Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Finally—after 7 years, a bill which makes it unlawful to leave a child under 9 unattended in a motor vehicle has passed.
In 2007, media reports show that more than 35 children were known to have died across the nation from injuries sustained by being left alone in a car. These numbers do not include those who were left in a hot car and saved just in time, or those who have suffered but have not died as a result of being left in cars. Far too many children have lost their lives or suffered when it is completely preventable.
This bill will help protect innocent lives by prohibiting operators and adult passengers of motor vehicles from leaving the vehicle with an unattended child under the age of nine inside for more than five minutes, and makes such conduct a violation of the statewide traffic code.
This prohibition provides one more tool with which law enforcement, firefighter, or rescue team personnel may take concrete action in protecting Hawaii's children by allowing personnel to use whatever means necessary to protect and remove endangered, unattended children from the vehicles. Law enforcement, firefighters, or rescue team personnel will be required to immediately report this violation to the police if the guardian of the unattended child cannot be located within a reasonable time.
In addition, there is an educational component, which requires the examiner of drivers to test license applicants for knowledge of this offense. The requirements and penalties of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle shall be printed on a card, which shall be placed in the glove compartment of every rental motor vehicle offered to the public.
I am very happy that the children of our state will now have this measure of protection.
"Considering the small percentage of bills that pass compared to the number introduced, I am proud that the Women's Legislative Caucus has accomplished so much this session," said Caucus Co-chair Marilyn Lee. "The bipartisan work of the Caucus has helped us move forward with our goal of improving the lives of women and children. I am glad I could be a part of that effort. The legislation we sponsored, while focused on women and children, will benefit society as a whole."
The WLC's measures that passed the Legislature include:
HB2770 Expands the Bridge to Hope Program by clarifying that participants be in the First-to-Work Program and allowing participants to be enrolled in vocational education programs.
HB2761 Improves the health and welfare of women between pregnancies by requiring the provision of not less than six months of post-partum and interconception care for female participants of child-bearing age under the QUEST program.
HB2763 Re-establishes the Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force, which ceased to exist on December 31, 2007, for a new term to last until December 31, 2011, to require annual task force reports to the Legislature.
SB2212 Based on recommendations of the Hawaii Anti-Trafficking Task Force. Among the provisions included in the bill are making it a crime of kidnapping in the first degree to intentionally or knowingly restrain another person with the intent to unlawfully obtain the labor or services of the person, regardless of whether a debt collection is involved, and to define "labor" and "services" accordingly and clarifies the elements of the offense of promoting prostitution in the first degree by adding a reference to "force, threat, or intimidation" and deleting "criminal coercion"; and applying the offense to a person who knowingly advances or profits from prostitution of a person who is less than eighteen years old.
SB2218 Requires electronic monitoring of persons convicted of violating a domestic abuse temporary restraining order or protective order.
HB2772 Continues the efforts to address human trafficking by extending the Hawaii Anti-Trafficking Task Force from June 30, 2008, to June 30, 2010.
HCR51 Requests the Department of Health to assess whether to require cervical cancer vaccinations for young women before they enter the seventh grade.
Members of the Women's Legislative Caucus are: Representatives Karen Leinani Awana, Della Au Belatti, Lyla Berg,Ph.D, Rida T. R. Cabanilla, Mele Carroll, Corinne W. L. Ching, Cindy Evans, Lynn Finnegan, Faye P. Hanohano, Sharon Har, Marilyn B. Lee, Sylvia J. Luke, Barbara C. Marumoto, Colleen Rose Meyer, Hermina M. Morita, Kymberly Pine, Maile S. L. Shimabukuro, Cynthia Thielen, and Senators Rosalyn Baker, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Carol Fukunaga, Colleen Hanabusa, Lorraine R. Inouye, Donna Mercado Kim, Jill Tokuda.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Six friendly floor amendments, mainly technical changes, were offered on the following bills:
HB2293 on the Galbraith purchase, HB2872 regarding the leaseholders and permittees at Kokee state park, SB2198 on land conservation tax credits, SB2499 on effective date of taro as the state plant, SB6 clarifying which opihi can and cannot be picked, and SB2262 on VEBA trust sunset extension.
Two bills were recommitted back to conference:
SB2363 on sexual assault against a person who is mentally defective, and HB1832 on campaign signs.
Wednesday is a recess day. The House is back for the last day of the session on Thursday, May 1st at 10:00 a.m. There are 29 bills up for final reading, in addition to the 6 bills that were amended today. Included in the bunch are Turtle Bay acquisition, Ignition Interlocking Device, Pedestrian Safety appropriation, Important Agricultural Lands, Solar Energy Tax Credits, Absentee Voting, Biosecurity for Invasive Species, and more.
Number 5: This budget prioritizes education.
This budget provides 155% more money than the Governor provided for the repair and maintenance of our schools. The Governor included $26 million; while this budget provides $66.4 million.
This budget provides 42% more than the Govenor provided for the repair and maintenance of University of Hawaii facilities. The Govenor provided $50 million while this budget provides $71.2 million.
This budget provides a total of $57.7 million for the charter schools. That's $1.6 million more thanthe Governor provided in her budget and $6.1 million more than they are currently receiving.
