Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bills passing conference Wednesday 4/29

This is a running list of some of the bills that have passed out of conference today. (It's not exhaustive - just what I've been able to follow and update throughout the day.)


HB179 RELATING TO SCHOOL FACILITIES. The House agreed to the Senate Draft 2.

Repeals two subsections of the Hawaii Revised Statutes regarding the cost of electricity and maintenance for air conditioners not installed by the department of accounting and general services and repair and maintenance for donated fixtures and equipment. (SD2)

HB541 RELATING TO CIVIL SERVICE PERSONNEL. The House and Senate voted to agree to a new Conference Draft 1.


HB1152 RELATING TO COMMITTED PERSONS' ACCOUNTS. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.

HB1776 RELATING TO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.


HB1379 RELATING TO PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR LIFE SUSTAINING TREATMENT. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.

SB427 RELATING TO GENERAL EXCISE TAXATION. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.

SB1073 RELATING TO CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.


SB1058 RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.

HB1713 RELATING TO HAZARDS. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.


HB381 RELATING TO THE STATE OF HAWAII ENDOWMENT FUND. The House and Senate voted to agree on a new Conference Draft 1.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Electronic Harassment Bill Passes out of Conference Committee

The House and Senate agreed on a bill last week that would better protect Hawaii residents by including contact through electronic communications as a form of "harassment" and "stalking by harassment." The bill was introduced by Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu (District 41-Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele), chair of the Committee on Judiciary.

During a joint House-Senate Conference Committee on Friday, April 24, 2009 members approved a conference draft of HB615, HD1, SD2 that addresses the shortfalls in the current statute.

Popular websites such as Facebook and Myspace, as well as the increased ease of text messaging, have made "harassment" and "stalking by harassment" through forms of electronic communication a more common occurrence in today's society.

“Passage of this bill will update the current statute with all of the existing forms of technology,” explains Karamatsu. “It is important that lawmakers keep up with changing times and updated forms of communications in order to best serve our constituents.” Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after witnessing two of his friends become victims of electronic harassment and having no option of legal recourse.

HB615, HD1, SD2, CD1 will face final approval by both the House and the Senate this week before going to the Governor for signature.

Preparing for a pandemic

As Hawaii prepares for the possibility of a swine flu outbreak, the following information on past appropriations for pandemic influenza may be helpful.

In 2006, the state legislature passed SB2348 which was signed into law as Act 84. The bill appropriated $6.3 million from the general fund to prepare for a novel strain of influenza by acquiring medications, mass clinic supplies, laboratory supplies and equipment, personal protective equipment, and a data management system for tracking cases and contacts.

The legislature appropriated $5 million from the emergency and budget reserve fund for additional medication, laboratory equipment, supplies, personnel, and public education programs.

A link to SB2348, CD1:

In 2005, the legislature passed HB516 which was signed into law as Act 46. The bill authorizes the Department of Health to maintain an emergency response stockpile to prepare for or respond to an event.

A link to HB516, SD1:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rep. Evans talks tourism with former Gov. Ariyoshi

Representative Cindy Evans' TV show, "Now What", on 'Olelo will feature former Governor George Ariyoshi.

They will discuss tourism issues, specifically how the former governor dealt with tourism during his administration and how he views tourism today.

Here is a schedule of the upcoming air times:

Now What: Talk Story with Governor Ariyoshi

4/28/09 Tue 5:00 pm Channel 54

4/29/09 Wed 5:00 pm Channel 54

5/10/09 Sun 11:00 am Channel 49

6/1/09 Mon 12:00 pm Channel 54

Photo: Former Governor George Ariyoshi

Celebrating Samoan Flag Day at the Capitol

Representative Karen Awana joined Nanakuli youth on April 17, 2009 to celebrate the day which marks the anniversary of American Samoa becoming a U.S. Territory. This day is known as Flag Day amongst Samoans who gather to celebrate with song, dance, sports and traditional foods.

This year at the Hawaii State Capitol, the American Samoan flag, Hawaii flag and United States flag were raised on the grounds to commemorate the day Captain B.F. Tilley of the U.S. Navy raised the American flag on Samoan soil.

Youth from Nanakuli Wesleyan Methodist Church closed the special event held on grounds of the Capitol with traditional Samoan song and dance numbers. Rep. Awana and other supporters also joined in the celebration with a dance number.

