Monday, August 7, 2017


The Hawaii Legislature is hosting a public informational briefing on state funding for the City & County of Honolulu’s rail project at 10 a.m. Aug. 14 in the State Capitol auditorium

Key committee chairs from both the House of Representatives and the State Senate have been meeting to discuss rail funding and lawmakers want to hear from the public as they work on an agreement on rail financing.

The City administration and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) will also update financial issues at the briefing.
“Rail is at a critical point in its construction and the Legislature wants to hear the public’s input on the funding mechanisms and how to ensure greater accountability from HART and the City on their rail project. We need the most accurate financial information to make the best decision possible,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki.

The leaders of the two chambers have reaffirmed their commitment to resolve the outstanding rail financing issues.  

“In spite of our impasse during the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature understands the importance in crafting a legislative solution that will provide the City and County of Honolulu a dedicated revenue stream to adhere to the Full Funding Grant Agreement and complete construction of the Minimum Operable Segment of the rail project,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi.

Lawmakers are also considering a special legislative session to address rail financing.  

Testimony for the public briefing must be submitted via email to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy at Testimony may be submitted up to 24 hours prior to the start of the informational briefing.

For more information, go to the Legislature’s web site or call the Committee Clerk at (808) 586-6697.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Bill saves Hawaii homeowners from losing billions of dollars in federal flood insurance coverage.
Photo: Office of the Governor
A crucial bill, shepherded through the Legislature by Mililani representative Ryan Yamane (Mililani, Waipio Gentry, Waikele), to keep Hawaii protected under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was signed by Governor David Ige during a public signing ceremony at the State Capitol.

Last year NFIP officials informed the state that it did not comply with federal flood insurance regulations and faced suspension from the program. Yamane, chair of the House Water and Land committee, led the proactive and collaborative effort by the state, the four counties, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IX, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Hawaii Association of Realtors, and Hawaii’s insurers, banks, and builders, to restore Hawaii’s eligibility in the program by introducing House Bill 1418 SD1.

Yamane thanked the Governor for signing this important piece of legislation saying, “For many of our residents their homes are the biggest single investment they own. Hawaii homeowners can trust that their federal flood insurance will remain in place to protect them from future flood disasters.”

In the last 35 years that Hawaii has been participating in the program, FEMA paid out 4,600 claims totaling over $87 million. Currently, there are over 60,000 flood insurance policies totaling over $13.4 billion throughout the state, which would have been cancelled without the bill.

Watch video of signing.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau) and House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (McCully, Kakaako, Kaheka, Downtown) sent a joint letter to the Executive Director of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) advising the FTA of the Legislature’s commitment to convene a special session in July or August.

Although no specific dates have been set for the special session and no rail funding mechanism has been agreed upon, Speaker Saiki and President Kouchi said that, "after working with members of our federal delegation, it was deemed necessary and prudent to assure the FTA that the Legislature recognizes and understands the requirements under the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) between the City and County of Honolulu and the FTA."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


New laws support goals of Paris climate accord

Several Hawaii House representatives joined their colleagues from the Senate, State Administration and all four Counties today to support Gov. David Ige signing two environmental bills into law.

HB 1578, which establishes the Carbon Farming Task Force, and SB 559, which aligns Hawaii with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris climate accord, are now law.

Following President Donald J. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement last week, Hawaii is now the first state to enact laws to officially support the agreement.

“With today's bill signings, Hawaii is all in - joining the world's leaders, cities across the nation, businesses and individuals in combatting climate change threats, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading the way towards a more sustainable future,” said House Vice Speaker Rep. Della A. Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa). “The House believes that developing stronger renewable energy and sustainable farming policies is not only the right thing to do, it will also help create jobs and develop clean industries that are critical to the future of our island home.”

Rep. Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo) was one of the introducers of House Bill 1578 and said the bill establishes a process for local farmers to receive carbon credit dollars for agricultural practices that sequester carbon dioxide.

“It's important to commit to addressing climate change, but it's even more important that we actually take meaningful action,” said Lee, Chair of the Energy & Environmental Protection Committee. “These bills ensure local industries continue to reduce emissions and empower local farmers for sequestering carbon.”

More photos at: