Monday, March 30, 2009

Roads before Homes

The House Committee on Transportation today passed out a resolution, HCR 291/HR263, requiring the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting to develop a planning template, which will ensure that roadways are under the construction phase prior to the building of residential communities in the Ewa Development Plan and Waianae Sustainable Communities Plan.

Road construction has not been able to keep pace with residential development on the Leeward Coast, which has greatly increased traffic congestion. As a result, Representative Karen Awana introduced House Bill 1462, requiring that city and state roads, contiguous to new residential developments, must be in the construction phase prior to the issuance of any grading permits to real estate developers. The measure passed out of the House Transportation Committee but was never heard by the joint Committee on Water, Land & Ocean Resources and Housing. The resolution passed out of committee today seeks to alleviate these issues and continue discussion on this much needed legislation.

"This resolution will not only assist those moving into newly developed neighborhoods, it also alleviates the added burden caused to existing residents. Increased growth in Kapolei and the Ewa plains will significantly impact commuters on the Waianae Coast,” said Rep. Awana. “The Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's 2030 report forecasts time travel out of the coast to exceed 80 minutes. This measure will help to address these and similar situations taking place throughout our state."

The Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization commented on the resolution, stating that they do not have the resources to develop such a planning template requested. In written testimony, The Department of Planning and Permitting of the City and County of Honolulu noted that the resolution is unnecessary because "There are many policies, procedures and initiatives already in place, under several agencies and the private sector that address the concerns. “ The Planning and Zoning Committee Chair of the Waianae Neighborhood Board and a concerned resident of Nanakuli submitted testimony in support of the resolution.

"It seems as if no one wants to take responsibility with looking into dealing with this issue. The problem simply can be resolved by requiring OMP and DPP to communicate and consider this issue when mapping out the Ewa and Waianae community plans. HCR29 will help create discussion and assist us in the Leeward Coast to receive the basic necessities in our communities," wrote Lautoa F. Atisanoe, Jr, a Nanakuli resident.

Days, Weeks, Months, Years

Going through the House Resolutions and Concurrent Resolutions, there are always a few naming a day, week, month or year after a special person or issue. Here's the group for 2009:

HR42 declares Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day. Introduced by Rep. Gene Ward.

HR56 recognized Jan. 20 as Barack Obama II Ohana Day. Introduced by Rep. Della Au Belatti.

HR69 recognizes August 2009 as Jan Ken Po month. Introduced by Rep. John Mizuno.

HR71 proclaims 2009 as the Year of the Army Non-commissioned officer corps of the United States Army. Introduced by Rep. Cindy Evans.

HR79 proclaiming November 21, 2009 as Islam Day. Introduced by Rep. Lyla Berg.

HR109/HCR38, HD1, SD1 recognizing the month of October as Women's Health Month. Introduced by Rep. John Mizuno.

HR210 declaring October 11 as a state holiday in honor of Blessed Damien. Introduced by Rep. Mele Carroll.

HR256 recognizing Earth Hour in Hawaii, March 28, 2009, 8:30 -9:30 p.m. HST. Introduced by Rep. Angus McKelvey.

HR259 requesting LRB to study the effects of adopting the observation of Daylight Savings Time in Hawaii. Introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita.

HR260 recognizing the third Saturday of April to be known as Hawaiian Monk Seal Day. Introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita.

HCR39 recognizes the month of May as Foster Care Awareness month. Introduced by Rep. John Mizuno.

HCR44 recognizes the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention month. Introduced by Rep. John Mizuno.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poi Pounders

I tasted my first piece of taro when I was 6 months old. I guess you could say it was a hands-on lesson in how birds feed their chicks. My mother would break a morsel of baked taro off and then chew on it until it was mushy enough for my toothless mouth to swallow. It wasn't poi, but it was always molar-pounded with love.

My first taste of salivated-free, traditional Hawaiian poi didn't come until my family moved to Hawaii from American Samoa. I remember having poi at 5 years old for the first time at a luau during a trip to Hawaii for my dad's job interview. At first I refused to eat the poi because it looked like "dirt pudding". I only succumbed to trying it out after my dad said that it was exactly what I eat when mom chews up the taro and puts it in my mouth. (Yes! Even at five my mom would still sometimes do it. Old habits break hard.)

Why am I telling you this blatant personal and maybe embarrassing story? Because that was the first thing to pop in my head while I strolled through a maze of mats on the Rotunda ground occupied by taro lovers, taro virgins, skilled poi pounders, and excited novices eager to learn, teach and just have fun with ku'i kalo, traditional taro pounding and poi making. I bet many of the other attendees floated memories of their first taste of poi or created new ones there.

The Hawaiian Caucus, with the support of KAHEA and Na Kahu o Haloa, hosted the first Taro Festival in celebration of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus Day. The energy was high with locals and visitors, young and old, carefully lifting the pohaku ku'i 'ai (heavy stone pounder) to the sturdy papa ku'i 'ai (poi board), trying to set a state record for the most people gathered to pound poi.

After running into one of my best friends, Monica Waiau, 26, a volunteer with KAHEA, we sat down with a young woman named Kat Newman, a student at Brigham Young University. She never tasted poi and was thrilled at the idea of making her own poi with organic Hawaiian taro to take home and enjoy. Monica sat adjacent to her and began demonstrating the proper way to pound taro into poi.

Take the poi pounder with one hand. The other hand will be used to gather water. Good. Now smash your first piece of taro. It's better if you go in from an angle. Nice. Now keep adding water to make it smoother. Then, continue to smash on the board while adding the other pieces of poi. Like that. Ok. You'll also want to wipe of the taro from the bottom of the poi pounder and mix it with the ones on the board.

While watching Monica guide Kat through the traditional process of making poi, and answer questions on the Hawaiian culture, I was reminded of the old ways of teaching and spreading knowledge and appreciation. Not through books. Not through legislation. And definitely not through the Internet. But through the experience of sitting next to someone willing and eager to share their knowledge and culture. Someone like Monica.

"I had a dream last night about being here at the Capitol for this event. We were all gathered to pound poi, but instead we started pounding the walls of the building, chipping away at the concrete with each swipe. As the building began to fall away, kalo leaves emerged from the holes," said Monica Waiau on the excitement she felt to bring taro pounding to the Hawaii State Capitol. "It's not about bringing down the building," she added. "It's about revitalizing our traditions; unearthing the true value of taro."

This festival was not just about providing a gathering place for taro lovers and poi pounders , it was also a place to plant the seed of awareness about the importance of taro and the Hawaiian culture as a whole. I hope that this festival was the fertilization needed to stimulate the new crop growth of the education and preservation of the Hawaiian culture.

April Community Bulletin from Rep. Blake Oshiro

Rep. Blake Oshiro's community bulletin for the month of April is now online. You can view here. In the bulletin, Rep. Oshiro highlights important house bills making its way through the legislative process, including bills on universal health care, income tax restructuring and the state budget. He also provides information on Aiea curbside recycling that begins in May, "Earth Month" community activities, and upcoming community events.

You can contact Rep. Blake Oshiro at 586-6340 or

Delaying the Fair Elections law is wise

Submitted by:

Representative Mark Nakashima (District 1 – North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo)
Representative Jerry Chang (District 2 –South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha)
Representative Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown)
Representative Robert Herkes (District 5 – Puna, Kau, South Kona, North Kona)
Representative Cindy Evans (District 7 – North Kona, South Kohala)

The Big Island legislative delegation supports the Fair Elections law, and those of us who were in office at the time voted for the original measure. However, given our current economic climate, the right thing to do is to postpone its implementation.

HB345 proposes to postpone the pilot project, which would allow public funding of candidates for Hawaii County Council races starting in 2010. If the pilot project were to go forward at a time when the nation and our state are in economic crisis, its chances of survival are questionable. Here’s why:

From a fiscal standpoint, the Hawaii State Campaign Spending Commission estimates that the base funding required for election to the Hawaii County Council in 2010 would amount to at least $190,110—assuming that only one candidate runs in each race for both the primary and general election. The equalizing funds provision for the same scenario would increase that figure to $380,220. With two candidates running in each race, that figure increases by two-fold to $760,440.

These projections are conservative. In 2008 alone, 24 candidates ran for Council offices on the Big Island. You can do the math. It is clear that the expense of the pilot project could be prohibitive. In addition, both the Hawaii County Council Chairman and the Hawaii County Clerk support the passage of HB345, given the need to consider fiscal and operational concerns.

Most notably, the Campaign Spending Commission has identified nearly two dozen additional responsibilities, the execution of which would benefit from a deferral. These new duties include tracking and investigating all independent expenditures for every committee and every individual who supports nonparticipating candidates, awarding equalizing funds without sufficient time to verify information that is provided, and establishing an independent, nonpartisan review committee along with the administrative support necessary to staff such a committee. Given the Commission’s workload related to the gubernatorial election in 2010, these additional operational duties would be very difficult and could compromise the Commission’s efforts.

