Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rep. Takumi says U.S. needs common set of academic standards

Representative Roy Takumi, chair of the House Education Committee, expounds on the need for a common set of academic standards in the U.S. educational system. The article was printed in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Common set of academic standards needed

If you were to develop an educational system from scratch, more than likely one of the key components would be a common set of academic standards so that every student and teacher would know what is expected to be learned and taught. Unfortunately, in the U.S. this is not the case. We have a hodgepodge of varying standards among states that differ widely in focus, rigor and coherence. For example, the journal Education Next used 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress data to empirically evaluate each state's proficiency standards. Only five states, including Hawaii, received an "A" rating for their standards.

Given that we are a highly mobile society and that globalization is an increasing trend, it's critical that as a nation we adopt a common set of high academic standards that are shared across states to ensure that all of America's students have the tools they need to succeed.

Talk about having common standards is nothing new.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for "national standards" in education. More than 50 years later, we are finally on the verge of taking action. Spearheaded by a number of organizations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, the Common Core State Standard Initiative (CCSSI) establishes a single, clear set of K-12 mathematics and English language arts standards. Forty-eight states, including Hawaii, have signed on to share and voluntarily adopt the standards.

Why is this effort so important? Simply put, the U.S. is losing its competitive and educational edge.

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. led the world in college graduation rates; by 2006, it had dropped to 14th. While we have stagnated and fallen behind, countries such as Singapore, China, Finland and Brazil have aggressively moved to create knowledge-fueled innovation economies by investing in quality education.

Over the past 25 years, South Korea went from less than a quarter of its citizens finishing high school to more than 95 percent today. In 2003, Germany launched an ambitious education initiative including starting 10,000 all-day schools and investing an additional $4.6 billion in education. This is the equivalent of the U.S. investing more than $15 billion compared to the $4.35 billion available for the much-ballyhooed Race to the Top competitive grants.

But it's not even the name-brand countries that are surpassing the U.S. On international benchmark tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment, countries such as the Slovak Republic, Hungary and Iceland outperform our students.

Recently, our state Board of Education officially adopted CCSSI, and as more states do so, we will have consistent high-quality academic benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live. It's about time. After all, it shouldn't matter if a student enters first grade in one state and graduates in another.

That said, it's important to keep in mind H.L. Mencken's observation, "For every complex problem there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong." It would be a mistake to conclude that common core standards will magically improve student achievement. It is just one component of a broader system that must also include assessments that measure performance, curriculum materials that are coherent and aligned, and professional development for teachers and principals. Fortunately, this can be done in a far more efficient and effective manner when states work together.

By doing so, our students, no matter where they live, stand a far better chance to achieve their hopes and dreams. Isn't this what schools should be all about?

State Rep. Roy Takumi (D-Pearl City) chairs the House Education Committee.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sending homeless back to their home state

Representatives Rida Cabanilla and John Mizuno yesterday held a press conference with local reporters at the Hawaii State Capitol to talk about the benefits of a return-to-home program in Hawaii. A similar program in New York City issues plane, bus and train tickets to homeless people from other states and countries who want to return home where they will have a place to live.

Rep. Mizuno introduced Gregory Reese, a 39-year-old man who became homeless after two job offers fell through upon arriving to Hawaii. He wants to return to Seattle where his father lives, but has no money to purchase a ticket. He's been on Oahu for about a month. Rep. Mizuno donated $100 of his own money towards the purchase of a one-way ticket for Reese.

In these excerpts from the press conference, Rep. Cabanilla talks about the return-to-home program she proposed in previous sessions and how it could save the state lots of money, and Rep. Mizuno explains Reese's situation and how he and others like him could benefit from a return-to-home program similar to that of New York City.

Hawaii International Micro Robot Conference, Tournament on the Big Island

The 1st Hawaii International Micro Robot Conference and Tournament will be held at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo from July 16-19, 2010.

The effort is being led by the Waiakea High School Robotics Club and the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, two groups that have provided many opportunities for science students and teachers in the field of robotics and technology.

Art Kimura, Education Specialist at the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, said this event is being held to jumpstart the conversation on how the Big Island can benefit from micro mechanisms. The event will allow community leaders to talk to industry experts and learn about the advantages and possibilities of a micro mechanisms and robotics industry rooting from the islands.

"The exciting thing about this endeavor is the idea that the Big Island could become a center for the development of micro mechanisms research and development and a micro-robotics industry in the pacific," Kimura said.

Because of this tournament, Hawaii students will now have the opportunity to compete without paying high costs to fly elsewhere for the same experience.

The goal of the conference is to stimulate high technology education and assist in the creation of a technically capable workforce by developing the infrastructure and skill sets necessary to support high technology robotics based activities.

"Once this is in place,” said Rep. Nakashima, a supporter of the effort, “the next step will be identifying the real world potential and application for this growing technology as we invite new industries to the Big Island to take advantage of our newly skilled work force.”

A public event featuring an origami presentation and bipedal robot demonstration will be held on Saturday, July 17, 2010, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

• Origami presentation by Hidenori Ishihara, a robotics professor from Kagawa University.

• Bipedal robot demonstration by Risa Saito, a Japanese high school student who won the bipedal competition in the 2009 Micro Robot Contest at Nagoya University, and Hideaki Matsutani, a Japanese technical education teacher who conducts bipedal workshops in Nagoya for middle school students.

Seating for this event is first come, first served.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Aloha ‘Aina Earth Day #82 Recycling Community Clean-Up Project

What: Aloha ‘Aina Earth Day #82 Recycling Community Clean-Up Project to benefit the Kualoa-He’eia Ecumenical Youth (KEY) Project.

The public is encouraged to bring the following items: scrap metal, refrigerators, freezer, air conditioners, newspaper, cardboard, cans, incandescent light bulbs (exchange: 2 CFLs per person), green waste, batteries (all types), cooking, telephone books/ magazines, eyeglasses/ hearing aids, used clothing and household items, cellular phones, printer cartridges, computers/ e-waste (unlimited), canned good.

