Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Here in Hawai‘i, we are lucky to live in a place with diverse ecology and unique environments. As such, we must actively strive to be stewards of our ‘aina and protect our islands for the future.

Celebrating Earth Day at the State Capitol, students from Farrington High School, Waialua High and Intermediate School, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, Leilehua High School, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Hongwanji Mission School, ‘Iolani School, and Le Jardin Academy rallied to support a clean energy future  and an end to Hawai‘i’s dependency on fossil fuels.


Students sign waive for clean energy along Beretania Avenue in front of the State Capitol


Students display their homemade rallying signs supporting clean energy


Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, addresses students at the rally


Senator Roz Baker encourages students to support clean and renewable energy

In addition to rallying for clean energy, students also participated in the legislative process. They visited Senate and House galleries to see legislators at work during the legislative floor session, and urged lawmakers to support clean energy policies under current consideration.


Students fill the Senate visitors’ gallery during the Senate floor session

The event was organized by the Blue Planet Foundation, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for Hawai‘i residents by supporting a clean energy future.

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.

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State Leaders Take the Stage for Capitol Idol II

Everyone’s got talent, right? We’ll see about that at Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show fundraiser for the Hawai‘i Foodbank, featuring a handful of brave government leaders from the executive and legislative branches.  Members of the Senate, House and executive branch will sing, dance, and showcase other talents to win the applause of audience members on Monday, April 14 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. Admission is FREE. The event is hosted by Senator Mike Gabbard, with Champ Kaneshiro, of The Champ Show on OC16, emceeing.

The first Capitol Idol was held in 2012, with Rep. Marcus Oshiro (aka “Madame Moshiro”) stealing the show. People are still talking about the lady in the red dress today. However, the word lingering about Capitol hallways is that the Senate will definitely be rocking the House this year.  Individual and Senate/House perpetual trophies are at stake, but more importantly, bragging rights go to the winners for a year.

“We hope to see lots of smiling faces in the audience this year,” said Gabbard. “We want to surpass what we raised last year and encourage everyone to dig deep and support this very worthy cause. You won’t be disappointed in the show.”


Senator Gabbard plays the guitar for Capitol Idol 2012

Competing from the executive branch are 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.

In the House’s corner, Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito will take the stage on behalf of their 51 members.

Representing the Senate are Sens. Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard and Malama Solomon. In addition, a group called Da Kolohe Bruddahs, given their name, will surely rouse laughter in the auditorium. The group wishes to remain anonymous, so the only way to find out who they are is to attend.

Senator Solomon dancing at Capitol Idol 2012

Although this is a FREE event, it is also a fundraiser to raise money for the Hawaii Food Bank. Therefore, state employees are encouraged to donate $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrips.

Votes (scrips) from the audience will determine the winner. Scrips can be picked up in Gabbard’s office, Capitol Room 201, until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 14. After 5 p.m., scrips can be picked up in Capitol Room 016 until 15 minutes after the end of the show. There is no limit on the number of scrips that a state employee can purchase. And people can vote for their favorites as much as they wish.

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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 Commends the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation

The Senate today commended the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation (KHLF) for their work in preserving and protecting Native Hawaiian cultural and historical sites of Kalaeloa by creating a heritage park.


Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation Members with State Senators

The Kalaeloa Heritage Park site is a relatively undisturbed, 77-acre parcel with over 177 recorded cultural sites that consist of a heiau and other habitation sites near Kapolei.

The cultural structures at Kalaeloa Heritage Park are unique and cannot be found anywhere else. The vastness and unique topography of the land and cultural artifacts that remain there document a landscape of an ancient community that once lived there.


Photo Credit: Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation

The Kalaeloa Heritage Park serves as a physical space to educate the community on cultural traditions and practices, advocate cultural awareness, and maintain an authentic Hawaiian presence in the Kalaeloa area.

KHLF plans to build a multi-purpose educational community and visitor center where mo‘oleo, or stories, of Kalaeloa can be shared, cultural practitioners can display their arts and the community can embrace its heritage.


Members of the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation look on from the Senate visitors’ gallery

The Senate honors the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation and its members who dedicate themselves to preserving these cultural treasures.

