Monday, December 9, 2013

Representative Denny Coffman to Resign from State House


Big Island Representative Denny Coffman (Na'alehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona) announced today his resignation from the State House of Representatives. In a letter to State leaders, he expressed his plans to spend time with his family as his daughter faces a medical issue. His resignation is effective December 20, 2013.

“It is with deep sadness and regret that I accept the resignation of Rep. Coffman from the State House. I am grateful for all that he has done for state and the Legislature where he has been a respected and positive proponent of environmental progress. I am honored to have been able to call Denny a colleague and I, along with the members of the House, offer our sincere sympathies and wish him and his family the best. He will surely be missed," said Speaker Joseph M. Souki.

First elected in 2008, Representative Coffman has served in the State House for three terms with an emphasis upon the development of sound and balanced policy to incorporate renewable energy resources across the state through financially viable means.

He has served as the Chair of the Committee on Energy & Environmental Protections where he remains a member and also currently serves on the Committees on Judiciary; Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs; and Water & Land.

Prior to his election to office, Representative Coffman served in the United States Army, was a successful small business owner, computer programmer/system analyst and an administrator in the information technologies industry.
“I am extremely honored to have been elected by the people of Hawaii Island and to serve three terms in the Legislature. It is with a heavy heart that I made this decision but as a father and grandfather, I am firmly committed to my family and will be there for my daughters and grandchildren in their time of need. I leave knowing that I have represented the communities of Hawaii Island and the State to the best of my ability,” said Representative Coffman.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hawaii Future Caucus

From left to right: Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, Councilmember Stanley Chang, Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Rep. Takashi Ohno, Rep. Kaniela Ing, and Rep. Chris Lee

Young Legislators Establish Hawaii Future Caucus
Bipartisan effort launched to engage young people, increase government transparency

HONOLULU – A bipartisan group of state and county leaders age 40 and under have established the Hawaii Future Caucus (HFC) to increase government openness and participation among young people. The Caucus will facilitate policy discussions between public, private and nonprofit sectors and advance legislative packages within the State House and City Councils.
The Co-chairs are State Representative Beth Fukumoto, a Republican, State Representative Takashi Ohno, a Democrat, and Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang. The three legislators will work together to execute programming and lead policy strategy discussions for HFC.
“Young people are frustrated by the partisanship they see within all levels of government, and as a result, they’re disengaging,” said Fukumoto. “But if the system is going to improve, these are the very people our government needs to involve.”
The Caucus has identified two priorities that it considers barriers keeping young people from participating in government; government transparency and voter participation.
“Improved voter participation and transparency in government are not issues exclusive to any one political party,” said Ohno. “By addressing these obstacles, we make government accessible and appealing to an entire generation of young people and help them transition into roles of active citizenship.”
“At the end of the day, young people just want to see problems getting solved. If we can show that we can work together productively on issues that are important to everyone, it may help restore confidence and encourage engagement in government,” said Chang.
A 2013 Harvard study found that almost half of people (47%) age 18-29 agree that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing,” and another third (36%) were apathetic to the question. Voter turnout among the same age group dropped from 51% to 45% between the last two national elections.
The Hawaii Future Caucus is working with the Millennial Action Project (MAP), a nonprofit working to move America beyond political gridlock with next generation leadership and innovative, future-focused policy dialogue. MAP recently worked with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to form the Bipartisan Congressional Future Caucus with Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL).
"We are extremely proud of Representative Fukumoto, Representative Ohno, and Councilmember Chang for spearheading the Hawaii Future Caucus. Their fresh perspective, innovative ideas, and post-partisan approach is an excellent model of leadership," said Steve Olikara, President and Co-Founder of the Millennial Action Project.
For more information about the Hawaii Future Caucus, please visit its Facebook page, For more about the Millennial Action Project, please visit

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hiring for the 2014 Legislative Session

Interested in working at the Legislature or learning the inner workings of State Government? Then a job at the State House of Representatives might be for you!

We are hiring for the upcoming 2014 Legislative Session from January - May.

More information is available in the attached flyer or on the Capitol website at:

Friday, November 8, 2013


The Hawaii House of Representatives today voted to pass SB1 HD1, relating to equal rights, on third reading. The measure was approved by a vote of 30 to 18, with three members excused.

