Top 10 Memorable Moments from the Capitol in 2009 (in no particular order)! What are your top 10? Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR from the House Blog Team. Aloha!
1. Freshmen 6
New faces to the House of Representatives is always a memorable moment.
2. Michael Jackson's death
We know. We know. Michael has nothing to do with the Legislature, but his sudden death is a moment in 2009 that is probably on thousands of these lists. Plus, we have a picture on file of Representative Tom Brower's visit to Los Angeles on the night that grieving fans flocked to the King of Pop's Hollywood Star. We couldn't leave it out!
3. Hawaii in the White House
Hawaii-born Barack H. Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United State of America on January 20, 2009. Enough said.
4. Civil Unions debate
Hundreds turned out for the Senate Judiciary hearing to give testimony on the Civil Unions bill. It was a long day. The hearing lasted roughly nine hours. In the end, there weren't enough votes to pass the bill out of committee. Replay in 2010, possibly with different results?
5. Swine Flu
It's not really a moment, but it was a significant health issue being talked about around the capitol and the state. People were afraid. You can now buy face masks in your local 7-Eleven. News about swine flu dominated newspapers, television news reports and blogs. It wasn't the year of the ox, the pig took it home this year.
6. Balancing the budget
Council on Revenues projected continuous decreases in revenue at the beginning of 2009 leaving the Legislature with the task of finding money to fill a $2.1 billion deficit. The House Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee spent countless hours in hearings, sometimes into the early wee hours, to hear testimony and make decisions on critical budget bills. The result: A balanced budget through a combination of solutions.
7. Pound da poi
The Hawaiian Caucus hosted the first Taro Festival in celebration of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus Day in the Capitol Rotunda. It was such a fun day! People were pounding poi learning about the Hawaiian culture and the significance of taro. I was eating it. Good times!
8. Time Capsule my Statehood
Hawaii celebrated its 50th year of statehood in 2009. House members and staff loaded a tiny silver time capsule full of memorabilia representing the past and present of the Hawaii House of Representatives. The House's pill is only one of 50 time capsules that will be buried in different locations statewide. They will be opened on the State's 75th anniversary in 2034.
We could name all the rallies and protests that were held on Capitol grounds as a memorable moment on this list, but then there wouldn't be room for anything else! Furloughs, civil unions, education, healthcare for Micronesians, Healthystart, etc. all deserve to be on this list.
10. Rise of Twitter and the Attack of Social Media
In 2008 we started updating our Twitter profiles with all the nitty-gritty that went on at the Legislature. Don't worry. Really. We know. You don't have to shower us with praise for building the twit-gov bandwagon. Really. Stop. You're making us blush. In all seriousness, Twitter hijacked 2009. It's popularity grew quickly early in the year. Everyone was talking about it. Here are highlights of this past year tweet-style: John just had black coffee. Some guy's dad says the funniest poop ever. Apparently, Jeff Goldblum died and then didn't. Raw, unedited and gripping reports and footage filled Twitter streams. Happy New Year, Tweeps!!
Representative Blake Oshiro sat down with Steve Uyehara of Hawaii News Now to talk about a few of the laws that will go into effect when the clock strikes twelve tonight. View the segment here.
Most bills that survive a legislative session go into effect upon approval or on July 1. A few like the ones below are lucky enough to ring in the New Year.(We mentioned a couple others in a previous blog.)
HB1415 HD1 SD2 CD1 (Act 158) RELATING TO SERVICE OF PROCESS. Report Title: Service of Process; Condominiums; Planned Community Associations; Cooperative Housing Description: Requires condominium associations, planned community associations, and cooperative housing corporations with properties inaccessible to the public to establish a policy to provide access for a person authorized to serve civil process. Sunsets on July 1, 2012. (HB1415 CD1)
HB1512 HD1 SD1 CD1 (Act 159) RELATING TO TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS. Report Title: Temporary Restraining Order; Household Animals Description: Authorizes family court to authorize the issuance of a temporary restraining order in certain circumstances involving an animal identified to the court as belonging to a household. Effective 1/1/10. (HB1512 CD1)
SB166 SD1 HD1 CD1 (Act 168) Requires health insurance providers to provide health insurance coverage for all chemotherapy treatment, including orally administered chemotherapy, at the same copayment percentage or relative coinsurance amount as is applied to intravenously administered chemotherapy. (CD1)
SB420 HD2 (Act 22) 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.
Photo: Majority Floor Leader Cindy Evans and Rep. John Mizuno with testifiers who oppose the proposed subsidy changes. (from Rep. Mizuno)
The House Committee on Human Services held a hearing for parents and child care providers who will be affected by the proposed reduction of preschool subsidies to share their concerns and suggestions with state lawmakers.
Most parents and child care providers were worried that their facilities would have to shut down because of fewer children who will be able enroll in February when the proposed subsidy programs goes into effect. More than 50 child care providers in the state may have to shut their doors because of the subsidy changes. Those opposed to the proposition wants the state to leave the Department of Human Services alone. They suggest cutting programs from other departments that will no affect Hawaii's most needy people.
Rep. John Mizuno, the chairman of the Human Services Committee, believes that the state is putting early childhood education at risk.
"We need to save our preschools, because an investment in early education and preschools equals an investment in our community," he said. "I look forward to working with preschools, affected families, children and businesses to save our preschools."
Monday, December 28, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. State Capitol - Room 329 Committee on Human Services will hold an informational briefing to review the possible reduction of preschool care and licensed family care services.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. State Capitol - Room 423 Legislative Federal Economic Stimulus Program Oversight Commission will meet on the overview of stimulus funds for the Department of the Attorney General and the Office of the Governor.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. State Capitol - Room 325 Senate Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Finance will hold an informational briefing for the Department of Budget and Finance. The following will be discussed:
*State investments in Auction Rate Securities *General Obligation Bond sales and debt refinancing *Collective Bargaining agreements and anticipated savings *Reduction in Force (RIF) process and anticipated savings *Status of exempt positions subject to RIF and furlough *Departmental budget restriction amounts *Monthly Vacancy reports
Facebook recently changed its policy on security settings for users. If you haven't already done so, you may want to visit your settings page and confirm that it is set the way you want it. Meagan Dorsch wrote an informative post on the subject for The Thicket, NCSL's blog. Read it here. If you are on Facebook, make sure you know what and how much of your account is private vs. public.
