Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drunk drivers will have breathalyzers installed in vehicles

Representative Sharon Har has one more thing to celebrate this New Year. A bill she introduced requiring drivers convicted of drinking under the influence of alcohol to have a breathalyzer installed in their vehicles will become law on Saturday, January 1, 2011. Rep. Har was inspired to introduce the legislation after being injured in a 2007 head-on collision in which a multiple-conviction drunk driver smashed into her car.

“After several years of hard work, I am so pleased that the ignition interlock program will finally be law in our state,” said Rep. Har. “As a victim of a repeat drunk driver, I will feel safer knowing that these devices will now be used in Hawaii, and I also hope their existence serves as an important reminder to not drive while intoxicated in the first place. By deterring drivers from getting behind the wheel while drunk, ignition interlock devices are certain to save lives on our state’s roads.”

The breathalyzer, known widely as ignition interlock, forces a driver to blow into it to start the vehicle. The system will not allow the car to start if the the alcohol concentration on the breath is .02 or higher. To deter tampering with the device, a camera mounted on the windshield will record who is blowing into the device. In addition, frequent retests - monitored by vendors and reported to the state - are administered throughout the duration of the drive.

What you should know about the new law:
  •  Taxpayers will not be paying for bill; DUI offenders will have to pay $84 for installation and a monthly $89 leasing fee.
  • First-time DUI offenders will have their license revoked for a year but may continue to drive with an interlock device.
  • Two-time DUI offenders will have their license revoked for 18 months but may continue to drive with an interlock device.
  • Three-time DUI offenders will have their license revoked for two years but may continue to drive with an interlock device. 
  • Offenders arrested for DUI more than three times will have their license revoked for five to 10 years and will no longer be able to drive. 
  • It will be a crime to refuse a breath or blood alcohol test, offenders will be charged with a petty misdemeanor instead of an administrative violation.
  • Drivers who refuse to a submit to alcohol testing will have their license revoked for a year but may drive with an interlock device.
Appropriate as one of the final blog posts of 2010, it should serve as a reminder to all of us to celebrate safely and drive cautiously as we ring in the New Year. Hau'oli Makahiki Hou from the House Blog team!

Lawmakers schedule briefings on state budget matters

State House and Senate money committees will start holding informational briefings on the recent state tax forecast by the Council on Revenues (CoR) and other state budget matters starting Monday, January 3, 2010. The CoR yesterday reported an increase from 2 percent to 3 percent in tax collections for this fiscal year which ends in June. The new forecast will lower the projected $71.6 million deficit by $44 million. Economists say that the higher forecast for this fiscal year is due to improvement in tourism as the economy recovers from the recession.

In a Star Advertiser article, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Committee chairman, said:

"This is good news. It helps the governor address the current shortfall by $44 million, and it means we have an additional $100 million to use in the biennium budget. This is positive. It's a good sign."

The next COR projection will be in March.

Find all current notices of future informational briefings and hearings here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rep Oshiro named Legislator of the Year by Friends of the Library

Representatives from Friends of the Library of Hawaii today surprised Rep. Marcus Oshiro with an announcement that he was selected to receive the organization's Legislator of the Year Award for his support and commitment to Hawaii public libraries.

Susan Li, president of the board, and Byrde Cestare, executive director, visited Rep. Oshiro's office to give him a lei and personally invite him to accept the award on January 12, 2010 during a special ceremony to be held at Washington Place from 8 - 9 a.m.

Rep. Oshiro joins a distinguished group of past award winners. In 2008, Sen. Clarence Nishihara was named Legislator of the Year. And the first person to ever receive the award happens to be newly-elected Governor Neil Abercrombie, awarded in 1985 when he was a Hawaii State Senator.

Photo (from left to right): Susan Li, president of the board of Friends of the Library of Hawaii; Rep. Marcus Oshiro; Byrde Cestare, executive director of Friends of the Library of Hawaii.

Freshman Rep on Kukui Connection

On the next episode of "Kukui Connection", Rep. Marilyn Lee will introduce and talk with one of the newly elected freshmen, Rep. Linda Ichiyama. Rep. Ichiyama is also the youngest member of the House of Representatives.

On the show, they discuss Ichiyama's background, including:

*Student member of the Board of Education while at Moanalua High School

*Degree from Georgetown with the B.A. in International Politics

*Working for then-Congressman Neil Abercrombie

*Law School

They also talk about what committees Ichiyama is hoping to serve on, and some of the issues that are important to her community of Moanalua Valley, Salt Lake, Aliamanu and Moanalua Gardens.

Kukui Connection will air on Sunday, December 26th, 4:00 p.m. on Oceanic Channel 54. This show repeats on January 9 and 16, 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Capitol Christmas Lights

Rep. Marcus Oshiro has put up his annual Christmas lights. See them at the State Capitol, 3rd floor, corner of Beretania and Punchbowl Streets.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting ready for session

Here's a photo of Rep. Marcus Oshiro's pre-session forum, held in Wahiawa on December 15th.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Laws Effective January 1, 2011

The following are some of the laws (those most likely to impact the general public) slated to take effect on January 1, 2011. Click on the bills to get more information.

HB1985 Relating to Taxation.

Part I of the bill is amended to repeal the deduction of political contributions from taxable income. This becomes effective on January 1, 2011 and applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2010.

HB2003 Relating to Campaign Financing

Corporations that contribute $1000 or more to a candidate or candidate committee within a two-year election cycle must file a report to the Campaign Finance Commission.

HB2397 Relating to Primary Elections

Changes the date of Hawaii's Primary Election from the 2nd to the last Saturday in September to the 2nd Saturday of August.

HB2725 Relating to Animals

In relation to the humane treatment of animals, the new law defines primary pet enclosure to mean any kennel, cage or structure used to restrict an animal to a limited amount of space. Redefines the term "necessary sustenance" by expanding the area of confinement, and to include veterinary care when needed to prevent suffereing.

SB2548 Relating to Information Technology

Establishes a Chief Information Officer and information technology steering committee within the Office of the Governor to develop, implement and manage a statewide information technology strategic plan.

