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Legislative update from Sen. Kahele


Sen. Gilbert Kahele (District 2 – Ka‘u, Puna, Hilo) recently completed his first legislative session along with six other freshman Senators in this years 26th Hawaii State Legislature.

Appointed Jan. 10 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Russell Kokubun, Kahele accomplished a number of items that will benefit the residents of Senate District 2 as well as residents across the state.

Capitol Improvement Projects for Senate District 2 Secured by Kahele in this years fiscal budget (Pending release by Abercrombie)

Total: $12,118,000

* Ka‘u Irrigation System Upgrade – $2 Million
Improvements to the existing irrigation system in Ka‘u to provide water to farmers

* Keaau Middle School – $2.5 Million
Design, construction, and equipment for a new classroom building

* Pahoa Elementary School – $1 Million
Plans, design and construction of a new cafeteria

* Waiakeawaena Elementary – $450K*
Worked in tandem with Rep. Clift Tsuji; Construction for additional parking

* Volcano School of Arts and Sciences – $618K
Plans and design to relocate VSAS to Keakealani

* State Highway 11 & Kulani Road Intersection – $2.8 Million
Construction for left turn lane and drainage improvement

* Kupulau Road Extension – $2.75 Million
Plans, design, and construction to reduce congestion of traffic on Komohana Street

* Pahoa High and Intermediate – $13,471
This measure will ensure the South Kona wilderness area, rich with cultural, biological, and historical significance, remains in perpetuity for the future generations of Hawaii’s people. This measure provides a mechanism to address both the community’s interests in utilizing the area for recreational purposes and protecting the vast amounts of archaeological sites, native plants, and native animals that exist in the preserve.

* ADA Transition Plan improvements Softball Field Part of a project with a total cost of $440,871

* Keaau Middle School- $2 Million
To be shared with Kohala High and Waimea High Help with compliance to ADA guidelines

* Various DOE Schools in Senate District 2 (Retrofit of existing buildings to increase hurricane protection)
– Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary – $40K
Install hardware for doors and install stainless steel screens on glass panels
– Keaau High – $340K
Install hardware for doors and install laminate on mullen windows for library and classrooms
– Keonepoko Elementary – $35K
Harden vents and install hardware for doors
– Pahoa High and Intermediate – $245K
Install hardware for doors and install stainless steel screens on wooden louvers

Legislative Bills Introduced and Passed by Senator Kahele SB 1154 Relating to Historic Preservation

* SB 285 Relating to Health
Worked in tandem with Rep. Bob Herkes; The 2nd Senatorial district consists of some of the most remote and rural areas in Hawaii. Improving access to quality health care for the residents of our state’s rural areas demonstrates our commitment to eliminating barriers they may face in securing their medical needs. Allows for mobile health care vehicles to be operated by a qualified provider out in the far reaching rural communities where patients may not have the ability or physical capabilities to drive to the major hospitals in Kona or Hilo due to a chronic condition.

* SB 283 Relating to Sustainability
Worked in tandem with the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force; This measure updates the Hawaii State Plan, codified in HRS 226, by incorporating the important collaborative work of the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force. The purpose of the Hawaii State Plan is to provide a guide for the future long-range development of our State. It identifies priorities and objectives for policy makers to render informed decisions that are consistent with the preferred direction outlined in the State Plan.

When the 1978 Legislature first adopted the State Plan, they did so with the intention that it would not remain “a static document.” Although it provides significant policy directives that affect Hawaii’s long-range planning for a variety of significant subject matter areas, many of the objectives are outdated or no longer feasible.

Given Hawaii’s growing population and the subsequent increased demands placed on our limited natural and financial resources, an up to date long-range plan is absolutely critical. The work of the 2050 Task Force provided significant opportunity for public participation to compose the State’s first long-range plan in over 30 years, providing the much needed update to the policy objectives and priorities outlined in HRS 226.

* SB 281 – Relating to the Animal Industry
A bill that would allow Department of Agriculture (DOA) to lease out lands currently occupied by the unused quarantine facilities (Halawa Quarantine Facility) Would have the benefit of making DOA less reliant on state general funds. More capital generation that can be put forward to further address the need areas within DOA

* SB 1153 – Relating to Agricultural Loans
Increases loan limits and decreases loan rates for new farmer loans Will help reduce the more than 85 percent of food that Hawaii currently imports by encouraging the growth of the local farming industry. Easier access to capital will help spark interest in farming as a viable career path and help beginning farmers overcome the initial economic barrier to begin farming.

* SB 1342 – Relating to Parking for the Disabled
This bill addressed a concern brought to me from the disabled community. There have been instances when, due to the adjustments made to a car, that the occupant cannot hang their disabled placard from the rear view mirror. This had resulted in some unfortunate circumstances when the individual was given an illegal parking ticket. This legislation would enable such an individual to display the placard on the dashboard without fear of receiving a ticket.

Other legislative bills of significance that were strongly supported and passed by Senator Kahele

* SB 23 – Relating to Native Hawaiians
This bill establishes within the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Aha Kiole advisory council, who’s purpose is to advise the Chairman of the DLNR and the Legislature on issues relating to land and natural resource management through the Aha Moku system.

* SB 1520 – Relating to Government (Native Hawaiian Recognition Act)
This bill moves forward an issue that has languished for many, many years, the recognition of the Native Hawaiian people as the only indigenous, aboriginal maoli people of Hawaii. This legislation seeks to serve as a settlement of any issues or claims impacting Native Hawaiian people under State, Federal or International law. It also authorizes the appointment of a Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, which will be funded and tasked to prepare and maintain a list of qualified Native Hawaiians.

* SB 1530 – Relating to Public Lands
This bill authorizes the Department of Land and Natural Resources Board to extend leases of public lands for hotel or resort use approval of a proposed development agreement to make substantial improvements to the existing improvements such as in Hilo’s Banyan Drive district.

* HB 331 – Relating to Public Lands
This bill authorizes the Department of Land and Natural Resources to extend the fixed rental period or term of certain leases; provided that the aggregate of the initial term and any extension granted does not exceed sixty-five years. This bill affects many lessees in Hilo’s Kanoelehua business district otherwise known as the “Industrial Area”.

Kahele’s Legislative Recap

On May 5, the Hawaii State Legislature adjourned the 2011 Legislative Session.

As a freshman senator, I can look back with satisfaction and a real sense of accomplishment for what we did. The state faced an unprecedented deficit of over $1 billion, but by working with the House of Representatives and listening to the voices of our constituents, we were able to reach an agreement and a balanced budget.

I’m happy to report that I was able to successfully sponsor a number of bills that, barring a veto from the Governor, will become law. Respecting the rights of the disabled, supporting agricultural initiatives, increasing availability of healthcare for rural communities, and updating the Hawaii State Plan on sustainability were the general themes of bills that I helped to shepherd through this session.

Additionally, despite the difficult financial straits that the state was facing, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I was able to oversee the passing of a budget that saw over $12 million in CIP projects that would directly benefit our district.

Among these projects included funding for the improvement of classrooms and facilities, improvements to core road infrastructure, and renovating outdated irrigation systems to bring much needed water to the farmers and ranchers in the Ka‘u district.

I am proud of what we have accomplished given the difficult situation that we faced. I realize that there is more to be done and look forward to the challenges ahead. Let’s work together and make sure we are all paddling towards “A New Day in Hawaii.”

Hauoli Ka Manao,
Sen. Gilbert Kahele

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