In addition, the Campaign Spending Commission reports that Massachusetts and Kentucky have already terminated full funding of similar programs due to their exorbitant costs, while Connecticut has reported an increase from $15 million in 2006 to a staggering $45 million for 2008. The costs of implementing such a pilot program in Hawaii County during the current fiscal climate warrant a postponement, which would allow for our local economy to first recover before we engage in potentially costly endeavors.

Finally, postponing the Fair Elections law would enable campaign officials to better clarify the legality of the current law's equalization funds provision. In short, the constitutionality of such a provision has been called into question. Comparable legislation in Minnesota, which would have provided candidates with one-half the amount of independent expenditures made by opposing candidates, was deemed unconstitutional. Similarly, in its review of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the United States Supreme Court concluded that the right to use personal funds to finance a campaign should not result in fundraising advantages for opponents.

Taken together, these issues detract from the spirit of the Fair Elections law. Publicly funded elections require additional time and consideration in order to become the truly fair and equitable enterprise that they were intended to be. We therefore ask voters in Hawaii County to consider our current economic situation, and ask for their patience as we continue to sort through some of the troubling issues swirling around the pilot program. Our objective is to achieve a comprehensive publicly funded campaign mechanism that is at once feasible, efficient, and just.

(This opinion was submitted to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and was printed on Sunday, March 22, 2009. It was not, however, posted to the newspaper's website.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mid-Session Forum with Rep. Marcus Oshiro

Representative Marcus Oshiro, Wahiawa lawmaker and Finance chairman, will be holding a Mid-Session Forum on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Wahiawa District Park in the Hale Koa Room.

The meeting was organized to update community members on what has been going on at the Legislature since opening day, including important measures moving forward. The public is encouraged to come and share their concerns and ideas.

Please call the office of Rep. M. Oshiro at 586-6200 for more information.


6 p.m. Socialize/ Refreshments
6:30 p.m. Meeting Begins
8:30 p.m. Meeting Pau

Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran Returns to Public Service

Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran is quick to clarify that he is "newly-selected" as opposed to newly-elected. Governor Lingle selected Rep. Keith-Agaran to fill the Maui seat of former Rep. Bob Nakasone who passed away late last year.

Rep. Marilyn Lee interviews Rep. Keith-Agaran for her series, "Kukui Connection", which will air on Sunday, April 12 and 26, 2009, Olelo, Channel 54.

No stranger to state government, Rep. Keith-Agaran has served as the Deputy and then Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Deputy at the Deparment of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and briefly at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Watch the show and find out more about his interesting path thus far:

*After attending public schools on Maui, how he was encouraged to apply to Yale and got accepted.

*What made him choose Berkeley for law school.

*His involvement and service in the Maui community.

*His experience on the Finance committee this session.

*His interest in technology, accessibility, information.

*Pursuing issues important to the community, particularly education and jobs.

*Working on issues that were important to Rep. Nakasone, particularly long-term care.

Rep. Isaac Choy to Appear on Kukui Connection

Rep. Marilyn Lee continues her series with freshmen legislators on "Kukui Connection", seen every Sunday afternoon, Olelo, Channel 54, 4 p.m.

On April 5 and April 19, Rep. Lee's guest is newly-elected Rep. Isaac Choy from District 24 - Manoa, University, McCully. They will be talking about:

*Rep Choy's background as an accountant, as former chair of the Tax Review Commission, and how he has used this experience at the legislature.

*His take on serving on the Finance Committee.

*The recent predictions by the Council on Revenues.

*Hawaii's economy in relation to the mainland economy.

*His involvement in the Manoa community.

*Quote from the show: "I enlisted as a Marine thinking that I would change the Marines, and it took me about 30 minutes to realize that that wasn't going to happen."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Honoring Hawaii's Kahuna Nui

Leimomi Mo'okini Lum was honored today in a floor presentation sponsored by Rep. Joe Souki. She was recognized for her outstanding service in protecting and perpetuating Hawai'i's acient cultural heritage.

Momi, as everyone calls her, was chosen as Kahuna Nui, the spiritual and physical guardian and caretaker of the Mo'okini Luakini Hei'au, which is registered as a national historic landmark. Upon becoming the Kahuna Nui, Momi lifted the sacred kapu that reserved the Hei'au for royalty and human sacrifices, making it safe for anyone to enter the site. Momi founded and organized the Na Mano O Hawaii Nei, and formulated and implemented Children's Day. In 2009, she began the construction of the Mo'okini Educational Complex, a permanent site to continue her work with children to preserve and the culture of Hawaii.

In Photo: Rep. Joe Souki with Leimomi Mo'okini Lum, who was honored by the House of Representatives for her work with the community enriching promoting the cultural and religious traditions of old Hawai'i.

