Friday, April 29, 2011

Rep. Marcus Oshiro on the budget

Dead or Alive: Final bills to come out of conference committee

In an unusually early ending to conference committee negotiations (the past few years, negotiations continued until midnight, the final decking deadline) House and Senate lawmakers agreed on conference drafts of the SB 570, SB 1186 and HB1039.

SB 570: The pension tax provision was deleted; bill repeals state tax deduction and caps itemized deductions on higher income taxpayers.

SB1186: The Counties' share of the TAT capped at $93 million (earlier proposals: House-$101M, Senate-$85M). The Hawaii Tourism Authority's share capped at $69 million.

HB1039: Adjustment to rental car surcharge; divert money to the general fund for one year.

A few of the bills that died in conference committee: plastic bag fees, alcohol tax increase, and medical marijuana distribution center pilot project.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making of the 2011 State Budget

House and Senate conferees today voted to agree on the conference draft of the state budget bill. HB 200 appropriates funds for the operating and capital improvement budget of the Executive Branch for fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The measure will now go to the House and Senate for full floor votes. Representative Marcus Oshiro and Senator David Ige give final remarks about the state budget in the video above.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pride of Wai'anae inspires Hiki Nō

Searider Productions is the pride of Wai'anae, and it now has another project under its belt, the Hiki Nō. Rep. Georgette "Jo" Jordan, who represents Wai'anae, Makaha & Makua, tells us more about this statewide news program in the following article submitted by her office. Then, check out the YouTube video that visually tells us more about Hiki Nō. (Do you know what Hiki Nō means in English? CAN DO!)

In February, PBS Hawaii kicked off Hiki Nō, the nation's first statewide student news network. Students from across the state film and create their own news stories, which are aired in half-hour segments, uninterrupted by commercials on PBS Hawaii. The shows are broadcast online at and on-air channel 10 at 5 p.m. on Mondays. Hiki Nō is a unique program because it encourages video production in schools around the state, and provides them with a venue to broadcast their shows. Both Wai'anae Intermediate and Wai'anae High Schools are participating in the new program, with news segments airing in April. Wai'anae High School's broadcast will be featured on Monday, April 25 at 5 p.m., while Wai'anae Intermediate School's broadcast, which aired on April 4, can be found online.

When PBS Hawaii was designing Hiki Nō, they looked to Searider Productions founder, Candy Suiso, for inspiration and advice. Suiso, a Wai'anae High School graduate and teacher, began Searider Productions in 1993. The now highly successful video production program began as part of Suiso's Spanish curriculum in which she had students produce their own Spanish-speaking skits in order to learn the language. When she saw how driven her students were to produce their videos, she took a sabbatical from teaching and learned everything she could about video production. She looked outside the box, writing grants for funding from local and national partners in order to start the program. Today, Wai'anae High School's Searider Productions has received national awards and distinguished honors for the quality media the students produce. More importantly, Searider Productions inspires Wai'anae students to dream; developing their self-esteem and teaching them the skills they need to succeed. Students learn to write, communicate, work in teams, manage their time, and use technology to convey their messages. The program has graduated many students with video production skills well beyond their years, and these students are returning to Waianae to work in and give back to our community. Candy Suiso and Searider Productions have set the bar high for video production in our state; it is no wonder that PBS Hawaii used Searider Productions as an inspiration for Hiki No.

Next on Kukui Connection - Meet our newest member

Rep. Kawakami greets Rep. Mark Takai and members of the House on his first day.

Rep. Derek Kawakami was sworn in April 5th and is the newest member of the House of Representatives. As is her tradition, Rep. Marilyn Lee interviews members of the freshman class on Kukui Connection so that the public can get to know the new legislators, their history and their views for the future.

This Sunday, April 24th, 4:00 p.m. on Olelo Channel 54, viewers will meet Kauai Rep. Kawakami (District 14: Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli).

Rep. Kawakami is not a stranger to public service. He served on the Kauai County Council from 2008 to April 2011 when he was sworn into the State House of Representatives. He also served on the County of Kauai Charter Commission in 2007-2008, and has served on the Kauai Economic Development Board from 2007 to the present.

Rep. Kawakami is also no stranger to the House. His late Uncle Richard served as Speaker of the House, and his Aunt Bertha is a former State Representative.

Learn more about Derek Kawakami's family, his decision to enter public service, and his thoughts about serving in the legislature given the significant time spent away from his family and his business on Kauai.

