Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s Statement Regarding the Passing of Lowell Kalapa

Honolulu- Hawaii State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim today shared the following remarks on the passing of Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii:

“President of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, Lowell Kalapa was a longtime advocate and watchdog for Hawaii’s taxpayers.”

“Deeply respected by members of the Hawaii State Legislature, his fiscal knowledge and expertise served as a critical voice at the Capitol, helping to shape good policy and support better government.”

“On behalf of the Hawaii State Senate and the People of Hawaii, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim Extends Condolences on the Tragic Passing of Loretta Fuddy

Honolulu- Hawaii State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim expressed her sorrow today on learning of the tragic passing of the Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy.

 

Loretta Fuddy embodied the very spirit and character of public service, dedicating her life to the health and well-being of all of Hawaii’s people.”

 

“Appointed to Director of the Department of Health in 2011, Loretta brought with her over thirty-five years of experience in health and human services. Actively involved in improving health care options both locally and nationally, her commitment to public health was undisputed.”

 

“Under her leadership, she fostered a transparent and collaborative environment, engaging with lawmakers, community members, health care providers, and social service organizations.”

 

“On behalf of the Hawaii State Senate and the people of Hawaii, I would like to extend our most heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends. She will be greatly missed by all.”

Lanterns to Illuminate Hawaii State Capitol Reflective Pool in Honor of the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Honolulu- Floating lanterns will illuminate the Hawaii State Capitol reflective pool on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Presented by the Hawaii State Senate, the program will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Hawaii State Capitol rotunda.

The event is open to the public.

What: Candlelight vigil for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan

When: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. The public is welcome to start signing messages at 5:00 p.m.

Where: Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda

Who:

  • Hawaii State Senate
  • Consuelo Foundation
  • Shinnyo-en Temple

Participants will hold a candlelight vigil and write personal messages as floating lanterns are placed into the Capitol’s reflective pool. The public is welcome to start signing messages at 5:00 p.m.

The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan has touched the hearts of many around the globe,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “I hope everyone will join us for this event of unity and aloha for people of the Philippines.”

This vigil is part of the “Aloha for the Philippines” campaign supporting relief efforts in the Philippines. Contributions in support of the victims will be accepted at this event and checks may be made payable to the Consuelo Foundation. The Consuelo Foundation will be matching all donations up to $2 million, with 100% of the support going to the Philippines.

The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Philippine Consul General, and State House of Representatives have been invited to attend.

Local Artist’s Murals Bring Warmth to State Capitol Hallway

Beautiful murals depicting different aspects of the Hawaiian culture have brought warmth and life to the walls of a hallway leading to the Senate President’s Office on the 4th floor. The white walls were bare before the artworks were mounted. The original murals, located at the Honolulu International Airport, caught Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s attention while she was awaiting her departure from Honolulu. With the help of the Department of Transportation and Department of Accounting and General Services, replicas of the paintings were made and brought to the State Capitol’s fourth floor.

This is a shining example of how Hawaii’s art can be displayed at facilities with empty walls throughout the state, a concept that the Hawaii State Foundation on the Culture and the Arts should adopt,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

The artist behind the murals is Kristie Fujiyama Kosmides, a fourth generation Japanese American and a Hilo, Hawaii-based painter. Kosmides’ work resides in numerous collections and has been exhibited nationally in galleries in California and Hawaii, as well as internationally in Japan.

New UH Athletic Director Ben Jay to Share His Vision for the Sports Program

Honolulu – The University of Hawaii’s new Athletics Director Ben Jay will be talking about his vision for the UH’s sports program at a town hall meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2013. It will take place at Pearl Ridge Elementary School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m.

Recently, Jay sparked controversy among UH fans for his decision to change team names. He’s also brought attention to the poor state of the athletics facilities through twitter.

This will be a great opportunity for our constituents to hear how our new UH athletics director is going to improve the program and his vision for the future,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who represents District 14(Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea).

I encourage everyone to attend the town hall meeting to learn about the direction of UH Athletics and use this chance to engage in the discussion relating to the department,” said Sen. David Ige, who represents District 16 (Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor).

The town hall is being hosted by lawmakers representing the Aiea and Pearl City areas: Sen. David Y. Ige, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Rep. Aaron Johanson, Rep. K. Mark Takai, Rep. Roy Takumi, Rep. Gregg Takayama and City Councilmembers Breene Harimoto and Carol Fukunaga.