Please do not bring tires, paints, hazardous fluids, microwave ovens, televisions, gas tanks, or motor oil.

Where: Kahaluu Regional Park

47-200 Waihe'e Road

When: Saturday, July 24, 2010

8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Why: The monthly recycling drive was created to provide residents with an easy way to get rid of recyclable waste while raising money for community groups.

Call Rep. Jessica Wooley at 808-586-8540 for more information.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coming up on Kukui Connection

Rep. Hermina Morita will be a guest on Rep. Marilyn Lee's public affairs show "Kukui Connection" on Sunday June 27, 4:00 p.m., Oceanic Cable - Olelo, channel 54. The show repeats on July 11, July 25, and August 1.

Debbie Shimizu and Katie Reardon of the Hawaii Democratic Women's Caucus will be Rep. Lee's guests on July 4, repeating on July 18, and August 8.

New Law establishes process for deployed military on child custody

Rep. Cindy Evans

Governor Lingle today signed into law HB2061 which establishes a process by which family court can resolve matters related to custody and visitation for active duty service members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Armed Forces Reserves, and National Guard when deployed.

At issue is the military-readiness of parents who are faced with child custody and visitation matters when deployed, and also the well-being of the affected children. The measure provides for the court a legal process to address custody and visitation matters.

“This new law reflects the changing needs of our military families, and I’m pleased we are now able to have a positive impact on the children of active members of the armed forces,” said Rep. Cindy Evans, who introduced the bill.

Some of the provisions include:
· Allowing an already deployed parent to participate in a custody hearing through electronic means such as telephone, video conference, or other means that the court deems reliable.
· Clarifying that deployment shall not be the sole factor in determining custody and that awarding custody shall be in relation to all factors.
· Requirements related to visitation and contact.
· Delegation of the deployed parent’s contact rights.

The new law goes into effect on August 1, 2010.

New Law Strengthens Sanitation Inspection Program

Governor Lingle today signed into law HB2688 which strengthens the state’s sanitation inspection program, including the hiring of more inspectors. The measure, now Act 176, changes the name of the “Environmental Health Education Fund” to the “Sanitation and Environmental Health Special Fund”, and allows the money in the fund to be used for sanitation programs and activities, including monitoring Hawaii’s restaurants and food establishments.

“Proper sanitation in public areas is critical to the health and safety of our population,” said Rep. Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Committee on Health. “I’m pleased that the Governor signed this bill into law since it will allow the Department of Health to hire needed sanitation and vector control inspectors and to provide greater support to Hawaii businesses which have an impact on public health.”

The sanitation branch is charged with implementing programs related to:
· Food protection
· The regulation of barber shops, beauty parlors, massage parlors, tattoo shops,
mortuaries, public swimming pools, and public laundries;
· The inspection of tenement houses, lodging houses, and boarding houses;
· The licensing of tattoo artists and embalmers; and
· Enforcing the sanitation requirements for hospitals and medical facilities.

“Even before the infamous video of the rats in certain food vendor areas, I’ve been concerned that the number of sanitation inspectors is woefully low for the number of food establishments in Hawaii,” said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the introducer of the bill. “It’s irresponsible to create that kind of health risk for the general public. This new law sets up a special fund that allows the sanitation branch, which brings in much of the fees through their activities, to use the money for sanitation purposes and not just for environmental health. It’s a good bill that will greatly benefit the public.”

The video from Disappeared News:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Political Malapropisms

I had a good laugh today when I read The Thicket's post on various malapropisms from politicians across time and space. Entitled "A Box of Pandoras and Other Political Malapropisms", the title was inspired by a story about former New Mexico Governor Bruce King, a cigar smoker no doubt, who once said of a certain legislative proposal: "That will open up a whole box of Pandoras."

I'm sure that Hawaii politicians have come up with some pretty funny ones themselves. I once had to tell a former lawmaker, prior to an interview, "Actually Rep, it's 'omnibus bill' not 'ominous bill'.

Here are some good examples from Texas taken from the The Thicket's post. And if you have some local stories to share, please do.

"It's the sediment of the House that we adjourn."--Texas House Speaker Wayne Clayton

"Let's do this in one foul sweep."--Texas House Speaker Wayne Clayton

"This is unparalyzed in the state's history."--Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis

"I am filled with humidity."--Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis

"I want to thank each and every one of you for having extinguished yourselves this session."--Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis.

"We'll run it up the flagpole and see who salutes that booger."--Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis

"There's a lot of uncertainty that's not clear in my mind."--Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis
And here's a few more from one of the members of the Hawaii press corps at the State Capitol...
"You can't have your cake and eat it all."
"We should iron our situation here."
"This is way down on the food channel."
"We can't rest our laurels on this."
"We came up smiling like a rose."
Gems from Rep. Roy Takumi, but he's not spilling the beans on who said what on the House floor:
"This is so important it should be compulsatory."

"All doctors have to take the hypocrisy oath."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Law provides tax refunds in timely manner

Rep. Pono Chong, Majority Whip

Governor Lingle today signed into law HB1948, a bill that requires the Department of Taxation to provide refunds to taxpayers in a timely manner. The legislation, now Act 171, states that the department must provide refunds within 90 days from the date the tax return is filed, or the due date of the tax return, whichever is later.

“One of the main benefits is that the state must pay interest to the taxpayer if the return is not paid within the required time frame,” said Rep. Pono Chong, the introducer of the bill. “The legislature was concerned that using the refunds as a way to balance the budget was merely delaying our fiscal responsibility. In addition, I think most taxpayers understand that the overpayment to the government is their money and they expect a return in a reasonable period.

The bill also requires that all general revenues collected from an increase of any general excise or use tax be used first to pay tax refunds delayed from fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2010.

Disaster Preparedness Training Class in Hau’ula

The public is invited to a State Civil Defense Disaster Preparedness Training Class on Windward Oahu. The class will focus on a four-phased disaster preparedness plan for Hau'ula.

Please contact the Office of Representative Jessica Wooley at 808-586-8540.

