Friday, December 30, 2011

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Happy early New Year from the House Majority Communications Staff!

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Whatever it may, we wish you a safe and wonderful holiday weekend with family and friends. We will see you in 2012, and look forward to sharing another Legislative Session with you all.

And just for kicks, enjoy the music!

Laws effective January 1, 2012

Hawaii's civil unions law is one of ten measures that will take effect  January 1, 2012.  Nine of the measures are from Legislative Session 2011 and one is from Legislative Session 2009. You can view lists of these laws with descriptions and other detailed information compiled by the Legislative Reference Bureau by clicking here and here. (Mahalo to LRB staff!) 

Justice for all

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald

The Hawai‘i Access to Justice Commission will host a series of community briefings in 2012 to discuss equal access to justice in Hawai‘i. What does "equal access to justice" mean?  Many people in our state are unable to afford representation in civil legal matters - such as housing, family, domestic violence, and consumer. Many people just don't know where to go for information about their legal rights. The Commission’s primary purpose is to increase access to information, representation, and essentially justice in these legal matters for low- and moderate-income residents of Hawai`i. Its goal is to create a balance that provides all people the opportunity to seek justice.

Associate Judge Daniel R. Foley
The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 6-8 p.m. at The Parish of St. Clement, 1515 Wilder Avenue, with special guest presenters Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald and Associate Judge and Commission Chair Daniel R. Foley. A mini-legal fair will also be held with legal service providers available to share more information about their specific services.

Future dates include May 9, 2012, Windward Oahu, and November 14, 2012, Leeward/ Waianae Coast, locations and times to be determined. Info: (808) 586-9425

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Finance Tours: DAGS

Members of the House Finance Committee recently visited the the Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) and the Hawaii State Record Center. The entire day was spent learning about the department and a few of its divisions. In a previous post, we shared photos taken and information learned during a tour of the Kalanimoku building to view the solar panels installed on its roof.

Following that visit, lawmakers toured the OIMT, located in the basement of the Kalanimoku building, with Chief Information Officer Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia. He later presented a powerpoint to explain the divisions plans for transforming its resources and management practices. You can view reports and assessments here. Later, the group headed to the State Records Center, facility that stores inactive non-permanent paper records and security copies of microfilms and microfiche.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Luau

Normally my before Christmas weekend blog post is on a topic related to the House of Representatives or some type of legislation or political issue that is in the news at the time. However, this year, I feel like we could all just use some great music and a reminder of how lucky we are to live in Hawaii. With that said, I give to you my favorite Christmas song through a YouTube video. Keiki Aya gives us a beautiful rendition of "Christmas Luau."  Enjoy! Be safe this holiday weekend, and Mele Kalikimaka from the House Majority Communications team. Aloha!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Communications Assistant Wanted

The House Majority Communications Office is looking to hire a Communications Assistant for the 2012 Legislative Session.  This is a paid, temporary, full-time position from January to May.

We're excited about expanding our team for the session.  This is a great opportunity for someone who possesses good writing and computer skills, is adept at digital photography and social media, and who also has a passion for public affairs.  

Interested in working with us?  Send your resume, cover and brief (preferably one-page) writing sample via email to Assistant Communications Director, Thelma Dreyer at

We'll be reviewing the resumes and interviewing qualified candidates during the first week of January.  Ideally, I'd like to have someone on board before Opening Day, January 18th.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Da Night Bafo' Christmas"

Speaker Calvin Say hosted the annual House Christmas lunch yesterday, where members and staff, Democrat and Republican, come together to share Hawaiian luau. At this event, the members serve lunch and perform for the employees.  Rep. Bob Herkes (below) brought down the "House" with a rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas, local style:

"Da Night Bafo' Christmas"

Was da night bafo' Christmas, and all ova' da place,
Not even da geckos was showin' dere face.

Da stockings was hangin' on top da TV
(Cause no mo' fireplace in Hawai'i.)

Da kids stay all crashed, my old man too.
Dey leave all da work fo' you-know-who.

So me, I stay pickin' up all dea toys,
When - boom! - outside get only big noise!

I run to da window, I open 'em up.
I stick out my head and I yell, "Eh! Whassup?!"

And den, I no can ba-lieve what I seen!
Was so unreal, you know what I mean?

Dis fat haole guy get his reindeers in my yard!
And reindeer not housebroken, you know, as' why hard!

But, nemmind, dis Christmas.  So, I cut 'em some slack.
Plus, had uku pile presents pokin' outta his sack!

So, I wait till he pau tie up his reindeer.
Den I yell out da window, "Huui! Brah, ova hea!"

An' I tell 'em first ting, when I open da door,
"Eh, hemo your shoes!  You going dirty my floor!"

He take off his boots, he tell, "You know who I am?"
I go, "Ho! From da smell, must be Mr. Toe Jam!"

He make mempachi eyes and he go, "Ho, ho, ho!"
By now, I stay thinking dis guy kinda slow!"

He look like my Tutu, but little less weight.
And his beard stay so white, mo' white than shark bait!

He stay all in red, specially his nose,
And get reindeer spit on top his nice clothes!

But him he no care; he just smile at me,
And he start fo' put presents unda-neat da tree.

I tell 'em, "Eh, brah, no need make li' dat.
And watch were you step!  You going ma-ke da cat!

Den, out from his bag, he pull one brand new computah,
Choke video games, and one motorized scootah!

He try for fill up da Christmas socks too,
But had so much pukas, all da stuff went fall troo!

When he pau, I tell 'em, "Eh Santa, try wait!
I get plenny leftovahs, I go make you one plate!"

But, he nevah like hang, he had so much fo' do.
Gotta make all dem small kids' wishes come true.

So I wave 'em goodbye, and I flash 'em da shaka,
And I tell 'em, "Mele Kalikimaka!"

When he hear dat, he stop...and I tellin' you true.
He go, "Garans, ball-barans! Merry Christmas to you!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Session Calendar from the Public Access Room

2012 Session Calendar

Waianae Town Hall Meeting on Olelo

Photo: Kaupuni Park, Waianae Valley Homestead project. Office of Rep. Jo Jordan

Rep. Jo Jordan's recent Waianae Town Hall meeting, held on December 7th, will air on Olelo this week and next..  If you were unable to attend in person, catch the latest on the following dates/times:

*TONIGHT, Monday December 19th at 8:00 p.m.on VIEW Channel 54

*Wednesday, December 28th at 10:30 p.m. on FOCUS Channel 49

*Thursday, December 29th at 4:00 p.m. on FOCUS Channel 49

*Saturday, December 31st at 3:00 p.m. on VIEW Channel 54

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rep. Ryan Yamane, Health Chair - Next on Jordan's Journal

Rep. Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Health Committee will be Rep. Jo Jordan's guest on the next episode of "Jordan's Journal".

The show airs on Olelo, Channel 54, Monday, December 19th at 1:00 p.m. and repeats on December 26th at 1:00 p.m.

Rep. Yamane represents District 37 - Waipio Gentry, Mililani.  In addition to being Health Chair, Rep. Yamane is Vice Chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.  He has a background in social work and he obtained Master's degrees in both Social Work and Business.  He has been in office for 7 years and was elected for the first time in the 2004 election.

The legislators go into some detail on how bills are considered for hearing and the time constraints they face.  They also discuss new ways through which constituents can participate in the legislative process without having to physically come down to the state capitol.

The issues that come through the Health Committee affect almost everyone in the state. The range includes hospitals, health insurance, health epidemics, food safety, vector control, There is a certain amount of overlap with the Committee on Human Services, such as the area of medicaid.

Specific to the Waianae coast, Rep. Jordan's district, the Health Chair talks about the importance of community centers such as the Waianae Comprehensive Center.  It is one of the few in the state that has a emergency room to service the residents due to the fact that Waianae is in a relatively isolated area with a single road for egress and ingress.

Rep. Yamane can be reached by email at and by phone at 586-6150.  Rep. Jordan can be reached by email at and by phone at 586-8460.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finance Tours: Kalanimoku Building Solar Power

I recently tagged along with members of the House Finance Committee during various tours of state sites on Oahu, including DAGS facilities, the Information and Communications Services Division, Aloha Stadium, Hawaii Film Studio, and Kuhio Park Terrace. I'll do a blog post on each site visit over the next week.

The site visits allow lawmakers to see firsthand the projects and initiatives funded (or not funded) by the state budget, and to meet and talk with departmental personnel and officials about what has been done, what needs to be done, and what the legislature can expect next session in funding requests.

On the morning of the first day I met with lawmakers and DAGS personnel at the Kalanimoku building where we were given a tour of the photovoltaic panels on the building rooftop. The installation of the 1,005 solar photovoltaic panels was completed in July 2011 as part of the State’s efforts to lead by example and lower Hawaii’s dependency on foreign oil. This project is part of the State’s Clean Energy Initiative.

An energy kiosk has been installed in the entry lobby of the building where the public can view a display of “real-time” and “historical energy usage” and snapshots of “carbon footprint data” demonstrating the PV system performance.


The project is part of the $33.9 million Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) project awarded by DAGS in 2009 to improve the energy efficiency for 10 office buildings, located in the downtown State Capital District, with high annual utility bills. The other buildings are the State Capitol, Kalanimoku, Ke‘elikolani, Kekauluohi (State Archives), Kekaunaoa, Keoni Ana, Kinau Hale, Queen Lili‘uokalani, No. 1 Capitol District, and Leiopapa-a-Kamehameha.

Construction started in August 2010 and the PV system has been producing power since January 2011.

The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the $2.9 million solar installation is an educational / demonstration project reviewed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

$70-80,0000 dollars energy savings per year.

200kW (AC) of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity produces approximately 296,849 kilowatt hours (kWh) in its first year, the equivalent of powering 40 residences in Hawai’i for one year.

Over 20 years the 200 kW of PV solar capacity will produce an estimated 5,377, 911 kWh, the equivalent of powering 726 residences in Hawai’i for one year.
Rooftop mounting is provided by a fully ballasted PV panel mounting system with no roof penetrations to anchor PV panels.

In one full year of production, 200 kW (AC) of PV solar power offsets 506, 689 ;bs of carbon dioxide equivalents. This is the equivalent of taking 83 cars off the road for one year.
The House Finance Committee is headed by chair Marcus Oshiro and co-chair Marilyn Lee. Members includeReps Chris Lee, Derek S.K. Kawakami , Pono Chong, Dee Morikawa, Isaac W. Choy, James Kunane Tokioka, Ty Cullen, Kyle T. Yamashita, Sharon E. Har, Barbara C. Marumoto, Mark J. Hashem, Gil Riviere, Linda Ichiyama, Gene Ward, and Jo Jordan.

Ignition Interlock Stats

 Hawaii's ignition interlock law, introduced by Rep. Sharon Har, is about to hit the one year anniversary.  How did it do?

The statistics are impressive, and even MADD officials are surprised it has been so successful.  Here is the KHON2 report.

Since the law started on January 1st of this year, the law has prevented drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level over .08 on 466 occasions.

983 drivers have had the ignition interlock device installed in their cars.  

Of those arrested for DUI, about 15% have participated in the program.  Compared to national statistics, that is a very good rate.

Rep. Har says she plans to introduce legislation in 2012 to improve the law.  Currently, the law allows only first time DUI offenders to participate.  Har wants to broaden participation to repeat offenders.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greater Heights

Rep. Marilyn Lee and Jim Crisafulli on the Kukui Connection set

He is a familiar face at the State Capitol, usually jolly, and always passionate about his favorite subject: space. Jim Crisafulli is the director of the Office of Aerospace Development, and he is Rep. Marilyn Lee's guest on the next episode of "Kukui Connection".

Jim is also the executive director of the Pacific International Space Alliance, or PISA, but this one is "leaning in the right direction," says Jim.

The show airs on Sunday, December 18th, 4:00 p.m. on Olelo Channel 54. It repeats, same time/same station, on Christmas Day, Dec. 25th and New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 2012.

Jim started his star trek with Hawaii state government by joining the Office of Space Industry in the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism in 1988. At that time, the focus was primarily starting a potential space port on the southern point of the Big Island. That office was closed in 1995. Jim then served as DBEDT's Science and Technology Director until the legislature created the Office of Aerospace Industry in 2007.

In his current position, Jim leads Hawaii's efforts to develop an aerospace industry in Hawaii; NASA has recognized the state as having great potential for future aerospace endeavors. NASA and Hawaii signed an agreement for space collaboration in 2010 to work on areas related to aerospace.

The first collaboration has been a project related to small satellite research in the islands. They also recently completed an international conference on the Big Island which focused on the future development of an lunar research park.

An annex to the agreement was recently signed to develop terrestrial analog facilities on the Big Island, leveraging the island's lunar-like and mars-like terrain, in order to develop and prepare for future missions into space.

Exactly, why is Hawaii a great place for aerospace development?

*We have certain terrains that are very similar to the moon and Mars. In fact, we have the most similar terrain to the moon than anyplace else in the world, and this terrain can be used to simulate conditions.
*Being near the equator, we are an advantageous site from which to launch payloads into equatorial orbit.

Here are some related links that will help give you a big picture of Hawaii's space-related activity.

HCR123 Recognizing Aerospace as a strategic and timely growth industry. The resolution outlines the history and future potential of aerospace in Hawaii.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Easy to Be Green

Every year, we eagerly await the appearance of the House of Representatives Christmas Tree. There is always a creative theme based on the year's most pressing issues, and this year the theme is "It Can Be Easy to Be Green".

The tree is up and was finalized today. Here it is!

Notice that the ornaments reflect many of the energy-saving, cost-cutting efforts that House members and staff have adopted this year.

There are also a few strings of lights that are solar-powered. The battery cells are on the tree as ornaments themselves. Click on the photo to zoom in, or better yet, come see the tree for yourself. It's located outside of the Chief Clerk's Office, Chamber Level, Hawaii State Capitol.

Cheers to the elves in the House Office of the Chief Clerk for, once again, putting up an amazing tree for all of us to enjoy. Santa is making a note of the fact that Neal was responsible for getting the perfect tree, and that Denise and Tammy came up with the theme and decorations.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rep. Choy's Prevailing Winds Dec 2011

Prevailing Winds Vol 3 Issue 11 - December 2011

Rep. Marcus Oshiro in Israel for Project Interchange

State Representative Marcus Oshiro, the House Finance Chair, is currently in Israel participating in Project Interchange, a bi-partisan educational institute of AJC - American Jewish Committee. Attendees are primarily House and Senate leaders from across the country. The trip includes meetings with senior Israeli, Palestinian and Israeli Arab leaders.

The group is traveling to areas across Israel, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Northern Border, the Dead Sea, and Sderot. They will attend sessions on economic development and absorption and integration of immigrant and minority communities, and how high tech initiatives foster effective co-existence between Arabs and Jews.

Read the full press release below:
Project Interchange State Elected Officials Release

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rep. Jordan's Winter 2011 Newsletter

Rep. Jordan Winter Newsletter 2011

"We the Powerful" heads to the Big Island

2011 Flyer Big Island Workshops

Monday, December 5, 2011

HMSO helps Santa at Family Programs Hawaii holiday event

Front Row: Santa, Alison Kim
Back Row: Alicia Duffin, Steven Lum, Brandon Masuoka, CJ Leong, Kendra Oishi, Roy Nihei, Elsielyn Singson, Jason Young and Melanie Black

This past Saturday, December 3rd, 2011, the elves at the House Majority Staff Office volunteered their time to make the holiday season brighter for the children who are part of Family Programs Hawaii (FPH). Along with Santa and many others, FPH puts on the annual event to bring foster children and their families together at Christmastime for a holiday meal, gifts, rides and entertainment. About 2,000 foster children were in attendance at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

FPH is a social service agency in Hawaii that helps about 4,000 children and their families in the child welfare system. They provide services designed to help prevent children from needing to go into foster care, and they assist those transitioning out of foster care.

The HMSO team volunteered to do beverage service. (I wonder if they knew it was just juice and water when they signed up for that?) They also helped with the clean-up.

Mahalo Team HMSO for thinking of others less fortunate during the holidays, and for helping to keep the Aloha Spirit alive at this special time of year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Speaker appoints three key positions

Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say announced today he appointed C.J. Leong as the House of Representatives Chief Clerk, replacing Patricia Mau-Shimizu upon her retirement.

House Chief Clerk: Leong has served in the House for over 25 years. Most recently, she was the Director of the House Majority Staff Office. Prior to that, she served for 16 years as the Assistant Chief Clerk and nine years with the House Finance Committee. She has a degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland and is a U.S. Army veteran.