2013 Legislative Session: State Senate Invests In Hawaii’s Future


HONOLULU– The Hawaii State Legislature has adjourned on this final day of the 2013 Legislative Session.  With a spirit of cooperativeness, civility, and compromise exercised by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Finance, the Hawaii State Budget, House Bill (HB) 200, was passed more than one week before the final day of the 2013 session.  The budget’s early passage allowed the Senate to carefully assess the needs of Hawaii residents and the direction of Hawaii’s government through bills pending in conference committees.

By providing positions and $18,811,090 in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 and $14,358,110 in FY2014-2015 to modernize the state’s information technology (IT) infrastructure, the Senate sought to encourage long-term planning and efficiency efforts to fundamentally change the character and delivery of government services.  $130M was appropriated for informational systems in various departments to streamline tax collections, maintain and share critical health information, and to provide for a more secure communication network for the islands.  To help protect the state’s information and data, the Senate passed SB 1003, authorizing the Chief Information Officer to conduct security audits to detect and prevent IT intrusions and theft of the public’s personal information.  Through passage of HB 632, the Senate seeks to promote more open and transparent government as set out in the State of Hawaii Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management Plan.

We are attempting to become more efficient in delivering government services through upgrading our antiquated IT infrastructure,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “Through refining a number of policies, government organizations also become more transparent and accountable to the public they serve.”

In addition to improving delivery of government services, the Legislature fulfilled its commitment to start prefunding unfunded liabilities pertaining to other post employment benefits.

The Legislature made appropriations to begin payment to these unfunded health benefit liabilities through HB 200 with $100M for FY14 and $117.4M for FY15.

Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the employer-union health benefits trust fund is $13.6 billion.  Paying down these liabilities will have a positive impact on the state’s bond rating and ensure that Hawaii’s future is not handicapped by increasingly burdensome debt.  Additionally, HB 546 will make Hawaii the first state in the nation to statutorily require payment of the annual required contribution for future public worker health benefits.

The Senate advanced the “Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative” by passing bills that align government regulations and policies with clean energy goals.  SB 19 exempts landlords who install renewable energy systems from the onerous requirements imposed on public utilities and serves as an incentive for landlords to adopt renewable energy systems.  SB 120 authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to establish a policy to incentivize Hawaii’s electric utility companies to make needed reforms that attain lower electricity rates. SB 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology. The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates and pass these savings on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

In an effort to improve food self-reliance and agricultural resiliency, the Senate expanded livestock feed subsidies through SB 593, allocated funds to begin the process of producing clean, healthy and economic alternative fuel, fertilizer and feedstock, and to protect Hawaii’s unique environment ten inspector positions were funded for plant, pest and bio control personnel and programs

Seeking to encourage economic diversity, the Senate passed SB 1349 that reestablishes the income tax credit for qualified research activities to encourage job growth in research and development.  This measure contributes to the diversification of the State’s economy by creating and maintaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs in the State.  The Senate also passed HB 726 for the film, television, entertainment, digital media, and music production industry in Hawaii by increasing the amount of the Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production income tax credit for qualified production costs incurred by a authorize production company.

The bills we passed lay the groundwork for diversifying our economy by making strategic investments in the agriculture and in the film industries.” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.   “We also looked for opportunities to diversify the job market for the people of Hawaii.”

The bills now go to the Governor for consideration.

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

Hawaii State Senate Passes Bills that Build a Stronger Economy to Ensure a Better Quality of Life

HONOLULU–  Ahead of the First Crossover deadline, the Hawaii State Senate passed 348 bills during Tuesday’s session.  The bills now head over to the House for consideration.

The First Crossover deadline is on Thursday, March 7, 2013. This is the last day for a final vote on a bill to occur in its originating chamber before it is passed on to the other chamber for further consideration. During First Crossover, all Senate bills that pass Third Reading must crossover to the House and all House bills that pass Third Reading must crossover to the Senate by the March 7 deadline.

Some of the measures the Senate Majority passed would reform and improve government, making it more transparent and accountable,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.  “Through these measures we hope to achieve a more efficient and effective government.”