When: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Hau’ula Elementary School Cafeteria

Container Fee Bill Signed Into Law to Help Fight Invasive Species

Rep. Clift Tsuji - Chair, House Agriculture Committee

Governor Lingle today signed into law a bill that will help to fight invasive species by strengthening Hawaii’s agricultural inspection and biosecurity laws. SB2523, now Act 173, does the following:

• Exempts aggregate bulk freight, cement bulk freight, coal bulk freight and liquid bulk freight from the pest inspection, quarantine and eradication service fee. Imposes fines for failure to pay, bill or remit in a timely manner the same fee.

• Expands the purposes for expenditure from the pest inspection, quarantine and eradiation fund.

• Requires the deposit of fees and fines relating to agricultural inspections into the fund.

• Repeals the permit revolving fund and microorganism import certification revolving fund and transfers moneys into the pest inspection, quarantine and eradiation fund.

“SB2523 was one of the most important bills for the agriculture industry in the 2010 legislative session,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. “This new law gives the Department of Agriculture greater resources to focus on agriculture inspection and biosecurity. The legislature is greatly concerned about the impact of invasive species on agriculture and our natural environment.”

The other critical piece of legislation for agriculture and invasive species is HB1684, signed into law as Act 128 in May. That bill established fines and penalties for the intentional spreading or introducing of invasive species.

“Invasive species harms not only our environment, but our economy, our health and the lifestyle of Hawaii’s people,” said Rep. Tsuji. “We felt greater fines and penalties are warranted given the serious impact to the state.”

Civil Unions and the Courts

This is an excerpt from the press conference video recorded on Monday, 6/21/10. It pertains to the topic of how the civil unions issue may play out based on judicial rulings on the state or federal level. Featured are Majority Leader, Rep. Blake Oshiro and Speaker of the House, Rep. Calvin Say talking with Hawaii journalists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

House Leaders Respond to Potential Veto of HB 444: Civil Unions

Speaker Calvin Say and House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro yesterday met with reporters to talk about the governor's list of potential vetoes. She has until July 6 to make a decision on 39 bills being considered for veto. The list includes legislation regarding civil unions, the board of education, tax caps and more. You can see the entire list and the governor's explanation for potential veto here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

39 Bills on the Potential Veto List

Governor Lingle today announced a potential veto list of 39 bills from the 2010 legislative session. As the Governor explained, the list is exhaustive rather than narrow. It gives her the option to veto the bill by Tuesday, July 6th. The House Majority will caucus tomorrow to discuss the measures.

The Governor used four critieria to place a bill on the list. They are:

1. Poor public policy
2. Unconstitutional
3. Harms the state's economic recovery
4. More time needed for consideration

Veto Explanation: Directs the auditor to conduct an expensive and unnecessary audit of the Department of Public Safety’s contracts with mainland prisons and the Honolulu federal detention center.

Veto Explanation: Extends the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union.

Veto Explanation: Establishes an unfunded mandate on the State Department of Transportation by setting up a working group to perform a feasibility study on transferring state highway maintenance functions to Maui County without providing resources or allowing adequate time for the study.

Veto Explanation: Complicates the transfer of 999-year homestead leases, bypassing existing statutes that provide for the determination of successorship.

Veto Explanation: Violates the Hawaii State Constitution by embracing more subjects than its title allows and creates ambiguities in the law by amending various provisions relating to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Veto Explanation: Disallows the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs from disclosing pending complaints against a business or professional to the detriment of consumers who need the information for informed decision-making.

Veto Explanation: Prohibits the sale or transfer of government-owned Hawaiian fish ponds, which inadvertently results in the Department of Transportation caring for fish ponds that were intended to be made available to other organizations after being acquired as part of the Kalanianaole Highway widening project.

Veto Explanation: Adversely impacts Hawaii taxpayers and businesses by capping state income tax itemized deductions and making the capital goods excise tax credit nonrefundable for businesses until January 1, 2016, contrary to sound economic policy.

Veto Explanation: Requires milk beverages to be labeled with the date of pasteurization or the date of packaging without clearly defining what is considered pasteurized milk and which pasteurization date should be used; also takes Hawaii out of compliance with the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipper's Pasteurized Milk Regulations.

Veto Explanation: Inappropriately requires the State Procurement Office to authorize reseller agreements in multi-state contracting agreements, and narrowly defines "local reseller."

HB2152 HD1 SD1 RELATING TO BUILDING DESIGN FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. Veto Explanation: Increases the cost of planning and designing housing, public buildings, and other construction by allowing the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) to charge a significant fee for the review of American Disabilities Act compliance, duplicating compliance reviews already done by professional architects and engineers.

HB2239 SD2 CD1 RELATING TO THE DEPOSIT BEVERAGE CONTAINER PROGRAM. Veto Explanation: Increases the cost of dietary supplements and impacts consumers purchasing healthy beverages by repealing the exemption such supplements currently have from the expensive and ineffective Hawaii Deposit Beverage Container Recycling Program.

Veto Explanation: Subjects public employees and private entities to criminal sanctions under vague and non-specific principles of procurement ethics.

Veto Explanation: Establishes fees on the issuance of gift certificates, reversing previous statutes that prohibited such fees.

Veto Explanation: Requires the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to establish programs and services without clearly defining the eligible population or providing a sustainable, long-term source of funding.

Veto Explanation: Amends the Board of Education composition and member selection process in a manner that may not ensure the Board will be composed of members who reflect the best interests of the public and who understand the role of setting public education policies.

Veto Explanation: Creates unrealistic deadlines for the Department of Transportation and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to award public contracts on bid proposals, and encourages inappropriate relationships by specifying that gifts made to the State shall not constitute or require a procurement contract.

Veto Explanation: Authorizes the issuance of up to $40,000,000 in Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to Carbon Bio-Engineers despite possible patent ownership and licensing issues associated with this firm.

Veto Explanation: Violates the Hawaii State Constitution by embracing more subjects than its title allows by adding provisions outside of the scope of impounded vessels.

