Town Hall Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Little Fire Ant Infestation of Residential Areas in Mililani Mauka

Senators Donovan Dela Cruz and Michelle Kidani have scheduled a town hall meeting for concerned Mililani residents to discuss how the community can work together with city and state agencies to stop the spread of Little Fire Ants (LFA).

The meeting will be held on Monday, July 14 from 7-9 p.m. at Mililani Mauka Elementary School Cafeteria. Agencies invited to the meeting are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Department of Health, and the Invasive Species Council.

The Dept. of Agriculture last week confirmed that at least eight homes on Auina Street in Mililani Mauka are positive for LFA and the infestation has spread to the gulch.

“We wanted to take swift action and bring our community together,” said Senator Kidani. “The best way for us to control the spread of the Little Fire Ants is to educate the public on how to detect and treat infestations.”

The LFA is considered the world’s most invasive species. It has been found on Hawaii Island since 1999 and in December 2013 was detected on hapuu logs (Hawaiian fern) on Maui and Oahu. More recently, six acres in Waimanalo has been treated after detection of LFA.

“We also want to give the community an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns,” added Senator Dela Cruz. “With this being residential areas, it’s a serious discovery, and surely triggers a lot of fear and questions in people. The meeting is intended to bring awareness and set a community effort in motion to help the state combat Little Fire Ants.”

The public should report concerns of LFA infestation at the toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

For questions about the town hall meeting, please call Senator Dela Cruz at 586-6090 or Senator Kidani at 586-7100.

Click the image to view a flyer on how to test for Little Fire Ants.

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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, 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

Senate Honors Senator David Ige on His Final Day as a State Senator

Lawmakers bid farewell to Ways and Means Chair on Sine Die

The Hawaii State Senate honored one of its longest continuously serving members of its body for having devoted more than half his life to representing residents of Pearl City and Aiea.

Lawmakers presented Sen. David Ige, who has chosen not to seek re-election to his Senate seat, with a certificate of appreciation commending his service to the state of Hawaii.

“The legislature has been fortunate to have a visionary leader such as Senator Ige,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “He has brought two decades of skilled experience and insight that has allowed us to fulfill our goals at its highest potential.”

“It’s been an honor to work side-by-side with Sen. Ige,” said Sen. Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee. “He’s a devoted public servant, and Hawaii is better today because of his leadership. We wish him and his family all the best.”

Sen. Kidani offered up the certificate on behalf of the Hawaii State Senate:

“The Senate is pleased to recognize Hawaii residents for their service in the public interest and exceptional leadership over a sustained period of years.  In this spirit, the Senate commends a member of this body – Senator David Y. Ige – for having devoted more than half his life to representing residents of Pearl City and Aiea as a member of the State Legislature.

David Ige was appointed by Governor George Ariyoshi to a vacant seat in the House of Representatives in December, 1985, at the age of 28.  He took his seat in the session of the Thirteenth Legislature that convened on his 29th birthday, January 15, 1986.

David and his colleagues, Les Ihara, Jr., and Brian Taniguchi, were elected to the Senate in 1994, and today the three of them are the longest continuously serving members of this body.  For that kind of endurance alone, they warrant commendation.

David’s 20-year tenure in the Senate has been marked by thoughtful, intelligent, insightful and forward-thinking policy proposals that have always sought to build solid foundations for a better Hawaii.  His well-recognized ability to understand the big picture implications of decisions for which we are responsible as elected officials has contributed to his effectiveness as a leader among us.  We are so fortunate to have benefitted from his wisdom and counsel. 

Now, David has chosen not to seek re-election to his Senate seat.  He will leave behind a distinguished record of accomplishments and accolades too numerous to recite.  However, we do acknowledge his key role in supporting public education through increased funding, allowing more autonomy and fiscal flexibility, and authoring the first laws creating charter schools. 

We note his authorship of the Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Industries Act.  We are grateful for his focus on transforming the Legislature to make government more accessible that has made this body a national leader in electronic accessibility.  In 2010, to recognize his leadership on the Senate’s paperless initiative, David was awarded the National Association of State Chief Information Officers State Technology Innovator Award. 

