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  • HAWAIʻI OFFICIALS VISIT WASHINGTON D.C. FOR THE NATIONAL FORUM ON EDUCATION POLICY

    This week, members of Hawaiʻi State government are in the Washington D.C. attending the National Forum on Education Policy hosted by the Education Commission of the States. Hawaiʻi State Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz (District 17 – Portion of Mililani, Mililani Mauka, portion of Waipi‘o Acres, Launani Valley, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village), Deputy Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism Dane Wicker, and Leeward Community College Chancellor Carlos Peñaloza are all representing Hawaiʻi on the national stage. The three-day event from July 10th to 12th brings together state education policy leaders from all around the country to discuss and address the most pressing issues in state education policy.   In representing Hawaiʻi, Senator Dela Cruz, Deputy Director Wicker, and Chancellor Peñaloza collaborated to present “Connecting Workforce Development and Regional Strengths for Economic Prosperity.” The three panelists shared with attendees how Hawaiʻi is leveraging regional advantages and creating pathways for workforce development to revitalize and grow the state’s economy.   Senator Dela Cruz highlighted Central Oʻahu as a case study for how regional economic growth can be achieved through agriculture. With state investment Central Oʻahu is building the supports for an economic ecosystem that will drive and support growth. Senator Dela Cruz explained that “to achieve the goal of regional economic development, we are building the foundations that will make that vision possible. As a key foundation, workforce development at various levels is integral to preparing for, planning, and supporting economic growth and activity.”   The nexus of workforce development and regional strengths can be seen in the new Wahiawa Value-Added Product Development Center (WVAPDC), a collaboration between Leeward Community College (Leeward CC) and the State of Hawaiʻi. Chancellor Peñaloza presented on the WVAPDC and Leeward CC’s associated educational programs to support workforce development in the agriculture industry. “With the revitalization of industries, we need a strong, skilled workforce to meet job demand. I am so excited about the role that community colleges can play in providing educational programs to develop entrepreneurs who can thrive in, and support, an economic ecosystem,” said Chancellor Peñaloza.   These efforts to scale and grow agriculture in Central Oʻahu are part of a broader mission to make an economically sustainable Hawaiʻi. Deputy Director Wicker illustrated, “strengthening and diversifying the economy is key to the prosperity of future generations in Hawaiʻi. By investing in sectors with high growth potential, like value-added product development, and by investing in infrastructure, facilities, and equipment, we can establish and expand small businesses. This will not only diversify our local economy but also help reverse brain drain, ensuring an economically sustainable future for our State.”   With the insights of Senator Dela Cruz, Deputy Director Wicker, and Chancellor Peñaloza, participants in D.C. got to hear about the exciting developments happening in the Aloha State. On the national stage, they demonstrated a model not only for economic development across Hawaiʻi, but across the nation.

  • SENATE PRESIDENT RONALD D. KOUCHI OFFERS CONDOLENCES ON PASSING OF REPRESENTATIVE MARK M. NAKASHIMA

    Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (D, Kau a‘i, Ni‘ihau) offers his heartfelt condolences to the family of Hawai‘i State Representative Mark Nakashima, who passed away on July 11, 2024, at the age of 61.   "Representative Nakashima was an unselfish public servant, who will be remembered for his wry sense of humor, easy going manner, and establishing the benchmark in dealing with life's adversities with quiet strength and resilience," said Senate President Kouchi. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his close friends and family, and hope they may find solace in these trying times."

  • SENATOR LORRAINE R. INOUYE THANKS GOVERNOR FOR RELEASING $30,000 FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO HILO WASTE-TO-WEALTH ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION PROGRAM

    Hilo, Hawaiʻi  – Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1, Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo) is excited to announce that Governor Josh Green has released $30,000 in General Obligation bond funds to support a key project under the Hilo Waste-to-Wealth Economic Revitalization Program. This funding will help plan and upscale gorse-based livestock feed production on the east side of Hawaiʻi Island. The $30,000 will be used for detailed planning to ensure the Program’s success and longevity. This project highlights the strong partnership between the State, local communities, and farmers working together for a better future.   “I am excited that Governor Josh Green has committed these funds to such an important project,” said Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo). “I’d like to thank the Governor for releasing this funding, as it will allow us to take our gorse-based feed production to the next level, benefiting both our agriculture community and the environment. It’s a perfect example of how we can turn problems into opportunities.”

