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  • Judges confirmed for Hawaii Island District Court and Kaua‘i Island District Court

    SENATE CONFIRMS DISTRICT COURT JUDGES September 14, 2016 HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – The Hawai‘i State Senate today unanimously confirmed Dakota K.M. Frenz to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit – Island of Hawai‘i and Michael K. Soong to the District Court of the Fifth Circuit – Island of Kaua‘i. Dakota K.M. Frenz was most recently a sole proprietor of her own private law practice in Hilo specializing in criminal law, family law, and civil litigation/collections. Prior to opening her own law practice, Frenz was a partner at Laubach & Frenz, AAL, LLC, where she focused her legal practice in the same areas of law. Prior to entering private practice, Frenz served as deputy prosecuting attorney in the County of Hawai‘i where she handled cases in the District, Family, and Circuit Courts. In addition to her legal experience, she serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, a member of the Board of Directors of the Hawai‘i County Bar Association, an arbitrator with the Court Annexed Arbitration Program, a member of the County of Hawai‘i Bench Bar Committee and Hawai‘i State Bench Bar Committee. She also volunteers with the Friends of Drug Court and the Self-Help Center in East Hawai‘i. Frenz is a graduate of Whittier Law School and was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 2006. Frenz fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lloyd X. Van De Car. “Ms. Frenz bring to the bench a reputation as an intelligent, hard-working and prepared advocate with substantial trial experience as a former county prosecutor and more recently as a private attorney,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “Her background and what people say about her makes it likely that she will be a very good addition to the District Family Court, one of the most challenging assignments for a Hawai‘i jurist.” Michael K. Soong has nearly 30 years of trial experience and has been in private practice since 2009 focusing on criminal law, personal injury and plaintiff litigation. His work in the public sector includes being elected to two-consecutive terms as Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Kaua‘i. Prior to his tenure as the Prosecuting Attorney, he served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Kaua‘i, a Deputy Public Defender, and Deputy Corporation Counsel. Soong serves as a Board member of the Friends of the Kaua‘i Drug Court, and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also currently serves on the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Kaumuali‘i Chapter, Hokule‘a-Kaua‘i Crew member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and member of Na Kalai Wa‘a ‘O Kaua‘i. Soong is a graduate of Southwestern University School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1986. Soong will the vacancy due to the retirement of Judge Trudy K.T. Senda in December. #WilliamEspero #WillEspero #MichelleKidani #ClarenceNishihara #GlennWakai #JoshGreen #LauraThielen #LorraineInouye #JKALANIENGLISH #DakotaFrenz #MichaelSoong #BreeneHarimoto #SuzanneChunOakland #RozBaker


    CENTRAL OAHU, Hawai‘i – A major component of the Whitmore Project, Enterprise Zone No. 1, North Shore-Wahiawa-Mililani, has been re-designated till September 30, 2036. Working with the Honolulu City Council, City & County of Honolulu, and the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DEBDT), Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (Dist. 22 - Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho) helped push and usher the re-designation. The newly configured Enterprise Zone No.1, North Shore-Wahiawa-Mililani includes all the agricultural lands between Wahiawa and the North Shore. Hawai‘i's Enterprise Zone Partnership Program was established in 1986 to stimulate economic growth by offering state and county tax incentives for certain types of businesses, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and technology. Eligible agricultural production and processing businesses are eligible for general excise tax and income tax exemptions, and receive a two-year exemption from any increase in property taxes resulting from new construction. In addition to the re-designation of Enterprise Zone No. 1, Sen. Dela Cruz is working with the DBEDT and the Hawai‘i Foreign-Trade Zone No. 9 in applying for and establishing an ag-foreign trade zone within the agribusiness tech park. One benefit of a foreign trade zone is the deferring of tariffs and duties on imports and exports. This incentive will allow farmers to keep more cash on hand allowing them to reinvest into their businesses. "We are looking at what Federal, State and County incentives we can layer to decrease the overhead cost of business for farmers. The State needs to be a proactive partner so we can decrease food imports, increase local food production, and keep our dollars in the local economy," said Sen. Dela Cruz. “We have to be aggressive with public-private partnerships to help our local businesses.” Preserving agricultural land and providing economic incentives are only the first steps to revitalizing Hawai‘i's agriculture industry. Farmers still face challenges such as increased costs, month-to-month leases, global competition - all have contributed to the shrinking of Hawai‘i's agriculture industry while increasing foods imports, which is now almost 90 percent, according to industry analysts. Sen. Dela Cruz has long supported and understood the farmers’ need to remain competitive in local markets, which includes creating value-added products and ag-tourism. Consolidating activities, such as processing, packaging, and retail into a single location creates a cluster for ag-businesses. Sen. Dela Cruz believes the Whitmore Agribusiness Technology Park can become a destination for the local and visitor industry creating a regional economic development hub in a rural community. “Not only does this help in saving the agriculture industry or protecting agriculture lands, it is about creating jobs. Job creation and economic revitalization will help residents live, work, and play in their communities. Furthermore, creating jobs in the Central Oahu region will reverse traffic commutes into urban Honolulu," Sen. Dela Cruz added. "These types of development can be used as models for other regions in the State." The ADC, University of Hawai‘i's School of Architecture Community Design Center, and the University of Arkansas Community Design Center is currently developing a master plan for the agribusiness tech park. Stakeholders expect plans to be completed by fall of next year. Sen. Dela Cruz recognizes such initiatives in Central Oahu will not only help sustain the local agricultural industry, but hopefully grow Hawai‘i's local agricultural businesses towards a globally competitive future. It is his belief that the Whitmore Project serves as a model which can be replicated throughout the State.


    HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – State Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 20 - Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and Waipahu) had the opportunity to showcase the Legislature’s progressive efforts in conservation and environmental protection at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC). Held every four years, the WCC is considered the Superbowl of conservation events. This was the first time in its 60-year history the WCC was hosted in the United States and a record 10,000 delegates from 192 countries participated in the 10-day conference. Sen. Gabbard was a panelist on the Aha Moku Advisory Committee on Sept. 4. The Legislature passed HB2806 in 2012, which became Act 288, setting up the advisory committee to provide the DLNR a systematic way to incorporate native Hawaiian knowledge of land and water management into its more western-based decision process. The Aha Moku is unique in that there is no other similar entity in the United States. As chair of the Senate Committee on Land and Water, Sen. Gabbard shared how respect for cultural practices and natural resources are meshed with the goals of the Aloha+ Challenge, which set six ambitious sustainability goals by 2030. The value of kakou (people working together) of the Aha Moku are also being considered and is consistent with the state’s renewable energy goal of 100% renewable energy. Incorporating traditional cultural knowledge of native species is being included in addressing the invasive species problem statewide. “Aha Moku presents our state with an awesome opportunity to incorporate Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge into the very fabric of our state policy making process,” Sen. Gabbard told the crowd. “On a more global scale, the incorporation of indigenous culture knowledge into decision making will make our world a more sustainable and peaceful place to live for future generations.” Sen. Gabbard was also an invited speaker at the IUCN luncheon celebrating the signing of Act 125 into law, which is the most comprehensive anti-wildlife trafficking bill in the nation. Sen. Gabbard introduced the bill during the last legislative session, which recognized studies that showed Hawai‘i had the nation’s third largest market for ivory, after New York and California.

  • Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz Joins Latino Policymakers in Boston for NALEO Emergency Planning and Prep

    HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – State Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz joined the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, the nation’s preeminent Latino leadership organization, and more than 50 other policymakers from across the country for a two-day institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The event provided local and state officials with professional development on how to proactively prepare their communities to confront and recover from natural or man-made emergencies during a time of increasing global and domestic threats. During the NALEO Educational Fund’s National Policy Institute on Emergency Planning and Preparedness that took place from August 19-20, 2016, Dela Cruz had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the different levels of planning and preparedness needed to help their communities prepare for, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from various types of disasters and emergencies. “Management plans for donations and volunteers are critical in any disaster,” stated Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, (Dist. 22 – Whitmore Village, Wahiawa, Launani Valley, Waipio Acres, and Mililani Mauka). “We need to look at partnering with nonprofits, at the statewide level and at the community level, to assist developing and managing these plans.” In addition to strengthening their governance skills and receiving timely information on emergency planning and preparedness, Dela Cruz also had the opportunity to network with colleagues and leading experts from throughout the country. Dela Cruz and the cohort of policymakers that participated in this convening will be invited to participate in a second Policy Institute in 2017 that will focus on emergency management and response. This event was made possible through the generous support of Title Sponsor, State Farm®. A full schedule and list of speakers is available on the NALEO Educational Fund website at