SB2599 Relating to Health Insurance

Requires coverage for the screening of colorectal cancer by colonoscopy and any other screening modalities that have received a grade of A or B from the US Preventative Service Task Force. Beginning March 1, 2011, requires all health insurance providers to inform their insured of the risk associated with undiagnosed colorectal cancer.

SB2897 Relating to Highway Safety

Enacts recommendations of the Ignition Interlock Implementation Task Force.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Senator Will Espero on Kukui Connection

Senator Will Espero (District 20: Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry, Ocean Pointe, Ewa Villages, West Loch, Honouliuli, Lower Waipahu) will be Rep. Marilyn Lee's next guest on The Kukui Connection. The major topic of the program is the controversial fireworks issue. The show airs on December 19, 2010 and repeats on January 2, 2011, Olelo Channel 54, Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

On fireworks, the two veteran lawmakers discuss the fireworks bill passed by the Honolulu City Council earlier this year and the Illegal Fireworks Task Force chaired by Senator Espero and House Rep. Faye Hanohano. The task force meets for the last time on December 13th and will present a report to the legislature with recommendations in January.

Other critical issues for the district include the development of UH West Oahu, slated to open in 2012, the new Disney Hotel - Aulani, a new prison on Maui, and what to do about the Hawaii prisoners on the mainland.
See more on Senator Espero's legislative activities here.

Temporary Office Assignments

The freshmen representatives have been given temporary office space until further notice. Here's where the public may find their offices and phone numbers. Click here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Social Lessons

Social media gurus L.P. Neenz Faleafine and Melissa Chang stopped by the capitol today to talk to freshman lawmakers about using social media tools to connect with the people in their communities. The presentation was part of a Media Roundtable Workshop, which included journalists from print, radio and online news sources.

In photo (l-r): Neenz Faleafine, Rep. Linda Ichiyam, Rep. Daynette Morikawa, Rep. Ty Cullen, Rep. Mark Hashem, and Melissa Chang.

Kukui High Christmas

The House obviously has some serious Hawaii Five-0 fans. The theme for this year's House Christmas tree, the creative work of the elves in the Chief Clerk's Office, is a salute to Kukui High School.

If you are at the State Capitol, we encourage you to visit the tree in person to see the detail of the ornaments with pictures of the "alumni".

Kukui High is the fictional high school featured on the reboot of the Hawaii Five-0 series. Die-hard fans have created their backstory, such as:

Kukui High is the Home of the Fighting Nuts.
The virtual yearbook can be found here.
The school newspaper is the Kukui High Courier, found here.

Here's the Kukui Alma Mater, sung by Jimmy Borges:

Monday, December 6, 2010

"We the Powerful" workshops to be held on Big Island

These free, popular workshops will be on the Big Island next week. Prepared and presented by the Public Access Room, attendees will learn how to participate in the legislative process without having to fly to Honolulu.

*Receive assistance in writing and delivering effective testimony on bills
*Find out the best ways to find the information you need
*Learn how to track bills of interest to you
*Make sense of legislative deadlines
*How to use the Legislature's capitol website

Monday, December 13
5:30 p.m.
Liquor Control Conference Room - 75-5722 Hanama Place, Room 1107

Tuesday, December 14
6:00 p.m.
Naalehu School Cafeteria

Wednesday, December 15
5:30 p.m.
Hilo Public Library

Thursday, Deember 16
5:30 p.m.
Honokaa Public Library


The Smith family below the tapestry by artist Ruthadell Anderson
Two of the most stunning works of art commissioned for the Hawaii State Capitol are the tapestries that grace the chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The tapestries are composed of geometric shapes; the tapestry in the Senate is colored in cool tones to represent the sea and sky, the tapestry in the House is colored in warm tones to represent the volcanic earth.
Last Friday, I happened to be in the House Chief Clerk's Office and stopped for a few minutes to watch Denise Liu put the finishing touches on their Christmas tree. As I was about to leave, a family of four, the Smith family from Arizona, came around the corner and stopped to hear the story of the tree. As it turned out, they were also hoping to see the tapestry in the chamber, but were disappointed that the room was locked.
Serendipitously, who should walk by but Lon Paresa, the Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, who had the key to the Chamber door. Zachary Smith, the father, explained that the tapestry was done by his aunt and uncle, Ruthadell and Webster Anderson. Ruthadell is most often credited as the artist of the tapestries in both House and Senate, but according to Smith, his uncle Web Anderson had a hand in designing the pieces and Ruthadell was the primary weaver.
According to Baron Gushiken, who has been leading Capitol tours for decades, the tapestry is 39 feet tall, 25 feet wide at the top and 29 feet wide at the bottom. It has the appearance of a Hawaiian warrior's cape. The Andersons used 800 pounds of moth-proofed wool set against a heavy linen warp. There tapestry contains 49 panels, and 25 artisans worked with Anderson to tie about a million "giordes" knots within the weave.
Zachary Smith is a Regents Professor of Environmental and Natural Resources, Policy and Administration, Politics and International Affairs, at Northern Arizona University. Earlier in his career, he taught at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pre-Session Forum with Wahiawa Representative Marcus Oshiro

Representative Marcus Oshiro will hold a Pre-Session Forum for residents of Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, and Poamoho (District 39) to discuss community issues and share ideas for upcoming legislation. Light refreshments will be served. Call 586-6200 with questions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
6 – 8:30 p.m.

Wahiawa District Park – Hale Koa Room

Teddy Bear World

I missed this when it first came out, but here's Rep. Tom Brower and Diane Ako at the "White House", in a feature on Diane's Honolulu Star-Advertiser blog "Small Talk". The event was the grand opening of Teddy Bear World, a stuffed animal museum in Waikiki.

West Maui Community Meeting

WHAT: Rep. Angus McKelvey (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei, North Kihei) and Sen. Roz Baker (South and West Maui, Kapalua, Kaanapali, Lahaina, Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, Makena) will co-host a community meeting to discuss priorities and ideas in advance of the 2011 legislative session. There will also be updates on projects in the West Maui and Maalaea areas.

