Friday, March 30, 2012

Jordan's Journal: Kamuela Enos

There is a lot of talk about supporting local agriculture, encouraging young people to farm, and revitalizing economies in impoverished areas. Kamuela Enos, Director of Social Enterprise for Ma'o Organic Farms, is doing all of those things and more on O'ahu's west side.

Rep. Jo Jordan hosts Mr. Enos on the next episode of Jordan's Journal, where they discuss some of the truly amazing, revolutionary things taking place at Ma'o. The farm gained a great deal of notoriety when First Lady Michelle Obama made several visits to the farm during APEC. You may also recognize their produce from top restaurants like Roy's, Alan Wong's, Chef Mavro, Town, and Prima. Ma'o products are available for sale in Whole Foods, Down to Earth, Foodland, several farmers markets across O'ahu, and through a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Box.

Producing local, organic, healthy, and delicious fruits and vegetables is only part of the story of Ma'o. The 501(c)(3) non-profit is operated by interns from the Wai'anae area. Mr. Enos explains their internship program, which includes 100% tuition assistance for Leeward Community College and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, monthly stipends, and matching interns savings account contributions 2:1.

Mr. Enos discusses the "culture of college" Ma'o is creating in a place where 90% of youth don't complete a year of college. Ma'o firmly believes that "poverty is an attitude" and is working directly with the youth to overcome the dysfunction and disconnection to the land that has crippled the leeward side of O'ahu.

Ma'o stands as an example of what the future of Hawai'i could be and serves as an inspiration to us all. Please tune in to Olelo Channel 54 this Sunday, April 1 at 8:30 pm and learn more about what's taking place in the Lualualei Valley. The episode will be rebroadcast on Monday, April 2 and Monday, April 9 at 1:00 pm.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Agriculture Awareness Day 2012

House Ag Chair Tsuji, Speaker Say, Senate Ag Chair Nishihara, and Rep. Giugni  greeting attendees
Today was the sixth annual Agriculture Awareness Day at the Capitol. The event was sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and co-hosted by House Committee on Agriculture Chair and Vice Chair, Clift Tsuji and Mark Hashem and their Senate counterparts, Clarence Nishihara and Gilbert Kahele. 
"Kaua'i Grown" legislators, Reps. Kawikami and Tokioka supporting their local farmers
The Farm Bureau invited agriculture industry representatives from across the state to take part in the festivities. This year's participants included: Adopt-a-Beehive with Alan Wong Program, Aikane Plantation, City and County of Honolulu, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS), College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, DLNR, FFA, For J's Hawaii, Hali'imaile Pineapple Company, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, Hawaii Aquaculture and Aquaponics Association, Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Hawaii Coffee Association, Hawaii Conservation Alliance, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Hawaii Food Industry Association, Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association, Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, Hawaii Restaurant Association, Ho Farms, Hula Girl Foods, Kamiya Gold, Kauai County Farm Bureau, Lani's Cattle and Goat Company, Legacy Land Conservation Program, Manoa Honey Company, maui County Farm Bureau, Maui Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Monsanto, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Roselani Ice Cream, USDA, and Young Brothers.
Vice Chair Hashem after enjoying a cup of 100% Kona Coffee
In addition to getting to taste samples of delicious, locally produced food, those in attendance were also presented with information regarding invasive species, conservation, and the application of biotechnology in agriculture. Ag Awareness day also provides an excellent opportunity for lawmakers and the public to meet our farmers face-to-face and learn about what they do.
Rep. Oshiro tasting fresh, local honey

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

VIDEO: The Hawaii Medal of Honor 2012

2012 Hawaii Medal of Honor

Speaker Say delivers the opening address
This was the seventh year that the House and Senate convened in a joint session, along with the Governor, to award the Hawaii Medal of Honor to families of service members with Hawaiian ties who lost their lives overseas. Twenty-four Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines were honored in this year's ceremony. Their names are listed below in order by date of death:

United States Army Corporal Andrew C. Wilfahrt
United States Army Staff Sergeant Mark C. Wells
United States Army Sergeant Kevin W. White
United States Army Private First Class Thomas C. Allers
United States Army Specialist William S. Blevins
United States Army Private First Class Andrew M. Krippner
United States Army Staff Sergeant Kristofferson B. Lorenzo
United States Marine Corps Private First Class Josue Ibarra
United States Army Private First Class Joshua L. Jetton
United States Army Specialist Levi E. Nuncio
United States Army First Lieutenant Dimitri A. Del Castillo
United States Army Staff Sergeant Nigel D. Kelly
United States Army Specialist Kevin J. Hilaman
United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Christopher L. Camero
United States Army Staff Sergeant James M. Christen
United States Army Sergeant Jacob Molina
United States Army Sergeant William B. Gross Paniagua
United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Kraig M. Vickers
United States Marine Corps Corporal Nicholas S. Ott
United States Army Sergeant First Class Houston M. Taylor
United States Army Staff Sergeant Christopher R. Newman
United States Army Sergeant Christopher L. Muniz
United States Army Specialist Ronald Wildrick
United States Army Staff Sergeant Joseph J. Altmann

"The sacrifices of these brave warriors will forever set the strength and fire of future generations and their loyalty and dedication will always be engraved in our hearts and mind," said Rep. Henry Aquino, Chair of the House Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs. 

It was a somber afternoon, where state leaders, military members, and loved ones gathered together to honor the brave servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

The Air Force Honor Guard finished the ceremony with a three-volley salute 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

House members, staff go head-to-head in Kickball fundraiser for P.A.R.E.N.T.S

House Majority Kickball Team
House Majority and Minority members and their staff went at it head-to-head in a kickball tournament fundraiser held by the non-profit organization P.A.R.E.N.T.S at the Kaneohe District Part this past Saturday. The competition was fierce with the teams battling to a 4-4 tie after the allowed 6 innings. The umpire allowed another inning to break the tie but neither team scored. With minutes to go before getting kicked off the field for other teams to play, the umpire ruled the first team to score as the victor. The House Minority went to kick first and brought in the final point. It was a fun day, and all for a good cause. Like Rep. Tom Brower said after the game, "Everybody was a winner!" (Check out the awesome photos from Star Advertiser's Dennis Oda)

P.A.R.E.N.T.S. Inc. is dedicated to strengthening Hawaii's families by providing services to prevent and stop child abuse and neglect. This was its first annual Kickball fundraiser.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Waipahu Elementary Visits the Capitol

This morning, students from Waipahu Elementary School came for a tour of the Capitol. Rep. Henry Aquino (Pearl City, Waipahu), a Waipahu Elementary School alumnus, gave them a tour of the House chamber and answered questions about the legislature and his role as a representative.

The students' questions ranged from wondering where Rep. Aquino sits during session to how much legislators are paid. "Uncle Henry" cheerfully answered every question the children had for him. He stressed the importance of education, encouraging the students to pursue higher education to open up doors for them in the future.

Rep. Aquino still remembers visiting the Capitol back when he was a student at Waipahu Elementary. Perhaps, someday, one of these youngsters will be giving a tour themselves. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Outdoor Circle Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Lawmakers planting an ohia lehua tree
Being "green" has become popular as of late, but it isn't new to Hawai'i. Today, the House helped The Outdoor Circle celebrate its 100th anniversary. The festivities included planting a native ohia lehua tree at the Capitol and honoring the Circle on the House floor.

Lawmakers and members of The Outdoor Circle with the newly planted ohia lehua
The Outdoor Circle is an organization dedicated to keeping Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful by preserving and protecting the environment. They accomplish this goal by planting trees, fighting poor land use planning, and ensuring that Hawaii remains free of billboards. Throughout their century of work, the organization has planted over a quarter of a million trees and successfully lobbied for the passage of many pieces of legislation designed to preserve the beauty of the islands.

Diane Anderson and Susan Spangler of The Outdoor Circle with Majority Leader Chong
"While other cities are plastered with billboards, Honolulu's streets are green with trees because of a century of work by The Outdoor Circle," said Rep. Chris Lee.