We’ve introduced more than a thousand bills, and we’ve passed more than three hundred measures that we believe will help move Hawaii forward, building a stronger economy to create jobs and strengthen our safety net,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

Here are highlights of bills that have passed third reading:

 

Food and Energy Resiliency

With the Senate Majority exploring the concept of food self-reliance and agricultural resiliency within the State, the Caucus took steps toward developing a strong foundation that will enhance food and agricultural self-sufficiency by passing several bills to support this mission.

The Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 937, which establishes a food resiliency initiative under the Department of Agriculture to achieve measurable goals of food self-sufficiency.  To support Hawaii’s livestock production, SB 593 expands livestock feed subsidies to include goat milk, sheep, lamb, fish, and crustaceans.  Increasing livestock production is vitally necessary to meet the State’s goals of ensuring food security and self-sufficiency.

The Senate Majority continues to advance the Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative and align government regulations and policies with clean energy goals.  To support the State’s clean energy objectives, SB 19 was passed to exempt landlords who install renewable energy systems from the onerous requirements imposed on public utilities and serves as an incentive for landlords to adopt renewable energy systems.  SB 120 authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to establish a policy to incentivize Hawaii’s electric utility companies to make needed reforms that attain lower electricity rates. SB 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology. The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates, which savings can be passed on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs.  With concerns over the current solar energy tax credit policy, SB 623 was passed to administer tax credits in a more balanced manner.  This measure replaces the current renewable energy technology systems tax credit with tax credits for solar energy property and wind energy property.

 

Supporting People, Strengthening Communities

From keiki to kupuna to ohana, the Senate Majority continues to support the State’s core functions, including programs for those most in need.  To encourage positive outcomes for our young keiki and to prepare them to thrive in an educational environment, Senate Bills 1093, 1084 and 1095 were passed to establish an early childhood education program.

To improve the quality of health care services and operational efficiencies of health facilities,SB 1306 would permit the regional systems of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and their health facilities to transition to non-public status.  This measure would help address financial challenges of the public hospitals.  SB 665 is another measure that’s expected to ensure quality of health care services.  The bill addresses the primary care physician shortage in the State through a comprehensive primary care workforce development plan that includes loan repayment, diversity programs, and primary care workforce expansion.

Homelessness in Hawaii is a significant problem in the State and the Senate Majority is working to find ways to help people and families who are homeless. SB 515 appropriates funding for services and programs that target issues such as substance abuse, mental health, housing assistance, health care, and employment to help reduce the number of homeless in Hawaii.

 

Government Efficiency and Accountability

The Senate Majority encourages long-term planning and efficiency efforts to fundamentally change the character and delivery of government services. The Senate continues to promote the enhancement of the State’s information technology services and support the Governor’s Chief Information Officer as he works on modernizing the technology infrastructure. SB 1003 authorizes the Chief Information Officer to conduct security audits to protect the State’s information and data, preventing intrusions and theft of the public’s personal information.

Drawing upon the recommendations of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability for the improvement of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawai’i, the Senate Majority passed several bills addressing some issues unveiled during the committee’s hearings. SB 1384 changes the way legal services are obtained by the University of Hawaii.  SB 1385 requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to undergo annual training and certifications board policies and procedures as well as several laws, including sunshine law and open records laws.  SB 1387 improves the selection process for members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and SB 1388 reduces the membership of the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii.

 

OTHER NOTABLE BILLS:

SB 1349 Reestablishes the income tax credit for qualified research activities to encourage job growth in research and development.  This measure contributes to the diversification of the State’s economy by creating and maintaining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs in the State.

SB 463 Encourages the growth of the film and creative media industries by extending the motion picture, digital media, and film production income tax credit.  It also creates a tax credit for qualified digital media infrastructure projects in West Oahu or the most populous island in a county.

SB 237 Establishes a three-year pilot program to optimize the use of public school lands for public purposes and to generate revenue to build and retrofit twenty-first century schools and create more school-centered communities.

SB 69 Requires county police departments, as a prerequisite for firearms registration, to fingerprint, photograph, and perform background checks on persons arriving in Hawaii with a firearm procured out-of-state.  The measure also establishes gun safety programs.

SB 1370 Ensures mortgage foreclosure dispute resolution is equally available for nonjudicial and judicial foreclosures. This gives all mortgagors facing foreclosure in Hawaii an opportunity to have a specifically trained mediator who can offer assistance regarding the mortgagor’s financial situation and any available options.