The House draft includes amendments, modeled after similar language in Connecticut law, significantly broadening exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization. Religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempted from having to furnish goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnizations if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith. It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. The measure also grants immunity from administrative, civil and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, goods, or facilities as described.

The issue was discussed in House committee hearings spanning five days and nearly 57 hours of public testimony. There were 5,184 registered testifiers, with over 1,000 people testifying, and nearly 24,400 written testimonies submitted. As far as House members could recall, the public hearing on SB1 was the longest hearing on a single bill in the modern history of the Hawaii House of Representatives.  Based on concerns and issues raised during the public hearing the bill was amended to expand the religious exemptions for churches and religious organizations that do not want to solemnize same gender marriages.

The bill is now transmitted to the Hawaii State Senate for their consideration. Upon approval of the changes by the Senate, the bill will be transmitted to the Governor for his signature into law.  If the Senate rejects the amendments, the bill will go into conference committee. The Senate is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, November 11, to vote on the amended House bill (SB1 HD1).

More information on the bill is available on the Capitol website at:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

State House Approves Bill for Emergency Funding to Kauai Hospitals


The Hawaii House of Representatives has passed HB3 HD1, of the 2013 Second Special Session, which will provide $7.3 million in emergency funding to sustain the operations of the Kauai regional health care system. Without this funding Kauai’s two hospitals operated by the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) would have run out of money in January 2014 forcing them to close down—placing the health care of Kauai's residents and visitors in jeopardy.

HHSC is a public benefit corporation of government of the State of Hawaii providing patient-centered, integrated-care systems throughout the islands and is the fourth largest public health system in the country. On Kauai, the organization operates two critical access hospitals, the only inpatient psychiatric unit on the island, long-term care, and three physician clinics. The two operating hospitals are West Kauai Medical Center and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.

The bill, submitted by the Governor’s office, initially requested an appropriation of $2.5 million. After consideration of testimony from HHSC and the community, the House Finance and Health Committees raised the funding to $7.3 million to cover operations until March 2014.

Finance Chair Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) and Health Chair Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) thanked the Representatives from Kauai, “for their diligence in bringing this matter to our attention and for educating all of us on the importance of passing this bill. We are glad that we had the opportunity to recapitalize the system before the public was put at risk,” they said.

In applauding the passing of the bill, the Kauai delegation stated, “We are extremely appreciative to the members of the Health and Finance Committees for understanding the critical need of this emergency request and for increasing the amount to a level that would sustain our public health system on Kauai. It is no secret that the neighbor islands and rural districts require additional assistance to provide even the basic level of healthcare and we will continue to work towards improving the health care delivery system for the people of Kauai.”

The bill now moves to State Senate for their consideration. Senate Vice President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau), a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, pledged his support for the bill and its passage stating, “the emergency appropriation for Kauai’s two HHSC hospitals, in Waimea and Kapaa, is necessary to ensure that all residents of Kauai are afforded access to health care services.”

Kauai Representatives Contact Information:

            Derek S.K. Kawakami (Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapaa, Wailua)

            Jimmy Tokioka (Wailua Homesteads, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Puhi, Old Koloa Town, Omao)
            Dee Morikawa (Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SB1 Special Session JUD/FIN Hearing Procedures


Honolulu, Hawaii – To accommodate the expected high numbers of people wishing to testify on SB1 and to allow testifiers to plan their time accordingly, the House Judiciary and Finance Committees plan to begin the public hearing at 10am and end at midnight. At that time if there are people who signed up to testify still waiting to speak, the hearing will be continued on Friday, November 1 at a time to be determined.

Due to the anticipated high volume of testifiers for the October 31, 2013 House hearing on SB1 relating to equal rights, the Judiciary and Finance Committees will assign registration numbers to people who submit testimony and wish to testify in-person. Those who submit testimony online and wish to testify at the hearing will receive an email prior to the hearing with their registration number. Those who submit their testimony in person should go to the House Chief Clerk’s Office (Room 027) where they will be assigned a number at that time.

Online testimony can be submitted at

The numbering system is being implemented to more efficiently assist the flow of people and their testimony during the hearing. It will also allow testifiers to know where they are on the testimony list and plan their presence accordingly.

The committees are waiving the 24 hour deadline for submission of testimony which will be accepted before and during the October 31 hearing.

For additional assistance on the day of the hearing, an information booth will be available outside of the capitol auditorium.

The hearing notice is available at: