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Updates from Hawaii Senate Majority


Statement from Sen. Malama Solomon on the Release of $850,000 for State Parks on Hawaii Island

Sen. Malama Solomon, District 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, released the following statement on the release of $850,000 capital improvement project funds for the following state recreation areas on Hawaii Island:

* Hapuna Beach Recreation Area ($500,000)
* Mauna Kea Recreation Area ($350,000)

“I am happy that the administration has released the funds to improve our state recreation areas on Hawaii Island.

“From picnicking and camping to swimming in our oceans and hiking our mountains, our state parks allow our residents to enjoy nature and Hawaii’s unique environment.

“In order to better serve the community in my district and create a better quality of life for both residents and visitors, we must continually invest in maintaining the beauty of our natural spaces.

“My colleagues and I worked to get this funding in the budget, and I am pleased to see the state’s commitment to maintain our lands, beaches and parks, and look forward to seeing these projects get started.”


Senators honor Hokulea Crew Members Ahead of Worldwide Voyage

As the Legislature navigates its way through the 27th Legislative Session making important policy decisions on issues that affect Hawaii’s people, it takes inspiration from the crew members of the Hokulea and their dedication to shared values of and responsibility for caring for the land and its people while honoring Hawaii’s heritage and culture.

With great admiration, Hawaii senators on Monday, March 10 in the Senate Chambers recognized and honored the crew of the Hokulea in a special floor presentation as they prepare for the second leg of their worldwide voyage, aptly referred to as “Malama Honua,” or “Care for the Earth.”

The voyage will be done almost entirely using traditional Polynesian navigation methods, known as wayfinding. This is the first voyage of its kind and involves using ancestral knowledge of star patterns, ocean movement, marine life, weather patterns and other signs of nature.

As crew members will say, the Hokulea represents Hawaii’s culture, heritage and connection to ancestors.

“The Hokulea’s international travels will soon begin and it’s important to the Senate that each crew member knows that the state and its lawmakers support their mission and stands unwavering behind their efforts,” said Kahele (District 1 Hilo), who spearheaded the presentation ceremony. “A floating classroom, the Hokulea will carry our diverse and accepting culture throughout the Pacific building relationships and raising awareness about the importance of ocean protection.”

“As a lawmaker, I look forward to what they will bring back regarding recommendations for charting a new course or more so how we as a state shall adjust our sails toward sustainable practices for food, energy and the environment that they’ve picked up from other places and cultures,” said Kahele. “Their manao would be an added value to helping legislators in future policy decisions.”

Kahele has also introduced two resolutions supporting the efforts of the Hokulea. One resolution urges Gov. Neil Abercrombie to proclaim 2014 as the Year of the Worldwide Voyage while the other urges the state and state entities to support the Hokulea and its crew as they journey around the world.

Last May, the Hokulea began the first of 22 legs planned for the voyage around the world right here in Hawaii. The next leg begins in May and will take them to Tahiti, from there, and over the next four years, they will travel to 26 countries and stop at 85 international ports – sailing more than 47,000 miles.

The crew consists of 260 individuals from 16 countries including navigators, students, educators, scientists, documenters, medic, cultural leaders and global ambassadors.

“Our experiences and shared knowledge are really the things that define our lives,” Kahele said. “We all can learn from each other, and the voyages of the Hokulea reminds us of this. We’re all in this together so we need to care for each other, work together. During our own journey, while we finish out the second half of the legislative session, we intend to keep the spirit of Hokulea in our hearts.”


Senate Passes More Than 300 Bills

In preparation for the first crossover deadline of March 6, the Senate held a long floor session to move bills out of its chamber so that it may crossover to the House of Representatives.

On the final day, more than 300 bills passed third reading in the Senate.

Noteworthy bills that passed include all four bills on climate change, invasive species, and the elderly in the Joint-Majority Package:

* SB 2344 SD1 to establish the interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee to address sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050.

* SB 2343 to appropriate funds to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning.

* SB 2345 SD1 to fund the operation of education programs targeted to kupuna including investor education and other related financial education programs.

* SB 2346 SD 1 to provide ongoing financial support to healthy aging programs and services and conduct a public education and awareness campaign on long-term care.

Other notable bills that have also passed third reading in the Senate include:

* SB2446 SD1 to name the new Kihei high school after the late U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink

* SB 2609 SD1 to increase minimum wage rate to $10.10 per hour and to change the tip credit to unspecified amounts

* SB2424 SD 2 to develop a master cooling strategy so that air conditioning may be installed in public schools

* SB3036 SD2 to create a beach management plan for the north shore of Oahu

* SB2574 SD1 to permit physicians to prescribe medical marijuana

* SB3033 SD2 to establish the County of Niihau under the jurisdiction of DLNR

* SB2222 SD2 to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products

* SB2265 SD1 to increase the supply of public housing units in the state

* SB2968 to provide an income tax credit for hotel construction and renovation

* SB2454 SD2 to establish a task force to determine whether the state should regulate agricultural use of genetically modified organisms

* SB3066 SD2 to establish the public-private finance initiative


Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week

Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week was March 3-9. A proclamation and awards ceremony kicked off the week at the Capitol Auditorium.

This is the second year the State has hosted Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW). The purpose of HISAW is to promote information sharing and public engagement to eradicate and prevent the growth of invasive species.

Through Act 85, Session Laws of Hawaii 2003, the legislature stated that “the silent invasion of Hawaii by alien invasive species is the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy, natural environment, and the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people and visitors.”

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council, an inter-departmental collaboration, was created as a result to provide policy level direction, coordination, and planning among state departments, federal agencies, and international and local initiatives for the control and eradication and prevention of harmful invasive species infestations throughout the State and for preventing the introduction of other invasive species that may be potentially harmful.

Hawaii is one of the first states in the Nation that recognized the need for coordination among all state agencies, at a cabinet level, that have responsibility to control invasive species on the ground, as well as regulate or promote the pathways in which invasive species can gain access into the State.

This legislative session, the State Senate has considered several bills to support efforts to eradicate, control and prevent the spread of invasive species in the state.

* SB2423 would appropriate $5,000,000 to fund the mission of the Invasive Species Council.

* SB2347 SD2 would prevent the spread invasive species such as coqui frogs from one island to another by requiring nursery stock to treat plants for pests before the sale or transfer of potted plants.

* SD2920 SD2 would establish a little fire ant pilot project to address the spread of the pest and to develop strategies to eliminate the threat of the pest statewide.

* SB2423, SB2347 SD2 and SD2920 SD2 have all passed out of committee and sent to the Senate floor for third reading where, if approved, will then move to the House for consideration.


Funds Release for Kohala Elementary and Honokaa High School

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

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
Honokaa 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.”


Sen. Gil Kahele Welcomes Granddaughter

Sen. Gil Kahele and granddaugther Iolana Malaea Kahele. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Kahele’s Office)

Sen. Gil Kahele and granddaugther Iolana Malaea Kahele. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Kahele’s Office)

Sen. Gilbert Kahele welcomed a granddaughter last month.

Iolana Malaea Kahele was born at home in Hilo at 6:55 p.m. Feb. 12, 2014.

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