Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Pueo makes an appearance at the Capitol
There have been recent reports of the pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, hanging around the area between the state capitol and Iolani Palace.
The pueo, who are endemic to Hawaii, was spotted cruising around a kukui nut tree on the state capitol grounds and, on a different occasion, perched on the silver fire hydrant near the Kauikeaouli gate of Iolani Palace.
One of our guys in Sergeant of Arms tipped me off on the Pueo sightings. He was actually the one who saw the owl near the King Street gate, and thanks to him I was thoroughly educated on the important role the pueo plays in Hawaiian culture, myth, legend and folklore.
The appearance of a pueo as an 'aumakua, or ancestral guardian, is frequently viewed as an omen of something good or bad to happen. The most famous legend is of an Oahu man who robs a pueo nest, but returns the eggs after being confronted by the pueo right before cooking the eggs for dinner. Because of the man's kindness, the owl became his 'aumakua and asked the man to build a heiau (temple) in Manoa, offer a sacrifice and declare a day of kapu. When the king heard about these events, which broke the law, he was very angry and ordered his warriors to execute the man. As a guardian of battle, the man's pueo called upon all the pueo across Hawaii to join him in attacking the warriors in order to free the condemned man. When the king saw that his warriors didn't stand a chance against the powerful owls, he realized how strong they were and from that day on the pueo were worshipped as gods.
The pueo are endangered on Oahu and are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. It is an extremely rare but wonderful occasion to see the pueo in downtown Honolulu. They usually prefer to fly at high altitudes over grassy areas. Representative from DLNR say that it will not be necessary to capture and relocate the pueo. They ask only that the public don't try to feed it, throw things at it, or touch it. The pueo is probably in search of food and will relocate when it is ready.
Another Train, Another State
Looking back at Legislative Response to ERTF
House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell asked the House Majority Staff Office to provide him with some research on the subject, and here is what he shared with members last week:
The ERTF issued their proposals for economic recovery in October 1997. The legislature responded by passing legislation during the 1998 and 1999 legislative sessions. While there were others, these were what I considered key pieces of legislation:
SB2259, enacted as Act 156, Session Laws of Hawaii, 1998. This Act established the Hawaii Tourism Authority, established the Tourism Special Fund, allocated a portion of the transient accommodations tax (TAT) to the Tourism Special Fund, raised the TAT assessment from 6.0 to 7.25 percent, and expanded TAT to include time share vacation unitst.
HB2560, enacted as Act 115, SLH, 1998. This Act provided the University of Hawaii with greater autonomy and decision making powers.
SB2213, enacted as Act 230, SLH, 1998. This Act created a special committee with the task of transforming state government's budgeting, accounting, and procurement system, including the implementation of performance based budgeting. The Act created another special committee to develop a managed process that enables state and county governments to implement public-private competition for government services.
HB2749, enacted as Act 157, SLH, 1998. This Act provided for income tax relief by reducing tax rates over a four-year period and by establishing a low-income tax credit.
SB638, enacted as Act 71, SLH, 1999. This Act provided for the depyramiding of the General Excise Tax by reducing the GET assessment on wholesale sales of services to one-half of one percent.
(Note: links only go back to 1999 session.)
Monday, September 29, 2008
How 'Tweet' It Is
Friday, September 26, 2008
Dialysis Patients Receive Hope from UH Football Program
Liberty Dialysis, through an agreement with Oceanic Time Warner Cable, will provide live pay per view telecasts of the University of Hawaii football games for the 2008 season for the patients in their 15 clinics across the state. Each patient station has a flat screen television.
Chronic Kidney Disease is the 9th leading cause of death in Hawaii and is on the rise. According to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, there are 156,000 residents with this disease and another 100,000 predisposed to contract it. This is a debilitating illness from which many people die before starting dialysis or receiving a kidney transplant, thus it's label "the silent killer."
Rep. Magaoay: "Hawaii has a higher rate of kidney disease than the rest of the nation, and, therefore, it is critical that the state expeditiously address this deadly disease."
Rep. Mizuno: "It is great to see Liberty Dialysis Hawaii, working with Oceanic Time Warner Cable and the University of Hawaii, Athletics Department to provide live UH sports telecasts, where our patients will be able to feel removed from their medical environment and in tune with a live sporting event, cheering for our UH teams in a great season of hope."
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Speaker's Letter on Budget Deficit
Your editorial of Sept. 16, "Deficit strategy to test Lingle's leadership, mettle," makes some good points about the state budget "crisis," but lays the burden on Gov. Linda Lingle to lead us through the projected shortfall.
The House of Representatives also will take a major leadership role and has the political will to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget, even if unpopular with segments of the community.
During the economic downturn of the late 1990s and early 2000s, we approved such controversial actions as reforming the public employees' health benefit system, instituting a public employees' payroll lag, and requiring the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to be financially self-sufficient through fees and charges imposed on regulated industries.
The House leadership is well aware that the budget will be the major issue facing state government.
In responding to your Voter's Guide question of "what's the No. 1 piece of legislation you'd work to pass in 2009?" my response is: "I would work to pass an executive budget bill that is balanced yet provides sufficient resources for public health and safety and public education without imposing new taxes on residents or businesses."
Majority Floor Leader Blake Oshiro's response is: "A balanced budget that ensures and provides for the needs of my community."
House Finance Committee Chair Marcus Oshiro's response is: "A balanced, two-year state budget that prioritizes education and healthcare above all other important and essential services and government functions."
Vice Speaker Pono Chong's response is: "Tax reform. I want to adjust our tax system to more fairly treat local taxpayers."
The House of Representatives will take a leadership role, jointly with the governor and Senate, to enact a balanced budget that maintains essential public services and avoids a deficit.
Rep. Calvin K.Y. Say
Speaker of the House
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Mini Mock Legislature
The class is part of a Kapiolani Community College paralegal program. The mock legislature was held at the UH Law School, and Susan assigns you to play the role of a testifier, either pro or con. In our case, we were testifying on an actual bill from last session, SB2408, which proposes to ban smoking in public housing. I played "Chris North", a single mother of 2 children, one of whom has asthma. We have neighbors on both sides of us who smoke, and the smoke infiltrates our unit triggering severe reactions for my daughter. Rep. Caldwell played "Pat Smith", who believes it is unconstitutional to ban smoking within your own private residence, and that the bill discriminates against poor people who have no where else to live.
We testified before the Senate Health Committee, the bill was amended and crossed over to the House, and then we testified again before the House Health Committee. After that, we were free to leave, and I'm told the bill was amended again, and then the students actually go into Conference. (All of this transpires within a few hours - ok, that part was not realistic.)
Another group testified on HB792, a 2007 bill that proposes to exempt bars, nightclubs and restaurants from the smoking law. Playing themselves were Dr. Julian Lipsher - Department of Health, who was for the bill, and Deborah Zysman, Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, who testified against the bill.
We applaud Susan Jaworowski for making this part of her class curriculum. It's a great way for students to familiarize themselves with the legislative process, and the importance of public participation.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Rep. John Mizuno's 2008 newsletter link posted to panel
I am excited to share with you the accomplishments of the 24th Legislature. Truly the work of the Legislature was extremely challenging this session with the economic slow down. Thus, the Hawaii Legislature responded to the immediate needs of Hawaii's people while crafting an appropriate budget for the current state economy. The 2008 appropriations take a fiscally prudent approach to enhancing the quality of life for
Hawaii's people by, among other things providing funding to address the aging infrastructure of our public schools and improve University of Hawaii facilities; Facilitating harbor and airport modernization projects and highway improvements; Providing shelter and affordable housing; and Increasing access to health care and
emergency medical services (HB2500). The doors of my office are always open
to you and your family. Please feel free to contact me anytime – anywhere.
Rep. John Mizuno
A Voggy Day
*status of volcanic activity
*the interagency task force
*the Hawaii Volcano Helpline
*emergency vog shelters
Here are links to the media coverage:
The Honolulu Advertiser, "Lack of shelters troubles vog zone"
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Relocation of farmers from vog suggested"
KHON2, "House meets on matters of vog"
KITV, "Officials suggest 'safe room' to avoid vog dangers"
KGMB9, "Big Isle Officials discuss vog problem at capitol"
KHNL, "The solution to the vog might be in Washington"
Hawaii Tribune-Herald, "Lawmakers powerless against vog"
Monday, September 22, 2008
"The biggest bullies in fifth grade were the ones with their hands up," offering suggestions, she said. Along with the guidebook, the kids decided to appoint one third- and one fifth-grader roam as "safe ambassadors" each recess to ward off potential problems.
"That school created a wonderful environment to let students solve bullying," she said.
Friday, September 19, 2008
When haphazard proofing leads to booty
A misprint in a telephone book has led to some callers dialing a phone sex service while trying to reach a New Jersey political organization.
A listing for the Sussex County Democratic Committee in Embarq's white pages sent people to a sultry female voice inviting them to pay for sex chat.
Embarq spokesman Glenn Lewis told The New Jersey Herald of Newton that a transposition error caused the last three digits of the Democrats' phone number to be misprinted.
He said the listing has been corrected in Embarq's directory assistance database.
The organization's 800 number listed in the book's yellow pages was correct.
Who or what is a journalist?
You'd think Mr. Smith, who is currently managing editor of State Legislatures magazine, would side with mainstream journalists, but he looks at the issue in practical terms, and he concludes that there never has been, nor will there ever be, a definition of "journalist". He contends that there is no licensing or board testing involved, and that's the way reporters and editors want it. In the end, journalism is not a profession, but a craft, he writes.
Smith's observation is that a younger generation of reporters find the question moot. They may be hired as a reporter, but chances are they are also being asked to blog, tweet, and take pictures too while they're at it. Accuracy and ethics will always be issues, but defining journalists is headed for the recycling bin.
For further reading, Smith points to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review - The Bigger Tent by Ann Cooper. Cooper's question is Forget Who is a journalist; the important question is, What is journalism? It's an excellent piece for anyone interested in figuring out who belongs under the Big Tent of Journalism. Here's an excerpt:
Access Soon after former radio and wire-service journalist Jim Van Dongen became a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety in 2003, he found himself confronted with press-pass applications from unpaid Internet bloggers and community-radio talk-show hosts. His first reaction: they’re not “legitimate” journalists. His second reaction: we need a definition of who is.
It was Van Dongen’s third reaction that was surprising. After trying out different criteria—journalists write for pay; they do original reporting, not just opinion writing—Van Dongen concluded that none of the criteria worked. In today’s digital world, he says, “essentially, anybody who says he’s a journalist is one.” So this past January, Van Dongen’s office announced that it would no longer issue press passes. “Either we must issue such ID to virtually anyone who asks for it or be placed in the position of deciding who is or is not a legitimate journalist. That is not an appropriate role for a state agency,” the department said in a January 15 news advisory. Though stunning in its symbolism, the New Hampshire decision didn’t have much practical effect; Safety Department press passes were rarely needed, except for access to the state legislature floor.
Nor have other institutions rushed to copy Van Dongen’s response to the credentialing dilemma. In institutional worlds such as government, politics, and business, many in charge of press operations still cast a wary eye at requests from outside mainstream media. It’s not that they’re inundated with applicants; many institutions say blogger requests are still something of a novelty. But they’re not at all sure what to do with someone who doesn’t look like a traditional journalist. Last January, for example, the retail chain Target e-mailed blogger Amy Jussel to say it wouldn’t answer her questions about its ad campaigns because “Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets.” Meanwhile, the New York Civil Liberties Union went to court in February to force the release of all recent New York Police Department decisions on press-pass requests; the action is aimed at determining whether, as some independent online writers claim, the NYPD denies cards to applicants who don’t work in the journalistic mainstream.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Peace Day Hawaii Schedule of Events Set for the Convention Center
Before the ceremony, there will a Peace education forum -- titled "Is Peace Possible in Our Schools" -- from 12 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Schedule of Events:
3:00 p.m. - “Imagine” video by John Lennon
3:05 p.m. - Kuma Hula Lopaka Kapanui performance of “Oli Aloha”
3:10 p.m. - Chantelle Ching and Andrea Dalorea performance of “Kawika”
3:20 p.m. - Welcome by Co-Emcees Cameron Kubota of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and Ayesha Cooray of Students for Peace with Iolani’s Institute for Peace.
3:30 p.m. - Hongwanji Mission School Choir performance of “Voices of Peace”
3:35 p.m. - Introduction of Dignitaries
3:40 p.m. - Key Note Speaker, Ms. Gloria Tumbaga, a registered nurse and third-year medical student who has volunteered for several goodwill medical missions in Micronesia, Laos, Bangladesh, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
3:50 p.m. - Max Louie and Dani-One performance of "Now Power and Good Vibrations"
4:00 p.m. - Presentation of Peace Day Hawaii Award to Glenn Paige, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii
4:10 p.m. - Pacific Buddhist Academy Taiko performance of “Peace”
4:20 p.m. - Remarks by the United Nations Association Student Alliance
4:25 p.m. - A Class Act performance of “Joy Joy and Down by the Riverside”
4:30 p.m. - Peace Video by the Rotary Club of Honolulu
4:45 p.m. - Candle Lighting Ceremony and Hongwanji Mission School Choir and A Class Act performance of “A Candle for Peace”
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Final Vog Meeting Set for Monday
WHEN: Monday, September 22, 2008
Meeting: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Media Availability: 12:30 p.m. or immediately following the meeting
WHERE: State Capitol, Room 325
WHO: The following have been invited to participate:
US Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
US Department of Agriculture
Office of the Governor
Department of Agriculture
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Health
Charter School Administrative Office
Hawaii Tourism Authority
UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
County of Hawaii
Hawaii Island Economic Development Board
Hawaii Association of Realtors
Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation – Big Island Farm Bureau
Hawaii Health Systems Corporation
Hawaii Medical Service Association
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
National Day of Action Beach Cleanup Needs You
The clean-up is one of many community service events happening that day as part of the first National "Day of Action." Hundreds of events nationwide are being held to demonstrate the impact that service has had in communities and can have on a larger scale. The mayor's offices will also be holding a Proclamation for the Day of Action on Friday, Sept. 26 at 11:15 a.m.
The People's Path is the name of a project by Women of Wai'anae, Teach for America, Nani O Wai'anae and AlohaCare to create a multi-use pathway along the Wai'anae Coast from Lualualei Naval Road to Ka'ena Point. The goal is to connect the pathway to the state's planned bike path, which will end at Lualualei Naval Road. The idea behind the People's Path is to help prevent childhood and adult obesity by providing a scenic route for biking, walking, jogging, and other forms of exercise. The path will also serve as a viable alternative to driving in these times of high fuel costs and traffic congestion.
On April 26, 2008 and May 17, 2008, over 60 volunteers gathered at Nani Kai beach in Maili and filled over 80 bags of trash, consolidated tires, car parts, and other bulky items for disposal.
AlohaCare recently awarded Rep. Maile Shimabukuro and Women of Wai'anae a $5000 grant to use in maintaining and beautifying the pathway through additional volunteer work days.
See a video of Maile and her mom reviewing the area for the People's Path.
Latest tax collection report shows negative growth
Our Finance team has reviewed the latest tax collections report for this fiscal year. Here are the bullets:
Rep. Lyla Berg Comments on Creating Vibrant Democracy
Rep. Lyla Berg wrote a commentary for The Honolulu Advertiser on what is needed to create and maintain a vibrant democracy which was published in this morning's paper. Despite our efforts in civic education, she sees some troubling signs:
Yet two troubling trends underlie the increase in youth turnout. First, we risk being lulled into the false assumption that youth voting is all we need to ensure a healthy democracy. Second, the young people who do vote are disproportionately white and middle or upper class. Both these trends represent serious threats to the legitimacy of American democracy.
Active citizenship demands far more than spending a few minutes in a voting booth. To determine the health of our democracy, we need to ask more of our young people. Are they reading the newspaper? Are they discussing politics and public policy with friends, family, teachers? Are they engaged in local politics? Are they participating in community service?
Friday, September 12, 2008
From Hawaii to Papua New Guinea
Gloria is a healer and humanitarian. She is an active volunteer with Aloha Medical Mission, an organization that provides free medical treatment to underserved areas abroad and in Hawaii. She has been on goodwill missions in Micronesia, Laos, Bangladesh, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Gloria's earlier life was not easy and as a child she rarely found peace. She was raised by a single mother and was often homeless living on the beach. At age 8, her mother died of pneumonia and she and her four siblings were ripped from each other to live in separate foster homes. Despite these earlier challenges, Gloria strives to be a role model to disadvantaged youth and instill in them the same hope and strength she had in order to achieve greater things.
The Peace Day Hawaii 2008 Celebration Ceremony will include speakers; peace video clips; taiko performances; hula dancers; singers; and a candle light vigil for peace. The event is free and open to the public.
For information on the Peace Day Ceremony, please call 808-586-8490.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro - OHA Radio Show
There are "soda" states and there are "pop" states
This is one of the coolest maps of the United States that I've seen, one that color codes the regions of our country according to the commonly used term for a soft drink. I stole it from Governing.com's blog, The Thirteenth Floor, and as we enter the season for pundits to break down states by colors, this one may be as good as any in predicting who our next president will be.
I've always been interested in "soda", as we in Hawaii call it. My grandparents owned a company in the 1940's and 50's called Aloha Soda which was located on College Walk, across the canal from River Street on the edge of Chinatown. I played amidst cases and cases stacked to the ceiling of orange, strawberry, lemon-lime, and fruit punch. But when I moved to various parts of the mainland, I was very confused when not only did everyone else call it "pop", but the choices were essentially Coke and 7-Up.
I see by the map that the people in the South tend to use "coke" as the generic name for all soda, people in the North say "pop", and people in New England and California say "soda" like we do. Hmmm, what does this foretell? Zach Patton, the writer from Governing.com, is from Tennessee, and he shared this typical conversation:
Customer: "What kind of coke do y'all have?"
Server: "Coke, Diet Coke, 7-Up, Sprite..."
Customer: "I'll have a Coke."
Server: "Okay. It's Pepsi. Is that alright?"
Customer: "Yeah sure."
If only we could settle our political differences between red and blue states so amicably.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Glenn Paige named Peace Day 2008 Award Recipient
Glenn D. Paige, 79, a Korean War veteran and Honolulu resident, is the author of Nonkilling Global Political Science (2002), which has been translated into 29 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, French, Hindi, Japanese and Urdu. He is the founder and president of the Center for Global Nonviolence (http://www.globalnonviolence.org/), a nonprofit organization that convened the First Global Nonkilling Leadership Forum in Honolulu in 2007 with 30 participants from 20 countries. The Forum was co-sponsored by the UH Matsunaga Institute for Peace and the Mu Ryang Sa Temple.
The Peace Day Award presentation is part of the Peace Day Hawaii 2008 Celebration Ceremony scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center and will include an opening performance by Kumu Hula Lopaka Kapanui and his hula halau; speakers; peace video clips; taiko performances; singers; and a candle light vigil for peace. The event is free and open to the public.
For information on the Peace Day Hawaii 2008 Celebration Ceremony, please call 808-586-8490.
People's Pulse: Clear Majority Oppose ConCon
For the most part, no surprises. The majority of voters on Oahu, 59%, favor a fixed rail mass transit system. Top concerns were the economy, jobs and the cost of living. Despite the cost of gas, most voters prefer to keep agricultural lands for farming food crops rather than turning them into biofuel crops.
Perhaps the most eyebrow raising survey result is that most voters oppose a Constitutional Convention, and the opposition numbers rise in correlation to the estimated cost of holding the ConCon.
At $5 to $9 million - 54% somewhat oppose, 25% strongly oppose, 23% somewhat favor, and 14% strongly favor a ConCon.
At $10 to $19 million - 68% somewhat oppose, 25% strongly oppose, 15% somewhat favor, and 9% strongly favor a ConCon.
Last week, the LRB report put the cost of the ConCon in the range of $6.4 to $41.7 million, while the Lt. Gov's task force estimates a cost of $2.3 to $11.1 million.
The People's Pulse report continues: "Rather than holding a ConCon, 71% of voters prefer to see Constitutional changes made by the Legislature and then approved by the voters. Across all voter segments, at least two-thirds prefer this alternative. Support for this process rather than a ConCon is due to cost, assuming that ConCon costs $5 to $9 million and the alternative, half a million."
Further, "Opposition to ConCon is not surprising given that 78% of voters do not have constitutional issues to suggest for its agenda. Among the minority of 22% who have changes, fewer than 3% support any one issue, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (both for and against its continuation); government reform; community issues like homelessness, civil rights, and illegal immigration; the definition of marriage (both for and against same sex marriages); capital punishment and tougher crime sentences."
For information on the People's Pulse, go to http://www.prp-hawaii.com/ or http://www.omnitrakgroup.com/.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Silent March honors murder victims
Batoon, 31, of Lanai City, was allegedly shot and killed by her estranged husband Gerry Batoon, who also killed himself
Phanthanouvongand, 18, was shot to death at Ala Moana Beach Park.
"Any death that could have been prevented should be recognized so that we can raise more awareness, show community support, strengthen our resources to counsel troubled youth and adults, and raise the need for tougher policies that prevent more innocent lives from being lost," said Rep. Tom Brower (District 23-Waikiki, Ala Moana), one of several legislators who were in attendance.
Term limits: "A lot of churning, little butter"
In the early 1990's, term limits were all the rage. Taking advantage of voter unhappiness, Republicans made term limits a central national theme in their "Contract with America", and that trickled down to local legislatures. Now, even those who supported term limits in the past are starting to see a serious downside. Such as:
Lack of institutional knowledge: With lawmakers coming and going, usually within two terms, there is no one left who serves as a source of information on what happened in the past and why.
Productivity: Government is a steep learning curve, especially coming from the private sector. By the time a new lawmaker understands the mechanics of the office, it's time to leave. The result is that only small projects get done. Larger, more substantive changes and accomplishments often take years of work, beyond the scope of those hampered by term limits.
Lack of accountability: When officials are in office for only a few years, they are often gone before being held accountable for their actions. As one departing Texas mayor said, "We do a lot of churning here, but we don't produce a lot of butter."
Power in the hands of civil servants: A significant amount of work is then delegated to civil servants who build up their own institutional knowledge and maintain an inordinate amount of power because of the information they possess. Some call them "We Bees" as in "we be here when they're gone." It is a concern to some that the running of a government may be in the hands of, or at least greatly influenced by, those who are not elected by the people.
At this time, there are 37 governors and 15 state legislatures that abide by term limits.
Shimabukuro to attend public housing meeting in Waianae
When: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Waimaha Sunflower Community Hall
85-186 McArthur Street
Representative Maile Shimabukuro is the Chair of the Committee on Human Services and Housing.
Resident Community Meetings were created by the HPHA to address and discuss the following issues: new HUD (housing and urban development) requirements for asset management; resident association and resident issues and concerns; community, police, neighborhood board, nonprofit and elected official issues and concerns; HPHA staff and management issues and concerns; long-term public housing repair and maintenance needs; and possible solutions.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The Highway Trust Fund is Going Broke
Peters issued a press release on Friday, Sept. 5th, outlining the situation. She immediately blamed Congress for ignoring "three years worth of warnings." NCSL points out, however, that the administration opposes and has threatened to veto the Department of Transportation's legislation which calls for 1)$8 billion transfer from the general fund to the highway fund, and 2)pay states a proportional reimbursement until the transfer is completed.
The policy is that states pay for their road repairs and then receive reimbursements from the highway fund. Now it appears that states would receive 75% of reimbursements, if any.
Now, for the bitter pill. NCSL's Surface Transportation Reauthorization Working Group has been concerned about the situation for awhile. When the group met in July at the national conference, they sent letters to Congress raising red flags and requesting the adoption of new policies and strategies. Up to now, states have led the way in developing innovative ways to fund road improvements, but they still require funding from the Highway Trust Fund which is depleting rapidly due to the high cost of gasoline.
Oregon state Senator Bruce Starr, who leads the working group, stated that the only way to maintain the Highway Trust Fund is to increase the federal gas tax. Ouch.
Legislative scorecard misses positive benefits of new laws
Although praised for passing HB 2971, HB 2557, HB 1755, SB 2292, SB 2400, and SB 2425, many lawmakers scored low for voting yes on several other bills deemed bad for taxpayers by the Institute. After reviewing the scorecard, it was apparent that the scores lacked reflection of some of the positive benefits of passing certain bills. Legislators were ranked based on subjective and stringent rules and categories that do not take into consideration the bigger picture.
Scores were based on whether lawmakers made the "smart vote" on matters regarding personal freedom, taxes, business regulations, government and justice. A "smart vote," according to the Institute, is a vote in support of personal freedom, against higher taxes and fees, against the burdensome regulation of business, in favor of smaller government, and for appropriate penalties for harmful activity.
Many of the bills selected cannot be determined good or bad for taxpayer based on cut-and-dried observations. Several of these bills did not fit the ideals of the Institute, but a lot of them are obviously good for our state.
For example, SB 2373, a bill that closes a loophole in a previous law of maintaining written records of sales of pseudoephedrine products by requiring all pharmacies to use electronic logs that can be sent immediately to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was considered a bad law for taxpayers. Pseudoephedrine products contain the chemicals that are needed to make crystal meth. Drug dealers and drug addicts are known to frequent drug stores to purchase these products in order to make and sell crystal meth. The Institute criticized the bill for being a gross invasion of privacy, however this new law is necessary to make the old law effective. Electronic logs will allow DPS to take real-time action in identifying habitual buyers rather than waiting months for written logs. This bill will help the department to make strides in preventing the production and sale of illegal drugs.
Another bill considered bad for residents is HB 2843, which expands inspection fees to any freight brought to the islands. The Institute reports that taxpayers may absorb the cost of fees through higher prices, but fails to mention that the fee is an "invasive species" inspection fee that will be collected by the Department of Agriculture in an effort to control the spread of invasive species that may hitch a ride on foreign cargo. In written testimony, the Department of Land and Natural Resources states, "Preventing new invasive species from establishing in Hawaii provides the greatest long term protection for Hawaii and the Department supports strong import quarantine measures." Failing to address the threat of invasive species today will prove to be even more costly to Hawaii residents in the future.
Check out the Grassroot Institute's website where it provides you with a summary of the results, a description of the bills and its reasons for opposing or agreeing with the passage of a bill. You can also find bills in their entirety and public testimony in support or against a bill at the Legislature's website to make your own decision on the effectiveness of a certain bill.
Commentary by Thelma Dreyer
Monday, September 8, 2008
More Progress on School Repair & Maintenance
District 5 - Rep. Robert N. Herkes
School: Konawaena High School
Project: Campus Repair Fire Alarm System
Contract Award: Able Electric, Inc.
Contract Amount: $202,300.00
Date: August 19, 2008
District 6 - Rep. Josh Green
School: Holualoa Elementary School
Project: Install ADA Fire Alarm Devices
Contract Award: Able Electric, Incl
Contract Amount: $36,875.00
Date: August 25, 2008
District 7 - Rep. Cindy Evans
School: Waikoloa Elementary School
Project: Temporary Facilities Sitework
Contract Award: Stan's Contracting, Inc.
Contract Amount: $278,300.00
Date: September 2, 2008
District 8 - Rep. Joseph Souki
School: Wailuku Elementary School
Project: Front Campus Erosion Control
Contract Award: Arisumi Brothers, Inc.
Contract Amount: $22,842.00
Date: May 14, 2008
District 9 - Rep. Bob Nakasone
School: Iao Intermediate School
Project: Add P.E. Equipment
Contract Award: HNJ2, Inc. dba Elima Engineering
Contract Amount: $23,100.00
Date: July 17, 2008
School: Puunene Elementary School
Project: Building A - Extend Handicap Ramp
Contract Award: HNJ2, Inc. dba Elima Engineering
Contract Amount: $24,700.00
Date: July 14, 2008
School: Iao Middle School
Project: Add Fence and Speed Bumps
Contract Award: Central Construction, Inc.
Contract Amount: $24,700.00
Date: June 27, 2008
School: Iao Intermediate School
Project: Building C & D Extend Program Bell System
Contract Award: Lite Electric, Inc.
Contract Amount: $23,530.00
Date: June 10, 2008
District 10 - Rep. Angus McKelvey
School: Nahienaena Elementary School
Project: Add Irrigation Timer
Contract Award: Godfrey Mau, dba Ag Services
Contract Amount: $12,500.00
Date: July 17, 2008
School: Lahaina Intermediate School
Project: 2007 Whole School Renovation
Contract Award: F & H Construction (Stockton, CA)
Contract Amount: $3,099,000.00
Date: August 13, 2008
District 16 - Representative Roland Sagum
School: Koloa Elementary Schoool
Project: 2007 Whole School Renovation
Contract Award: Kauai Builders, Ltd.
Contract Amount: $1,735,614.00
Date: August 29, 2008
District 32 - Representative Lynn Finnegan
School: Aiea Intermediate School
Project: Electrical Relocation
Contract Award: Ikaika, Inc.
Contract Amount: $8,894.00
Date: August 1, 2008
District 33 - Representative Blake Oshiro
School: Webling Elementary School
Project: Portable Classrooms
Contract Award: DKSL, LLC dba Paramount Builders
Contract Amount: $186,405.00
Date: August 11, 2008
District 44 - Representative Karen Awana
School: Nanakuli High & Intermediate School
Project: Building V - Replace Steam Lines
Contract Award: Brian's Contracting Inc.
Contract Amount: $311,000.00
Date: August 20, 2008
Nanakuli Robotics Club receives $10K donation
Rep. Awana has been actively seeking support for this new program, which joined its first regional competition last year making it up to the semi-finals. The cost of competing in regional robotics events isn't chump change. Registering for a competition can set a school back $2,000 and the cost of robotic kits can range from $2,000-$3,000.
The donated funds will help the Nanakuli Robotics Club pay for various competition costs throughout the year on its quest to competing in next year's national competition in Atlanta.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Recycling drive in Nanakuli next weekend
The public is encouraged to save, collect and bring the following items: scrap metal (no TV, microwave oven) car parts, bicycles, lawn mowers, refrigerators, air conditioners, newspaper, cardboard, beverage containers, passenger tires (limit 4 per household), cooking oil, green waste, car batteries, plastic bags (only from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.), telephone books, magazines, used eye glasses, hearing aids, usable clothing, household items, cellular phone, print cartridges, and one computer per household/car.
All items, except computers, can be dropped off curbside at the school's parking lot at 89-980 Nanakuli Avenue.
Please call Rep. Karen Awana at 586-8465 or Rene Mansho at 306-1876 for more information.
We are not alone on wrestling with ConCons
New Grindz for Island Dairy Cows
Rep. Clift Tsuji talks to Island Dairy Manager Scott Tripp
Many folks don't realize that the state of Hawaii was self-sufficient in milk production back in the 1980's, and did not have to import mainland milk. In fact, the dairies were producing more milk than we could use. Today, the scenario is reversed with the state importing 82% of our milk.
Rep. Tsuji watches first harvest
Rep. Tsuji wanted to help the livestock industry get back on its feet with HB1221, a livestock revitalization bill. The legislature appropriated $3.3 million for each year of the biennium through 2009, for farmers to use as reimbursement for feed costs. Island Dairy received the maximum $250,000, and spent an additional $1 million for equipment and supplies. They used the money to start growing their own corn for feed, and they harvested their first crop on Tuesday.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
25th Infantry Div Prepares to Deploy to Iraq
On Wednesday, September 2, I was privileged to be briefed by Maj. General Robert Caslen, Jr. who will be leading the 25th Infantry Division when they leave Wahiawa to deploy to Iraq in October. The story of our briefing was covered by The Honolulu Advertiser this morning.
Rep. Oshiro listens to briefing by Major General Robert Caslen Jr.
Photos by: Bruce Asato, Honolulu Advertiser
I was struck by his candor, professionalism, and the heartfelt confidence he has in his officers and soldiers. It is impressive to consider that our 25th Infantry soldiers will be responsible for a region the size of Pennsylvania.I was inspired to learn what tremendous skill sets each modern-day warrior brings to the battlefield. The Division Operations Center exercise was like a bustling Fortune 500 company dressed in camouflage uniforms and boots - simultaneous team meetings, computer screens aglow, telephones in use, and people on the move.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
LRB Report on ConCon costs now available
The LRB is a non-partisan agency and is not advocating for or against a Constitutional Convention. A copy was provided to lawmakers today and is available to the public online at: http://hawaii.gov/lrb/rpts08/costcon.pdf.
