Friday, February 29, 2008

More bills pass third reading

On this 24th day of the 2008 legislative session, 70 more bills passed the critical third reading and crossed over to the Senate. Here are some bills of note:

HB2736 HD1 Small Business Bill of Rights. This bill recognizes the importance of small business to the community and establishes the Small Business Bill of Rights. It requires the Ombudsman to investigate complaints of violations. (Kyle Yamashita)

HB2686 HD1 Administrative Procedure for Rulemaking. This bill clarifies the existing administrative procedure law to ensure that state agency rulemaking does not exceed statutory authority, by conforming to federal law covering rulemaking and public participation in government. (Marcus Oshiro)

HB2247 South Kona Wilderness Purchase. This bill extends the time allowed to acquire lands designated as part of the South Kona Wilderness Area on the island of Hawaii. (Robert Herkes)

HB3262 HD1 Honolua Bay. Creates a temporary advisory committee to develop a management plan for the Honolua Bay Marine Life Conservation District on Maui. (Angus McKelvey)

HB3272 Public Lands Auction. This bill permits the current lessee of public land which is to disposed by public auction to match the winning bid under certain circumstances. (Jerry Chang)

HB2761 HD1 Post-partum healthcare. This bill requires at 6 months of post-partum and interconception care for women of childbearing age who are participants in the Hawaii QUEST health insurance program. (Hermina Morita)

HB2511 HD1 Rental assistance. This bill provides qualified rental assistance applicants up to 90 days to find a qualified rental dwelling. (Maile Shimabukuro) (Joint House/Senate Majority Package)

HB3161 Emergency appropriation to HHSC. Appropriates $14 million for FY 2007-2008 to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to pay vendors, reduce accounts payable and allow operations of current levels of service. (Say By Request, Governor's Package)

HB2151 HD1 Captive Insurance. This bill forms a captive insurance company to provide medical malpractice insurance to self-employed medical doctors. (Cindy Evans)

HB2856 Electronic road pricing. Requires DOT to conduct a feasibility study to implement electronic road pricing, including toll roads, congestion pricing, high occupancy toll lanes, cordon area toll lanes, road space rationing, mileage fees. (Joey Manahan)

HB3377 Ignition interlock device. Requires the installation of the ignition interlock device on the vehicle of a person arrested for driving under the influence that prevents the person from starting or operating a motor vehicle with more than a minimal alcohol concentration while their case in pending and while their license is revoked pursuant to chapter 291E, HRS. (Sharon Har)

HB2522 County authority to reclassify lands. Allows county land use decision-making authority to reclassify lands not more than fifty acres. (Sharon Har) (House Majority Package)

HB2523 Land Use Commission. This bill amends the LUC decision-making criteria to include the County General Plan and plans adopted pursuant to the general plan. (Sharon Har) (House Majority Package)

HB2525 Hawaii Community Development Authority. Requires the HCDA to incorporate smart growth principles in community plan rules. (Sharon Har) (House Majority Package)

HB2526 State Plan. Adds to the State Plan that land development shall be in compliance with smart growth principles. (Sharon Har) (House Majority Package)

HB3383 Hawaii Penal Code. Requires that multiple terms of imprisonment run concurrently unless the court orders or the law mandates that the terms run consecutively. (Blake Oshiro)

Hawaii's French community honored by Legislature's recognition

A small red, white and blue flag waved proud francophone's into a small room today to celebrate and honor the recent marriage of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Italian model Carla Bruni.

Photo: Rep. Awana, French Honorary Consul Patricia Y. Lee, Rep. Cabanilla.

A goblet full of French citizens who have made Hawaii their home and other lovers of the culture eagerly welcomed each other with a "Bonjour" and a smile this morning. They draped large flags representing France and the European Union over tables and excitedly took group pictures to remember the momentous day. Although a small group, their energy reverberated throughout the Capitol. They were delighted to be there, but even more pleased that their community was being recognized by the State Legislature.

"This certificate shows that they [lawmakers] care about the French people." Magda Alexander, a French language teacher at the Academia Language School in Honolulu, said, "We are very proud about being acknowledged by the State of Hawaii.

Rep. Rida Cabanilla and Rep. Karen Awana presented a congratulatory certificate signed by members of the House for President Sarkozy to Honolulu's French Honorary Consul Patricia Y. Lee, an attorney and partner with Goodsill lawfirm.

French Admiral Frederic Maurice, the Commander in Chief of all French military forces in the Pacific, will present the certificate to the president when he visits Tahiti in the near future.

"We are very honored, despite the long distance from Hawaii, that Rep. Cabanilla chose to recognize the French president in such a special way," Lee said.

Photo: Rep. Cabanilla welcomes the Hawaii's francophone's to the Capitol.

Maile's Blog

Look who's blogging! Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, District 45 - Waianae, Makaha, Makua, has started a new blog. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Legislature 2008 - Day 23

During the floor session, the House honored First Hawaiian Bank which is celebrating their 150th anniversary in Hawaii. Pictured below, from left to right: Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu; Don Horner, President and CEO; Rep. Tom Brower; and Brandt Farias, Executive Vice President.

The long day for debating third reading bills will be next week Tuesday, March 4th. On that day, the session starts early at 9:00 a.m. Today, however, a few bills passed third reading. Thanks to the office of Rep. Blake Oshiro for their work on the digest, from which these descriptions are taken. Here are some noteworthy bills that passed third reading today:

HB2034, HD1 Relating to Unattended Children in Motor Vehicles. This bill makes it a violation of the statewide traffic code to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle. It allows the police officer to whom the matter is reported to assume protective custody of the child without a court order or consent of the child's family.

HB2517, HD1 Relating to Invasive Species. This is a House Majority Package bill. This bill allows the Department of Agriculture to regulate or prohibt the sale of specific plants on the restricted list. It prohibits the sale of noxious weeds, provided that noxious weeds may be imported only for research, by permit.

HB2524 Relating to Transportation. This is a House Majority Package bill. This bill requires that the Statewide Transportation Council comply with county transportation and general plans, to the extent it does not impact federal funds, in the preparation of the statewide transportation plan for projected transportation needs for a six-year period.

HB3249, HD1 Relating to Transportation. This bill prohibits motor vehicles on bicycle lanes or bicycle paths. It assesses up to a $500 fine per violation.

Two campaign spending bills, HB2455, HD1 and HB2602, HD1 were recommitted.

Rep. Cabanilla to honor the marriage of French president

Rep. Rida Cabanilla, chair of the Committee on International Affairs, will congratulate and honor French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his recent marriage to Carla Bruni, an Italian model-turned-pop-singer.

Patricia Y. Lee, French Honorary Consul of Honolulu, will accept a congratulatory certificate on behalf of President Sarkozy.

When: Friday, Feb. 29, 11:30 p.m.

Where: State Capitol, Rm. 312

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

High schoolers kick butts at the Capitol

As I sit here contemplating the lead to my blog post, the faint smell of tobacco smoke lingers in my memory. While sipping on a hot cup of green tea, my mind scans a mental list of Capitol smokers. Hmm. Who can I solicit a cigarette from?

Yes. I'm a sometimes-if-I-cave-or-drink-a-beer-or-hang-out-with-smokers smoker. And I'm not very proud of it. I thought about that today while taking pictures of this year's Kick Butts Day event at the Capitol. More than 150 kids from high schools across the State visited their lawmakers' offices advocating for a smoke-free Hawaii and asked legislators "to be true to their word to protect the smoke-free law and tobacco prevention programs statewide."

Amidst a sea of teenagers in red, I felt guilty for being there. Was the scarlet letter of second-hand smoke seething on my forehead? Should I stand up and say, "Hi, my name is Thelma and I'm addicted to tobacco?"

Don't worry. I didn't.

I did, however, question whether I would have had a smoking habit if our legislators instituted laws for a tobacco-free Hawaii when I was in high school nine years ago. Would have all the fuss around anti-smoking laws made me more unlikely to start? Would have having less explicit smokers around the corner stopped me from joining the circle of cigarette-puffing friends?

I don't have the answer to that, but at least our youth today are more aware of the issues and how they can influence the direction of these issues by lobbying our lawmakers.

High school students attended youth advocacy training, presented by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, before lobbying at the Capitol. Their talking points focused on tobacco companies targeting youth through marketing tactics such as flavored tobacco, products for women and girls, unproven health claims and smokeless products.

I yielded not to my demons after all this afternoon because of a comment from Kapua Adolpho, 16, a junior from Molokai High.

"I would encourage them [smokers] to try to quit," she said. "It's affecting them in a negative way and also affecting the people around them."

Now only if she could encourage me everyday. Sigh.

Photo (top) L-R: Deborah Zysman, Director coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, Rep. Josh Green (D), Rep. Tom Brower (D), Rep. John Mizuno (D), Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R).

Photo (bottom): Kapua Adolpho, 16, takes a break from visiting the offices of lawmakers, urging them to protect the smoke-free law.

Update on High Caliber Rifle Bill

The House Judiciary Committee will hold decision-making on this bill, HB2999, on Thursday, February 28th at 2:50 p.m. in Room 325 of the State Capitol. It is the only bill on the agenda. As this is decision-making only, no public testimony will be accepted. (See blog post on 2/23/08 for a summary of the issue.)

The bill proposes several things, but the controversial part of the measure is the following: Prohibits importation, manufacture, possession, sale, barter, trade, gift, transfer, or acquisition of any .50 BMG rifle or .50 BMG cartridge.

2/28/08 - The committee did not have a quorum and was unable to take a vote on this bill. The bill is dead for this session.

OHA public trust lands bill passes out of committees

The House of Representatives announced this morning that three of its committees have jointly passed a new version of a bill that adopts legislative policy on and enables the settlement agreement between the State and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). The bill proposes to resolve thirty years of uncertainty, including court challenges, on how the State should meet its constitutional obligations to transmit to OHA a pro-rata portion of the income and proceeds from the public land trust.

House Bill 266, House Draft 2, RELATING TO HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS, cleared the joint committees of Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs; Judiciary; and Finance.

While the basic terms and conditions of the agreement reached between the State Administration and OHA were not objectionable to the joint committees, the form of the original bill (HB2701) was rejected because of legal and technical reasons. As now amended, the bill is acceptable to all.

"The significance of the bill is that it sets the stage for the settlement agreement to go forward," said Rep. Ken Ito, the chair of the Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs. "This bill is a compromise reached through the hard work of OHA and its attorneys, the Attorney General and his deputy, and the House Majority Staff Office."

The basic terms and conditions under the agreement initially reached between OHA and the State Administration remain intact:

(1) For addressing past amounts in dispute between November 7, 1978 to July 1, 2008, OHA will receive $13,189,860 in cash and three state-owned areas of land. The land areas are in Kakaako Makai, Kalaeloa Makai (former Campbell feedlot), and Hilo Banyan Drive. The total assessed value of the land is $186,810,140.

(2) For addressing future amounts, OHA will receive $15,100,000 in fiscal year 2008-09 and at least an equivalent amount in each fiscal year thereafter. The Legislature is required to review and set the amount to be transmitted to OHA biennially, with $15,100,000 serving as the floor baseline for each future fiscal year. If, for some reason, the Legislature fails to set the amount for a fiscal year, the Governor is required to do so. If both the Legislature and Governor fail to set the amount for a fiscal year, then the amount to be transmitted to OHA is the same as that transmitted in the previous fiscal year.

In return, the bill protects the State from future lawsuits intended to change or overturn the policies established by the bill and the terms and conditions of the agreement between the State Administration and OHA on the issue; essentially, the bill withdraws any waiver of sovereign immunity.

HB266, HD2 now goes for a vote before the entire House where it is expected to pass and then cross over to the Senate for review in that chamber.

Judiciary merges child welfare bills

Two bills relating to the protection of children were merged last night in a Judiciary Committee hearing. HB 3136, a bill that will allow a child to remain in the care of relatives or hanai caregivers if the arrangements are safe, will be added as a second section to HB 2596.

The Judiciary Committee omitted specific language from HB 2596, HD1 that would have required drug addicted parents to be sober for 60 days before regaining visitation rights.

One testifier said that it would be inhumane and heartbreaking to take a child away from their parent for 60 days. Although the tactic is to punish the parent, the new law would be detrimental to the child.

I know it's heartbreaking but it's also dangerous, said Rep. Josh Green. He questioned whether it was too harsh to make it clear to drug addicted parents to clean up their act for 60 days.

DHS argued that the visits are for the kids and not the parents, and that forbidding children from seeing their parents may cause even more psychological problems. They also pointed out that according to Hawaii law parents cannot be bribed into seeking drug treatment, and if made law, this measure would be using children as bait.

The new measure, HB 2596, HD2, will require the Department of Human Services to investigate reports of drug use in homes, specifically ice, within 24 hours and require parents to show proof of participation in substance abuse treatment to have full custody of a child, as well as include the intent of HB3136.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bills of interest for WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27TH

Committee on Health, Room 329, 8:30 a.m.

INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING. Reviewing the issue of Chronic Kidney Disease in Hawaii, and the related concerns that affect Hawaii's residents, the healthcare system and the economy. Hawaii currently faces the potential of a healthcare crisis, with estimates that 100,000 residents are afflicted with chronic kidney disease and possibly 100,000 more have the propensity to develop the disease.

Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs/Committee on Judiciary/Committee on Finance, Room: Capitol Auditorium, 9:30 a.m.

DECISION MAKING ONLY. HB266, HD1 RELATING TO HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS. Conveys certain parcels of real property and transfers cash to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as part of the State's obligations to native Hawaiians under Article XII, sections 4 and 6, of the Hawaii Constitution. (Ito)

Committee on Transportation/Committee on Tourism & Culture, Room 309, 9:30 a.m.

HB2919, HD1 RELATING TO AIR POLLUTION CONTROL. Establishes that emissions from a cruise ship resulting directly or indirectly from the burning of bunker fuel oil containing more than five thousand parts per million of sulfur in its main and auxiliary engines shall be prohibited while berthed at Nawiliwili harbor. (Tokioka)

Committee on Transportation, Room 309, 9:45 a.m.


Committee on Finance, Amended Agenda #1, Room 308, 10:00 a.m.

HB1823 RELATING TO BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY. Establishes an advisory committee within the Department of Transportation to implement the safe routes to school program and a bicycle and pedestrian safety program for adults and children. (Bertram)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #2, Room 308, 11:00 a.m.

HB3410, HD1 RELATING TO BIODIESEL. Provides various market stimulation incentives for the development of biodiesel, including making state agricultural lands available for biodiesel fuel crops; establishing a state biodiesel feedstock crop and biodiesel fuel purchasing program; and creating tax exemptions for oil seed crushing facilities and lands used for biodiesel feedstock crops. (Carroll)

DECISION MAKING ONLY ON: HB1745 HD2 RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT. Establishes job security requirements upon the sale, merger of other transfer of a business establishment that employs 100 or more persons. (Takumi)

Committee on Finance, Amended Agenda #3, Room 308, 12:15 p.m.

HB7 RELATING TO THE I-SAVERX PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM. Directs the Governor to establish the State of Hawaii's participation in the I-SaveRX prescription drug program to provide residents with increased access to affordable drugs. (Takumi)

HB2015, HD1 RELATING TO HEALTH. Prohibits health plans from requiring prior authorization for persons before receiving general Obstetric/Gynecological services or treatment for Hepatitis C. (Green)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #4, Room 308, 1:30 p.m.

HB2973, HD1 RELATING TO EARLY LEARNING. Establishes an early learning system in the state. Creates the Early Learning Council to govern the early learning system. Establishes the Keiki First Steps Program. (Takumi)

Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, Room 325, 2:00 p.m.

HB2591 RELATING TO GIFT CERTIFICATES. Requires retailer to pay out in cash the balance of any gift card worth less than $5, if requested by the consumer. (Magaoay)

HB2920 RELATING TO FRAUD PREVENTION. Requires notary public to place seal over a succinct phrase describing document being notarized and to separately record a description of the document. Authorizes attorney general to adopt rules to prevent fraudulent use of notarized documents. (Tokioka)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #5, Room 308, 2:30 p.m.