SB 654 Mandates health insurance coverage for treatments related to the cessation of tobacco use and informs policyholders about the availability of the new coverage.

SB 945 Allows condominium associations and cooperative housing corporations to adopt rules to prohibit smoking in units, common elements, or limited common elements if a majority of the tenant shareholders or owners approved the smoking prohibition.

SB 414 Requires specified persons who own, control, or have custody or control of more than ten dogs over the age of four months with intact sexual organs to meet minimum standards of care and prohibit these persons from placing certain types of dogs in the same enclosure.

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

Senate President Introduces UH Bills that Respond to Issues Raised in the Failed UH Concert

Honolulu – Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is proposing six bills in her legislative package that directly impact the University of Hawaii.  The bills are based on findings and recommendations from the Senate Special Committee on Accountability’s informational briefings to review the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii System, chaired by Senator Kim in September and October 2012.

The discussion and call for University of Hawaii flexibility and autonomy has been around since the 1980s. Over the past three decades the Executive and Legislative branches of the State of Hawaii have worked together to provide the University of Hawaii with more flexibility and autonomy.  However, that autonomy and self governance has evolved to a point where the Senate feels that, in the interest of statewide concern, the University of Hawaii needs to be held more accountable and operate in full transparency,” explained Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

The proposed bills range in topics from procurement for construction projects, to revising the number of University General Counsels, having the Board of Regents undergo annual training on board policies and procedures, requiring the Board of Regents to file annual disclosures of financial interest which would become public record, clarifying how the members of the Board of Regents are selected by the Governor, and revising the makeup of the Board of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH).

For reference purposes, the bills are:

SB 1383 – Repeals the President of the University of Hawaii’s authority to serve as the Chief Procurement Officer for construction contracts.

SB 1384 – Limits the Board of Regents to appointing one University General Counsel.

SB 1385 – Requires the Board of Regents to undergo annual training and certification.

SB 1386 – Requires the Board of Regents to file annual disclosure of financial interest.

SB 1387 – Gives the Governor the authority to reject the list of nominees to the Board of Regents presented by the Regents Candidate Advisory Council.

SB 1388 – Reduces the number of members of the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) and removes the authority of the President of the University to also serve as the President of RCUH.

Senate Uses Technology to Connect with Neighbor Island Constituents

Honolulu – Beginning this legislative session, neighbor island constituents will have the chance to testify at a Senate hearing without physically being there.   By using the Hawaii State Senate’s new Neighbor Island Video Conferencing Program, constituents on the neighbor islands will be able to participate in the legislative process and have their voices heard without traveling to Oahu.

This pilot project is intended to afford neighbor island individuals the opportunity to actively participate in formulating new legislation, while avoiding travel and related expenses associated  with testifying at a Senate committee hearing,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.  “At the same time, the Senate will benefit from State, County, and community input and discussion that previously may have been missing.”

The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Pilot Program with the Senate Committee on Education on Friday, January 25, in Room 414 of the State Capitol at 2 p.m.

The Senate Committee on Education will demonstrate and introduce this new concept during its informational briefing to discuss the progress of the state’s Race to the Top grant and ESEA flexibility application with a live testimonial from Keaau Elementary School Principal Chad Farias on the Big Island via videoconference.

Our committee contemplates issues that impact communities statewide and video conferencing allows us to ensure that critical stakeholders like parents, students, educators and community leaders can share their thoughts with us on important policy matters we are considering,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education.  “We encourage everyone to actively engage with us in this pilot project, and exercise your right and responsibility to be involved in the legislative process.”

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Video Conferencing Program is being piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  Along with neighbor island residents, State or County departments based on a neighbor island may participate in this project.  Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the Legislative Session, the project will be evaluated.

Lawmakers Take Action in the Fight Against the Flu

With the flu season well underway, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim received her flu shot vaccination this afternoon at the State Capitol. HMSA, with its partner CVS-Longs, and Kaiser Permanente offered vaccinations for their working members at the State Capitol today.  The event was coordinated through the offices of Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Vice Speaker John Mizuno, and Representative Dee Morikawa. 

The flu season officially begins on October 1st of each year, and continues through mid-May of the following year. To learn more about how to protect yourself against the flu visit the Department of Health’s website at: http://flu.hawaii.gov/general-info.html.

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