.

The committee’s primary goal will be to review the variety of approaches that have been proposed to end the teacher furloughs. The committee will also consider whether to recommend that the legislature return for a Special Session before the regular session that will convene in January.

“The Senate cannot call a Special Session on its own,” Hanabusa said. “That takes the concurrence of two-thirds of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. But we can make a recommendation, and I believe the committee will do so.”

Hanabusa also pointed out that a successful Special Session would rely on the cooperation of other interests. “We need to keep in mind that given the threat of a veto and potential legal challenges to any interference in a contract that is the product of collective bargaining, a Special Session only makes sense if we can get all parties—the administration, the DOE, and the HSTA—to the table and agree, at least in principle, with what we plan to do. Otherwise, we would be raising false hopes and expending state resources on a futile effort.”

The committee will release its hearing schedule at later this week.

West Hawaii Bar Association

On August 27, 2009, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa presented an update on 2009 Legislative Session to the West Hawaii Bar Association in Judge Ronald Ibarra’s courtroom in Kealakekua, Hawaii. 

In the photo, from L to R: Mike Matsukawa, Vicki Kalman, Margaret Masunaga, Judge Ronald Ibarra, Senator Colleen Hanabusa, Bob Kim, Carol Kitaoka, and Dawn West.

2009 Hawaii Medal of Honor

A very somber moment in our state’s history, the 2009 Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony was marked with sadness, loss, great honor, and profound gratitude. Honoring our fallen soldiers, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa offered these remarks:

As a citizen of this great land, born with the freedom to speak, to believe and to dream, free to express personal thoughts without fear of recrimination or reprisal, to protest and participate in government, I am thankful to be a part of this ceremony in honor of our fallen heroes.

In protecting all we treasure, in defending all we hold dear, and in preserving those values which distinguish us as proud Americans, no man and no woman stands sentry alone.  We stand as a nation and a community, beside them in spirit and with them in a shared commitment.

And just as surely as we will not see them stand alone, we will not allow them to fall alone.  We stand together in their name, by pausing to reflect on the unshakable duty and unquenchable bravery that have marked their passage among us.  We share the pride of countrymen, and share the tears of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends.

Today, we gather in joint session to honor those who have made a sacrifice for which we cannot ask, and shall not forget.  We honor the family, friends and colleagues who have also sacrificed…who have themselves paid a price…and who helped make today’s honorees the brave, strong individuals that we called on and counted on to serve our nation.

We offer this honor as a small token that can never in itself repay the honor that has been given us.  An honor borne of courage, driven by duty, and paid for in loss.

The roll of heroes that we call today is more than a list of names.  It is an acknowledgement of community.

The Hawai‘i Medal of Honor is reserved for those who have touched our islands, and have felt the touch of our people.  And in offering it to those gathered here, in memory of those who have fallen, we recognize that they are a part of us.  For each and every one of you, your tears are our tears.  Your loss, our loss. Your pride, our pride.  Wherever each of these medals finds its final home, a piece of our hearts goes with it.  You will always be a part of our ohana, our family, because you have brought us honor, and allowed us to share these lives.

These medals symbolize our aloha.  Our farewell to those we have lost.  But also our love for those who have lived among us, touched us, and sacrificed for us.  And our enduring welcome for all represented here today, the fallen and their families, who will be counted among us forever.

A grateful state best honors and remembers the sacrifices of these who have served our nation by living our lives in deepest appreciation of our freedom.  That is what they defended.  That is what they fought and died for.

In reflecting on another day marked with great bravery and great sacrifice, Shakespeare wrote, “This story shall the good man teach his son.”  We owe no less a duty to our honorees and to future generations. These names and deeds shall remain etched in our state’s shared history.  And we will each say to a companion, young or old, at a moment of great pride or great sadness, “I have heard a story of brave Americans.”

Today, we remember, in moments of quiet reflection, each and every one of these heroes.  We stand united to honor their memory and express our profound gratitude for their ultimate sacrifice.