WHEN: Thursday, December 2, 2010, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: West Maui Kaunoa Senior Center

Makiki Town Hall Meeting

WHAT: State Representative Della Au Belatti and Council Member Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo will co-host a Town Hall meeting to discuss new ideas for bills before the start of the 2011 legislative session. The public is invited to attend with questions and comments for the lawmakers and to discuss significant issues to the community.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Makiki Community Library
1527 Keeaumoku Street at Wilder Avenue
(ample parking at Makiki District Park)

WHY: While email and phone calls are an important way to communicate with elected state and city delegations, meeting and talking in person is one of the best ways for legislators to keep informed about issues that affect the neighborhood.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who's who?

Not sure what your lawmakers look like? You can familiarize yourselves with their faces here, a PDF of all the 2011-2012 lawmakers elected this past November, including the seven freshmen House members. They are Ty Cullen (D), George Fontaine (R), Mark Hashem (D), Linda Ichiyama (D), Aaron Johanson (R), Daynette Morikawa (D), and Gil Riviere (R).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Free medical screenings for all ages at 35th Annual Rell Sunn Menehune Surfing Competition at Makaha Beach

The Rell Sunn Education Fund has teamed up with the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine to offer blood pressure screenings, eye exams, and glucose screenings as part of the 25th Annual Rell Sunn Menehune Surf Contest. Information will also be given to help qualified patients receive discounted medications through patient assistance programs. Free medical screenings will be offered on the second day of the surf contest, Saturday, November 27, 2010 at Makaha Beach (alternate site – rest camp).

“It’s been an ongoing goal of ours to provide services to the community,” said Jann Sunn-Carreira, founder and president of the Rell Sunn Education Fund, a public benefit nonprofit corporation organized and operated exclusively for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes.

“This is an excellent way to assist our residents in Makaha and the Wai’anae Coast who may not have health insurance,” added Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, who Sunn sought out to help inform the public about this event. “The concern is that people without health insurance will wait until the last minute to seek medical treatment. This program is preventive, and I encourage everyone to come down.”

The 35th Annual Rell Sunn Menehune Surfing Championships will be held on Nov. 26 – 27, 2010 at Makaha Beach beginning at 6 a.m.

Also this year, Rell Sunn Education Fund will be hosting an Aloha Jam II concert on Sunday, November 28th on the North Shore. Entertainers include Henry Kapono, Amy Hanaiali’i, Kaukahi, Ten Feet, The Honolulu Lounge Lizards, The Young Coconuts, and Te Lumanaki.

“So many professional surfers got their start at Rell Sunn’s Menehune Surf Contest,” Shimabukuro said. “I am so happy that Jan and her family and friends are continuing the tradition of this surf meet to continue to give young surfers the chance to ‘make it big’ in surfing.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"We the Powerful" heads to Maui in December

The Hawaii State Legislature's Public Access Room (PAR) will be conducting free "We the Powerful" workshops across the state instructing folks on how they can participate effectively in the legislative process. With today's technology, there are easy ways to find information, testify on bills, track legislation, and more. There are ways in which neighbor island people can be heard and make a difference without having to physically be on Oahu.

"We the Powerful" heads to Maui in early December. Mark your calendars for the following dates and locations:

Monday, December 6th
6:30 p.m.
Pukalani - Tavares Community Center

Tuesday, December 7th
6:30 p.m.
Kihei Community Center

Wednesday, December 8th
6:30 p.m.
Kahului Community Center

Thursday, December 9th
6:30 p.m.
Wailuku Public Library

Virginia Beck, the Assistant Public Access Coordinator, will lead the workshops. PAR is a division of the State of Hawaii's non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau. For additional information, neighbor island residents may call toll-free: 984-2400 ext. 7-0478. Or email at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coffee Borer Meeting Today

Rep. Clift Tsuji and Carol Okada, Plant Quarantine Manager at the State Department of Agriculture, appeared this morning on Hawaii News Now to discuss the infestation of the Coffee Berry Borer and its impact on Hawaii's coffee industry. See video here.

The meeting to discuss a possible quarantine is scheduled today at 1:30 p.m. at the Plant Quarantine station.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wahiawa Health Fair

Rep. Marcus Oshiro (District 39 – Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley) announced today that the Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission, Wahiawa General Hospital, and community service providers will be participating in the 2nd Annual Health Fair to share information to the community on ways to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles for all ages.

Place: Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission Social Hall – 1067 California Ave.
Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon

“Having good health is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family,” said Rep. Marcus Oshiro. “Without your health, you are unable to help others or achieve anything else in life. The Health Fair is a way for people in our community to get the information they need to get and stay healthy, and to determine which path to health, traditional, non-traditional, or a combination of both, is right for them.”

In additional to traditional and non-traditional medical practitioners, the Hawaii Blood Bank’s bloodmobile will be there and Wahiawa General will be providing health screenings and flu shots. Here is a list of providers scheduled to be at the health fair:

Aged to Perfection, Aloha Chapter Headquarters, Ask Acupuncture, Child and Family Service, Hawaii Blood Bank, Hawaii Department of Health, HSMA, Hawaii State Medical Reserve, Hawaiian Healer, Ilima at Leihano, International Culture and Friends, Kapuna Monitoring System, Meadow Gold Dairies, Office of the Ombudsman, The Plaza, Project Dana, St. Francis Healthcare System, State Farm, Wahiawa General Hospital.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to save a life

Are you AED certified? Well, 7-yr-old Logan is! Logan, shown here with Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms Lon Paresa, went through and passed the training. Here's what happened.

Logan's mom, Reena, who is the Office Manager for Rep. Blake Oshiro, signed up for the training last month. Logan tagged along, and the AED trainer, Pam Foster, invited Logan to participate. Logan learned the signs of a heart attack, how to call 911, how to administer CPR compressions, and how to use the defibrillator. She passed the training and received her Heartsaver AED certification card.

AED training is encouraged for school-aged children. Here's Logan with her proud mom, Reena! FYI - Automatic External defibrillators (AED) are located at the State Capitol on the Chamber level (ewa side), and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels (mauka side lanai).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hawaii Civil Air Patrol Provides Valuable Service

Rep. Marilyn Lee and Colonel Stanley Y. Fernandez

This Sunday, watch the latest episode of the Kukui Connection on the Hawaii Civil Air Patrol. Rep. Marilyn Lee talks with Colonel Stanley Y. Fernandez, the Director of Government Affairs. The show airs at 4 p.m., November 14th on Olelo Channel 54. It repeats on 11/28 and 12/12.

