Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Notice of Intent to Veto

Here's a list of the Governor's potential vetoes, with links to the bills and bill history.

Thousands rally at Capitol against Lingle's furlough plan

Thousands of people came to the Hawaii State Capitol this afternoon to protest against Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to furlough state workers three days a month. Members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii State Teachers Association, United Public Workers, the UH Professional Assembly, and their families waved signs and cheered after each speaker took the stage calling for fairness. Chants criticizing the governor's plan rang through the Capitol halls. Here are a few of them:

We say: Negotiate!
Lingle says: Dictate!
The Law says: Negotiate!
Lingle says: Dictate!

Linda Lingle, Don't You Dare!
We Have
Contracts, Treat Us Fair!

Ho Ho, Hey Hey,
Our contracts are here to
Ho Ho, Hey Hey,
Lingle cannot get her way!

We say 'Union -
Strong and Proud!'
'Hear us Governor! Hear us loud!!"

Don't believer
her sound bites!
Linda Lingle, we have rights!

You can also find coverage on KITV4.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Never shake a keiki

House and Senate Committees on Human Services today held an informational briefing to take a closer look at what the state can do to better address elder and child abuse.

In 2009, three major cases have made headlines in the news. One involves a former nursing aide who was charged in June with fondling three elderly women at a Kahala nursing home. Another, a man who allegedly beat his 7-month-old daughter in 2007, was recently found guilty of attempted manslaughter. The final case involves a woman charged with the murder of her 7-month-old nephew. Doctors found signs of shaken baby syndrome, including internal bleeding in the skull and semi-detached retinas.

Rep. John Mizuno, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, invited government and community agencies to brief lawmakers, including the Honolulu Police Department, the Hawaii Coalition of Caregivers Association, Adult Residential Care Homes Association, and Community Care Foster Homes Association.

Dr. Philip Hyden, the Medical Director for Kapiolani Child Protection Center and expert on shaken baby syndrome, or abusive head trauma, explained that major head injuries, which defines shaken baby syndrome, can only be caused by excessive force. Injuries to an infant caused by an accident, such as falling off a 2-feet couch, are usually minor. Shaken baby syndrome occurs when the brain rebounds against the skull of the baby causing bruising, swelling, pressure, and bleeding in the brain and damage to retinas.

Abuse prevention was the main focus of today's meeting. Dr. Hyden said that many shaken baby syndrome cases happen because parents or caretakers become frustrated with a crying child or lose control of their anger during a stressful day. Pediatricians must be more adamant in reminding parents of the dangers of shaking a child, he added, no matter their socio-economical status.

Advocates of elder care, including care home and foster home caregivers and case managers, also shared concerns over the lack of oversight of the people hired to care for senior citizens in nursing home institutions.

Photo: Dr. Philip Hyden talks about what can happen to a child when vigorously shaken causing a form of inflicted head trauma.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rep. Tom Brower in Hollywood

Representative Tom Brower, who is currently vacationing in Hollywood, sent us over a few photos taken early this morning of Michael Jackson's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame where a crowd of several hundred people came to mourn the King of Pop's sudden death. The police opened the streets near the famous stars after the premiere of the film "Bruno" ended. Check the pics out below:

State Representative Tom Brower (D23-Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako)

Crowd mourning the loss of Michael Jackson at 2 a.m. near the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo courtesy of Rep. Tom Brower)

Crowd mourning the loss of Michael Jackson at 2 a.m. near the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo courtesy of Rep. Tom Brower)

Capitol Tweeps

It's Follow Friday in Twitterville. Here's a list of elected officials and other State Capitol related folks on Twitter who you may be interested in following. A few have "protected" accounts, which means that you'll need to send them a request to start following. If I've missed someone, or if you work at the Capitol and want to be included, please let me know. (I did not include the "personal" twitter accounts of capitol staffers.) Also, I'm not aware of the Governor or Lt. Governor's offices on Twitter. If they are, send us a tweet.


Gil Keith Agaran - twitter.com/gilkeithagaran

Della Au Belatti - twitter.com/daubelatti

Mele Carroll - twitter.com/carrolloffice1

Cindy Evans - twitter.com/rep_cindy_evans

Jon Riki Karamatsu - twitter.com/jonriki

Chris Lee - twitter.com/repclee

Marilyn Lee - twitter.com/marilynblee

Angus McKelvey - twitter.com/angusmckelvey

John Mizuno - twitter.com/forthepeople808

Marcus Oshiro - twitter.com/marcusoshiro

Mark Nakashima - twitter.com/marknakashima

Kymberly Pine - twitter.com/kympine

Gene Ward - twitter.com/geneward

Glenn Wakai - twitter.com/glennwakai

House Staff:

Thelma Dreyer - twitter.com/thelmadreyer

Georgette Deemer - twitter.com/georgettedeemer


Rosalyn Baker - twitter.com/rozbaker

Kalani English - twitter.com/jkalanienglish

Will Espero - twitter.com/willespero

Carol Fukunaga - twitter.com/carol808

Mike Gabbard - twitter.com/senmikegabbard

Colleen Hanabusa - twitter.com/colleenhanabusa

Gary Hooser - twitter.com/garyhooser

Les Ihara Jr. - twitter.com/lesiharajr

Jill Tokuda - twitter.com/jilltokuda

Senate Staff:

Hawaii Senate Majority - twitter.com/hawaiisenate

Legislative Agencies:

House Sergeant at Arms - twitter.com/housesaa

Legislative Reference Bureau Library - twitter.com/LRBlibrary

Capitol Media:

Honolulu Advertiser Capitol Notebook - twitter.com/ddepledge

Honolulu Star Bulletin Politics - twitter.com/hsbpolitics

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gov signs energy bills

Representative Hermina Morita, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, today issued the following statement on Governor Lingle’s signing of four energy bills:

“I am pleased to learn that Governor Lingle has signed into law these important energy bills. They are all critical pieces to our preferred clean energy future.

