Friday, July 31, 2009

Community Happenings: National Night Out

The public is invited to the "26th Annual National Night Out" (NNO), a crime/drug prevention event on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at the Salt Lake Target Store. The Honolulu Police Department, civic groups, business, neighborhood organization and state leaders are expected to participate.

Here's what's on the agenda:

6:00 - 6:30 p.m. - City patrol and sign waving from
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. - Citizen patrol and sign waving
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. - Awards / Program

From the NNO website:
National Night Out is designed to:
  • heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships;
  • and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
If you would like to attend this event, call your Weed and Seed or Community Policing Team Officers in your area. Find their numbers here.

Recycle your junk at Windward Mall

Representative Jessica Wooley, Pono Chong and Ken Ito invite residents of the windward side to help turn trash into cash to support the Ko'olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club on Aloha 'Δ€ina Earth Day #39.

The recycling community clean-up and fundraiser will be held at Windward Mall tomorrow, Saturday, August 1, 2009, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those who would like to get rid of junk piling up in their home should go to the Alaloa Street parking lot.

What will be accepted?

  • scrap metal, bicycles, appliance (no TVs/microwaves ovens)
  • Newspaper, cardboard
  • beverage containers
  • cooking oil
  • cellular phones
  • printer cartridges
  • tires (passenger tires/limit 4 per car)
  • green waste
  • plastic bags, plastic hangers
  • athletic shoes (no metal cleats)
  • used eye glasses, hearing aids
  • all kind of batteries
  • telephone books
  • magazines
  • one desk top computer per household/car
  • usable clothing/household items
  • unwanted cars - free towing by appointment only
*Please DON'T bring:
  • Paints, hazardous fluids, microwave ovens, televisions, gas tank.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rep. Karl Rhoads Commentary on "Shared Sacrifice"

The following op-ed by Rep. Karl Rhoads appeared in this morning's Honolulu Advertiser:

Lingle shields rich from 'shared sacrifice'

By Rep. Karl Rhoads

The gist of Gov. Lingle's response to our current budget crisis has been a call for "shared sacrifice." While shared sacrifice evokes images of everyone pulling together to get through a difficult time, the reality is that most of the effects of the downturn have not been shared.

If we follow the governor's lead, state workers will bear the brunt of the burden and most everyone else will not be asked to make any sacrifice at all.

Instead, the pain of the recession needs to be more broadly distributed. The best way to do that is to tap the Rainy Day fund and temporarily raise income taxes on higher income wage earners.
Combined with the pay cuts that state workers have already accepted in principle, we can get through this economic crisis without gutting state government or unfairly pinning the blame for the recession on state workers. State workers did not cause this recession and they provide services most of us consider essential, such as inspecting our elevators, protecting us from food-borne illness and teaching our children. If anyone deserves special blame for the state of the economy, it is private-sector actors who were more concerned about making money than about the stability of the financial system.

To date, the recession has disproportionately affected two groups: those who have lost a job and those who have taken a pay cut. Right now 47,700 Hawai'i residents are unemployed, which means that almost 600,000 are still employed. While a 7.4 percent unemployment rate is far too high, it does mean that 92.6 percent of us are still employed. Data on how many have taken pay cuts are not readily available, but anecdotally it would appear the number is high.

Before deciding how to share the pain, we also need to look at who shared the gain of the good economic times. The answer to that question is very simple: the highest income earners. Instead of asking those whose share of the economic pie has been rapidly increasing to make any sacrifice (the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent of income earners rose 20 percent in one year from 2003 to 2004), Gov. Lingle vetoed a bill that would have raised taxes on a family making $350,000 by a mere $375 a year.

The Legislature overrode this veto and took a step in the right direction, but with the state's fiscal picture continuing to deteriorate, those of us in the highest income brackets are going to need to make a real sacrifice to see us through this difficult time.

Gov. Lingle has argued that protecting the income of the very richest will spur economic recovery. But protecting the income of the middle class (like state workers) is a more effective antidote to recession because higher income individuals rarely spend their entire paycheck. In a recession, spending is what brings recovery, not savings.

Gov. Lingle has suggested that "shared sacrifice" demands that state workers take a 14 percent pay decrease in the form of a three-day-a-month furlough. The average salary for a state unionized worker is $44,252. A 14 percent cut would amount to $6,195 a year. Gov. Lingle has also taken the position that state employees should pay the entire increase in cost of escalating health care premiums. For a family plan, this will amount to another $2,400 a year. Most of us would not be able to absorb an $8,595 decrease in salary. State workers are no different.

Real shared sacrifice requires that all of us accept the responsibility that comes with living in a democracy. State workers have indicated they are willing to take a 5 percent decrease in pay. Health care contribution negotiations are ongoing which may result in a further decrease in pay.

Temporarily raising income taxes spares those who are already struggling like the unemployed or underemployed, unlike an increase in the general excise tax. In combination, these measures will see us through to better times and will turn the slogan of shared sacrifice into a reality.

Rep. Karl Rhoads represents the 28th District (Palama, Downtown, Sheridan) and is chairman of the state House Labor and Public Employment Committee. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Reps in the News

A round up of stories you may have missed...

Rep. Glenn Wakai on KGMB9 News regarding the state's investment in the space industry. Rocketplane Global, one of the companies that Hawaii has been courting, closed its offices and left town in Oklahoma after taking $18 million in tax credits. Story here.

Here's a good news story on Rep. Wakai's recent donation to LBJ Medical Center in Samoa. According to a story here, donated toys and medical supplies arrived last week courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines, Shriners Hospital of the Pacific, and Reach Out Pacific (REPAC), the non-profit organization headed by Wakai.

Hawaii's Filipino Caucus is the focus of this story in the Filipino-American Community Newspaper, featuring Vice Speaker Michael Magaoay.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Same sex marriage, Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently updated a status of where states stand on the issue of same sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. The tables can be found here.