Other lawmakers at the event included Senators Mike Gabbard, Josh Green and Suzanne Chun Oakland, and Representatives Karl Rhoades, Rida Cabanilla and Gene Ward. Former American Samoa legislator Afimutasi Gus Hannemann was also present.

Photo: Rep. Karen Awana with youth members of the Nanakuli Wesleyan Methodist Church

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tax Increases

Today is the 51st day of the session; nine days to go until adjournment sine die.

In the floor session today, House members voted to pass several big ticket tax bills which, if they become law, will serve to address the state's severe budget deficit. They are:

HB1741, HD1, SD1, CD1 RELATING TO THE CONVEYANCE TAX. This bill increases the conveyance tax rate for sales over $2 million as well as for second house purchases. The bill also reduces the distribution of portions of the Conveyance Tax transferred to the Rental Housing Trust Fund (30% to 25%) and the Natural Area Reserve Fund (25% to 20%). The bill would be effective on July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012.

Fiscal impact: An increase of about $4 million a year, with $3 million redistributed to NARS and RHTF.

HB1747, HD1, SD1, CD1 RELATING TO TAXATION. This bill increases the income tax for high income brackets, to 12/31/15. It also increases the standard deduction and personal exemption amount beginning after December 31, 2010.

Fiscal impact: An increase of about $48.3 million per year. The increase in standard deduction and personal exemption will cost the state about $11 million per year when it kicks in.

HB1175, HD3, SD2, CD1 RELATING TO TAXATION. This bill increases the per cigarette tax to 13 cents beginning July 1, 2009, to 14 cents beginning July 1, 2010, and to 15 cents beginning on July 1, 2011.

Fiscal impact: An increase of $22.5 million in FY10, $24.2 million in FY11 and FY12, and $21.6 million in FY13 and in the out years.

HB895, HD2, SD2, CD1 RELATING TO TAX ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS OTHER THAN CIGARETTES. This bill increases the tobacco tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes and cigars, including smokeless tobacco, snuff, and pipe tobacco. The increase is a rise from 40% to 70% of the wholesale price beginning on September 30, 2009. It increases the tax on cigars from 40% to 50% on cigars beginning September 30, 2009. Little cigars would be taxed like cigarettes.

Fiscal impact: $3.5 million per year.

SB1111, SD1, HD1, CD1 RELATING TO TAXATION. This bill raises the transient accommodations tax by 1% (7.25% to 8.25%) beginning on 7/1/09 to 6/30/10, and another 1% (8.25% to 9.25%) beginning on 7/1/10. Sunsets on 6/30/15.

Fiscal impact: An increase of $28 million in FY10, $60 million in FY11 - FY15.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some facts about the Personal Income Tax Proposal

HB1747, CD1 proposes to raise personal income tax on higher-income wage earners as one of the ways to raise revenues for the state. The House Finance Committee provided the following facts about this proposal:

The increase would apply to the following taxpayers:

1. Individuals with taxable income OVER $150,000/yr.
2. Head of households with taxable income OVER $225,000/yr.
3. Joint filers with taxable income OVER $300,000/yr.

For example:

1. An individual who makes $200,000 would pay $625 more in income taxes.
2. A head of household who makes $300,000 would pay $938 more in taxes.
3. Joint taxpayers who make $400,000 would pay $1,250 more in taxes.

Based on 2006 income tax collection data:

1. There were 11,472 tax filers who earned more than $200,000
2. There were a total of 471,792 tax filers in 2006.
3. This means that only 2.4% of resident tax filers earned more than $200,000 in 2006.
4. In 2006, the adjusted gross income for this high-income group was $6 billion.
5. In 2006, the adjusted gross income for all filers totaled $26 billion
6. Therefore, the top 2.4% of income tax filers had 23% of the total adjusted gross income.

Pension Tax Issue Dead for this Session

This morning, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin printed an editorial that called the Legislature's "Pension tax plan worrisome." House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro responded with the following letter to the editor:

"Your editorial on Monday, April 20, 2009 regarding a pension tax missed an important update. To end further consternation and anxiety, please let your readers know that the House Finance Committee agreed with Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi and many other testifiers when the bill, SB971, SD2, HD1 was heard, and removed the provision taxing pension income over $50,000. This occurred on Wednesday, March 25th. As such, please know that the issue is dead for this session."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fundraiser benefits Maui and Hawaii Food Banks