HB2429, HD1 RELATING TO RECREATION. Creates the University of Hawaii stadium corporation and transfers jurisdiction over Aloha Stadium to the corporation. (Chang)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Right to Dry

Jeff Mikulina of the Sierra Club started off his testimony on the Right to Dry bill by saying, "I can already hear the chuckles." That's the reaction that most folks have when they see the bill's title, Relating to Clotheslines. It's a serious issue, really.

Clothes dryers account for 6% of total electricity consumed by U.S. households, third behind refridgerators and lighting, according to the Wall St. Journal. The Right To Dry movement was built around the concept that people in America should have the right to dry their clothes outside on clothes lines if that is their desire, particularly since it helps our efforts for energy conservation. There are certain communities and subdivisions governed by associations, however, that prohibit the use of clotheslines, citing aesthetic reasons and decreasing property values.

HB3211, HD1, introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita, is part of the movement. It allows for the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single family residence, including townhomes. The bill was heard in the Finance Committee this evening. Rep. Sharon Har said she supported the intent of the bill, but that lawmakers need to be careful with the language since some of it could be interpreted in many different ways, e.g. the bill allows for clotheslines, "provided that rules that prohibit the placement of clotheslines shall not be unduly or unreasonably restrictive."

Testifiers agreed that a balance can be reached. Mikulina closed by quoting Benjamin Franklin, "We have to hang together, or we will hang separately."

Reduced ignition propensity cigarettes

Sounds like some sort of high tech smokes concocted in the Bat Cave, but reduced ignition propensity cigarettes are nothing more than "fire safe" cigarettes, and if HB2438 HD1 passes the legislature this year, it may mean that they will become the only kind of cigarettes for sale in the state of Hawaii.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ryan Yamane, proposes that no cigarettes may be sold in the state unless they have been tested in the specified test method, meets the performance standard specified, and the cigarette manufacturer has filed a written certification with the state fire council in accordance with the legislation. The cigarettes would need to be specifically marked as fire safe.

In 2004, New York became the first state to require that cigarettes be fire safe if sold in the state. The cigarettes are rolled with a log-ignition paper, and while they are not guaranteed to go out on their own, they are expected to significantly lower the number of fires related to smokers who carelessly toss lit cigarettes or fall asleep while smoking a lit cigarette.
Here is a pack of cigarettes for sale in NY marked with a long black bar over the bar code to indicate that the cigarettes are fire safe. NY retailers say they have not received complaints about the cigarettes, nor have they noticed any decrease in sales.

HB2438, HD1 comes up for a hearing before the Finance Committee on Tuesday in the 2:15 agenda.

Bills of interest for TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH

Committee on Finance, Amended Agenda #1, Room 308, 10:00 a.m.

HB2860, HD2 RELATING TO TAXATION. Exempts from general excise and use taxes the fuel sold from a foreign-trade zone for intrastate air transportation by common carriers. (Souki)

Committee on Finance, Amended Agenda #2, Room 308, 11:00 a.m.

HB2456, HD1 RELATING TO TAXATION. Excludes from gross income, adjusted gross income, and taxable income the value of health insurance and other benefits provided by an employer to an employee in excess of what the employer provides to single employees when such benefits are provided due to employee's status as a reciprocal beneficiary or domestic partner. (B. Oshiro)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #3, Room 308, 12:00 p.m.

HB2972, HD1 RELATING TO EDUCATION. Creates the Facilities Alignment Commission to establish criteria for the selection of public schools to be constructed, expanded, consolidated, or closed; and recommend areas for new school construction, schools for expansion, consolidation, or closure. (Takumi)

HB602, HD1 RELATING TO EDUCATION. Requires that $90 million be deposited into the state treasury in each fiscal year to the credit of the State Educational Facilities Improvement Special Fund for public school capital improvement program needs, by repealing the sunset date for Act 304, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006. (Takumi)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #4, Room 308, 1:00 p.m.

HB2908 RELATING TO AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS. Requires the auditor to submit an annual report to the Legislature identifying all audit recommendations more than one year old that have not been implemented. (M. Oshiro)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #5, Room 308, 2:15 p.m.

HB2685, HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC SAFETY. Directs the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Planning to plan and design the construction and operation of a new minimum-security facility at a site with appropriate access to courts, public transportation, and other support services, and plan for additional community-custody beds at oahu Community Correctional Center. (M. Oshiro)

HB2438, HD1 RELATING TO CIGARETTES. Establishes a proces to ensure that only fire safe cigarettes are sold in Hawaii. (Yamane)

Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 2:45 p.m.

HB2350, HD1 RELATING TO LANDOWNER LIABILITY FOR NATURAL CONDITIONS. Codifies common law regarding non-liablity of landowners regarding natural conditions on their land that cause damange outside the land. (Ito)

HB3136 RELATING TO CHILD WELFARE SERVICES. Clarifies the law to ensure that local customs of caring for children outside the home by friends and relative are an available alternative when considering the custody of children. (Say BR)

HB2596, HD1 RELATING TO CHILDREN. Requires the Department of Human Services to investigate reports of drug use in the home of a child within 24 hours. Requires a parent, legal custodian, cohabitant, or caregiver to be drug free for at least 60 days prior to being allowed visitation with a child, and to participate in substance abuse treatment for at least one year before being awarded full custody of a child or being allowed to solely supervise the child. (Chong)

Decision Making only on:

HB2476 RELATING TO CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. Repeals existing prohibtion against dog fighting and enacts more comprehensive prohibition of dog fighting and related conduct. Provided enhanced penalties. (Heard on 2/21/08) (Mizuno)

HB2557 RELATING TO EVIDENCE. Protects the disclosure of sources for journalists and newscasters. Establishes an exception. (Heard on 2/5/08 – previous decision is being reconsidered.) (B. Oshiro)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #7, Room 308, 4:30 p.m.

HB2386 RELATING TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION. Requires an employer to pay temporary total disability benefits regardless of whether the employer controverts the right to benefits. Specifies that the employee's ability to return to work is to be decided by the employee's treating physician. (Sonson)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #8, Room 308, 5:00 p.m.

Decision Making only on:

HB2872 RELATING TO PUBLIC LANDS. Requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to extend the recreation-residence use leases at the Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks for 5 years. Sunsets 01/01/12. (Sagum)

HB2099 RELATING TO INCOME TAX CREDIT. Provides a mandatory tax credit to taxpayers pursuant to article VII, section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii. (M. Oshiro)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

HPD Urges Lawmakers to Ban .50-caliber Rifles

Photo: Honolulu Star-Bulletin. HPD officer Ron Taira shows various high caliber weapons at yesterday's news conference. At left is the .50 caliber Barrett semi-automatic.

It's a matter of public safety vs. the constitutional right to own weapons. The Honolulu Police Department held a news conference yesterday to drum up support for HB2999, a bill that would, among other things, ban the ownership and use of .50-caliber rifles in Hawaii. The bill has a single referral to the Judiciary committee. Judiciary heard the bill on Feb. 12th and decided to defer it. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin's story is here. The Advertiser's story is here. According to HPD, there are currently 125 such rifles in Hawaii, with about 90 on Oahu.

Law enforcement supports the bill citing the potential damage of a weapon using such a high caliber bullet. The Hawaii Rifle Association opposes the bill saying it is their constitutional right to bear arms. Major Gregory Lefcourt provided media with an example of the rifles capabilities:

"It was designed for the military," Lefcourt said. "People have said they can use this for hunting, but the damage it will do to an animal is so tremendous, it actually vaporizes the area that it strikes."

To draw a comparison, police officials displayed a .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle and compared it with a Remington .308 rifle and an M4 assault rifle. Lefcourt said the Barrett would be able to accurately strike a target from the top of the Police Department's downtown headquarters, where yesterday's news conference was held, to the state Capitol, a distance of 0.4 miles. (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

The news conference was held to gain public support and consideration from lawmakers. While the State Department of Defense, HPD and SHOPO supported the bill, the overwhelming majority of testifiers who are gun advocates strongly opposed the bill. Links to testimony can be found here.

