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.

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“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.

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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.

Capital Improvement Funds Released for Kohala Elementary and Honoka’a High School

Senator Malama Solomon, District 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, today commended the release of $7.73 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) supporting student education in Hawaii.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

Portions of these funds will go toward work in District 4, including:

  • Kohala Elementary, for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) projects, portion of $7,554,000
  • Kohala Elementary, for a special education portable, $80,000
  • Honoka‘a High School, for science lab upgrades, $100,000 for design work

“Supporting schools in my district is one of my main priorities as a lawmaker,” said Solomon. “The Legislature secured the funds for these very important projects last session and I’m glad to see the monies released so that work can get started. It’s imperative that we continue to provide students, teachers and staff with the resources for a favorable learning environment.”

2014 Focus Luncheon with Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Billy Kenoi and select cabinet members tackle current Hawai`i County issues at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce 2014 Focus Luncheon 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Mayor Kenoi at the APEC Conference

Sponsored by the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, the annual luncheon offers a unique opportunity for the local community to meet with County Department representatives in a casual setting. Attendees will have the opportunity to have lunch with a specific department as well as pose questions to the Mayor and other Cabinet heads. Issues to be included in the discussion include the possible increase of the GET via a county surcharge; the County’s solid waste management plan; the controversial GMO bill; and, the quest to reopen the Kona International Airport international arrivals facility.

Cost for the luncheon is $45 for Chamber and Rotary members, $55 for non-members. No walk-ins allowed. For more information and/or to register, visit kona-kohala.com or call the Chamber office at 808-329-1758.

THE KONA-KOHALA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE provides leadership and advocacy for a successful business environment in West Hawai‘i. The result of KKCC’s work is a community of choice as reflected in our quality of life, business and individual opportunity and manifest respect for our culture and our natural resources. For info, 329-1758 or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

 

Island Perspective With Governor Neil Abercrombie

Gov. Abercrombie was on the Kona side of Hawaii Island on Saturday and was able to sit down with Sherry Bracken to discuss Hawaii’s strong fiscal standing, paying our unfunded liabilities, early childhood education, the rural residency program for physicians, Honokohau Harbor, airports, his position on the President Obama’s Council of Governors, renewable energy and energy costs.

Senate Bill Restores Resources for Hawaii Public School Athletics

State Senator David Ige (D-16 Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Hālawa, Pearl Harbor), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has introduced Senate Bill 3083, which, if passed, would make an appropriation to restore resources to the athletic programs in public schools throughout the state. The measure would also increase the positions authorized for school athletics and allow the Department of Education to create, fill and fund full-time equivalent, permanent, or temporary positions for fiscal year 2014-2015 for its athletic programs.

SB3083

SB3083 is also supported by Senator Michelle Kidani (D-18 Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia), vice chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Jill Tokuda (D-24 Kāneohe, Kāneohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Āhuimanu), chairwoman of the Education Committee.

“During the time of the ‘Great Recession’, the athletic programs at public schools have borne much of the brunt of the budget cuts made in education. This measure will help to provide additional resources to assure the development and safety of our high school athletes,” said Ige. “For many students in our public schools, the opportunity to play sports motivates and positively impacts their success in the classroom. In recognizing the positive influence coaches and athletics can have on our students, this measure helps illustrate the investment we are making in our students to help them succeed in both the classroom and on the playing field.”

SB3083 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday, February 10 at 1:15 p.m.  Those wishing to submit testimony or to sign up to provide testimony via teleconferencing can do so by visiting www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Governor Neil Abercrombie Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today commented on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which mirrors his investment in early childhood education and his push for increasing the minimum wage.

abercrombieheaderGov. Abercrombie stated:

“It’s encouraging that President Obama’s national priorities echo those I’ve outlined as top initiatives for the State of Hawaii.

“The President’s emphasis on early childhood education are in line with Hawaii’s plans to expand access to pre-kindergarten for all four year olds. We are investing in new partnerships to provide our keiki with the educational opportunities they deserve.

“As I stated in last week’s State of the State address, a hard-working sector in Hawaii has gone seven years without seeing their wages rise. I applaud the President’s proposal to increase the minimum wage for all federal employees.”