House Majority Staff Office: Speaker Say also announced the appointment of Joan Yamaguchi as the new Director and Rebecca L. Anderson as the Assistant Director of the House Majority Staff Office.

Joan Yamaguchi is an attorney who has worked at the legislature for over 10 years in various capacities. Prior to her appointment as Director, she served as the Assistant Director at the House Majority Staff Office. She also worked for the Hawaii Insurance Commissioner, and as Chief Legal Counsel for and Administrative Director of the Public Utilities Commission. Yamaguchi has a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

Rebecca Anderson joined the House Majority Staff Office this past year after serving in the Senate Majority Research Office for several years. Prior to working at the legislature, Anderson focused on the areas of nonprofit management and issue advocacy in both Hawaii and Texas. In Hawaii, she worked with homeless clients at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and managed activities at the federally-fund Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homeless Holistic Legal Services Program. She holds a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law and a bachelor's degree from Rhodes College.

The three appointments are effective December 1, 2011.

Manoa Town Meeting Scheduled for December

Legislative Community Meeting Flyer 12-15-11

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rep. Takai featured by Sierra Club Compass

Rep. K. Mark Takai is featured in the current edition of the Sierra Club Compass, the U.S. Sierra Club blog. Read the full interview here.

The post is on Rep. Takai's efforts to transition to alternative energy in his own household. Two years ago, the Takais installed photovoltaic panels on their home roof top. Their electricity bill dropped significantly, from $170/month to about $18/month. In anticipation of getting a Nissan LEAF, he installed 10 more panels.

Since getting the Leaf, Takai estimates that the family saves about $240 per month on gasoline. Rep. Takai represents District 34: Newtown, Waiau, Pearl City, Waimalu. As his average commute is about 50 miles per day, range is a concern, but things seem to be okay as long as the LEAF gets plugged in every evening.

Learn more about this family's efforts in energy conservation.

Vic Gustafson - State Civil Defense

Air dates: Sunday, December 4, 2011, 7:30 p.m.
Repeats: Monday, December 5 & 12, 2011, 1:00 p.m.
Channel: Olelo, Ch. 54

Next up on Jordan's Journal, Rep. Jo Jordan talks with Vic Gustafson, interim vice director at State Civil Defense. The vice director is responsible for managing the state's emergency and homeland security activities.

The agency is under the Governor's Office with a staff of 62 people. They prepare for emergencies and establish warning systems. They coordinate with the four county civil defense agencies which respond to emergencies through county police and fire. They assess damage, and, if needed, they also coordinate with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to receive assistance if a situation has been declared an emergency by the President.

Waianae flooding in 2008 - photo via Maile21, Senator Maile Shimabukuro

Given that Rep. Jordan represents District 45 - Waianae, Makaha, Makua - she asks Gustafson to talk specifically about the civil defense response for the massive rain and flooding on the Waianae Coast in 2008.

*Learn about man-made causes of flooding and how residents can help to alleviate extensive flooding.

*Learn how to get out of harm's way. Two inches of flowing water on a roadway can sweep cars into streams.

*Learn about the upcoming Puuhulu Stream Cleanup, December 10, 2011, 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Puuhulu Stream is in the Lualualei area.

*Learn about how to get information on disposing unwanted items the proper way. Let others know that there is an alternative to illegal dumping that contributes to clogging up our streams and roadways.

For more information on this show, contact Rep. Jordan at 808-586-8460 or email at

Rep Jordan's videos on other subjects may be viewed on Vimeo.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Info Briefing Debrief: Clean and Sober Living Programs

Photo courtesy of May Mizuno
The House Committees on House, Human Services and Judiciary today held an informational briefing to discuss clean and sober living programs in Hawaii as an option to better address homelessness, focusing on those who suffer from mental illness and/ or substance addiction, policy and possible legislation.

Clean and sober homes are self-operated, generally self-funded, and drug free or supportive-type homes that provide individuals recovering from an addiction or behavioral health issues with a supportive network to promote sobriety.
Organizations who provided testimony and answered lawmakers’ questions were the Department of Human Services (DHS), Alahou Clean and Sober Program, Hina Mauka, and Harm Reduction Hawaii.

The following are some of the highlights from the briefing:

Sandra McCoy of Alahou Clean and Sober Program stated that more state funding is needed for programs on the Big Island.

Alahou expressed the need for state funding for Clean and Sober Programs. It cost $18 per bed to house clients; the program is currently only able to cover $13 per day.

Testifiers claim that there is an extreme need for more clean and sober programs as an estimated 4,000-5,000 people come through each year.

DHS does not fund or maintain any clean and sober facilities. There is “no direct funding for substance abuse.” The Department does not contract for direct services, but for the shelter and outreach services that provide the case management for homeless persons.

More than 50 percent of people in the programs are “dually diagnosed,” which means they suffer from significant mental illness and substance abuse. Alan Johnson, CEO of Hina Mauka, also said that it is most likely that 80-90 percent are mildly “dually diagnosed.”

It was suggested that all requested departmental studies filed on any subject be submitted to the reference bureau to avoid study duplication.

Patricia McManaman, Director of DHS, said that although clean and sober programs are important, there is also a large need for more “wet houses,” or homes where people can come into off the streets with an addiction, with the intent to transfer them to clean and sober houses.

Sandra McCoy, Alahou Clean and Sober Program, stated that her organization doesn’t turn anyone away, though people must have the intention to make a lifestyle change.