Bills of interest for MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25TH

Committee on Tourism and Culture, Room 325

HB2625, HD1 RELATING TO THE DESIGNATION OF APRIL 19 AS "HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL DAY". Establishes the third Saturday in April of each year as Hawaiian Monk Seal Day in Hawaii. (Pine)

HB2626 RELATING TO THE DESIGNATION OF THE HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL AS THE STATE MAMMAL OF HAWAII. Designates the Hawaiian Monk Seal as the state mammal. (Pine)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #1, Room 308, 10:00 a.m.

HB2558, HD2 RELATING TO CHILD PROTECTION. Authorizes the Department of Human Services to conduct unannounced visits to inspect a parental home in which a household member was convicted or adjudicated for certain offenses of child abuse or neglect. Establishes a Well Child Follow up Visit Pilot Project. (B. Oshiro)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #2, Room 308, 11:15 a.m.

HB2447, HD1 RELATING TO PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION. Provides permanent access to psychotropic medications by Medicaid recipients. (Mizuno)

HB2766, HD1 RELATING TO ELECTRONIC MONITORING. Allows the courts to require electronic monitoring of persons convicted of violating a domestic abuse temporary restraining order or protective order. Appropriates funds for offenders who cannot afford to pay for costs associated with the monitoring device. (Lee)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #3, Room 308, 12:30 p.m.

HB2668, HD1 RELATING TO HOUSING. Requires public housing projects and affordable housing funded by county or state funds and housing administered or held by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to remain affordable in perpetuity. (Say)

HB2735 HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC HOUSING. Appropriates funds for the contract hiring of at least three full-time security guards, police officer, or public safety officer with police powers at Mayor Wright Homes public housing complex. (Rhoads)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #4, Room 308, 1:45 p.m.

HB1993 RELATING TO HEALTH. Appropriates funds to provide care for uninsured Hawaii residents. (Green)

HB2888, HD1 RELATING TO MEDICAL SERVICES. Appropriates various amounts for: 1)24-hour ambulance service for Haiku, Maui and Molokai; 2)mobile medical van for South Kona, Kau and upper Puna, Hawaii; 3)Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center; 4)outpatient urgent and extended emergency care in West Maui; emergency power systems for Queen's Medical Center; family practice residency program at Kona community hospital. (Herkes)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #5, Room 308, 2:45 p.m.

HB2076 RELATING TO DEPLETED URANIUM. Requires the Department of Health to establish air sampling stations to monitor for levels of depleted uranium. (Evans)

HB1996, HD1 RELATING TO HEALTH CARE. Establishes Health Enterprise Zones in the state to provide incentive for health care providers to serve in health professional shortage areas of the state. (Green)

HB2151, HD1 RELATING TO CAPTIVE INSURANCE. Forms a captive insurance company to provide medical malpractice insurance to self-employed medical doctors. (Evans)

Committee on Finance, Agenda #6, Room 308, 4:00 p.m.

HB2330, HD2 RELATING TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES. Requires the Department of Transportation to adopt rules for the registration of electric vehicles, as needed. Requires counties to issue special license plates for electric vehicles. Waives parking fees and high occupancy vehicle restrictions for electric vehicles. Waives vehicle registration fees and taxes for neighborhood electric vehicles. (Waters)

HB3211, HD1 RELATING TO CLOTHESLINES. Allows for the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single-family residential dwelling or townhouse. (Morita)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grant-in-aid applications now online

Need something to read over the weekend? Grant-in-aid applications submitted for 2008 are now available for viewing online on the legislative website The public may access these files by clicking on "Grant-in-Aid Information" located on the left hand side of the main capitol website page. A directory of received GIA applications and a list of all applications are provided on the bottom of the Grant-in-Aid Information page.

Shortly, you will also be able to send comments on the GIA applications to lawmakers via a special email account.

In honor of the late Rep. Robert C. Oshiro

Governor Lingle has issued an order that all state and county flags will fly at half-staff on Monday, from sunrise to sunset, in honor of the late Rep. Robert C. Oshiro. Bob Oshiro passed away on February 12. He served in the House of Representatives from 1959 to 1970 and represented the district of Wahiawa, Waialua and Kawailoa. His son, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, represents the district today.

Photo: Honolulu Advertiser. Deputy Sheriff B. Sato lowers the Hawaiian flag to half staff at the State Capitol.

Sustainable Saunders

Photo: The Sustainable Saunders Team, KaLeo

Think your electricity bill is high? Every month, the University of Hawaii pays $1.5 million for electricity, and there is a group of students who get that part of their tuition is going towards paying that bill. Sustainable Saunders is the name of a group of University of Hawaii students dedicated to campus sustainability. The UH has selected Saunders Hall as a pilot project to convert the building into a sustainable model, measure the results, and roll out other sustainable projects on campus into the future.

The Sustainable Saunders team testified before the House Finance Committee last evening. They were testifying on HB2166 which appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii to help finance the conversion of Saunders Hall as a community model of sustainability and energy conservation.

Saunders Hall is a 7-story concrete building that houses 12 academic departments, research units, classrooms and staff offices. The building uses approximately 2.4 million kilowatt hours annually which results in a charge of $384,000. The electricity expense is only expected to go higher. The group obtained a preliminary energy efficient audit. According to the audit recommendations, if the University installed various conservation and renewable energy measures, at the cost of $1,024,000, the energy load at Saunders would be reduced by 39%, and the renovation would pay for itself in 6 and 1/2 years.

Photo: Shanah Trevenna of Sustainable Saunders, Ka Leo

The bill passed out of Finance with amendments. To find out more about Sustainable Saunders, here's the link to their website.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Battle of the lights

A measure (HB2504 HD1) that would ban the use of certain lighting products with lead and high mercury content, establish a lumens-based standard for general purpose bulbs and make the Department of Health develop a statewide program to recycle all fluorescent lamps was deferred yesterday in a Finance Committee hearing.

The DOH and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism had budget concerns as the cost of implementing the bill was not included in the executive supplemental budget proposal.

The Sierra Club of Hawaii testified that a lighting standard is necessary because consumers are usually more focused on the initial cost of the bulb instead of later lucrative and environmental benefits

A representative gave the committee a light show, displaying an incandescent, a compact fluorescent (CFL) and a LED light bulb. Although CFL and LED light bulbs are significantly more expensive, residents would save three times what they spend on electricity with an old school bulb every hour the bulb is used.

Here's a graph from the Sierra Club written testimony :

What do testifiers want?

Include measure into HRS 196. The Senate has already done so.

In 2014, Hawaii should increase standards, a standard greater than 60 lumens per watt.
Photo from, Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED Light Bulb Challenge

You did it, now clean it up

When your teenager's bedroom becomes a safety hazard with 5-month-old used socks and rain-soaked tennis shoes polluting the hallways, do you clean it up for them? If you're the parents I've always wished for then maybe yes, but I'm guessing that you hollered your child's name and said, "JOHN JACOB JINGLEHEIMER SMITH, you made this mess, now get over here and clean it up!"

That's what a measure creating a state program to monitor and recycle used e-waste such as TVs and computers (HB2509) shouted to Hawaii lawmakers yesterday in a Finance Committee hearing.

Unfortunately convincing a teenager to clean his/her room with a "you did it, now clean it up" logic doesn't work so easily when asking the legislature for increased funding and staffing of the Department of Health, the agency that would administer the program and monitor the manufacturers, and implementing high-cost fees to local businesses.

The committee deferred the bill.

Don't want to read through all the testimony? Check out the highlights:

  • Tax Foundation of Hawaii opposed the bill because of the high costs to business (Annual registration fee = $5,000). Prices of goods will most likely rise and/or manufacturers just won't do business in Hawaii.

  • DOH opposed the bill because of lack of funds and difficult implementation schedule.

  • The City & County of Honolulu Dept. of Environmental Services supports the bill because when local stations begin transmitting digital signals in High Definition next year, the need for recycling will take off as many households are expected to dump old televisions and buy new digital television.

What do testifiers want changed?

  • The Honolulu Power Plant does not want to be held liable if wasted products get into waste stream because they can't sift through trucks of waste for electronics. "Monitoring is not something that they really do," said Chris Pablo, a representative of H-Power. (The Senate has already amended their version of the bill to reflect H-Power's concerns.)