I previewed the show and was amazed at how little I knew about this important volunteer organization. For one thing, it is indeed all volunteer. The Civil Air Patrol's mission is three-fold: to provide emergency services, to operate a cadet program, and to conduct air space science research. They have nine airplanes that are used to warn the public of impending danger and to participate in search and rescue.

All of the 45 pilots are volunteer and come from civilian or military service backgrounds. Airplane maintenance and radio operations are conducted by volunteers as well. Training is critical and the Civil Air Patrol is in need of funding to provide more training as the organization has not received steady funding from the legislature since 1996.

Colonel Fernandez also presented Rep. Lee with a certificate inducting her into the Civil Air Patrol's Hawaii State Legislative Squadron. Rep. Lee now adds the rank of Major to her many accomplishments.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Camp out for camping permits

Two fathers from Wai’anae will join a crowd of other camping enthusiasts as they camp out overnight at the Kapolei Satellite City for a chance to be first in line for camping permits during the Thanksgiving weekend. Morris and Thurston Kamealoha, two brothers, have also gathered 400 signatures for a petition urging the Department of Parks and Recreation to increase the number of city camping permits, especially on the Wai’anae Coast where there are currently only a little over 30 spots.

“Camping is how we would like to spend our quality family time,” wrote the two brothers, Morris and Thurston Kamealoha, in a letter to Rep. Maile Shimabukuro asking for her support of the petition. “Quality family time is what keeps the love in the family strong.”

“You literally have to camp at the Satellite City Hall if you want to camp,” said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D-45th). “This has been going on for years, and now it’s even harder for Wai`anae Coast residents because they have to travel to Kapolei rather than go to the Wai`anae Satellite City Hall to get camping permits for our own beaches on the Wai`anae Coast.”

Currently, there are only 12 campsites (weekends only) at Maili Beach Park, 12 campsites at Nanakuli Beach Park, and 6 campsites (summer only) at Lualualei Beach.

While the state does not allow camping at its parks on the Wai`anae Coast due to the public’s complaints about the homeless, it does issue free one-year overnight access permits at Keawaula Bay, aka “Yokohama,” which allow up to 10 people to fish, star-gaze, etc. overnight. Under the state’s Keawaula permit, groups are allowed to use “EZ corner”-type tents with up to 2 sides, but may not use pop-up or 3-4-sided tents, sleeping bags, or cots.

“There is a draft permit for recreational wilderness camping at Makua Beach which the state is considering,” said Wai`anae harbormaster William Aila, Jr. He added that people can request the one-year Keawaula access permits at any time, either by contacting DLNR’s State Parks division or him, at 697-7095.

“We truly believe that if there are more camping sites, there would be more permits to give out and a better chance at getting one,” the brothers said in their letter to Shimabukuro. “There are so many beautiful pristine beaches, but law forbids overnight camping on over 75 percent of our Wai’anae Coast beaches.”

Standing in long lines for a camping permit only to be denied a spot because all spots fill up is another grievance brought up by the petition.

On behalf of her constituents, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro contacted the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and discovered, through an official statement from Acting Director Lester K.C. Chang, that the city is working on an online permitting process, considering fee charges for camping permits, and modifying city camping rules. The City and Council would also have to approve fee charges for the camping permits.

“DPR is projecting to implement the (online permitting) system in the Fall of 2011,” Chang wrote in a letter to Rep. Shimabukuro. “Several milestones need to be cleared for that to occur. A City Ordinance change must pass the City Council to allow for the reservation system to be implemented with the fees. An online system needs to be selected and staff trained. Once the system is online, this should eliminate the long lines present campers are experiencing.”

However, before the city can even consider increasing the amount of camping sites, the new online system would need to be implemented. There are no current plans to increase the amount of camp sites anywhere on the island. “Once the online system has been implemented, the issue will be revisited,” Chang wrote in the letter to Shimabukuro.

“This petition represents the community taking action on something that is important to their families,” Rep. Shimabukuro said. “I’m encouraged that the city is already working on an online permitting system. I hope that they will seriously consider the suggestion of opening up more camp sites for our Ohana.”


People camping in Kapolei for Camping Permits - Hawaii News Now 
Petition urges more permits for camping - Star Advertiser

Monday, November 8, 2010

Latest "buzz" on Kona coffee berry borer

Quarantine to be considered for Big Island

The Advisory Committee on Plants and Animals, attached to the State Department of Agriculture, will meet on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 to consider one or more quarantine zones on the island of Hawaii to prohibit the importation of green coffee beans. At issue is a serious infestation of the Coffee Berry Borer in local crops reported by Kona Coffee farmers. The pest infestation was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service Systematic Entomology Laboratory.

The purpose of the meeting will be to hear testimony from the Hawaii coffee industry and, if warranted, to develop a request to the Board of Agriculture to adopt an interim rule restricting the movement of green coffee beans into the state. The meeting will be held on:

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Place: 1849 Auiki Street, Plant Quarantine Station Conference Room, Sand Island.

Persons wishing to provide testimony may do so in the following ways:

· Via email to:
· Via fax to: 808-832-0584
· Drop off or Mail to: 1849 Auiki Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819

Oral testimony will be accepted at the meeting. Testifiers must provide a contact phone number if they wish to receive confirmation that their testimony has been received.

“It is imperative that interested parties provide testimony either in person or in writing as this will determine the committee’s recommendation to the Board of Agriculture by the end of the month,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. “The coffee industry in Hawaii has a history spanning 200 years, and we don’t want to see it collapse because of our inattention to contain or eradicate the coffee berry borer infestation.”

It is unknown at this time how the coffee berry borer will affect Kona coffee yields and quality of the product. The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) is considered the world’s most destructive coffee pest. Researchers estimate that the damage caused by the coffee berry borer worldwide is about $500 million per year in a global industry worth $90 billion per year.

Currently, there is no provision in Hawaii Administrative Rules that addresses the coffee berry borer or that restricts movement of coffee relative to this pest. An interim rule may be adopted in the absence of effective rules if a situation is dangerous to public health and safety or if the ecological health of flora and fauna is endangered as to constitute an emergency.