Bring it on

Rep. Tom Brower sponsored a floor presentation to honor the UH cheer squad for their win at Rah! Paula Abdul's Cheerleading Bowl.

Here's what he had to say:

Like nearly all Members of the Legislature, I too am a proud graduate of the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

For an alumnus, and it seems like for decades, I have watched cheerleaders supporting UH teams. To me, they were "Unsung Heroes," entertaining and motivating spectators.

But today, Mr. Speaker, it's time to "Bring It On."

Recently, I was channel surfing and saw our UH Cheerleaders on MTV, Oceanic Cable channel 17. As I watched this on national TV, I paid extra attention to each cheerleader's moves, both men and women.

I came to realize that cheerleading is a strenuous sport involving professional choreography of dance, jumps and flips. It has become a sport unto itself and participants must be as strong as any football player, as poised as any dancer and as flexible as the best gymnasts.


Basket Toss, Bow & Arrow, Blades, Buckets, Candlestick, Clasps, Daggers, The Shout Out, Hitch Wall, Laying Hitch, Legs, Pyramid, Spider, Touchdown, and the X Mount… just to name a few.
The UH Cheer Squad is composed of athletes from all over Hawaii, the continental United States, and Canada.

These outstanding young men and women have won several national championships and, most recently, Mr. Speaker…

The UH Cheer Squad was handpicked to participate in the 1st ever "RAH! Paula Abdul’s Cheerleading Bowl"— which was aired across the country on MTV— they won 1st place, beating the country's best teams: Arizona, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Montana and Miami of Ohio.

The cheerleaders were judged on creativity, teamwork, degree of difficulty and overall performance, by a panel of professional judges.

Unfortunately not all of the cheerleaders could be here today because of their class schedules, but please allow me to introduce you to the 2008-2009 University of Hawaii Cheer Squad:

Honorees: Would you please stand as I call your name?

Members and those seated in the gallery: please hold your applause until the last person's name is called.

Mr. Michael Barker,
Ms. Pualani Castagnetti,
Mr. Christoff Elster,
Ms. Liz Hamann,
Mr. John Hengesteg,
Mr. Kevin Lam,
Mr. George McGuire,
Mr. David Morgan,
And Assistant Coach Ms. Mateo Salado

Also in the gallery are guests Haley Collins and Vanessa Bader.
Would you please wave?
Members, would you please welcome our University of Hawaii Cheer Squad.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SBA Award Winners honored by lawmakers

Today on the House floor, Representatives Angus McKelvey and Isaac Choy introduced their colleagues to eleven local business men and women who won U.S. Small Business Administration Awards for the State of Hawaii. A house resolution was introduced to recognize and honor the U.S. Small Business Administration's dedication to the small business community.


Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Mr. Michael Fairall, owner and principal of Mokulua Woodworking, Ltd.

Small Exporter of the Year - Mr. Richard Xie, president of Hawaiian Sealife Inc.

Family-Owned Small Business of the Year - Jayne Kim and June Arakawa, owners of Eki Cyclery.

Small Business Journalist of the Year - Naomi Hazelton Giambrone, founder of Pacific Edge Magazine.

Veteran's Business Champion of the Year - Judy Arayanado, a Work & Family Life coordinator for the Pearl Harbor Fleet & Family Support Center for 15 years.

Entrepreneurial Success of the Year - Timothy Moore, Michael Moore, and Robert Aguiar, Old Lahaiana Luau & Aloha Mixed Plate.

Women in Business Champion of the Year - Melissa Pavlicek, founder and president of the Hawaii Public Policy Advocates.

Financial Services Champion of the Year - Jean Jeremiah, administrator with the SCORE Association (counselors to America's Small Business).

Minority Small Business Champion of the Year - Barbara Haliniak, founder of Business Depot, Inc. and chair of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce.

Home-Based Business Champion of the Year - Agnes Reyes, president of Case Management Professionals, Inc.

Small Business Person of the Year - Vaughn Vasconcellos, president and chief executive officer of Akimeka LLC

In Photo: Reps. McKelvey and Choy with the winners of the SBA Hawaii awards.

Judge Reynaldo Graulty honored in floor presentation

In Photo (L-R bottom) Rep. Henry Aquino, Rep. Lynn Finnegan, Rep. Corinne Ching, the Honorable Judge Reynaldo Graulty, his wife Gigi Graulty, Rep. Kymberly Pine, Rep. Glenn Wakai, Rep. Michael Magaoay, Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran; (L-R top) Rep. Jerry Chang, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, Rep. Joey Manahan, Rep. Tom Brower

The House today congratulated the Honorable Judge Reynaldo Graulty on the occasion of his retirement as a Circuit Court Judge in a special floor presentation at the Hawaii State Capitol. Representatives Glenn Wakai and Tom Brower offered House Resolution 285 that honored the former senator and state representative.