Veto Explanation: Increases the cost of waste disposal by expanding the current solid waste disposal fee to include solid waste disposed out-of-State.

Veto Explanation: Unnecessarily requires the Department of Transportation to establish administrative rules regarding the public involvement process, even though public involvement policies have already been adopted by the Department.

Veto Explanation: Decreases the effectiveness of the Hawaii Premium Plus Program to create jobs by prohibiting the Department of Human Services from expending more than $5 million on the program within a nine-month period starting May 1, 2010.

Veto Explanation: Burdens state agencies with the task of preparing for hearings and briefings that are duplicative and waste state resources.

Veto Explanation: Extends the Tax Credit for Research Activities by one year at the expense of the High Technology Business Investment Tax Credit and Technology Infrastructure Tax Credit, which must be repealed early on May 1, 2010 instead of December 31, 2010, reversing the State's commitments to job creating businesses and their investors.

Veto Explanation: Extends Act 189, Session Laws of Hawaii 2009, which changes the process for renegotiating the amount of rent during the term of an existing commercial or industrial lease, despite litigation that has deemed the Act unconstitutional.

Veto Explanation: Proposes the establishment of class A and B sexual human trafficking offenses to prohibit conduct that is already prohibited under Hawaii law, and does not clearly define the prohibited conduct in a way that can be enforced and prosecuted in court.

Veto Explanation: Establishes registration and licensure requirements for security guards and individuals acting in a guard capacity that may not be appropriate for all guards in the industry.

Veto Explanation: Violates the intent of Unemployment Insurance benefits by unfairly allowing certain partially unemployed individuals attached to a regular employer to continue receiving unemployment benefits even if they voluntarily quit their secondary part-time employment.

Veto Explanation: Allows hefty salary increases, including bonuses, for certain education staff including the Superintendent and Complex Area Superintendents, that could provide up to a maximum compensation of $250,000 per year without statutorily specific performance obligations.

Veto Explanation: Allows an unlimited number of grandchildren of elderly housing project residents to reside with seniors under certain situations even though elderly housing projects have limited space and are not designed to accommodate children.

Veto Explanation: Jeopardizes Federal funding for certain Medicaid services by allowing health plans under Medicaid or QUEST programs to deliver telehealth services in rural counties by mobile medical van without the approval of the Federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services or oversight by the Department of Human Services.

Veto Explanation: Adversely impacts state and county law enforcement agencies by requiring them to divert limited resources to accept bail on weekends and holidays when the courts are closed, without the proper training, facilities or staffing.

Veto Explanation: Favors a specific landowner and certain tour operators by requiring the Department of Land and Natural Resources to regulate commercial boat operators bringing visitors onto "quasi-public" property despite the Department lacking necessary resources to do so.

Veto Explanation: Increases workers' compensation costs and the potential for conflicts of interest by allowing doctors to perform one-time diagnostic consultations at medical facilities in which they have a financial interest, without verification from the insurer or employer that the consultation is necessary.

Veto Explanation: Forces the Department of Taxation to reprioritize the scanning of its own tax documents and payment vouchers by requiring the Department to provide free digital images of property conveyance certificates to county real property assessment divisions by a specific time.

Veto Explanation: Irresponsibly exempts from the state budget allotment process $478,025,239 in general fund appropriations to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund for fiscal year 2011.

Veto Explanation: Legislates a collective bargaining matter that may be preempted by the federal Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 by making it unlawful for employers to fire, demote, or withhold pay from an employee using accrued sick leave.

Veto Explanation: Improperly transfers the responsibility for security at the Hawaii State Hospital from the Department of Health to the Department of Public Safety.

Veto Explanation: Discourages the use of public land for valid and necessary public purposes by providing unprecedented compensation to agricultural lessees of public land when such leases are withdrawn by the Department of Land and Natural Resources for public uses.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thoughts from a new Dad on Father's Day - Rep. Henry Aquino

Rep. Henry Aquino, wife Cynthia and newborn son Ethan at 2 1/2 weeks.

"Being a new dad is such a tremendous blessing for my wife and I. Having our son reminds me of how precious life is. So far, we have endured and experienced a lot.

Ethan at 6 weeks

The sleepless nights, which are still on-going by the way, finding creative ways to stop the crying, changing his (and my) first diaper, and singing lullabyes (I don't sing, either), are all part of our new roles as parents. Although I'm learning everyday of the parenthood adventures that lie ahead, I know two things for sure -- I'll never sleep the same again, and I love being a new dad!"

Note: Rep. Aquino and his wife became parents during the final days of the 2010 legislative session.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CSG to visit Hawaii for Common Core State Standards Initiative

Video: Lisa Fretzin, High School English Teacher, Illinois

WHAT: Staff members from the Council of State Governments (CSG) are coming to Hawaii to provide information on the Common Core State Standards Initiative; Hawaii is one of 48 states that agreed to join in this initiative. The meeting, a policy roundtable, will focus on what the common core state standards will mean for Hawaii from both an academic and a fiscal perspective. The event is made possible through the educational support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

WHEN: Friday, June 18, 2010 - 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol, Room 329

WHO: Leaders from the business, union, community and educational sectors have been invited to attend. The discussion will center around what happens in Hawaii before and after the adoption of the common core standards.

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.


Common Core State Standards Initiative website here.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro will be HSAC guest speaker

Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro will be a guest speaker at the annual Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) conference. The topic will be on the challenges of the 2010 legislative session, including how the budget was balanced, how the legislature closed a $1.2 billion deficit without raising the General Excise Tax and without taking the Transient Accommodations Tax from the Counties.

This year, HSAC will be at the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa on the island of Oahu, June 24-26, 2010. Here's the HSAC news release. Rep. Oshiro will be speaking on June 25th.

The Hawaii State Association of Counties is a non-profit corporation whose members are the legislative bodies of the Counties of Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and the City & County of Honolulu. The Mayors of each County are ex-officio members of HSAC. The organization's mission is to coordinate and improve county programs for the benefit of the people of Hawaii. This includes legislation, administration, public information, and county government conduct.