    HONOLULU, Hawai‘i - Before a large and appreciative crowd in the Moanalua High School Gymnasium, the man behind the renown Kalakaua Basketball Clinic today was honored for five decades of serving the community and helping thousands of students find success both on and off the court. State Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14 - Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea) was on hand to present a proclamation to Coach Dennis Agena and his staff in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Kalakaua Basketball Clinic during a surprise ceremony at the end of practice. “Coach Agena is an absolutely remarkable, generous individual who deserves all the accolades being bestowed on him today,” said Sen. Kim. “How he’s given so much of his time and his own resources for the last fifty years is an inspiration to us all. He exemplifies selflessness and strong leadership through his coaching and guidance by teaching students how to be a good athlete and even greater citizen.” Sen. Kim’s son, Micah, was a participant in the clinic as a youngster and she witnessed how the program helps build character. “I was proud to see Micah blossom not only in his basketball skills but also as a responsible young man who learned the rewards of hard work and team work,” she said. Coach Agena is recognized as one of the most respected basketball coaches in the state and founder of the renown Kalakaua Basketball Clinic. Thousands of students have gone through the clinic that stresses the importance of mastering fundamental basketball skills, as well as team building skills. Equally important are the values students learn through the program that they carry with them through life: respect, commitment, dedication, and humility. While the clinic has moved locations over the years, the program has consistently been led by Dennis Agena, who along with his wife Lani, have made it their life mission to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. He and his staff conduct the clinic on a completely voluntary basis. The fee for the clinic goes towards maintaining the equipment and covering the expenses for the athletes to travel for tournaments. Some of the players who have gone through the clinic to become successful athletes at the high school,college and professional level include Derrick Low, Kyle Pape, Blaine Gaison, Cliff LaBoy,Bobby Nash, Dean Shimamoto and Kahi Villa. Also, Nani Cockett, Brandy Richardson, Teddi Pila, BJ Itoman, Iwalani Rodrigues, Tiana Fuertes, and Melanie Azama. “I’m proud of all the kids. You develop them, you mentor them, you see them grow up, get married, they have kids and I think soon it will be my third generation of coaching these kids and I’m happy for doing that,” said Dennis Agena. As for today’s honors, Agena was humbled. “It’s not about me, it’s about the product you produce out of the program that makes Coach Agena and Coach Myles (Akamine) look good.”


    HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate began the 2016 Legislative Session with a renewed commitment to create a better life for those who call these islands home. Today’s Opening Session included an invocation by Pastor Matt Higa of New Hope, Kaua‘i. and the National Anthem and Hawai‘i Pono‘i being performed by Ms. Nalani Brun. Among the honored guests in the Senate gallery were government officials from Fukuoka Prefecture, Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, and State Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The function of the democracy is to embrace dissent and minority opinion to ensure that someone who has a differing opinion is not afraid to come forward and express those points of view,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi. “But at the end of the day, the primary function of the democracy is that the majority of us carry the day and move forward. So let us hope as we move forward in the 2016 Session we will be able to achieve those goals.” Remarks on the floor were also made by Senator J. Kalani English, Senate Majority Leader and Senator Sam Slom, Senate Minority Leader. #JKALANIENGLISH #RonKouchi #PastorMattHiga #NewHope #NalaniBrun #MarkRecktenwald #KathrynMatayoshi #SamSlom


    Senate President, Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi offered the following statement on Sen. Gil Kahele who will not be in attendance at today’s Opening Session: “Senator Gil Kahele is currently in Queen’s Hospital where he is undergoing medical testing. Our thoughts and well wishes go out to Senator Kahele and his family. His family requests privacy at this time. Senator Kahele would like to say ‘Mahalo nui loa’ for the support, thoughts and prayers and he looks forward to returning to his Senate duties.”