Representative Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, turned on the "LOVE" Christmas lights outside his office on the third floor of the State Capitol last night. This is the 2nd year of the lights, with the addition of the "Happy Face" for 2009.
As you drive past the capitol on Beretania Street, look up to the mauka/diamond head corner of the building to see the lights. They will be up until January 3, 2010.
From Rep. Oshiro:
"Reminds me of that Loggins and Messina tune about eternal hope, life's seasons, and the simple truth of how this Christmas is really about our family and friends and loved ones. Here is the refrain from "Danny's Song". How appropriate in these times of little money.
Most bills passed during the 2009 legislative session went into effect upon approval or on July 1, 2009. A few, though, are slated to go into effect on January 1, 2010, such as:
HB981 Ignition Interlock. Makes amendments to Hawaii Revised Statutes and Act 171, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008, reflecting recommendations of ignition interlock implementation task force. (HB981 CD1)
HB1512 Pet Protection. Authorizes family court to authorize the issuance of a temporary restraining order in certain circumstances involving an animal identified to the court as belonging to a household. Effective 1/1/10. (HB1512 CD1)
This is not an exhaustive list. Let us know if you're aware of others.
Rep. Denny Coffman shared this interactive graphic map depicting the unemployment rates by U.S. county over time. It starts in January 2007 and ends at October 2009. The animated graphic was prepared by Latoya Egwuekwe based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. Click on play and watch the visual deterioration of employment and the economy in America.
The legislature’s economic development committee chairs, Representative Angus McKelvey, and Senator Carol Fukunaga announced today that a new report on the potential impact of the state layoffs at the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) is now available on the capitol website for public viewing. The report can be found here.
The House Committee on Economic Development, Business and Military Affairs , and the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology, held public informational briefings during the interim to discuss the rationale of the layoffs, the impact to Hawaii’s economy, Hawaii’s business community, and the general public.
The new report covers layoffs within and impacts to the following programs: Small Business Advocate, Land Use Division, Coastal Zone Management, and the DBEDT Library.
In their concluding recommendations, the committee report states that the layoffs within these programs will cause irreparable harm to the economy and its businesses, and it urges the legislature to reject the abolishment of key positions during the 2010 legislative session.
The committees strongly disagreed with the decisions made by the Department, state that the Department has lost its credibility with regard to all economic policies, and that the current DBEDT Director will have to assume responsibility for the deficiencies that will result from these actions.
Contact: Senator Carol Fukunaga – 808-586-6890 Representative Angus McKelvey – 808-586-6160
Senator Dwight Takamine and Representative Mark Nakashima
Representative Mark Nakashima (District 1 - North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo) and Senator Dwight Takamine (District 1 - Hilo, Honoka'a, Laupahoehoe, Hamakua, Waiakea Uka, Keaukaha, Waimea) invite the public to join them in a series of pre-legislative session community meetings.
They will share information about issues facing state government in these challenging times and discuss new legislation to be proposed in 2010. Here is the schedule:
January 4, 2010 (Monday) 5:00 p.m. Kohala - Kohala Senior Center (Rep. Nakashima)
January 4, 2010 (Monday) 6:30 p.m. Waimea - Waimea Elementary School Cafeteria (Sen. Takamine)
January 5, 2010 (Tuesday) 7:00 p.m. Rural South Hilo Community - Kalanianaole School Cafeteria
January 6, 2010 (Wednesday) 7:00 p.m. Honoka'a - Honoka'a School Cafeteria
January 7, 2010 (Thursday) 6:00 p.m. North Hilo Community Council - Laupahoehoe HS Humanities
SENIOR MEETINGS - SENIOR CENTERS
January 4, 2010 (Monday) 9:00 a.m. Kohala Seniors (Rep. Nakashima)
January 5, 2010 (Tuesday) 9:00 a.m. Paauilo Seniors
January 6, 2010 (Wednesday) 9:00 a.m. Honoka'a Seniors
January 8, 2010 (Friday) 9:00 a.m. Laupahoehoe Seniors
January 12, 2010 (Tuesday) 9:00 a.m. Waimea Seniors (Sen. Takamine)
January 12, 2010 (Tuesday) 10:30 a.m. Hakalau Seniors
January 14, 2010 (Thursday) 9:00 a.m. Papaikou Seniors
January 14, 2010 (Thursday) 10:30 a.m. Pepeekeo Seniors
Representative Kyle Yamashita (left) and Representative Tom Brower went on a ship-to-shore tour of Tesoro's refinery and crude oil receiving facilities on Thursday, December 17th. The tour began with a briefing at the Tesoro Kapolei refinery on renewable energy initiatives and an overview of its maritime operations.
Left to right: Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Rep. Tom Brower, Lyle Wong from the Dept. of Agriculture, Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairman of the Board of Agriculture, and Melissa Pavlicek, Hawaii Public Policy Advocates.
The group got an up close and personal view of an oil tanker unloading crude oil at the Tesoro single point mooring (SPM). All crude is received via an offshore terminal located 1.7 miles south of Barber's Point.
Vessels tie up to a specially designed buoy instead of a dock. The tie-up is with a 206-foot-long mooring hawser with a breaking strain of 1,670,632 lbs. The single point mooring buoy is anchored in place with six anchors. Underwater pipes lead from the refinery to the buoy. Floating hoses lead from the buoy to the tankers.