Rep. John Mizuno asked about the $1 million funding for Housing First, its progress, and if funding can be provided to clean and sober programs. Sandy Miyoshi said that by definition Housing First doesn’t have to be clean and sober programs; it is permanent housing to deal with issues of mental health and substance abuse. Because of limited funding and no promise of continued funding, the Department decided to focus on the urban core of Honolulu, where there are more chronically homeless. The Department did not want to spread funds out to wide without indication of sustainability and support.

It was suggested that the state provide financial mapping for service providers to determine who has funds to support/sustain broad variety of services.

Rep. Jordan expressed her concern of homelessness and clean and sober facilities on the Waianae Coast. She said that she was upset that we’re only dealing with the urban core and asked how the state can make it a balanced system.

It was suggested that a registry of all clean and sober homes be created for a clearer picture of what we are looking at in terms of services providers.

Alan Johnson, Hina Mauka, wrote in written testimony that “clean and sober housing arrangements are cost effective means to engage community support that helps transition recovering individuals back into the community. While quality could improve if government could afford to establish and monitor performance criteria, the self-run houses are a vast improvement over no housing arrangements.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Andrea Anderson, Planned Parenthood

Rep. Marilyn Lee (left) and Andrea Anderson, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii

Andrea Anderson believes she has been groomed for her career for much of her life. She comes from a midwest family of Danish descent, one that has always been open to learning and education about sexuality and body issues. Andrea is the next guest on The Kukui Connection, a weekly conversation show hosted by Rep. Marilyn Lee.

The show airs this Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 4 p.m. on Olelo Channel 54. It repeats at the same time of December 4th and 11th.

Some of the points of interest include:

*The history of Planned Parenthood, which has been in existence for over 90 years nationally, and 45 years in Hawaii

*Learn about Planned Parenthood offices in Hawaii - Honolulu, Kahului and Kona. They will be expanding to Kauai in 2012

*Legislative advocacy

*Hear about the PPHI team, comprised of 40 staff on three islands and the services and educational programs they provide to thousands across the state

*Diverse funding stream

*The "We Believe" campaign

*Social media sites: Website. Facebook page. Twitter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Robotics at APEC makes national news

Rep. Angus McKelvey shared the following good news on the Robotics event at the Hawaii Convention Center, held during APEC week. Rep. McKelvey was involved with Speaker Calvin Say in establishing the event as a tie-in with the APEC activities.

NASA worked with Hawaii's UH Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) to set up a real-time demonstration of NASA rovers at a Lunar/Mars site on the Big Island. The rovers were driven remotely by elementary students from the Big Island. Even some of the APEC delegates got to drive the rovers by remote at the end of the day.

The full story can be read on NASA's website.

Here are some pictures of the demonstration at the convention center, and some of the VIP guests that dropped by:

Photos courtesy of Rep. Mark Nakashima

Robotics Organizing Committee - Hawaii

Governor Abercrombie learning how to drive VEX robots

Rep. Mark Nakashima visiting ROC exhibit

Henk Rogers speaking with students

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rep. Pono Chong named House Majority Leader

House Speaker Calvin Say announced today that he has selected Representative Pono Chong to replace Blake Oshiro as the Majority Leader for the Hawaii House of Representatives.

"Pono Chong is my choice to replace Blake as Majority Leader," said Speaker Say. "Pono has worked very hard for the people of Hawaii and the House of Representatives, especially during the budget crisis of the past three years. As Majority Whip during those years, he was a major contributor in resolving the crisis through a balanced approach of budget cuts and revenue enhancement. Blake has recommended Pono as Majority Leader. I am confident that Pono will continue the standard set by Blake."

Pono Chong represents District 49 -- Maunawili, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, and Kaneohe. He began serving as the Representative for that District in 2005. At present, he is a Majority Whip and Vice Chair of the Housing Committee.

Blake Oshiro will be leaving the House of Representatives on December 7, 2011 to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Abercrombie.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Rep. Linda Ichiyama appears on Jordan's Journal

Rep. Jo Jordan interviews fellow freshman Rep. Linda Ichiyama (at right) on the next episode of "Jordan's Journal". The show airs on Sunday, November 20th at 7:30 p.m.. It repeats on Monday 11/21 and 11/28 at 1:00 p.m., all on Olelo Channel 54.

Rep. Ichiyama represents the 31st House district, Salt Lake, Moanalua, and Aliamanu. She was elected for the first time in 2010. She is currently Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee, and also sits on the Finance Committee, Labor & Public Employment Committee, and Public Safety & Military Affairs Committee.

Rep. Ichiyama shares her thoughts on being on the Finance Committee, including learning more about state government through the bills, especially the budget bill.

She talks about doing interim work with the Finance Committee, such as going out into the community on site visits to observe projects first hand, and meeting with workers and businesses in person. For example, the committee recently went to several locations in West Oahu: Ma'o Farms, the new Kroc Community Center, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Finance just completed site visits to the neighbor islands as well. Rep. Ichiyama describes her "take away" from some of the islands: The Big Island - innovation; Maui - the importance of water for the farmers; and the overall kinship between islands based on working together and learning from each other.

For further information, contact Rep. Jo Jordan at 586-8460

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sister Sister

Kippen de Alba Chu, Carlos Jarez, Rep. Karen Awana, Jose Luis Silva Martinot and wife, Noelia R. Paez, Rep. Mark Hashem
Jose Luis Silva Martinot, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism for Peru, recently met with Hawaii lawmakers and tourism officials to discuss establishing a sister-state relationship with the Province of Lima, Peru.

It was one of several meetings held during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference to build bridges and positive relationships between Hawaii and Peru for economic growth that will benefit both governments.