Hot Rods for a Cause - Benefit for Domestic Violence

Rep. Karen Awana has been involved with “Hot Rods for a Cause” for several years. It's a group formed to help prevent domestic violence, and they will hold their annual event next month featuring a Car Show, Swap Meet and rides in conjunction with informational booths promoting education and awareness of the domestic violence issue. Proceeds will go to the Domestic Violence Action Center.

WHEN: Sunday, July 11, 2010
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: Kalaeloa Airport between Hangars 110 and 111

Members of various car and motorcycle clubs around Oahu, some of whom have family members injured or killed in domestic violence incidents, have joined together to raise money for domestic violence awareness.

The event, which draws thousands, will feature a Car Show with entries from all car clubs with custom cars, trucks, and bikes. There will be food, music, rides, and swap meet vendors.

“My involvement with this event started through a request to help find a location, but it quickly grew into a cause that will help to save lives,” said Rep. Karen Awana. “So many families in my district are impacted by domestic violence, and this is one way that we can get people to realize how important it is to stop the violence that starts in our own homes.”

For more information, contact:

Office of Rep. Karen Awana

Hot Rods for a Cause: Cal Domen
808-696-0033 or 282-2443

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Community meeting for residents with concerns about Hale Kipa

A community meeting will be held in Manoa to discuss concerns raised by residents regarding Hale Kipa facilities in the area.

Residents have frequently raised concerns about the therapeutic group homes for troubled teenagers over the years. Two boys, who were residents of a Hale Kipa home in lower Manoa, allegedly beat and killed a taxi driver on May, 1.

City and State lawmakers and representatives of state agencies will be at the meeting to hear resident concerns and complaints and respond to any questions.


Monday, June 28, 2010


6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Manoa Elementary School Cafeteria
3155 Manoa Road
Honolulu, Hi 96822

For more information, please contact the Office of Representative Isaac Choy at 586-8475.

*Click on links above for related news articles.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ignition Interlock Law - A Strong Deterrent

he Lieutenant Governor today signed SB2897 RELATING TO HIGHWAY SAFETY, pertaining to Hawaii’s Ignition Interlock law. The following is a statement from Rep. Sharon Har (District 40 – Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa), who introduced the original legislation on this issue in 2008.

“Hawaii has the highest percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in the United States. This new law sends a message that drunk driving will no longer be tolerated, even in those cases where no innocent bystanders are harmed.

We must all accept individual responsibility by drinking responsibly and urging others to do the same. The ignition interlock program will help us in the state of Hawaii by creating a cultural, systemic change in the often cavalier way we perceive drinking and driving. The program not only addresses the immediate issue of getting drunk drivers off our roads, but will assist the state in determining whether an individual has an alcohol abuse problem and should be forced into treatment.

I introduced legislation on this issue after I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was fortunate to survive my accident, but thousands of lives are senselessly cut short every year. I strongly believe that this bill will make a significant difference and save lives.”


· An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer device that will be required to be installed to the ignition of the vehicle of a driver once arrested for drunk driving. In order to start his or her vehicle, the driver must blow into the device, and if the driver is over the legal blood alcohol content limit, the car will not start. A small camera ensures that the offender does not tamper with the device or have someone else blow into it.

· In 2008, Rep. Har introduced legislation (HB2377) on the ignition interlock device after she was hit head-on by a drunk driver; it was enacted as Act 171.

· Act 171 provided the basic framework for an ignition interlock system in Hawaii and created a task force to address the implementation and administration of the program.

· In 2009, the legislature passed HB981, which incorporated the recommendations of the task force; that bill was enacted as Act 88.

· SB2897 makes final changes that will allow ignition interlock to go into effect on January 1, 2011.

· Among other provisions, SB2897 makes refusal to take a breathalyzer test a misdemeanor. It also requires the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle operated by the offender.

House Finance heads to Hilo

WHAT: The House of Representatives Finance Committee will make a presentation to the community on the 2010 state budget bill and how they resolved a $1.2 billion shortfall. Information will also be provided on major capital improvement projects for East Hawaii.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: UH Hilo UCB 127 (Ho’oulu Terrace)

WHO: House Finance Chair Rep. Marcus Oshiro will be joined by Rep. Jerry Chang, Rep. Clift Tsuji, Rep. Faye Hanohano, and Rep. Robert Herkes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

US Supreme Court decision places cloud on publicly funded campaigns

This past Tuesday, all eyes were on some hotly contested primaries, but there was also a decision by the United States Supreme Court that may have an impact on publicly funded campaigns across the country, Hawaii included. The Supreme Court temporarily blocked Arizona from distributing matching campaign funds to publicly funded candidates. Here's a link to the CBS News story.

Lower courts are split on the constitutionality of Arizona's matching fund program. In January 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that matching funds discourage privately funded candidates from raising or spending donations because that would trigger the matching government funds for their opponents. That constituted an impact on free speech. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, disagreed and ruled that the impact to free speech was minimal. This week's decision serves to stop Arizona's Clean Elections program at least until the Supreme Court determines whether to hear the opponent's full appeal.

Tuesday's decision only affects Arizona, but Connecticut and Maine have similar campaign matching funds programs. What does this mean in Hawaii?

For the 2010 election, the County of Hawaii was given the authority by the legislature to conduct a pilot program using matching or equalizing funds for the Hawaii County Council races. The bill, HB661 became law as Act 244 without the Governor's signature. It established the pilot program for Hawaii County only, and for three election cycles starting with the 2010 election.

In 2009, HB345 proposed that the pilot program be postponed, to start with the 2014 election. The primary reason cited was a concern over funding sufficiency. The Campaign Spending Commission, while not opposed to the bill, called attention to the constitutionality question and recommended that the equalizing funding section be removed, citing the case in Arizona. They stated:

"Notwithstanding the complexities in the law discussed above, the Commission is recommending removal of the equalizing fund provisions based upon In re McComish v. Brewer, No. 2:08-cv 1550, Order (Aug. 29,2008). The Court, therein, determined that Arizona's equalizing fund provision "violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution." A copy of the Order is attached to our testimony. The Commission submits that the Legislature should take proactive
action, rather than passively await possible litigation involving equalizing funds."