I am also anxiously awaiting her action and support of House Bill 1271 because it is the lynch pin, providing the organizational structure, funding and staffing, in achieving our long-term energy and food security strategy.

The Legislature recognized in the passage of House Bill 1271 that to achieve clean energy and food security we need to make critical infrastructure investments and this can only be done through consistent, dedicated funding and sustained political will.”

The bills, with legislative summaries, are:

SB 868 signed as Act 153. Addresses deficiencies in Hawaii's energy resources coordination statutes. Provides policy guidance to ensure adequate detail on the nature and relationship of the energy data analysis functions of the state energy resources coordinator and energy program.

SB 464 signed as Act 154. Amends the renewable energy technologies income tax credit to encourage use of solar and wind energy systems and to permit a portion of the excess of the credit over payments due to be refunded to the taxpayer in certain circumstances. Reduces the tax credit for certain energy systems used to meet substitute renewable energy technology requirements for single-family residential properties.

HB 1464 signed as Act 155. Provides for and encourages renewable energy use and development, and energy efficiency, including increasing requirements for renewable energy portfolio standard, expanding duties of the energy resources coordinator, establishing energy efficiency portfolio standards, requiring energy-efficient state buildings, requiring sellers to provide electricity-cost information, and appropriating funds from the Renewable Energy Facility Siting Special Fund.

SB 1202 signed as Act 156. Establishes the development of non-fossil fuel transportation as a state policy goal. Requires the designation of parking spaces for electric vehicles and provides penalties for parking a non‑electric vehicle in reserved spaces. Requires State and county agencies to follow a priority list when purchasing energy-efficient vehicles, including electric vehicles. Includes requirements for developing an electric vehicle infrastructure. Establishes the Transportation Energy Transformation Grant Fund Program. Eff. 7/1/2009.

Ruling on Campaign Spending

Today, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled in favor of plaintiff-appellee Charmaine Tavares Campaign, clarifying the campaign spending law relating to corporate contributions.

A copy of the ruling is here.

In summary, the ICA agreed with the Circuit Court's August 10, 2007 judgment that corporations may donate to candidates directly under the limits of $2,000, $4,000 or $6,000 according to the office for which the candidate is running. While the $1,000 limit for Political Action Committees is still in place, corporations do not need to contribute to a candidate via the PAC.

This past session, various "compromise" proposals were introduced, such as implementing an aggregate cap on corporate contributions of either $25,000 or $50,000. The advantage to the aggregate cap is that they would have included a disclosure mechanism with the abilityto more easily track corporate contributions. The compromise was opposed by advocates who wanted to see the cap remain at $1,000 or to eliminate corporate contributions altogether.

Majority Leader Blake Oshiro said that advocates who fought the compromise caps "rolled the dice and lost." He indicated that while he is personally okay with establishing an aggregate cap, he feels that it is "highly unlikely that a bill to do so would pass at this point."

Ah Quon McElrath to be honored for her activism

The nation's educators will posthumously honor Ah Quon McElrath with the César Chávez Acción y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award. The National Education Association (NEA) will present her family with the award at a special dinner on July 2, 2009 in San Diego.

Ah Quon passed away on Thursday, December 11, 2008 at the age of 92, a few days before her 93rd birthday. She was a well-known social activist and advocate for social justice who walked the halls of the State Capitol lobbying lawmakers to increase public services and enhance the benefits and rights of low-income workers. Ah Quon spent most of her life as a social worker for the International Longshoremen's and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and is renowned as the icon of the Hawaii labor movement.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro described her as "a champion of the working class and one of Hawaii’s favorite daughters” in an article by the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Hawaii's educators nominated Ah Quon for the award in which is presented each year to someone who follows in the exemplary footsteps of Cesar Chavez in philosophy, work and leadership, according to a press release from the NEA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Executive Order on Furloughs

The Governor's Executive Order on state furloughs, issued today, is here.

Harvesting the Sun

Sunday, June 21st, was not only Father's Day and the Summer Solstice, it was the start of Solar Heating Week - June 21 - 27, 2009. Last week, Rep. Hermina Morita, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, joined Lt. Governor Aiona and representatives from Hawaiian Electric Co. in the Executive Chambers for the signing of the proclamation.

This legislative session, Rep. Morita introduced HB1464, a comprehensive bill to align the state's energy laws with the state's renewable energy policies and goals. The bill is currently before the Governor awaiting signature. If enacted, the bill takes effect on July 1, 2009. Here are some of the major points:

*Electric utility companies will be required to establish a renewable portfolio standard of their net electricity sales - 10% by December 31, 2010, 15% by December 31, 2015, 25% by December 31, 2020, and 40% by December 31, 2030.

*After December 31, 2014, the entirety of the renewable portfolio standard shall be met by electrical generation using renewable energy sources.

*Directs the Energy Resource Coordinator to identify geographical areas within the state that contain energy resources and designate energy resource zones. Develop incentive programs to encourage projects.

*Appropriates $1 million for each year of the biennium, FY10-11, for the Renewable Energy Facility Siting Special Fund.

*By December 2010, require state buildings more than 5,000 s.f. or that use more than 8,000 kilowatts annually to be benchmarked and used as a basis to determine the State's investment in improving the energy efficiency of public buildings.

*Require public buildings to be retro-commissioned at least once every 5 years.

*Establishes the Building Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund to provide low to no-interest loans to public, private and non-profit borrowers for energy efficiency improvements and projects.

*Clarifies the solar water heater requirement for new homes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Effective July 1

Many bills passed and enacted into law in 2009 have an effective date of July 1, 2009. Here's a list provided by the Legislative Reference Bureau of new laws that will go into effect on that date. Note that it does not include bills that have not yet been signed into law as of 6/22/09.