Speaker Emeritus Joseph Souki, Vice Speaker Michael Magaoay and Representative Karen Awana held a silent auction and white elephant produce sale. The lawmakers want to thank everyone who participated for their generous donations for the event. The funds raised will benefit the Maui and Hawaii Food Banks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Legislature files amicus brief in Superferry case

The State Senate filed this press release late today:

Honolulu - The Hawai‘i State Legislature today filed its Amicus Curiae Brief in the case Sierra Club v. Department of Transportation (Supreme Court No. 29035), commonly referred to as Sierra Club II, or the Superferry case. The case is currently before the State Supreme Court on a Motion for Reconsideration filed by the State of Hawai‘i. The Legislature was earlier granted permission to file a “friend of the court” brief to present arguments related to impacts on the Legislature that may arise from the Sierra Club II decision.

The case arises out of a challenge to Act 2 of the Special Session of 2007, which permitted the Hawai‘i Superferry to operate pending the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement. On March 16, 2009, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court held that Act 2 violates the Hawai‘i Constitution because it is not a “general law” as the Constitution requires.

The Legislature’s brief argues that:

· The court’s ruling has “dangerously undermined” the Legislature’s constitutional authority to craft precise laws that reflect its policy choices;
· Under the court’s analysis of “special laws,” only Act 2’s “sunset” provision is unconstitutional, and so that section should be severed, allowing the remainder of the law to stand;
· Even if most of Act 2 is unconstitutional, the Act’s waiver and indemnity provision is fully operative on its own and should stand; and
· Only Section 15 of Act 2 implicates Article XI, Sec. 5 of the Hawai‘i Constitution (i.e., the “general law” provision related to legislative power over land), so that portion of Act 2 should be severed.

“These issues relate directly to the Legislature’s power to craft effective laws and implement public policy,” said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. “Questions of severability and constitutionality really cut to the core of how we, as a co-equal branch of government, will be able to address complex concerns in our community. Constitutionally, this is a very sensitive area, and I think it calls for a degree of deference and care.”

"We need to be able to continue to effectuate public policy and do what is best for the public interest,” said Rep. Blake Oshiro, House Majority Leader. “We are concerned that the decision, as it currently stands, impedes on those crucial functions. Therefore, we hope that the court will reconsider these important points because their decision will have precedence on future actions of the Legislature."

The Legislature is represented in the appeal by First Deputy Solicitor General Girard D. Lau and Deputy Solicitor General Deidre Marie-Iha.

View the amicus brief here.

Bear Hugs

Rep. James Tokioka, a Kauai lawmaker, is holding a Teddy Bears & Toiletries Drive. You can drop off teddy bears and new stuffed animals, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, shampoo, and miscellaneous toiletries to his office at the Capitol in room 322 through April 29, 2009. The items collected will be donated to the Hawaii Child Welfare Services. If you have any questions, please call 586-6270.

Kanu Hawaii Comes to the Capitol

Check out this announcement from Kanu Hawaii:

On Monday, April 27th from 7:00am to 12:00noon, members of the nonprofit group Kanu Hawaii will be providing two FREE services to everyone in the Capitol:

1) Bring incandescent bulbs from home and they will exchange them for a FREE energy-efficient compact fluorescent one (limit 2 bulbs per person).

2) They will check the tire pressure of every car in the Capitol parking lot and leave a note telling you which tire(s) are low.

These two services will help us all conserve energy and cut our climate-warming emissions. CFL bulbs burn less than one-fifth the energy of regular bulbs. And, poorly inflated tires make your car burn 3% more gas every year. If we change just 100 bulbs and properly inflate 100 cars’ tires, we’ll keep about 40 tons of carbon-dioxide out of the atmosphere each year. We’ll save money on electricity and gas, too.

So, remember to bring your bulbs to work and trade them in on the 27th. Kanu will visit each office for the bulb exchange. If you’d rather not have your tire pressure checked, just email Kamaile Kekahuna at with your License Plate #.

The mission of Kanu Hawaii is to unleash a social movement that uses island values and personal commitments to build local communities that are more sustainable, compassionate, and self reliant. For more information about Kanu Hawaii, you can visit them online at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lawmakers and staff give Easter baskets to needy families

Rep. Sharon Har, Kapolei lawmaker, gives one of the ornately decorated baskets of goodies to Kate Bepko, IHS Public Relations and Volunteer Manager

The Women's Legislative Caucus lined up vibrant Easter baskets, containers and even backpacks filled with essential items for needy families at the chamber level turnaround of the Hawaii State Capitol. The items were be picked up by the Institute of Human Services (IHS).