Here is their full testimony.

The bill which sought to postpone the pilot program passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

At this time, the pilot program for Hawaii County Council races is going forward, but the future of the program is uncertain until the U.S. Supreme Court takes further action.

Lawmakers Explain How the Budget was Balanced


The House of Representatives Finance Committee will make a presentation to the Hilo community on the 2010 state budget bill and how they resolved a $1.2 billion shortfall. Information will also be provided on major capital improvement projects for East Hawaii.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


UH Hilo UCB 127 (Ho’oulu Terrace)


House Finance Chair Rep. Marcus Oshiro will be joined by Rep. Jerry Chang, Rep. Clift Tsuji, Rep. Faye Hanohano, and Rep. Robert Herkes.

You can view a pie chart and corresponding tables for more information on how the budget was balanced HERE.

2010 Offshore Drilling Legislation in Other States

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has compiled a list of offshore drilling legislation passed or being considered by various states in the 2010 session, as well as a listing of offshore drilling laws already on the books. Most favor offshore drilling, especially as a means of revenue. Here's a link. Here's a summary:

2010 Legislation

South Carolina

*Pending bill requires anyone permitted to drill offshore in state waters to provide a portion of the lease or royalty payments to help fund the state's transportation infrastructure, and a portion to the preservation of the state's natural resources.

*Considering bill to allow offshore drilling to anyone who provides "economic viability".

*Considering bill to allow offshore exploration, drilling and production in the part of the Atlantic Ocean that is within the state's jurisdiction.


*HB756 enacted. Requires percentage of offshore drilling revenues and royalties to go to the state's Transportation Trust Fund, the State Coastal Energy Resource Consortium, and to localities for improvements to infrastructure and transportation.


*Considering legislation to create a board to approve oil or gas extraction from lands in the State Coastal Sanctuary.


*Reviewing bill that urges Congress to end the outer continental shelf moratorium on oil and natural gas exploration and production.

New Jersey

*Pending legislation prohibits the state Department of Environmental Protection from issuing permits or approving activities with offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

Offshore Drilling Laws


*Prohibits drilling within one mile of the seaward boundary of any state, local, or federal park, or aquatic or wildlife preserve.

*Imposes a coastal protection tax on each barrel of pollutants produced in Florida or imported into the state. If a discharge occurs, the tax may be increased for a period of time.


*Prohibits drilling in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay or any of its tributaries. However, those who want to drill in prohibited areas can apply for a permit by completing an environmental assessment.


*Collects a tax from any party that is drilling. Tax is 8% of the gross value of the oil at the point of production.


*The responsible party is liable for any discharge into marine waters from sources such as oil rigs or platforms. The responsible party is not liable if the discharge is due to an "act of God" or authorized by state or federal permit.

North Carolina

*A responsible party is liable for all clean up and removal costs that arise from the discharge of oil into offshore waters.


*Responsible party liable for all response costs of any threatened or actual discharge of oil from any offshore drilling or production facility.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Appeals Procedure Becomes Permanent

The State Judiciary sent out a news release today announcing that the procedure of filing appeals first with the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) instead of the Hawaii Supreme Court will become permanent on June 29, 2010.

In 2004, the Legislature passed a bill changing the jurisdictions of the Supreme Court and the ICA in order to reduce the backlog at the Supreme Court. The bill, HB2301, became law as Act 202 and was implemented on July 1, 2006. The requirement was scheduled to sunset this year. The Judiciary requested a new bill to repeal the sunset in the 2010 session. That bill, SB2150, was signed into law as Act 109.

The original bill in 2004 was introduced by Rep. Calvin Say, by request. Here's the bill description: "Amends appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court and the intermediate appellate court changing the supreme court's jurisdiction to appeals by writ of certiorari or transfer from the intermediate appellate court. Repeals criteria for assigning appeals. Requires most appeals to be filed with the intermediate appellate court instead of the supreme court. Appoints a task force to review the changes and make recommendations for implementation. (SD1)"

The Judiciary reports that "since the new process was implemented three years ago, appeals are being decided more promptly, the backlog of cases in the appellate courts has decreased, and the age of pending and decided appeals had been reduced. As a result, he Supreme Court has been able to hold oral argument in more of the cases it takes."

The Judiciary provided the following statistics:

*During fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009, 1,621 new appeals were filed.

*During the same time period, the ICA terminated 1,613 appeals, and the Supreme Court terminated all 171 of the appeals it had retained.

*At the end of FY 2009, 630 appeals were pending at the ICA. At the Supreme Court, 11 appeals taken on transfer or applications for writs of certiorari were pending at the end of FY 2009.

*The median age of all pending appeals as of June 30, 2009 was 246 days, a decrease of 101 days from the median age of pending appeals at the end of FY 2006.

*The median age of terminated appeals in FY 2009 was 332 days, a 146 day decrease from the median age of 478 days in FY 2006.

*By the end of FY 2009, approximately 20 percent fewer appeals were pending in the appellate courts and the median age of cases disposed in FY 2009 was five months less than in FY 2006.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Investigation of Big Island Department of Water Supply to Begin

Speaker Calvin Say has appointed members to serve on an investigative committee; the purpose of the committee will be to investigate the County of Hawaii's Department of Water Supply on their handling of the Ocean View-Kahuku water system project. They are:

Chair: Rep. Robert Herkes (District 5 - Puna, Kau, South Kona, North Kona)

Vice Chair: Rep. Faye Hanohano (District 4 - Puna, Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana)

Members from the Big Island: Rep. Mark Nakashima (District 1: North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo), Rep. Jerry Chang (District 2: South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha), Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3: South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Rep. Denny Coffman (District 6 - North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau), and Rep. Cindy Evans (District 7 - North Kona, South Kohala).

Members from the House Committee on Water, Land, Ocean Resources: Chair Ken Ito (District 48 - Heeia, Haiku Valley, Kapunahala, Kaneohe) and Vice Chair Sharon Har (District 40 - Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa).