    “Hawai‘i State Senators open session with “business as usual” HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Hawai‘i State Legislature Opening Day for the Twenty-Eighth Legislative session will be held on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 10 a.m. in the Senate Chambers. This is the second year of the legislative biennium and the Legislature will hold a modest opening to the session with a business as usual approach. Floor proceedings will not include entertainment, and family members, friends and guests will not be seated on the chamber floors. Following the floor session, legislators have the option to host guests in their individual offices. The public is welcomed to attend the opening floor sessions. Chamber galleries will open at 9:45 a.m. and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. “We will continue to adhere to the recent custom of not having any ceremonies or fanfare in this second year of the biennium as the Senate is poised to undertake the task of the people’s work,” said Senate President, Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi. The Opening Day schedule in the Senate Chambers will be as follows: Moment of Contemplation by Pastor Matt Higa of New Hope, Kauai Singing of National Anthem and Hawai‘i Pono‘i by Nalani Brun Gavel in Roll call Senate President’s and Minority Leader’s Remarks Business Adjournment Opening Day will be broadcast live by ‘Ōlelo on channel 53. Neighbor islands will also be able to view the broadcast either live or tape delayed through the following public access organizations: Kauai: Ho’ike Community Television (, phone (808) 246-1556 (no web-streaming). Maui: Akaku: Maui Community Television (, phone (808) 871-5554 (web-streaming available). Big Island: Na Leo O Hawaii (, phone (808) 935-8874 (Hilo) or (808) 329-9617 (Kailua-Kona) (web-streaming available). The public can access more information on hearings and session activities on the Legislature’s website at


    Senate Majority commits to program based on Hawaiian values HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – The Hawai‘i Senate Majority today unveiled its priorities for the 2016 Legislative Session, which begins January 20, 2016. The Senate Majority, whose members are Democrats, is committed to a vision and future for Hawai‘i that is economically viable and sustains our communities for generations to come. This is the second year of the legislative biennium. “This is an opportunity to build upon the achievements of the 2015 Regular Session,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – East and Upcountry Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i). “We are working under the theme ‘Mālama No Ke Ola Pono’, which means ‘creating a better life.’ As we move forward this session, we will be mindful of the options in which we can improve our livelihood and the well-being of our State.” The Hawai‘i Senate Majority has adopted four priorities for legislation that embrace Hawaiian values and aim to improve the quality of life for our keiki, kūpuna, and nā ‘Ohana who are most in need. The Democratic Majority of the Senate will focus on the following areas during the 2016 Regular Session: Mālama ‘Ohana (Providing for our Families) Housing – We will focus on strengthening our communities by identifying the State’s affordable housing supply and prospective housing alternatives for individuals who are experiencing homelessness or transitioning from homelessness. We will also identify and prioritize strategies to supply sufficient levels of housing for Hawai‘i’s residents. Resources – We will commit to allocating specific financial resources intended to increase the supply of housing for certain homeless individuals and families within the next twelve months. We will explore options to support nonprofit providers and state and county initiatives to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families, while minimizing the dislocation of homeless individuals, families, and communities. Health and Social Services – Since homelessness is a multi-faceted issue caused by social, economic, educational, and health factors, addressing this issue will require a creative coordination of several social service and educational strategies. We will support efforts that prioritize the empowerment of homeless individuals through social services that specialize in mental health, employment, housing, and other critical needs. We will also explore alternatives that facilitate and enthuse our public high school students to enroll in college. Education – We will support ways to make education accessible for our keiki from pre-school through higher education. We will explore alternatives that facilitate and enthuse our public high school students to enroll in college. Mālama Honua (Nurturing the Earth) The Democratic Majority of the Senate will aim to set specific benchmarks for satisfactory levels of local food production and consumption. We will also ensure that Hawai‘i is well-prepared for any disaster, economic disruption, or other external factor by encouraging the production and consumption of locally grown and locally raised food through good agricultural practices and support of local farmers. Ensuring a sustainable future for Hawai‘i will continue to be a priority. Improving energy resiliency and continuing progress in food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy. We will continue to focus on renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical and take into account Hawai‘i’s unique geographical and topographical characteristics and environment. As Hawai‘i makes progress in this area and with our overall clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy, facilitate processes for the development of renewable energy, and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies. Mālama Kaiāulu (Sustaining our Communities) We will strengthen our social safety net to ensure that our keiki, kūpuna, and family care givers are healthy, safe, and supported, while continuing to use the community development process to address housing, agricultural, environmental, and health concerns that arise during proposed development. We believe that relying on smart growth principles will lead to development that balances competing interests for land and maximizes the use or preservation of various types of land. We will further explore opportunities to protect Hawai‘i’s natural resources through preservation and protective measures, such as improving agricultural practices, mitigating climate change impacts, and alleviating zoning concerns. Hawai‘i’s unique geographical features, including coastline, volcanoes, and watersheds, open doors to innovative processes and procedures, as well as new technologies and applications to existing systems, to accommodate Hawai‘i residents. We will focus on efforts to create a holistic overview and understanding for community development in the State, such as transit-oriented development. Because comprehensive community development presents an opportunity for the State to solve many socio-economic challenges, understanding the issues from various perspectives will further synergize the development to meet housing, critical infrastructure, and community needs. Mālama Aupuni (Good Governance) We will support efforts to enhance the provision of safe, fair, and effective government services. We will work toward greater efficiency, security, and accountability for government leaders and also for those serving to protect Hawai‘i residents. We will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and accountability across all branches of government by insisting on high standards of conduct, proper training, and fair and reliable systems and procedures. The Democratic Majority of the Senate will strive to infuse the Hawaiian culture throughout government by fostering the use of the Hawaiian language on certain government documents and records. We will strengthen and protect government infrastructure by upgrading technology and services to meet the demand of Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors. We will continue to promote the enhancement of the State’s information technology services and incentivize the use of technology to potentially create revenue streams. We will continue to focus on the establishment and expansion of the State’s critical technology infrastructure, including broadband. It is our sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives and the Governor to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.


    HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Jill Tokuda and House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke announced that qualified nonprofit and other organizations will again be able to apply for State Grants-in-Aid (GIA) that may become available and will be under consideration during the 2016 Regular Session. Previous grants were appropriated to nonprofit and other organizations for various public purposes that were recognized as priorities and seen as complimentary to state government functions, including health, educational, workforce development, and social services and cultural and historical activities. In order to allow the Legislature time to thoroughly review applications, the deadline to submit grant applications will be 4:30pm on January 22, 2016. Last year, the Legislature awarded nearly $30 million in grants to non-profits across the state. Information on the GIA process will be made available on the Legislature’s website ( next week. Any questions, contact the Ways and Means Committee at 808-586-6800 and the Finance Committee at 808-586-6200.


    Honolulu, Hawai‘i – Senator Tokuda’s Art Review (STAR) Program will once again be displaying the artwork of students from Windward O‘ahu at the Hawai‘i State Capitol. The artwork from students studying at Kamehameha Preschool at He`eia, Kaneohe Elementary Head Start, Pali View Baptist Preschool, and Rainbow School Kaneohe can be viewed in the chamber level of the State Capitol throughout the months of December and January. “As we take time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, the artwork of our keiki remind us what is most important,” stated Sen. Tokuda. “Heading into the 2016 Legislative session, their creations will be an ever present reminder of who we represent, even our youngest constituents, and the values and priorities that are important to them.” The STAR Program was established by Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist. 24 – Kāneohe, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Āhuimanu) in 2007 with the goal of showcasing the artistic expressions of students from Windward O‘ahu and providing them with an opportunity to share their art with the community. Since the spring of 2007, the STAR Program has displayed the artwork of over 2,000 Windward students, rotating annually between public and private schools on the windward side. These schools include ‘Āhuimanu Elementary, ‘Aikahi Elementary, Ben Parker Elementary, He‘eia Elementary, Ka‘elepulu Elementary, Kāne‘ohe Elementary, Ke Kula ‘o Samuel M. Kamakau, Kapunahala Elementary, Le Jardin Academy, Maunawili Elementary, Mōkapu Elementary, Pū‘ōhala Elementary, Hakipu‘u Learning Center PCS, Le Jardin Academy, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Windward Nazarene Academy, King Intermediate, Kamehameha Preschool at He‘eia, Olomana School- Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility, Castle High, Kailua High, Kalāheo High, and Windward Community College. The public is welcome to view the artwork at the Hawaii State Capitol, Chamber Level, during normal building hours Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (excluding holidays) and from January 20th, Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more information, call 587-7215.

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