Number 4: This budget prioritizes health and human services by providing:
$10 million for adult mental health;
$4.3 million for Emergency Medical Services;
$1.1 million for the Hawaii State Hospital
$5.7 million to draw down $7 million in federal funds for our hospitals that care for the uninsured;
$585,000 to insure that State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage for children is protected from impending federal budget cuts;
$26 million for the completion of the Kukui Gardens purchase, thereby protecting its tenants from becoming homeless;
$3.8 million for homeless services for Bldg. 36 in Kalaeloa, Kahikolu in Waianae, and other existing services;
$15 million in general obligation bonds to the Rental Housing Trust Fund; and
$10 million in general obligation bonds to the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund.
Number 3: This budget prioritizes public safety by providing:
$240,000 for the Department of Justice compliance issues regarding mental health services at our prisons;
$271,000 for the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility to maintain compliance with their Department of Justice Memorandum of Agreement.
Number 2: This budget ensures that the Governor can release appropriations held hostage by the Governor.
112 GIA applicants with grants totaling approximately $9 million in Operating Funds and $24 million in CIP funds that were appropriated last year still wait for their money to be released by the Governor. Why haven't the monies been released for: the Honolulu Symphony, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, Easter Seals or the Salvation Army?
This budget allows the Governor to release those moneys and support these non-profits that support our communities.
The Governor has refused to release about $43 million in appropriations and valuable initiatives passed by the Legislature last year. For example,
Act 272 provided $250,000 to increase transparency in state government;
Act 147 provided $200,000 for perinatal care;
Act 284 provided $8 million to increase Medicaid reinbursements to doctors providing health care to the underinsured and uninsured;
Act 237 provided $500,000 to increase low and moderate income family home ownership; and
Act 178 provided $84,000 for screening and referral to substance abuse services.
This budget allows those innovative programs to proceed without further delay.
Number 1: Finally, this budget appropriates $44.7 million less in operating general funds than the Governor's budget.
Monday, April 28, 2008
There are 152 bills up for Tuesday, and 29 bills up for Thursday. Wednesday is a recess day. The O.D. will include a consent calendar, bills for which members have consented to vote in one motion with no floor debate. Members are able to vote aye or noe, but they will not be able to rise and speak on any bill on the consent calendar.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
RELATING TO FAMILY COURT SB2054 SD2 HD2 CD1 (4/21) passed with amendments. The bill establishes criteria for the best interests of the child, to specify what factors the courts shall consider in making a custody or visitation determination concerning a minor child.
RELATING TO CHILD PROTECTION SB2730 SD2 HD2 CD1 (4/21) passed with amendments. This bill establishes a preference for placement of children needing child protective services.
RELATING TO CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR SOCIAL SERVICES PROGRAMS SB3051 SD2 HD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill authorizes the Department of Human Services or its designee to conduct criminal history record checks for those providing services to vulnerable adults and children.
RELATING TO CRIME SB2212 SD1 HD2 (4/21) passed with amendments. This bill defines "labor" and "service" in the context of extortion promoting prostitution and eliminates distinction between minors under 18 and minors under 16 for purposes of promoting prostitution.
RELATING TO PSEUDOEPHEDRINE SALES SB2373 SD1 HD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires pharmacies and retailers to maintain an electronic log of sales of pseudoephedrine and related products and transmit the information to the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division on a monthly basis.
RELATING TO PROSTITUTION HB3002 HD1 SD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill creates a new offense of habitual solicitation of prostitution, a class C felony, if the person pays, agrees to pay, or offers to pay a fee to another person to engage in sexual conduct, and has two or more specified prior offenses related to prostitution within ten years of the instant offense. Sunset 6/30/2010.
RELATING TO HAWAII PENAL CODE HB3383 SD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires that multiple terms of imprisonment to run concurrently unless the court orders or the law mandates that the terms run consecutively. Prospective application from 1/1/09.
RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH SB2396 SD1 HD3 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires the Department of Health to submit an annual report on forensic patients; requires yearly court status hearings for individuals ordered to be conditionally released or hospitalized as an inpatient by the mental health court; reduces the minimum length of hospitalization from ninety to thirty days for individuals who are recommitted after conditional release; makes appropriation for mental health court operations.
RELATING TO ENDANGERING THE WELFARE OF A MINOR (4/21) HB2346 HD2 SD2 CD1 (4/21) passed with amendments. This bill expands the crimes of endangering the welfare of a minor in the first and second degrees to include situations in which an adult causes or permits a minor to inject, ingest, or inhale certain controlled substances that were not prescribed for the minor by a physician.
RELATING TO ANIMAL HOARDING SB3203 SD1 HD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill makes it a misdemeanor to hoard pet animals and establishes elements of the offense.
RELATING TO HARASSMENT SB2456 SD2 HD1 CD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill creates a new misdemeanor offense of harassment by impersonation.
Prison and Public Safety
RELATING TO PUBLIC SAFETY SB2341 SD1 HD1 (4/23) passed with amendments. This bill requires out-of-state detention facilities holding Hawaii prisoners under a contract with the State to make public information about the operation of the prison.
