Governor Abercrombie Offices Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

After a rigorous six-month planning process made possible by a federal grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the state today announced the release of its healthcare transformation plan. Under CMMI’s State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, Beth Giesting, the state’s healthcare transformation coordinator, convened more than 100 stakeholders from across the state to design Hawaii’s roadmap to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health and lower costs.

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

“Transforming our state’s healthcare system is a high priority of my administration, and under the leadership of Beth Giesting, we’ve made substantial progress since her appointment two years ago,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “This healthcare transformation plan outlines clear, tangible steps we can take to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care in Hawaii.”

“The resources that accompanied the SIM planning grant came at just the right time to allow us to take our efforts to the next level,” added Giesting. “We firmly believe that the priorities outlined in our plan will improve the quality of care and outcomes for all residents, while addressing the long-term fiscal sustainability of our healthcare system. In addition, it will bring greater equity by reducing geographic and cultural barriers to care.”

As part of its roadmap for transformation, the state’s plan identifies six essential catalysts for transformation:

  1. Primary Care Practice Redesign: Enrolling at least 80 percent of Hawaii residents in a patient-centered medical home by 2017 and exploring strategies to integrate behavioral health services into the primary care setting
  2. Care Coordination: Implementing programs to help high-risk/high-need individuals receive the services they need in part by establishing Medicaid Health Homes and Community Care Networks
  3. Payment Reform: Transitioning all payers to value-based purchasing by aligning reimbursement strategies
  4. Health Information Technology: Improving connectivity and capability across the healthcare ecosystem by accelerating adoption of electronic health records and increasing utilization of health information exchange
  5. Workforce Development: Expanding capacity for team-based care, addressing workforce shortages and improving cultural competency of providers
  6. Policy Strategies and Levers: Aligning state resources to drive policy changes, including the creation of a permanent transformation structure within state government

The plan is now available in its entirety for review at: www.hawaiihealthcareproject.org

In addition to Hawaii, 15 other states were announced as awardees of the SIM planning grant. Each state had six months to design and submit its own healthcare transformation plan, which will now be eligible for anticipated implementation awards later this year. CMMI expects to issue up to five such awards to the states to implement their plans, with each award valued between $20 and $60 million.

Hawaii Senate Advances Bills Investing in Education

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced bills that support Hawaii’s keiki through a variety of education initiatives. If passed, the measures would restore funds to support school athletic programs, improve the learning environment for students and invest in Hawaii charter schools.

capital

“Hawaii’s keiki are our greatest resource and it’s important that we give them every advantage for a better future,” said Senator David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “To do that, we need to invest in every aspect of their education from academics to athletics to their learning environment.”

These measures will go to the Senate floor for third reading and if approved will move to the House for consideration.

The education measures passed today include:

SB2424 SD1: RELATING TO AIR CONDITIONING

Requires the department of education and department of accounting and general services, in consultation with the Hawaii state energy office of the department of business, economic development, and tourism and the Hawaii natural energy institute of the University of Hawaii, to develop a cooling master strategy and comprehensive study for the public schools and to report findings to the 2015 regular session of the legislature. Appropriates funds.

SB3083 SD1: RELATING TO SCHOOL ATHLETICS.

Appropriates general funds for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program of the department of education. Authorizes additional coaching and assistant coaching positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the school athletics program.

SB2516 RELATING TO FACILITIES FUNDING FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS

Appropriates funds for the state public charter school commission to allocate to charter schools for facilities projects based, in part, on the need and performance of the charter schools. Requires annual reporting to the legislature.

SB2517 RELATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS

Authorizes the state public charter school commission to request the issuance of general obligation bonds from the director of finance and to allocate the proceeds for the design, planning, construction, repair, and maintenance of public charter school facilities. Creates a working group to determine criteria for and to prioritize the allocation of general obligation bond proceeds to the public charters schools. Specifies that public charter school facilities funded through the proceeds of general obligation bonds are owned by the State. Requires the state public charter school commission to report annually to the legislature. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds to the state public charter school commission. Repeals on June 30, 2024.

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.

Hawaii Senate Committee Advances Bills Protecting the Environment

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced legislation to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources. The committee passed bills that, if made law, would have immediate and far-reaching effects on beach shorelines, invasive species control, conservation, sustainability, climate change and disaster planning efforts.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

“We must continually work together to maintain our unique island home for the health and pleasure of our families and, also, the stability of our economy through the visitor industry,” said Sen. David Ige, WAM Committee chairman. “These bills passed today touch on many facets of the environment both with immediate actions and long-term planning, and will require more meetings and consensus for success.”

The environment protection measures passed today include:

SB2742 – Establishes the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability to provide the structure and opportunity for a new generation of leaders to emerge who possess the ability to address Hawaii and the Pacific-Asia region’s risks from natural and man-made hazards and to develop solutions for sustainable economic growth within the region’s unique physical and cultural diversity.

SB3035 – Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for planning for and construction for the realignment of Kamehameha Highway mauka of Laniakea beach on the North Shore of Oahu.

SB3036 – Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to create a North Shore beach management plan for the North Shore of Oahu stretching from Sunset beach to Waimea Bay.

The Senate WAM Committee last week advanced two joint majority package bills that support efforts to address invasive species and climate change. The measures are:

SB2343 – Appropriates funds to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning.

SB2344 – Addresses climate change adaptation by establishing the interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to create a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report that addresses sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050. Tasks the Office of Planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations using the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other statewide climate impacts identified under Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012. Appropriates funds for staffing and resources.

Hawaiian Telcom Introduces Enhanced Internet Speeds

Fueled by its expanding fiber network, Hawaiian Telcom has introduced Hawaii’s fastest internet, featuring speeds of up to 500 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.

Hawaii TelcomBeginning 2 March, O’ahu consumers will be able to sign up for broadband speed tiers of 100, 300 and 500 Mbps, with higher speeds available for businesses. Hawaiian Telcom internet packages come with a wireless networking gateway, comprehensive internet security software and access to local 24/7 technical support.

Hawaiian Telcom president and CEO, Eric K. Yeaman said the company has invested USD 125 million in its new fiber network and systems and plans to expand network reach in the future.

Bill to Make Hawaiian Bobtail Squid Hawaii’s Official State Microbe to be Heard Tomorrow

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid – a two inch, glow in the dark creature – will have its moment in the spotlight tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, February 25. The Senate’s Committee on Technology and the Arts (TEC) will hear a bill designating vibrio fischeri as Hawaii’s official microbe.

image credit: guardian.co.uk

Image credit: guardian.co.uk

Vibrio fischeri is a bacteria which lives in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, giving the animal the power to produce bioluminescence, or light from a living organism. The squid is endemic to Hawaii and hunts at night on reef flats. However, moonlight casts a shadow onto the sea floor, which alerts predators to the squid’s presence. To counter this effect, the Hawaiian bobtail squid cultures vibrio fischeri in a special light-emitting organ, which allows it to become stealthy by projecting light that minimizes the dark shadow of its body.

Image credit: kahikai.org

Image credit: kahikai.org

The study of this chemical reaction has numerous medical and practical applications, such as testing for toxic compounds in water.

“We anticipate having a State Microbe will ignite interest in science for our kids. What could be more appropriate than a bacteria that creates a glowing blue squid that thrives just off our shores,” says Sen. Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the TEC Committee, “With 70% of our planet covered in water, it makes perfect sense to have Hawaii’s microbe tied to the ocean.”

Image credit: news.wisc.edu

Image credit: news.wisc.edu

What:   Hearing on SB 3124, designating a State Microbe

When: 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, February 25

Where: Capitol, room 414

More information on the bill can be found by going to this link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=3124&year=2014.

Oregon became the first state to have an official microbe.  Lawmakers there designated saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as “brewer’s yeast” as its state microbe due to its importance to Oregon’s beer and winemaking industries. Wisconsin has attempted to turn lactococcus lactis into its official microbe, in recognition of its role in creating cheese.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $62.4 Million for Education Facilities Statewide

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $62.4 million for capital improvement projects (CIP) that will improve various Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) facilities across the state, while stimulating the economy and generating local jobs.

“These funds will help to create a better learning environment for our keiki and provide teachers with the tools they need to succeed,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In the process, the funds will create work for hundreds in Hawaii.”

Kau High School

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$36,365,000 – Improving and Maintaining Facilities and Infrastructure – Planning, design, construction and equipment to improve and maintain facilities and infrastructure for various schools statewide. DOE’s estimated backlog for repair and maintenance is at $265 million. These projects include general school building improvements, electrical upgrades and playground equipment repair, along with maintenance and other school repairs and renovations. Some of these funds will go to the overall repair project at the damaged Farrington High Auditorium.

$7,554,000 – Program Support – Planning, land, design, construction and equipment for program support at various schools statewide, including new/temporary facilities, improvements to existing facilities, ground and site improvements, and for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and gender equity. ADA projects include McKinley High, Baldwin High, Kohala Elementary and Honokaa High. Gender equity projects include Keaau High, Waiakea High and Waipahu High softball fields and Kahuku High and Intermediate girls’ athletic locker room. Funds will also complete construction of a locker room project at Lahainaluna High and complete design of a locker room at Konawaena Middle School.

$7,500,000 – Equity – Design and construction for equality projects to improve instructional spaces such as science labs, special education classroom renovations and classrooms on a statewide basis for classroom/learning environment parity. Equity projects also include energy improvements relating to heat abatement in classrooms.

$5,800,000 – Capacity – Plans, land, design, construction and equipment for capacity projects at various schools statewide nearing their enrollment capacity or are short of classroom space.

$5,200,000 – Staff Costs and Project Positions – Fiscal Year 2014 costs related to wages and fringe benefits for 60 project-funded permanent staff. The positions will provide the technical and clerical support necessary for the DOE to adequately address their CIP needs by moving its CIP project-funded staff to the vacant Liliuokalani Elementary in the near future.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow still active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

View of the flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, looking west. The flow front has focused into a new lobe that is slowly migrating through thick forest, triggering scattered forest fires. The smoke from these fires seems to be “seeding” the cloud above it. The active flow front was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance.

Top: Looking northeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, the smoke coming from forest fires at the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, thick fume is coming from the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube, which is supplying lava to the flow front. Bottom: View of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. This small cone is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. The cone has recently hosted a small lava pond, but today this seemed to be crusted over. See the time-lapse sequences below to see recent activity at this cone.

Thermal image of the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Yellow and white areas depict active breakouts, while red areas are cooler, inactive portions of the flow. Over the past week a new lobe has pushed east, between lobes that were active in November and January. The tip of this new lobe was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Compare this view to the February 20 map (see link above).

Spattering and gas pistoning in the northeast cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

This selection of images shows activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past two weeks. The lava pond was undergoing gas pistoning, a gradual buildup and release of gas in the lava pond that is often associated with spattering and lava level changes. For scale, the lava pond is about 10 m (30 feet) across.

More images of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō, taken with a time-lapse camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a time-lapse sequence of activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on February 9-10. Rapid fluctuations in the height of the lava pond are caused by gas pistoning, which is the gradual buildup and release of gas in the pond. Mauna Kea is visible in the upper right portion of the frame. The sequence was captured by an inexpensive time-lapse camera, whose plastic housing was warped by the extreme heat.

Department of Education Convenes Working Group to Review “Pono Choices” – A Sexual Health Education Curriculum

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) yesterday convened a working group to review Pono Choices, a sexual health education curriculum taught in some middle schools as part of a research study by the University of Hawaii’s (UH) Center on Disability Studies.

DOE ReleaseOn Feb. 4, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE), a discussion of sexual health education curriculum drew additional comments regarding Pono Choices. The BOE received more than 100 written testimonies expressing concerns over the UH pilot curriculum. As a result, the DOE convened a working group comprised of diverse stakeholders to review Pono Choices and make a recommendation on whether it meets statutory requirements and applicable BOE policies regarding sexual health education curriculum.

The group, chaired by DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe, includes:

  • Darrin Araki, executive director, Hawaii Pastors Roundtable
  • Dr. Robert Bidwell, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Manoa
  • Karen Ginoza, representative of He’e Coalition and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE)
  • Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, parent representative
  • Noella Kong, state adolescent health coordinator, Hawaii State Department of Health
  • Justin Mew, principal of Kaiser High School; former principal of Niu Valley Middle School and former science teacher
  • Donna Rodenhurst, health teacher, King Intermediate School
  • Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, director of culture, Halau Lokahi Public Charter School

The working group meets again on Feb. 27 and welcomes public input through noon on Feb. 26 via email at hipublicschools@gmail.com. All feedback will be logged and shared with group members. Individuals should not resubmit testimony already provided to the BOE.

The working group will spend as much time as necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pono Choices prior to issuing a public report.

In November, the DOE temporarily placed Pono Choices on hold to address concerns about whether the curriculum was aligned with health education state law and policy. A subsequent UH review of its copyrighted curriculum concluded Pono Choices met the standards.

Senator Malama Solomon on the Hawaii Business News “Geothermal Article”

Senator Malama Solomon responded to the following Hawaii Business News article:

Click to read article

Click to read article

Your report on geothermal energy (HB November 2013, “Geothermal is a Red-Hot Topic”) failed to make some very important points about why geothermal would improve the quality of life for all of us in Hawaii.

• Geothermal is used worldwide and can be applied to Hawaii. According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are several regions worldwide with geothermal and geologic conditions very similar to Hawaii, such as Iceland and New Zealand. Both nations benefit from electrical rates of up to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to Hawaii’s average of 32 cents/kwh. DLNR also points out that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy.

• Safeguards are already in place. “The State of Hawaii has developed a thorough series of procedures to review, regulate and oversee the development of geothermal resources,” says DLNR Chair William Aila. “This includes the drilling of all geothermal wells, the protection of underground sources of drinking water, safe well construction techniques, and seismic monitoring.”

Also, geothermal development projects are required by Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to develop an Environmental Impact Statement, which includes public disclosure of potential impacts and proposed mitigations measures that are subject to public hearings and a public comment period before any project can proceed forward. “These processes are already in place ensure the protection of the environment, natural and cultural resources, and the public’s health and safety,” Alia says.

• Geothermal has Hawaiian support. “Hawaiians have supported and continue to support geothermal development on Hawaii Island,” says Mililani Trask of the Innovations Development Group. She points out geothermal development has received support by the largest Hawaiian organization, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Hawaiian energy producers and land owners, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who has also invested in a Hawaiian company seeking to develop the resource on Hawaii Island.

We have a great opportunity to responsibly develop geothermal to provide clean, renewable and firm power to our homes and businesses at a lower cost.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Senate District 4 (Hilo, Hāmākua, Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa and Kona)

Grassroot Institute Issue Brief Looks at the Minimum Wage Debate

A recent Issue Brief from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii considers the effects of an increase in the minimum wage, concluding that the raise in the minimum wage currently before the Hawaii Legislature will not advance the goal of improving the plight of Hawaii’s working poor.

Click to read brief

Click to read brief

The report, entitled Four Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate in Hawaii, identifies four key areas of concern that are at odds with the objectives of the legislation. They are:

  • Raising the minimum wage will benefit less than 4%of low-income working families.
  • The current proposed minimum wage raise increases the costs of low-skilled labor by 39%.
  • Raising the minimum wage will not lift working families out of poverty.
  • Raising the minimum wage is expected to reduce teenage employment.

Though the intent of a minimum wage increase is to lift Hawaii’s working families out of poverty, the brief concludes that such legislation will do little to achieve this objective while placing a substantial burden on Hawaii’s small businesses and employers. In effect, states the brief author, “[a]n increase in the minimum wage would accomplish no more than to increase benefits for a handful of low-income working families at the expense of teenage workers and small business owners. The one thing that the minimum wage proposal does accomplish, however, is to effectively divert the political narrative away from the real causes of poverty and inequality in Hawaii.”