The Plant Quarantine Branch of the DOA has requested the adoption of an interim rule to prohibit the movement of coffee plants, plant parts, unroasted seeds, and used coffee bags out of a quarantine zone in the Kona area of the island of Hawaii, except by permit. The Advisory Committee on Plants and Animals may accept or amend the request and submit their findings to the Board of Agriculture which is scheduled to meet in late November. The committee may also reject or defer the request.

Violators, under the proposed rule, would be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $100. The maximum fine would be set at $10,000. The interim rule would be valid for no longer than one year.

FACT SHEET – Coffee Berry Borer

Current Condition:

· The Department of Agriculture has surveyed about 65 sites statewide. Of these sites, 21 are infested with the coffee berry borer.
· All infested sites are in the Kona area of the Big Island.
· The infested zone includes the area from mile marker 29 on Hwy 190 (Mamalahoa Hwy) and mile marker 93 on Hwy 19 (Queen Kaahumanu Hwy), south to mile marker 62 on Hwy 11, east of Naalehu.
· In addition to the infested zone, the DOA has reports from about 100 individual farms that may be infested.
· The coffee berry borer lays its eggs in the coffee cherry and as the eggs develop into larva, the larva feed inside the coffee bean. The bean may be further damaged by secondary fungal, bacterial and insect infestation. The combined damage can reduce yield, lower the quality and destroy the entire bean.

Eradication/Control Strategy

· There are no chemical insecticides available in Hawaii that can effectively control coffee berry borer. As the pest lives inside the fruit, chemical control strategies are limited.
· While it is difficult to contain the coffee berry borer, even with the establishment of quarantine zones, the dissemination of the contamination can be retarded for many years through improved pest management practices. The pest spreads through human activity.

Coffee in Hawaii

· There are 6,500 acres under cultivation statewide, with annual production running between 6 and 7 million pounds.
· Kona has produced coffee continuously since the early 1800’s and supports nearly 600 independent farms. Farms average 3 acres and only a few have 50 or more acres. Total Kona coffee acreage is over 2,000 acres, producing more than 2 million pounds in most years.
· Kauai has the largest coffee orchard in Hawaii and in the United States with 3,000 acres in production.
· Maui has several small coffee farms spanning from Kaanapali, the slopes of Haleakala, and an organic farm in Hana. Maui has a total of 500 acres of coffee planted on converted sugar cane lands.
· Oahu has over 100 acres of coffee in Wahiawa and Waialua.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Christina Kapothanasis, Traditional Chinese Medicine practioner, and husband with Rep. Marilyn Lee

Rep. Marilyn Lee's weekly public affairs series "Kukui Connection" continues with a new show this coming Sunday on "Traditional Chinese Medicine". The guest will be Christina Kapothanasis, a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who became fluent in Mandarin and studied in China.

Ms. Kapothanasis gives an overview of diagnostic and treatment methods, including tongue and pulse diagnosis. She describes the ways of achieving balance between yin and yang, hot and cold, stagnation and dampness, and imbalances of chi in the blood and various organs.

She also talks about the use, availability, and safety of Chinese herbs.

The show airs on Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 4 p.m. on Channel 54. It repeats on November 21st and December 5th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rep. Marilyn Lee to Head National Women's Legislative Network

Rep. Marilyn Lee speaks on the House chamber floor on Sine Die 2010

State Rep. Marilyn Lee has been named President-elect of the Women's Legislative Network at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

According to the NCSL, after the 2010 general election, women comprise 23.3% of state legislatures across the country. Here are some facts of note:

Democratic Party women lawmakers - 1,051

Republican Party women lawmakers - 651

Third Party women lawmakers - 6

Non-partisan women lawmakers (Nebraska) - 11

Percentage of women in state legislatures:

Top Five - Colorado (38%), Arizona (34.4%), Hawaii (32.9%), Washington (32.7%), Minnesota (31.3%)

Bottom Five - South Carolina (9.4%), Oklahoma (12.8%), Alabama (13.6%), Mississippi (14.4%), North Dakota (14.9%)

After the recent election, there are 18 women in the Hawaii House of Representatives, and 7 women in the Hawaii Senate. The total of 25 out of 76 legislators equals 32.9%.

For more information, click here.

Rep Choy is HDA Legislator of the Year

Congratulations to Representative Isaac Choy for being selected as the recipient of the the 2010 Hawaii Dental Association Legislator of the Year! The award is given to the lawmaker who has made significant contributions to improving dental health in Hawaii.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"We the Powerful!" heads to Kauai

The Legislature's Public Access Room (PAR) has scheduled a series of FREE workshops next week on Kauai. The workshops are part of PAR's popular "We the Powerful!" presentations to communities across the state prior to the start of the legislative session. They are designed to demystify the State lawmaking process and to demonstrate ways that people can speak out at the legislature without having to travel to the State Capitol.

Here's what you will learn:

*Overview of the people at the Capitol, what they do, and how and when the lawmaking takes place

*Easy ways to add your voice and ideas to the legislative process

*Handy tips for finding the information you need

*Assistance in writing and delivering effective testimony, either at the Capitol or from your home island.

Here's the schedule for Kauai:

Wednesday, November 10, 6:00 p.m., Koloa Library Conference Room

Monday, November 15, 6:00 p.m., Lihue Neighborhood Center, 3353 Eono Street

Tuesday, November 16, 6:00 p.m., Hanapepe Library Conference Room

Wednesday, November 17, 6:00 p.m., Princeville Library

Thursday, November 18, 6:00 p.m., Kapaa Library Conference Room

For further information, Kauai residents may call toll free at 274-3141, ext.7-0478 or email

Contact PAR to make arrangements if special assistance or services such as sign language interpreters are needed.

Learn more about PAR at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jobs for the 2011 Legislative Session

The House and Senate have posted their notices on the Hawaii State Capitol website for job opportunities during the 2011 legislative session. Click on the links to see what's available and how to apply.

House jobs are listed here.

Senate jobs are listed here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Chair, ready to do battle with a scary economic condition and budget deficit.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do we have liftoff?

Ask Danielle Bass, office manager for Rep. Ryan Yamane!

Danielle will be covering the liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery via Twitter. Bass was selected by NASA to participate at the “NASA Tweetup” to cover the events 24 hours prior to the launch and the launch itself, targeted to take place at 4:40 p.m. EDT on November 1, 2010.