  • There needs to be a bifurcated approach to recycling TV and computer products because they are different in so many ways: households may have a television for 20 years, while consumers upgrade their computers more frequently to keep up with increased technology. Computer parts have a higher resale value than television parts.

  • Because of the disparity between television and computer products, the program can only work fairly if manufacturers are held accountable at the beginning of the process, not the end.

    Toll roads would eliminate need to raise fuel taxes

    By Rep. Rida Cabanilla

    Tom Skancke, one of the 12 commissioners appointed to serve on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, was in town recently and was a guest on my weekly Olelo television show. The show will air on Sundays, 7:00 p.m., Channel 54, during the entire month of March. See more information here.

    Mr. Skancke is from Las Vegas, Nevada and was appointed by US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the Commission by an Act of Congress in 2005. This Commission was created to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st century.

    Commission members collectively represent federal, state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation-related industries, and public interest organizations. The Commission held ten field hearings around the country to learn about regional issues and dynamics that affect America's transportation system.

    The Commission released its Final Report entitled, "Transportation for Tomorrow" to Congress on Tuesday, January 15, 2008. A recommendation was made by the Commission to raise the federal fuel tax 300% by the year 2018- starting off with a 40 cent raise per gallon over the current 18.4 cents we pay now. If the State of Hawaii would pass my bill HB70 HD3 to permit tolling for the construction of new roads, then raising fuel taxes for transportation would not be necessary. US Secretary of Transportation, Ms. Mary Peters agrees with my position:

    "Raising gas taxes won't improve traffic congestion, it will only perpetuate our ineffective reliance on fossil-based fuels to fund infrastructure and send more of American's hard earned money to Washington to be squandered on earmarks and special interest programs" stated Secretary Peters in a press release on January 15, 2008 regarding the Commission's Final Report. The Chair's statement went on to state that there are billions of dollars in private capital available to transportation officials that could easily be tapped to finance new projects instead of raising taxes.


    With all due respect to the Coach, we need to correct a statement made by Larry Price in his column in the current MidWeek edition. He states: "The legislative process for 2008 has just passed the first crossover point. Crossover is when the House and Senate exchange bills as they move forward through the process." Actually, the legislature has not yet reached the First Crossover deadline, which is on March 6th. We're guessing that he meant First Lateral.

    Bills of interest for FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22ND

    Friday is Day 2 of the mandatory 5-day recess. Committee on Finance has 6 agendas on this day.

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #2, Room 308, 10:45 a.m.

    HB2437 RELATING TO TRAFFIC. Requires the Department of Transportation to recommend improvements to traffic in Central Oahu corridor. Requires studying regional connectivity and travel time mitigation and reviewing past traffic flow studies in Central Oahu, including any proposals to extend contra-flow lanes to Mililani. (Yamane)

    HB3377 RELATING TO HIGHWAY SAFETY. Requires installation of ignition interlock device on the vehicle of a person arrested for driving under the influence that prevents the person from starting or operating a motor vehicle with more than a minimal alcohol concentration while their case is pending and while their license is revoked pursuant to chapter 291E, HRS. (Har)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #3, Room 308, 12:00 p.m.

    HB2145, HD1 RELATING TO UNCLAIMED PROPERTY. Allow individuals attempting to claim certain unclaimed property from the State to assert ownership through a notarized affidavit signed under penalty of perjury. (B. Oshiro)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #4, Room 308, 1:00 p.m.

    HB2302, HD1 RELATING TO REAL PROPERTY. Permits the registrar of the Bureau of Conveyances to accept electronic documents with electronic signatures for recording. (Caldwell)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #6, Room 308, 3:30 p.m.

    HB2823, HD2 RELATING TO DAM SAFETY. Establishes limitations on liability for damages for owners and operators of dams and reservoirs. (Karamatsu)

    HB3016, HD2 RELATING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT. Authorizes Department of Land and Natural Resources Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers to use electric guns while performing their duties upon the receipt of accreditation or recognition. (Carroll)

    HB2756 RELATING TO THE HOSPITAL LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM. Establishes a hospital loan guarantee program to guarantee a portion of a loan by a private financial institution to a hospital that is experiencing short-term financial problems. (Cabanilla)

    HB2757, HD1 RELATING TO HOSPITALS. Establishes a hospital capital loan program under Department of Health. Requires loan to a private hospital in the state with an annual patient population of sixty per cent or more of uninsured, Medicaid and medicare patients. (Cabanilla)

    Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 3:00 p.m.

    Informational Briefing – To discuss the current practice of DNA collection of convicted felons and the feasibility and practicality of extending the procedure to persons arrested for felony offenses. The following will present information: Congressman Neil Abercrombie; Attorney General Mark Bennett; Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle; Public Defender Jack Tonaki, Deputy Public Defender Timothy Ho, and Deputy Public Defender Susan Arnett; ACLU Staff Attorneys Dan Gluck and Laurie Temple; HPD representative.

    Resolution urging super-Ds to reflect voters available online

     You can find the resolution urging superdelegates to reflect the votes of a record 37,426 voters to the caucuses on Tuesday online at the Hawaii State Legislature's website. They are HR69 and HCR85.

    Rep. Tom Brower, D-23rd (Waikïkï, Ala Moana, Kakaako), introduced and filed the resolution yesterday with 35 signatures from House colleagues.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Bills of interest for Thursday, February 21st

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #1, Room 308, 10:00 a.m.

    HB2661, HD1 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds for $38 million to assist Hui Mana Oma'o to establish facilities to convert potential renewable energy resources into electrical energy for public consumption. (Say)

    HB2401, HD1 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to assist Oceanlinx Hawaii LLC. For planning, designing and constructing a hydrokinetic power facility on Maui. (McKelvey)

    HB2825 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds for $35 million to assist Sopogy, Inc. with planning, designing, construction, equipping and operating a solar farm power plant on the island of Oahu to produce electricity from solar power. (Karamatsu)

    HB2168 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to H2 Technologies, Inc. for construction of Hydrogen Generator Appliance Laboratory and hydrogen generation and conversion facilities. (Morita)

    HB2271 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to assist Castle Medical Center. (Chong)

    HB2547 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to assist Maui Preparatory Academy. (McKelvey)

    HB2614 Special Purpose Revenue Bonds of up to $30 million for planning and construction of educational facilities by Island Pacific Academy. (Har)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #2, Room 308, 10:30 a.m.

    HB2292 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE. Enables the agribusiness development corporation to contract with banks to provide lease management services. Allows corporation to lease agricultural lands for up to 55 years. Authorizes the corporation to purchase agricultural lands owned by the Galbraith Estate. Makes an appropriation to acquire Galbraith Estate Lands. (M. Oshiro)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #3, Room 308, 11:30 a.m.

    HB2977, HD1 RELATING TO INVASIVE SPECIES. Requires the Hawaii invasive species council, in the coqui frog eradication plan to give priority to eradicating coqui frogs that are on state or county land and within one mile of residential areas. (Chang)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #8, Room 308, 5:00 p.m.

    HB2166 RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII. Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii to finance energy conservation and renewable energy measures to make Saunders Hall at the University of Hawaii a campus and community model of sustainability and energy conservation. (Chang)

    HB2431, HD1 RELATING TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII. Exempts board of regents of the University of Hawaii from Hawaii public procurement code requirements. (Chang)

    HB2978 RELATING TO EDUCATION. Establishes the funding formula task force to develop an equitable, consistent, and responsible funding formula for the distribution of fiscal resources throughout the UH system, with the assistance of an independent consultant. (Chang)

    Committee on Consumer Protections & Commerce/Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 2:00 p.m.

    HB2736 RELATING TO THE SMALL BUSINESS BILL OF RIGHTS. Establishes the Small Business Bill of Rights. Requires the Ombudsman to investigate complaints of violations of the Small Business Bill of Rights. (Yamashita)

    Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 2:45 p.m.