Rep. Kawakami is the Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, the Committee on Water, Land & Ocean Resources, the Committee on Housing, and the Committee on Finance. He can be reached at 808-586-8435 or

The show repeats on Sunday, 4:00 p.m. on May 1st and 8th.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Open doors

After the start of the 2011 session, the House Sergeant-at-Arms office started a pilot project to make the Chamber gallery more accessible to the general public. The gallery is always open when the House is in floor session, usually only a few hours a day. During this pilot period, the gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. with a staff person on duty to welcome guests and provide information.

In February, there were 1505 visitors. In March, we welcomed 2225 visitors. After reviewing the numbers for April and the entire session, the House will determine whether to continue the policy. A quick look at the guest book shows visitors from all over the U.S. and the world.

Mahalo to the SAA staff for making this happen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home in a basket

Starting this Friday, the Women's Legislative Caucus will be collecting Easter baskets filled with household items for clients of the Institute of Human Services. Each year, a call is put out for everyday essential items that needy families may need when they enter the homeless shelter. Recommended items for the "Welcome Home Easter Baskets" are laundry soap, utensils, pots and pans, dishes, non-perishable food items, toiletries, towels, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, hangers, and small appliances. Items can be dropped of in Rep. Marilyn Lee's office (Rm 434) and Sen. Rosalyn Baker's office (Rm 220) until Tuesday, April 19. IHS will pick up the baskets at 2 p.m. in the turnaround of the underground Capitol garage.

Here’s a photo of two of Rep. Jerry Chang’s Easter bunnies assembling Easter Baskets of essential items for clients of the Institute for Human Service (IHS).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Board Certified

A U.S.program that has been around since 1987 has been getting more attention from policymakers who are "recognizing its promise and potential for addressing challenges in today's classrooms," according to an article from the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is another tool that lawmakers are using to reform schools while facing education budget cuts.

In 30 states and the District of Columbia, lawmakers are supporting the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification for teachers by offering assistance with application fees and other incentives.

Representative Roy Takumi, chair of the House Committee on Education, was quoted saying: “Reforming education requires a multi-faceted approach that includes school leadership, community involvement, safe campuses, rigorous curricula and common core standards. It also requires highly effective classroom teachers, and national board certification is one way to achieve this goal.”

The 2010 State incentives for Hawaii teachers seeking certification including fee support ($2500 plus $65 processing charge) and a salary increase of $5000 per year during which they are board certified. Hawaii currently has 268 board certified teachers. Oklahoma showed an 18.3 percent increase in the total of NBCTs certified last year.

Read the entire article here.

Capitol Stew

TEAM MANOA, including Rep. Isaac Choy, Sen. Brian Taniguchi, and Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, and staff got together to enter their TEAM MANOA “T” Stew in the 2011 Building Industry Association's Annual Stew Challenge. TEAM MANOA won the People’s Choice Award!

BIA Stew Challenge - Choy

Choy's Frozen Assets

The Office of Representative Isaac Choy participated in the Hawaii Food Bank drive and sold CHOY’S FROZEN ASSETS. Proceeds benefitted the Hawaii Food Bank.

Choys Frozen Assets

Monday, April 11, 2011

Honaka'a Jazz Band to perform with Royal Hawaiian Band

Jazz Month

In honor of National Jazz Month, the 32-member Honoka’a Jazz Band from the Big Island has scheduled a “Big City Tour” of Oahu with several performances and appearances from April 14-17. Rep. Mark Nakashima, District 1 - North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, who graduated from Honoka’a High School and is a big fan of jazz music, arranged for the group to open for the Royal Hawaiian Band on the grounds of the Iolani Palace on Friday, April 15, 2011. The group will play from 11:10 - 11:40 a.m. Rep. Mark Nakashima will give the opening remarks.

The Honoka’a Jazz Band is the pride and joy of Honoka‘a High. In 2010, the music program at Honoka'a High School was selected by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) as one of 138 schools in the United States with an outstanding music program and commitment to music education. They are also the recipients of the prestigious 2011 Grammy Signature Schools Enterprise Award. Gary Washburn, the band director, recently received the 2011 Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award from the National
Society of High School Scholars.

This year the band’s repertoire includes the music of Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Dusty Springfield, Miles Davis, Bobby Timmons, Michael Buble, Patsy Cline, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and a special arrangement of Pachelbel's "Canon in D".

“Honoka’a High School’s music program demonstrates that with dedicated staff, parental and community support our children in rural Hamakua can compete and be recognized nationwide,” said Rep. Nakashima.