RELATING TO INSURANCE SB3023 SD2 HD2 CD1 (4/21) passed with amendments. This bill authorizes the creation and regulation of special purpose financial captive insurance companies (SPFCIC), establishes confidentiality provisions applicable to captives, including SPFCICs. The bill also provides clarity on sponsored captive insurance companies.
REALATING TO THE HAWAII COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY SB3166 HD1 CD1 (4/22) passed with amendments. This bill requires at least two members of the Hawaii Community Development Authority to represent small businesses and allows them to vote on matters concerning small business; directs the Governor to initially designate the small business representatives from among the current members of HCDA.
RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES HB2550 HD2 SD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires the public utilities commission to ensure that a percentage of the total rated generating capacity produced by eligible customer-generators be reserved for electricity produced by eligible residential or small commercial customer-generators. It allows public utilities commission to define maximum capacity for eligible residential or small commercial customer-generators and to evaluate, on an island-by-island basis, the applicability of the generating capacity requirements and, in its discretion, exempt an island or a utility grid system from the generating capacity requirements.
RELATING TO LAND USE HB2450 HD1 SD2 CD1 (4/21) passed with amendments. This bill establishes conditions for the granting of approval of petitions for boundary amendments where lands in the petition area are contiguous or adjacent to lands in the agricultural districts. Final reading will be on Tuesday, 4/29.
RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL LOANS HB2261 HD2 SD1 (4/23) passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. The bill will include farm sustainable projects in the existing agricultural loan program, and aquaculture sustainable projects in the existing aquacultural loan program.
RELATING TO INVASIVE SPECIES HB2977 HD1 SD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires the Hawaii invasive species council to give priority to eradicating coqui frogs in the coqui frog eradication plan.
RELATING TO HEALTH CARE HB2519 HD2 SD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires the legislative reference bureau to study student loan repayment and stipend payment programs in other jurisdictions to encourage physicians and dentists to serve shortage areas. Funds are appropriated. In addition, the bill creates a temporary pilot project with the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism's enterprise zone program to grant tax and other benefits similar to those in an enterprise zone to physicians and dentists who establish or maintain practices in shortage areas.
RELATING TO CANCER SURVEILLANCE SB2040 SD1 HD2 (4/21) passed with the Senate agreeing to the House amendments. This bill allows a cancer patient to be contacted directly without initial physician contact for purposes of cancer surveillance. Pre-cancerous conditions are authorized for data collection. Biological specimens may be collected to assist cancer research.
RELATING TO LONG-TERM CARE HB2062 HD1 SD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill allows persons eligible to receive Medicaid funds for care at nursing home facilities to remain at home and receive home- and community-based long-term care. It requires the Department of Human Services to apply for necessary waivers and grants to allow funds to be used in that manner.
RELATING TO WOMEN'S HEALTH HB2761 HD1 SD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill requires at least 6 months post-partum and interconception care for women who participate in the Hawaii QUEST health insurance program.
RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH SB1802 HD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill provides an exception to the confidentiality of mental health records and allows disclosure of diagnosis and prescription information if it is made by the person's most recent healthcare provider to a subsequent health care provider for the purpose of continued care or treatment.
RELATING TO MENTAL HEALTH SB2396 SD1 HD3 (4/24) passed with amendments This bill requires the department of health to submit an annual report on forensic patients; requires yearly court status hearings for individuals ordered to be conditionally released or hospitalized as an inpatient by the mental health court; reduces the minimum length of hospitalization from ninety to thirty days for individuals who are recommitted after conditional release; makes appropriation for mental health court operations.
RELATING TO EDUCATION SB2879 SD2 HD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill establishes a power of attorney for special education and establishes the process to appoint an educational representative for an adult student who lacks capacity. It clarifies the authority of a guardian of an adult student.
RELATING TO EDUCATION HB2971 HD1 SD2 (4/21) passed with the House agreeing to Senate amendments. This bill requires the Department of Education to implement recommendations of the online learning task force.
RELATING TO TEACHER LICENSURESB2080 SD2 HD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill allows the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board to suspend a teacher's license when the teacher has been convicted of certain sexual offenses and to initiate proceedings to permanently revoke the teacher's license.
RELATING TO EDUCATION SB2879 SD2 HD1 (4/24) passed with amendments. This bill establishes a power of attorney for special education and establishes the process to appoint an educational representative for an adult student who lacks capacity. It clarifies the authority of a guardian of an adult student.
RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT SECURITY SB2876 HD2 (4/24) passed with amendments. Appropriates funds for fiscal year 2007-08 in Reed Act funds for the Hawaii work force investment board and one-stop career center.
RELATING TO SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES HB2661 HD2 SD2 CD1 (4/21) passed out of conference with amendments and will go to final reading on Tuesday, 4/29/2008. The bill authorizes special purpose revenue bonds to Hui Mana ‘Oma‘o for the establishment of facilities to convert renewable energy resources into electrical energy.
AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST OCEANLINX HAWAII LLC SB2034 HD2 (4/21) passed with the Senate agreeing to the House amendments. The bill authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds for planning, designing, and constructing a wave or hydrokinetic power facility on Maui.
RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST SOPOGY INC., IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY ON THE ISLAND OF OAHU SB3190 HD1 (4/21) passed with the Senate agreeing to the House amendments. The bill authorizes the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds in an amount not exceeding $35,000,000 to assist Sopogy, Inc. with planning, designing, construction, equipping, and operating a solar farm power plant on Oahu to produce electricity from solar power.
RELATING TO WATER RATES HB2810 HD1 SD1 CD1 (4/18) passed with amendments, authorizes the public utilities commission to establish preferential potable water rates for agricultural activities in a public utility's service area. The bill goes to final reading tomorrow.
MAKING AN EMERGENCY APPROPRIATION TO THE HAWAII PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY HB3140 SD2 (4/21) passed with the House agreeing to Senate amendments. This bill appropriates emergency funds for the Hawaii public housing authority to repay the Department of Budget and Finance for a loan made to cover payroll and risk management costs for liability insurance for fiscal year 2006-2007, and to address a critical funding shortfall for operational costs of its public housing programs for fiscal year 2007-2008.
RELATING TO ELECTRONIC PERMITTING FEES HB3151 HD2 SD1 (4/23) passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill allows certain Department of Health environmental programs to conduct business electronically and withhold sufficient moneys to cover the cost of electronic and credit card provider services.
RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS SB2808 SD2 HD1 (4/23) passed with the Senate agreeing to the House amendments. This bill clarifies that when two or more agencies have jurisdiction, the office of environmental quality control shall determine which agency has the responsibility of preparing an environmental assessment after consultation with and assistance from the affected state or county agencies. It also makes clarifications to the rulemaking powers of the environmental council.
Those were the sentiments of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on the action take today by the U.S. Senate. They passed a bill restoring benefits for Filipino veterans of World War II, which was loudly applauded by the Hawaii House Filipino Caucus. The Senate authorized $221 million over the next decade for Filipino veterans living in the Philippines. The funds would go toward housing assistance, life insurance, and burial costs, and includes pensions of about $3,600 a year for low-income veterans.
"This is a landmark victory for the courageous Filipino veterans who fought bravely in World War II," said Rep. Michael Magaoay, chairman of the House Filipino Caucus. "We want to thank our two U.S. Senators, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Akaka, without whom this bill might never have passed."
It is estimated that 470,000 Filipinos fought in the war for the United States against the Japanese. Of that number, about 20,000 Filipino veterans are still alive, with 2,000 living in Hawaii and 13,000 in the Philippines.
"Even though many of the veterans have passed, we believe it is important to honor their memory and give them the recognition they deserve," added Rep. Magaoay. "It's an important lesson that we pass on to our children, that our Filipino ancestors played a role in fighting for the United States of America in the name of freedom, and that our country found it right and just to give Filipinos a place in history."
Charter Schools: Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro explained to conference members that the legislature will provide an additional $1.6 million for the charter schools. He realized that it is less than they wanted, but given the lack of financial resources this year, most state agencies will be taking a cut in their budgets by comparison.
In mid-December of 2007, Governor Lingle and her staff performed the initial calculation for the Charter Schools budget. In fiscal year 2008, Charter Schools received $51.6 million. While Charter Schools came in for an increase of $19 million, the administration reduced the amount to $4.5 million. Still, Charter Schools would be getting more money than last year, while many other state programs will be forced to cut their budgets.
Rep. Oshiro took care to emphasize that this is a one-time-only expenditure and that it should not be added to the baseline budget of the charter schools. In addition, he made it clear that the Governor and her administration gave no indication that they supported the charter schools' budget increase request. In fact, the two chairs asked the charter schools to have the Governor send down a Governor's Message to restore a larger increase, and that message never came.
Further, it was troubling that the charter schools voted to approve a new school just last month. The new school will add 250 students to the system at a time when financial resources are not available. Oshiro questioned the management decision.
TANF: The Advertiser has a story outlining the TANF restrictions here. Here are some additional comments.
The administration receives $98 million per year from the federal government for TANF, but they have been spending $138 million per year resulting in a $40 million deficit which is taken from the reserve. As stated in the Advertiser story, the administration would like to spend the reserve down to zero. The Legislature is concerned that a)the reserve level will deplete rapidly and b)we are going into a recession which will result in even more people dependent on welfare funds.
How much should states keep in reserve? According to Jack Tweedie, the Director of the Children and Families Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, who responded to an inquiry by House Finance staff:
"There is no federal or generally accepted standard as to how much of their TANF block grant states should keep in reserve for potential increases in cash assistance caseloads. NCSL did an analysis of changes in state's TANF caseloads and concluded that most states would be able to cover increased costs of cash assistance for two years out of TANF reserve fund if they kept 50% of the most recent year's basic assistance spending (which includes, but is not limited to, cash assistance spending) in reserve.
We recommend being able to cover the costs of increased cash assistance out of a TANF reserve fund (rather than increased state spending or cuts in other uses of state or federal funds), because increases in cash assistance caseloads virtually always come in bad economic times when spending in other state assistance programs (especially Medicaid) are also increasing and state revenues are going down."