Each year, the caucus holds an Easter Basket Project and puts out a call for Easter baskets or plastic storage containers filled with personal hygiene items, toiletries and non-perishable snacks to benefit clients of IHS. The Easter Basket Project was organized by Rep. Marilyn Lee's office.

County of Hawaii Council Reso supports passage of HB345

While it does not appear to be online yet, the County of Hawaii County Council passed a resolution, No. 98-09, on Monday, April 13th, supporting the passage of House Bill 345, relating to the postponement of a comprehensive public funding program for the County of Hawaii Council Elections.

House Bill 345 essentially delays the pilot project for public funding of Hawaii county council elections to the general election in the year 2014. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jerry Chang, passed the House and crossed over to the Senate. However, it stalled when the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations committee did not schedule it for hearing. As the bill is not currently moving in the Legislature, the pilot project is scheduled to begin in the 2010 elections.

The pilot project, established through Act 244, 2008 Session Laws of Hawaii, allows any candidate for a Hawaii County Council office to apply for public funding, up to $300,000 from the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, provided that the person obtains 200 signatures and a nominal $5 contribution from each signer.

Included in the various WHEREAS statements, the resolution states that the public funding program "may create a frenzy of potential candidates applying for the funds and potential legal challenges relating to who should receive the limited funds." It states that the concept of "equalization funds" has been challenged in Arizona, and that US District Judge Roslyn Silver recently ruled that a key provision of Arizona's public campaign financing system violates constitutional free speech rights.

Also included in the WHEREAS clauses, the resolution points to the expense of the program and that "the Hawaii State Campaign Commission stated that the Hawaii fund would be bankrupt within the first year of a statewide program, and the additional check-off would not generate anywhere near the required funds to maintain a viable program." The council believes that unless adequate funding can be provided, the project should be delayed.

The Council of the County of Hawaii is therefore asking the legislature to postpone the implementation of the public funding pilot program. The Council contends that a "true pilot program will encompass all counties, not just Hawaii County, to determine if such a program could be feasible on a statewide basis and urges the Legislature to further amend Act 244 to include all county elections, notwithstanding elections for mayor and prosecutor."

The resolution was introduced by Council member Greenwell. The vote was 6-3. Ayes: Enriques, Greenwell, Ikeda, Naeole, Onishi, Yoshimoto. Noes: Ford, Hoffmann, Yagong.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Honoring Hawaii's People - Part 2

Representative Scott Nishimoto offered House Resolution 297, which congratulates Iolani School's all-girl team for winning the U.S. Department of Energy's 2009 Real World design challenge during the House floor session on April 2, 2009.

Photo: Representatives Chris Lee, Scott Nishimoto and Maile Shimabukuro with the winning team.

A resolution was introduced the same day to honor the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii for having celebrated their 60th Narcissus Festival. The winners the Narcissus pageant met and had lunch with lawmakers.

In Photo: Rep. Corinne Ching (R), who introduced the resolution, and Speaker Calvin Say with members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and pageant winners.

Raising Income Tax on High-Income Earners

The following opinion piece ran in this morning's Honolulu Advertiser.

Wealthier families can afford tax hike
By Rep. Marcus Oshiro

Lawmakers are required by law to pass a balanced budget for the upcoming biennium. Faced with a $262 million deficit, which is expected to worsen when the Council on Revenues announces new projections in May, we have proposed a combination of strategies. Included in the mix is a proposal to raise income taxes on higher-income wage earners. While no one wants to raise taxes, we explored the impact of this type of tax increase and discovered it has clear advantages. Here's why: Personal income tax increases are a better option than spending cuts because they have a lesser impact on consumer activity in our local economy. The 2001 Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz believes "economic theory and evidence gives a clear and unambiguous answer: It is economically preferable to raise taxes on those with high income than to cut state expenditures."

According to economist Peter Orszag, President Obama's choice for budget director, when it comes to addressing state fiscal deficits in the short run, tax increases on higher-income families are the least damaging mechanism of all. Orszag's argument was supported by 120 economists who signed a letter to Gov. David Paterson of New York, a state also dealing with a significant deficit.