In more recent years, we cannot help but stand in awe of his grasp of the State budget and the process by which it is formulated under his leadership as Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means.

Like most of his colleagues, David works in the private sector.  He is a successful electrical engineer and project manager with a 34-year career devoted to information technology, telecommunications, networks and responsible public communication policy.  He served with distinction for more than 18 years as an engineer at GTE Hawaiian Tel.

Literally closer to home, the Senator is a devoted husband to his wife Dawn and a loving father to their three children, Lauren, Amy and Matthew.  They have provided unquestioned, loyal support and encouragement to David as he has pursued his professional and public service careers.

The Senate of the Twenty-seventh Hawaii State Legislature, Regular Session of 2014, commends Senator David Y. Ige for his tireless commitment to improving the lives of all Hawaii residents.  With sincere gratitude, the Senate further extends warmest Aloha and best wishes to our departing colleague, with the wish for good health and much success in life beyond legislating.”



Senate’s Capitol Idol Raises Over $1,700 for the Hawaii Foodbank

The Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show, raised over $1,700 for the Hawaii Foodbank. In 2012, the event raised $1,400.

Members of the executive branch and legislature didn’t hold anything back to win the coveted individual and team perpetual trophies. However, Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Neil Abercrombie, and his backup dancers outshone everyone with “Last Dance.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard organized the fundraiser and comedian Champ Kaneshiro volunteered as emcee.

“We all had a lot of fun for a good cause as we approach a hectic time during the legislative session,” said Gabbard. “We surpassed what we brought in last year and it’s all thanks to our guests and the performers.”

Performers included:

Team Executive Branch: Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff

Team House: Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito

Team Senate: Sen. Russell Ruderman, backed by Sens. Rosalyn Baker, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Michelle Kidani and Suzanne Chun-Oakland;  Sen. Mike Gabbard; Sen. Malama Solomon with back-up singers Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and senate staff; and Da Kolohe Bruddahs, consisting of Sens. Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria and Russell Ruderman.


Art at the Capitol 2014 Concludes

Last Friday was the 6th annual Art at the Capitol, where lawmakers welcomed the public to tour their offices to view the publicly held artwork there.

This year’s theme was Illuminating the Legislative Process for the featured complementary chandeliers hanging in the Senate and House chambers at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The “Sun” and “Moon” by kinetic artist, Otto Piene, hang in the House and Senate chambers of the Hawaii State Legislature at the State Capitol

The kinetic light sculptures were commissioned by the State of Hawaii and installed in the koa-lined chambers of the House and Senate in 1971. The House Sun is a gold-plated sphere with 132 smaller golden orbs while the Senate Moon is a silver ball of 630 chambered nautilus shells. The featured artist, Otto Piene was unable to attend the event, but was interviewed speaking about the two complementary sculptures.

Art at the Capitol began in 2008 as Senator Brian Taniguchi’s initiative to welcome the public to view the variety of state-owned artwork displayed not just in the open areas of the State Capitol, but the legislative offices as well.  More than 900 pieces of artwork in the collection of the Hawaii State Foundation on Arts and Culture’s Art in Public Places Program are displayed at the State Capitol.

Two string quartets in the Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra played music for guests as they enjoyed the artwork in various legislators’ offices.

Many of the artwork in the Art in Public Places collection are done by artists local to the area. Some were on hand to talk about the works displayed in various offices.

Senator Ige with artist Steve Martin, who created the stoneware vessel displayed in his office.

Some senators provided additional entertainment and refreshment for guests.

Senator Gabbard shows off his Jean Charlot painting and offers his wife’s homemade toffee treats to constituents and guests.

Senator Jill Tokuda entertains guests with music from a harpist and flutist in her office for Art at the Capitol

Many legislators personally welcomed visitors to their offices.

Senator Espero greets guests to his office

Senator Kidani describes painting above her workstation a calming window

Senator Nishihara poses with guests in his office

Senators’ staff were also on hand to discuss the artwork in the offices.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s staff members rest under a wall of photographs.