Honoka’a Jazz Band “Big City Tour 2011” Schedule

Thursday, April 14th, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Shriner's Childrens Hospital Special Luncheon
1310 Punahou Street, Honolulu

Thursday, April 14th 7-8 p.m.
Dots Thursday Night Fellowship Jazz with Steve Lucas and Friends
Family Friendly Jazz with No Cover Charge
Dots in Wahiawa
139 Mango Street
Page 2 – Honaka'a Jazz Band to perform with Royal Hawaiian Band

Friday, April 15th 7-8a.m.
Peace of the Rainbow “Power of Jazz” hour
Broadcast LIVE:
* Statewide on OC16 Television
* and on the Morning Drive of AM 1080 Radio
* also Global on
Panel: Gary Washburn, Rep. Mark Nakashima, Chuck James
Panel discussion – The power of Jazz, what makes jazz unique, role of jazz in education, does jazz create better people, the story of Honoka’a Jazz Band, Pride of Honoka’a

Friday, April 15th - 11:10-11:40 a.m.
Opening for the Royal Hawaiian Band at Iolani Palace

Friday, April 15th - 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Windward Mall Center Stage
Saturday, April 16th - 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Ala Moana Shopping Center Stage

Saturday, April 16th - 6p.m.
Twilight Jazz at Helemoa Royal Grove at the Royal Hawaiian Center. Opening for Paul Shimamoto performing from his debut release "All That Hawaiian Jazz" a multi Na Hoku Nominee and Kekauoha The Jazz Project

Sunday, April 17th - 12:15 p.m. -1:15p.m.
Honolulu Academy of Arts
Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday: The Big 84

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History has led the initiative for Jazz Appreciation Month, or JAM, “to draw public attention to the glories of jazz as both an historical and a living treasure.” According to the Smithsonian’s website, during the month of April musicians, concert halls, schools, colleges, museums, libraries, and public broadcasters are encouraged to offer special programs on jazz.

Team Chang/Tsuji win "Most Creative"

Rep. Clift Tsuji, Cyril Pahinui and Rep. Jerry Chang

In a chili cooking contest, you have to wonder what "Most Creative" means, but congratulations to Rep. Jerry Chang and Rep. Clift Tsuji who cooked chili on Saturday, April 9th to benefit Kohala Intergenerational Youth and Seniors Program.

Rep. Tsuji and Rep. Chang are shown here with Cyril Pahinui who performed for the event.

Taking home the First Place People's Choice Award was Hawaii County Councilman Dennis "Fresh" Onishi and David Shiigi.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rep Takumi Urges "No" Vote on Trade Agreement

In today's Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

The pending U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement is not a good deal for Hawaii or the United States. As state legislatures across the country struggle to rebuild our economies after the global financial crisis, and balance state budgets, we urgently need forward-thinking policies that will create American jobs.

Unfortunately, the Korea trade deal, like the 1990s job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), does little to help us out of our current situation.

Even the U.S. International Trade Commission, the government agency tasked with forecasting trade agreement economic outcomes, says the Korea deal will actually increase the U.S. global trade deficit. A study by the Economic Policy Institute concluded it would cost 159,000 American jobs in the deal's first seven years.

I began serving in the state House 19 years ago, shortly before NAFTA was implemented. Since NAFTA and a batch of NAFTA-style deals with other countries, we've suffered an exploding trade deficit, the loss of more than five million manufacturing jobs, and stagnation of real median wages for American workers at 1970s levels. Meanwhile, we have been flooded with unsafe imported food and goods, and foreign investors have used NAFTA to challenge important state environmental laws before foreign tribunals.

After these damaging outcomes, implementing another NAFTA-style deal is unimaginable. And, this would be the most economically significant — and jobs-threatening — deal of its kind since NAFTA. Plus, this deal even includes limits on financial regulation. It does not include any of the important trade reforms President Barack Obama promised and that small business, farm, labor and consumer groups have long demanded.

The Korea deal is supported by the large banks that wrecked our economy and by our country's chronic job-offshoring multinational corporations. They are trying to sell the deal here with the same rosy promises to Hawaii's agricultural producers made before NAFTA. Once again, they are pointing to cuts in Korean tariffs and promising this will translate into more exports.

The reality is that even with zero Korean tariffs, most of Hawaii's agricultural products cannot come close to the low prices for which these products are sold to Korea by others. For example, Indian banana and papaya farmers sell their crop at one-fourth to one-third the price local farmers require. Peruvian farmers sell guava at $173 per metric ton; our price is $346. Farmers in Thailand, the largest pineapple producer, sell their pineapples at $120 per metric ton compared to $458 locally. How do we compete in this market?

Also keep in mind that any new tariff cuts in this deal could easily be erased if Korea again devalues its currency, as it has a history of doing, after implementation of the deal. Contrary to the demands of U.S. farm organizations, the trade deal with Korea does not include provisions to prevent or counter currency manipulation.

Like NAFTA, the Korea deal has the potential to undermine our environmental regulations, public health standards and economic development policies. There are more than 2,000 corporate affiliates in the U.S. and Korea that would be empowered under this deal to directly challenge domestic laws in foreign tribunals and seek taxpayer money as "compensation" for what they claim are lost expected future profits.

Multinational corporations have repeatedly exercised these rights under NAFTA. This is one reason why groups ranging from the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures to Korean Americans for Fair Trade have been critical of this style of trade deal. The Hawaii Legislature also recognizes this problem. In 2007, we enacted bipartisan legislation requiring greater state legislative oversight of Hawaii's commitments in international trade agreements in an attempt to minimize risks to state laws. Despite our best efforts, threats to state governance continue to loom large under the Korea trade deal.

I urge our congressional delegation not to be distracted by the false promises of this trade deal and vote it down — and instead shift focus toward implementing policies that will stimulate real job growth in Hawaii and the rest of our country.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rep. Coffman becomes EEP Chair

The House of Representatives yesterday approved a resolution to appoint Rep. Denny Coffman as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection. He also serves as a member of the committees on Housing, and Water, Land & Ocean Resources.

Rep. Coffman, who served as the Vice Chair of the Energy & Environmental Protection committee since the 2009 legislative session, has been serving as Chair in an acting capacity since the previous Chair, Rep. Hermina Morita, resigned to become Chair of the Public Utilities Commission.

"I am honored that my colleagues and the leadership team in the House of Representatives have appointed me to be the Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection," said Rep. Coffman. "Energy combined with environmental issues are major policy areas in transition. As a full-time legislator, I welcome the opportunity to help lead our state in developing energy and environmental protection policy."

Coffman represents District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona and Honokohau.

Rep. Kawakami is sworn in

Representatives James Kunane Tokioka, Derek Kawakami and Sharon Har

Welcome and congratulations! Kauai Rep. Derek Kawakami was sworn in by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald yesterday. He is now the Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection and serves on the committees of Finance, Housing and Water, Land & Ocean Resources. He was joined on the podium by his wife, daughter and family members, including his aunt, former Rep. Bertha Kawakami.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bills of interest for WEDNESDAY, April 6, 2011


3:00 P.M.

ROOM 308



Authorizes the use or rental of animal quarantine property or facilities for commercial purposes. Establishes the animal industry special fund. Makes an appropriation


Establishes notice and fact-finding requirements for the issuance of certificates of public convenience and necessity for water carriers; expands the composition of the PUC to five members with a representative from each county plus one at-large member; creates specialized subject-matter panels within the PUC; mandates the hiring of sufficient staff; creates the position of executive officer; requires electronic posting of information in connection with applications for certificates of public convenience and necessity; bars interim or temporary orders for certificates of public convenience and necessity except in state-declared emergencies


4:00 P.M.

ROOM 308



Proposed HD2: Repeals existing certification requirements and establishes reporting requirements to measure the effectiveness of the tax credit for research activities. Extends this tax credit for an additional five years. Requires the Manoa Innovation Center to be leased to the High Technology Development Center for twenty years. Effective July 1, 2112.


Provides a tax credit for qualified media infrastructure projects. Establishes a qualified persons crew training program rebate


Requires businesses in the State to collect a 5-cent fee for each single-use checkout bag provided to a customer. Allows for exemptions. Provides for fees to be deposited in the general fund. Requires fees to be collected on paper bags in counties that currently have ordinances banning plastic bags. Effective July 1, 2011

Hurricane Relief Fund Clarified

There is much confusion and misinformation about the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund (HHRF). Here is a letter from Gordon Ito, State Insurance Commissioner, that appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this morning. It provides official information on HHRF:

Hurricane fund can be restarted

We would like to clear up some misconceptions about the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund.

After Hurricane Iniki devastated Kauai in 1992, many insurers stopped writing hurricane coverage. The HHRF was the state’s response to provide hurricane insurance when there were limited private insurers available.

HHRF ceased operations when private insurers returned to the market in 2002, and has not collected any revenues since then. The monies remaining in the fund are kept to reactivate the coverage if necessary.

Every homeowner in Hawaii should already have hurricane insurance, which would cover any claims when a hurricane hits.