"The reasoning is straightforward: In a recession, you want to raise (or not decrease) the level of total spending — by households, business and government — in the economy," the letter states. "Budget cuts reduce the level of total spending. Raising taxes on high-income households also will reduce spending, but by much less than the amount of the tax increase since those with plenty of income typically spend only a fraction of their income."

Personal income-tax increases are also a better option than spending cuts because they support, not undermine, federal attempts to stimulate the economy. History and basic economic principles show that whenever you attempt to close a budget deficit, the economy contracts. If we close the budget gap by preserving as much spending as possible, this will have a more positive impact on the effectiveness of the federal stimulus package.

Some may recall the increase in federal taxes on upper-income Americans in 1993 as part of the effort to address a federal deficit. There is no evidence that these tax increases harmed the national economy; in fact, the U.S. enjoyed a boom economy in the decade following.
In addition, fears that high-income families will leave the state are considered overblown. Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, points to evidence that high-income families are able to absorb increases, and cites a recent Princeton study that concluded that no out-migration resulted from the state of New Jersey raising income taxes on households with incomes over $500,000.

Hawai'i faces more than a short-term budget deficit. I am optimistic that we will pull out of it successfully, but we must look beyond our immediate situation. It is obviously the opportune time to modernize our tax structure to ensure that we have the adequate revenue we need. Many states face the same problem — tax codes that may be obsolete, relying on industries that no longer generate the revenue and economic stability that we desire.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that at least 45 states are facing deficits of such magnitude that it is clear they can't "cut" themselves out of the hole. Ten states are seriously considering raising taxes: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. Both California and New York raised income taxes this year.

Raising taxes must also be part of the solution, and raising the personal income tax on the wealthiest of our society seems to be the best option overall.

As we consider all the options available to use, it's important for Hawai'i residents to keep an open mind. Taxes are not inherently evil. A tax system allows government to plan for and provide the infrastructure and the services needed for our society to function. That tax system, however, should not only be fair and efficient, but structured in a way that promotes healthy economic growth.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa) is chairman of the House Committee on Finance. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Temporary visas for WWII Fil-Am Veterans

Photo: Rep. Angus McKelvey with WWII Fil-Am Veterans and their wives.

Members of the WWII Filipino-American Veterans - Hawaii Chapter (FAV) yesterday testified in support of a HCR 298/HR 270, which urges the adoption of a proposed federal law that would allow family members of the Filipino American Veterans to obtain temporary visas in order to visit and be with their family members in Hawaii.

Representative Angus McKelvey, chair of the Economic Revitalization, Business & Military Affairs Committee, passed the resolution out of committee noting that "given that these honorable men and women sacrificed so much for our country, to allow them to have their family members with them as they pass is a very small token that the federal government can do for all they sacrificed."

In Photo: Members of the Economic Revitalization, Business & Military Affairs Committee with Filipino-American WWII veterans who testified on HCR 298/HR 270.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Honoring Hawaii's People - Part 1

Yesterday was the last day for floor presentations to honor individuals and groups that have contributed to improving the social, educational, cultural and economic welfare of the State of Hawaii as well as those who have accomplished amazing feats.

I will be posting a series of photos and descriptions of a handful of the final floor presentations in the past month.

Let's start with two recipients who were acknowledged on March 30, 2009 for being exemplary role models; one of the honorees for his many years of dedication to education and the other for his hard work and commitment to healthy living.

Photo: Rep. Ryan Yamane, chair of the Health Committee, Dallas Carter and family, and Rep. Marilyn Lee, who represents the Mililani area.

Rep. Marilyn Lee and other house members introduced offered House Resolution 295, which recognizes and commends Dallas Carter as an outstanding role model for good health. Dallas, a resident of Mililani, lost 130 pounds over three years through good nutrition and regular exercise. He recently won's Million Dollar Body Game Giveaway and received $250,000. The father of two began his quest to get into shape after the birth of his daughter. He was unable to pick her up and knew then that he had to do something about his weight in order to take care of his family.

Everyone knows Frank De Lima! I bet you've probably gone on a Buta hunt with funnyman Frank or helped him make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The House honored the comedian for his outstanding service to Hawaii's youth through the "Frank De Lima Student Enrichment Program. Rep. Gene Ward, member of the House Minority, introduced House Resolution 296.