Many people brought their families to the First Friday because appreciation of art has no age limits.

Guests in show off their 2014 Art at the Capitol packet in Senator Green’s office.

Senator Kahele and Senate Sergeant of Arms, Ben Villaflor taking a break to listen to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra quartet

The evening was a fun and successful one and we hope that you will join us next year at Art at the Capitol.

The Senate Celebrates the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation 60th Anniversary

The Senate today recognized the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation (JSWF) for their service to our Hawaii community and joined them in celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The Japanese Women’s Society was founded in 1954 to promote culture and provide education and quality services to the community while promoting friendship between the United States and Japan, cultivating fellowship among its members and encouraging members to engage in community service.  With the goal of being trendsetters in health and aging issues, and with an emphasis on women, JWSF helped to build Hale Pulama Mau, a progressive health care center at Kuakini Hospital, to serve elderly women of limited means. Since 2006, JWSF has offered scholarship awards to graduate students in the health care, social work, and arts and sciences fields whose focus is in gerontology and geriatrics.

The JSWF holds regular “friendship teas” with the women at Hale Pulama Mau, and the organization’s “Angels” welcome new residents as they transition from home to hospital.

The Hawaii Senate congratulates the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation in celebrating 60 years of JWSF’s efforts to serve elderly women.


HONOLULU – Senator Michelle Kidani has been elected a 2014 State Director with Women In Government (WIG) by her legislative colleagues.  State Directors help to define important issues in their states so that Women In Government can tailor programming to address these needs.

“Women In Government congratulates Senator Kidani for her election again this year,” said Marjorie Maginn, WIG President and Executive Director.  “She has been a State Director since 2009 and has been an important voice in the process by which WIG establishes policies and priorities.  We are pleased that Senator Kidani, a recognized leader in the Hawaii Legislature, will continue to share her leadership skills with other women policy makers across the country.”

“I have appreciated the work of Women In Government as a resource for the Hawaii State Legislature,” said Senator Kidani.  “I firmly believe it is important for us to be able to learn approaches to critical policy issues from our colleagues in the other 49 jurisdictions.  WIG conferences allow us to share best practices and experiences to advance the most effective public policies.”

Women In Government provides conference sessions that feature expert speakers on a variety of public policy issues and analysis of their impact on states.  Topics include healthcare reform, public health issues such as diabetes, cervical cancer prevention and childhood obesity, emerging issues in energy policy, the current status of women in state legislatures, economic security and other matters of importance to women and families.

Senator Kidani represents District 18 which encompasses the Central and West Oahu communities of Mililani Town, Waipio Gentry, Waikele, Village Park and Royal Kunia.  She was first elected to the Senate in 2008, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means, Vice Chair of the Committee on Education, and as a member of the Committees on Higher Education, Human Services, and Hawaiian Affairs.  She also serves as Assistant Senate Majority Leader.

WIG has also named Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and Hawaii Representatives Karen Awana and Lauren Matsumoto to serve as State Directors.

About Women In Government

Women In Government Foundation, Inc. is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources. Women In Government serves all 1,791 women who serve in state legislatures across the country.

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.”

Senators Discuss WSF with Public School Principals

Early this week, Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda met with principals from the Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex and Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex to discuss the impacts of the Weighted Student Formula (WSF). This week’s meeting was part of a set of statewide site visits the Senator is conducting this interim, as she meets with principals across the State to receive feedback and comments about the way public schools are funded through WSF. Area Senators Michelle Kidani, Glenn Wakai, David Ige, and Donovan Dela Cruz were also in attendance.

In 2004, the Legislature passed Act 51, which created the WSF with the goal of empowering Principals to act as the educational leaders of their schools. As the 10th anniversary of Act 51 approaches, the Senate Education Committee has been focusing on making sure that the significant reforms set forth in Act 51 have not only been put into place, but that the desired outcomes have been achieved.