Speaker Calvin Say issued the following statement this afternoon following the Majority Caucus. It confirms the House position after the breakdown in talks earlier this week between the administration and the Hawaii State Teachers Association on the teacher furlough issue:
“The House Majority Caucus reiterates its support for a special session to consider the teachers' furlough issue only after the negotiating parties reach a tentative agreement.
The House Majority Caucus emphasizes that it does not support the passage of any bill that, absent an agreement, legislatively limits the number of non-instructional days in exchange for increased teachers' pay. Passing such a bill before a tentative agreement is reached would constitute an inappropriate interference into the collective bargaining process. The Caucus would consider such a bill after a tentative agreement is reached.
The House Majority’s position remains that public education is a priority, and urges the parties to continue negotiations to restore the number of student instructional days during 2010 and 2011.
I would like to make a personal point. Although by law the Legislature is not involved in the negotiations, I would look unfavorably on any tentative agreement that requires the layoff of any personnel of the Department of Education."
The Public Access Room's "We the Powerful" series of legislative workshops wrapped up on the Big Island this past week. West Hawaii Today attended the workshop in Kona and filed this report.
Here are some quotes from the article reflecting the public reaction to the series:
Kailua-Kona resident Stan Koga, 51, was impressed with the presentation and learned more than he thought he would.
"I wanted to learn as much as I could about advocacy," he said. "It seems overwhelming at first, but this provided a lot of step-by-step details. It definitely helped.
"Sometimes it seems like the Big Island is a long way from Honolulu," said 66-year-old Priscilla Studholme, of Kailua-Kona. Studholme attended the workshop hoping to learn how to be more efficient and effective in submitting input on issues that were important to her. While she has not been overly active in the state government's workings since moving to Hawaii seven years ago, Studholme said it was about time she became more involved.
House and Senate finance members/staff visited the Halawa Correctional Facility this morning. The money committees have been touring facilities statewide to become better informed of the issues facing public safety.
Elected officials left to right: Rep. Marilyn Lee (House Finance Vice Chair), Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Senate Ways and Means Chair), Rep. Tom Brower (Finance Member), and Rep. Henry Aquino (House Public Safety Vice Chair).
Representative Maile Shimabukuro interviews Waianae resident Betty Winstedt on her pottery pieces. Winstedt is 97 years old. She takes ceramics classes from legendary artist Bunky Bakutis at the Waianae Senior Center.
The elves within the Office of the Chief Clerk have done it again! Every year, the House Christmas Tree, located in the parlor area outside the Chief Clerk's office, reflects the important issues of the day. For 2009, the theme is "Budget Cuts".
Not only did the tree take a 20% reduction, it has also been "delamped".
The tree has many friends to support it during these hard times. Surrounding its base are those who have received pink slips, furlough days, layoffs and early retirement.
By coming together, the Christmas spirit still shines bright, even without a few bulbs. But, what happened to the top part?
Governing.com is hosting a contest for the holidays. See their blog post in full here. The challenge? Write your own verses for the Christmas classic 'Twas the Night Before Christmas based on a government theme. The deadline is Thursday, December 17th, 12 pm Eastern time. Therefore, Hawaii entrants should probably get their entries in by Wednesday evening. Email entries to email@example.com.
The prize? A Governing goodie bag filled with books, notebooks and other surprises! Yay! They will also post some of their favorites on the Governing.com website.
Here's a few sample verses provided by Governing.com from the B&G Report (a mainland organization), this one city-oriented:
T'was the night before budget
And all through the town
The whole counsel was ranting,
"Our mayor's a clown!"
"He wants to raise the taxes,
on screws, nuts and bolts
But the big building lobby
Has a ton of votes."
NCSL's December issue of State Legislatures focuses on redistricting at the federal, state and local level, the daunting process that takes place every 10 years following the Census. You can read the full story here.
The need for redistricting is based on the "one person, one vote" constitutional principle that guarantees that each person is equally represented, and that each legislative district is approximately equal in population. After the census results are turned over to the states in April 2011, the process of redistricting begins.
Now is the time for state legislatures to start preparing for redistricting. The Hawaii State Constitution, Article IV, lays out the process, starting with the establishment of the Reapportionment Commission on or before May 1st of the reapportionment year (2011).
The popular "We the Powerful" legislative workshops, free to the public, will be on the Big Island from December 10 - December 16. The workshops are conducted by the legislature's Public Access Room, a non-partisan office devoted to assist residents as they engage in the legislative process.
Here is the schedule for the island of Hawaii:
Thursday, December 10 Honokaa Public Library 5:30 p.m.
Monday, December 14 Naalehu School Cafeteria 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 15 Hilo Public Library 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 16 Kailua-Kona Liquor Control Conference Room 5:30 p.m.
Here's what you can expect to learn:
*Easy ways to add your voice and ideas to the process that determines State laws. *Overview of the people at the Capitol, what they do there, and how and when lawmaking takes place. *Handy tips for finding the information you need. *Assistance in writing and delivering effective testimony - at the Capitol or from your home.
Ahuimanu Elementary Principal Randy Scoville sent a note of thanks to Rep. Jessica Wooley for her help on the beautification project, held November 28, 2009. He included the photo above of Rep. Wooley working hard on the clean up.
Freshman Jessica Wooley represents District 47 - an large area of Oahu that includes Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu and Kaneohe.
Two truck loads of green waste were hauled away after volunteers cleaned up the fence line by the school's basketball courts. According to Soville, the project satisfies an MS4 Storm Drain Waste Water Management requirement.
Ahuimanu Elementary was invited to enter into a partnership with the Hawaii Air National Guard as part of the Joint Venture Education Forum, initiated by Sen. Dan Inouye, which provides support to military impacted schools. Every third year some schools, such as Ahuimanu, that do not have large numbers of military children are invited to participate in the program. Members of the Hawaii Air National Guard participated in the cleanup and will be assisting with future school activities and projects.
Toby Clairmont (left), Director of Emergency Services for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, will be Rep. Marilyn Lee's guest on The Kukui Connection, December 13th and 20th.