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii continues to advocate for free market solutions to our state’s economic problems,” states Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Unfortunately, the proposed raise in the minimum wage is nothing more than a band-aid solution that will burden Hawaii’s businesses without effectively helping our state’s working families. What we really need is a reduction in the obstacles that the state places on business and entrepreneurship in Hawaii, as a vibrant and growing economy is the best way to improve the situation of low-wage workers.”

You can read or download this brief in its entirety at: http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2014/02/four-things-you-should-know-about-the-minimum-wage-debate-in-hawaii/.

UH Hilo Students to be Featured at 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting

Thirteen students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Marine Science Department and Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) Graduate Program will attend this year’s Ocean Science Meeting February 23-28 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in Honolulu.

Ocean Science Meeting

The meeting is the largest gathering of ocean scientists in the world and is expected to attract more than 5,000 people.

The students will be among presenters sharing the results of their research via posters and oral presentations. They will also showcase Hawaiʻi’s cultural heritage by performing a series of traditional Hawaiian chants, including a chant about voyaging that follows the introduction of the opening speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Kapu`uwailani Lindsey, who will be recognized and honored for her role as a way-finder.

The trip is sponsored by various scientific endeavors. Seven students have received travel grants from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Multicultural Program. The other six are supported with funds from the Hawaiʻi EPSCoR grant.

Commentary – Governor Abercrombie’s Administration’s Continued Lack Of Transparency

I received a phone call from Governor Abercrombie’s West Hawaii liaison after my last letter to the editor was published in January.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway opened this weekend.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Photo by Aaron Stene

The meeting with Ms. Barbara Dalton was a very uncomfortable experience.   She asked me why I wrote that letter, which criticized Governor Abercrombie’s administration for not being transparent with the public regarding highway projects. In addition, she told me not write anymore letters criticizing the governor and go through her if I have any more concerns in the future.

I wrote several e-mails to Governor Abercrombie’s Honolulu staff regarding the meeting I had with Ms. Dalton. Someone from Governor’s Honolulu office called me a few days later. He apparently told Ms. Dalton that it was inappropriate to tell me not to write letters criticizing the governor.

This individual, who I didn’t get his name, also promised to get an update on the stalled right of way acquisition for the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase.

Its been over a month and I’m still waiting for this person to call me back. I’ve sent several e-mails to various individuals in the governor’s Honolulu office with no response. They don’t care about my concerns it seems like, which is deeply frustrating. I will remember this when I vote for governor in November.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Board of Education Sets Firm Support of Hawaiian Education

Today the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) and the Department of Education (DOE) reaffirmed its commitment to Hawaiian Education and Hawaiian Immersion programs in Hawaii’s public schools.

DOE ReleaseThe Hawaiian Education policy states “Hawaii’s public education system should embody Hawaiian values, language, culture and history as a foundation to prepare student in grades K-12 for success in college, career and communities, locally and globally.” Board policy 2104 affirms that Hawaiian language, culture, and history should be an integral part of Hawaii’s educational standards for all students in grades K-12.

BOE Chairperson Don Horner stated, “The policy strengthens our commitment to offer students the added value of a bilingual, bicultural based education. The curricula will have rigorous performance standards and be taught by a core of qualified, effective teachers. The goal is to graduate outstanding students that are highly proficient in both English and Hawaiian and are well prepared for college, career and contributors to community.”

The Board spent nearly one year working with stakeholders to craft the policy revisions. BOE Student Achievement Committee Chairperson, Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui explained that, “It was very important that stakeholders be an integral part of this process and the policies reflect the shared goals of the DOE and the community. We held more than 40 stakeholder meetings during the development process and at today’s meeting we received over 100 testimony in support of the policies.”

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi stated, “The department looks forward to advancing Hawaiian education as an integral part of our public schools for all students.”

The state currently has 20 Hawaiian Immersion programs which includes six charter schools. The proposed amendments to BOE policy 2104 and 2105 are linked on our General Business Meeting agenda here on the BOE site.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Awards $1.5 Million for Charter Schools

The Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) approved $1.5 million in emergency funding to seventeen Hawaiian-focused public charter schools for the 2013-2014 school year to address the budgetary shortfalls the schools have continued to face over the past five years.

The Nā Lei Na‘auao – Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance (NLN) is truly grateful for OHA’s continued commitment to support these unique values-based models of education, that are at once ancient and modern. The schools’ successes validate NLN’s capacity to design and control the process of education dedicated to perpetuating Hawai‘i’s language, culture and traditions. The process helps the native learning communities honor the past, address the present and serve the future.

Haunani Seward, the Director of Ke Kula Ni’ihau ‘o Kekaha on Kaua’i explains, “Our culture is defined by our values.  When we learn our genealogy, we honor our ancestors.  When we recognize a place as piko, we aloha ʻāina.  Accepting and recognizing our leadership roles is kuleana and we mālama these relationships.  These beliefs are the kaula or rope that binds us together.  NLN captures this kaula, creating relevant curricula for today’s haumāna.  Whether through language, reforestation, hula drama, or sailing canoes, the outcome is ultimately the same – passing on these important cultural values.”

An innovative, culturally-driven educational approach, known as EA-Education with Aloha presents unprecedented potential to address the distinctive needs of Hawai’i’s largest, most undereducated major ethnic population.  The success of EA-Education with Aloha is also an indicator that Hawaiians can design, implement and evaluate quality models of education and that public school children in Hawai’i, particularly native Hawaiian students, should be given an option to choose Hawaiian-focused ways of education.  Furthermore through public, private partnerships and sharing of resources, we can develop a parallel system of education that is culturally-driven, family-oriented and community-based for all Hawai’i nei.

Research have confirmed that Hawaiians in charter schools perform better on standardized reading and math tests and are significantly less chronically absent than Hawaiians in standard public schools. NLN schools have high levels of school engagement and positive achievements due to culturally-grounded, strength-based approaches, which are sensitive to student and family needs.

Co-Administrator Allyson Tamura of Kanu o ka ‘Äina New Century Public Charter School (KANU), located in Waimea on the island of Hawai’i, is extremely appreciative for OHA’s continued support of Hawaiian-focused public charter schools.  “OHA’s support allows KANU to remain steadfast to our school’s vision and mission, positively impacting our students, staff, their families and our community.  Mahalo nui loa!”

OHA’s generous funding will support over 4,000 students at seventeen Hawaiian-focused public charter schools with enrollments that are up to 90-percent Hawaiian. These schools are located on the islands of Kauai, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i and Hawai’i Island.

OHA is a unique, independent state agency established through the Hawai‘i State Constitution and statutes to advocate for the betterment of conditions of all Native Hawaiians with a Board of Trustees elected by the voters of Hawai‘i. OHA is guided by a vision and mission to ensure the perpetuation of the culture, to protect the entitlements of Native Hawaiians, and to build a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and nation.

Governor Abercrombie Names Dr. Linda Rosen as Department of Health Director

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Dr. Linda Rosen as director of the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Rosen’s appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Dr. Linda Rosen

Dr. Linda Rosen

“Linda has more than 30 years of experience in the medical field and has held administrative positions for more than a decade,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Drawing from existing leadership within the Health Department, I have full confidence that Linda will continue the significant progress realized under late Director Loretta Fuddy for the remainder of her term.”

With the DOH since 2000, Dr. Rosen has served as medical director of the Family Health Services Division and Pediatric Emergency Services, deputy director for Health Resources Administration and, most recently, chief of the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, where she was responsible for administering a comprehensive emergency medical services system, including 911 ambulance services, trauma system development and community injury prevention.

Dr. Rosen is a pediatrician by training, working in the emergency and critical care and neonatology departments at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children from 1985 to 2000. She has also been a faculty member of the John A. Burns School of Medicine since 1987, as assistant and associate professor of pediatrics, and is currently an associate clinical professor of pediatrics and surgery.

Serving on a number of health boards and committees, Dr. Rosen is particularly passionate about reducing death, disability and health disparities through the application of a comprehensive public health approach to illness and injury, focusing on primary prevention and risk reduction.

A graduate of Punahou School, Dr. Rosen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

37 Facilities in Hawaii Reported 2.7 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Being Released in 2012

Nationally, total releases of toxic chemicals decreased 12 percent from 2011-2012, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report and Pacific Southwest state fact sheets published today.

In Hawaii, a total of 37 facilities reported a total of 2.7 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2012. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to 2011 data.

Highlights of data from 2012 in Hawaii show that since 2011:

  • Air: Air releases increased 2 percent
  • Water: Water releases increased 6 percent
  • On-Site Land: On-site land releases increased 46 percent.
  • Underground Injection: Underground Injection releases increased 21 percent
  • Off-Site Transfers: Total off-site transfers have decreased 9 percent

For detailed Hawaii information and the state’s Top 5 releasing facilities please see the state fact sheet at http://www.epa.gov/region9/tri/report/12/tri-2012-hawaii-report.pdf

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

“Our yearly analysis of chemicals being used by industry helps residents understand which chemicals are used in their neighborhoods,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This year we have enhanced our fact sheet system to aid in getting TRI information about specific locations.”

New for this year is an updated fact sheet system that allows users to explore customized data. Scroll down at the link www.epa.gov/tri to enter your zip code, city, or county, and the new tool will create a fact sheet to show you toxic releases near you.

The annual TRI report provides citizens with critical information about their communities. The TRI Program collects data on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water, and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country.

The TRI data reports are submitted annually to EPA, states, and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste. Many of the releases from facilities that are subject to TRI reporting are regulated under other EPA program requirements designed to limit harm to human health and the environment.

Release data alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential risks to human health and the environment. TRI data, in conjunction with other information, such as the toxicity of the chemical, the release medium (e.g., air), and site-specific conditions, may be used to evaluate exposures from releases of toxic chemicals.

Hawai‘i Bidding for Major Conservation Gathering Event Would Be a First for the U.S

As a four-person delegation representing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visits Hawaii this week, the state is showcasing its position as the anchor of the Pacific in a bid to host the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. The congress is the world’s leading summit on the environment.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A Hawai‘i-hosted congress would be the first time it has been held in the United States since the founding of IUCN in 1948, and the event would provide a unique opportunity to share with the world, the state and nation’s values and dedication to conserving nature on both national and international levels. As many as 8,000 delegates are expected to attend the 2016 meeting.

“Based on our success hosting the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, I believe we have a compelling case as to why the United States and Hawaii provide the ideal venue to host this gathering,”Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “The Aloha State is the anchor of the Pacific, and our bid is financially competitive and highlights the unique benefits of our location and host culture. We’re encouraging the IUCN evaluating team to review all that Hawai‘i has to offer for this preeminent conference.”

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

“IUCN has been fortunate to always receive strong invitations to host our World Conservation Congresses and the 2016 Congress is no exception. There are two excellent candidates in the running to host the event: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, United States of America and Istanbul, Turkey.

We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and commitment shown by Hawai‘i and thank the team for their warm welcome throughout the site visit. The IUCN Council will make a decision regarding the venue and hosts of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in May 2014,”said Dr. Enrique Lahmann, Global Director, Union Development Group; Congress Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

The delegation is receiving broad exposure to a wide-range of the natural and cultural attributes of the Hawaiian Islands through site visits on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, as well as meetings and receptions with government, hospitality industry, conservation and Native Hawaiian leaders. A cross-discipline, multi-agency organizing team, led by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is showing the delegation convention facilities, transportation, lodging and security infrastructure, attractions and meeting/marketing expertise. Members of the IUCN evaluating team also received a 107 page-long Hawai‘i Nature + Aloha, Imagine 2016 proposal, which documents broad support for the conference and includes in-depth detail about the Aloha State’s bid for the event.

DLNR Chairperson William Aila said, “With environmental and conservation issues very much at the forefront of worldwide attention, Hawai‘i is in a unique position to demonstrate what we are doing to advance conservation issues like climate change, watershed management, coral reef protection, and traditional knowledge. Having Hawai‘i host the 2016 Congress will show the world how our core values of Aloha Aina connect to nature and our diversity.”