Participating in Monday’s meeting with Minister Martinot were Rep. Karen Awana, Chair of the International Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives; Rep. Mark Hashem, District 18 (Hahaione, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Hawaii Loa Ridge, Aina Haina, Wailupe, Kahala); and Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The Legislature last session passed a resolution requesting the Governor to establish the sister-state relationship through the Hawaii sister-state committee. Rep. Mark Hashem introduced the bill.

The bill was introduced to expand the state's international ties by developing goodwill, friendship, and economic relations with other countries. Hawaii has maintained 15 sister-state relationships, mostly between Asia and the Pacific.

Impressed by the Hawaii State Convention, Martinot met with state officials to learn about how it was established and the possibility of creating a government-owned convention center of their own in Peru.

“This is what APEC is all about,” said Rep. Karen Awana. “It gave us an opportunity to meet with leaders of other countries and participate in a discourse to share and learn about each other’s economies and cultures while building and fostering new ties.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Legislature hosts U.S. - China CEO Forum on Clean Energy

Speaker Calvin Say exchanges business cards with China executives.

On Sunday, November 13, 2011, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism coordinated a major energy forum with participants from top business leaders from China and the United States. The event started with a reception at Washington Place, hosted by Governor Abercrombie, and then a formal program at the State Capitol in the House of Representatives chamber.

Here is the agenda:

Emcee: Mark Glick, Administrator, DBEDT, State Energy Office

Welcome remarks by The Honorable Calvin K.Y. Say, Speaker, Hawaii State House of Representatives

Opening remarks by The Honorable Neil Abercrombie, Governor, State of Hawaii

Session 1: China Go-global Strategies on Clean Energy
Speaker: Han Meiquing, Deputy Director General, China Council for Promotion of International Trade

Session 2: U.S. Department of Defense in Hawaii: Transforming to Clean Energy
Speaker: Dr. George Kailiwai, U.S. Pacific Command, Director, Resources and Assessment

Session 3: Hawaii Clean Energy Progress: Leading the Way
Speaker: Richard C. Lim, Director, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism

Session 4: China's Energy Market & Practices
Speaker: Wang Donghai, Chairman, Bestsun Energy Group

Closing Remarks by The Honorable J. Kalani English, Senator, Hawaii State Senate

UPDATE: As a result of the forum, DBEDT reports that "Governor Abercrombie signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). This commitment is the beginning of furthering our efforts toward mutally beneficial initiatives in renewable energy programs between Hawaii and China."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big Island Bikers Rock n Roll for Hawaii Keiki

Photo: Rep. Jerry Chang rode with his Rock and Roll Motorcycle Club to help Santa deliver presents and good cheer to the Waianae homeless shelter. (2009)
Big Island residents should plan on heading to the Naniloa Volcano Resort Crown Room on Saturday, November 12 for the 6th Annual "Rock and Roll Revival" benefit concert put on by The Rock and Roll Motorcycle Club, Hilo Chapter. Doors open at 5 p.m., with the program beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 11:30 p.m.

Money raised from the concert will be used to purchase toys, which will be distributed to local and state organizations that help disadvantaged children. Toys and other gifts will also be collected and purchased for a Toys for Tots Rally that will be held on December 11 at 10 a.m. at Aunt Sally's Luau House.

Representative Jerry Chang, of the Big Island, is a member of the The Rock and Roll Motorcycle Club, which is one of the few biker clubs in the state that is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. Chang explained in an article in the Big Island Weekly that the club's primary purpose is to support underprivileged children. "Riding is secondary to working on community service projects," he said.

“The concert started in 2005 because we were looking for other ways to support and raise funds for our Toys for Tots Motorcade and Rally that we put on every year," Chang explained in the article. "We wanted it to be fun and showcase our local talents with the original idea of a "Battle of the Bands," which was popular back in the good old days, but in discussing the concept with the bands, it became obvious they liked the idea of contributing their time and talents to the cause, but did not want to compete in a competition. I believe that was a good idea, as it would have put a different feel to the event. It has grown in popularity not only with bikers and their families but all types who love music and dancing. They look forward to this event, especially this year we will be back in the newly renovated Crown room.”

Rep. Chang (far right)with other members of the Rock and Roll Motorcycle Club

Performers will include Grammy Award winner Pauline "Abong" Wilson, and dance bands such as Friday Night Band 2, Crescent City Band, and The Spin and Vizion 20/20.

Purchase tickets for the Rock n Roll Revival Concert at Ellsworth's Custom Cycles located at 969 Kinoole Street, across from Furnitureland. For more info, call 808-935-5519.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"We the Powerful" heads to Kauai

2011 Flyer Kauai Workshops

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prevailing Winds November 2011

Prevailing Winds November 2011

Rep. Blake Oshiro Named Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff

Governor Abercrombie stands with Rep. Blake Oshiro, Lt. Governor Schatz, Representatives and Senators and House Chief Clerk Pat Mau-Shimizu.

Speaker Say's statement:

"I congratulate Blake for his appointment as Governor Abercrombie's Deputy Chief of Staff. Although Blake's departure is a big loss to the House, his appointment to a major executive branch policy position represents a much bigger gain for the State of Hawaii. Blake's dedication, intelligence, common sense, and compassion will be great attributes to achieve the betterment of all Hawaii. I will miss Blake as a Majority Leader and colleague. I will miss his daily advice and observations. Most importantly, I will miss his principles, unselfishness, and political courage which, even after 34 years in politics, were an inspiration to me."

School Sell Out

Rep. Chris Lee opposes the Department of Education's support of a plan to allow advertising on Hawaii school campuses. He discusses the issue in a guest column in today's issue of the Star Advertiser.

Schools are for education, not advertising

The state Department of Education is supporting a plan to allow advertising in our public schools to raise money ("DOE backs plan to allow limited ads on school campuses," Star-Advertiser, Nov. 2).

"For example, a company might want to say … ‘Congratulations, graduates,' along with their logo," says Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

But what happens when that company logo is Philip Morris or Marlboro?

No matter the corporate sponsor, advertising in our public schools blurs the line between education and indoctrination. Children are often too young and too impressionable to recognize the difference between the two. Public schools are the one place where children are supposed to have an unadulterated education, and we must not let that be compromised by corporate advertising just to make a quick buck.

This proposal suggests that advertising will be installed in "non-instructional areas" such as hallways and libraries. However, that is a distinction that only an adult would recognize. Children are often too young to distinguish between what they are shown inside a classroom and what they are shown when they step into the hallway.

Other states have found that advertising in schools can compromise education. An in-school TV network used in about 8,000 mainland middle and high schools has been sharply criticized because it brought advertising into the classroom. A follow-up study in Pediatrics found that students actually remember more from the ads than from the educational content.

Even if advertising is limited to corporate logos and brief messages, these often can contradict messages schools are trying to promote. For example, logos such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are specifically designed to be instantly recognizable and associated with the consumption of sugary sodas. What message would that send on the wall of a school hallway next to an official school poster promoting healthy diets?

Children and parents are two of the most lucrative retail markets that also are most often exploited. Responsible parents can turn off the TV and limit their children's exposure to the deluge of corporate advertising designed to make them want to buy every new thing. Advertising in our schools prevents parents from doing that.

If ever there was the danger for a slippery slope, this is it. Schools around the country have fought the introduction of advertising, but once the door to advertising is opened, schools can change rapidly. Just last month in Massachusetts, school administrators approved selling advertising space on permission slips and other notices that go home to parents.

There is no question that our schools could use more money. However, instead of resorting to bringing private corporations into our public schools, the state Board of Education should insist that our schools be properly funded by the state to begin with. After all, providing our children a good education is one of the most important reasons we all pay taxes — we must see to it that money is put to the best use.

Learning at a young age is more than a classroom experience — it is interacting with the entire campus environment. We cannot reasonably expect a 9-year-old to distinguish between education and indoctrination. We cannot reasonably expect advertising in our schools, whether in classrooms or hallways, to have no effect on our children's learning experience and education.

After all, if advertising had no effect, corporations would not be so eager to advertise in our schools.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hawaii State Bar Association swears in our newest attorneys

Congratulations to HMSO staffers Nelisa Asato, Ryan Sakuda and Rep. Linda Ichiyama!

Left to right: Rep. Pono Chong, Speaker Calvin Say, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Pat Mau-Shimizu and Rep. Mark Hashem

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Speaker Calvin Say and members of the Hawaii House of Representatives were invited to visit Taiwan last month to learn about the country and to discuss trade and cultural opportunities. (Photos provided by Rep. Tom Brower)

Seated - Speaker Calvin Say (right) and the Taiwan Foreign Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Standing (left to right) are Representatives Gene Ward, Ken Ito, Tom Brower, Karen Awana, James Kunane Tokioka, John Mizuno, Clift Tsuji, Sharon Har and Kyle Yamashita.

Members visited the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Left to right: Tom Brower, Karen Awana, Sharon Har, Ken Ito, Calvin Say, John Mizuno, Gene Ward, Clift Tsuji, James Kunane Tokioka.

Members visited the "Lifayuan" or Legislative Yuan, which means "Law making Court". Left to right: Kyle Yamashita, Gene Ward, Sharon Har, Calvin Say, Karen Awana, Ken Ito, Tom Brower, Clift Tsuji, James Kunane Tokioka, John Mizuno and a Taiwan Representative.

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Foreclosure grousing validates new law"

Rep. Bob Herkes' op-ed appeared in the Sunday Honolulu Star-Advertiser on October 30, 2011.

I commend the Star-Advertiser's Andrew Gomes for his coverage of Act 48, Hawaii's foreclosure reform. However, his article last Sunday, especially its headline, misses the mark ("New law flounders," Star-Advertiser, Oct. 23).

Criticism from lenders' attorneys shows this law is hitting them right in the pocketbook. Clearly, the loudest complainers are those who once profited from Hawaii's weak foreclosure laws.

Economist Paul Brewbaker and others have stated that Act 48 is a "failure" because banks are avoiding the dispute resolution program by refusing to foreclose non-judicially.

I disagree with such a narrow definition of "failure." On Oct. 13, Gomes reported that the overall foreclosure rate dropped 74 percent from a year ago. On Oct. 4, this paper reported that bankruptcies also plummeted, citing Act 48 as the likely cause.

The purpose of Act 48 is to level the playing field between lenders and borrowers in foreclosure. Act 48 has achieved that purpose.

Before Act 48, a home could be sold at auction in less than a month without the borrower's knowledge. Lender abuse was so rampant, the bill exploded to 100 pages so that we could address all the abuses. One bank was even so bold as to threaten a Hawaii legislator.

Because of Act 48, the old no-integrity-fast-track, non-judicial process is no longer available. Banks now seem to be either pursuing their foreclosures in court, where third-party oversight is ensured; or, they're actually working with homeowners without resorting to foreclosure.

Critics say the new non-judicial process is too onerous with too many details and requirements. Given the abuses, it's clear these details are necessary to protect homeowners.