Toby's background is as a nurse and engineer. He talks about the H1N1 situation, locally and nationally, and touches on related issues such as stockpiling supplies and vaccine availability. Also, he provides helpful advice on choosing a career path in Healthcare Emergency Services and Management.
The Kukui Connection airs every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. on Oceanic, Olelo Channel 54. Rep. Marilyn Lee, the host of this long-running series, represents District 38 - Mililani, Mililani Mauka.
The Public Access Room will hold free public workshops for residents of Molokai, Lanai and Lahaina, Maui next week. The workshops demystify the legislative process and are designed to be useful for both newcomers and veterans. Covered topics include how to deliver effective testimony, how to make sense of deadlines, and how to use the latest innovations on the Legislature's website.
Most important - residents will learn how to speak out at the Legislature without ever having to leave their home island.
Please urge those you know who live in these communities to attend!
MOLOKAI Monday, December 7th at 6 p.m. DHHL/OHA conference room 600 Maunaloa Highway
LANAI Tuesday, December 8th at 6 p.m. Lanai High and Elementary School Cafeteria 555 Fraser Ave, Lanai City
LAHAINA Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 p.m. MCC Lahaina Education Cetner Conference Room 60 Kenui St., Lahaina (call 662-3911 for directions)
Left to Right: Quentin Kawananakoa, Terry Seelig (HFD spokesperson), Rep. Ryan Yamane, Hon. City Managing Director and former State Rep Kirk Caldwell, Rix Maurer
On this occasion, that's a good thing. Rep. Ryan Yamane, District 37 - Waipio Gentry, Mililani, is a strong supporter of Hawaii's emergency services, including the Honolulu Fire Department. On December 1st, he attended the Signature Chefs Food Festival held at the HFD headquarters.
A variety of Hawaii's favorite local musicians will perform in "A Capitol Christmas", a free Christmas concert held in the State Capitol Rotunda from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. tomorrow Dec. 4, 2009, which is also First Friday in Chinatown.
The music extravaganza is being held in an effort to collect canned goods and non-perishable foods for the Hawaii FoodBank.
Performers include Patrick Koh, The Krush, Tradewinds, Angeli Callo, Arshiel Calatrava, Simplisity, Pauoa & Pacific Heights, The Higher Ground Jazz Ensemble, Rachel Jones, The Christian Academy High School Chorus, Paul Cortes, Crooner's Inc., and more!
Those who bring in a donation item will also be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas!
Those people already planning to attend First Friday in Chinatown, a monthly downtown event held the first Friday of each month, should stop by the Hawaii State Capitol to enjoy some holiday music or just to drop off a donation.
Metered parking will be available in the basement of the Hawaii State Capitol. It is free after 6 p.m. Attendees should take the elevator to the first floor.
The House Majority received information today regarding the 2010 U.S. Census. The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States. The U.S. Constitution requires that a national census be taken every ten years.
The U.S. Census Bureau is currently recruiting census takers to work within their own communities. For employment information, go to the 2010 Census website.
All U.S. residents must be counted - people of all ages, both citizens and non-citizens. State population will determine the reapportionment of seats in the U.S House of Representatives. In addition, census data is used to allocate more than $300 billion to states and communities.
In February/March 2010, you'll receive a short questionnaire, 10 questions which will take about 10 minutes to complete. If you do not return the questionnaire by mail, census takers will visit households in May through July 2010 to obtain population count information. By law, the Census Bureau must deliver the population counts to the president for apportionment of the U.S. House.
We should receive our completed census data for Hawaii by March 2011.
According to this story on KHON last night, there were 48 protea farmers in Ocean View on the Big Island a year ago. Today, because of the severe vog conditions, there are 3. While the federal government has offered low-interest loans to the farmers, it makes no sense for the majority of farmers who have been forced to close their operations and/or move away. Requests for no-interest loans have been denied.
Rep. Robert Herkes, who has conducted hearings on the impact of vog, had these comments:
"Some of them have just walked away, they've left their land, they've left the state. It's tough. Really tough....Where we need the help is what to do, how to do it, when to do it, not just more loans. That makes no sense."
In Representative Isaac Choy's December issue of "Prevailing Winds," he discusses the possible solutions to closing the state budget deficit and the difference in opinions that he may have with his constituents. At the end of his message to the community, Choy writes:
As your representative, the important thing is to communicate to you how I make these choices. Since there are no right or wrong solutions to the budget deficit problems, I base my decisions on my own values. For example, furlough days. I believe that our economic and social future depend on our children. The world seems to agree with me as they chastised Hawaii for sacrificing our children's education. Many of you have told me that the priorities in my value system are not the same as yours.
Yes, our priorities may be different, but the underlying feeling about our country, state and community is the same. We all want this problem solved quickly and with the least amount of pain.
Rep. Roland Sagum (District 16 - Niihau, Waimea, Koloa) released the following statement on November 20th as a means to draw attention to the problems at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor on Kauai. The Honolulu Advertiser followed up with a story on Saturday, November 28th.
“I am deeply concerned about the lack of progress on the dredging of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor. As of today, the state’s contractor, American Marine Corporation, has been unable to get the needed permit from the County of Kauai to dispose of dredged material on the property mauka of the harbor. Despite best efforts from the state Division of Boating of Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), the County has been unable to respond in a timely manner.
While the County has said that Department of Health (DOH) approvals would be required for a dewatering site adjacent to the harbor, this is no longer the case as the contractor proposes to transport the dredged material directly to a stockpile area on the mauka site. Thus, the project awaits an approval from the County to utilize the mauka area which according to Eric Yuasa, State Engineer at the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, the DOH permit may not be required.
The delay has become so serious that I am afraid we may lose American Marine Corporation as the state’s contractor. This would be a tremendous setback, but I believe it can be avoided if the permitting issues are resolved immediately.
Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor is an important resource to the boaters of Kauai. It is the “Town Center” of West Kauai. This project has dragged on for an inordinate amount of time and the harbor’s structural problems only become compounded due to lack of action. The situation is dire, and I do not want to see the harbor become totally unusable. Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor has needed maintenance dredging for over 50 years.
I implore all parties to address and resolve this matter with the urgency it deserves.”
Continued from yesterday's post, more responses from House members and their staff about the things they are thankful for.
Maureen Andrade, Office Manager, and Rep. Henry Aquino, D-35 (Pearl City, Waipahu)
"Rep. Aquino is off island but I know that he is thankful for the Lords Blessings and for the Love from his family and friends and that although times are hard, we still find ways to share with the less fortunate…sharing ALOHA always! As for me, I’m most thankful that the Lord has blessed my kids and grandkids with love and respect and that he has blessed us with more time to share with my dad…who could ask for anything more!!!!"
Gil Keith-Agaran, D-9 (Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville, Paia)
"I'm thankful for my Maui family, law partners and staff, friends and clients who supported me this past Session on Oahu, although I'm tired of being reminded I didn't have many billable hours for nearly five months this past year."
And to send you off to a joyous Thanksgiving Day spent having lunch or dinner with family and friends, Rep. Roy Takumi gives us an anonymous poem to think about before diving into the bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy!
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE HAWAII HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!!
This has been a tough year for the country, the state, the legislature, government in general, and especially the people that it serves. Many of you muster the strength to weather the tailspin of the state budget, the capricious economy, and other obstacles that life throws at you. As the days lead up to Thanksgiving we are all reminded of the aspects of our lives for which we are most grateful. We appreciate the things we have while giving to those who may not have as much.
This Thanksgiving, the members of the House of Representatives and their staff would like to share with you the things they are most thankful for this year. We'll be posting their responses throughout the week, and after you read them, please feel free to express what you are thankful for in the comment box below. Aloha!
Pat Mau-Shimizu, House Clerk
"I am thankful for a second chance at life and the ability to plan for the future. I am thankful for a greatly improved quality of life. I am thankful for a supportive family, and a network of loyal and caring friends and colleagues in the State Capitol. And I am most thankful for my kidney donor, and her generosity and all of her sacrifices on my behalf." (Born again: September 24, 2009)
Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, D-39 (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley)
"I am thankful for God giving me a life of modest desires but rich in experience and a loving wife to share it all with."
Tommie Suganuma, Legislative Services Manager to Rep. Cindy Evans
"First of all I am thankful to the Lord. Without his guidance and protection I may not have taken the opportunities he placed in front of me, but I am thankful he did and that I did. I am thankful for my family and their loving support and understanding, I am thankful for having an awesome boss (Rep Evans), I am thankful for the session staffers I have had the privilege of working with (Lolan, Muriel, Dean, Micah, Kylie, Bill, Tom, Terii, Brian, and especially Baron), and lastly, I am thankful for the many friends I have made at church and here at the capitol, and working with such a dedicated bunch of people, whom sometimes don’t get the thanks they deserve."
Arlina Agbayani, Office Manager for Rep. Jessica Wooley
"I’m thankful that I have a job, my family and my health."
Rep. Karl Rhoads, D-28 (Palama, Chinatown, Downtown, Lower Makiki, Shridan)
"I’m thankful that my wife still thinks I’m funny after 15 years of marriage." (And just in case you're wondering, Rep. Rhoads' wife, Cindy, confirmed in an email that he still can make her laugh.)
The following opinion piece, written by Rep. Roy Takumi, was printed on October 30, 2009 in the Honolulu Advertiser.
One day I came across Karley, my granddaughter, sitting in the middle of a mess in the living room. When asked "Who did this?" she said, "Isaiah," her oldest brother and favorite target when needing someone to blame. It's not surprising she wouldn't fess up; after all, she's only 2 years old.
What's surprising is how we got into this mess of achieving the dubious distinction of having the fewest classroom days in the country. After all, adults, not children, made this mess.
Oh, I've heard all the arguments. Some say, "It's only fair that we all have to share the pain." But by insisting that everyone has to be furloughed the same number of days may be fair to the adults, it certainly isn't right for our children.
Others say, "It came down to a dollars-and-cents issue." But to save a few cents we have abandoned our common sense. Furloughs shortchange our children's future and represent a collective failure by all of us — including me. It raises disturbing questions about what we value and what we believe is important.
I don't want to sugarcoat our situation. The budget deficit is real, but we are not alone. Forty-seven other states are facing budget gaps totaling at least $350 billion over the next two years. Yet states such as Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Oregon have bigger deficits than we do but did not enact furloughs to the degree that we did.
I'm not interested in pointing fingers. I am far more interested in where we go from here. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's suggestion that all the stakeholders work it out is a critical first step (The Honolulu Advertiser, Oct. 25).
But it won't go anywhere unless there is a willingness to reopen the negotiations. The governor needs to take the lead on this.
Once this happens, then the greater community — parents, students, unions, businesses, non-profits, legislators, congressional delegation, BOE, DOE — needs to reach a consensus on how to get our students back into the classroom. Every option — drawing down of special funds, seeking federal assistance, targeted tax increases, wage cuts, exchanging noninstructional days and holidays, rearranging the school calendar — needs to be on the table.
Let me put it in practical terms.: If teachers were willing to accept a combination of a small wage cut (for example, a 1 percent cut would save two furlough days) and a few furlough days that fall on holidays, this would reduce the cut in classroom days by three or four. We could also require that every school exchange a certain number of noninstructional days. As it stands, less than a third of the schools have requested this. If the governor is open (along with the Legislature) to using a portion of the Hurricane Relief Fund or consider a slight temporary increase in the GET, a few more days would be saved.
No one has the silver-bullet solution, but I believe we can reach a consensus that is based solely on what is in the best interests of our children.