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome the IUCN Site Visit Team to Hawai‘i,”said Chipper Wichman, director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and CEO and co-chair of the Hawai‘i IUCN 2016 Steering Committee. This is a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have been working for the past five years to bring the IUCN World Conservation Congress to Hawai‘i. “Our state is a world leader in biocultural conservation, and Gov. Abercrombie has put together a dynamic group led by William Aila and Esther Kia‘āina from the DLNR to host the IUCN team and show them the facilities and organizations that make Hawai‘i the best location for the world to convene and discuss global conservation issues. It has been an amazing week so far –we are leaving the IUCN delegation with a strong and lasting impression of Hawai‘i.”

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Hosts for the IUCN delegation are demonstrating that Hawai‘i is a destination where “hospitality is not a sideline.”The IUCN World Congress bid has the full support of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and the Hawai‘i Convention Center (HCC). During this week the delegation is having meetings with HCC staff and management and many of Hawai‘i’s leading HTA-member hospitality providers. Both HTA and HCC have been working for the past five years to support the bid process.

House Bill 2533 Moves for Citizen-Funded Elections

The House Committee on the Judiciary today passed legislation that would revive Hawaii’s old partial public funding program for elections, which was originally implemented in 1980 by a mandate from citizens during the Constitutional Convention.

HB 2533

Representative Karl Rhoads (D – dist 29), Judiciary Chariman, said “Today was an important step in moving HB 2533 through the legislative process.  I’m hopeful that by the end of the legislative session we’ll have a viable public financing option for House candidates.”

House Bill 2533 would create a citizen-funding option for state House elections.  Last year a similar bill, HB1481, made it to the final hour of a Conference Committee, where it was stopped, but carried over to the 2014 Legislative Session and is still alive.  Advocates are counting on one of these bills to pass this year.

According to Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, “This bill is one of the most significant democracy reform measures currently before the Hawaii Legislature. HB2533 has the potential to change Hawaii’s political landscape by requiring the candidates who opt-in to this program to focus on the concerns of the average constituent, instead of large donations from the wealthy donors and special interests who currently have a stronghold on Hawaii’s politics.”

A similar experimental program was implemented on the Big Island for County Council elections in 2010 and 2012 and was considered a success by citizens and candidates.

House Bill 2533 would allow candidates to go out and collect 200 signatures, accompanied with $5 donations, from voters in their districts, in exchange for a sum of money from the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund with which to run their campaigns.  The Election Fund, a special trust fund, currently has $2.9 million dollars and was established during the ’78 Constitutional Convention for the purpose of limiting the influence of private money on the lawmaking process.

“Delegates in the ’79 Constitutional Convention knew that big donations would corrupt politics, and they were visionary when they created the citizen-funded elections program,” said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii.  “Over time, legislators have let the program decay in favor of more private funding, so we applaud the legislators who are making an effort to revive this epic law,” he said.

The Election Fund is funded by an option three dollar check-off on state income tax forms.  The three dollars is allocated from tax money that an individual would already pay to the state.

Robert Harris, executive director of the Sierra Club agrees with the bill’s advocates.  “Developers and polluters pour millions of dollars into elections every year,” said Robert Harris, Director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. “Clean elections help ensure smart growth development and clean water for all of Hawaii’s residents.”

Hawaii Senate Tables Bill Legalizing Marijuana

Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee Defers Bill Legalizing Marijuana.  Advances Bills Decriminalizing Marijuana, Providing Medical Amnesty for Calling 911 for Overdose Emergency.
Marijuana LeafThe Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee today deferred Senate Bill 2733, a bill that would have legalized marijuana in Hawaii.

“We felt Hawaii was not ready for legalization at this time,” said Espero. “With the passage of legalization bills in Colorado and Washington, however, these states will be test sites to see how legalization impacts the states and their residents.”

Another measure, Senate Bill 2358, which would decriminalize marijuana, was passed unanimously and will now go to the Judiciary and Labor Committee.  First time offense would be a $100 fine; second offense $250; three or more $500. No prison time would be involved.

The committee also advanced Senate Bill 2215, which would provide medical amnesty for those who call 911 when someone is overdosing.  “Many Hawaii residents have died because people are afraid to call for help when they are with someone overdosing.  This measure is a good Samaritan bill that gives limited immunity to those who seek medical assistance,” said Espero