Rep. Wakai gave a congratulatory speech to honor Judge Graulty:
There are very few people who can say they’ve worked in EVERY branch of government in Hawaii, but today’s honoree has distinguished himself in all three.

Colleagues, I would like to acknowledge the contributions by Reynaldo Graulty – former State Representative and Senator, former Insurance Commissioner, and former Circuit Court Judge.

Judge Graulty, retired from the bench on March 1 after spending 27 years serving the people of Hawaii.
As a young boy growing up in the Manila. He was the eldest of six children. His father was an American in the foreign service and his mother a Filipina.
It was his dream to one day live in America, so on his 18th birthday, he registered for the draft.
He left to study in the U.S., venturing to the State University of New York at Albany. He lived with relatives and would eventually graduate with a bachelor's degree in History and Political Science.

In 1972 he moved to Hawaii as an Infantry Officer at Schofield Barracks.
Following completion of his military service, Graulty used his GI Bill benefits to attend the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law.

Judge Graulty was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, representing the OASIS of Honolulu -- Salt Lake and Moanalua. He was re-elected in 19-84…

Despite his rising political career, Graulty left the House in 19-86 to spend more time with his family and concentrate on his newly created law practice. Graulty, Evangelista & Quiban – a firm specializing in labor law.

Graulty was once again bitten by an itch for public service and returned to this building in 1992.
He served in the Senate as the Chairman of Human Services committee and later judiciary chair.
One of his legislative legacies was creating a Blueprint for Change on how we can better address child abuse and neglect in this state.

Judge Graulty was appointed by Governor Cayetano as the Commissioner of the State Insurance Commission in 19-97.
As Insurance Commissioner he was able to reform our no-fault auto insurance law. At the time, Hawaii drivers were paying the second highest auto insurance premiums in the nation.
As a result of his work, drivers saw a drop of 20-percent on their auto insurance premiums, the largest reduction in the nation.
As Insurance Commissioner, he was also instrumental in HEMIC's early success.

In 1999, he was appointed and confirmed as a Circuit Court Judge. Early on, he took on one of the largest cases of government fraud in Honolulu history.
Judge Graulty presided over the Ewa Villages scandal where Michael Kahapea was convicted and sentenced for stealing $5.8 million from taxpayers.
He says the ultimate satisfaction of sitting on the bench came from the week in, week out, trials that lead to a safer community.

Now in retirement, he plans to take a trip to the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama next month to play 10 rounds of golf in 6 days, then he will settle in to be a full time grandpa.

Over his illustrious career in government, Reynaldo Graulty made substantial contributions to state policy, protection of consumers, and the administration of justice.

Many of his initiatives will continue to better our community in the decades to come.

Today, Judge Reynaldo Graulty, we honor you for your outstanding contributions to the people of Hawaii.


Women's Caucus and Governor Lingle

The Women's Caucus of the Hawaii State Legislature took the opportunity of the joint session yesterday to pose for a photo with Governor Linda Lingle.

Back row, left to right: Rep. Mele Carroll, Rep. Faye Hanohano, Rep. Kymberly Pine, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Lynn Finnegan, Sen. Roz Baker, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, Rep. Corinne Ching, Rep. Karen Awana, Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland, Rep. Marilyn Lee

Front row, left to right: Sen. Michelle Kidani, Governor Linda Lingle, Rep. Hermina Morita, Rep. Sylvia Luke, Rep. Jessica Wooley, Rep. Sharon Har, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Barbara Marumoto, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celebrating 50 years of Statehood

The 50th state of the United States of America turned 50 years old today. At the Hawaii State Capitol past governors and lawmakers who helped shape the foundation of our government and other dignitaries joined the 25th Legislature and the administration in commemorating this historic event.

President Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Admissions Act on March 18, 1959, and three months later the people of Hawaii voted 17 to 1 to accept statehood.