One deterrent to going non-judicial is Act 48's Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice (UDAP) provision that could put banks and their lawyers on the hook for triple damages for violations of the law. They say they can't handle the liability for a missed deadline or wrong font size. If the lawyers can't read a calendar or use a word processor, maybe they shouldn't have the privilege of taking someone's home without court oversight.

But I don't think it's the font or deadlines they're really worried about. What they're afraid to mention -- but is unique to Act 48's non-judicial process -- is the requirement that the banks provide documentation showing they have the legal authority to foreclose. I suspect the lawyers know full well that in many, if not most cases, the off-shore banks can't do this.

In their haste to profit from the loose lending, multiple transfers and the creation and sale of mortgage-backed securities, the banks have lost their paperwork. The media has exposed this. Emerging case law across the country shows that judges are aware of this, too. It is the liability for the banks' greed, carelessness, incompetence and outright fraud that the lawyers really fear.

Brewbaker thinks Act 48 is hurting the housing market, but has no data to back this up. Someone needs to explain to me how holding banks accountable, keeping families in their homes, and not flooding the market with homes repossessed through fraud and deception is not in the best interest of the people in Hawaii.

Rep. Robert Herkes (Kau, South Kona) chairs the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who can? You can. Next on Kukui Connection

Who can? You can. That's this year's theme for October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Rep. Marilyn Lee talks with Nanci Kreidman, Chief Executive Officer of the the Domestic Violence Action Center, and Veroniki Geronimo, Executive Director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The program airs on Sunday, October 30th at 4 p.m. Olelo Ch. 54. It repeats on November 6th and 13th.

Both agree that the state of domestic violence in Hawaii is "abysmal" with little investment into prevention efforts. There is an increase in demand for domestic violence services at the same time that funding for the agencies is going down. States across the nation are facing similar challenges.

the theme, Who can? You can, is meant to draw attention to the fact that the domestic violence is not a private issue, but a public one, and that the community needs to get involved and support those who need assistance.

Learn more about the five-year Domestic Violence Plan. It sets up a grassroots effort on all the islands through individual task forces.

Learn more about the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence on their website.

Capitol Ghost Stories 2011 - The Creepy Restroom

It's been a couple of years since I've been able to report a new Capitol ghost story. Most of them are legendary dating back from the construction of the capitol building. This year, as usual, I put out the call for any new stories, and I was thrilled, or should I say chilled, to receive several, but all having to do with the same location.

Here's what one person, a female office manager, wrote:

"Have you heard anything about the women's bathroom on the Chamber level? I was working late one night, and no one else was around. On the way home, I stopped and went into the women's bathroom before going to the parking lot.

I went into the first stall. About 30 seconds later I heard the hand blow dryer go on. Normally, it doesn't bother me when those things go off because they can be sensitive and turn on when someone is walking past them. But, I didn't pass the dryer and they are situated way over on the other side from the first stall, near the sinks. I got a little nervous, but tried to shrug it off.

When I went to wash my hands, I didn't want to look in the mirror. Suddenly, all the hair on my arms, legs and head started to tingle and felt like they were all standing up. I left the bathroom and hurried to the parking lot, praying that nothing was following me. I have never gone in there again, and whenever I pass it, I walk very fast."

A second female office manager told a similar story:

"Late one night I was heading home and stopped in the women's restroom on the Chamber level. All of a sudden I heard the water faucet go on. I thought it was odd because no one else was in the restroom and I didn't hear any footsteps. "

When I mentioned on Twitter that I was hearing creepy stories about that particular women's restroom, I immediately got some feedback. Such as:

"I am not surprised that you heard of creepy chamber level women's restroom stories. Sometimes I swore someone was there."

"When I was a leg. aide, I distinctly remember the bathrooms being pretty creepy. Ha ha."

And finally, this comment: "No story, but I always had the same creepy feeling."

I checked it out the other day, and I found the restroom to be clean, well-maintained, and well-lit. Of course, it was mid-afternoon and not past the witching hour. If you want to check it out yourself, the "creepy" restroom is on the mauka/ewa side of the building on the Chamber (bottom) level of the Hawaii State Capitol. Let us know if you have your own experience to share. Oops, I guess you can't do that if you're a guy. Here's a video of my visit:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hawaii film industry, take two

Mark Dacascos, the actor who plays the fictional villain Wo Fat on Hawaii Five-0, was spotted today at the Hawaii State Capitol with friend Chris Lee, film producer and founder of the University of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media. Lee was part of a panel of experts discussing the film industry in Hawaii at a House informational briefing.

As Hawaii Five-0, The River, and other big productions begin filming on the islands, House lawmakers  continue to hold informational briefings to learn about what is being done to grow and nurture the industry as well as what needs to be improved and what kinds of legislation will be proposed during the upcoming legislative session. Today's meeting was the second in a series of briefings during the interim.

If you're unfamiliar with Act 88, the current law giving incentives and tax credits to production companies who film in the state, here's the basics. It is a refundable tax credit for qualified film, television, commercial, or digital media projects. The credit equals 15% of qualified production costs incurred on Oahu, and 20% on the neighbor islands. There is a $200, 000 minimum expenditure requirement and a maximum cap of $8 million in rebates.

It looks like the Creative Industries Division in the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism will be proposing legislation to raise the tax credit for workforce development and seek capital improvement project funds for a studio. It was also mentioned that the law should not exclude internet-based productions from the tax credit.

Rep. Angus McKelvey suggested tailoring the tax credit to require post-production to be done in Hawaii.

Chris Lee reiterated several times how Hawaii needs more infrastructure: a larger industry workforce and buildings/ studios for the production companies.

The meeting ended with a discussion about connecting youth performing arts programs to college programs and local projects.