Land Exchange Next Step in Creating Central Oahu Agriculture Hub

State senators introduced this session land exchange legislation that would help protect agricultural and conservation lands, boost the agricultural industry and put the appropriate entities in the proper places to grow a better Hawai‘i. The measure is supported by eighteen lawmakers in the Hawai‘i State Senate, including the bill’s main sponsor Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D- Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, and portion of Poamoho).

sb3065
The measure, Senate Bill 3065, Relating to Land Exchange, would allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to exchange state-owned parcels in Kapolei for 20,000 acres of agricultural and conservation lands in Central O‘ahu. The lands, currently owned by the Castle & Cooke, surround the 1,207 acres of arable land purchased by the state for $13 million in 2012.
The land acquisition was part of a detailed plan for the future of Hawai‘i known as the Whitmore Project, an initiative to revitalize Hawai‘i’s local agriculture industry by bringing farmers and the state together to increase local food production, create jobs, engage in partnerships, and provide affordable housing.

Castle & Cooke has listed the land for sale at $175,000,000 and has also been supportive of the idea of a land exchange. The State currently owns land near areas where transit-oriented development is in the works.

“A land exchange with Castle & Cooke makes real sense here,” said Sen. Dela Cruz, “We have to look at all our options and think outside the box to help diversify Hawai‘i’s ag industry and preserve our lands. The state would spend little to no taxpayer money, and the exchange would allow for the appropriate entity to oversee smart development around transit plans and put the State in a place where it can provide opportunities for farmers and preserve lands.”

“Wahiawā can be an ag industrial hub,” he added. “These lands are up for sale and anything can happen to them. Do we want to see them parceled out and developed or do we want to see them as part of a plan that supports agriculture and our farmers?”

Senate Offers Videoconferencing Option for Public Testimony Statewide

Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees will now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.

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 “Ensuring access and citizen and stakeholder participation is especially important when it comes to issues dealing with public education and our schools,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Expanding our use of this type of technology to connect people with policymakers will only strengthen and enhance the quality of legislation produced.”

The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program beginning with the Senate Committee on Education’s first hearing on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. and continue with hearings from both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts throughout the 2014 Legislative Session.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have to sit through a two-hour hearing just to speak for one minute on one measure,” added Senator Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate Technology and Arts Committee. “If we can reduce the barriers to civic engagement by reducing the cost and time people spend to voice their concerns, we are on our way to creating a better Hawaii.”

In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts.  In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate.  Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate.  Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.

During Monday’s Senate Education Committee, lawmakers will take up two measures that address air conditioning in schools. The bills call for the creation of a master strategic plan for the cooling of public schools.

For more information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit testimony and/or participate via videoconferencing or in person, please refer to the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU_01-27-14_.HTM

Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act – New Bill Promotes Safer Roads and Communities

Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.

Sample Driving License

“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.

Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.

Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record.  In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.

Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.

Sen. Solomon Thanks Supreme Court For Hawaii Island’s Right to Equal Representation

State Sen. Malama Solomon today issued a public “Mahalo” on behalf of all Hawai’i Island residents to both the U.S. Supreme Court and the legal team working “to protect Hawaiʻi Island’s right to equal representation as guaranteed by both the U.S. and State of Hawaiʻi Constitutions.”

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Solomon’s message of gratitude comes as more than two years of intense litigation concluded Tuesday, January 21, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court formally resolved a case she and several Hawai’i Island residents had taken to the State Supreme Court challenging the 2011 State Reapportionment Commission’s initial plan based on the 2010 Census to count out-of-state military members and their families stationed in the islands and out-of-state students when re-drawing legislative districts.

Sen. Solomon and her legal team – working with the State Attorney General – challenged the plan on the basis that it denied Hawai’i Island residents equitable representation which they believed required adding a 4th State Senate seat for Hawaiʻi Island because of the nearly 25% increase in resident population on the island between 2000 and 2010.  During this same period of time, the island of Oahu had experienced only an 8% growth.

The addition of a 4th Senate seat to Hawaiʻi Island meant Oahu would lose a Senator.

It became a very complicated case but the heart of the issue was inequitable representation for Hawaiʻi Island residents in the first reapportionment plan.  The State Supreme Court agreed with Sen. Solomonʻs challenge and the plan was revised, adding a 4th Senate seat for Hawaiʻi Island in the 2012 elections.

In the meantime, however, opponents to the decision filed a judicial challenge to the U.S. Federal District Court (Kostick v. Nago (Case No. 13-456).  A three-judge U.S. Federal Court upheld the Hawaii Supreme Court decision.  The opposition had an automatic right to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. and did so.

“The battle is over; let us move forward working together for all the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Sen. Solomon, who added her acknowledgement of the legal team that served to protect the rights of Hawaiʻi Island residents, including Stan Roehrig of Hilo, Robert Kim of Kona and Peter Esser of Honolulu, and also State Attorney General David M. Louie and Deputy Attorney General Charleen M. Aina.