Joel Kurokawa, Bob Loy, Betsy Connors, Rep. Chris Lee, Diane Anderson, Susan Spangler, and Rep. Cindy Evans
"Locals and tourists alike continue to appreciate how green Honolulu has become," said Rep. K. Mark Takai. "The Outdoor Circle has kept Hawaii a beautiful place to both live and visit."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House honors local organizations committed to the people of Hawaii

House lawmakers recognized and honored local organizations that sustain the health of, promote the culture of, and respect the people of our multi—cultural State. The groups honored include Centennial Anniversaries for Palama Settlement, The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, and Liliha Shingonji Mission.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rep. Jo Jordan's March 2012 Newsletter

Rep. Jordan Newsletter March 2012

Lawmakers Listen with Rep. Jo Jordan

This past Wednesday, Rep. Jo Jordan welcomed House leadership to her community in Waianae for a Lawmakers Listen Town Hall Meeting. Speaker Calvin Say, Vice Speaker Joey Manahan, Majority Leader Pono Chong, Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro, Economic Revitalization & Business Chair Angus McKelvey, and Rep. Sharon Har made the trip to Oahu's leeward side. There was a strong turnout with 50 people from the Waianae area participating in the forum. Half of the attendees filled out a feedback form and their responses have been compiled here.

The meeting was an overwhelming success, showcasing the political awareness of the Waianae community. Questions and comments from the community members in attendance were insightful, relevant, and heart-felt. In addition to bringing up issues ranging from the proposed state bank to the OHA Kaka'ako land settlement, five individuals used the opportunity of having face time with lawmakers to personally thank Speaker Say for having a significant, positive impact on their lives.

It was a great night for the Waianae community as well as the House leadership who made it to Waianae District Park last Wednesday evening. 

Finance Chair Oshiro Breaks Down the Budget

On Sunday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published an editorial from House Committee on Finance Chair, Marcus Oshiro explaining the state's current financial situation and plans for the future.

At the midway point of the 2012 legislative session, the House passed a budget that reflects a new normal after the Great Recession of 2008. It reprioritizes programs fundamental to public safety and welfare, immediately creates hundreds of jobs in a variety of key industries, and squarely addresses long-term debt. It also charts a course to grow our economy based on long-term financial stability and starts to implement our vision for Hawaii's economic potential.

The budget bill appropriated $5.6 billion in general funds and $13.6 billion in all means of financing, including capital improvements. This is the first year since the recession that the Legislature is not forced to close a deficit over $1 billion.

On March 7, the Council on Revenues revised its projection for fiscal year 2012 upward from 11.5 percent to 12 percent growth. While this means more revenue is available, to spend more money simply to restore programs is not the right thing to do. To incur debt because interest rates are low is shortsighted. To do so means that we haven't learned the lessons of the recession from which we are emerging.

Instead, the House budget is prudent and reprioritizes, rehabilitates and renews government services for the years ahead. It includes $2.2 million for 29 agriculture inspectors to curb invasive species and assist farmers with crop shipments. We provided $15 million for the most vulnerable, including abused and abandoned children, to hire 15 additional Medicaid eligibility workers to reduce the backlog of applications, and $23.4 million for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families services aimed at helping people achieve self-sufficiency.

Creating jobs now is at the forefront of our plan for economic recovery. The construction industry suffered greatly through the recession. There is a backlog of repair and maintenance projects for state facilities in excess of $1 billion. Recognizing these facts, the House appropriated $2.4 billion in bond-funded capital improvement projects for the coming year.

We are working with the governor to upgrade our information technology capacity; $30 million was approved for statewide initiatives by the chief information officer to streamline state government and create higher levels of transparency and accountability. This includes $1.4 million for the Hawaii Broadband Initiative to fund pilot programs to increase the state's broadband capacity.

Beyond the budget, House lawmakers are focusing on a matrix of economic initiatives through emerging industries such as aerospace, digital media and renewable energy.

The state's financial future also depends on tackling long-term debt. As of July 1, 2009, the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) had a total unfunded liability of more than $14.5 billion, with the state responsible for more than $11.5 billion. The House Finance Committee started the process of setting aside monies toward annual required contributions, appropriating $50 million for this purpose in fiscal 2012-2013. Due to the complexity of the issue, we propose a study on how to implement reforms and improve the fiscal health of the EUTF.