In summary, the report notes that:
It is extremely likely that the final cost will be an intermediate amount that reflects a variety of tradeoffs among cost elements…While the low cost elements identified in this report may be achievable, it may not be surprising if legislators are lobbied to support policies that could drive costs to much higher levels, such as:
*Making the convention more "inclusive" (more rather than fewer delegates)
*Paying delegates and staffs a "living wage" (higher salaries)
*Recognizing the influence of "special interests (publicly funded elections) and
*Providing greater public information and access (more extensive broadcasting of proceedings)
The LRB's estimated cost range varies significantly from the Lt. Governor's Con Con Task Force Final Report which concluded a cost range of $2,329,656 to $11,114,045.
"Whether you are for, against or neutral on a Constitutional Convention, this is a thorough and comprehensive report and I urge the public to review both reports prior to voting," said Rep. Kirk Caldwell, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. "A change to the Hawaii State Constitution is not something that we should take lightly. It's important that we distinguish between constitutional issues and legislative issues, as well as consider the costs involved which will ultimately fall upon the taxpayers."
UPDATE: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin story is here. The Advertiser is here.
Con Am on Age Limit for Gov and Lt. Gov
"Shall the age qualification for the office of governor and office of lieutenant governor be reduced from thirty years of age to twenty-five years of age?"
SB966 was introduced by Sen. David Ige in 2007 and proposed the constitutional amendment to lower the eligibility age requirement. It was carried over to the 2008 session, passed the legislature, and enacted into law this year. The majority of the testimony in 2008 came from a group of young adults from Youth Outreach! Hawaii. Here are some of the reasons (excerpts from testimony) why they believe the age limit should be lowered:
I am unreservedly in favor of bill SB966 which would lower the age a person can run for Governor from 30 to 25. I personally think it should be 18 like California, but 25 will be a great start.
I think people need to get involved in a democratic process as early as possible. Youth is attracted to, inspired by, lead by other youth. Young people are interested in - young athletes, young actors, young musicians etc. They care much more about what their peers think then anyone else.
To get the youth excited we need a young leader, and to get a young leader we need to give them the opportunity to run for Governor. We need to send a message to the youth that politics isn't something just for their parents, I think that's what we're telling the young adults right now with our age limitation 30 to run for Governor.
When I as younger, my view on golf was that it was one the most boring sports and that it was for old retired people, certainly not something that my friends and I would be interested in doing or watching. Yet, when Tiger Woods came on the scene, I found myself watching and even thinking about playing golf!
Similarly, young people these days seem to have the view that polities is something that only their parents would be interested in. We want to get them interested.
Ever since I got involved with YO! Hawaii (Youth Outreach Hawaii) and we decided to try and get this bill passed, I have had the opportunity to go out and talk to youth groups and the general public, finding a great response and support from people who would also like to see this bill passed, from all ages and groups.
Candidates should be elected for their character, their values, and the issues they support, not just because of the age they are. Look at the many different candidates for Governor who have questionable backgrounds/experience/agenda, who may get a hundred or so odd votes. Why are they qualified to be on the ballot?
I have many friends who are under the age of 30 and are able to go to war, fight for our country and die. And yet just because of their age, they're not eligible to lead as Governor or Lt. Governor. I know that they, myself and others my age are discouraged by this, feeling that our voice doesn't count.
Changing the age will have a positive psychological effect on young people. People in their 20s will feel inspired that the opportunity is there, they will feel included, that they are a part of something big and have a voice in making a difference in our state. The goal is to get the young adults in our state more involved in their communities and our democratic process, and this bill will help do that.
I feel that this bill will initiate young people to get involved in politics. If this constitutional amendment gets on the ballot, it will make people publicly aware of the option, and may inspire and encourage the younger age groups to vote and actually get involved in politics.
I work in the business world and I know people under the age of 30 that own corporations and are making millions of dollars and are changing the way we do business. The same applies to people in the military or people that are elected officials in other states. They are under the age of 30, but they are making a difference. They have the support and people are voting for them and electing them. So why can't we open the possibilities and make it so that people with great managerial and entrepreneurial skills bring that energy into politics in Hawaii? So unless you don't want to bring in new ideas, new energy and new skills into politics in Hawaii, you will not vote for this bill. If you do, than you will favor it.
I have some friends that are very passionate about politics and want to make a difference, but they are intimidated because they feel that they need to be older to get involved. They feel that people won't take them seriously if they are of a certain age group. This constitutional amendment will remove any of those intimidations and will encourage them to get involved and make a difference.