Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rep Takumi on Common Core Standards

Rep. Roy Takumi, Chair of the House Education Committee, is at the forefront of the debate on Common Core Standards for our nation's public schools. In a recent article from the National Conference on State Legislatures, Takumi advocates for the adoption of standards. His position:

Hawaii Representative Roy Takumi points to the initiative’s decision to adopt core standards for K-12 mathematics as a step toward that goal. “There is not a whole lot of variation, in my opinion, between algebra one students. Yet we pride ourselves to a fault that the Mississippi version of the standards embedded in algebra one are more than they might have in Minnesota. That would be a laughable argument in South Korea or Japan or Chile.”

“Hawaii is not competing against Mississippi, and Michigan is not competing against Texas. To use a sports metaphor, these are all just inter-squad scrimmages. The real game is against Finland and South Korea.”

Takumi's position is part of a story in the current issue of State Legislatures magazine. Read the full story here.

Not everyone agrees that core standards are the right direction for public education in America or that the international competition argument is persuasive. There is also the fear that the core standards will take away control over curriculum currently planned by the states.

Takumi also doesn’t like the idea of the standards becoming a Washington-imposed set of requirements. “There is always the potential of the feds taking over anything, but I remain hopeful because, again, the people who have until now been behind this, such as the governors, are grounded in the states.

“States obviously should have the right to determine the educational destiny of their children,” he says. “But I would ask my colleagues and state legislators, again, to realize that we are one nation. We are competing against other nations. We are not competing against other states. That kind of thinking is a trap.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Appropriate Attire

California recently established a new policy requiring that all women wear a jacket or sweater when entering the assembly chamber. NCSL's The Thicket blog has the story here. This applies to visitors, media, and legislative aides.

It appears that with the weather so hot this summer, bare sleeves and shoulders became more prevalent. Female lawmakers already abide by the requirement to wear appropriate business attire while in the chamber, with an unwritten agreement to avoid sleeveless tops and dresses. The definition of business attire seems fairly flexible, though.

This is my understanding of the dress code in the Hawaii State Legislature. Men and women are required to wear business attire on the floor, and that specifically means a suit or jacket. The exception is on Fridays when aloha attire is permitted.

Lawmakers honor Tyson Alualu

Representative Joey Manahan and Senator Donna Mercado Kim recently recognized Tyson Alualu, whose roots are in Kuhio Park Terrace (KPT), for being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. 

The certificate of recognition from the House and Senate honors his achievements, hard work and dedication to the sport.

"Alualu's dedication to his training is not just a testament of his faith and hard work," said Rep. Manahan. "He is also an inspiration for all us in Kalihi not to mention the entire State of Hawaii."

Hawaii denied waiver on federal voting requirement for military

Hawaii received news today that the federal government has denied its request for a waiver on the requirement that military voters be given 45 days prior to an election to receive their ballots. Given that there are exactly 45 days between the primary election on September 18, 2010 and the general election on November 2, 2010, Hawaii does not meet the requirement.

The Associated Press/Honolulu Star-Advertiser story is here. Questions remain on what the Office of Elections will do to remedy the 2010 election situation.

The 45-day requirement is the reason the legislature passed HB2397 this year. The bill, enacted as Act 126, moves the primary election date up to the second Saturday in August in 2012. The Office of Elections did not feel it had enough time to move up the primary election date this year, opting to apply for the waiver.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Keeping E Ala Voyaging Canoe in Wai'anae

Wai'anae lawmaker, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, is supporting an effort by community members to keep the E Ala Voyaging Canoe home by proposing that Poka'i Bay be the canoe's permanent dry dock. The boat was launched from Poka'i Bay in 1982, and for the past decade has sit idle at Sand Island before returning home in April 2010. Community members want the canoe to stay on the Wai'anae coast for good in order to use it as an educational tool to teach students about traditional Hawaiian navigational sailing.

Below is the proposal Rep. Shimabukuro drafted for consideration by the city. She has also asked for a meeting with the city in September to show them a Makaha Studio's accompanying video proposal regarding the E Ala voyaging canoe.