  • SENATE PRESIDENT RONALD D. KOUCHI ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING GOVERNOR JOSH GREEN'S LETTER REGARDING THE VACANT SENATE DISTRICT 22 SEAT

    Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (District 8 - Kaua'i, Ni'ihau) issued the following statement regarding Governor Josh Green's July 9, 2024, letter regarding the vacant Senate District 22 seat:   "After reading Governor Green's July 9, 2024 letter, I do not agree that he does not have to fill the vacant Senate District 22 seat pursuant to HRS section 17(3)(1).   Contrary to Governor Green's assertion that "state law generally provides" for the governor to fill a senate vacancy, HRS section 17(3)(1) clearly and unambiguously states that "the governor shall" fill a senate vacancy within sixty calendar days from the start of the vacancy.   Governor Green states that he does not have to comply with state law because he does "not believe that the Legislature intended to require the Governor to select a senator within a specified timeframe when doing so would place the full weight of the Governor's office on the scales in favor of one candidate over the others."  Governor Green counterbalances his refusal to follow HRS section 17(3)(1) with Article I, Section 1 of the Hawai'i State Constitution citing that the "political power of this State is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people."   The language in HRS 17(3)(1) is clear that the Legislature intended that the party of the vacating senator would have a say in providing three names to the governor to replace an outgoing senator.  Senator Shimabukuro's last day in the Senate was May 31, 2024 and I am informed that the Hawai'i Democratic Party sent three names to Governor Green on June 7, 2024 – more than one month ago.  By not filling the vacant Senate District 22 seat until after the primary elections on August 10, 2024 from names provided by the Democratic party, Governor Green is taking away the "political power" from the people of Senate District 22 and depriving them from having a Senator from the Democratic party for over two months.   Governor Green states that he "conferred with the Attorney General," not that he is acting upon the "legal advice of" the Attorney General and it is his "constitutional obligation to support free and fair elections" that is the driving force behind refusing to adhere to state law.   Governor Green's "constitutional obligation" is to comply with all state laws.

  • GOVERNOR GREEN SIGNS SENATE BILL 2305 INTO LAW, ESTABLISHING A SILVER ALERT PROGRAM

    Honolulu, Hawaiʻi  – Today, Governor Josh Green signed Senate Bill 2305  into law, establishing a Silver Alert Program within the Department of Law Enforcement. SB 2305 implements a Silver Alert Program to help locate and safeguard missing persons who are sixty-five years of age or older, cognitively impaired, or developmentally disabled.   “Establishing a Silver Alert Program will provide many benefits to our community and especially for our kūpuna who go missing,” said Senator Brandon J.C. Elefante (Senate District 16, ʻAiea, ʻAiea Heights, Hālawa, Pearlridge, Newtown, Royal Summit, Waimalu, Waiau, Momilani, Pacific Palisades, and Pearl City). “I’d like to thank Governor Green as well as the community for all their hard work and support to get this important measure passed into law.”   More than half of states nationwide have established Silver Alert Programs modeled after the AMBER Alert Program to help identify missing individuals. T his law helps to provide immediate information to the public, facilitate a prompt response, and enhance the chances of locating a missing individual.   Representative Cory Chun (House District 35, Portions of Pearl City and Waipahu, Crestview) authored SB 2305’s companion bill, House Bill 1774 . “I want to thank Governor Green for signing SB 2305 into law today and prioritizing and protecting kūpuna and our most vulnerable community members,” said Representative Chun.

  • SENATOR LORRAINE R. INOUYE THANKS GOVERNOR FOR RELEASING $3,600,000 FOR IMPROVEMENTS AT PIER 4 IN HILO HARBOR

    Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo) released the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $3,600,000 to finance the construction costs for lighting and fire suppression improvements at Pier 4, Hilo Harbor.   “I am pleased and grateful to announce that Governor Green has released the funds for essential lighting and fire suppression improvements at Pier 4 in Hilo Harbor. Investing in our harbor infrastructure is paramount to maintaining the safety, efficiency, and economic vitality of our ports,” said Senator Inouye. “Hilo Harbor is a critical hub for commerce and transportation on the Big Island, and these enhancements will help safeguard its operations and support our long-term economic growth.”