We believe that a steady and deliberative approach to the budget is the best way to achieve our goals. The budget passed by the House ensures that the most basic needs of Hawaii's people are met, particularly in human services and agriculture. It also supports long-term planning and accountability that will fundamentally change the character and delivery of government services. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Letter Regarding the Proposed State Bank

Committee on Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro would like to share the following letter, which offers clarification on concerns that have been voiced regarding the proposed state bank. The author of the letter is Mike Krauss, Former officer, Pennsylvania county and state government, international transportation and logistics executive, Director of the Public Banking Institute and Chair, the Pennsylvania Project.

March 16, 2012

Dear Legislator:

With legislation now before you and your colleagues, the Legislature of the State of Hawaii has taken a leadership role in a rapidly expanding national effort to realize for the people of the states the demonstrated benefits of public banking – a locally generated and locally directed approach to stronger banking and credit markets, economic development and jobs creation. 

There are legitimate concerns about how a public bank of Hawaii might be established and to what purposes. We identify these concerns as: mission, capitalization (which must be in part a function of the agreed mission), governance, management, accountability, transparency and risk management.
These matters require a full and careful public discussion.

But we respectfully suggest that in a recent oped, Rep. Gene Ward did more to inflame than to inform the discussion that must take place. 

The legislator builds most of his case against a public Bank of Hawaii on a study prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to examine a proposed public bank of Massachusetts.  This was unfortunate.
We can’t imagine a more discredited source than the Federal Reserve, who are chiefly responsible for failing to maintain a healthy U.S. banking industry, and instead have saddled taxpayers with the almost unimaginable cost and damage of arguably the greatest banking failure of all time.

There is a complete and comprehensive refutation of the “findings” of the Fed study available from the well respected Center for State Innovation and the DEMOS Project, which takes the Fed study apart, point by point. 

It is attached and we commend it to you.

But we must cite some erroneous “findings.”  First, the claim that it would cost the taxpayers of Hawaii $3.2 billion to start a public bank. The claim is ludicrous.

Perhaps, if what was proposed is a retail bank - with branches, real estate, buildings, ATMs, large staff, marketing, advertising expenses, etc – this kind of cost might be expected. But that is not what is proposed.
What is proposed is a wholesale operation, in one location, with a limited mission and without a need to build a retail operation.

Moreover, as was correctly observed but implied to be a gigantic risk, the bank staff would in fact be public employees. They were referred to by the presumably hated word, “bureaucrats.” 

But consider. Unlike the private banking sector that self-destructed in a headlong rush for obscene bonuses, recurring commissions, fantastic salaries and contrived quarterly profits for stockholders, what is proposed is management by salaried civil servants, who have no incentive to take dangerous risks, and work for only one shareholder – the people of Hawaii. 

Additionally, in an attempt to denigrate the concept of public banking generally, the representative referred to the “alleged” success of the Bank of  North Dakota.

The success is no allegation. For 93 years the bank has been a major contributor to that state’s robust economy. It boasts a current loan portfolio of more than $2.8 billion invested in the state’s economy – mostly in commercial loans to businesses – but also about $400 million in mortgages. And, as was correctly observed, the BND returns about $30 million a year to the state general fund in non-tax revenue.
This is an alleged success we believe Hawaiians could live with.

The legislator also refers to public banks as a mostly “third world” phenomena. But Japan, Germany, Australia and Canada have long and successful public banking traditions. 

These are hardly third world nations.

And in the so-called third world, the emerging markets of the BRIC nations have about 40 percent of the banking market in public banks – and are all prospering far ahead of the collapsing economies of the “developed” nations that rely solely on private banking dominated by privately controlled central banks, such as the Federal Reserve.

The legislator also dismisses the role of the BND in that state’s very healthy economy, and attributes the general prosperity to the state’s energy industry.

There is no doubt energy has made a substantial contribution to North Dakota’s revenues. But that is a recent phenomenon. Further, over the last decade, the bank has returned nearly as much revenue as has taxes on the energy industry. And more, the energy industry, like many others, has received substantial support from the bank, which has increased its contribution to the state.