    HB2553, HD1 RELATING TO PAWNBROKERS AND SECONDHAND DEALERS. Changes the method used to record the daily transactions of pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers, from a manual system to an electronic system. (Sagum)

    HB2391 RELATING TO LEGAL SERVICE. Permits a deputy attorney general, except for the attorney general's first deputy, to provide pro bono legal service if the pro bono legal service does not conflict with the duties of the deputy's office. (Waters)

    HB2476 RELATING TO CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. Repeals existing prohibition against dog fighting and enacts more comprehensive prohibition of dog fighting and related conduct. Provides enhanced penalties. (Mizuno)

    Meeting on Moloka'i to talk wetland preservation tactics

    Moloka'i residents and community members concerned about the protection and preservation of Hawaii wetlands should plan on attending a community meeting Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 to discuss possible advocacies and legislation with Rep. Mele Carroll, District 13, and Randy Awo, Maui Branch chief of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. The meeting will be hosted by Malama Pono O Ka 'Aina, a non-profit organization, and will be held in East Moloka'i at the Kilohana Recreation Center at 10:30 a.m.

    Carroll and Awo will visit the wetlands prior to the meetings. Hawaii wetlands traditionally played an important part in the health of the whole ahupua'a, an ancient Hawaiian land division system, and were important to food gathering, fishing and the cultivation of kalo.

    For more information please call Linda Place, Director of Malama Pono O Ka'Aina, at (808)558-8182 or Rep. Mele Carroll's office at 1-800-468-4644 and (808) 586-6790.

    Media: News Release

    Photo from, a Moloka'i Fishpond.

    House to hold public hearing on OHA Public Trust lands bill

    The House of Representatives will hold a public hearing on House Bill 266, HD1 RELATING TO HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS. The bill will be heard jointly by the committees on Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs; Judiciary; and Finance.

    The bill proposes to convey certain parcels of real property and transfers cash to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as part of the State's obligation to native Hawaiians under Article XII, sections 4 and 6, of the Hawaii Constitution.

    WHEN: Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 9:00 a.m.

    WHERE: State Capitol Auditorium

    HOW TO TESTIFY: Persons wishing to offer comments should submit testimony at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Testimony may be submitted in one of the following ways.

    By Paper: Submit one (1) original to Room 420 at the State Capitol.
    By Fax: For comments less than 5 pages in length, fax to 586-8474 from Oahu, or 1-800-535-3859 from Neighbor Islands.
    By Email: For comments less than 5 pages in length, email to:
    For those who plan to testify in person.
    For those who do NOT plan to testify in person (insertion into official record only.

    Registration numbers, which indicate one's place on the testifier list and speaking order, will be issued to all individuals who submit comments and plan to testify in person. There will be House Information Desks at the entrance of the Auditorium for assistance and information. Please note that testimony submitted will be placed on the Legislature's website after the hearing adjourns. This public posting of testimony should be considered when including any personal information in one's testimony.


    Happy Birthday, Rep. Karen Awana

    We want to wish Rep. Karen Awana, representing District 44 - Nanakuli, Honokai Hale and Lualualei, the newest member of the House Majority, a very happy birthday today.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Lawmakers hold community meetings on Big Island


    In a joint effort to address concerns of Big Island residents, State Senate and House lawmakers will hold community meetings in Laupahoehoe, Honoka'a, Waimea, North Kohala, Waikoloa and Kealakekua. Additional meetings will be held on March 15, 2008.

    Big Island legislators want individuals to provide comments and suggestions on issues of concern and any bills that are of personal interest. Legislators will highlight bills that have crossed over and are still going through the legislative process.


    Rep. Robert N. Herkes, D-5th (Puna, Ka'u, S. Kona), Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-3rd (S. Hilo, Panaewa, Kea'au, Kurtistown), Rep. Josh Green, D-6th (Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau), Rep. Cindy Evans, D-7th (N. Kona, S. Kohala), Rep. Dwight Y. Takamine, D-1st (N. Kohala, Hamakua, N. Hilo), Rep. Faye P. HanoHano, D-4th (Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana), Sen. Russell S. Kokubun (Ka'u, Puna, S. Hilo), Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye (Hilo, Honoka'a, Laupahoehoe, Hamakua, Keaukaha, Waimea)


    Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008

    8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Laupahoehoe-Laupahoehoe High School Band Room
    9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Honoka'a-North Hawaii Education & Research Center
    11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Waimea-North Hawaii Comm. Hospital Conference Room
    1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. North Kohala-Kohala Intergenerational Center
    3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Waikoloa-Waikoloa Village Golf Course Comm. Center
    5:00 p.m.-6:00 pm. Kealakekua-Kona Hospital Conference Room 2

    Lawmakers Want Superdelegates' Votes to Reflect People's Choice

    Rep. Tom Brower, D-23rd (Waikïkï, Ala Moana, Kakaako), introduced will introduce and filed file a resolution today Wednesday, Feb. 20 that urges Hawaii's superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention to reflect the distribution of presidential candidate votes at the Democratic Party's caucus today.

    Thirty-two of 44 House Democrats have already signed the resolution stating that the nominating process should be a democratic one that reflects the will of the people. More signatures are expected.

    "The purpose of the resolution is to incite public debate on how parties choose presidential candidates," Brower said. "We must ensure that the system is responsive to the average citizen."

    Superdelegates, who are free to support any candidate for nomination, would have the deciding hand in nominating the democratic presidential candidate if no candidate wins a majority of votes from delegates in the caucuses.

    If the resolution is heard on the session floor, it could be amended to include the Republican Caucus nomination results as well.

    "Superdelegates' votes must reflect the delegate's opinion, not replace it." Brower said. "It would be detrimental to voter confidence should the superdelegates not reflect the people's will, regardless of party affiliation."

    **UPDATE: Rep. Tom Brower will introduce and file the resolution Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008.

    Bills of interest for WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20TH

    Committee on Health, Room 329, 8:00 a.m.

    Informational Briefing – Effects of heavy metals in soil and dust, especially pertaining to the operations of the PVT Landfill site on the Island of Hawaii. Department of Health, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, invited to attend.

    Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs, Room 325, 9:00 a.m.

    HB2502, HD1 RELATING TO SOLAR ENERGY. Makes solar energy facilities a permitted use in the agricultural district on class D or E land. (Morita) (Joint Majority)

    HB2503 RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL LANDS. Permits the use of lands in agricultural land use districts to be used for agricultural-energy facilities provided that the primary activity of the agricultural-energy enterprise in agricultural activity. (Morita) (Joint Majority)

    HB2522 RELATING TO THE LAND USE COMMISSION. Allows county land use decision-making authority to reclassify lands not more than fifty acres. Allow for the consolidation of the boundary amendment process with county proceedings to amend land use maps contained in county plans. (Har) (House Majority)

    Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, Room 325, 2:00 p.m.

    HB2224 RELATING TO INSURANCE. Requires insurers that offer health care coverage to the regular employees of any group or association to offer the same coverage to part-time employees working at least 15 hours per week. (Say)

    HB2449, HD1 PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM CERTAIN TOXIC PRODUCTS. Prohibits the manufacture, sale and distribution of products for young children that contain bisphenol-A or phthalates. Requires manufacturers to choose safe alternatives. (Mizuno)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #3, Room 308, 3:30 p.m.

    HB2519, HD2 RELATING TO HEALTHCARE. Establishes the Hawaii Health Corps that will provide loan repayment and stipends for physicians and dentists who agree to work in health professional shortage areas and as first responders during devil defense and other emergencies. Expands the enterprise Zone Business Tax Credit, general excise tax exemption, and other business incentives to include physicians and dentists who establish or maintain practices in areas designated as enterprise zones. (Green) (House Majority)

    HB2521, HD1 RELATING TO EDUCATION. Requires 1 percent of general revenues accrued from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2014, to be deposited into the newly created University of Hawaii Repair and Maintenance Special Account for the repair and maintenance of UH facilities. (Chang) (House Majority)

    Committee on Finance, Agenda #4, Room 308, 4:30 p.m.

    HB2504, HD1 RELATING TO LIGHTING. Phases out and bans the use of certain lighting products with lead and high mercury content; establishes a statewide lighting efficiency standard for general purpose lights; directs the Department of Health to develop a statewide recycling program for recycling all fluorescent lamps. (Morita) (Joint Majority)

    HB2510, HD1 RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT. Provides appropriation to the Legislative Reference Bureau to contract with the UH for a study to modernize Hawaii's EIS process. (Morita) (Joint Majority)

    Rep. Kirk Caldwell on the Hot Seat

    The Advertiser's Hot Seat, that is. Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell was on the Hot Seat today from noon to 1 p.m. Here's the link. Excerpts will appear in the Sunday newspaper.