Sen. Solomon also thanked Public Utilities Commission Chair Hermina M. Morita, a former State Representative, for providing testimony for the Supreme Court docket related to her experience representing a “canoe district” – a now illegal practice of combining residents from more than one island into a representative districts of approximately the same population size.  Such districts were banned in recent years by the State legislature because they “seriously undermine equitable representation for all residents of the district,” said Sen. Solomon.  Both Hermina Morita and Sen. Solomon represented “canoe districts” before the Legislature banned this practice.

Talk Story at UH Hilo Featuring Senator Brian Schatz

The University of Hawaii Hilo Political Science Club presents a talk story session with Sen. Brian Schatz on Friday, January 24th from 12:00 to 1:00.

Schatz UHH

Governor Abercrombie Affirms Hawaii’s Fiscal Health in State of the State Address

In his fourth State of the State Address before the Hawaii Legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie emphasized the state’s restored financial stability, along with his administration’s long-term plan to sustain it, as an opportunity to act with confidence on key investments in Hawaii’s future. Areas highlighted by the Governor included efforts to expand early childhood education; tax relief and support for seniors; an increase in the minimum wage; and collaborative efforts to address homelessness, climate change, and invasive species.

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

Governor Abercrombie gives the 2014 State of the State Address at the Hawaii State Capital Building. (Photo by Ian Kitajima)

“I am able to report to you, our state government’s financial house now stands on solid ground,” Gov. Abercrombie said, extending his appreciation to legislators, public employees, local businesses, and the people of Hawaii for sharing in the tough decisions and sacrifices that made the state’s unprecedented financial turnaround possible. “We are now entering a new phase. The administration’s package and supplemental budget do not rely on any new taxes or fees. On the contrary, I believe we may be able to reduce taxes in key areas. We also have the resources to deliver services to the people of Hawaii while living within our means.”

The Governor reaffirmed his administration’s steadfast commitment to early childhood development and education, saying he looks forward to building upon his ongoing initiatives by strengthening relationships with the private and nonprofit sectors. “Our plan is to build and strengthen Hawaii’s mixed-delivery system of early learning programs,” he said. “Community-based preschools are now and will be a key component.”

Gov. Abercrombie also emphasized the necessity to match investments in building this foundation with consideration of ways to promote security and dignity for Hawaii’s seniors. To provide practical and immediate benefits, the Governor proposed to:

  • exempt any presently taxed income from all sources for taxpayers age 65 and older with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $25,000, $35,000 for seniors who are heads of households, or $45,000 for seniors joint filing (affecting approximately 25,000 Hawaii seniors);
  • double the current refundable food/excise tax credit for taxpayers 65 years or older whose AGI is less than $50,000 (affecting approximately 110,000 Hawaii seniors); and
  •  increase the Kupuna Care budget by $4.2 million and make it permanent (enabling seniors to remain in and receive care in their homes – an investment that will prove beneficial as our senior population ages, grows in numbers, and lives longer).

“These proposals address the practical everyday reality of expenses for seniors, provide across-the-board fairness in application, can take effect immediately, and fit comfortably into our long-term financial stabilization plan,” he said.

In addition, the Governor announced that his administration will be submitting a bill to increase the minimum wage to at least $8.75 starting in January 2015. Average weekly earnings have increased 16 percent since 2007, while the minimum wage has remained unchanged. Currently, 21 other states plus the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than Hawaii while minimum wage earners in the state are confronted by much higher living costs.

Addressing the “myth” that increases to the minimum wage only benefit entry-level workers, the Governor cited that 85 percent of minimum wage earners are 21 years old or older. He added that the last four times the minimum wage was raised, the number of jobs increased by an average of 2.2 percent over the following 12 months.

To address the ongoing issue of homelessness, the Governor urged legislators to join him in support of the action plan submitted by the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, a first-of-its-kind body established by Gov. Abercrombie in 2011.

“Mayors and county councils across the state are united in coming to grips with this issue,” he said. “On Oahu, where the need is greatest, we could not have a better partner than Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council led by Council Chair Ernie Martin. “We must now deliver on the Council’s plan; for example, by giving support to the ‘Housing First’ program, which houses and cares for the chronically homeless and those who suffer from a disability.”

Recognizing Hawaii’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the Governor, recently appointed to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, announced that he will be holding Resilient Hawaii Forums this year to engage stakeholders and create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. The forums will build upon the significant progress already achieved by the state Office of Planning in updating Hawaii’s Ocean Resources Management Plan, and call on the state’s new sustainability coordinator to work across department lines for planning.