Since 2010, seventeen states are now considering some form of public banking initiative, as are a growing number of municipalities. In almost all these places, the chief opposition comes from the large and often out-of-state banks that now hold many states’ considerable deposits and fear both loss of those deposits and lost market share - to the community banks they pushed out of the market when the Congress allowed creation of the too-big-to-fail banks.

But when the public’s taxes are deposited out of state, what does that do for the local economy? And can we any longer risk having our economic future in the hands of the too-big-to-fail banks - that failed?

One final observation for your consideration. In the legislation, the mission of the bank includes acquiring foreclosed and vacant properties. The alternative, proposed by the administration in Washington, is to sell many of these properties, acquired by the government at above market prices, to “qualified” investors, in bulk.

So, having been dispossessed of their homes, Hawaiians can have their paychecks eaten up in rents paid to the 1 percent, who will then wait on these assets to appreciate in value, and then sell them at a profit taxed at 15 percent as capital gains, to grow fatter still.

We believe holding these properties in a public trust, from which the public receives the rents while looking for ways to put people back in these homes, is both innovative and just. Interestingly, a Republican state legislator in Arizona has offered similar legislation.

We encourage legislators and the people of Hawaii to take a hard look at the alternatives for the future of banking in the state. We believe that if they do, they will conclude that it is prudent and greatly beneficial to have public banking in the mix.


Mike Krauss

Mobile Medical Van Brings Healthcare to Big Island Rural Communities

On March 10, there was a ceremony held in Kona for the blessing of a new mobile medical van, Kaa Hoola (Hawaiian for vehicle of revitalization and well-being), that will benefit rural communities in Hawaii County that are currently without any medical services. The event was the culmination of 10 years of effort by Rep. Bob Herkes, the legislature, Kona Community Hospital and HMSA. 

The van will be owned and operated by the Kona Community Hospital and funded by HMSA for the first two years. The 32 1/2 foot van has an exam room, indoor and outdoor reception areas, a lab, and refrigerated storage areas. 

The initial use for the van will be to provide screening, testing, preventative education, physical examinations, and vaccinations for school children in Ka'u, beginning at Pahala Elementary. The project will eventually offer these services to all members of the communities. 

The launching of Kaa Hoola is a testament to what years of sustained efforts by a coalition of dedicated individuals can accomplish. The people of South Kona finally have access to medical services.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kauai Lawmakers Honor Surfing Icon

Rep. Tokioka, Sen. Kouchi, Reef McIntosh, his fiance Jessica, and Rep. Kawakami
Almost anywhere you go in America, if you ask children who their heroes are you will get the same short list of answers with athletes like LeBron James, Tom Brady, and now Jeremy Lin topping the list of responses. Not in Kauai. Kids growing up on the Garden Isle look up to local legends like Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, and Reef McIntosh.

Today, lawmakers from Kauai presented Reef McIntosh with a certificate of appreciation for his contributions to the surfing world, the state of Hawai'i, and his recent success in winning the 2012 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout. Reef, a veteran of the circuit, is known for his barrel mastery and happy disposition. Congratulations to Reef for making Kauai and all of Hawai'i proud.

Monday, March 12, 2012

OHA Kaka'ako Land Settlement Advances in House

Earlier today, the House Committee on Water, Land, & Ocean Resources and Committee on Hawaiian Affairs held a joint hearing for legislation regarding the state's proposed transfer of Kaka'ako Makai lands to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

SB2783 conveys the Kaka'ako Makai lands to OHA, resolving all disputes and controversies relating to OHA's portion of income and proceeds from the public trust lands from November 7, 1978 and June 30, 2012.

SB682 allows for two lots in the proposed Kaka'ako Makai settlement package to be developed as residential properties that are exempt from public facilities fees, providing for at least twenty percent of the units are designated for low to moderate income households.

Governor Abercrombie submitted written testimony and appeared before the Committees to field questions on the two bills. The Committees adopted both pieces of legislation, with nine members voting with reservations and one 'no' vote on SB682. Both bills will now advance to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Gov. Abercrombie was joined by Attorney General David Louie

Friday, March 9, 2012

Governor Abercrombie Signs Unemployment Insurance Bill Into Law

Today, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 2096, which extends the mitigation of the Unemployment Insurance tax increase through calendar year 2012, into law.

This is the sixth measure the Governor has enacted into law this legislative session and comes at a pivotal time as the state's economy continues its slow recovery. The legislation allows local businesses to save hundreds of dollars per employee annually in Unemployment Insurance tax contributions. These savings may make the difference between staying in business or not, allowing companies to hire additional employees, and preventing businesses from laying off current employees.

The bill also continues the Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount at 75 percent of the Average Weekly Wage rather than return to the normal 70 percent. The legislation also permits the Unemployment Insurance Fund to accept loans from the state general fund and the federal government, if necessary.

Governor Abercrombie signing House Bill 2096 into law.

Kukui Connection: Heather Giugni

On the next episode of Kukui Connection, Rep. Marilyn Lee welcomes newly appointed Rep. Heather Giuni.

Rep. Giugni's path to the Legislature has been unconventional to say the least and she brings a breadth of experience that enhances and enriches the House. Born in Hawai'i, Heather and her family moved to Washington DC in the 1960s in order for her father to work for Senator Inouye. Rep. Giugni reflects on growing up in our nation's capital in the 1960s as well as her exposure to Hawaiian legends including Patsy Mink and Spark Matsunaga.

After earning her degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, Heather returned to Hawai'i and began a career in media. In 1986, Rep. Giugni started her own production company, Juniroa Productions, which she still owns and operates today.

Reps. Lee and Giugni discuss the merits of Speaker Say's policy of placing freshman lawmakers on the Finance Committee. Rep. Giugni also identifies her top legislative priority for the session: appropriating funding for the Aiea Library.

Rep. Giugni with Speaker Say shortly after being sworn in to office on February 21st

The episode will air on Olelo Channel 54 on the following dates:

                                                            Friday, March 16 at 8:30pm
                                                            Sunday, March 18 at 4:00pm
                                                            Sunday, March 25 at 4:00pm
                                                            Sunday, April 1 at 4:00pm

Mortgage Foreclosure Bills 2012

House Foreclosure Bills Press Release

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A lesson in lawmaking

Today, Rep. Joey Manahan, Rep. John Mizuno, and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland held a mock hearing/ floor session with 9th graders from Farrington High School. The students were able to testify in support or opposition of a few selected measures, including a measure introduced last year that would mandate minors age 15-17 be tried as adults in cases of first degree murder. The students seemed to be split on the proposed  bill. Some said that these minors should already know the difference between right and wrong and understand the consequences of their actions and therefore be tried as an adult, while others said that at age 15 you’re still a child. As part of a field trip to learn about the legislative process and the work that lawmakers do each day, the Farrington students took a tour of the Capitol building and were able to meet and talk with their district legislators.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jordan's Journal with Rep. Angus McKelvey

On the next episode of Jordan’s Journal, Rep. Jo Jordan sits down with Representative Angus McKelvey, the chairman of the House Committee on Economic Revitalization and Business.

They talk about aerospace, broadband, film and digital media, and how the state must take advantage of the unique opportunities we have here in Hawaii to stimulate these areas and revitalize our economy.

Rep. McKelvey mentions his work on measures that will restructure the film tax credit so that it becomes tied into more local jobs and use of local vendors. He says that we have the talent here that the film industry can use in all processes of making a movie. His idea is to require film companies to hire local people at all levels of production.

Watch the show now!

Episode 13 - Rep Angus McKelvey from Jo Jordan on Vimeo.

The show will also air on Monday, March 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. on Olelo Channel 54

For a face-to-face with these lawmakers, you can attend a Lawmakers Listen for an opportunity to talk with Reps Jordan and McKelvey, and other members of House leadership about the measures making their way through the legislative process, especially the ones that affect the Wai'anae Coast community. The meeting is on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the Wai'anae District Park.

Rep. Jordan will be joined by Vice Speaker Joey Manahan, Vice Chair Sharon Har (Committee on Water, Land, & Ocean Resources), Chair Angus McKelvey (Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business), and Chair Marcus Oshiro (Finance Committee).