Qualified nurses seek authority to provide primary care

The following op-ed was published this morning in The Honolulu Advertiser:

Trained nurses can ease doctor shortage

By Marilyn Lee

A bill that allows nurses with advanced training to deliver primary health care independent of physicians is before the governor to be signed into law. Primary health care refers to the first contact a patient has with the health care system. It's the basic, initial care that you receive when visiting a clinic or a doctor's office, the care you get before being referred, if necessary, to a specialist.

This issue has been coming before the Legislature for several years, and we have been moving steadily toward giving nurses more autonomy and responsibility, advancing boldly into territory previously controlled by physicians. Actually, registered nurses have been delivering this kind of care for decades.

In recent years, however, nurses with advanced training, such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, have been moving toward greater independence.

This has occurred as the country has experienced a growing shortage of primary-care physicians. In many states, including New York, nurse practitioners are allowed to write prescriptions and be reimbursed by third-party insurers. A growing number of health maintenance organizations are using nurses as primary-care providers, and some nurse practitioners are going into practice on their own.

As long as nurses were working for doctors, there wasn't much of a problem. The nurses lighten the workload, and they help bolster profits. For routine visits, some patients end up seeing only the nurse, even though they are paying for a visit to the doctor.

Unfortunately, the American Medical Association has criticized virtually every argument supporting greater autonomy for nurses. The AMA rejects the idea that nursing care is less expensive than physician care. It contends there is no convincing evidence that nurses are more cost-effective health care providers. This is particularly interesting when you consider that the average income for doctors last year was $170,000, but for nurse practitioners was $43,600.

The cornerstone of the doctors' argument is that nurses acting independently threaten the health of their patients. There does not seem to be any evidence for that argument. The dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing noted nurse practitioners have been delivering primary care since 1965, and hundreds of studies have examined the quality of their work, including their diagnostic ability and management effectiveness.

Not a single study shows any lapses, and most of the studies were done by physicians. When asked if any studies had shown problems with the quality of care delivered by advanced-practice nurses, Dr. Lonnie Bristow, former AMA chairman said, "No, certainly not. In fact, we believe the quality of care is quite good."

Dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and others work alongside physicians, and we don't worry they are going to cause liability for the physicians. We just passed a bill allowing Physician's Assistants the right to practice independently, so why not nurses? There will be a two-year report by the insurance commissioner on how well this new law is going. Any problems that arise can be addressed at that time.

This year, the Legislature has made fantastic progress in improving access to care for patients in rural areas and underserved communities. Recent discussions on health care reform packages emphasize primary care and add considerable weight toward greater responsibility for advanced-practice nurses. With health care costs creating economic havoc, it is not likely that doctors or anyone else will be able to slow the movement. If nurses with special training are delivering high quality care at a reasonable cost, then we need a reason other than doctor's anxiety to stop them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lawmakers help clean up KPT

Senator Donna Mercado Kim and Representative Joey Manahan joined 350 volunteers over the weekend at a massive cleanup effort at Kuhio Park Terrace. The cleanup was organized to help encourage residents to take a vested interest in the care and maintenance of their shared home. Volunteers, half of them residents of KPT, helped plant vegetation, painted over graffiti and picked up trash around the housing complex.

The cleanup was a joint effort between the Institute for Human Services, Kanu Hawai'i and the Hawai'i Public Housing Authority. All equipment and materials were donated.

"There is certainly a sense of community here at KPT, and there is pride among the residents. We’ve seen today that we can accomplish anything if we all work together, ” said Representative Manahan.

A big mahalo to the Solid Rock Assembly of God Church, who pitched in with lunch for everyone who volunteered, added Rep. Manahan.

Closing precincts could hurt voter turnout

The Office of Elections has proposed to the legislature to close 66 precincts prior to issuing a Request for Proposals for a new state voting system. A copy of the proposal can be found here. The precincts tagged for possible closure are all on Oahu. The Elections Office indicated that the neighbor islands had already consolidated their precincts in previous years.

Majority Leader Blake Oshiro offered his comments on the proposal in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

"I think, unfortunately, a lot of voters tend to be creatures of habit," said Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa). "I just think it's rife with the opportunity for a lot of confusion and people getting frustrated and, worse yet, missing their opportunity to participate in an election."

Speaker Calvin Say voiced similar concerns in The Advertiser:

"I would be very concerned if they have to close or not open the 66 precincts throughout the state of Hawai'i," he said. "Accessibility to a precinct poll is so important to the public at large and you can see that in the results of the voting for our neighborhood boards. The results were so poor."

The reduced number of precincts would mean that the Office of Elections would have a reduced number of voting machines to procure, thus resulting in some cost savings. The RFP for the voting system is scheduled to be published on July 1st, and if all goes according to plan, a contractor would be selected by September of 2009. The system needs to be in place prior to the upcoming 2010 election, which will include races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Congressional District 1, possibly Mayor, certain Council seats, half of the State Senate and all of the House of Representatives. By all accounts, a critical election year.

Also at issue is the fact that there is a cloud over the procurement of voting machines for the 2008 election. The Star-Bulletin writes:

Last year's election, including 800 voting machines, ballots and support services, cost $6.5 million, Cronin said.

A new contract is required because of legal challenges pending against a contract awarded last year.

The Elections Office had awarded a 10-year, $43 million contract to Texas-based Hart InterCivic. A competing firm, Nebraska-based ES&S, which had submitted a $19 million bid, protested the contract.

An administrative hearings officer ruled against the Elections Office last August, but said it was too late to rescind the contract. Hart conducted the elections for 2008, but the remainder of the contract was voided. The state has appealed.