    Maui and Moloka'i may get more ambulance service

    Two bills (HB 2382 and HB 2789), introduced by Rep. Mele Carroll, to fund increased ambulance service in Haiku, Maui and Moloka'i have been combined with several other health measures that seek appropriation and will be heard in Finance as HB 2888 HD1.

    Haiku lacks its own ambulance station and must rely on emergency care from towns nearly 90 minutes away, and Moloka'i needs staff to support a second ambulance station.

    Read news release here.

    UPDATE (3/6/08): HB 2888 HD2 passed out of the House and moved to the Senate for further consideration.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Bills of interest for TUESDAY, FEB. 19TH

    Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 3:30 p.m.

    HB1984 RELATING TO PUBLIC HOUSING. Prohibits the consumption of any liquor on any public sidewalk or common area with a public housing project. (Rhoads)

    HB1985 RELATING TO PUBLIC HOUSING. Amends criminal trespass in the first degree to include a person who enters or remains unlawfully in or upon the premises of a public housing project after reasonable request or warning to leave by housing authorities or a police officer. (Rhoads)

    HB2334 RELATING TO CRIME. Establishes mandatory minimum prison terms for certain offenses against pregnant women. (Waters)

    Rep. Awana sponsors free workshop on Legislative Process

    State Rep. Karen Awana is sponsoring a free workshop called "Understanding the Legislative Process", Thursday, February 21, 2008, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. It's out in Nanakuli, to be held at Nanakuli Elementary School, 89-778 Haleakala Avenue. Everyone is invited, not just Waianae Coast residents. Representatives from the Legislative Reference Bureau will be there to provide information and training. For more information, contact Rep. Awana's office at 808-586-8465.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli

    Rep. Blake Oshiro sponsored a fundraiser in the Capitol that raised a whopping $683.50 by selling See's Assorted Lollipops for $1 each and delivering them to legislators and staff in the building on Valentine's Day.

    "Thank you to all who participated in this years "Warm and Fuzzy" event. We truly appreciate everyone's support in donating to the Hawaii FoodBank," Rep. Oshiro said.

    The Legislature is currently fundraising for the Hawaii FoodBank. Rep. Oshiro's lollipop campaign is only one of many fundraising drives that will be going in the Capitol.

    Rep. Karen Awana's office is selling Li Hing Mui flavored candies for $1 to benefit the Hawaii FoodBank. Stop by her office in Room 319 to get your fill of Hawaii's favorite snack! You know y'Awana.

    Day 21 First Lateral - What Falls Away

    Today, House members voted on bills that successfully made it through the First Lateral deadline. These are bills that originated in the House, and have reached their final committee destination before they either die or cross over to the Senate. For example, if a bill was referred to three committees: Health, Judiciary, and Finance, the bill must have made it to the last committee, Finance, or else it is dead.

    A great majority of proposals are still alive, either in its original bill or consolidated into another bill. At this first major deadline, the question is more likely to be - what didn't make it? What falls away to reveal a sharper focus on the House's priorities?

    In the House Majority Package, all bills are still alive. In the Joint House/Senate Majority Package, however, there have already been casualties. They are:

    HB2508, relating to the deposit beverage container program, that requires retail dealers of more than 75,000 square feet to operate redemption centers. The Senate companion, however, is still alive.

    Here are some other House bills of interest that did not make the lateral deadline:

    HB2495, which bans the use of polystyrene foam containers by food retailers.

    HB2177, which requires to distribute only recyclable checkout bags.

    HB2303, which transfers the Bureau of Conveyances from the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

    HB2305, which probits smoking on public beaches.

    HB2344, constitutional amendment which raises the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 72.

    HB2411, which give psychologists prescriptive authority if they are practicing at a federally qualified health center.

    HB2416, which establishes a statewide agricultural cooperative.

    HB2678, establishes a secure growing facility for medical marijuana, for not more than 14 qualified patients.

    HB2680, banning the use of aspartame.

    The next major deadline is two weeks from today. That's First Decking on February 29th.

    Have a question on the status of a bill or issue? Go to the Legislative website here, or ask us a question and we'll do our best to answer.

    Cost a problem for GPS tracking of TRO violators

    Money was the biggest issue in a hearing yesterday discussing the future of HB2766, a measure that would allow courts to require electronic monitoring of offenders convicted of violating a domestic abuse temporary restraining order. The measure would also appropriate funds for offenders who cannot afford to pay for costs associated with the monitoring device.

    A representative from the Public Defenders Office argued that many TRO violators wouldn't be able to afford the $5 cost of the electronic monitoring device. He said that most domestic disputes stem from money issues and that adding additional costs would exacerbate the situation, possibly putting the victim in more danger. The offender will blame the victim, he said. They are already upset about mandatory jail time and will become angrier about paying higher fees.

    The Hawaii State Coalition Against Drunk Driving Domestic Violence begged to differ, disagreeing with the testimony that violators can't afford $5 a day and refuting the claim that money is a cause of domestic violence. A representative from the non-profit organization said that money is not the source of domestic violence problems; the need to guard all the power and control in a relationship is. Anyone can be an abuser, not only the indigent. They can be the wealthy businessperson walking down Bishop St., the physician you saw last week or the fastfood worker who took your order this afternoon.

    Although the bill was passed out of Judiciary, Rep. Tommy Waters mentioned that funding will most likely be a problem. The state may not be able to afford the appropriation of funds to pay for electronic devices for indigent persons. Rep. Waters recommended passing the bill on to Finance for further discussion. Rep. Cindy Evans (D), Rep. Joseph Souki (D), Rep. Kymberly Pine (R) voted yes with reservations.
    Photo from BBC News.

    ERROR: Thank you to MADD for noticing a mistake in the post. The Hawaii State Coalition Against Drunk Driving (did i really write that!?) didn't give testimony because no such coalition exists; the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence gave testimony on the issue.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    House committees aglow for Depleted Uranium bill

    Three House committees voted jointly today to advance a bill that would require the Department of Health to monitor air samples in areas adjacent or down wind of military facilities where depleted uranium munitions have been used. HB2076 names Makua Training Area and Schofield Barracks on Oahu, and Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island. The United States Army has recently collected data and completed a study which will be available by late March or early April, according to testimony given at today's hearing.

    The bill, however, focuses on the Department of Health's responsibility to protect the public's health from radiation and contaminated dust. The bill requires the DOH to set up air sampling stations to collect data and to work with the John A. Burns School of Medicine and branches of the U.S. armed services to develop rules and standards. The three joint committees were Public Safety & Military Affairs, Health, and Energy & Environmental Protection. The bill will pass on to the Finance Committee. The Department of Health and the Department of Defense supported the intent of the bill, but were concerned about the cost of the stations. All other testimonies were in support or strong support. Rep. Cindy Evans introduced the bill.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Nearly 300 supporters of an Uganda resolution to sleep at Capitol

    Imagine walking from Ewa Beach to Pearl City. Now before you go, remove your socks and shoes, and leave behind your Ipod and water bottle. Pretend that there aren't any urban structures from point A to point B, only brush and dirt roads. Okay, now imagine partaking in this trek at age 13 while militia hunted you down, eager to chop off an ear - or two - , force you into sexual slavery, or arm you with machine guns and prepare you to kill.

    There are those who don't need to imagine it. There are those who've lived it.

    They're called "night commuters," and they're the children who have been most affected by the humanitarian disaster in northern Uganda.

    Students and supporters from across the state want everyone to be aware of the atrocities against the children and families in northern Uganda, and they hope to cause a stir of progressive action and awareness at the State Capitol, Friday, Feb. 15, 2008.

    Rep. Mizuno will host a candle light vigil, silent march and sleep over in the Rotunda. He will be joined by more than 250 participants who are in support of a bill that will prohibit the ERS from acquiring securities of companies that have active business operations with Uganda.

    Participants hope to make lawmakers aware of the situation and encourage them to pass a resolution, introduced by Rep. John Mizuno, condemning the genocide and violence in northern Uganda and urging congress and the President to engage the international community to take action to protect the children of northern Uganda.