Still, this is only a short-term approach. We also need to seriously debate longer-term strategies for moving to a more efficient, effective and focused system. This means closing low-performing schools, consolidating schools that no longer serve communities due to shrinking enrollments, funding universal pre-school, and increasing alternatives for learning such as on-line instruction and charter schools.
We also need to closely scrutinize every government service that is currently provided and make the hard decisions on which services are less critical and which are necessary. We should not let the governor simply lay off employees without public input.
That day when Karley couldn't quite take responsibility for what she did was what educators call a teachable moment. It was a moment when I as an adult had to explain to her that when you make a mess, you are responsible for cleaning it up.
This is also a teachable moment for us adults. We made a mess. We are responsible for cleaning it up.
Let's get to work.
Representative Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City) is chairman of the House Education Committee. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.
Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the House Education Committee, recently attended a three-day conference to examine school leadership development strategies with other state lawmakers, education policy analysts, school principals and experts in education leadership.
He is featured in a video interview discussing what he will take away from the conference, what role the state legislature plays in education, as well as what kinds of innovative initiatives have come out of Hawaii.
When asked about the role of the legislature in education leadership development, Rep. Takumi said the role the state legislature plays in education varies by state, but in general lawmakers must be "educated about what is important to run a school,"resist temptation to micromanage the school system," and "support the professionals where they need to be supported."
You can read about the conference on the NCSL site and watch the entire clip of Rep. Takumi's interview here.
The following opinion was published in The Honolulu Advertiser on November 22, 2009:
By Rep. Marcus Oshiro, Chair House Finance Committee
It was heartening to learn last Sunday of a possible solution coming from the governor's office rather than a steady stream of "it's not our fault." The recent announcement that the governor would support using the rainy day fund — also known as the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund — to pay for teacher furloughs is a positive development. The governor gets an "A" for effort. Now the proverbial devil is in the details.
However, there is a more immediate and transparent solution to pay for any portion of the furlough days. The governor has the power to rescind her restriction on money already appropriated to the Department of Education. The current restriction is $134 million for FY 2010 (Governor's Executive Memorandum 09-05; dated Aug. 20, 2009). Rescinding a restriction does not require a special session of the Legislature and more delays. All it requires is a memo from the governor. Once executed, she demonstrates her commitment to finding additional funds and that should bring the teachers, BOE, and superintendent back to the bargaining table to fix the problem. If getting the children back to school is the No. 1 priority, then cuts can and will be made to other programs and services in state government. There is no free lunch.
The governor's current solution involves spending about $50 million to cover furloughs for both fiscal years 2010 and 2011. But the immediate need is to find money to pay for the furlough days through June 2010. Based on the governor's proposal, this would require about $18 million to $25 million of the $134 million restriction being imposed on the DOE. A more thorough discussion of the furlough days for fiscal year 2011 can occur during the regular session. Likewise, the pros and cons of proposed amendments to the "rainy day" fund.
The governor's proposal to use the entire "rainy day" fund is not new. She proposed the same idea a year ago when she sought to use it to balance the 2009 budget. The fiscal crisis was bad and getting worse, and prudence dictated other alternatives. As a result, the Legislature came up with the option of transferring $97 million from about 20 special funds instead of using the "rainy day" fund to balance the 2009 budget.
Although the Legislature disagreed with using the "rainy day" fund to balance the 2009 budget, a portion was eventually used to fund critical adult mental health services in the Department of Health and the operations of the Hawai'i Health Systems Corp. The sentiment to use $8 million to pay for mental health services statewide and $14 million for hospitals especially on Hawai'i, Maui, and Kaua'i, was so great that using the fund for these programs received strong bi-partisan support and unanimous approval.
The "rainy day" fund was, literally, the last place we went to make critical funding decisions, which was more a responsible and responsive approach.
Other more immediate alternatives to using the "rainy day" fund are available. Consider the following:
• Already 95 schools have taken action to restore teaching days and more schools are filing petitions under the BOE's extended deadline to craft their own solutions. • Hawai'i Education Matters, a group of concerned parents, has an innovative idea for substituting non-instructional hours with teaching hours that could be a win–win solution for everyone. The proposal would require a renegotiation of contracts, but it is a textbook example of what anthropologist Margaret Mead expressed regarding a small group of thoughtful people coming up with creative options. • The governor already has the authority to transfer money from other special funds. • The governor can rescind her budget restriction that created the furlough days in the first place.
I'm not opposed to a special session — it simply may not be necessary. No delays. No waiting for the Legislature to pass a bill. No unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars for a special session. If the goal is to end the furlough days as quickly as possible, a one-page memo from the governor can release or transfer the money needed to end schools furlough today.
State Rep. Marcus Oshiro is chairman of the House Finance Committee. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.
The Hawaii House of Representatives today announced its plan to deal with the economic and state budget crisis which includes salary reductions for permanent and session staff. There are no furloughs or layoffs. Effective between the dates of January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, reductions will be as follows:
· A 5% salary reduction for all permanent full-time staff employed by the House. · A 15% salary reduction in session staff funding levels for all House committee chairs. · A 20% salary reduction in session staff funding levels for all other House member offices. · A 15% salary reduction for session staff in all House agency offices.
The House also significantly reduced other administrative expenses, including technical support services, for a combined 9% reduction of the total House of Representatives operating budget. This amounts to a cost savings of $1,026,570. (The House budget will be reduced from $11,403,163 in 2009 to $10,376,593 in 2010.)
Speaker of the House Calvin Say and Majority Leader Blake Oshiro met with House staff members this afternoon to announce salary reductions.
“The House staff works very hard for the membership and for the institution, but given the state’s fiscal crisis, it is necessary to reduce our expenses just as we are asking every other state agency to do,” said Speaker Say. “This was not a rash decision. We deliberated on the best plan for the House and decided that salary reductions rather than furloughs would work best for our responsibilities, especially during the legislative session.”
Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, forwarded this link on how the Arizona legislature is planning to "fix the state budget". Hawaii faces a potential $1 - 1.5 billion shortfall going into the 2010 session. Rep. Oshiro is leaving no stone unturned.
"I commend the Governor for advancing a proposal to reduce the number of furlough days for teachers. Implementation of the proposal apparently requires amendment of the teachers' collective bargaining agreement and an appropriation by the Legislature. The former, amendment of the agreement, requires approval by the parties to the negotiations, comprised of the HSTA representing teachers, and the Governor, Board of Education, and Superintendent of Education, collectively representing the State. By law, the Legislature is not a party in negotiations. In contrast, an appropriation requires legislative approval and, equally as important, the Governor's commitment to allot the appropriated funds to the Department of Education. Consequently, the proposal in effect requires the approval of the parties to the negotiations as well as the House and Senate.
As stated in my letter, dated November 6, 2009, to the parties, if they come to an agreement that requires legislation, I will do my utmost to have the House consider the proposal expeditiously.
If the parties agree relatively soon on a proposal that is ratified by the teachers and also agreeable to the House and Senate, then I will strongly recommend that the House convene in special session. I emphasize that such agreement will be a pre-condition to convening a special session."
From Representative MaileShimabukuro,D-45 (Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua), who attended the Wai'anae Veteran's Day Ceremony to recognize the Pilila'au 'Ohana.
On 11/11/09, the relatives of Wai`anae Medal of Honor recipient Herbert KailiPilila`au attended the annual Veteran's Day ceremony. Each year the ceremony is hosted by the Wai`anae Coast's Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Ladies Auxiliary; Wai`anae and Nanakuli High School JROTC programs; the staff of the Herbert K. Pilila`au Army Recreation Center; and other volunteers.
Commander Rocky Naeole served as the master of ceremonies, and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, Councilman Todd Apo, Rep. Karen Awana, and Rep. MaileShimabukuro also spoke. Several speakers acknowledged the Wai`anae Coast's three Medal of Honor recipients: ShinyeiNagamine, YeikiKobashigawa, and Herbert K. Pilila`au.
Several speakers acknowledged the Pilila`au `ohana, who sat in the audience. As you can see from the photo, the Pilila`au's are familiar faces on our Wai`anae Coast. We are so grateful for the pride they have brought to our community.
After the ceremony, Ike Mahoe, Herbert K. Pilila`au's grand niece, wrote: "If there is anything else you would like to know about my granduncle or our family, please feel free to contact me at Jmahoe@gmail.com. Mahalo for your time and all your kind words today. Our family appriciates you all."
Mahalonuiloa to ALL VETERANS AND ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEN & WOMEN. We are eternally grateful for your sacrifice!!
Photo: (L-R) Bottom row - Kasey, Ka`ili, and Keola; Middle row - Julie and Maryellen Pilila`au; Top row - Ike, Maria, and Debbie. In relation to Herbert Ka`iliPilila`au, the children are the great-grand-nephews and niece; Maryellen is sister-in-law; Julie and Debbie are nieces; and Maria and Ike are grand-nieces.
Coming up on Monday, November 16th, the House and Senate committees on Human Services and the Senate committee on Health will hold joint informational briefings on the state's Healthy Start and Quest programs.
Healthy Start 11:00 a.m. State Capitol, Room 329
At one time, Hawaii's Healthy Start program was recognized as a model for the rest of the nation to follow. It aims to reduce child abuse and neglect by providing comprehensive home visitation, child development screening and intervention, psychosocial assessment, and counseling.
This past year, Healthy Start was reduced from 13 program sites statewide to two program sites, one on Oahu and one on the Big Island. These cuts make compliance with federal mandates under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) difficult, and impacts the state's relationship with the Office of Special Education Programs.
Quest 1:00 p.m. State Capitol, Room 329
The Department of Human Services has been asked to attend and provide a status on the implementation of the Quest Expanded Program. This is a follow up briefing.
Rep. John Mizuno is chair of the House Committee on Human Services Contact: 586-6050
Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland is chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services Contact: 586-6130
Sen. David Ige is chair of the Senate Health Committee Contact: 586-6230
The public is invited to the "A Capitol Christmas", a free concert featuring a variety of Hawaii's favorite local music artists to be held in the State Capitol Rotunda. Concert organizers suggest that attendees bring in donation items such as canned goods and/or non-perishable foods. Those who bring in a donation will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas! This will be the second year that Patrick Koh and the House of Representatives have come together to hold the concert and food drive to help feed Hawaii's hungry during the holiday season. Free parking will be available in the basement of the Hawaii State Capitol after 5 p.m. For more information, call 808-688-7799.
Performers include Patrick Koh, The Krush, Tradewinds, Angeli Callo, Arshiel Calatrava, Simplisity, Pauoa & Pacific Heights, The Higher Ground Jazz Ensemble, Rachel Jones, The Christian Academy High School Chorus, Paul Cortes, Crooner's Inc., and More!
When: Friday, December 4, 2009 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Where: Hawaii State Capitol Rotunda
Photo (top left): Patrick Koh Photo (bottom right): Angeli Callo
At its last meeting on November 6, 2009, the Reinventing Government Task Force established program area committees and assigned members as respective chairs. They are:
Department of Education/Education - Chair Don Horner
Department of Transportation/Transportation - Chair Mark Fukunaga
Department of Land & Natural Resources/Land and Natural Resourses - Chair Laura Thielen
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism/Economic Development - Chair Randy Perreira
Department of Human Resources Development/Human Resources - Co-chairs John Monahan and Walter Ozawa
Department of Human Services/Health and Human Services - Co-chairs Reginald Castanares, Lynn McCrory, Don Horner
Senator Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. Marcus Oshiro are to attend all of the committee meetings if possible. The previous post on Reinventing Government with the list of appointees and the establishing legislation can be found here.