The Governor also emphasized the need to protect Hawaii’s environment from invasive species, endorsing legislative initiatives proposing up to $5 million to meet operating costs of invasive species programs. In addition, his administrative package this session will include additional support for watershed protection, farming infrastructure and invasive species management.

The Governor concluded his address by remembering the late Loretta Fuddy, a lifelong supporter and advocate of public health measures. Recalling her affection and advocacy for families and children, the Governor announced his intent to request additional funding for the Department of Health’s Early Intervention Services. The program provides critical services to children with developmental delays from birth to three years of age, as well as positive intervention in the crucial areas of cognitive and physical function, social and emotional well-being and adaptive skills.

“Loretta Fuddy was their champion,” the Governor said. “I am asking for specific attention to make funding for Early Intervention Services a priority. This will serve as a fitting tribute and appropriate legacy to honor Loretta. There will be lasting benefits for the affected families and children – the children she loved and cared for passionately to her last day.”

The entire text of the State of the State Address is posted on the Governor’s website, http://governor.hawaii.gov. Link directly to the address here: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/2014-state-of-the-state-address/

Hawai’i Mayors Attend U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington

Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi travels to Washington, D.C. today to join more than 280 of the nation’s mayors as well as congressional leaders and members of President Obama’s cabinet at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 82nd Winter Meeting.

Mayor Kenoi greets President Obama at the 78th U.S. Conference of Mayors

Mayor Kenoi greets President Obama at the 78th U.S. Conference of Mayors

Mayor Kenoi, who is chair of the Hawai‘i Conference of Mayors, will attend the meeting with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, and Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho. Mayor Kenoi is also a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors National Advisory Board.

The Mayor's last year

The Mayor’s last year

The mayors will join President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet at the White House for a discussion of issues that affect municipalities, including trade, technology, climate change and affordable health care.

78th U.S. Mayor's Conference

78th U.S. Mayor’s Conference

Participants at the conference will include U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is designed to strengthen federal-city relationships, and promote effective national urban and suburban policy.

Managing Director Wally Lau will be acting mayor until Mayor Kenoi returns.

Governor Abercrombie Shares 2010-2013 Administration Accomplishments

In anticipation of his fourth State of the State Address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie shared his administration’s accomplishments over the past three years with the state Legislature, news media and the general public.

Click to read

Click to read

The accomplishments highlight the Abercrombie Administration’s commitment to growing a sustainable economy, investing in people, and transforming state government.

“This administration has made significant strides in restoring the state’s fiscal health, strengthening the local economy, and paving the way for universal access to preschool in Hawaii. Prior to my State of the State Address, I felt it important to take stock and review our progress in order to gain perspective and guide our way forward,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “None of these accomplishments would be possible without dedicated and creative public employees, who work tirelessly, each and every day, to make Hawaii a better place for all of us.”

The highlighted accomplishments are available on the Governor’s website at: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/2010-2013-abercrombie-administration-accomplishments/

The Governor’s State of the State Address is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Hawaii State Capitol, House Chambers.

The Names That WERE Submitted to Governor Abercrombie to Replace Rep. Denny Coffman

The three nominees that were submitted to Governor Abercrombie to replace Rep. Denny Coffman were Richard Creagan, Steve Sakala, and Michael Matsukawa.

Richard P. Creagan

Richard P. Creagan

As we know now… Richard Creagan was selected by the Governor.

Governor Appoints Richard Creagan to State House Seat Vacated by Rep. Denny Coffman

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Richard P. Creagan, M.D. to the state House of Representatives for Hawaii’s Fifth Representative District, a seat recently left vacant by the resignation of Rep. Denny Coffman. The appointment is effective immediately and for the balance of the term.

Richard P. Creagan

Richard P. Creagan

“Richard’s diverse experience as a physician, researcher, farmer, Peace Corps volunteer and educator will contribute greatly to his service to the people of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “I look forward to working with Richard as a member of Hawaii’s House of Representatives.”

Dr. Creagan first came to Hawaii in 1966 and trained for the Peace Corps on Molokai for two months. He then served as a Health Care Worker in the Marshall Islands for two years. He speaks fluent Marshallese. A resident of Naalehu on Hawaii Island, Dr. Creagan is vice-president of Kiolakaa Mountain Farms, which he founded in 1994 with his wife, Marilyn, who works as a labor and delivery nurse at Kona Community Hospital.