  • SENATOR LORRAINE R. INOUYE THANKS GOVERNOR FOR RELEASING $150,000 FOR IMPROVEMENTS AT THE HAWAIʻI COUNTY ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL’S MAIN OFFICE BUILDING

    Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo) released the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $150,000 for the construction, improvements, and maintenance of the main office building of the Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council (HCEOC).   “I am proud to secure these funds to support the HCEOC and would like to extend my gratitude to Governor Green for releasing them. These funds will be utilized to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure of HCEOC’s main office, ensuring it remains a central hub for delivering essential services to residents in Hawaiʻi County,” said Senator Inouye. “These improvements aim to provide a more conducive environment for staff and clients, ultimately enhancing the HCEOC’s capacity to serve the community effectively. This investment will strengthen our community’s infrastructure and empower HCEOC to continue its critical mission of fostering economic opportunity and supporting local families.”

  • SENATE CONFIRMS FOUR JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS TO OʻAHU CIRCUIT COURT

    Today, the Hawaiʻi State Senate voted to confirm the Governor’s Circuit Court appointments of Rebecca A. Copeland, Brian A. Costa, Dyan M. Medeiros, and Steven R. Nichols to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (island of Oʻahu). Earlier in the week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on each appointment, and all testimony received for Copeland, Costa, Medeiros, and Nichols was in support of their appointments. Each of the new judges was deemed “Qualified” by the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association. “All four appointees demonstrated the experience, curiosity, and commitment required of a judge,” said Senator Karl Rhoads (Senate District 13, Dowsett Highlands, Puʻunui, Nuʻuanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Pālama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown), Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. “After having met with Judge Copeland, Judge Costa, Judge Medeiros, and Judge Nichols, I am confident that each will serve our State with honor and integrity, and I extend my sincerest mahalo and congratulations to them all.” Rebecca A. Copeland has been confirmed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit as a Circuit Court Judge. Copeland will succeed Judge Gary Chang, who is retiring at the end of June 2024. Copeland served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2020. Between 2016-2020, she served as a Per Diem District Court Judge. Copeland has experience in operating the Law Office of Rebecca A. Copeland, LLC, working for Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, and as Adjunct Professor for the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, St. Mary’s University School of Law (in San Antonio), and Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Additionally, Copeland has served as Deputy Solicitor General, Appellate Division, for the State of Hawaiʻi Department of the Attorney General and was a law clerk for Hawaiʻi Intermediate Court of Appeals. Copeland received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southwest Texas State University and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Brian A. Costa has been confirmed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit as a Circuit Court Judge and will succeed Judge Jeffrey Crabtree, who retired in January 2024. Costa has served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2017 and most recently as the Lead Judge of the Juvenile Division and Presiding Judge of Juvenile Drug Court. Between 2015-2017, he served as a Per Diem District Court Judge. Costa’s professional experience includes being an attorney, member, and manager of the law firm Costa & DeLacy, LLLC, serving as a Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, and working as an associate for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel. Costa additionally was a law clerk for Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon R. Acoba, Jr. Costa received an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences in Business Administration from Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, a Bachelor of Science in Management from Hawaiʻi Pacific University, and a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Dyan M. Medeiros has been confirmed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit as a Circuit Court Judge. Medeiros will succeed Judge R. Mark Browning who retired in December 2023. Medeiros has served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2015 and most recently as the Lead Judge of the Domestic Division and Presiding Judge of Girls Court. Prior to serving as a Judge, Medeiros was a partner with Kleintop, Luria & Medeiros, an associate attorney with Stirling & Kleintop, and an associate attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert. Medeiros received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and received a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Steven R. Nichols has been confirmed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit as a Circuit Court Judge. Nichols will succeed Judge Edward Kubo who retired in December 2019. Most recently, Nichols served as a Per Diem Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit and operates the Law Office of Steven R. Nichols. Nichols previously served as Deputy Public Defender for twenty years and was a law clerk for First Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario. Nichols received a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law.