A commenter on the Advertiser online story points out to what may be a flaw in the proposal:

lipscomb2 wrote:

There's a fine example of illogic: Fewer precincts means fewer voting machines! In actuality, it's not the number of precincts, it's the number of voters, that determines how much voting equipment is needed. The amount of voting equipment needed will decrease only if there are fewer people voting in the precincts. And that will result only from a combination of two factors: more mail-in ballots, and more voters who choose not to vote at all. This proposal seems aimed at one or both of the latter results.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

85th Anniversary of the Ko'olauloa Hawaiian Civic Club

Representative Jessica Wooley and Senator Clayton Hee attended the Ko'olauloa Hawaiian Civic Club's 85th Anniversary brunch on Sunday, June 14 at Turtle Bay. The Laie lawmaker presented a certificate on behalf of the House of Representatives in commemoration of the group's service to the community and dedication to preserving the Hawaiian culture and heritage. Members take pride in improving the economic, social and governing status of Native Hawaiians. The group was founded by William Isaac Kanakanui on June 14, 1924. Check out some of the pictures from the event.

(L-R) Emmalani Keau George, member; Gladys Pualoa-Ahuna, honoree and member; Junior Primacio, member; Rep. Jessica Wooley; and Ululani Beirne-Keawe, President of Ko'olauloa Hawaiian Civic Club.

(L-R) Rep. Jessica Wooley and Junior Primacio

Senator Clayton Hee and Representative Jessica Wooley

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Furlough complaints

Public worker unions filed complaints on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 against the state on the furlough issue. Links can be found here: UPW complaint. HSTA complaint. HGEA complaint.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wai'anae summer tech program accepting applications

Representative Maile Shimabukuro is announcing a new summer program on the Wai'anae Coast for teens and young adults to learn technology skills and get paid for it.

ALU LIKE is accepting applications for the 30-hour per week program that would earn a participant $7.25 an hour. Managed and directed by the Hawaii Technology Institute, the six-week program has slots for 30 participants and will start on June 22, 2009. Participants must be between 14 and 24 years of age and meet low income requirements. Classes will be held at Ulu Ke Kukui, the transitional housing complex. Alu Like, Inc. is funding the program.

"Wai'anae residents really need this type of program," said Rep. Shimabukuro. "Most of our youth are unable to travel to Honolulu to take computer tech classes and some just can't afford to take classes and not work. This program gives our youth the best of both worlds: To earn while they learn!"

During the summer program, students will design and modify educational game prototypes. They will be considered "employees" and will be expected to be punctual and fulfill their assigned responsibilities. In the process of designing and modifying the game prototypes, students will learn to improve both personal and professional communication skills, work well in a group, amicably resolve conflict, enhance computer skills, make and deliver presentations, and more.

"As a Wai'anae Coast resident, I am so very thrilled and excited about having the summer tech program right here in our neck of the woods," said Naomi Digitaki, President and CEO of Hawaii Technology Institute. "The program presents immense opportunities for growth and accomplishments for the young participants."

For more information, please call Lavonne Sexton at 808-522-2700 ext. 26.
To register for the program, please call Serena Kyi-Yim or Robert Velligas of ALU LIKE at 535-6700

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kuhio Park Terrace Issues Long Standing

Photo: Kuhio Park Terrace. KITV.

Rep. Joey Manahan and Senator Donna Mercado Kim, as legislative representatives for the district including Kuhio Park Terrace, took a site visit with The Honolulu Advertiser on June 4th. They were on The Hot Seat to talk about the long-standing problems at the low-income public housing facility. Here is the exchange:

Mona: I understand conditions are bad at public housing, not just Kuhio Park Terrace. But doesn't the Legislature have some responsibility here since these conditions have gone on for years?

Sen. Donna Kim and Rep. Joey Manahan: As legislators, we set policy, make laws and appropriate funding. The day-to-day operations, security, repairs, maintenance and upkeep rest with the governor and her housing department head, Chad Taniguchi, along with the management company.
We have appropriated funds to take care of many of the projects, including the elevators, trash chutes, fire alarms, etc., but there seem to be delays in carrying out the repairs. We've tried to hold the administration accountable by doing hearings, site visits, and recently asked for an audit.

Jason K.: How much of these conditions are the fault of the tenants? Don't they have pride in where they live? If not, I'm sure there are others waiting for that spot in subsidized housing. What are your thoughts?
Kim and Manahan: The residents are an integral part of the solution. Many have pride and it shows when we went on our site visit into individual units.

More needs to be done with transferring this pride to the exterior, but it's difficult when everything around you is broken and in disrepair. More education needs to be done. But many are fearful of raising concerns to the management for repairs.

John: Ms. Mercado Kim, you said that some of the residents are fearful to complain, can you explain what basis you have to say this? Have the residents been threatened if they complained? This is an awful situation and should be taken care of by the AG's office.

Kim and Manahan: I agree that this is an awful situation. Residents we have spoken to on many different occasions have expressed fear of retribution and many have been told they should be careful or they may be evicted. We agree that the AG should look into these allegations.

Kailua Advertiser Reader: My question is so simple. Why so long? This is ridiculous. Please tell me why these things are taking this long.

Kim and Manahan: That is the exact question we have been asking. Every time we ask for updates, the dates keep changing. You would think that a response on 7/11/2008 stating the trash chutes would be completed by 2/1/2009 and the elevators completed by 11/2009 would be close to accurate, considering it was within six to 12 months.

We believe that the delays may stem from a poor attitude and not one of urgency. For example: A recent inquiry as to why the drainage pipe that fills the stairwell with several inches of water in Building A had not been fixed for so long received a reply from Mr. Taniguchi: "We tried to fix it but failed and we didn't pursue it."