Women's Legislative Caucus Easter Basket Drive

Each year the Women's Legislative Caucus donates Easter Baskets of essential items for clients of the Institute for Human Services. Last year’s theme, “Welcome Home Easter Baskets," which helped individuals start off on the right foot when moving from being homeless to having a permanent home, was so successful that IHS wants to continue the theme for this year's Easter Basket drive.

With your help the WLC collected and donated more than 150 Easter Baskets to The Institute for Human Services last year. We appreciate your continued support of this worthy cause.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Congrats to 2011 Kane Fernandez Award Recipient Rep. Takai

On Saturday, March 3, Rep. K. Mark Takai was honored as the 2011 Kane Fernandez Award recipient at the UH men's basketball game against Utah State at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Rep. Takai is the 11th recipient of the award, which is presented to former UH letterwinners who have made significant, self-less contributions to the community. The award is named in memory of Kane Fernandez, an original member of the UH Letterwinners Club.

Rep. Takai was on the UH swim team from 1985-89, served on the Letterwinners Club Board of Directors, and is currently the 1st Vice President of the Letterwinners Club.

In addition to serving as a State Representative for 18 years, Rep. Takai is also a Major in the Hawai'i National Guard and deployed to the Middle East three years ago.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rep. Jo Jordan's Jan-Feb 2012 Newsletter

Print or download your copy of Rep. Jo Jordan's Jan-Feb 2012 newsletter. Rep. Jordan's Newsletter Jan-Feb 2012

Art at the Capitol 2012

Rep. Mark Nakashima with artists Ruthadell Anderson and Reiko Brandon
Friday, March 2, 2012, was the 4th annual "Art at the Capitol." Hawai'i is the first state in the nation to mandate that one percent of the budget for a new state building goes to art. Art at the Capitol is a way to allow citizens to view their collection. This year's edition was the largest yet, with fifty-two offices in the House and the Senate (including the Public Access Room), the Offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, and thirty artists participating.

The artists wore white leis and were on hand to explain their works to the public
Musical entertainment was provided by three quartets: the Hawaii Youth Symphony Quartet and Punahou School's Saburo Watanabe Quartet and Mesrobian Memorial String Quartet.

James Ha, Jennifer Ha, Julie Kuo, and Hee Won Lee filling the 3rd floor with beautiful music
Art at the Capitol is a wonderful opportunity for people to visit the Capitol, interact with lawmakers, and view more than 460 works of art from the State's Art in Public Places Collection. Having the artists present allowed the public to gain insight into the story behind each work of art. 

Artists explained their works to attendees
Rep. Scott Nishimoto showing his collection to visitors
This year was the debut of the FIN(e) Art competition. The House Committee on Finance (FIN) works long hours, often staying at the Capitol well past midnight. Rep. Isaac Choy came up with the contest as a way to help committee members keep their sanity and further involve lawmakers with Art at the Capitol. Ten members of the committee submitted entries to the contest, where they created their best interpretation of Finance Chair, Rep. Marcus Oshiro.

Finance Committee members showing their artistic ability
With an estimated 600 attendees flocking to the Capitol, the event had a great turnout, and a lot of fun was had by all. More photos from the event may be viewed on Art at the Capitol's Facebook page. Be sure to come be a part of next year's Art at the Capitol!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Filipino Mayors Make Historic Visit to Hawai'i

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) is a nationally recognized organization representing 40 million people living in 122 cities in the Philippines. A delegation from the LCP came to Hawai'i to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation with the State of Hawai'i. This was the first agreement between an American state and group of cities from another nation and, with 12 mayors and one vice-mayor making the journey, the largest trip of its kind in the history of the Philippines.

Rep. John Mizuno (Kamehemeha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter) took the lead in welcoming the delegation. While they were here, the LCP representatives were welcomed with "Aloha Night" at the Philippine consulate, participated in a Disaster Preparedness/Risk Management Forum, toured the Civil Defense Center, toured the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, participated in a Tourism Forum, participated in a forum on Human Services and Juvenile Justice, toured Pearl Harbor and laid a wreath at the Arizona Memorial, were honored with a floor presentation by the House, and attended a reception at Washington Place for the signing of the Memorandum.