HHRF will be needed only if a hurricane strikes and an inadequate amount of private insurance is available.

The state will utilize HHRF to address the state’s fiscal crisis, and will incorporate provisions to quickly restart HHRF when necessary.

Gordon Ito
State insurance commissioner

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bills of interest for TUESDAY, April 5 2011


2:00 P.M.

ROOM 308



Establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high voltage electric transmission cable system and for the construction of on-island transmission infrastructure. Allows for the utility company to collect surcharges from its ratepayers to recover the costs of the cable installation on behalf of the cable company. Exempts the surcharges from being counted as gross income, adjusted gross income, or taxable income for tax purposes. Provides for the eventual acquisition of the cable system by the utility company from the cable company. Allows the utility company to recover the costs of acquiring the cable system and developing the on island infrastructure through an automatic rate adjustment clause and then through its rates. Allows the utility to recover the reasonable costs, as determined by the public utilities commission, of predevelopment and development in the event that the system is not completed. Effective July 1, 2011


3:30 P.M.

ROOM 308



Establishes a commission to prepare and maintain a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians; requires the commission to publish the roll for the purpose of organizing a convention of qualified Native Hawaiians; requires the governor to dissolve the commission after the commission publishes notice of the updated roll; appropriates unspecified funds


4:30 P.M.

ROOM 308



PROPOSED HD1: Repeals certain special funds and transfers balances to the general fund. Converts certain revolving funds of the University of Hawaii into special funds. Requires the Director of Finance to transfer funds from the Compliance Resolution Fund to fund all interest payments on General Obligation bonds issued on behalf of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and to annually collect funds from the Compliance Resolution Fund to pay the interest payments on the General Obligation bonds beginning on June 1, 2011. From June 1, 2011 until December 31, 2015, repeals requirement that $2,000,000 of tax revenues from banks and other financial corporations be deposited into the compliance resolution fund. Temporarily suspends the distribution of a portion of the conveyance tax to the land conservation fund. Temporarily redirects an additional portion of Tobacco Settlement Funds into the general fund. Effective upon approval.

Derek Kawakami appointed to House

Photo: The Garden Island

Derek Kawakami, former Kauai County Councilmember, has been appointed as the newest member of the Hawaii House of Representatives. Kawakami was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to fill the vacant seat of former Representative Hermina Morita, District 14 – Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli, with a term expiring November 6, 2012. Morita stepped down after the Governor appointed and the State Senate confirmed her as the Public Utilities Commission Chair.

"I am pleased to welcome Derek Kawakami to the House of Representatives," said Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say. "Mr. Kawakami joins the legislature during a critical session, with our main focus on balancing the budget and revitalizing the economy. He has already proven his dedication to the public good through his service on the Kauai County Council.

Rep. Kawakami is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday by Chief Justice Recktenwald at the 12 noon floor session.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Around Art at the Capitol

Ran into Duane Preble, former UH professor and Art Dept. Chair, Ruthadell Anderson, artist who created the tapestries hanging in the Senate and House chambers, and Ben Villaflor, Senate Sgt.-at-Arms.

Rep. Tom Brower, whose office is a work of art in itself.

Bills of interest for MONDAY, April 4, 2011


2:00 P.M.

ROOM 308



PROPOSED HD1: Provides for the taxation of the pension income of: (1) An individual filer with federal adjusted gross income of $100,000 or more; (2) A joint or surviving spouse filer with federal adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more; and (3) A head of household with federal adjusted gross income of $150,000 or more. Makes the deduction for state taxes paid, inoperative for the same taxpayers. Limits the amount of itemized deductions that may be claimed by the same taxpayers. Delays the standard deduction and personal exemption increases approved under Act 60, SLH 2009, but makes the increases permanent.


PROPOSED HD1: Suspends temporarily the exemptions for certain persons and certain amounts of gross income or proceeds from the general excise and use tax and requires the payment of the tax at escalating rates. Effective 07/01/2011 and sunsets on 06/30/2015.


3:30 P.M.

ROOM 308



PROPOSED HD1: Increases liquor tax rates. Reduces the liquor tax rate on the first sixty thousand barrels produced in a small brewery or brewpub. Makes it lawful to provide a discount for liquor purchases through coupons or mail-in rebates when made in combination with other merchandise. Effective July 1, 2011.

Rep. Choy's Prevailing Winds April 2011

Prevailing Winds April 2011- Rep. Isaac Choy

Rep. Della Au Belatti - March 2011 Newsletter

Newsletter March 2011 - Belatti