  • SENATE TO CONVENE FOR SPECIAL SESSION TO CONSIDER FOUR JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS

    Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Next week, the Hawaiʻi State Senate will convene a special session to review the judicial appointments of Rebecca A. Copeland, Brian A. Costa, Dyan M. Medeiros, and Steven R. Nichols to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (island of Oʻahu). The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Karl Rhoads (Senate District 13, Dowsett Highlands, Puʻunui, Nuʻunau, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Pālama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown), will hold a public hearing on the appointees on Monday, June 24, 2024, starting at 10:30 a.m. The Senate will convene in floor session on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. This will be followed by a separate decision-making meeting of the Judiciary Committee at 11:45 a.m.  Final Senate votes on the appointments are expected on Thursday, June 27, 2024, during the floor session that is expected to start at 11:00 a.m. Rebecca A. Copeland has served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2020. Between 2016-2020, she served as a Per Diem District Court Judge. Copeland has experience in operating the Law Office of Rebecca A. Copeland, LLC, working for Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, and as Adjunct Professor for the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, St. Mary’s University School of Law (in San Antonio), and Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Additionally, Copeland has served as Deputy Solicitor General, Appellate Division, for the State of Hawaiʻi Department of the Attorney General. Copeland received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southwest Texas State University and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Brian A. Costa has served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2017 and currently is the Lead Judge of the Juvenile Division and Presiding Judge of Juvenile Drug Court. Between 2015-2017, he served as a Per Diem District Court Judge. Costa’s professional experience includes being an attorney, member, and manager of the law firm Costa & DeLacy, LLLC, serving as a Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, and working as an associate for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel. Costa additionally was a law clerk for Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon R. Acoba, Jr. Costa received an Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences in Business Administration from Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, a Bachelor of Science in Management from Hawaiʻi Pacific University, and a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dyan M. Medeiros has served as a District Family Court Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit since 2015 and currently is the Lead Judge of the Domestic Division and Presiding Judge of Girls Court. Prior to serving as a Judge, Medeiros was a partner with Kleintop, Luria & Medeiros, an associate attorney with Stirling & Kleintop, and an associate attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert. Medeiros received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and received a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Steven R. Nichols currently serves as a Per Diem Judge for the Family Court of the First Circuit and operates the Law Office of Steven R. Nichols. Nichols previously served as Deputy Public Defender for twenty years and was a law clerk for First Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario. Nichols received a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a Juris Doctorate from the William S. Richardson School of Law. The hearing notice can be viewed here and includes instructions on how to submit testimony. The public hearing and floor sessions will be broadcast on the Senate YouTube page.  More information about the special session is available at the 2024 Senate Special Session webpage on the Legislature's website, www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

  • SENATE VICE PRESIDENT MICHELLE N. KIDANI THANKS GOVERNOR FOR RELEASING FUNDS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION AT KANOELANI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

    Today, Senate Vice President Michelle N. Kidani (District 18 – Mililani Town, Waipiʻo Gentry, Crestview, Waikele, Portion of Waipahu, Village Park, Royal Kunia), Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, issued the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $550,000 to finance design and construction for classroom expansion and restroom facilities for special education students at Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipahu: “I’d like to thank Governor Green for releasing funding for classroom expansion and restroom facilities for special education students at Kanoelani Elementary School,” said Senate Vice President Kidani. “It is essential that we provide resources for our special education teachers and students to foster an inclusive environment where every keiki can reach their full potential.” ###

  • SENATOR KEOHOKALOLE THANKS ORGANIZERS FOR BRINGING FESTPAC TO WINDWARD OʻAHU

    Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, (District 24, Kāne‘ohe, Kailua), Senate Co-Chair of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus issued the following statement offering his thanks to FestPAC organizers for featuring heritage dance performances by groups from different countries at Windward Mall in Kāne‘ohe: "It is an honor for Hawai‘i to host FestPAC this year, and I am grateful that its organizers have chosen to spread the program across communities on O‘ahu," said Senator Keohokalole. "Windward Mall is a central gathering place for many of our Windward residents, and I appreciate that we have the opportunity to experience and celebrate our guests from across the Pacific. I look forward to joining many of our neighbors and ‘ohana from across the Ko‘olau coast in the audience." From 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. today (Friday, June 7) and tomorrow (Saturday, June 8) Windward Mall will host a satellite stage for FestPAC’s heritage dance performances by groups from various countries.  For additional information on FestPAC Hawai‘i, visit festpachawaii.org.

  • SENATOR LORRAINE R. INOUYE THANKS GOVERNOR FOR RELEASING $230,000 FOR EQUIPMENT AT THE NEW HOUSING UNIT AT THE HAWAIʻI COMMUNITY CORRECTIONAL CENTER

    Today, Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (District 1 – Hilo, Paukaʻa, Papaikou, Pepeʻekeo), issued the following statement thanking Governor Josh Green for releasing $230,000 in capital improvement project funds for furniture and equipment in the new medium security housing unit at the Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center (HCCC). “I am thrilled to share the news of these important investments for the Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center,” Senator Inouye said. “This equipment funding injection will support the essential work HCCC does. HCCC has been in need of the new medium security housing unit for a long time, and it is important that it is adequately furnished with the right equipment in its new facility.” “I am grateful to Governor Green for recognizing the importance of investing in HCCC. HCCC has grown considerably over the last several years, and it is critical that the State continues to support HCCC's needs.”

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