Members of the First Legislature of Hawaii House of Representatives were honored this afternoon at the Statehood Special Joint Session:

Thomas P. Gill. Mrs. Lois Gill and son, Mr. Eric Gill
Stanley I. Hara, Mrs. Diane Hara and son, Judge Glenn Hara
Walter M. Heen and Mrs. Norma Heen
George Koga and Mrs. Ruth Koga
Katsugo Miho, Mrs. Laura Miho, and daughter, Ms. Mariko Miho
Frederick W. Rolfing and Mrs. Rolfing

After the special session, four artifacts celebrating the State's 50th anniversary were placed in the chambers of the Capitol for public viewing. The artifacts included the original state seal, the pen President Eisenhower used to sign into law the Hawaii statehood bill, the phone used by Speaker Elmer Carvalho to receive a call from Territorial Governor William Quinn in Washington D.C. about the passage of the statehood bill by the president, and a log from a bonfire held in Honolulu to celebrate statehood. You can views these artifacts at the end of the slideshow.

Hawaii Foodbank Events Mar/April

More events to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank have been added to the calendar. Here are a few of the new additions:

White Elephant Sale on April 13 sponsored by Reps. Karen Awana, Joe Souki and Michael Magaoay.

Bento sale on March 25. Pre-order with Rep. Tom Brower.

Okuhara Deluxe saimin sale on March 30 with Rep. Denny Coffman.

Mistken Chicken Plate and Liliha Coco Puffs on March 31 sponsored by Rep. Corinne Ching.

Check out the calendar in House Links for more fundraisers sponsored by House and Senate lawmakers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Ledge: Manta Lovers

"The Ledge" is produced by the office of Rep. Hermina Morita. Here's the latest video on Manta Rays:

Representative Denny Coffman, a freshman lawmaker from the Big Island, talks about a pro-active measure he introduced this session that would make it illegal to kill or capture manta rays. Only 154 manta rays have been identified in Kona, Hawaii since 1992. These majestic creatures are susceptible to overfishing and are hunted and killed for their dried gill rakers in order produce traditional Asian medicine. There is no immediate threat to the manta population in Hawaii. However, new demand for manta rays have already threatened local populations in Indonesia, Mexico and the Phillipines. HB366 makes an exception for special permits granted for scientific, education, management and propagation purposes.

The Senate Committee on Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs will be hearing HB 366 March 18, 2009 at 3 p.m. in conference room 229.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nanakuli Beach Park Closures

The City and County, starting this week, will close Nanakuli Beach Park between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This will displace a number of homeless individuals and families, and Rep. Karen Awana comments on the impact of the city's new rule upon her community in this KHON interview.

Health Information Exchange Bill Could Mean Millions for Hawaii

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu held a press conference today on House Bill 1782, HD2, a proposal to establish the Office of State Coordinator of Health Information Technology. This is a program that will have the potential of raising much needed new revenue to the state. It would serve to coordinate local efforts, identify funding sources, integrate state health programs, and eventually participate in the national health information technology network. It would be located with the Department of Accounting and General Services.

President Obama’s economic stimulus plan proposes $20 billion for health information technology, including a potential $11 million per hospital. HB 1782, HD2 will strengthen the state’s efforts to access these new federal monies. At a $10 to $1 federal fund match, Health Information Technology has the potential to draw down the biggest amount of federal funds for the state after rail.

At crossover, the House passed HB1782, HD2, Relating to Health Information Exchange, which is now before the Senate for action. Here are some facts about the proposed legislation:

*Establishes a statewide Health Information Technology (IT) system.

*Establishes a health information technology task force comprised of state agencies and stakeholders.

*$35 million appropriated for IT in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with $20 billion specifically appropriated for Health IT.

*American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows for states, or a qualified state-designated entity within the state to qualify for federal funds for Health IT purposes.

$10 match in federal funds to every $1 in state funds for FY2011
$7 match in federal funds to every $1 in state funds for FY2012
$3 match in federal funds to every $1 in state funds for FY2013 and each subsequent fiscal year

*There is no specific limit on state grant award amounts in the ARRA 2009 for Health IT making it the second biggest draw down of federal funds to Hawaii after the rail project.

*Health IT will also improve patient healthcare by providing physicians with immediate access to patient edical records, including patient medical history, lab results, and prescription medications to name a few, all of which will contribute to a reduction in medical errors.

*Reduction in medical errors will assist in driving down the high cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums that are causing doctors to no longer practice in the state of Hawaii.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big Island girls do it better

Photo: (L-R) Courtney Campbell, Danette Haas-Campbell, Kayla Greenberg, Akela Quin are members of HAAS Productions who shot b-roll during their trip to the Capitol.

A student film crew from the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences, a small public charter school in Pahoa on the Big Island, visited the Hawaii State Capitol today to interview House and Senate members from their island. The Capitol film project will air on Na Leo Public Access TV once completed.