United States Marine Corps Sergeant Phillip A. Bocks
United States Army Sergeant Ireno S. Lacerna
United States Army Sergeant Gary D. Willett
United States Army Sergeant First Class Jerald A. Whisenhunt
United States Army Sergeant Timothy P. Martin
United States Army Corporal Michael T. Manibog
United States Army Specialist Gregory B. Rundell
United States Army Specialist Jeremiah C. Hughes
United States Army Sergeant First Class David L. McDowell
United States Army Sergeant John K. Daggett
United States Army Private Eugene D.M. Kanakaole
United States Marine Corps Captain Philip J. Dykeman
United States Marine Corps Corporal Marcus W. Preudhomme
United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Max A. Galeai
United States Army Corporal William L. McMillan III
United States Army First Lieutenant Jonathan P. Brostrom
United States Army Sergeant Kenneth B. Gibson
United States Army Staff Sergeant Julian F.A. Manglona
United States Army Private First Class Christopher A. McCraw
United States Army Staff Sergeant Solomon T. Sam
United States Marine Corps Corporal Thomas Reilly Jr.
United States Army Private First Class Christopher W. Lotter
United States Army Private Sean P. McCun

Updated post: Senator Hanabusa to receive national ABA Award

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa earlier this month was awarded the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award, celebrating the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession.

View a clip of the presentation and Senator Colleen Hanabusa’s acceptance speech >here! Read the original post.

Senator Hanabusa to address Harvard Conference on Law and Policy

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa will provide the Opening Keynote Address to the 15th Annual Asian Pacific American Conference on Law and Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on February 27, 2009. The conference—which will include sections on environmental racism, international trade, and the current financial crisis—is intended to raise awareness, to call for action, and to engage attendees of the Conference in addressing the most pressing challenges of our time.The conference is hosted by Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at Harvard law School. It runs from February 27-28.

“It is an honor to be invited by these outstanding students to address a conference addressing such vital issues,” Senator Hanabusa said. “It is a great chance to share our state’s perspective on addressing society’s challenges, and also see how others view the way forward.”

The Asian Pacific American Law Students Association is a political, academic, community service, and social group dedicated to fostering a supportive atmosphere for Asian Pacific American students at Harvard Law School. APALSA strives to promote a greater understanding of Asian Pacific American issues and culture, serve as a vehicle for Asian Pacific American political activity, and provide a social and academic network for Asian Pacific Americans and the Harvard Law School community.

Senator Hanabusa to receive national ABA award

UPDATED on February 23, 2009

View the Spirit of Excellence Award presentation and Senator Colleen Hanabusa’s acceptance speech here!

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, a licensed attorney, will receive the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award at a ceremony at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on February 14, 2009. The Spirit of Excellence Awards celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Senator Hanabusa is the first woman to preside over either chamber of the Hawai‘i State Legislature, and the first Asian-American woman in the nation to preside over a state legislative body.

“Senator Hanabusa is a role model for women and for Asian-Americans,” said Fred Alvarez, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. “She has used her visibility to encourage young minority women to see law as a viable career, and a way to advance both their own success and their goals for improving society. She has supported other minority women’s professional careers across the state of Hawai‘i.”

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State Senate and ‘Olelo unveil on-demand webcasts of hearings

The Hawai‘i State Senate and ‘Olelo Community Television today announced that Senate hearings that are cablecast on ‘Olelo will also be available for on-demand viewing on the Internet for up to six months from the hearing date. Via a link provided on the Senate’s home page, users will be allowed to search the archive based on the closed captioning that is already offered on Senate cablecasts. Full use of the free public service requires a broadband connection. The initial pilot project is scheduled to last six months.

“This is an excellent way to offer the public still greater access to the workings of their government,” said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. “It is an important step, along with our paperless initiative and providing committee testimony online, that will allow the public to follow the Senate’s decision-making process, even if their personal schedules do not allow them to come to the Capitol on a regular basis.”

‘Olelo President and CEO Keali‘i Lopez shares the Senate’s vision of making their deliberations more accessible. “We are excited about offering this pilot service to the State Senate and appreciate their eagerness to make their legislative proceedings so readily accessible to the public,” Lopez said. “although ‘Olelo serves the island of O‘ahu, we know our neighbor island counterparts value that the communities they serve throughout the state can also access their State government’s proceedings.”

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