NASA is hosting 150 people from around the world and will provide them with a behind-the-scenes perspective to share with their followers via the social networking service Twitter. Bass is the only “tweep” from Hawaii going to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to NASA, attendees will be coming from 38 states, the District of Columbia, Australia, Canada, Chile, England, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand and the Philippines; all were selected randomly from more than 2,700 online registrations. Attendees are responsible for their own travel.

Twitter users can follow Bass’s tweets at

In addition, Bass created her own website at, especially for schools and classrooms to follow the launch, and for those who are not on Twitter.

“I’m excited and honored to be representing Hawaii at this historic event,” said Bass. “This will be the last launch and flight of the space shuttle Discovery, the oldest orbiter of the shuttle fleet. I’ve always been interested in flying and in the NASA program, and I’m grateful for this incredible opportunity. I’ll be tweeting and updating my website all weekend.”

Reporters interested in interviewing Tweetup attendees should contact Stephanie Schierholz at 202-358-4997 or

Link to NASA Media Advisory:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going Home

Rep. Mizuno and George Vonner

George Vonner came to Hawaii in early October expecting to live with a relative and find work. Once he was able to save some money, he planned to get his own place and ultimately bring his wife to the islands from California. When his living arrangements fell through, George found himself on the streets and homeless.
His wife, Charlene, works at a fast food establishment and could only afford to send $180 towards a plane ticket home. George knew that while he liked Hawaii, he didn't want to be homeless in Hawaii, and desperately wanted to go back to California where he could find work.

While waiting for help, he slept at a bus stop on a piece of cardboard in Iwilei. He got his meals and a place to shower from the Institute for Human Services and the River of Life.

A few weeks ago, he went to the State Library main branch on King Street to look for resources that might be able to help him. He walked over to the State Capitol where he was talking to a legislative staffer when Senator Brickwood Galuteria stopped to talk. Sen. Galuteria suggested he call Partners in Care.

Pam Menter with Partners in Care joined forces with Tisha Woytenko at Help the Hawaii Homeless, and together they reviewed George's case. Tisha said she knew that George was a good candidate to receive assistance for family reunification, and she called Rep. John Mizuno.

Rep. Mizuno agreed to donate $100 of his personal money toward a ticket, and Tisha was able to find a good rate with Alaska Airlines for $263. Together, the $180 from George's wife Charlene, and the $100 from Rep. Mizuno, they had enough money to send George home with a little left over for food while at the airport.

Rep. Mizuno, Pam Menter and Tisha Woytenko all believe that family reunification can work with the proper screening. George is the 5th person who has been helped through private donations and a ticket back home. He plans to pursue work as a court clerk or court officer as he has a degree in criminal justice. According to Tisha, she has 25 people on the list requesting assistance in going home.
A family reunification bill was introduced in the past two sessions, but neither passed. Rep. Mizuno has plans to re-introduce the bill in 2011.
Tonight, George will say goodbye to his friends and sleep at the same spot near the bus stop. Tisha will pick him up and take him to the airport early tomorrow morning to make sure he makes his 8 am flight.
Good luck and Aloha George!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coming Up - Helping Homeless Return Home

What: Rep. John Mizuno will hold a press conference on helping the homeless. He has contributed $100 of personal funds to help purchase a one-way ticket home for a homeless man, George Vonner. Tisha Woytendo, Executive Director of Help the Hawaii Homeless, helped coordinate the return effort and will also be present.

When: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 11:00 a.m.

Where: State Capitol, Room 436

Background: This is the second time that Rep. Mizuno has contributed his own money to help a homeless person get back to family on the mainland. Last summer, Mizuno helped Gregory Reese go home to Seattle, Washington.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reps Urge a "Yes" Vote on Budget Issue

Finance chair, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, and House Majority Whip, Rep. Pono Chong, submitted a letter to the Honolulu Star Advertiser in disagreement to an opinion piece penned by Lowell Kalapa of the Hawaii Tax Foundation.

Mr. Kalapa urged a "No" vote on the constitutional amendment which gives the legislature the option, if there is a budget surplus for two years in a row, to provide a tax refund or deposit the surplus into a rainy day fund.

The Oshiro/Chong letter appeared today as follows:

Let Legislature control surplus

Regarding the constitutional amendment question on the general election ballot, we disagree with Lowell Kalapa ("Don't let Legislature keep budget surplus, keep refunds instead," Star-Advertiser, Oct. 21) and urge voters to vote "Yes." This is the amendment that would allow the Legislature a choice, given the situation, to put surplus funds into a rainy day fund or to provide a refund to the taxpayers.

If the state had a $1 million surplus, I think that most people would rather see the money used for good causes such as education or the homeless rather than get a $1 tax refund. One dollar might buy you a cup of coffee, but collectively, those dollars could add up to avoid teacher furloughs or restore agriculture and food safety inspectors. Right now, the Legislature does not have a choice and is mandated to give back a return, even if it is only $1 per taxpayer.

Vote yes. It's the prudent, logical and fiscally responsible thing to do.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro House Finance chairman;
Rep. Pono Chong Majority whip

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rep Takumi to Co-Chair NCSL Education Committee

Rep. Roy Takumi, currently Chair of the State House Committee on Education, was recently appointed to serve as Co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Education Committee for 2010-2011.

"You will be leading your committee during a period of great challenge for state legislators -- a time when legislatures strive to innovate on dozens of policy fronts and a time of significant challenges for states in the federal system," said NCSL President, Senator Richard Moore of Massachusetts. "The NCSL standing committees constitute the focal point for the organization's invaluable assistance to legislatures on state issues and its formidable and successful representation of state interests in Washington, D.C.

The Education Committee is one of 12 standing committees of the NCSL. The standing committees are responsible for developing policies that guide NCSL's activities on Capitol Hill and within the administration. The policies stress three themes: opposition to unfunded federal mandates, prevention of unneccessary preemption of state laws and protection of state revenue sources.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 Hawaii Outstanding Advocates for Children and Youth

Twelve outstanding advocates for children and youth and one outstanding parent friendly business were recognized today at a special luncheon held at Washington Place.