WHO: Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), Wai`anae Hawaiian Civic Club (WHCC), and many other individuals are making this request. Makaha Studios is preparing a video with further information regarding this proposal.

WHAT: PVS, WHCC, and others urge the city to allow the use of Poka`i Bay as a location to permanently dry dock the E Ala voyaging canoe. The canoe would be stored under an energy efficient A-frame structure modeled after a halau wa`a in Laie (See model drawing of the “Halau Wa`a `O E Ala” in Appendix 2). The E Ala halau wa`a would feature photo-voltaic solar panels which would provide power for lighting and outlets. A fence, locks, and other security measures would also be constructed to prevent theft, vandalism, vagrancy, and other potential problems.

WHERE: Specifically, the old canoe storage area near the Kuilioloa Heiau would be the ideal location for the E Ala halau wa`a.

WHY: The E Ala needs to be returned home to the Wai`anae Coast to fulfill its purpose, which is to train residents to sail using ancient Hawaiian navigation techniques. As background, the E Ala is currently docked at the Sand Island Maritime Education Training Center (METC). It was constructed on the Wai`anae Coast in 1981 under the leadership of WHCC. At the time, Wai`anae and Nanakuli High School had programs that used the canoe to train students to sail, and the canoe was docked at Wai`anae boat harbor. Unfortunately, funding, liability, and other concerns eventually ended the school-based programs, and the canoe was vandalized while at the boat harbor. This lead to the E Ala being moved to METC, where it has been ever since. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm for E Ala never ended, and PVS has continued to train Wai`anae Coast students to sail and maintain the E Ala (See E Ala background from WHCC website in Appendix 3).

HOW: A dedicated group of volunteers is willing to provide in-kind services to construct and maintain the halau wa`a, fence, and other necessary security measures (See spreadsheet listing E Ala supporters and volunteers in Appendix 1). A federal grant and state legislative measures are being submitted to provide supplemental funding for the E Ala halau wa`a. In February 2010, City employee Edward Freitas stated that from a maintenance perspective, he would not object to allowing the E Ala to be docked at Poka`i Bay.

Furthermore, as stated above, the push to return E Ala to the Wai`anae Coast has been on-going for many years; the key missing elements were captains, crew members, and a location. PVS has trained 3 captains (Sam Kapoi, Kaina Holomalia, and Waimea McKeague), and several crews, who are all young Wai`anae Coast residents. These captains and crews sailed the E Ala, along with two other canoes, Hokule`a and Kamauheheu, back to the Wai`anae Coast from April 20-May 1, 2010 (See media coverage of the Wai`anae Coast sail in Appendix 4). The greater community has also expressed its support, as over 500 people have signed petitions urging the City to provide the permission necessary to allow the E Ala to be docked at Poka`i Bay (See E Ala Petitions in Appendix 5).

WHEN: PVS, WHCC, and other supporters urge the City to allow E Ala to be docked at Poka`i Bay immediately, or as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kula Hospital Expansion

SHPDA - The State Health Planning and Development Agency - has approved a certificate of need for a 15-bed expansion of Kula Hospital. This allows certain patients who are currently in acute care beds at Maui Memorial to transfer to long-term care beds, a more appropriate level of care for them, at Kula Hospital. It then frees up space for patients who need the acute care at Maui Memorial.

$5 million appropriated by the legislature and released by the governor will be used for the expansion. Wesley Lo, executive of the Maui region for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation credited Rep. Kyle Yamashita (at left) and Sen. Shan Tsutsui for helping to secure the funds.
The full Maui News story is here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is it time for an electronic restraining order filing system?

Rep. John Mizuno was on KITV News yesterday talking about a bill he introduced last session that would have established an electronic filing system for temporary restraining orders. The idea is similar to a system that already exists in New Jersey.

Excerpt from KITV:

"There is currently a similar law in place in New Jersey. The state’s E TRO allows the police officer to enter the complainant’s name electronically, in place of a signature. A judge then takes sworn testimony over the phone. Once the judge decides whether to issue the TRO, the judge directs the police officer to electronically enter the judge’s name on the TRO. The electronic TRO is immediately enforceable and may be served on the defendant."