In Photo (L-R): Rep. Gene Ward, Frank De Lima, and Rep. Marcus Oshiro, Finance chair.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dear Rep. Takumi - 2

Dear Representative Roy Takumi,

Thank you for taking the time off and coming to our class and teaching us many interesting things about your job. I have learned many things from you. I learned that you do not need to be extremely smart to run for President or to run for office. All you need to do is to just be dedicated to it. Just like how you are dedicated to your job. I really enjoyed you being here. You were really funny and that helped me learn a lot more because it is hard for me to learn things if a teacher is really boring. You've taught us many things, and you've helped us open our eyes. I am pretty sure no one in our class would drop out. Well thank you again very much and I hope to see you soon.


Dear Roy Takumi,

Thank you for coming to our class and giving us a great speech. Your speech was funny and educational. Your (sic) a funny guy. Plus your speech took up the whole classs time so we didn't have to do anything after that. I don't know what I want to do after high school but I know because of your speech I'll find something out. Your (sic) a great representative funny and full of information. I learned a lot of information about the government. It was kind of boring but hey I was learning. Any way you should come back again.


Dear Representative Takumi,

Thanks for coming to our school to answer the questions we asked. Also, to tell us what you do as a representative of the Pearl City District. I learned a lot about the legislature and about that bill (House Bill 444). I guess it's okay to pass it as long as no guys bother me. Although it looked like I didn't care much about anything that was going on, I was actually listening. So, again thanks for coming here to our school. We greatly appreciated it.


Dear Representative Roy Takumi,

Thank you for coming to our class to answer our questions. You took valuable time from your busy day to talk to us. We learned many things concerning what's going on and your job.

For me, learning about the qualifications to become a politician will really help because maybe some day...I'll be one too. I also learned about what it takes for government to start a program or not. Like if it's worth for teachers to take drug test. And I realized that Representatives do alot of things and meet alot of people. Most people think you don't do much since not much change is happening. It sure was worthwhile.

Pearl City High Student,

Dear Representative Takumi,

Thank you very much for taking time from your day to come and talk to us. I really enjoyed your speech and learned many things about our state, our schools, and our economy. I learned things like how our economy is going down, and it made me think of how we can stop it and how everyone can help. I also thought it was interesting hearing about what you do as a representative and how you can make laws which I think is really cool. Again, thank you for answering our questions. We really appreciated it.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Dear Rep. Takumi

This week, we want to share with you a series of thank you letters addressed to Rep. Roy Takumi (District 36 - Pearl City, Momilani, Pacific Palisades, Manana). Rep. Takumi spoke in March to the Modern Hawaiian History class, Grade 9, at Pearl City High School. The teacher is Mr. Lance Fukuhara.

Dear Representative Roy Takumi,

Thank you for coming to our class on a busy Wednesday. I learned many things like the answer to civil union, your life as a Representative, etc. I am thankful that you answered my two questions with a long answer. That killed a good 20 min. of school time. Just kidding. I enjoyed many of the information you gave our class and the time and effort you did to answer those questions. Once again, thank you for coming to the best school in Hawaii (Pearl City High School) and thank you for attending the class with the best student in Hawaii...Me! Just kidding.


Aloha Representative Roy Takumi,

Thank you so much for coming into our class to give us some information about what you do as a representative. I had a really good time learning about new bills that could affect me academically.

It was comforting to know that people like you are trying to increase the standards of education. Hearing your opinions about some of the issues in Hawaii was very interesting and open-minded. That spread my range of thought about how those issues really affect me and the ones that matter to me.

I learned a lot about how to make a difference in our world. Knowing how much you can change in our society inspired me to make some changes for the better in my community. Again, thank you, and I hope you can come back and talk to other of Mr. Fukuhara's classes.


Dear Representative Takumi,

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come & talk to us. I enjoyed having you in our class, and I hope you can come back again. Oh, I thought you were really funny. Maybe if you retire from politics, you could give comedy a try. Oh kay, gotta go & thanks for everything you do for Hawaii.


Dear Representative Roy Takumi,

I really enjoyed your speech that you gave us. I really learned alot from it. Such as, ceded lands turned into public lands after Hawaii turned into a state and that the public lands are used wisely so that everybody can benefit from them. My favorite part was when you said your first job was a bag boy at Gem Markets because that was my dad's first job too. He also graduated from McKinley High School, and it was funny when you kep saying that the guy by you did not care.


Dear Representative Takumi,

Thank you for coming into our class and talking to us. I really enjoyed listening to everything and how much things are going on around the island. I learned a lot that day such as all the different bills going on and want to be passed. I also learned that it doesn't take much to become a representative but your job sounds really hard. I personally would like to have become a lawyer, but seeing how you guys could change the island's economy, it sounds really fun to become a representative. Once again, thanks for taking the time to come and talk to our class. We really did appreciate it.

Much mahalo's,

Obama's former apartment as a national historic place

The House Committee on Tourism, Culture & International Affairs passed out a resolution this morning that seeks to name President Barack Obama's former Punahou Circle Apartment as a national historic place. The resolution urges Emma Kwock Chun Corporation, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Historic Hawaii Foundation to seek placement of the building in the National Register of Historic Placement.

Several members of the committee had concerns about the property owners opinion on the resolution. The owner did not submit testimony nor was he present at the hearing. The resolution will move on for more discussion to the Committee on Water, Land & Ocean Resources.

Rep. Tom Brower, who introduced the resolution, said "We are proud of our Hawaii-born son. This resolution pays tribute to the President's childhood apartment, which symbolizes hope, inspiration and local pride."

Photo from Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rainy Day Rally

A rally in support of a Senate Bill 1679 will be held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 from 10 – 11 a.m. The measure ensures that monies from the emergency budget and reserve fund, or "the Rainy Day Fund", will be used for its intended purpose of maintaining state education, health and welfare services.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee today at 4:30 p.m. in conference room 308.

The Rainy Day Rally is sponsored by AARP (Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons) and PHOCUSED (Protecting Hawaii's Ohana, Children, Underserved, Elderly, and Disabled).

According to a press release from the AARP, using these funds to balance the budget would undermine the state's ability to help the most vulnerable people of Hawaii.

All residents are invited to the event to show support for critical state services, including but not limited to the following programs: Kupuna Care, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Senior Centers, Healthy Start, Keiki Care, Partnerships in Community Living, Chronic Disease Management, Mental Health Services, and Healthcare for the under-insured.

Participants of the rally are asked to bring an umbrella for visual impact.

***UPDATE: House Finance Committee passed SB1679 unamended with 13 voting yes and Rep. Gene Ward and Kymberly Pine voting with reservations.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

House Budget Supports Kauai CIPs and School R&M

Kauai Representatives Hermina Morita, James Tokioka and Roland Sagum

The State Budget Bill, HB200, HD1, passed the House of Representatives this week at the midway point of the 2009 legislative session. Kauai Representatives announced today that the House Draft includes over $56.5 million for Kauai Capital Improvement Projects, and over $3.8 million for school repair and maintenance planned for next fiscal year. The bill has crossed over to the Senate for further amendments. The House and Senate will hammer out differences between House and Senate drafts of the budget toward the end of the session. At this time, the bill includes:

Kauai Capital Improvement Projects


Kuhio Highway, Route 560, Hanalei Hill $7,000,000
Wailua Emergency Bypass Road $950,000
Kaumualii Highway, Omao Bridge Rehab $550,000
Kaumualii Highway, Lihue to West of Maluhia Rd $36,500,000
Kuhio Highway, Lumahai and Wainiha $1,215,000
Kuhio Highway Intersection KCCC/Wailua Golf Course $3,500,000
Kauai Veterans Cemetery Upgrade $94,000
Port Allen Small Boat Harbor $300,000
Port Allen Small Boat Harbor $550,000
Waimea Canyon School Waterline $2,500,000
Port Allen Harbor Comfort Station $500,000
Waimea Canyon Dr/Kokee Rd $600,000
State Highway Guardrail/Shoulder Improvements $1,000,000
Traffic Operational Improvements $1,200,000
Lihue Airport Noise Monitoring System $100,000
TOTAL $56,559,000


Kaumualii Highway, Omao Bridge Rehab $7,500,000
Kuhio Highway, Lumahai and Wainiha $5,000,000
Kauai Veterans Cemetery Upgrade $939,000
Port Allen Harbor Comfort Station $3,000,000
Traffic Operational Improvements $1,200,000
Lihue Airport Noise Monitoring System $746,000
TOTAL $18,385,000

HB200, HD1 also includes over $600 million in statewide projects for FY2010 and over $583 million for FY2011, of which Kauai will benefit although specific breakdowns have not yet been finalized. Planned Repair and Maintenance for Kauai Schools for FY2010 total $3,818,000.