    Invisible Children Hawaii encourages everyone to join them that evening to raise awareness about the children of northern Uganda.

    6:00 p.m. Check-in
    6:15 p.m. Introduction and Welcome from the Legislature
    6:45 p.m. Candle Light Vigil, Silent March
    7:15 p.m. Booth opening
    7:30 p.m. Entertainment
    8:30 p.m. Student's personal stories
    9:00 p.m. Uganda history presentation
    9:30 p.m. Invisible Children documentaries
    12:30 a.m. "Quiet Time"

    Over 20 years of battle between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GOA) has displaced over 1.8 million of its citizens - over 80% of the region - into scurvy camps that lack sufficient protection from the LRA and appropriate resources for survival.

    More than 40, 000 children have walked up to 12 miles from internal displacement camps to nearby towns to avoid getting kidnapped by the LRA and forced into battle or, in the case of girls, made sex slaves.

    Legislature 2008 - Day 19 Highlights

    This morning, the Health Committee voted to defer HB2680, the measure banning aspartame. Chair Green stated that he was not convinced by the testimony that there is a direct link between the artificial sweetener and medical ailments or death. Instead, he will introduce a resolution requesting the Department of Health to form a work group, including representatives who oppose aspartame, to study the issue and get back to the legislature with their findings and recommendations.

    The Health Committee voted to pass the medical marijuana bill, HB2675, as amended in a House Draft 1. The bill advances to the joint Public Safety & Military Affairs/Judiciary committees.

    The Transportation Committee passed a bill, HB2860 HD1, which exempts from the general excise and use taxes, fuel sold from a foreign trade zone for intrastate air transportation by common carriers.

    The Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs committee passed out HB3260 as an HD1. This bill establishes a fishing bag limit for uhu and goatfish. The limit proposes is no more than two kumu, two moano ukali, two munu, and two uhu per person, per day, for recreational, subsistence, or commercial purposes.

    The joint Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs/Agriculture committees passed out three Important Agricultural Lands bills, all with amendments. HB2807 provides incentives to landowners who designate their land as important agricultural lands, HB2357 establishes new policies for the districting and protection of land in agricultural districts designated as IAL, and HB2361 defines agricultural lands and designates ag lands as IAL.

    In the noon hour floor session, the House stood for a moment of silence to remember Robert C. Oshiro, father of Representative Marcus Oshiro, who passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 12th from a sudden aortic aneurysm.

    This afternoon, the Consumer Protection and Commerce committee advanced a medical liability bill, HB1992, HD1 with amendments. The HD2 includes changes to limit the bill to neighbor islands only, and to cap non-economic damages at $250,000 for low risk practices, and at $500,000 for high-risk practices (surgical practices). The bill, HB2001 HD1 to permit remote dispensing pharmacies was also passed out of committee with amendments.

    Women's Caucus annual easter basket project update

    Who: Benefits clients of the Institute for Human Services

    What: Easter baskets or plastic boxes (preferred by IHS) suitable for storing items under a bed. Suggestions to fill your basket/box include: personal hygiene items, toiletries, small nonperishable snacks, razor blades, new socks (all sizes), new underwear (men, women and children's sizes), hand sanitizer and detergent (clothes washing facilities are available at IHS but detergent isn't furnished)

    When: IHS will pick up the completed baskets/boxes on
    March 20, 2008.

    Where: Chamber level turnaround level of the State Capitol.

    Questions? Call Rep. Marilyn Lee's office at 586-9460.

    Bills of interest for THURSDAY, FEB. 14TH

    Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs, Room 309, 9:15 a.m.

    HB2664 RELATING TO DISASTER RELIEF. Clarifies the use of the governor's emergency powers. (Say)

    Committee on Economic Development & Business Concerns, Room 325, 10:00 a.m.

    HB2434 HD1 RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. Requires certain retailers in the state to implement an at-store plastic carryout bag recycling program. (Berg)

    Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs/Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources & Hawaiian Affairs, Room 309, 10:55 a.m.

    HB2543 MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR A SHOOTING RANGE IN WEST HAWAII ON THE ISLAND OF HAWAII. Appropriates funds to plan, design, and construct a shooting range in West Hawaii on the island of Hawaii. (Evans)

    Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs/Committee on Health/Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, Room 309, 11:00 a.m.

    HB2076 RELATING TO DEPLETED URANIUM. Requires the Department of Health to establish air sampling stations to monitor for levels of depleted uranium. (Evans)

    Committee on Judiciary, Room 325, 2:40 p.m.

    HB2766 HD1 RELATING TO ELECTRONIC MONITORING. Allows the courts to require electronic monitoring of persons convicted of violating a domestic abuse temporary restraining order or protective order. (Lee)

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    House Honors Bert A. Kobayashi

    L to R: Rep. Kirk Caldwell, Susan Kobayashi, Bert A. Kobayashi, Rep. Ken Ito

    Today, the House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Bert A. Kobayashi, one of Hawaii's most successful developers. Rep. Ken Ito, who went to high school with Mr. Kobayashi, said a few words as a tribute to his friend:

    "Mr. Speaker, we have all heard the story of Horatio Alger, who went from rags to riches.

    Today we honor a gentleman who embodies the spirit of Horatio Alger, and his name is Bert Kobayashi.

    Bert came from humble beginnings, and through hard work and dedication to Hawaii, he rose to become one of the most successful business people in our community.

    What makes Bert so special, however, is that no matter how successful he became, he has never forgotten his Kalihi roots.

    Mr. Speaker, I want to take us back to the year 1962 when Bert was barely out of high school. Bert's father, Albert C. Kobayashi, became very ill, and the responsibility for running the company fell upon Bert's young shoulders.

    Since that time, Bert has run the company, building a reputation for getting the job done, on schedule, and on budget. During his tenure as the Chairman and CEO, business revenues grew from $2 million-a-year to $125 million-a-year.

    I believe that the reason for his success lies in his desire to give back to Hawaii. Bert's heart has always been in building affordable housing to ensure that the local people, especially the young people, can live and work in Hawaii. Bert is credited with building hundreds of affordable homes in West Loch, Kapolei and on Maui.

    Throughout government and business, many people know Bert as one of Hawaii's most successful builders, but because he is so humble, most people don't know how much time and energy he devotes to community service.

    Over the years, Bert has served on the boards of the Japan-America society of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii foundation, the Kapiolani Health Care Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, among others.

    All are important, but Bert seems to have a special place in his heart for the Polynesian Voyaging Society. As the board member in charge of fundraising, Bert was instrumental in rallying the general and business communities to embrace, support and ultimately strengthen the society. As we all know, without funds, good programs die. Bert did not let that happen, and to this day, Bert can always be called upon whenever the Polynesian Voyaging Society needs help.

    Bert has also served on the Board of Regents for the University of Hawaii and for Georgetown University. He has won many awards, including Georgetown's Patrick Healy award in 1994, the Pacific Business News' Business leader of the year award in 2002, and Bishop Museum's Charles Reed Bishop medal in 2004.

    Mr. Speaker, I've known Bert Kobayashi for a very long time, in fact, I knew him when he was still single. Bert is a brilliant business man and he has worked very hard to become what he is today. But it is also true that behind this great man is a great woman, as the saying goes, and her name is Susan Kobayashi.

    Susan, will you please stand and be recognized.

    Throughout their courtship and marriage, Susan has always been there for Bert. She has guided him, encouraged him, and supported him through all of his endeavors. Most of all, she has provided Bert with the love and understanding of a devoted wife.

    Thank you Susan for all you have done to help Bert throughout his career. I truly don't know what Bert would have done without you, and, together, the two of you have blessed Hawaii with your partnership.

    Mr. Speaker, Bert Kobayashi is the living example of the saying, "it is not how much money you have; it is what you can create in your mind and put on paper."

    Whether in business or community work, Bert wanted to achieve great things for others, but he never sought recognition for himself. He would much rather be known as a hard working, honest person, who came from humble roots in Kalihi. His measure of a success is not fame or fortune, but how much you are able to give back to the community. That is the mark of a great man.

    Thank you Mr. Speaker."