The recent double-murder suicide had prompted Rep. Mizuno to announce that he would re-introduce the electronic TRO bill next session to help prevent similar tragedies. Kristine Cass and her 13-year-old daughter Saundra were killed by Clayborne Conley before he took his own life, police said. It's been reported that Cass had wanted to get a TRO against Conley.

“We need to work on more creative laws to protect our victims of domestic violence and I think the E-TRO system would certainly streamline the process. It’s possible it may have averted those fatalities,” Mizuno told reporters.

On Wednesday, August 25, 2010, a silent march will be held to remember the victims at 5 p.m. at the Hawaii State Capitol.

What do you think? Would you support a electronic TRO bill?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fashionably Correct

Representative Tom Brower showed up at the tail end of the Baby Phat fashion show Saturday, August 21, at Pier 11, Aloha Tower.

Brower became a fan of Kimora Lee Simmons while watching her on an episode of MTV Cribs and learning that she has an Eames wire chair in her makeup room. This chair (c. 1951) won the American Mechanical patent for design and is one of several chairs from Brower's personal collection on display in room 315 at the Hawaii State Capitol.

This was Simmons' first visit to Hawaii. Brower snapped a few shots of her leaving in her black SUV.

Pic 1: Kimora Lee Simmons, supermodel-turned-fashion designer, shakas as her SUV rolls away.

"People's personalities, fashion and friendships and are part of what make a vibrant city," said Rep. Brower. "Seeing hundreds of young people excited about these things energized my feeling about Honolulu and its people."

Pic 2: Representative Tom Brower is flanked with fellow models from Kimora's fashion show on the red carpet: Anela Iokia and Roycen Dehmer (formerly of the House Sergeant At Arms).

Alcohol and Tobacco

States across the country turned to raising the tax on alcohol and tobacco as a way to increase revenue and close budget gaps. Here's a recap on what passed in 2010 for FY2011 by state:

Lawmakers proposed increasing the alcohol tax by 60% to generate an expected $210 million.

Enacted: The State Attorney General is pursuing the collection of the state tobacco tax from Hawaii residents who purchase cigarettes via the Internet but did not pay tax on them. The Attorney General estimates that the state could be missing between $600,000 and $700,000 in uncollected tax revenue.

Enacted: HB 1985 raised the cigarette tax by 20-cents per pack. The measure also increases the taxes on small cigars by 1-cent per cigar. The measure is expected to generate $10 to $14 million a year.
Enacted: The Dept. of Revenue issued a new sales tax rate on cigarettes. The new rate, effective Aug. 1, 2010, is $.0346 per pack.

Lawmakers proposed privatizing liquor stores.

Enacted: Measure expands hours of operation for bars. Bars will be permitted to stay open till 2am.

New Mexico
Enacted: The cigarette tax will increase by 75-cents per pack for four years. The state’s cigarette tax would rise from 91-cents to $1.66 per pack. The measure would generate an estimated $33 million in FY 2011.

New York
Enacted: Budget includes a $290 million tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products, raising the tax from $2.75 a pack to $4.35.

South Carolina
Enacted: A 50-cent increase in the tax per pack of cigarettes.

South Dakota
Governor proposed increasing the cigarette tax to offset a proposed corporate income tax cut. Bills pending in the General Assembly propose per-pack increases ranging from 30-cents to 86-cents.

Enacted: Enacted budget increases cigarette tax from $0.695 to $1.695 per pack. Tax on cigars will increase from 35% to 86% of the manufacture’s sale price. Tax on moist snuff will increase from $0.75 to $1.83 per ounce. The tax increase is expected to raise $43 million for FY 2011.

Governor proposed increasing markup on alcoholic beverages by 2%.
Governor proposed privatizing liquor stores.

Group of lawmakers proposed privatizing liquor stores to receive $350 million in revenue over 5 years.
Enacted: House approved increased taxes on beer which would tax non-microbrewed beer at 50 cents per gallon.
Governor proposed increasing tax by a $1 per pack, generating an estimated $95 million in FY 2011.
Enacted: House approved increased taxes on cigarettes.