 “Forming a union with the League of Cities of the Philippines not only strengthens the bond between our Filipino-Hawaiian community and their country of origin, it connects the state with a valuable partner in the Pacific,” added Rep. Mizuno. “This trip marks the dawn of an era of increased economic, cultural, and social exchange between the state of Hawai’i and the Philippines.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Undocumented and unafraid

Meet Isabel Castillo. She is 27, a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, and a proud holder of a bachelor's degree in social work.

She is also undocumented and unafraid.

Isabel came to the United States from Mexico with her parents when she was 6 years old. She started first grade in Virginia and has lived there for 21 years. To Isabel, America is her home country.

(L-R) Reps. Johanson, Nishimoto, Takumi
I met Isabel Wednesday during a meeting she and five of her fellow activists from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) had with Representatives Roy Takumi, Scott Nishimoto, Ty Cullen, Henry Aquino, and Aaron Johanson. NIYA is an undocumented youth-led organization focused on achieving equality for all immigrant youth, regardless of their legal status.

“I grew up watching 'Barney' and eating pizza,” she said, while sharing her life story and struggles with being an undocumented student. Isabel never realized the implications of being undocumented until she got to high school and started looking at applying to colleges and considering funding options.

Without the ability to prove residency in her home state, Isabel was ineligible for in-state tuition, waivers, or other financial resources, essentially denying her access to higher education.

Twelve states currently allow undocumented student residents to pay in-state tuition and access to financial aid and other benefits, within the limits of federal law.

Like Virginia, Hawaii is not one of them.

Undocumented students who have grown up here and call Hawaii home face the barrier of prohibitive financial expenses, not to mention fears of deportation and the inability of securing gainful employment.

This week Isabel and other NIYA youth activists led a Youth Empowerment Summit at the University of Hawaii where they met with 50 Hawaii youth who share Isabel's background.

Rep. Roy Takumi
We heard about a young man named Raul, a junior from Lahaina, Maui. After emigrating from Mexico with his family at 11 years old, Raul has since called Maui home. In 2009, his father was deported, and Raul is afraid that he will also be deported. He wants to go to college in the U.S., but recently found out that the school he was considering does not accept undocumented students. “It was really hard for me, but I’m trying my best,” he said in a video NIYA shared with us.

Then there’s Sam, a 21-year-old Ewa Beach resident who came to Hawaii from Tonga with his family when he was very young. At age 18, his family started the process to become legal citizens. Unfortunately, before his legal status was finalized, Sam turned 21 and aged out of the process, meaning he could no longer be processed with his family and would have to reapply for legal status as an individual, which could take years. Sam is currently going through court proceedings to deal with his immigration status.

At the Legislature this session, lawmakers introduced a measure to address these education issues that create financial barriers for young residents who have called Hawaii home for many years.

Rep. Takumi, chair of the Education Committee, and Rep. Nishimoto, chair of the Higher Education Committee, introduced HB1674, which aligns with the proposed federal legislation known as the Dream Act.

HB1674 would extend eligibility for state financial aid and resident tuition to local undocumented students of the University of Hawaii who meet certain specified criteria.

Although the measure passed the Higher Education Committee, it was deferred in the House Finance Committee last week.

Despite this setback, the young students from NIYA were eager to applaud and thank Reps. Takumi and Nishimoto for their efforts in changing policy to give young undocumented residents a chance to continue in academics.

For now, like Isabel in Virginia, these students must make do with what is available to them, most options being forgoing higher education or returning to a country they do not know. In Isabel's case, after a stint working as a waitress, she was accepted into a private university that took undocumented students. With the help of community resources, she was able to secure grants from Latino organizations to pay for half of her tuition. However, it is still difficult for her to find employment, but with America's broken immigration system, she says, her social work degree is put to good use advocating on behalf of other undocumented youth who are not as lucky as she was.

At the end of the meeting, Rep. Nishimoto gave his final remarks and expressed to the members of NIYA something that I'm sure resonated with everyone in the room. "Thank you for putting a face to this bill," he said.