The committee was formed pursuant to the passage of House Resolution 136, introduced by Rep. Herkes.

At Issue:

Inordinate delays by the Department of Water Supply to move forward on the water system project for the people of Ocean View.


In 2005, the legislature appropriated $6 million to Hawaii County for the development of a water well and adjoining system with the storage capacity for a fill station that could accommodate four water hauler trucks and other amenities. The money was released on April 19, 2006 to then Mayor Harry Kim for the project.

Only Phase I, the exploratory phase for the well construction, was designed by SSFM International and completed in Feb. 2009.

Since then, a new contractor, Bolton Inc., was brought on board, and is reportedly close to completing Phase II, the design to develop the well, reservoir and fill station.

Apparently, Bolton's design for the project differs from the SSFM design, which is the design that was provided to and generally accepted by the community. The change has resulted in several problems. Members of the community are not happy with the new design; in particular, one couple protested that the change allows water uses with a direct view into their bedroom. In addition, bids on the changed design are much higher than what was expected when the $6 million was appropriated, leading to further delays.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has been following the issue. Click here.

What's Next?

The first committee meeting is scheduled to be heard next week, date and time to be announced.

Hawaii part of Federal Honeybee Survey

From the Associated Press story, Hawaii has been selected to participate with 12 other states in a survey of honeybee pests and diseases.

Hawaii beekeepers have been battling varroa mites and hive beetles for the past few years, jeopardizing the bee and honey industry statewide. In addition, bee pollination is critical for certain types of pollination-based crops.

Today, Rep. Clift Tsuji will be the guest speaker at the Air Cargo Association meeting. He'll be presenting a Legislature Update: Focus on Agriculture. Here are some main points of the presentation:

Major Agriculture Bills Passed:

HB1684 Fines and penalties for intentional spreading or introducing of invasive species. This bill became law as Act 128.

SB2523 Strengthening agriculture inspection and biosecurity laws. This bill was enrolled to the Governor and awaits signature.

Major Agriculture Objectives/Issues:

*Providing an adequate number of inspectors to clear cargo in a timely manner.
*Preventing invasive species from impacting our farms and forests.

*Increased interceptions by USDA and in California has resulted in the embargo of Hawaii grown products.

*Newly established pests have hit ti leaf farms and beekeepers.

*Planning for inspection facilities that provide for the proper and safe storage and handling of cargo, expecially agricultural and food commodities awaiting inspection.

Photo: Honolulu Advertiser. Inspectors shake out Christmas trees for pests.

Funding for Agiculture Inspectors

In 2009, 52 out of 73 general funding inspector positions were given reduction in force (RIF) layoff notices. Twenty two (22) were temporarily reinstated.

In 2010, the 22 reinstated positions were placed on special funds, and 23 RIF positions were brought back by the legislature on general funds.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Labor Committees Discuss Fatal Industrial Accident

Rep. Karl Rhoads and Senator Dwight Takamine, respective Labor Committee chairs, lead the discussion with the Department of Labor.
The House and Senate Labor Committees today heard testimony from the Department of Labor and the Hawaii Laborers' Union on the handling of an industrial accident which occurred on May 16, 2009. The victim was crushed by a collapsed tower and died.
After the department's investigation, the employer was fined $750 prompting an outcry from the family of the deceased and the laborers' union. Prior to the briefing, the committees asked the deparment to respond to the following question:
Q: Please describe the criteria used and justification for the amount of the fines in this case.
The department responded in part:
A: ...Section 396-10(b), Hawaii Revised Statutues, provides the Director with the statutory authority to proposed civil penalties for violations of Chapter 396. Any employer who has received a citation for an alleged violation of the Law which is determined to be of a serious nature shall be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.
Section 396-10(j), HRS, provides that penalties shall be assessed on the basis of four factors: 1)The gravity of the violation; 2)The size of the business; 3) The good faith of the employer, and 4) The employer's history of previous violations.
The gravity of the violation is the primary consideration in determining penalty amounts...
In this case, the gravity of the violation was determined to be "high severity", which is "death from injury or illness, injuries involving permanent disability, or chronic, irreversible illnesses."
...In this case, the probability of the violation was determined to be "lesser probability." This determination was based on the following facts: the employer had work rules, provided safety training, had emergency evacuation procedures that were known to their workers, and the decedent was able to escape the area but for unknown reasons went back into the tower area.
Pursuant to the FOM (field operations manual) a serious violation with a high severity and lesser probability has a gravity based penalty (GBP) of $2,500. The GBP may be reduced by as much as 95 percent depending upon the employer's "good faith", "size business," and "history of previous violations."
In this case, pursuant to the FOM, no discount was made based on "good faith" since there was a fatality. A mandatory sixty percent discount, pursuant to the FOM, was made based on "size of business" since the employer had between 1 and 25 employees. also, a mandatory ten percent discount based on "history of previous violations" was made pursuant to the FOM, since the employer had no serious violations from HIOSH during the last 36 months preceding the date of the accident.
Therefore, a total of seventy percent discount was applied to the GBP of $2,500, resulting in the proposed adjusted penalty amount of $750. These are the penalty amounts and adjustment factors contained int he HIOSH FOM and the federal OSHA FOM.
Note: Rep. Rhoads continued to be troubled by the fact that the worker went back into the tower area after all of the construction crew heard a "pop" sound and were instructed to evacuate. The crew was bi-lingual (English, Spanish) and the consensus was that everyone understood the instructions. There was also concern that the amount of the penalty, $750, was not enough to incent employers to create a safer work place in the future.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Aloha to The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Photo: State Capitol Media Room - The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin doors side-by-side on June 4, 2010
Come Monday, June 7th, Honolulu's two daily newspapers will be merged into one and renamed as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Joint Labor Committees to question Department of Labor

WHAT: The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment and the Senate Committee on Labor will hold a joint informational briefing on two subjects pertaining to the State Department of Labor:

Photo of Juan Navarro: Honolulu Star-Bulletin courtesy of Sandra Navarro

1. In May 2009, Juan Navarro, a construction worker, was killed by the collapse of a Hawaiian Cement tower at Campbell Industrial Park. Numerous questions have been raised over the department’s investigation by the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division. News story on accident here. Union asks Legislature to follow up here.