Quick Facts:

States that issue marriage licenses to same sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. California passed a law allowing same sex marriage in April 2008, but it was overturned by Proposition 8 in November 2008. Marriages performed prior to Prop. 8 remain valid.

States that recognize same sex marriages performed in other states: Rhode Island, New York, District of Columbia.

States that allow civil unions: Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire.

States that allow domestic partnerships, with nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples: California, Oregon, Washington.

States that allow domestice partnerhsips with only some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples: Hawaii, Maine, District of Columbia, Wisconsin.

Hawaii is also one of 18 states that offer benefits for same sex partners of state employees. The Hawaii law passed in 1997.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Part time workers lack health coverage

USA TODAY covered Hawaii's healthcare system today, in a story by the Associated Press.

A statistic that stands out is that "Hawaii has the highest percentage of private sector part-time employees without employer sponsored health coverage in the country, according to a University of Hawaii study on the law's impacts."

That law is the historic Pre-paid Health Act, passed in 1974, which requires Hawaii employers to provide health insurance coverage for workers who work more than 20 hours a week. Since then, Hawaii has become one of the healthiest states in the country based on such factors as life expectancy, high number of insured, low number of emergency room visits, and others.

However, businesses looking to get around the law in order to save money hire more part time workers who work less than 20 hours a week.

The legislature passed a bill this session which would have required health insurers who offer health care coverage to regular employees of a group or association to offer the same coverage to part time employees who work at least 15 hours per week. HB690 Relating to Insurance.

The bill was vetoed by the Governor. The veto explanation stated that the bill "violates federal requirements governing employee benefits as set forth in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)." The legislature did not override the veto.

Monday, July 27, 2009

States Raised Taxes in 2009

It's not news that state legislatures raised taxes in 2009 in order to close significant budget gaps. What is noteworthy is that trends emerged, and NCSL has filed a useful report on the subject. The report lists which states did what, but here are some examples:

*States reported $142 billion in budget gaps.

*36 states reported raising taxes to help close the gaps, increasing revenue by an estimated $24 billion. (I assume that means that budget cuts were the main tool used to close budget gaps, as they were in Hawaii.)

*19 states made no signifcant tax policy changes.

*Trend - states relied heavily on raising personal income tax, a source that has not been tapped in recent years.

*Trend - states specifically turned to higher-income wage earners.

*Trend - more than a dozen states applied new tobacco and alcohol taxes.

*Trend - business tax breaks scaled back.

*Trend - new assessments on health care industry.

*Trend - incentives for renewable energy and transportation initiatives slowed.

*Noteworthy - some state actually cut taxes. North Dakota cut individual and business taxes by $50 million.

*Noteworthy - Massachusetts and California raised their sales tax.

*Noteworthy - Florida raised tobacco tax and generated more than $1 billion in fee increases.

*Noteworthy - Delaware added sports betting to its gaming activities to generate $53 million.

*Noteworthy - Delaware also approved a tax on crude oil transfers.

Supreme Court Law Library Provides Legislative History Service

If you are looking for legislative history on a particular section of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the Hawaii Supreme Court Library may be able to find what you need. Complete information can be found here.

They will pull and mark acts and committee reports from the Session Laws of Hawaii and the House and Senate Journals if you provide them with a specific HRS Chapter and Section, or an Act Number and the year in which it was enacted.

You must complete and submit a request form and pay a fee for the service in advance. Rush service is available. See here for schedule of costs.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lawmakers and Twitter: A match made in Twitterville?

Representative Della Au Belatti posted a question on Twitter yesterday asking her followers what they thought of a Yahoo! article criticizing tweeting politicians who use 140-character tweets to communicate with the public.

The article references Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's unintelligible tweets, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's TwitVids (Twitter videos) – specifically, the one of him wielding a large knife, and other national lawmakers who write about ballet, golf and other commonplace occurrences.

Rep. Belatti proposed this discussion topic:

DAuBelatti: Thoughts on politicians & twitter - do you agree w/Yahoo article? DAB: I admit to tweeting about daily activities.

I was able to find responses from four of her followers. Here is what they had to say:

Susan Jaworowski, an assistant professor and program director of the Legal Education Department at Kapiolani Community College, opined on the ways lawmakers should tweet, sans faux pas.

lavasusan: To @DAuBelatti Ways to do it right: make decisions transparent to public, keep them informed. Even human touches good if not the majority.

lavasusan: To @georgettedeemer @DAuBelatti: legislators can be as stupid or wise on Twitter as any other medium. mostly gets it right.

Gene Park, a former Star-Bulletin reporter, complimented Rep. Belatti on her 140-character tweeting skills and gave her the green light on tweeting personal commentary – as long as knife-wielding isn't part of the package.

genepark: @DAuBelatti I think you do a fine mix of personal and work related tweets. Mundane tweets humanizes the personality.

genepark: @DAuBelatti And tweeting on the job is not much of a timesink. The Arnold knifeholding thing is pretty weird though. Don't do that. :-)

The voice behind Makiki Talks, an on-line gathering place for everything Makiki, tweeted views that are shared amongst many social media critics. He/she suggests that elected officials are too careless when using new media.

MakikiTalks: @DAuBelatti I don't understand y elected officials who use trad [traditional] media so carefully, so strategically forget themselves in SoMe-social media.

MakikiTalks: @DAuBelatti People still scrutinize DECISION MAKING, & ultimately PERSON making decision. Don't want to see lack of judgment or inattention

MakikiTalks: @DAuBelatti the big decisions the people trust & give responsibility to make. Twitter is still earning credibility as a com tool.

A handful of Hawaii's elected officials, including Reps. Della Au Belatti, Jon Riki Karamatsu, Angus McKelvey, Cindy Evans and other capitol tweeps, are posting their thoughts and activities on the social-networking phenomenon that has recently found its way into the mainstream.

What are your thoughts on the Twitter etiquette of elected officials? Should they tweet about the mundane? Should they be tweeting at all? Is Twitter the appropriate medium to respond and discuss serious issues?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Federal Stimulus Update

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke to legislators today on the status of the federal stimulus funds. Read the NCSL news story here. Locke's key points:

Even though there has been much criticism of the effect of the stimulus, Locke is confident that the Obama administration is on the right track.

*The administration's goal is to move 70% of the stimulus funds out to the states by September 2010. Today, 28% of the funds have been distributed.

*By the end of this summer, the administration will make $15 billion in grants to broadband, high speed rail and smart grid.

*Locke urges lawmakers to make utility regulation changes that encourage the use of renewable energy.

*He specifically supports more flexible pricing, where consumers would be charged more for usage in peak hours. This complements the use of the smart grid, where consumers can see for themselves their energy use in real time.

*Locke cited the upcoming U.S. Census which will start next year. This will not only provide a significant number of temporary jobs, but will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

HIBT Celebrates 50 Years

Left to Right: Rep. Denny Coffman, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Robert Herkes, Peter Fithian, Roberta Fithian, Fred Duerr and Rep. Corinne Ching
The Hawaii International Billfish Tournament is underway this week, July 20-24, 2009, marking its 50th anniversary. You can follow the week's events on their website here. Rep. Robert Herkes (District 5 - Puna, Kau, South Kona and North Kona) has been involved with the tournament since the start, and organized a floor presentation earlier this year to recognize founder Peter Fithian, his wife Roberta and other key leaders in the organization such as Fred Duerr, former general manager of the legendary Kona Village.

Helping to celebrate the Golden Anniversary, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi presents a proclamation to Peter Fithian, along with 2009 Miss Billfish Andria DeBina.

Here is Rep. Herkes' floor speech:


Mr. Speaker,

Today we are honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.
I’m proud to say that I fished the first two years of the tournament, and I guess you could say I’ve been -- “hooked” -- ever since.

The HIBT was founded in July 1959, and it has long been considered one of the most prestigious billfish tournaments of its kind in the world. Because of this tournament, Kona is known to this day as one of the great fishing capitols, attracting anglers from all over the map. In fact, for this Golden Anniversary, the tournament organizers will expand its registration capacity to accommodate 50 teams, including those from Australia, Japan, Bermuda, Portugal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tahiti, and, of course, the United States.

Yet, amazingly, it remains a tournament that is staffed by hard working and loyal volunteers, its popularity has always been driven by prestige, not money, and it runs on a lot of love and aloha spirit, starting at the top.

Mr. Speaker and members, we’re fortunate to have the people who are the heart and soul of the tournament here with us today, starting with the founder of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament – please welcome Mr. Peter Fithian.

I met Peter Fithian when he came to Hawaii to manage the Kona Inn. Not many know that before he came to Kona, he managed the Augusta National Golf Club. Now, if you’re a golfer, you know what a big deal that is. Peter knew that Kona needed to find an event that would attract more business to the town, and being the smart businessman that he is, he took the sports marketing concept of the Augusta Masters golf event and applied it to what Kona does best -- fishing.

Peter used to fish with some of the local fishermen in Kona, and he came to have a deep respect for their knowledge and experience on the best way to catch the giant blue marlins. He structured the tournament based on their expertise, including the best time of year, the best hours in the day, and the optimum number of days to hold the tournament.

As a result, the event became so successful that it attracted people from all over the world, not just to fish, but as spectators too. The HIBT became the model for other billfish tournaments, and it attracted royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Manchester, and movie and TV stars such as Lee Marvin, Jonathan Winters, Arte Johnson, Toshiro Mifune, and the great Richard Boone.

Today, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament contributes millions of dollars to the local economy, and there is no question that it has “lured” many people from around the world to the Kona Coast over the past 50 years. Its contribution to Big Island business and tourism is immeasurable. And, through Peter’s guidance, the tournament has also encouraged more scientific research and the conservation of ocean resources in order to ensure that fishing along the Kona Coast remains healthy and abundant for all.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if you know that the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is the only fishing tournament in the world to have its own daily newspaper, “The Billfish Bowl – All the News that’s Fish, We Print.” I started working on this newspaper with the late Harry Lyons when it was called the “Ahi Daily News.” You can be sure that the 50th Anniversary of the Tournament will leap from The Billfish Bowl to become the big news throughout the state, even if it is a “fish story”.

Thank you, Peter, for all your hard work and your vision over the past 50 years.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Health Care Reform - Can states afford to wait?

President Obama is scheduled to deliver a national address on his health care reform package today (8 pm Eastern/2 pm Hawaii). You can watch the live stream here. You can also follow the president on, where he has asked his 1.8 million Twitter followers to watch the news conference and declare support.

A few states have started plans for greater health care coverage stating that they can't wait for reform at the national level. On Monday, Connecticut overrode their Governor's veto to pass into law a universal health care measure. The plan is scheduled to be implemented by 2012, and to cover the state's 300,000 uninsured residents. The WSJ online story is here.

Connecticut follows Massachusetts, which enacted universal health care legislation in 2006, and Vermont and Maine, which have reformed parts of their health care system.

In the 2009 session, Hawaii passed HB1504 which creates the Hawaii Health Authority, charged with developing a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for Hawaii residents. The bill was vetoed by the Governor and the legislature overrode the veto last week. The legislature appropriated $50,000 for the fiscal year 2009-2010 for the authority to perform its duties.

Laura Tobler, health policy expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, says that much of the federal legislation will be modeled after what the states are doing. She warned, however, that these states could miss out on some federal subsidies.

Connecticut has indicated that if federal legislation is passed, they would make recommendations within 60 days on any changes needed to fit with the national program.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Food Certification Pilot Program Expected to Strengthen Agriculture/Tourism Relationship

Nancy Cook Lauer wrote a focus piece on HB1471, a measure that establishes a safe food certification pilot program, in today's West Hawaii Today. The story is here. The bill was passed by the legislature, vetoed by the governor, and then passed into law through a legislative override last week.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Clift Tsuji, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee. The pilot program is aimed to help farmers successfully manage the safe food certification process so that more of their product can be sold to Hawaii hotels and restaurants.

While the article focuses on the visitor industry, it is clear that local residents are also searching for fresh, locally grown produce and products, as evidenced by the growing popularity in farmers' markets around the state.

Here are some quotes from Nancy's article:

"It's a better working environment for our employees, and it gives the consumers an extra level of confidence." Richard Ha, Hamakua Springs Country Farms.

"We recognize that our guests' tastes are evolving and our new Sustainable Menu introduces them to quality Big Island foods." Paul Matsumoto, Sheraton Keauhou Food and Beverage Director.

"In today's agricultural climate, food safety is a consumer demand and food producers must be held accountable for food-borne illnesses. Hawaii's already fragile (agricultural) industry cannot afford even one epidemic outbreak." Rep. Clift Tsuji, House Agriculture Committee Chair.

"If even one incident were to take place here where tourists got sick from eating food from any of the many restaurants or hotels that service our tourists, Hawaii would have a black eye forever." Mark Teruya, President and CEO, Armstrong Produce.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Joint Committees on Labor get update from DLIR

Rep. Karl Rhoads, Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment, questions Linda Smith, Governor's Policy Advisor and Darwin Ching, Director of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) provided an update this morning on the status of the Department's budget and how it will be affected by budget cuts and restrictions. Here are some main points:

*The Department is funded by general funds, but many employees are funded through federal program funds.The department's general fund portion of the budget in $15.8 million. Of that, they expect about $1.7 million to be restricted in the first year of the biennium.

*Chair Rhoads and Chair Dwight Takamine, Senate Labor Committee, were primarily interested in how these restrictions might impact services to the public, particularly services related to unemployment.

*The department could not immediately share that information with the joint committees, however, it will be provided as soon as possible.

*Director Ching clarified that the Unemployment Trust Fund, which currently has a balance of $280 million, will not be impacted by any proposed furlough plan. It is unknown at this time how the state layoff proposal would impact the fund. The department is contemplating reducing the number of weeks of unemployment benefits.

* Linda Smith said that employees with seniority would be able to bump other state employees so they are not sure how much would actually be saved at the end of the process. As such, they reserve the right to issue another round of layoffs if the savings are not sufficient.

*Chair Rhoads requested that the Governor not furlough employees within the department who are funded with federal funds. He indicated that it doesn't make sense, especially with our budget shortfall, to lose federal funds due to unnecessary furloughs. The Governor indicated in the past that if state workers are furloughed, their federally funded colleagues should be as well, even though there is no savings for the state budget.

*Senator Slom asked how the layoff list that was presented to the unions today was developed. Linda Smith replied that the potential layoff list was developed according to each department director's priorities, with the goal of minimizing impact of services to the public.

*Asked if the Governor is planning to appeal Judge Sakamoto's ruling on the Governor's authority to furlough, Linda Smith replied that they had not seen the Judge's written order yet and could not comment on an appeal until then.

*Chairs Rhoads and Takamine emphasized the need to keep the public informed on what services will be impacted by budget cuts, layoffs and/or furloughs. If programs that the public relies upon are terminated without much advance notice, such as Healthy Start, it creates an even greater hardship for families.

Rep. Isaac Choy on SB199 - QHTB tax credits

The following was written by Rep. Choy and printed in The Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, July 20, 2009. Link here.

Scaled-back tax credits still allow sector to grow

The Hawai'i high tech community is up in arms over the passing of SB 199 CD2. This bill limits (not abolishes) income tax credits on new investments in a Qualified High Technology Business (QHTB).

The restructured high technology investment income tax credit is still very generous to serious investors who believe in the future of the high tech company, but it is no longer attractive to people who only want to avoid taxes. For every dollar invested, one dollar of income tax credits is given for Hawai'i state residents only. It gives a credit for up to 80 percent of a person's state income tax liability in 2009 and 2010. Any investments in a QHTB prior to May 1, 2009, will not be affected.

The high technology community is doing an admirable job trying to diversify the economy by raising wages and bringing local people home. As for me, I have two kids working on the Mainland; one is an attorney and the other is an auto mechanic, and I would love to have them come home, but they have jobs there.

Diversifying the economy with industries like the high technology industry is very important for the future of our state. No one can argue against that. But we are in a very troubling economic time, and we have to do what is best to make up a severe budget shortfall.

A constituent wrote to me stating that as his business deteriorated with the economy, he shrank the size of his business, and he felt that government should do the same. But, unlike businesses, when times get tough, the cry for government services gets even louder. Most state-administered programs were created because of an outcry from the people. To dismantle these programs is extremely difficult.

When the high-tech community was so vigorously lobbying at the Capitol, they should have looked to their left and their right to see all of the people who were trying to save the basic safety nets for the people of our state.

Throughout this legislative session, we have made tough choices that will adversely affect all of us taxpayers, government workers, human services, health, education and other very worthwhile causes. We have cut the budget by $800 million over two years. It has not been pleasant, and no legislator takes pride in causing any pain.

In the beginning of this session, I felt that in these economic times the legislators will undoubtedly have to anger some people in order to do the right thing for the good of most. But we are the ones who must make these difficult choices. We are by no means out of the woods yet; we must be prepared to make more sacrifices.

In his Opening Day remarks to House members, Speaker Calvin Say said, "Remember, almost all special interest groups, whether for profit or non-profit, have organized memberships with a lobbying presence at the Legislature. Ordinary taxpayers, however, have none. They have only you and me."

By the action on SB 199 CD2, the Legislature has chosen to serve "ordinary taxpayers," and not a special interest group.

The high-technology industry will survive, just as we will overcome these troubling times. From what I have seen of the tenacity and perseverance of the tech community, they have what it takes to ride out this storm and prosper, even after the passing of SB 199 CD2.

Isaac W. Choy represents District 24 (Manoa). He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rep. Karen Awana Chosen for 2009 Western Legislative Academy

The Council of State Governments – WEST (CSG-WEST), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators of both parties in 13 Western states, has selected Rep. Karen Awana (District 44 – Honokai Hale, Nanakuli, Lualualei) as a participant in its prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service. The purpose of the Western Legislative Academy is to build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region.

Admission to the Western Legislative Academy is highly competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process. Thirty-nine state legislators from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming were chosen as members of the Class of 2009.

The Western Legislative Academy will convene August 5-8 in Colorado Springs, Colorado for three and a half days of intensive training in subjects such as the legislative institution, ethics, team building, communications, negotiations and time management. Faculty will include the Eagleton Institute’s Alan Rosenthal, a nationally recognized authority on state legislatures; Washington, D.C. communications expert Arch Lustberg, and a leading retired U.S. Air Force team building trainer.

Rep. Awana is serving her second term in the Hawaii State Legislature. She represents the Nanakuli area on the Waianae Coast of Oahu. She is currently the vice chair of the House Transportation committee.

The Council of State Governments – WEST is a region of the national Council of State Governments based in Lexington, Kentucky. Regional offices of CSG are located in Sacramento, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Funding for the Academy comes from the Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation, which is dedicated to excellence in nonprofit organizations, and from Western state legislatures and corporate sponsors. The El Pomar Foundation also donates the campus for the Western Legislative Academy.


The Judiciary brought to our attention a July/August 2009 article in the Washington Monthly praising Judge Steven Alm's project HOPE. It's worth a read here. HOPE has attracted national attention because it presents a real solution to mass incarceration. It works on a premise that every parent and pet owner understands; that behavior can be changed by punishment that is quick, if not immediate, and predictable.

An excerpt:

"For $3,000 per year, a HOPE-style mix of probation, drug testing, sanctions, and treatment only as needed, plus GPS monitoring, could deliver something like 80 percent of the crime-prevention benefits of a prison cell that costs ten times as much. With such a system in place, judges would have a real alternative to incarceration. And so would the governors who are thinking about letting prisoners out to save money. Today, two-thirds of those who leave prison will be back within three years; the exit from a prison is a revolving door. For felony probationers, the incarceration rate within three years is about 50 percent. If the "outpatient prison" could do for recidivism among parolees what HOPE did for new crimes by probationers, five years from now we could have many fewer people in prison than we do today, and half as much crime."

Info Briefing on Labor Issues

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment and the Senate Committee on Labor will hold a joint informational briefing on Monday. Hearing notice here.

Date: Monday, July 20, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: State Capitol, Room 325


*Department of Labor will provide information on how the funding restrictions will impact the department.

*Department of Labor will also provide update on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds and on the condition of the state's unemployment trust fund.

*US Department of Labor is anticipated to make a presentation and provide comments on the Governor's proposed furlough plan.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rep. Shimabukuro to speak on child protection legislation

Representative Maile Shimabukuro (District 45 – Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua) will speak at the Parents for Righteousness Conference, an annual public event on issues related to protecting Hawaii's children.

"Parents for Righteousness" is a support group for families affected by Child Protective Services.

Rep. Shimabukuro will discuss child welfare legislation on Saturday, July 18 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Wai'anae High School in the Career and Counseling Room.

"Child welfare issues have always been near and dear to me, particularly now that I am a parent," said Rep. Shimabukuro. "Although the Legislature was forced to make some difficult decisions this year because of severe economic conditions, we still managed to pass legislation that will benefit our keiki."

Those interested in attending should call Ivan Kapaona at 808-697-8384 to reserve a seat. Space is limited.

Rep. Shimabukuro will talk about child protective policy in relation to last year's "Grandparents' Bill" (SB 2730 from 2008), and the following bills passed during the 2009 Legislative Session:

HB 200, Act 162: Child Protective Services; Purchase of Service Contracts. Continued the provision of necessary support programs for struggling families in Hawaii by allocating $7,000,000 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds for FY 2009-2010 and $6,200,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2010-2011 to purchase service contracts for child protective services.

SB 108, Act 6: Temporary Guardianship of Minor; Family Court. Provided a more stable environment for children placed under the care of a temporary guardian by extending the term of temporary guardianship from six months to one year.

HB 200, Act 162: Group Home; Foster Girls. Continued support for girls in the foster care system by appropriating $80,000 for FY 2009-2010 as a grant to Hale 'Opio Kauai, Inc. for design and construction to repair the Therapeutic Behavioral Health Group Home for foster girls in Lawai, Kauai

HB 200, Act 162: Foster Care Services. Increased assistance to the foster care system by adding $2,300,000 for FY 2009-2010 and $1,300,000 for FY 2010-2011 in increased federal matching funds resulting from the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage adjustment reflected in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to fund additional foster care services.

SB 851, Act 115: Child Support Enforcement. Clarifies that all income withholding payments be sent through the Child Support Enforcement Agency; allows the agency to disburse support by electronic transfer or direct deposit; allows for electronic copy or facsimile of a signature as proof of service for certified mail; clarifies lien payment and enforcement.

HB 1364, Act 67: Federal Funds; Appropriations. Promoted transparency in the use of ARRA funds and addressed the general revenue fund shortfall for FY 2008-2009 by appropriating federal funds for the following programs, among others, expected to receive funding under ARRA: Child Protective Services Payments; Cash Support for Child Care; and Cash Support for Families – Self-Sufficiency

HCR 5: Foster Families; Faith-Based Organizations. Encouraged the development of additional community-based support systems for foster children and foster families by urging faith-based organizations in the state to network and collaborate to support foster families, including through the formation of foster family ministries

HCR 39: Foster Care Awareness Month. Worked to improve the foster care system in Hawaii by declaring May "Foster Care Awareness Month" as a time to educate the public about various components of foster care and the foster care system (H.C.R. No. 39, 2009).

Environmental justice forum in Wai'anae

What: A youth environmental justice group from Wai'anae will hold a public forum to share and discuss their findings of three important questions:

1.) Why is everyone dumping their 'opala (trash) in Wai'anae?
2.) What is being done to address this problem?
3.) What can we do as a community?

Representative Maile Shimabukuro and other community leaders will attend the public forum.

When: Friday, July 17, 2009
6 – 8 p.m.

Where: Wai'anae Public Library
85-625 Farrington Highway

Ka Makani Kaiaulu o Wai'anae is a summer environmental justice and community organizing training institute for youth of the Wai'anae coast. The students learn about the history of non-violent social justice movements in Hawaii and around the world, attend workshops on organizing for community change, and conduct field work to document environmental impacts on the community.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Legislature Overrides 34 of Governor’s Vetoes

The Hawaii House of Representatives today joined with the State Senate in overriding 34 of Governor Lingle’s 53 vetoes. On June 30th, the Governor announced a list of 65 potential vetoes, one-fourth of the 250 bills passed in the 2009 legislative session.

“We weighed each veto carefully, taking into consideration the Governor’s objections,” said Speaker of the House Calvin Say. “These measures did go through the legislative process with significant public input. The overrides that we supported today are for bills that we and the public have debated and worked hard on. The majority of members, with their vote, believe they should go forward.”

The total number of bills passed this year was lower than in previous years due to the state’s severe budget shortfall. In 2008, the legislature passed 294 bills. In 2007, the legislature passed 394 bills. Of note, there were only three bills outside of the state budget bill that contained an appropriation of general funds. These bills are of critical statewide importance, related to healthcare, and considered high priority for Hawaii’s most vulnerable population.

“The state of the economy and the on-going budget crisis were top of mind as we approached the override session,” said Majority Leader Blake Oshiro. “This year, knowing that people are losing their jobs and businesses are closing, our first concern in considering overrides is how the public will be impacted, now and for the long-term. Critical needs like healthcare for children and the poor, food and energy security – these will end up costing all of us much more down the road if we abandon these efforts now.”

The following measures vetoed by the Governor were overridden by the Legislature and are now law:

House Bills

HB31 SD1 CD1 - RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES. Employers prohibited from using individual’s credit history in hiring and firing decisions, with exemptions.

HB183 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO EDUCATION. Addresses various organizational issues for and activities of the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board.
HB343 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO RURAL PRIMARY HEALTH CARE TRAINING. Appropriates funds to develop a statewide rural primary health care training program and support for the family medicine residency program of the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine.

HB358 HD1 SD1 CD1 – RELATING TO DRUG TREATMENT. Authorizes placement of certain offenders in secure drug treatment facilities.

HB754 HD1 SD1 CD2 – RELATING TO THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY. Transfers tourism research and statistics from DBEDT to HTA. Places ex-officio members from the HTA board to an advisory group. Expands the scope of tourism emergency. Provides additional funds to the tourism special fund for one fiscal year.

HB952 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO LABOR. Certifies entities as exclusive representatives without an election where no other representatives are certified as the exclusive bargaining representatives for employers with an annual gross revenue of $5 million or more.

HB982 HD3 SD1 CD1 – RELATING TO FAMILY LEAVE. Establishes a new data collection system for family leave. Appropriates $10,000 from the disability benefits special fund.

HB989 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO CHILDREN’S HEALTH CARE. Amends Act 236, SLH2007, which established the Hawaii Children’s Health Care program (Keiki Care) to extend the program to June 30, 2012. Appropriates $200,000 for each year of the biennium.

HB1471 HD2 SD1 CD1 – RELATING TO FARMS. Establishes a pilot program within the Department of Agriculture to implement a safe food certification for products, coordinate purchasing agreements between agricultural cooperatives and hotels/restaurants.

HB1479 HD2 SD1 CD1 – RELATING TO LABOR. Requires the department of labor and industrial relations to include in certified payroll records a fringe benefit reporting form, on which contractors and subcontractors itemize the cost of fringe benefits paid to both union and non-union laborers who perform work for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings and public works. Allows for any certified form containing fringe benefit reporting requirements to be submitted in lieu of a form supplied by the department of labor and industrial relations. Effective 10/1/2009.

HB1504 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO HEALTH. Creates the Hawaii Health Authority to develop a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care in Hawaii.

HB1525 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO MEDICAID. Requires the department of human services to include specified reporting requirements in all medicaid healthcare insurance plan contracts.

HB1538 HD1 SD1 – RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTALLY-SENSITIVE PRODUCTS. Requires the department of education to give first preference to Green Seal approved environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products for use in public schools; requires the department of health to maintain a list of Green Seal program approved products.

HB1544 HD1 SD1 CD1 – RELATING TO TAX EXEMPTIONS. Conforms state tax exemptions to federal phaseout provisions under section 151(d)(3) of the IRC. Ties threshold to amounts in place in 2008.

HB1552 HD2 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO PUBLIC LANDS. Authorizes DLNR to issue long-term residential leases to qualified persons in state living parks. Establishes living park planning councils to develop state living park master plans to ensure the living park achieves its purpose and goals; establishes 2-year moratorium on evictions of residents of Kahana valley state park.

HB1676 HD1 SD2 CD1 – RELATING TO PUBLIC WORKS. Requires that the collective bargaining agreement be submitted to the director of labor and industrial relations in order for the terms in the agreement to dictate the prevailing wages with regard to a project financed through the issuance of a special purpose revenue bond. Effective 07/01/2009.

Senate Bills

SB19 SD1 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO PROCUREMENT. Requires a procurement preference to a bidder in a public works construction contract of not less than $250,000 if the bidder is a party to an apprenticeship agreement registered with the department of labor and industrial relations for each apprenticeable trade the bidder will employ to construct the public works.

SB43 – RELATING TO PHYSICIAN WORKFORCE ASSESSMENT. Creates the John A. Burns school of medicine special fund and establishes an expenditure ceiling therefor; assesses a $60 fee upon renewal of physician and osteopathic physician licenses, with proceeds to be deposited to the special fund; requires recurring reports; appropriates $5,000 from the compliance resolution fund to the John A. Burns school of medicine special fund; requires reimbursement by June 30, 2010.

SB50 SD1 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCERS. Sets terms and conditions for leases of public lands to renewable energy producers, including requiring a public hearing, project completion, design, and financing documentation, and limitations on terminating or altering existing leases of public lands affected.

SB266 SD2 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO GLOBAL WARMING. Establishes the climate change task force to assess the impacts of global warming and climate change trends in the State.
SB415 SD2 HD1 CD1 – RELATING TO HOME CARE AGENCIES. Requires the department of health to license home care agencies. Sunsets 6/30/2014.

SB420 SD2 HD2 – RELATING TO NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE. Amends the title of chapter 455 to "naturopathic medicine" and amends references therein; defines "naturopathic medicine"; changes the name of the board of examiners in naturopathy to the board of naturopathic medicine and authorizes the board to make rules; authorizes temporary license to licensed out-of-state naturopathic physicians in a declared public health emergency.

SB423 SD1 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO HEALTH. Appropriates money to match federal funds for medicaid disproportionate share hospital allowance.

SB539 SD1 HD1 CD1 – RELATION TO CORRECTIONS. Renames the intake service center division of DPS to the reentry intake service centers and directs the reentry intake service centers to work closely and collaborate with the furlough programs in each county, the Hawaii paroling authority, and the correction program services division to ensure that the reentry needs of inmates are being met. Establishes an oversight committee and reentry commission.

SB605 SD1 HD3 CD1 – RELATING TO NOISE. Requires the department of health to add the dBC decibel weighting system to the current dBA decibel weighting system for purposes of community noise control. Sets permissible maximum sound levels for nighttime in any urban land use district and grants the DOH and the county liquor commission the authority to enforce these limits. Directs the county liquor commission, with assistance from DOH and DLIR, to develop recommendations for a permanent maximum sound level, in decibels.

SB695 SD1 HD1 CD1 – RELATING TO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION. Requires the employer to continue medical services to an injured employee despite disputes over whether treatment should be continued, until the director of labor and industrial relations decides whether treatment should be continued. Effective July 1, 2009.

SB777 SD1 HD1 – RELATING TO COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY HEALTH EDUCATION. Requires any recipient of state funding specifically for sexuality health education programs to provide comprehensive medically accurate sexuality education.

SB1005 SD2 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO PUBLICITY RIGHTS. Establishes property rights in the commercial use of a person's name, voice, signature, or likeness.

SB1058 SD2 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES. Establishes a task force to examine issues relating to medical cannabis patients and current medical cannabis laws. Establishes a task force to examine the effects of salvia divinorum.

SB1183 SD2 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES. Requires the Hawaii civil rights commission to define in administrative rules certain definitions for purposes of discriminatory employment practices.
SB1206 SD1 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO COUNTIES. Specifies that, subject to the approval of a county governing body, or in a county with a population of at least 500,000 people that has a county charter provision authorizing a county board to issue revenue bonds in its own name, then the county board may exercise all powers vested in the county with respect to an undertaking or loan program under the board's jurisdiction. Effective 07/01/09.

SB1218 SD2 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATORS. Allows the commissioner of financial institutions to regulate, license, examine, and enforce laws regulating mortgage loan originators. Exempts mortgage loan originators from chapter 454, HRS, relating to mortgage brokers and solicitors.

SB1224 SD1 HD2 CD1 – RELATING TO AIRPORT CONCESSIONS. Allows for certain adjustments and modifications to airport concession leases. Effective 07/01/09.

SB1665 SD2 HD1 CD1 – RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION. Enhances the workforce development capacity of Hawaii's community colleges by establishing a skilled worker and business development center to provide workforce training to meet the rapidly evolving needs of both employers and employees. Appropriates Reed Act funds.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fate of Kahana Valley residents decided tomorrow

Governor Linda Lingle's deadline to veto bills is tomorrow, Wednesday, July 15, 2009. She has yet to veto a bill that would prevent the eviction of families living on state land in Kahana Valley. Dozens joined Rep. Jessica Wooley and Sen. Clayton Hee at the capitol on July 8, 2009 to rally in support of the passage of House Bill 1552.

Here are some links to media coverage of the rally:
Kahana residents ask Lingle not veto bill, SB
Time ticking on Kahana Valley bill, KHON2
Kahana Valley residents protest threatened veto, KGMB9

Lingle has said that she could not sign the bill the way it's written because she says "no one could be evicted even if they're breaking the law." She added that if corrected she may sign it or let go without signature.

The following are comments from Rep. Wooley, the lawmaker who introduced the legislation:

"If the Governor signs this bill, I will work toward eliminating language that the Governor is concerned about during the next session. However, I think it's unnecessary because there is nothing in the current bill that would prevent any resident of Kahana Valley from being arrested and prosecuted if they break the law. In addition, the bill does not trump any federal law that allows the government to seize property.

If the Governor wants innocent families to be evicted and their homes bulldozed because someone, somewhere in the park, at some unknown time in the future might violate the law, I simply can't support that."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aquarius Unveiled

The tent came down today unveiling the newly restored "Aquarius" mosaic by artist Tadashi Sato. Here are some preliminary photos.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The White House meets American Idol meets Swine Flu

The Obama Administration spares no time utilizing new media to spread awareness and keep citizens engaged.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a contest for the best video Public Service Announcement (PSA) "to help educate Americans about how to plan for and prevent the spread of swine flu and the H1N1 virus."

How can you submit a video? It's so easy. Visit the HHS channel on YouTube to submit a 15, 30 or 60 second PSA as a response video to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' announcement. You should visit the for contest rules and other information. One PSA video has already been submitted. Check it out below:

According to the White House blog, an expert panel will evaluate submissions and choose their favorites for vote by the public. The submission with the most votes will win $2,500 and appear on national television.