As a residency trained and board certified emergency physician, Dr. Creagan worked for 10 years in California prior to moving to Hawaii full-time 23 years ago. Since then, he has worked in the Emergency Department and served as vice-chief of staff at Kona Community Hospital, worked as a Hawaii Department of Health bioterrorism preparedness epidemiologic investigator monitoring disease outbreaks, and helped found and run Hualalai Urgent Care.

Before his medical career, Dr. Creagan was a student and human genetics researcher at Yale University and the University of Connecticut Medical Center. He later helped found and run San Francisco-based AGRI, a firm which focused on animal vaccines and human blood products. The start-up company was eventually bought after five years, which facilitated his move to Hawaii.

As an educator, Dr. Creagan has assisted in teaching junior scientists at Yale and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer, seventh and eighth grade math and science in Pittsburgh, and tutored students in English at Naalehu Elementary School.

Dr. Creagan graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and then with an M.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He recently returned to school and earned a Certificate in Plant Tissue Culture in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2009 from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Former House and Senate Members to Be Honored at Opening of Hawaii State Legislative Session

The Hawaii State Legislature will convene the 2014 Legislative Session on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 10 a.m. in their respective chambers.

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To commemorate the 55th anniversary of statehood, the Legislature will honor and acknowledge former state House and Senate members who have served throughout the years since 1959.  In the House, over 50 former representatives are expected to attend.

As in 2010 and 2012 (second years of the biennium), the Legislature will hold a modest opening to the legislative session with a business as usual approach.  Floor proceedings will not include musical entertainment, and family members, friends and guests will not be seated on the chamber floors.  Following the session, legislators will have the discretion to host guests in their individual offices.

The public is welcomed to attend the opening floor sessions, however seating is limited. Chamber galleries will open at 9:45 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

State Legislators to Attend Community Forum in Kona Next Week

UPDATE – This forum has been cancelled.

If you want to learn what our State Legislators will be working on during the upcoming legislative session, the Community Forum on Tuesday, January 14, at the Maka’eo Pavilion at Old Kona Airport Park is the place to go for answers. The forum begins at 6:00 pm.

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State House Representatives Nicole Lowen and Cindy Evans and State Senators Josh Green and Malama Solomon have confirmed their participation in the forum. The new, but yet unnamed, State Representative replacing Representative Denny Coffman from District 5 replacing Representative Denny Coffman will be invited and is expected to participate. Members of the County Council have also been invited to report and discuss County activities.

Following their presentations the Legislators will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Sherry Bracken, and will answer written questions from the audience.

Pupus and beverages will be served. For more information please call John Buckstead at 326-9779 or email at jbuckstead@hawaii.rr.com.

Hawaii Attorney Issues Formal Opinion Confirming the Practice that Hawaii’s Presidential General Election Ballots include the Names of Candidates’ Affiliated Groups or Parties Regardless of whether those Groups or Parties are Recognized as Political Parties Under Hawaii Law

Attorney General David M. Louie issues Formal Opinion Confirming the Practice that Hawaii’s Presidential General Election Ballots include the Names of Candidates’ Affiliated Groups or Parties Regardless of whether those Groups or Parties are Recognized as Political Parties Under Hawaii Law

Attorney General David M. Louie has issued Formal Opinion No. 13-2 (Op. No. 13-2), in which he has confirmed that, pursuant to section 11-113, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), Hawaii’s presidential general election ballots should include the name of candidates’ affiliated groups or parties irrespective of whether those groups or parties have been qualified as political parties under Hawaii law.

On July 18, 2012, the Justice Party and Kristine Kubat filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii against State of Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott T. Nago, claiming that Hawaii law unconstitutionally burdened the Justice Party’s access to the presidential ballot.  See The Justice Party, et al. v. Nago, Civil No. 12-00403 JMS-BMK. An issue at the trial was whether the name of an unqualified group or party with whom the candidate is affiliated can be on the general election ballot.

Chief Election Officer Nago testified at trial that the presidential candidates and their affiliated parties and groups are named on the general election ballot regardless of whether those parties and groups are qualified as political parties under Hawaii law.  Based on the evidence presented at trial, the parties agreed to postpone the trial pending the issuance of a formal legal opinion from the Attorney General determining whether the Office of Elections’ long-standing practice of including the name of an unqualified group or party with the candidate’s name was in compliance with the law. The Attorney General determined that it was.

Attorney General Louie stated, “unlike candidates running for state and congressional offices who are determined through the primary election system, the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates are determined by their respective political parties through the caucus system. Through its election laws, Hawaii has long-recognized that presidential elections must be treated differently than all other Hawaii state elections.”