Therefore, the money committees decided to keep $44 million in reserve, and drop the annual level of funding from $138 million to $116, or a restriction of $22 million.
It has been 12 years since former President Clinton and the U.S. Congress ended the traditional "welfare" programs and started the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families as a way to help people get out of poverty. Tweedie goes on to say that,
"Nothing that I have seen suggests that Hawaii has developed a strategy for using TANF funds in ways to reduce poverty or help move families toward self-sufficiency. Spending on youth programs does not contribute directly to reducing poverty....As your Auditor pointed out a few years ago, there does not seem to be much of a strategy in the funding of youth programs. Hawaii has also not tracked the families leaving TANF effectively, so you do not know how well they are doing or what has worked in your efforts to move them into jobs and off welfare."
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
HB2700, the Judiciary budget, was passed with amendments. Here are House Co-Chairs Rep. Tommy Waters and Rep. Marcus Oshiro.
On the Big Island, public transportation does not provide services off the highway. HCEOC operates a transportation program that helps the low-income elderly, the disabled, dialysis patients, and low-income pre-school children with transportation needs.
To date, the administration has released $100,000 of the total amount, and this is creating such a hardship that the program is in jeopardy. The director of the Council has been working at three-quarters salary since February and may be forced to start layoffs.
“As House Finance Chair during the economic crisis of the 1990's and post September 11, I understand the hard decisions that need to be made when faced with an economic downturn," said Rep. Takamine. “But I believe we should always look out for the most vulnerable of our citizens. HCEOC acts as the lifeline for these people, and we need to support their efforts."
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This is what she had to say:
Time For Equality
By Rep. Cindy Evans
My fellow Legislators…
Today is Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996. RED is worn on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how far women are "in the red" with their pay.
Observed on a Tuesday in April, Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In fact in general Tuesday is the day on which women's wages catch up to men's wages from the previous week. The gap between men's and women's wages is real and well documented.
We've come along way. It's hard to believe, but in 1932 the Federal Economic Act was passed to ban the wives of federal employees from holding government positions. The act also declared that women with employed husbands be first on the lists for firing. Two years later in 1935 the National Recovery Act officially required women who held jobs with the government to receive 25 percent less pay than men in the exact same job.
The “Equal Pay Act of 1963’ was supposed to rectify this disparity.
I'm pleased to note there has been progress….
*Women’s wages have risen in all states since 1989.
* Women with four-year or graduate college degrees have almost achieved parity with men.
* Today Hawaii ranks 12th in states narrowing the gap and received an honorable mention from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 2006-2007 for our state’s progress in addressing the equal pay issue. In 2005 the Hawai'i state legislature passed ACT 35 promoting equal pay for equal work in Hawaii nei.
But 40 years after the Equal Rights Amendment we are not there yet. Today millions of women still struggle to make ends meet while doing the exact same jobs as men under similar working conditions with equal skill, effort and responsibilities, while earning less.
Since 1995, the poverty rate among women in 15 states has increased. At our present rate of progress it will take 50 years for women to achieve earnings parity with men.
The work to solve wage inequity must continue and the message to the next generation of women wage earners is…don’t rest on the work done by those before you. Working towards equal pay is the right thing to do!
Monday, April 21, 2008
The funds must be allocated as follows:
(1) $1,600,000 for repayment to the department of budget and finance for a loan made to address risk management costs billed by the department of accounting and general services and a payroll shortfall;
(2) $1,080,000 for the payroll shortfall of the state single family housing program;
(3) $17,607 for unbudgeted increases in state single family housing program insurance costs; and
(4) $370,348 for unbudgeted increases in federal low rent program insurance.
Rep. Tommy Waters said all breast-feeding mothers should not be excluded from the law because a mother who intentionally gives her child breast milk contaminated with a controlled substance should be charged with a crime.
Senators Chun Oakland and Brian Taniguchi voted yes and Senator Fred Hemmings voted no.
Why are there minimum age requirements for election to office? The Framers of the U.S. Constitution argued that the stability of character can only be realized with age and that youth lack the maturity to serve in office.
In spite of this, many states have voluntarily lowered age requirements for governor. The minimum age is 21 in South Dakota, and in several other states such as California there are no specified minimum age.
So, how young is too young? When I asked a 21-year-old friend about his opinion on this issue, he retorted, "So, I can vote and get shot at in war, but I can't run for office." Well, just not for governor and Lt. governor.
After sending out a mass email to friends asking whether they would agree to lower the age of candidacy to 25 in Hawaii, I was surprised to see the varied points of views.
Those who would not support the change in the constitution argued that 25-year-olds just seem too young to govern because of their "lack of experience." Those words came from individuals as old as 35 and as young as 20.
Experience is the word, isn't it? The way I see it, it isn't about job experience, legislative experience or political experience, but rather life experience. Choosing an arbitrary number like 30 is pointless and tells me that people who have great ideas, the capability to govern and the aspirations will be rejected before having the opportunity to try because they weren't born on or before the required year.