Statement from Senator Mike Gabbard on the Joint Senate-House Informational Briefing on Fuel Leaks at U.S. Navy Fuel Storage Facility

“On Wednesday, I went on a tour of the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility with other legislators to see first-hand the situation with the recent fuel leak on January 13th. Today, we heard from the U.S. Navy, the Department of Health, and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply during an informational briefing at the Capitol. We definitely appreciated the openness of the Navy and have learned much about the current situation with the leak of 27,000 gallons of fuel. Our main goal is to work toward a situation where we can hopefully prevent any future leaks, so that we can ensure the safety of our water supply and the surrounding environment. This will require a major, ongoing effort by all agencies involved.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment

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Senate and House Lawmakers Schedule Briefing on Navy Fuel Leak

gabbard 2013Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, today announced that Hawaii lawmakers are taking action to protect and inform the public through an informational briefing on the Navy fuel leak situation and its impacts on our water resources.

Committees on subject matters relating to energy and environment, health, and public safety and military affairs from both the Senate and House will sit down with Navy officials and other relevant government agencies (to be announced at a later date) to learn more about the situation: how it happened, what are the impacts, and what’s being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The joint Senate-House informational briefing is scheduled for Friday, March 7, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Hawaii State Capitol in Room 329. 

Senator Mike Gabbard Commends Energy Excelerator

On the 12th day of the 27th Hawaii State Legislature, Senator Mike Gabbard, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment, commended the work of Energy Excelerator, a startup program of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) dedicated to helping solve the world’s energy challenges.

Energy Excelerator plays a vital role in helping solve energy challenges by funding clean energy technologies. The Hawaii-based program recently received a $30 million grant from the Navy’s Office of Naval Research, under the Asia Pacific Technology and Education Program. The programs has supported 32 companies generating $55.9 million in follow-on funding, nearly $20 million in revenue, and created more than 400 jobs. With high energy prices and abundant natural resources, Hawaii is an ideal market for energy innovation.


Senator Gabbard posing with members of Energy Excelerator

Senator Mike Gabbard Applauds Governor for Enacting “PV Renter” Bill

(Senators Mike Gabbard and Suzanne Chun Oakland join Governor Neil Abercrombie for the signing of Senate Bill 19 and other energy related measures.) (L-R: Sen. Mike Gabbard, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Angus McKelvey, PUC Chair Hermina Morita.)

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure to encourage renewable energy generation on rental and leased property.

Senate Bill (SB) 19, enacted as Act 261, removes the barriers for landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems for their tenants and lessees by removing them from the definition of what constitutes a public utility.

“I’m a big supporter of distributed generation - generating electricity where it’s used. That’s why I introduced SB 19 to get rid of the barriers to allowing renters to also access PV. Renters make up 40% of our population, so it’s huge that they’ll now be able to lower their electricity bills but without having to pay the upfront cost,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment.

SB 19 will allow landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems on their property and then sell that electricity to their tenants or lessees on the premises. The bill requires that the electricity rate charged must be lower than that charged by the utility and be included as a provision in the lease.

Gabbard continued, “These energy savings will greatly benefit our renters, including those in Kalaeloa who are faced with a steep electricity hike recently announced by the Navy. It will also open up a great investment opportunity for places like Ala Moana Center that could put up a big PV system and then sell the electricity to the different stores in the mall.”

The bill went into effect immediately upon receiving the signature of the Governor today.

Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard in Response to Governor’s Signing of Green Infrastructure Financing Bill

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today Senate Bill (SB) 1087, which establishes a green infrastructure financing program.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, issued this statement in response to the enactment of SB 1087:

This innovative, first in the nation legislation allows us to do something unprecedented and that’s to join bond financing with on-bill repayment,” said Senate Committee on Energy and Environment Chair Mike Gabbard. “This program is going to be huge in providing lower and middle income folks with greater access to PV and other energy efficiency improvements, allowing them to borrow the money at extremely low interest rates and then repay the loans over time on their monthly their electric bills. Laws like this will make our state the model for the world to follow.”

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