One of the recipients is one of our very own! Congratulations Rep. K. Mark Takai! In 2002, Rep. Takai discovered an obscure provision that has since helped to secure over $40 million in federal impact aid for the Dept. of Education. Rep. Takai also created a free internet-based program, Student Online Achievement Resources –SOAR, for Hawaii's children. This website focuses on math, reading and language arts.

(L-R) Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. K. Mark Takai, Tofi Mika, Jr, Rep. John Mizuno

2010 Outstanding Advocates for Children and Youth Recipients

Tofi Mika, Jr. co-founded a music and mentoring program called "Hope through music" that works with at-risk youth of public housing and a non-profit called "About Aloha without Borders," which helps needy youth in Cambodia and the Philippines. Both use music, art and photography to inspire and motivate children. Nominated by Joanne Tachibana.

Hawaii Electric Company has been a visionary youth and family leader in Hawaii, establishing the Astronaut "Lacy Veach Day of Discovery" to share the history and education of Astronaut Lacy Veach and the importance of caring for the precious islands. HECO has also initiated the Hawaii Robotics program, which led to Hawaii teams winning international championships and elevates Hawaii's youth in life skills, team work, problem solving, critical thinking and time management. Nominated by Art Kimura.

Project D.A.T.E. provides a series of social service fairs, offering free transportation for families coming from shelters around the island, to allow children to enjoy games, storytelling, and activities. It partners with service providers to assist the parents with housing information, employment and medical services. The organization also provides onsite children care and computer classes for education and employment purposes to properly assist the homeless. Project D.A.T.E. creates a positive support service through their friendship, guidance and support to help needy children and their families achieve independence. Nominated by Wenona Harris.

Margarette Pang is the founder of Dyslexia Tutoring Center of Hawaii, which provides essential skill services to children with dyslexia. The focus is on building self-esteem by working on easing the difficulty of reading, spelling, and handwriting for children with dyslexia. Nominated by Rep. Sharon Har.

Hawaii Youth Services Network is a coalition of youth-service organizations that works to improve the well-being of youth and strengthen  families and communities by providing leadership. HYSN recently secured a $5 million grant to work on Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Nominated by Jaque Kelley-Uyeoka.

Adopt–A-School Program – The Hawaii Jaycees are the organizers of Adopt-a-School, a statewide effort to bring needed attention and resources to Hawaii's schools. Since its inception in 2008, 12 schools were helped, in 2009 the number schools helped increased to 40, and in 2010 over 70 school improvement projects were planned. Participating organizations include civic clubs, local business, faith-based groups and non-profits working with a school's improvement wish list. Nominated by Sen. Norman Sakamoto.

Waikiki Health Center and Hale Kipa's Youth Outreach Program is a local non-profit sponsored by Waikiki Health Center and Hale Kipa. It is a drop-in center for homeless, runaway and street youth, which offers free meals, hot showers, clothing, internet access for employment and education, hygiene supplies and GED classes, vocational skills, job searching, and housing referrals. Nominated by Kiana Rivera.

Mary Vorsino is Honolulu Star Advertiser journalist and reporter. She is a well-respected and high-profile news reporter who has touched the lives of many in Hawaii with her empathy and passion, especially when featuring stories directly affecting Hawaii's youth on issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, violent crimes, healthcare, education, and safety issues for Hawaii's Keiki. Mary's stories are captivating and educational and displays compassion yet remains objective. Nominated by Alika Malabey.

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Malakie has been the Senior Army Instructor for Kealakehe JROTC for the last 15 years. Under Lt. Colonel Malakie's direction, his cadets continue to secure scholarships to colleges nationwide. As a Scout Leader, Lt. Malakie received the District Award of Honor and the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award in the Aloha Council spanning the Pacific. For Boy Scouts, only 2% become Eagle Scouts, yet 95% of the Boy Scouts under Lt. Malakie's guidance become Eagle Scouts. Nominated by Rep. Cindy Evans.

Melanie Bailey is a mother of a public school student and an advocate for education. In the pass legislative session, Melanie was instrumental in passing HB2486, which mandates the days of school per year and gradually increases the hours of instructional time per day to be deemed in line with the rest of the nation. Nominated by Zsuzsa Bakonyi-Rodgers.

Melinda Mullis is a small business owner of Orange Roc, a marketing company based in Hawaii. Melinda donates her time and expertise to the Missing Child Center-Hawaii and created the Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii website as a one-stop shop for information on missing children. Melinda also revised the Keiki ID Kit to maximize information about a child in the event that child goes missing. Nominated by Charlene Takeno.

2010 Outstanding Parent Friendly Business Award - Maui Family Support Service, Inc.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tap tap tap - the sound of independence

Today, October 15th, is nationally observed as White Cane Safety Day. Hawaii's community of the blind and visually impaired gathered at the State Capitol this morning to celebrate their achievements and accomplishments and to show their independence with a march around the capitol building. The Honolulu Police Department was also here to support the effort.

Rep. John Mizuno

In 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to proclaim October 15th of each year as White Cane Safety Day. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the proclamation within hours of its passage. The white cane is a symbol of independence.

If you hear the tapping of someone's white cane today, acknowledge that person's effort to be independent and their will to stay a contributing member of our community.

Rep. Mizuno and Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland marching

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NOAA humpback whale sanctuary management plan

Photo: NOAA

Kauai lawmakers urge residents to learn more about the proposed humpback whale sanctuary management plan from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and to provide comments by October 16th.

Representative James Kunane Tokioka - House District 15, Representative Roland Sagum - House District 16, and Senator Ronald Kouchi Senate District 7, said in an email update that while they "support the protection and preservation of our endangered marine species, it is our position that any enlargement of the scope of the sanctuary's 'marine resources' should not include the closure of any fishing areas or the creation of any 'no take zones'..."

On Tuesday, October 5th, more than 300 residents, fishermen and ocean users attended a meeting at Kauai Community College regarding the proposed management plan. NOAA currently plans to explore increasing the scope of the management plan to include other "marine resources" in addition to humpback whales.

The Kauai lawmakers noted that there are numerous Federal, State and County laws that protect endangered marine species, and that the proposed increase in scope could lead to the limitation and/or cessation of ocean activities that many Kauai residents enjoy and may not be related to preserving humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, other marine mammals or the protection and repopulation of reef fish.