Of course certain 18-year-olds, 21-year-olds, 25-year-olds (and even a handful of 30-year-olds) may, in fact, be too young and immature to hold office, but aren't constituents smart enough to factor in maturity level, regardless of age, when voting?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Tuesday, April 15
SB2170 was passed with amendments. The bill is part of the Hawaii State Association of Counties package. It protects counties from liability as a result of natural conditions on or near a public beach park by including public beach parks in the definition of "improved public lands."
Wednesday, April 16
HB2460 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill allows condominium associations to invest funds in certificates of deposit through the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service network.
HB2894 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill allows for the restatement of planned community association documents.
Thursday, April 17
HB2589 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill requires scrap dealers and recyclers to pay for copper purchases by check.
HB3331 was passed with amendments. This bill specifies dispute resolution parameters related to the interpretation or enforcement of a condominium association's bylaws, house rules, or certain other matters. Allows parties whose dispute is not resolved by mediation to file for arbitration no sooner than 30 days from the termination date of mediation. Makes more widely available the option for an administrative hearing.
SB2245 was passed with amendments. This bill makes it a violation of the statewide traffic code to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle. Requires the examiner of drivers to test driver's license applicants for knowledge of this offense. Requires notice of law in rental cars.
SB2454 was passed with amendments. This bill amends the mortgage foreclosures law to ensure that consumers and others receive important information regarding a foreclosure in a timely manner.
SB2584 was passed with the Senate agreeing to the House amendments. This bill recognizes honey as an agricultural commodity.
Friday, April 18
HB2085 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill requires members of the board of the agribusiness development corporation to have knowledge, experience, and expertise within certain secondary industries related to agriculture. Requires the agribusiness development corporation to develop a five year strategic plan to be presented to the legislature prior to the 2009 Regular Session.
HB2238 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill requires public housing projects and affordable housing funded by county or state funds to remain affordable in perpetuity.
HB2511 was passed with amendments. This bill is part of the Joint House/Senate Majority package. It provides qualified rental assistance applicants up to six months to find a qualified rental dwelling.
HB2698 was passed with the House agreeing to the Senate amendments. This bill clarifies compensation rates for court-appointed attorneys and Guardians Ad Litem.
HB2810 was passed with amendments. This bill authorizes the public utilities commission to establish preferential potable water rates for agricultural activities in a public utility's service area. Requires public utilities, upon application and proof of qualification, to provide preferential rates for potable water used only for agricultural activities.
SB2196 was passed with amendments. This bill adds regulatory function over commercially permitted use of government and private boating facilities and commercial activities in private marinas.
SB2464 was passed with amendments. This bill designates the Hawaiian monk seal as the state mammal.
SB3030 was passed with amendments. This bill establishes a revised fee structure to fund mixed martial arts regulation.
Friday, April 18, 2008
U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie will give the keynote speech asking the state to support measures to address Chronic Kidney Disease immediately. State Lawmakers, St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, and the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii cosponsored the rally.
WHEN: Monday, April 21, 2008
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: State Capitol Rotunda
HB2913 would award Saint Francis Healthcare System with a grant, requiring $1,000,000 in matching funds, to build the infrastructure needed for a stable facility that provides care for acute dialysis patients.
Consider the following statistics on the CKD epidemic in Hawaii:
- About 20 percent of Hawaii’s population is affected by Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
- Over 156,000 already have it with another 100,000 predisposed to contract it.
- Hawaii has the highest rate of CKD in the nation per capita (1 person in 7 versus 1 in 9 across the country).
- About 2,500 Hawaii patients are in Stage 4 or 5, undergoing dialysis treatments three to four times per week for the rest of their lives or waiting for a kidney transplant. Of the five stages, Stage 1 concerns minor abnormalities, while stage 5 concerns severe kidney failure.
The other, SB3202, appears to be dead as it has not been scheduled for a conference committee. That bill proposes to amend the constitution to extend the retirement age of state justices and judges from 70 years to 80 years. It would have applied to appointments after Nov. 4, 2008 as a means of taking the politics out of the amendment. The Advertiser has a story here.
Rep. Marilyn Lee's take: "Eighty is the new sixty!"
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Oshiro will urge his House colleagues to support HB 2995, a bill that includes the following projects:
- $10 million for plans and construction to relocate Aiea Library
- $2.4 million for design and construction improvements at Aiea High School
- $1.7 million to construct and expand Aiea Intermediate School's cafeteria stage
Funds were allocated to purchase land for a new library in 2003, and this year Oshiro hopes that the planning and construction of the Aiea Library will be realized with the state's approval.
Do you want to see these projects manifest? Call Rep. Blake Oshiro at 586-6341 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on submitting written testimony in support.
Join Reps. Pono Chong, Ken Ito and Sen. Jill Tokuda in Kaneohe for "La Hana Loko I'a," a Work Day at Waikalua Fishpond. The event will include cultural learning tours, activities for children, clean-up of the fishpond and surrounding area, and more. A light lunch will be provided for all who attend.
The Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society, an organization whose mission is to preserve the beauty and stability of the pond, and Windward lawmakers are cosponsoring the "Earth Day" celebration.
"I like Aloha helping Aloha." said Rep. Yamane. "Seeing former employees take the initiative to give back to their friends and colleagues really shows me the true spirit of Hawaii. They are using their own time to help those impacted and that alone proves the real meaning of Aloha."
A mother of two, ages five and three, with another due in less than a month, recently asked for baby diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, baby ointment and lotion. Once a request comes in via email, Sugawa posts it on the website for island residents to see what is needed.
So far, the website has helped 14 employees with specific requests as of April 2, two days after the official shut down of the passenger service. Sugawa hopes to increase the number of people the website can assist once more employees hear about this alternative avenue for aid.
"With the word spreading, we are having more people writing in for aid," said Sugawa. "The need is great because they are getting turned away from different organizations."
The website also has a message board for concerned citizens wanting to help or offer support by leaving messages, miscellaneous information, or job opportunities for the Aloha community to view.
Donations and support from everyone has been incredible, says Sugawa. Each time they receive a new item, whether it be a gift card, canned goods or monetary donations, she and her husband are overwhelmed with joy at the kindness of Hawaii's people.
The website is co-sponsored by the Wellspring Covenant Church in Halawa, and every Tuesday workers of Aloha Airlines are invited to "Haircut Tuesday" at the church to get free haircuts, enjoy coffee, pastries, or lunch, and receive assistance with resume writing.
If you would like to help or need assistance and don't have access to a computer or internet, please call the Wellspring Covenant Church at 484-8880.
The performance audit conducted by the Office of the Auditor is only Phase I. Phase I focuses on the administration's action to exempt the Department of Transportation from the requirements of the state's environmental impact statement law related to harbor improvements in order to accommodate the Hawaii Superferry. Phase II will focus on the whether this decision "will cost the state more than its environmental policy."
Rep. Lee also talks to Dr. Michael Kliks, a spokesman for the Hawaii Beekeepers Association. Learn the latest on how Hawaii's bee community and honey production have been negatively impacted by infestation by the varroa mite. That show airs this Sunday, April 20th.
Photo: Beekeeper Michael Kliks, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Aloha Airlines employees and family members line up for kalua pig, rice, cake and ice cream.
Pilioha serenaded the guests while they ate dinner, talked with lawmakers and former colleagues.
In FY08, charter schools received $51,635,990. The House and Senate have both budgeted an increase to $56,150,695.
Charter schools project an enrollment increase and estimate that they will require an increase of around $19 million, as opposed to the Legislature's increase of $4,514,000. It should be noted that regular schools will be taking a reduction in funds of $8,455,255 in the House draft and $7,328,346 in the Senate draft.
Monday, April 14, 2008
"I think the people of Hawaii want a chance to show their appreciation and fondest farewell to the workers of Aloha Airlines," added Rep. Joe Bertram. "I don't think a letter to the newspaper editor can truly express our gratitude to Aloha Airlines for the 61 years of service they provided the people of Hawaii."
Aloha was the tenth largest employer statewide and in the wake of one of the worst mass layoffs in Hawaii, over 1,900 employees lost their jobs.
State Representatives Karen Awana, Joe Bertram and John Mizuno joined together to bring employees and family members together to show Hawaii's deepest appreciation and fondest aloha for their dedication to excellent service. Guests will be provided with ono refreshments and enjoyable entertainment.
"I think the Capitol provides us with a venue for the people of Hawaii to truly express their 'mahalo and aloha' to a part of our 'ohana, to a part of history, and to a beloved company," said Rep. John Mizuno.
Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D45-Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua) will host a beach clean-up on Saturday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. as the first step towards creating a "People's Path" along the beach from Maili Point to Nanakuli McDonald's.
The event is part of Nani O Wai'anae's "Keep Hawaii Beautiful Day" and will start at Maili Point, located across from the Union 76 Station on Farrington Hwy. and Hookele St., and end at Hakimo Road.
The "People's Path" is a dream and personal project of Shimabukuro's mother, Karen Young, who hopes that this walking path on the beach will connect to the State's planned bicycle path, and someday extend along the entire Wai'anae Coast. Shimabukuro will be working with the City and County to make this dream possible.
Volunteers are needed to join Shimabukuro and family to pick up trash and debris along the beach, as well as participate in the planting of beautiful native plants and trees. In a YouTube video on Shimabukuro's blog, Young and Shimabukuro documented preliminary planning of the beach clean-up and surveyed what needs to be done.
"There's is a lot of potential for this area," said Shimabukuro. "It could be similar to walking Kaena Point. This is a gorgeous coastline with beautiful views and it's pretty far off the road that it could potentially be a beautiful two-mile walk. We need a lot of volunteers to come out and help make this possible."
Individuals and groups interested in participating in the beach clean-up should call the Office of Rep. Maile Shimabukuro at 586-8460 or 696-4677 for more information. Gloves and trash bags will be provided for the volunteers, and it is optional to bring swimwear, native plants and planting tools.
Nani O Wai'anae, which was the first official "Keep America Beautiful" participant in the state, organizes beach clean-ups throughout O'ahu on April 26. The Makaha Hawaiian Civic Club is also participating and will meet at the Makaha Marketplace for a clean-up on the same day. More volunteers are needed to host and help with other clean-ups. For more information, call Katy Kok or Lori at 696-1920 or 484-1000.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
A Prayer for the Session
By Representative Jerry Chang
District 2 - South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha
On Opening Day we vowed to do the very best for the people of Hawaii; to set aside petty politics and always do what is right for those we represent.
We introduced bills and resolutions that we believed in--and pushed for their passage during the process.
We honored members of our community that we are proud of and learned that there are so many extraordinary people amongst us.
We experienced illness and loss of friends and family members, bringing us to a deep realization that life is short and too precious to waste.
That our relationships in this chamber reflect our relationships in life, and that we should foster our friendships based on honor and respect.
As we enter into the last quarter of the 2008 Legislative Session, let us continue the process that will result in good legislation to benefit all the people of our beautiful state of Hawaii, from support for our families to improving our quality of life and economy.
And as we end the Session and go back to our communities, let us be thankful and humbled by the honor bestowed upon us to represent our constituents in this honorable institution.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
When the volcano erupts on the Big Island, the level of sulfur dioxide emitted creates an emergency condition for residents (birds and animals) in the area, especially those with asthma and other respiratory ailments.
Committee on Labor & Public Employment, Room 325, 11:00 a.m.
Chair: Rep. Alex Sonson
SCR222 Requesting State Departments to convert exempt employees to civil service in accordance with Act 253, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000, and Act 300, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006.
Committee on Labor & Public Employment/Committee on Education, Room 329, 2:00 p.m.
Chair: Rep. Alex Sonson/Chair: Rep. Roy Takumi
SCR72, SD1 Requesting that the Department of Education conduct a feasibility study to examine various impacts of a longer school day and increasing the number of days in the school year on Kindergarten through Grade Twelve students.
Committee on Education only
SCR84, SD1 Requesting the Department of Education and the Hawaii public school food service to develop nutritionally sound public school menu plans that include vegetarian and vegan meals.
Friday, April 11, 2008
SB2373 HD2 would amend an existing law by requiring pharmacies and retailers to maintain an electronic log of sales - instead of a written log - of pseudoephedrine and related products to be transmitted to the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division on a monthly basis.
Today, at the end of the floor session, Rep. Blake Oshiro congratulated House members for collecting over $1600 in pennies to help feed Hawaii's hungry. The competition was stiff and the drama was high, therefore, no ordinary awards would do. Rep. Oshiro took his inspiration from the world of Sumo, and named the top three places using Sansho, literally "three prizes".
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Rep. Evans organized the meetings to allow veterans to share their concerns and problems with state lawmakers, who will get a better idea of veteran needs and apply the information to next year's legislative session.
“Our veterans have served our country and deserve the very best we can provide in services and support," Evans said. “These meetings will help us understand the needs of today's veterans better so we can educate the legislature for next year's budgets and legislative agenda."
The meetings will focus on issues such as the efficiency of the Hawai'i Office of Veterans Affairs and whether or not veterans could be better served in another state agency, as well as homelessness, unemployment and access to health care.
J.W. Cameron Center, 95 Mahalani St.
UH at Hilo Room UCB-1
5:30 p.m -7:30 p.m.
Molokai Veterans Compound
Kauai Veterans Center, 3-3367 Kuhio Hwy, #101
Kona Veterans Cemetery
Kapolei High School, 91-5007 Kapolei Pkwy.
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Ko’olau Golf Club
In an effort to hammer in the importance of addressing the state's affordable housing issue, Hawaii Habitat for Humanity held an awareness event in the Capitol Rotunda this afternoon.
Lawmakers and staff members were invited to participate in a contest to see who could pound in the most nails in 30 seconds.
The non-profit organization that builds homes for impoverished and home-less families recently requested an amendment to SB3174, a bill that would:
(1) Extend the sunset date of the 50 percent conveyance tax allocation to the Rental Housing Trust Fund (RHTF) from June 30, 2008, to June 30, 2013;During a Committee on Finance hearing, Hawaii Habitat for Humanity asked committee members to allow the Self-Help Housing Fund to also be used for land acquisition, infrastructure and construction.
(2) Appropriate funds for third-party review and certification of building permits for affordable housing projects;
(3) Establish and appropriating funds to the Self-help Housing Fund to assist with technical assistance expenditures up to $20,000 per self-help housing unit; and
(4) Change the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation's (HHFDC) revenue bond ceiling from $400,000,000 to an unspecified amount.
The Finance committee did not amend the bill, instead opting to extend the effective date to July 1, 2020 to encourage further discussion and deliberation on the organization's request during committee conference with Senate members next week.
Legislators who took the tour were Rep. Ryan Yamane, Sen. Norman Sakamoto, Rep. Barbara Marumoto, Rep. Tom Brower, Rep. Mark Takai, Rep. Kymberly Pine, Rep. Karen Awana and Rep. John Mizuno, accompanied by Adjutant General Robert Lee, National Guard members and legislative staff members. Photos provided by Rep. Tom Brower.
Chair Yamane thanks his committee