Senator Michelle Kidani’s Floor Remarks on House Bill 200, the Hawaii State Budget

On April 3o, 2013, Senator Michelle Kidani, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and oversees Capital Improvements Projects for the Senate, offered the following remarks in support of House Bill (HB) 200, the Hawaii State Budget:

Senator Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, offers remarks in support of House Bill 200, the Hawaii State Budget.

Thank you Madam President. I rise in support of this measure.

This past session has been an interesting one to say the least. I say this because of how different this year has been from the last several, in which the State was dealing with the economic crises that gripped our economy and affected the entire nation. In the last few years, the creation of the CIP budget was driven in large part by the need for us to step in to provide that shot in the arm, that boost, to get things rolling again. The thought then was to get people back to work, to maintain and improve what we already had, while planning for the future needs of our state.

Now, thankfully, our economy is slowly improving and we have a job market, especially– in the construction industry–that is rebounding.

I said earlier that this year has been an interesting one. In some ways, the prioritization and vetting process done for the CIP budget was more difficult than in past years. This bill will fund thousands of worthwhile and critically needed projects; projects that will impact the lives of our residents now, and for many years to come. However, this bill is not perfect. There are projects, while valuable, while needed, while important for our state, we were not able to fund this year. These decisions were asked were made after doing our due diligence, being thoughtful, careful and mindful of our responsibilities.

HB200 CD1 proposes a CIP budget for Fiscal Biennium 2103-2015 in the amount of just over $3 Billion, of which $1.36 billion is funded by General Obligation or Reimbursable Bonds.

We will continue the progress made in renovating, repairing and maintaining existing state-owned facilities to utilize our current resources and reduce general fund expenditures in the future.

The CD proposes nearly $400 million to fund these types of projects for the Department of Education, Department of Health’s Waimano Ridge facility, Hawaii Health System Corporation’s network of hospitals, and hundreds of other projects in the UH system, DLNR, and DAGS.

We also looked at previous requests to fund aging infrastructure to move people, goods and materials which has been in disrepair or unusable. To address this we focused considerably on transportation. The basics… repairing our highways, expanding our harbors, and renovating and modernizing our airports.

Approximately $1.2 billion is appropriated for the Department of Transportation for projects such as $70 million for the expansion of Kona International Airport to meet the requirements of increasing visitor arrivals. Another $140 million is included for Honolulu International Airport, for improvements and upgrades for the main gateway to our state.

We are also supporting increased capacity at our harbors, statewide, to handle the import and export of goods and products, as well as dozens of highway improvements and bridge repairs. These projects will continue the process of addressing the declining conditions of our highways and transportation infrastructure.

Another priority was to designate appropriations for projects needed to address future capacity needs and economic growth.

HB200 CD1  includes $38.2 million to build an Advanced Technology and Science Center at Honolulu Community College and $11.8 million for a dedicated facility for the Allied Health program at UH-West O`ahu.

Additionally, funding for the renovation and expansion of the Foreign Trade Zone facility was included to keep this business incubator functional.

We also appropriated $18.4 million for Ewa Makai Middle School, to complete the campus and reduce overcrowding in schools in the Ewa plain.

There is always much talk about keeping agriculture land in agriculture and an opportunity arose to purchase over 20,000 acres of Dole Foods agriculture land on the North Shore of Oahu.  The Senate included $175M in Revenue bonds and $12.5M in G.O. bonds to take advantage of this opportunity.

This bill also invests in the State’s aging and obsolete IT infrastructure by appropriating over $130 million for informational systems to begin the process of creating a statewide information network,  streamline tax collections, maintain and share critical health information, as well provide for a secure communication network for the islands.

One of these is the Trans-Pacific cable project. By 2015, the state will be close to reaching full capacity of its existing broadband network. In addition, Hawaii is being bypassed as a vital communication hub in the Pacific. This project will begin to address these concerns and move Hawaii to the forefront in telecommunications technology.

In closing, I would like to thank Senate President Kim, Chair Ige, and our counterparts in the House for their support and hard work in crafting this CIP budget.  I believe we all look forward to the positive impact this budget will have on the State.


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