Above, Rep. Marcus Oshiro performs a live reading of the poem "Peanut Butta Jelly" by Kenneth Lynn Quilantang, Jr. It was part of the Aloha Shorts program produced by Bamboo Ridge Press, which is broadcast on Hawaii Public Radio, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. on KIPO, 89.3 FM.
This particular program will air sometime in January 2010, but was performed live on tape earlier this month. For more photos, go to the Bamboo Ridge site here.
The following was originally posted on Veteran's Day 2007.
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag. Father Denis Edward O'Brien/USMC
To all of America's veterans, we say "thank you", even though we know words alone cannot express our appreciation for your service to our country. We join the rest of the nation on this day to remember the fallen and honor the sacrifices of 25 million veterans from the United States. On behalf of the Hawaii House of Representatives, we would also like to salute the veterans currently serving in our State Legislature:
The House of Representatives
Rep. Rida Cabanilla - Army Reserve Officer - Lt. Colonel
Rep. Jerry Chang - SGT E-5, U.S. Army, 7th Special Forces (Airborne)
Rep. Isaac Choy - U.S. Marine Corps
Rep. Ken Ito - U.S. Air Force, 1962 - 1966 (Veteran - Honorable Discharge)
Rep. Marilyn Lee - Navy Nurse, Full Lieutenant (ret.)
Rep. Joe Souki - U.S. Army
Rep. K. Mark Takai - Captain, Hawaii Army National Guard
Rep. Roy Takumi - Hawaii Air National Guard, 1970-1977
Rep. Gene Ward - Vietnam Veteran, Translator-Interpreter
Sen. Robert Bunda - U.S. Air Force, Texas Army National Guard, Hawaii National Guard
Thank you Lon (that's Mr. Cupcake to you) Paresa, veteran and House Asst. Sgt-at-Arms, for sharing the above quote.
The Public Access Room (PAR) will head to the island of Kauai later this week to conduct a series of FREE workshops on the legislative process and how to get involved. The series is called "We the Powerful", and the workshops are designed to demonstrate how people can speak out at the legislature without having to fly to Honolulu.
Delivering effective testimony Making sense of deadlines Using the Legislature's website
Thursday, November 12 - 6:00 p.m. Kapaa Library Conference Room
Saturday, November 14 - 10:00 a.m. Koloa Library Conference Room
Monday, November 16 - 6:30 p.m. Waimea Library
Tuesday, November 17 - 6:00 p.m. Lihue Neighborhood Center, 3353 Eono St., Room B
Wednesday, November 18 - 6:00 p.m. Princeville Library
The Hawaii Board of Education launched its own blog back in July to provide news and commentary on public education issues. I perused a few of the blog entries, which highlight what is going on in the BOE, Department of Education, Hawaii Public Library System, and individual public schools, and found it to be a good resource for the public to stay informed and discuss current educational issues.
Rep. Roy Takumi will be a guest on a live, call-in show, produced by the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It's called "Furloughs, Students and Politics", hosted by Ibrahim G. Aoudé. Here are the details:
Air Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Time: 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Channel: Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Olelo, Channel 55
Rep. Roy Takumi (interviewed at the State Capitol) Sen. Will Espero Jonathan Okamura, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies-UHM Noel Kent, Professor of Ethnic Studies-UHM.
Again, it's a LIVE broadcast, so CALL-IN your questions!
That was Rep. Isaac Choy's question to the Hawaii State Tax Department on the department's initiative to zero-in on cash-only businesses.
The story in yesterday's Honolulu Advertiser is here.
The program was established through Act 134 which passed the 2009 legislature and was enacted in June of this year. The department has formed a Special Enforcement Section and is in the process of filling positions. The law now enables them to go after so-called cash economy businesses such as lunch wagons, farmers market vendors, swap meet vendors, mom and pop operations, and cookie sellers.
The intent of the law is to enforce Hawaii's tax collections, and tax officials estimate that they could collect as much as $100 million in additional general excise tax over the next three years. Rep. Choy, however, believes that the legislation is a bit "draconian" and may have to be tweaked this coming session. According to the story by reporter Sean Hao, the law requires that the seller register for a general excise tax license after ten transactions. A Girl Scout spokeswoman said that they will follow the intent and spirit of the law.
Former tax director Ray Kamikawa made the point that the Special Enforcement Section may be an ineffective use of state resources. Mom and pop operations will yield small amounts of revenues. The big money would come from drug dealers.
Bradah Mel's Canoe Surfing and Stand-Up Surfing Championships announced today that they are helping to raise funds for the Dolan Brothers of Kailua, Patrick, 21, and Ryan, 19, members of the U.S. Olympic Kayak team, on a quest to reach the 2012 Olympics in London.
Proceeds collected will go toward the hefty travel expenses for both young men to get to national and international competitions. With Olympic funding cut-off this year, the boys and their mother, Ann, have had to do a lot of fundraising on their own.
"What Mel is doing for these kids is admirable," said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, who represents the Waianae area. "The event brings the community together to support our local athletes."
The surfing event, which attracts the best paddlers and surfers from Tahiti, Brazil, France and Hawaii and other states, will be held at Makaha Beach on December 5 and 6, 2009 or (alternate dates depending on surf conditions and weather) December 12 and 13, 2009.
Bradah Mel Pu'u, an avid waterman and Wai'anae Coast lifeguard, has been holding the surf contest for the past four years as a fundraiser for his friend Leighton Look, who was paralyzed in a diving accident. Look passed away last September. He was a popular coach and competitor in the sport of outrigger canoe paddling. This year, the annual surfing event will be held in memory of Look, to keep his legacy and kind nature alive in everyone's hearts and minds.
Event planners are still seeking monetary donations or items for a raffle drawing that will be held at the event. "I understand that times are tight and it is hard to give a lot, so we are asking for any type of donation possible," said Pu'u. “For the raffle, water sports items such as a t-shirt, surf shorts, a boogie board, or surf board would be greatly appreciated.”
For more information on how to donate, please call Bradah Mel Pu'u at 487-9086.