Rep. James Kunane Tokioka, District 15, and Rep. Roland Sagum, District 16, serve on the House Finance Committee, which produced the House draft of the budget bill. Together, and working with Rep. Hermina Morita, District 14, they advocated for the inclusion of the above Kauai projects into the bill. Rep. Tokioka and Rep. Sagum, as Finance committee members, will sit as conferees when the House and Senate work out the final budget bill at the end of the legislative session.

The Ledge: Energy and Fossil fuels

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Governor's Review Period

The House Clerk sent out information today on the subject of Bill Passage and how long the Governor is allowed to review the bill before it automatically becomes law. This is of particular interest for lawmakers as it relates to the ability to override a veto of any bill while the legislature is still in regular session.

According to Article III, Section 16 of the Hawaii State Constitution, if the Governor receives a bill ten days or more prior to adjournment, she has ten days to review a bill, sign it, veto it, or let it pass into law without her signature. The tenth day prior to adjournment is Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

After adjournment, the Governor has 45 days to consider bills. The 45th day after May 7, 2009 (the currently scheduled date for adjournment sine die) is Tuesday, July 14, 2009. The Governor's ten day notification of her intent to veto is Monday, June 29, 2009. The 45 day period excludes weekend and holidays.

Thirty, twenty-seven, twenty-four, twenty...

Those are just a few of the ages of members of our U.S. Armed Forces killed during war. As the numbers decrease, the faces get younger and the heart breaks just a little more.

Family members, friends and comrades sat in the Senate Chambers as lawmakers paid tribute to twenty-three service members, with ties to Hawaii, who perished while at war in the Middle East. The recipients were honored with the Hawaii Medal of Honor for their service and sacrifice to the United States of America.

The mood was somber. The ding of the bell reverberated off the walls of the state capitol as the names and ages of our fallen heroes were announced. People in the gallery watched, many with tears in their eyes, as families and friends accepted the Hawaii Medal of Honor on behalf of their loved ones.

Speaker Calvin Say concluded the ceremony with remarks that surely resonated with each person gathered in the chambers…every family making dinner plans…the young man in camouflage anxiously waiting to get online to talk to his girlfriend…the young woman taping pictures of her newborn baby to the roof of her bunk in the middle of the desert miles away from home.

"Ultimately, all the soldiers should be home, with their loved ones. And for those who did not find their way home, please take some solace in knowing that their hearts and spirits are at home, where they have always belonged, with you…It is my greatest hope that one day soon, it will no longer be necessary for us to come together every spring to memorialize the fallen. My greatest wish is for the Hawaii Medal of Honor to retire quietly into history, a poignant but obsolete relic of a past that no longer burdens us."

United States Marine Corps Sergeant Phillip A. Bocks
United States Army Sergeant Ireno S. Lacerna
United States Army Sergeant Gary D. Willett
United State Army Sergeant First Class Jerald A. Whisenhunt
United States Army corporal Michael T. Manibog
United States Army Specialist Gregory B. Rundell
United States Army Specialist Jeremiah C. Hughes
United States Army Sergeant First Class David L. McDowell
United States Army Sergeant John K. Daggett
United States Army Private Eugene D.M. Kanakaole
United States Marine Corps Captain Philip J. Dykeman
United States Marine Corps Corporal Marcus W. Preudhomme
United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Max A. Galeai
United States Army corporal William L. McMillan III
United States Army First Lieutenant Johnathan P. Brostrom
United States Army Sergeant Kenneth B. Gibson
United States Army Staff Sergeant Julian F. A. Manglona
United States Army Private First Class Christopher A. McCraw
United States Army Staff Sergeant Solomon T. Sam
United States Marine Corps Corporal Thomas Reilly Jr.
United States Army Private First Class Christopher W. Lotter
United States Army Private Sean P. McCune

PBS Hawaii "Insights" on Civil Unions

Rep. Blake Oshiro will be one of the guests on the next "Insights", the live, call-in, public affairs program produced and aired on Hawaii Public Television. The topic will be Civil Unions. The show airs on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. Dan Boylan is the host. We are waiting for the final confirmed list of panelists. Last I heard, Senator Will Espero and Tambry Young from the Family Equality Coalition were also slated to appear, with one more slot to be filled.

*UPDATE: Councilmember Gary Okino and Private Attorney Robert Matsumoto, speaking against Civil Unions, will also be guest panelists.

Here's the link to HB444, the Civil Unions bill that was passed by the House, but stalled in the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. An attempt to pull the bill from the committee for a full floor vote failed last week.