HAAS Productions launched just six months ago under the direction of Gloria Baraquio, and in this short period of time the all-girl film crew has accomplished numerous achievements. They were able to win at the E Malama Aina Film Festival in Hilo with a short film on sustainability, produced a short Christmas segment for Na Leo Public Access TV, and submitted a short film on underage drinking to the HMSA video contest. In addition to their Capitol project, the production team is working on entering two other film contests with E Ola Pono and Na Leo TV.

Photo: (L-R) Thula Martin, Bailey Wooldridge, Kayleigh Moccio, Gloria Baraquio, Racheal Rivera are members of HAAS Productions who did interviews with Big Island lawmakers for a Capitol film project.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Human Rights Day this week

The public is invited to participate in the 5th annual Human Rights Day at the Hawaii State Capitol on Thursday, March 12 2009 from 9 a.m. - noon.

The event provides an opportunity for the public and legislators to learn about the work being done by dozens of nonprofit groups sharing a vision of justice and the advancement of human rights.

The theme of this year’s event is “Culture of Peace”. Among the groups that will be taking part are ACLU, American Friends Service Committee, and the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace.

Human Rights Day began as a way to call attention to and support the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It celebrates and recognizes community efforts that affirm the dignity of all human beings, bring about social justice, and honor the uniqueness of life in Hawaii.

Human Rights Day is hosted by Representative Lyla Berg (District 18, Hahaione-Kahala).

For more information, please contact Jen Wilbur at 586-6510.

The Ledge: HB 444 Civil Unions

House Bill 444, introduced by Rep. Blake Oshiro, stalled in Senate Committee last month with a vote of 3-3. Senators are considering forcing the bill out of committee for a full floor vote. The Honolulu Star Bulletin has an article on the rally and candlelight vigil held by civil unions supporters Saturday night. The rally is featured in this weeks "The Ledge" episode, which is created by staff of Rep. Hermina Morita's office.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Community Meeting on McKinley High School Athletic Complex Master Plan

Honolulu residents, parents and students are invited to a community briefing to discuss the McKinley High School Athletic Complex Master Plan Monday, March 9, 2009 6-7:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Makiki Christian Church. The plan includes improvements to sports field, tennis courts, swimming pool, and other recreational and community facilities. McKinley High School Athletic Director Neal Takamori and planning consultants will be available to provide details on the plan and to address questions. Community members concerned about the impacts of the sports complex on surrounding areas should plan to attend the meeting.

Following the briefing will be a legislative update session with Senators Carol Fukunaga and Brickwood Galuteria, Representatives Tom Brower and Karl Rhoads, and Councilmember Duke Bainum. Lawmakers will talk about important legislation making its way through the legislative process and answer questions.

Refreshments will be provided. For more information, please call 586-6890.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shocks through the House

The House of Representatives purchased three fully automatic Automated External Defibrillators (AED) that will be located in fire extinguisher cabinets on the Chamber level (next to the Sergeant-at-Arms Office), and in the mauka corridors on the 3rd (next to room 303) and 4th floors (between rooms 402 and 404).

In mid-January, over 40 staff and House members participated in a CPR/AED training course, earning a 2-year certification from the American Heart Association. (Check out a previous post, "Getting over the yuck factor", for more on the training).The House Defibrillator Program was coordinated by Lon Paresa, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms.

The live-saving shock machines are alarm activated and should only be used in emergency situations. Clear and simple voice commands guide the user through proper application. The machines are safe and easy to use; they will not send electrical currents to a patients heart if it's not necessary.

Legislation about AEDs is now making its way through the House. The measure (HB 1537) protects individuals not covered under the Good Samaritan clause from civil liability when using the AED to help save a life. Rep. Tom Brower (Waikiki, Kakaako) introduced the bill to "see defibrillators placed in more buildings where our residents live, work and play."

HB 1537, RELATING TO AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS, specifies that any person who provides for an automated external defibrillator training program is generally immune from vicarious civil liability resulting from any act or omission of a Good Samaritan attempting to use the device to resuscitate a person.

Photo: Rep. Ryan Yamane, chair of the House Health Committee, restarts compressions after the mannequin receives a faux shock from one of the three AED machines that will be placed in the Legislature by the House of Representatives.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You are what you eat

The House Finance Committee today passed HB1526 HD2, which requires franchise retail food establishments to include nutritional information on their menus and menu boards. State Representative John M. Mizuno, Chair of the Committee on Human Services, introduced the bill.

"I'd like the people of Hawaii to be empowered by reliable, accessible nutritional information at the point of purchase that will help them make better informed, healthier choices," said Rep. Mizuno.

In 2008, California became the first state in the nation to require calorie information on menus and indoor menu boards.

HB1526, HD2, will require franchise retail food establishments to include on all standard menu items nutritional information such as calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.

Rep. Mizuno worked with the Hawaii Restaurant Association to craft language for this bill. "Victor Lim, the Chair of the Association has been outstanding in his support to move this measure forward," he said.

"I know many people who cope with high blood pressure are diabetic or may be overweight, added Rep. Mizuno."I truly believe they will benefit from the calorie, fats, carbohydrates, and sodium information posted on menus and indoor menu boards."

HB1526, HD2, will now be placed for a House floor vote, most likely on Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

Tort reform bills advance

The House Judiciary Committee yesterday passed out several tort reform measures, including HB 1784 HD2 RELATING TO MEDICAL TORTS that would set a maximum award limit on noneconomic damages. Award limits would be set by a medical malpractice task force. The measure also establishes a medical malpractice insurance premium rate and cap commission.

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, believes that what was passed out of committee yesterday was “a delicate compromise between several parties on different ends of the spectrum.”

“We worked very hard on this compromised approach and believe that the measure we are moving out for the Senate to consider will not only keep the discussion alive, but also has an excellent chance of making some very meaningful reforms in the area of doctor recruitment and retention,” he said.

Tort reform has been a major and controversial issue at the legislature for several years. In past years, tort reform measures have not been able to amass enough votes to get through the Judiciary Committee.

Other measures voted out of committee with amendments include:

HB 1636, RELATING TO EMERGENCY MEDICAL PHYSICIANS, which grants immunity to on-duty emergency room physicians.

HB 310, RELATING TO MEDICAL TORTS. This bill authorizes the court to impose sanctions on a party whose rejection of the Medical Claim Conciliation Panel's decision resulted in a trial, and who, at trial, fails to improve on the panel's award by increasing or decreasing it by at least 30 percent.
All bills will go to the House floor for vote before being able to cross over to the Senate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Community Coffee Talk with Makiki Lawmakers

The public is invited to a Legislative Coffee Talk with Representatives Della Au Belatti and Karl Rhoads and Senators Brickwood Galuteria and Carol Fukunaga at the Makiki Community Library on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 from 6-8 p.m. The legislators will present their mid-session legislative update to the community and answer any questions about this year’s legislative session. The Makiki Community Library is located at 1527 Keeaumoku St. in Honolulu.

Please contact Rep. Belatti’s office with any questions at 586-9425.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bringing Pro Bowl back

The House Committee on Tourism, Culture and International Affairs (TCI) today held an informational briefing with with the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to find out what happened with negotiations to secure Honolulu as host of the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2012. The 10-member board recently rejected a second proposal by the NFL because exact dates that the games would be played were not specified. HTA made a counter proposal, which was rejected, assuring that the Pro Bowl would be played after the Super Bowl. The 2010 Pro Bowl game will be played in Miami's Dolphin Stadium one week before the Super Bowl.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann was the first to speak with lawmakers this morning, urging HTA to accept the offer that is on the table. He commented on the urgency of closing the deal with the NFL before the football game gets intercepted by another city. Mayors in U.S. cities, such as Dallas and Miami, are ecstatic that the Pro Bowl may leave Hawaii for good, he said.

Hannemann reminded lawmakers that the Pro Bowl is part of Hawaii's culture. Week-long Pro Bowl events not only benefit the tourism industry, but also increases morale in residents around the island. He also mentioned the fact that the NFL provides $100,000 to Hawaii charities each year. This year will be no different. The NFL has agreed to give Hawaii the money next year even though the game will not be played here.

Rep. Joey Manahan, chair of the House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee, hopes that the board and the NFL will soon come to an agreement. We need to make sure that the Pro Bowl game comes back to Hawaii, he said, then we can work on making it better and keeping it here for another thirty years.

Cultural Jewels: Hawaiian Fishponds on the Ledge

This week on "The Ledge": Representative Lyla Berg talks about HB 1665 (SB 1644), a Hawaiian Caucus bill that if made law would bar the state from selling public land on which government-owned Hawaiian fishponds are located.

The bill received no testimony in opposition during its first hearing in the House Hawaiian Affairs committee. The Kuli'ou'ou Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board #2, Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, Hawaii Nearshore Fisherman, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs testified in support of this measure. The Department of Land and Natural Resources commented on the bill, deferring to the Dept. of the Attorney General because government-owned fishponds are considered ceded lands. The AG's office and the administration has remained in opposition of all measures prohibiting the sale of ceded lands.

HB 1665 is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance committee on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. in conference room 309.

To email testimony, go to