Koni: I've been to KPT. A majority of the disrepair is caused by tenants. New fire alarms were being installed when I was there because vandals broke the old ones. The trash chute caught on fire. A main drainage pipe was backed up and they found belts in it. If people took more pride in their surroundings, maybe taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the bill for the constant repairs and re-repairs.

Kim and Manahan: Tenants are a part of the problem and should be part of the solution. They need to build a strong association of residents to hold each other accountable. But on the same note, management must also be held accountable. We all must work together.

Beverly: Since this problem has been going on for years, how can the state continue to hire the same management people? What will the Legislature do to change this?

Kim and Manahan: This is what we want to know and why we passed an audit to look into the procurement process for management and performance of the management company.

George: I am angry that taxpayers have to carry the burden, not only in legal fees but also potential lawsuits. As state leaders, what will you do to fix this ridiculous problem?

Kim and Manahan: Legislatively, we have done our part up to this point. Clearly the responsibility is on the administration and the housing authority to deal with the long-standing problems. Now we, as legislators, need to be advocates for the community.

We can't control who files lawsuits, however, we will continue to hold the administration accountable, provide necessary funding and be advocates for the residents.

Roland C.: I suggest all of our lawmakers and the governor go to the public housing project and spend the night. Would you agree?

Manahan: I live in the next building over, so I'm there often.

Kim: I don't think you need to spend the night there in order to know that there are problems. I grew up living right next door on Kam IV Road with only a fence separating our house from the project. We agree that the governor, legislators and other housing officials should spend more time visiting the site, walking the property and talking to the residents.

Tricky: Unfortunately, I feel the reason KPT has been ignored for so long is that there are no easy answers — all the rational solutions will result in a lot of political backlash. It would be nice if the community came up with a solution, including self-policing. But nothing has happened, to date. Plus, only those who are willing to live under these difficult conditions are around to self-police. I just don't see change coming easily: Those living there do not want to give up their subsidy, and those of us not living there find it easier to subsidize them to roll up our shirt sleeves. My bad suggestion is to turn it into for-sale housing, and use the proceeds to fund a low-rise replacement for those living there. And to give those living there first rights to move back.

Kim and Manahan: A proposal has been made for a mixed-income, redevelopment project, which would include subsidized housing and affordable rentals. At this time, it is being considered. For-sale housing may not be possible given that the lands under the property are ceded lands.

Gerald: There is enough finger-pointing going around and I'm sure everyone should share in the responsibility, but what is being done NOW? What is the plan to go forward to help these people who have to live in this squalor condition? We should think of the children and the disabled who are caught in this catch-22. Be pono and do the right thing!

Kim and Manahan: Things we are doing now include considering the mixed-income development proposal, we passed and are waiting for the results of the audit, we plan to hold hearings during the interim, the funding for many of the repairs have already been appropriated, and the lawsuit should address many outstanding issues.

Jo: I feel for the families that are living in these conditions. If the management company isn't able to keep up with maintenance, shouldn't we get another management company?

Kim and Manahan: Yes, we agree.

Jim: I see Gov. Lingle has been noticeably quiet on this. What does she have to say about this? After all, this lands right in her lap.

Kim and Manahan: We wrote a letter to the governor on June 26, 2007, regarding KPT's and Kalakaua homes' elevators. We had to wait until Aug. 1, 2007, to get a short reply that the elevator consultant will be assessing the elevators in August. We have not heard from her since.

Kailua Resident: What standards are used in deciding to continue a management contract ... with a company that has clearly failed to maintain the project in a safe and sanitary fashion?
Why is the state continuing to spend so much energy and money to defend against the lawsuits instead of doing what the federal and state laws require?

Kim and Manahan: The standards and the procurement for the management contract again rest with the housing authority. Standards should be those that are considered and confirmed to be "best practice" by the industry.

However, in the procurement process, we are not privy to how the procurement committee evaluates each prospective bidder.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Kaua'i group says peace through open arms

This is not a House-related issue, but I think it's an interesting one.

In a letter to Gov. Linda Lingle and congressional delegates, a Kaua'i humanitarian group urges Hawaii's leaders to negotiate with the U.S. Federal government to bring 17 Uighur nationals to Hawaii instead of the Republic of Palau. The letter was sent from Ed Coll on behalf of the Kaua'i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice.

The Chinese Muslims were determined not to be enemy combatants by a federal judge, but because of ardent congressional opposition to releasing them on U.S. soil, they are still in legal limbo at the U.S. Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay. The nation of Palau agreed to accept the detainees Wednesday.

The Garden Island ran a story today, including quotes from the letter sent Thursday to state officials, about the groups suggestion of sharing the aloha spirit with these men by helping them rebuild their lives on the islands.

What do you think? Should detainees be allowed to resettle in Hawaii?

P.S: Peace Day 2009 is creeping up on us! Save the date! September 21, 2009! The Peace Day Hawaii committee is already planning for the event!

Bills Signed Into Law

Governor Lingle signed the following bills into law yesterday and today:

ACT 109 (09) HB1678 HD1 SD2 CD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS Authorizes the issuance of $80 million in special purpose revenue bonds to LifeGrid Solutions, LLC for the design and construction of a biofuel refinery and research facility on O‘ahu.

ACT 110 (09) HB1628 HD1 SD2 CD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST BIOENERGY HAWAI‘I, LLC Authorizes the issuance of $100 million in special purpose revenue bonds to BioEnergy Hawai‘i, LLC for the establishment of a cogeneration and energy production facility.

ACT 111 (09) HB427 HD1 SD1 CD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST ONE PLANET PACIFIC ENERGY, LLC, A PROCESSING ENTERPRISE Authorizes the issuance of $40 million in special purpose revenue bonds to One Planet Pacific Energy, LLC for the design and construction of a gasification facility in Nānākuli to convert waste into renewable energy.

ACT 112 (09) HB1627 HD2 SD2 CD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS Authorizes the issuance of $40 million in special purpose revenue bonds to Carbon Diversion Inc. for the development of non-fossil fuel energy production facilities.

ACT 113 (09) HB426 HD1 SD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS TO ASSIST SEAWATER AIR CONDITIONING PROJECTS ON O‘AHU Authorizes the issuance of $77 million in special purpose revenue bonds to Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, LLC for the design and construction of a seawater air conditioning system in downtown Honolulu.

ACT 114 (09) HB1483 HD1 SD1 CD1 Signed: June 11, 2009 RELATING TO SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS FOR BETTER PLACE HAWAI‘I, INC. Authorizes the issuance of $45 million in special purpose revenue bonds to Better Place Hawai‘i, Inc. for the planning, design, and construction of transportation infrastructure and equipment to support electric vehicles in Hawai‘i.

ACT 115 (09) SB851 SD1 HD3 CD1 Signed: June 12, 2009 RELATING TO CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT Requires electronic processing of child support payments, eliminates use of the full social security number on child support payment transactions, and strengthens enforcement of child support liens.

ACT 116 (09) SB932 SD2 HD2 CD1 Signed: June 12, 2009 RELATING TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE TESTING Aligns Hawai‘i law with recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control on the diagnosis and treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

ACT 117 (09) SB967 SD2 HD3 Signed: June 12, 2009 RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES Updates Hawai‘i’s controlled substance list to conform to federal law, clarifies the requirement for a pharmacy to verify the identity of the individual picking up the controlled substance, and permits electronic record-keeping procedures for these substances.

ACT 118 (09) HB28 HD1 SD2 CD1 Signed: June 12, 2009 RELATING TO DEAD HUMAN BODIES Prohibits the selling and commercial display of dead human bodies, subject to certain exceptions.

ACT 119 (09) SB292 SD1 HD1 CD1 Signed: June 12, 2009 RELATING TO FUNDS Deposits 25.5 percent of Tobacco Settlement Special Fund moneys into the State general fund for six years, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2015.

Healthcare and Technology

The following opinion was printed in today's Honolulu Advertiser:

Hawai'i must move quickly on health technology
Federal funds create key opportunity for Hawai'i to get on board

By Jon Riki Karamatsu

Healthcare in the United States is poised to take a giant leap forward, thanks to Health Information Technology (HIT) and the national Health Information Exchange (HIE). Hawai'i has a short window of opportunity to join the revolution, but we must act now. Here's why:

As part of the national recovery plan, President Obama recognized the current economic crisis as an opportunity. He included $20 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to give states the help and the incentive to adopt the technology and information exchange initiatives.

HIT and HIE are critical components of true healthcare reform in the United States. The adoption and implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) will vastly improve the quality of healthcare for patients because of a physician's instant access to and availability of a patient's medical history. This allows a physician to better treat a patient — especially in emergencies when a doctor is often unfamiliar with the patient, their medical history, allergies, medications, etc. It is also estimated that HIT will reduce healthcare costs by approximately $12.5 billion over the next 10 years and will continue to save us money in the future.

The private sector has taken it one step further. Last month, IBM announced that its finance unit will set aside $2 billion for "bridge" financing for high-tech infrastructure projects likely to qualify for federal grants and incentive payments under the ARRA. According to International Data Corporations (IDC) analyst Joseph Pucciarelli, the IBM program looks like a sound step that will hasten the arrival of high-tech projects.

This signals that other states are likely to move forward quickly on their HIT and HIE initiatives in order to take advantage of private sector financing, and to secure a bigger amount of the available money for the states. Hawai'i needs to move forward too.

This past legislative session, House and Senate Health Committee chairs started the process by bringing all of the stakeholders together to begin discussions on HIT and HIE in Hawai'i. House Bill 1782, relating to Health Information Exchange, creates a state coordinating office and task force charged with developing the program in Hawai'i.

While the bill did not get out of conference committee this year, the governor and the state Department of Health can and should take the lead to move the state forward on this initiative.
I hope the dialogue started during the legislative session will continue during the interim, and I'm optimistic that we will be able to bring the stakeholders together to revise the bill to send to the governor for signature next session.

Healthcare has become unaffordable for many people around the country. There's no question that government and the healthcare industry needs to partner in new ways as soon as possible. One of those ways is to take advantage of the new information technology, and to become part of a global network in healthcare.

The federal government and the private sector have stepped up to the plate in order to help the states. It is now up to our state government officials to ensure that Hawai'i receives its fair share of financial incentives, and to make local healthcare reform a reality.

The time to act is now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Honoring Kamehameha the Great

On June 11th, Hawaii honors King Kamehameha the Great, the first Kamehameha in a long line. Kamehameha the Great brought the islands of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Hawaii together as a unified kingdom.

It was Kamehameha V, the great grandson of Kamehameha the Great, who proclaimed June 11 as a public holiday in 1871. It was one of the first holidays to be proclaimed as a state holiday by the Governor and the Legislature in 1959 after Hawaii became a state.

Kamehameha V, who was previously known as Lot Kapuiwa, was the last remaining monarch of the House of Kamehameha. He ruled from 1863 to 1872. As a bachelor, he had no direct descendants, and asked Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to succeed him as monarch upon his death. Pauahi refused.

The Hawaii Constitution provided that the Legislature hold an open election to name a new king. William Charles Lunalilo, Kamehameha V's cousin, won the election.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Strengthening long term care

In a recent tragic incident on the Big Island, an elderly foster home care client who was suddenly separated from his wife in Hilo and moved to another foster home in Honokaa died within a week of his transfer. Honokaa is about 45 minutes away from Hilo.

The man allegedly did not want to leave his wife, asked care providers to move him back, and called his spouse daily. Although the man received a waiver from the Department of Human Services (DHS) to remain with his wife in a community care foster home in 2007, that waiver was recently rescinded. The case is currently under investigation and cannot be discussed, but it seems that the man's status as a private client and not a Medicaid client was the reason he had to be separated from his wife. Community care foster homes only allow one private patient and two Medicaid patients.

Representative John Mizuno, chairman of the House Human Services committee, today held an informational briefing to discuss ways to prevent another tragic incident like this from occurring.

Lawmakers passed a bill this year which the governor signed into law that would allow two private-pay individuals to live in the same community care foster home under specified conditions. One of those conditions is that one member of the private-pay couple must have lived in the same care home for 5 consecutive years.

Caregivers, community care foster family homes, case managers, the Community Ties of America (CTA) and DHS met with lawmakers to share their concerns about transfer trauma and the need for stronger regulations and oversight of Hawaii's foster care program and its case managers to ensure the best quality care for the aging.

Donna Schmidt, the President of Case Management, Inc., testified in support of drafting a bill the next legislative session to create stronger regulations for case managers.

In her testimony she says, "the case management agency's role in providing oversight and supervision to the foster home is weakened when primary caregivers are unequivocally given the right to transfer clients to new agencies without cause and in particular when they are being openly recruited by case managers who interfere with established relationships between caregivers, clients and their case management agency."

Schmidt adds, the "role of oversight and supervision has been undermined as a result of case management agencies openly soliciting foster homes and encouraging them to transfer clients from one agency to their own. This trend while clearly unethical has become an accepted practice in the industry lowering the standards for all."

Lawmakers, stakeholders and government agencies will work together during the interim to develop solutions through higher case management standards in order to strengthen long term care in Hawaii.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Electronic Harassment bill signed into law

A bill expanding the definition of "harassment" and "harassment by stalking" to include contact through electronic communications was signed into law by the governor as Act 090 on June 5, 2009. Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu (District 41-Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele), House Judiciary chairman, introduced the legislation to increase the protection and safety of Hawaii residents.

The law updates Hawaii's harassment and stalking laws as text messaging and social media websites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter grow exponentially in popularity. While technology continues to change and new forms of electronic communications develop, so has the increase in harassment and harassment by stalking through electronic communications.

“Passage of these bills will update the current statute with all of the existing forms of today’s technology,” explains Karamatsu. “It is important that lawmakers keep current in order to best serve our constituents.” Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after two friends became victims of electronic harassment and did not have any form of legal recourse.

Law enforcement agencies estimate that electronic communications are a factor in 20 to 40 percent of all stalking cases. Forty-six states now have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within stalking or harassment laws.

50th Anniversary of Statehood

The year 1959 must have been an exciting and busy time at the Hawaii Legislature. The year started with the opening of the Thirtieth Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii. It convened on Wednesday, February 18, 1959 and adjourned on Saturday, May 2, 1959.

The Officers of the House were:

Speaker: Honorable Elmer F. Cravalho (Kula, Maui)
Vice Speaker: Honorable Hiram K. Kamaka (Kaneohe, Oahu)
Clerk: Herman T.F. Lum (Honolulu, Oahu)
Assistant Clerk: George Shiroma (Honolulu, Oahu)
Sergeant At Arms: Masato Tojo (Honolulu, Oahu)
Assistant Sergeant At Arms: Henry Mondo (Wahiawa, Oahu)

Then, as now, there were 51 members of the House, with only two women, Dorothy Devereux and Flora Hayes. There were only 18 districts then, but certain districts were represented by multiple representatives. For example, the 15th district was represented by 6 lawmakers, including Dorothy Devereux, Vincent Esposito, Tom Gill, Ward Russell, James Shigemura and Howard Worrall.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Generosity of Hawaii people proven on Aloha Friday

For hundreds of seniors from Wai'anae High School, who will be singing their alma mater one last time tonight and accepting their diplomas in front of friends and family armed with floral leis and an arsenal of balloons, the term "Aloha Friday" may forever leave a grand impression on them.

Hawaii residents from all over the island generously donated money to help give these kids the graduation party every local senior looks forward to at the beginning of the school year: Project Graduation.

In a previous blog post, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro put a call out to the public for donations to help Wai'anae High School seniors raise $10,000 needed to fund their Project Graduation, an all-night, substance-free party that begins after their graduation ceremony.

The seniors, parents and volunteers worked all year to raise money, but they were still short. Deposits were already paid on the venue, meals and buses.

Gail Gomes, the event chairwoman, asked for Shimabukuro's assistance in the final days before the event to help get the word out to the community that the program was seeking donations.

She did not expect the slew of calls Thursday morning from eager residents warmly offering what money they had to help the students celebrate their achievements. By noon that day, Gomes had received enough pledges to pay off the party bills.

The domino effect of aloha began with a Honolulu Advertiser story printed in the My Communities page, Thursday, announcing the appeal by Rep. Shimabukuro.

Reporter Will Hoover breaks down the events of that day in an article, "Donations pour in for Wai'anae's Project Grad", printed this morning. You can can also view a video of several seniors showing their appreciation for the overwhelming community support.

Stories like this truly show the compassion of Hawaii people and what it really means to "Aloha Harder".

Manta Ray bill becomes law

Governor Lingle today signed a bill into law protecting Manta Rays within state marine waters. Rep. Denny Coffman (District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau) introduced the bill as a way to ensure that these unique sea creatures, captured and in demand for various uses, do not become endangered in Hawaii. According to ocean resource experts, Hawaii is the top Manta Ray destination in the world because of limited natural predators.

House Bill 366 was signed into law as Act 92 (09). The new law establishes criminal penalties and administrative fines for knowingly killing or capturing Manta Rays within state waters. Exceptions are made for research and educational purposes.