Governor signed into law early February a cigarette tax increase of $2 per pack.
For the full list from NCSL of failed and enacted legislation for alcohol and tobacco, click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rep. Awana receives "Kentucky Colonel"

Rep. Karen Awana received a "Kentucky Colonel" certificate from Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear for her work with the National Conference of State Legislatures. For the past several years, Rep. Awana has been an active member of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators representing Hawaii.

The Kentucky Colonel is described as the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Colonels are Kentucky's ambassadors of good will and fellowship around the world.

Kentucky colonelships are awarded for an individual's contributions to his or her community, state or nation, and for special achievements.

The official "Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels" was founded in 1932 by then Governor Ruby Laffoon and is incorporated as a charitable organization. Kentucky's governor and lieutenant governor serve as the commander-in-chief and deputy commander-in-chief, respectively.

Rep. Awana is in good company. Kentucky Colonels include political leaders such as President Lyndon B. Johnson and English Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Astronaut John Glenn was commissioned as a Colonel during his mission while orbiting Earth.

Other well-known Colonels are: Muhammad Ali, Betty White, George Clooney, Ashley Judd, Johnny Depp, Kenny Perry, Elvis Presley, and, yes, Harland "Colonel" Sanders.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coming up

Three legislative informational briefings will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 17th:

Topic: Recent Audit of the Sheriff's Division of the The Department of Public Safety
Joint Committees on Public Safety
August 17, 2010 - 10:00 a.m.
State Capitol, Room 229

Watch Live Statewide - Olelo, Ch. 49
Hearing notice

Topic: Hawaii's Education Reform Plan and Race to the Top application
Joint Committees on Education
August 17, 2010 - 1:00 p.m.
State Capitol - Room 225

Watch Live Statewide - Olelo, Ch. 52
Hearing notice

Topic: Update on various programs/shortfalls from The Department of Budget & Finance
Senate Committee on Ways and Means
August 17, 2010 - 2:00 p.m.
State Capitol - Room 211

Watch Live on Oahu - Olelo, Ch. 49
Hearing notice

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gov. Lingle playing politics with federal spending bill

"Gov. Linda Lingle's criticism of the emergency $26 billion jobs bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is a sad statement that puts her political agenda above helping Hawaii's residents.

First, the bill will support classroom education in Hawaii. We always talk about the importance of education, and when we are being given funds to build and improve education, the governor responds with unproductive criticisms.

Second, we are getting necessary funds to improve access to provide basic health care for low-income and disabled residents.

Third, the bill injects money from out of state into our local economy.

Last, the bill is deficit neutral. Congress made difficult decisions to cut money from other programs to fund this bill.

Gov. Lingle talks about the need to tackle the federal deficit, but she does nothing to urge Congress to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the most wealthy upper 2 or 3 percent of income earners.

The economic recovery and job growth remain fragile. Continuation will require responsible, reliable and effective leadership that seeks positive, balanced solutions."

Rep. Calvin Say, speaker of the House
Rep. Blake Oshiro, House majority leader
Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House finance chairman

This letter was printed in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser 8-13-10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hawaii legislators seek feedback from the homeless

Reps. Tom Brower, John Mizuno and Sen. Will Espero met face-to-face with homeless camping out on the sidewalks across the street from Aala Park. The lawmakers hoped to get feedback on possible solutions.

One homeless woman didn't comment on possible solutions, including safe zone parks and Housing First, but she did opine on how some homeless feel the government treats them. "You know when you try to flush something down the toilet that doesn't belong there it comes back up and you gotta call somebody and you keep trying to snake it down it's still gonna come back up it's just, not to compare us with waste but that seems to be what they think we are waste," said Lisa Beth Roberts.