To all you talented filmmakers and creative individuals in Hawaii, leave us a comment or send us an email if you have submitted a PSA. The HHB crew would love to see them and we may just post our favorites to the blog.

Good luck to all of you!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Choy. Can you use that in a sentence, please?

Are lawmakers better spellers than newscasters? I don't know. But I'm pulling out the biased card and putting my money on Representative Isaac Choy...

The Manoa lawmaker was one of several VIP guests to play an on-stage speller in the production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Manoa Valley Theater on Thursday, July 2, 2009.

He was joined by some of the people you see daily bringing us the news and weather, including Ben Gutierrez (KGMB9), Pamela Young (KITV4), Leland Kim (KHNL8), and Angela Keen (former KHNL anchor).

One politician against four media bigwigs, you say!? Don't fret. Former State Representative and current Democratic Party Chair Brian Schatz buzzed with the hive of special guests as well.

Oh, did I mention that a few of these special Putnam County spelling wizards are fluent in Twitterverse too? I bet that gave them some leverage over the other contestants ;)

According to a press release from, Twitter users, on average, are better spellers than the average Joe. Find these tweeps @angelakeen, @bengutierrez, @brianschatz, @lelandkim.

Rep. Choy said that he had fun participating in the VIP night and we at the HHB headquarters are disappointed to have missed what seemed to be an evening full of laughter.

Photo 1: Rep. Isaac Choy with Aunty Gloria of the production "the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Photo 2: The cast of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" with the Twitta girls.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Supporters of Kahana Valley ohana to rally at Capitol

A demonstration will be held at the Hawaii State Capitol Wednesday, July 8 at 11 a.m. to support a bill that implements the recommendations made by a study conducted by the Legislative Reference Bureau in 2001 regarding the living park concept at Kahana Valley. The bill would allow the state to negotiate new leases for residents of state parks and keep six families from eviction.

House Bill 1552 authorizes the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to issue long-term leases to Kahana Valley residents; establishes a planning council to develop a state living park Master Plan; and establishes a 2-year moratorium on evictions of Kahana Valley residents. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jessica Wooley.

The six families were given notice of eviction by DLNR in June 2008 and had until the end of October 2008 to vacate the valley. An opinion made in March 2008 by the state Attorney General Mark Bennett said that the state no longer had the right to issue new leases as of 1993.

Because of support from the community and state lawmakers, DLNR Chairperson Laura H. Thielen announced in November 2008 that the state would not take action to evict the residents in order to allow the Legislature to consider revisions to Hawaii law to address these issues.

However, Governor Linda Lingle placed HB 1552 on her list of potential vetoes. The veto explanation states "special interest legislation that establishes a moratorium against the eviction of Kahana Valley residents, even when there are illegal activities occurring on the premises or these tenants fail to pay their rents and fulfill certain legal obligations to live in the valley."

Trisha Kehaulani Watson has a great post with the video "Keep da Mana in Kahana" on her Honolulu Advertiser blog "He Hawaii Au".

Kukui Connection - Rep. Mark Nakashima

Coming up on the Kukui Connection - Sunday July 12th (repeated July 26th), 4:00 p.m., Olelo, Channel 54 will be freshman Representative Mark Nakashima.

Rep. Nakashima represents District 1: North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, and South Hilo. Geographically, it is one of the largest districts in the state.

He talks about:

*Economic activity of the district, predominantly agriculture and resort tourism
*The impact of the cancellation of incentive programs to the resort industry
*The long-awaited re-opening of the Mauna Kea Resort
*His background working in the state legislature and as an aide to former Congressman Spark Matsunaga
*His leadership role as National VP of the Jr. Chamber of Commerce
*His career as a public school social studies teacher
*Hamakua ditch
*Invasive species - varroa mite and coqui
*Education legislation

Kukui Connection is a weekly talk show, produced and hosted by Rep. Marilyn Lee.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kukui Connection - Majority Leader Blake Oshiro

Representative Blake Oshiro serves as House Majority Leader. He appears this month on "Kukui Connection" - a weekly talk show produced and hosted by Rep. Marilyn Lee. The show aired Sunday, July 5th and can be seen again on July 19th and August 2nd, 4:00 p.m., Olelo, Channel 54. Here are some highlights:

*Rep. Oshiro's first year as House Majority Leader
*The fate of this year's Majority Package
*Access to healthcare
*Energy and Food Security Tax
*The need to raise certain taxes this session
*High tech tax credits

We are not alone

The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a comparison on what other states are doing in terms of layoffs and furloughs to address the economic crisis. It includes actions and proposals. The chart is here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Manoa Library Going Green

The Manoa Public Library, located on Woodlawn Drive, will today shut its doors and lock up for the last time. It will reopen in two years, but by then book lovers can expect to be greeted with "greener" doors.

The building will be under construction for the next couple of years to become an new, larger, and environmentally-friendly community library. After completion of the "green" building, the State will seek Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A LEED facility must be built with recycled products and material, and have environmentally sustainable design features, including reduced water use, renewable energy and natural lighting.

Library rats don't despair! You will still have access to the crack we story junkies call books. Portables on the Noelani Elementary School campus will serve as a temporary library facility.

The public is invited to the "Manoa Library Book Brigade", a special event with neighbors and community leaders in which participants will take a ceremonial walk carrying a book from the Manoa Public library to the portables across the street. The event is scheduled for August 1, 2009 from 9-10:30 a.m. Representative Isaac Choy, Manoa lawmaker, will participate in the ceremony.

Refreshments will be provided. Contact Christel Collins at 988-0459 for more information.

Keiki Care makes national news

FOX News is in town doing a story on Keiki Care, Hawaii's initiative to provide basic health coverage for uninsured children. Today, reporter Griff Jenkins interviewed the House Health Chair, Rep. Ryan Yamane, and Jennifer Diesman from HMSA, Keiki Care private partner provider. They filmed at Kewalo Basin State Park.

Rep. Yamane also brought along his own keiki, 1-year-old Gavan.