You may provide comments using the form provided from the fishermen. Click here to download.

Learn more about the Management Plan Review process, including how to submit comments directly to NOAA on the NOAA website. All comments must be received by October 16, 2010.

Comments may be submitted by the following methods:

Via telephone: (888) 559-4253 ex. 267

Via fax: (808) 397-2650

Via email:

Via mail: Management Plan Review Coordinator, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, 6600 Kalanianaole Highway, Suite 301, Honolulu, Hawaii 96825.

If you have questions, you may call the following for assistance:

Amy at Representative Tokioka's office: toll free 274-3141 ext. 66270
Melanie at Representative Sagum's office: toll free 274-3141 ext. 66280
Mark at Senator Kouchi's office: toll free 274-3141 ext. 66030

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aloha Hawaii Five O

Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) walk through the Capitol Rotunda

It was nice to see the cast and crew of Hawaii Five O filming at the State Capitol yesterday. They set up early in the morning for a protest scene along Beretania Street, and continued filming in the rotunda until early afternoon. They broke down quickly, and before you knew it, they were gone without a trace.

Capitol staffers watched quietly and respectfully from the floors above. These are some photos taken by the House Majority Staff Office.

Scott Caan and Hawaii Five O crew member

Protest Scene along Beretania Street

Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan take a break with crew member and furry friend

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Legislators support Fireworks bill

Rep. Marilyn Lee speaking at the signing of the city's fireworks bill

A number of state lawmakers were on hand to support the signing of a new fireworks bill for the city and county of Honolulu.

Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell signs bill into law

Rep. Marilyn Lee, an active proponent of the bill, testified numerous times at the city council in favor of the bill's passage.
Lawmakers, Councilmembers join Acting Mayor and Honolulu Fire Chief

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prop 50

Hawaii voters will decide on two state ballot questions on November 2nd. Both are constitutional amendments.

The first, HB2376, proposes to amend the Hawaii Constitution to change the Board of Education to a board appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided by law. Currently, the Board of Education is an elected board.

The second, SB2807, proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to determine whether excess funds should be used as tax refunds or tax credits to taxpayers of the State, or be diverted into a rainy day fund for times of emergency, economic downturn, or unforeseen reduction in revenue.

Many other states across the country will also be voting on various proprositions on the November ballot. The National Conference of State Legislatures has started a blog called Prop 50 which will track and discuss the initiatives prior to Election Day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lee Cataluna Interviews Rep. Blake Oshiro

In case you missed it, here's a link to Lee Cataluna's Sunday column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser profiling Rep. Blake Oshiro.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pioneering New Frontiers

Representative Marcus Oshiro and other state lawmakers and staff recently attended the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Council of State Governments –WEST (CSG-WEST) in Sun Valley, Idaho to represent Hawaii. The theme for the meeting was Pioneering New Frontiers, which reflects the council’s efforts to work together to develop solutions to old problems while creating new opportunities. Meeting topics included energy, leadership, natural resources, transportation, health, education, economics, trends and women in politics.

Oshiro is the incoming Chairman of CSG-West. He is pictured here with (from l-r) Assembly Member of Nevada, Vice Chairman; Rep. Rosie Berger of Wyoming; Chair-elect; Kelvin D. Atkinson, Rep. Rich Will of Idaho, former Chairman; and Rep. Marcus Oshiro; Chairman CSG-West is a non-partisan organization which provides a platform for the legislatures in the 13 Western states to collaborate and share information. It was founded in 1947.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Focus on Nursing - Next on Kukui Connection

Rep. Marilyn Lee, a nurse herself, talks to Gail Tiwanak, RN and director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing on the next edition of Kukui Connection. The show airs on Sunday, October 3, 2010, on Olelo, Channel 54 at 4:00 p.m. It repeats on 10/17 and 10/31.

Gail Tiwanak practiced nursing for 30 years starting as a staff nurse at Queens Hospital. She retired from Queens in 2004, but due to her vast knowledge and experience, and her love for the nursing profession, she took on the job at the Hawaii State Center for Nursing in April 2009. The center was created by the legislature in 2003 for the purpose of exploring workforce issues related to nursing, particularly recruitment and retention, and quality of care. The center is located at the University of Hawaii but serves the entire nursing community throughout the state.

The average age of nurses in Hawaii is 45 years and a great number are part of the baby boomer generation and expected to retire in the next 20 years. Gail discusses nursing education, as well as the expanded scope for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who will be key in the state's healthcare reform given the need for more primary care providers.

Gail would like to hear from nurses and the general public on the state of nursing in Hawaii and what the center can do to help improve conditions. More information can be found on the center's website here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

$1.5 million released for Kealakehe Community Center

Rep. Denny Coffman today praised the release of $1.526 million in design and planning funds to Laiopua 2020, an organization under the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), to build a new community center and medical clinic in Kealakehe.

“This project was my number one capital improvement priority during the 2010 legislative session,” said Rep. Coffman (District 6 –North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau.) “In addition to creating construction jobs and permanent employment, the Laiopua Community Center will provide core government service facilities in a key location of the Kailua-Kona community. I want to thank my legislative colleagues for including this project in the CIP budget during a year when we face many fiscal challenges, and applaud the Governor for releasing the funds.”

The site is next door to the 1,500-student Kealakehe High School and nearby to the 800-student Kealakehe Intermediate School and the 1,000-student Kealakehe Elementary School. On the immediate north side of this 26-acre community complex, is over 325 Native Hawaiian homes with another 900 homes in the planning stage. On the immediate south side of the community complex is the planned Kamakana Villages Project; a 2,300-unit affordable housing development being planned by Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC) and developed by Forest City.

According to DHHL, groundbreaking is anticipated to take place in July 2011. The community center is currently planned to include a computer lab and learning center, audio-visual center, after school and summer enrichment programs, culinary program and community kitchen, and space for community meetings and gatherings. In addition, the community center will include space for social service programs related to existing agencies.

“When completed, this project will provide childcare, healthcare, Hawaiian cultural, recreation and family support services,” continued Rep. Coffman. “The Big Island team of legislators believe that this is a model community project in the right place at the right time.”