The fines are: $500 for the first offense; $2,000 for the second offense; and $10,000 for the third or subsequent offense.

The bill provides an exception for special permits granted for scientific, education, management or propagation purposes. It requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to determine the allowed “take” under special permit circumstances.

The new law is now in effect. Prior to today, there were no laws protecting the Manta Ray in Hawaiian waters.

“I thought it was important to take action now before we face a serious loss of these magnificent creatures,” said Rep. Denny Coffman. “We are a state surrounded by water and protecting the Manta Rays is part of our role as stewards of the ocean.”

Manta Rays are not extinct, but considered “near threatened”, which means that they are in danger of becoming an extinct species in the near future. There are two small resident populations of Manta Rays in Hawaii under observation. One of the populations, about 150 in number, is located near the Big Island. The other is located near Maui and contains about 300. They are particularly vulnerable to extinction as they take a long time to reach maturity and they reproduce a single offspring every two or three years. The populations are relatively small.

Manta Rays are captured for display in aquariums, but their survival rate in captivity is poor. Manta Ray gill rakes and fins are also in demand in East Asia as a food delicacy.

Prevailing Winds: "Why can't government be more like business?"

In Representative Isaac Choy's June issue of "Prevailing Winds", a monthly newsletter for District 24 - Manoa, University, Moiliili, he addresses the popular rhetoric "why can't government be more like business?"

Here are a few excerpts from his newsletter:

"In the private sector, tasks are undertaken unless explicitly prohibited, and in the public sector, tasks are performed only if explicitly permitted. This statement alone explains the inefficiency of government. Can you imagine looking for exact instructions before performing any tasks?"

"Unlike the private sector, the government works under strict laws, rules and procedures all under the watchful eye of the public. There is no profit motive in government; the goal is to follow the rules and to be able to justify any deviations from the rules."

"The public does not allow government to perform like the private sector, so it is naïve to think that government can operate like a business. This is not to say that fraud, waste or abuse should be tolerated in government. These items are always at the top of the auditors watch list. The challenge is to find managers who can work within the parameters set by the people's expectations and still accomplish the mission of government. "

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Attention Legislature's Public Wireless Users

The Legislature's public wireless system is a great service to the public while at the State Capitol, but we recently learned that someone has been using the system for illegal activities.

The Legislature's internet service provider was contacted by CBS Corporation, "informing us that a user on the Legislature's Public Wireless Network has been downloading copies of 'CSI Miami' episodes, and has been distributing the episodes through peer-to-peer sharing."

The use of peer-to-peer software for the purpose of downloading and disributing copyrighted material is prohibited. The usage of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television programs constitutes an infringement of the federal Copyright Act.

Please read this memo from the House Chief Clerk and the Senate Chief Clerk on the potential liabilities and damages for this activity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wahiawa State Representative to host a Post-Session Forum

Representative Marcus Oshiro, the chairman of the Committee on Finance, will host a Post-Session Forum to report on issues that affect residents of Wahiawa, Whitmore Village and Launani Valley, including state issues such as the budget. The representative will highlight what the legislature accomplished this year, answer questions, and address new and previous concerns. Refreshments will be provided.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
6 – 8:30 p.m.


Wahiawa District Park
Hale Koa Room
1129 Kilani Ave Wahiawa, HI 96786

Manoa community meeting on state budget scheduled

Senator Brian Taniguchi (District 10) and Representative Isaac Choy (District 24)

Representative Isaac Choy and Senator Brian Taniguchi will be holding a community meeting to give a Powerpoint presentation explaining in detail how lawmakers balanced the state budget. The meeting will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2009 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Manoa Elementary School Cafeteria.

Wai'anae grads need help funding Project Graduation

Representative Maile Shimabukuro is putting a call out to the public for monetary donations to help fund Wai'anae High School Project Graduation.

This year, the Department of Education stepped away from Project Graduation, pulling funding from the program because of recent budget cuts. Parents and community volunteers instead worked to get sponsors to help fund the all-night party for high school seniors on their graduation day. However, many local businesses have been unable to help without jeopardizing their business needs.

Although the committee and students have worked very hard fundraising and seeking sponsors, they are still $10,000 short of making the event happen. Even more, many parents, who have lost their jobs or have accumulated more expenses by taking struggling family members into their homes, are unable to pay the $200 fee to attend the event.

"Realizing graduation is this week Friday, June 5, 2009, we really want these kids to attend. Since we have already placed deposits on everything, including event locations, meals, paid for buses, shirts and jackets, we must roll forward," said Gail Gomes, chair of the Wai'anae High School Project Graduation committee.

"Project graduation is an important high school experience in Hawaii," added Rep. Shimabukuro. "These kids deserve a night of fun for all their hard work. I encourage everyone who is able to donate any amount of money to help make Project Grad a reality for our Wai'anae students."

The public should call Gail Gomes at 808-696-7978 or email at wss@hawaii.rr.com for more information. Since graduation is Friday, June 5, Gomes has said that she will personally pick up any donations. Checks can also be mailed to: 85-251 Farrington Highway and made payable to "Wai'anae High School Project Graduation".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tale of Two Letters

The Attorney General's office provided the House Speaker with an opinion on the Governor's authority to implement furloughs for state workers. Here is the letter from February 17, 2009. In summary, while the law is silent on the term furlough, it was the AG's opinion that the Governor would be unable to furlough without negotiating the terms of the furlough with the union.

The Attorney General's office revised their response on Friday. In summary, upon further review, the AG's opinion is that because furlough is a temporary reduction of hours, in this case due to economic reasons, the Governor is able to furlough without mandatory negotiation. Here is the letter from May 29, 2009.

Yesterday, Governor Lingle announced a plan to furlough certain state workers 3 days per month from July 1, 2009 for two years. The savings of $688 million will help to close the budget shortfall over the next biennium.