Here's a link to the KHON2 news story that ran last night:

Hawaii legislators seek feedback from the homeless

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hawaii represented on Asian Pacific American Caucus

Last week during the National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit, the National Asian Pacific American Caucus held elections for officers, and policy committee chairs and co-chairs. Hawaii is well represented:

Executive Committee

Chair: Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington

Vice-Chair: Rep. Pono Chong, Hawaii

Second Vice-Chair: Sen. Brian Taniguchi, Hawaii

Secretary: Asm. Upendra Chivukula, New Jersey

Treasurer: Rep. Hubert Vo, Texas


Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington

Rep. Pono Chong, Hawaii

Sen. Brian Taniguchi, Hawaii

Asm. Upendra Chivukula, New Jersey

Rep. Hubert Vo, Texas

Rep. Ken Ito, Hawaii

Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Hawaii

Rep. Roy Takumi, Hawaii

Sen. Clarence Nishihara, Hawaii

Rep. John Mizuno, Hawaii

Rep. Scott Kawasaki, Alaska

Policy committees

  1. Economic Development

Chair: Rep. Ken Ito, Hawaii

Co-Chair: Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Hawaii

Rep. Jerry Chang, Hawaii

Rep. Bob Hasegawa, Washington

Rep. Clift Tsuji, Hawaii

  1. Education

Chair: Rep. Roy Takumi, Hawaii

Co-Chair: Sen. Clarence Nishihara, Hawaii

Rep. K. Mark Takai, Hawaii

  1. Health & Human Services

Chair: Rep. John Mizuno, Hawaii

Co-Chair: Rep. Scott Kawasaki, Alaska

Asm. Fiona Ma, California

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rep. Mark Takai awarded National Medal of Civil Honor

Last week, the NCSL awarded Representative Mark Takai and 14 other state lawmakers and one staff member the National Medal of Civic Honor for putting “their state and country before themselves.”

During the 2009 Legislative session, while serving as the state representative of the 34th District, which includes Aiea and Pearl City, Rep. Takai deployed to Kuwait with the 29th Brigade Unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Rep Coffman Selected as UH Legislator-in-Residence

State Representative Denny Coffman (District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau) has been selected as a Legislator-in-Residence at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Rep. Coffman will join the College of Social Sciences during the Fall 2010 semester. Established in 2002, the Legislator-in-Residence program provides an opportunity for lawmakers to discuss issues that affect the community with students and faculty and to share information on how those issues may be transformed into policy through legislation.

“It is a great honor to be selected as a Legislator-in-Residence,” said Rep. Coffman. “I believe that this process creates a tremendous benefit for our communities. Much can be learned by having the legislature participating with the university to understand and solve current and real policy issues. I look forward to participating in this great program.”

Each Legislator-in-Residence is encouraged to develop a project of importance to the community, collaborate with faculty and students, take part in colloquium presentations, give lectures to classes, and develop policy that may result in legislative action. The activities serve to better connect the community and the university.

Rep. Coffman is Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. He serves on the committees on Finance; Water, Land & Ocean Resources; and Housing. He is a founding director and officer of Community Enterprises, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that organizes monthly Kona town meetings. For his Legislator-in-Resident project, he will be exploring how to move people to accept the changes needed to transition to clean energy and environment, including developing legislation for the 2011 legislative session.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rep. Pono Chong named Toll Fellow

Rep. Pono Chong (District 49 - Maunawili, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, Kaneohe) was named one of the 2010 Henry Toll Fellows of the Council of State Governments (CSG). A list of all the Toll Fellows can be found on their Facebook page here.

The Henry Toll Fellowship program is a leadership program involving all three branches of government. Henry Wolcott Toll was the founder of the Council of State Governments. Information on the program can be found here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Speaker Say and Ag Chair Tsuji named BIO Co-Legislators of the Year

Congratulations to Speaker Calvin Say and Rep. Clift Tsuji for being named Co-Legislators of the Year by BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, based in Washington, D.C.

Hawaii maintains a $200 million seed crop industry, and the state's agricultural biotech sector employs about 2,000 people statewide.

From the press release:

"Both Speaker Say and Rep. Tsuji understand and embrace the benefits of biotechnology and recognize its important role in fostering the growth of ag commodites like seed corn, soybean, sunflowers and cotton. Their individual business expertise and understanding of the issues critical to the agriculture industry have benefitted the people of Hawaii tremendously," said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO.

Both Rep. Tsuji, who currently serves as Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Speaker Say, a previous Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, have demonstrated consistent leadership and support for agricultural biotechnology as a means of creating a more abundant and reliable food supply by increasing crop yields, enhancing resistance to pests and diseases, and enabling farmers to grow crops in a more environmentally sustainable way.

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.