2. Due to the current economic downturn, the state’s unemployment insurance fund was considered in jeopardy of depletion without the aid of federal assistance funds. The Department has decided to forego its efforts to obtain the federal funds. Lawmakers will ask why the decision was made and what is the status of the unemployment fund.

WHEN: Monday, June 7, 2010 – 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: State Capitol, Conference Room 329

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Aloha Medical Mission on Kukui Connection

The Aloha Medical Mission will be the subject of the Kukui Connection on June 6, 13, and 20. I will be speaking with Ann Miller and Colleen Minami, both associated with mission administration. Snaps of mission activities are scattered throughout the program. The show airs every Sunday, Olelo Channel 54, at 4 p.m.

Lawmakers to Visit Homeless at Keaau Beach Park

Photo: Honolulu Star Bulletin
Homeless Tents at Nanakuli Beach

WHAT: The House Committees on Housing and Human Services will conduct a site visit to the Leeward Coast to meet with the homeless on the beach. The meeting will be coordinated by Pastor George Noble of the People of Promise Church

WHEN: Friday, June 4, 2010 - 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Kea’au Beach Park – Waianae

WHY: The visit allows lawmakers to see firsthand the plight of the homeless residents and to talk with them directly about viable solutions. The committee chairs, Rep. Rida Cabanilla (Housing) and Rep. John Mizuno (Human Services) are working with community organizations to meet with local homeless residents to efficiently address their plight. They will also discuss the “chronic homeless” and Housing First Pilot Program at the site visit.

“It’s important to have our lawmakers come out and actually see the living conditions, and to hear directly from the homeless on what works or doesn’t work,” said Pastor Noble.

“This is a complex issue, and it will remain so unless lawmakers get out of their offices and see what’s happening on the street,” said Rep. Cabanilla. “This is a way to reach out and personally work with the homeless community on solutions that are viable for them.”

“We held an informational briefing on Wednesday and I was shocked to discover the sheer number of homeless we are dealing with, as well as the percentage of homeless that are from outside Hawaii,” said Rep. Mizuno. “Our services are being drained and we need to turn this around, in a humane way.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Law Protects Beach Access and Prevents Shoreline Erosion

Governor Lingle today signed into law House Bill 1808, a bill that prevents private property owners from blocking shoreline access by planting or cultivating vegetation. The bill, now Act 160, was introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita (District 14 – Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

“For more than a decade, concerned community members have been painfully aware of the abuses happening along our shorelines,” said Rep. Morita. “Adjacent property owners have been planting and cultivating salt tolerant plants to block lateral shoreline access or pushing the vegetation closer to the sea to manipulate the shoreline certification process.”

The new law requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to maintain beach transit corridors by prohibiting land owners from planting vegetation that interferes with the corridors. It also establishes access to the corridors as a policy within the Coastal Zone Management Program. Notice will be given to property owners adjacent to the corridors if vegetation from their property blocks access to the shoreline. The department has the authority to take enforcement action if the issue is not resolved after 21 days.

“The passage of this bill will help to enforce Hawaii's long standing policy to protect as much of the beach as possible as a public trust resource, and to maintain the dynamic nature of our beaches to prevent shoreline erosion,” continued Rep. Morita. “I want to thank the many dedicated community members from all walks of life who have come together throughout the State and who have worked with various governmental agencies, as well as beach experts, to help address this issue in both the courts and through legislation.”

Hawaiian Airlines "Fleet of the Future"

Rep. Tom Brower attended Hawaiian Airlines' ceremony yesterday to introduce the new Airbus A330 and A350 - what will comprise what the airline calls its "fleet of the future". The company will embark on the inaugural flight this Friday, June 4th, with the A330 flying from Honolulu to Los Angeles.

At the ceremony, Rep. Brower met up with his neighbor in Waikiki, renowned island Chef Chai, who owns Chai's Island Bistro.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Info Briefing - Homeless Arrivals to Hawaii

VIEW: Oceanic - Olelo, Channel 49

WHAT: The House Committee on Housing and the Committee on Human Services will hold a joint informational briefing to review concerns about the arrivals of homeless people to Hawaii and the subsequent strain on the state’s services for the homeless.

In relation to the overall homeless issue, the committees will discuss the Housing First pilot program, passed during the 2010 legislative session, and the difficulty of the Department of Human Services Welfare Branch in prosecuting public housing fraud.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: State Capitol – Conference Room 329

WHO: The following organizations have been invited to participate:

State Department of Human Services
Hawaii Public Housing Authority
Rental Housing and Low Income Housing programs
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Institute for Human Services
Waikiki Health Center
University of Hawaii’s Center on the Family
DHS Welfare Fraud Branch

The Chair of Housing is Rep. Rida Cabanilla (District 42- Waipahu, Honouliuli, West Loch, Ewa) and the Chair of Human Services is Rep. John Mizuno (District 30 - Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter.)

School Closures

KA'A'AWA Elementary

Rep. Jessica Wooley meets tomorrow, Wednesday, June 2,2010 with the community to discuss the Task Force report on the possible closure of Ka'a'awa Elementary. The meeing will be held at the Ka'a'awa School cafeteria at 6:30 p.m.

In January 2009, the Department of Education created a task force to study the possible closure of Ka'a'awa Elementary. If closed, students would go to Waiahole Elementary or Hau'ula Elementary. The task force report was published on April 30, 2010. A copy of the report can be found here.

KOHALA Elementary

Rep. Mark Nakashima met with the community this past Monday evening on the possible closure of Kohala Elementary. A story in West Hawaii Today is here. According to the article, the consolidation task force report indicated that the closure was unwarranted and didn't make financial or academic sense. However, the Department of Education appears to be going forward with the closure despite the report. The report summary can be found here.