Hawaii News — Job Creation, Education, Geothermal, IT Infrastructure Among Senate Accomplishments

The Hawaii State Senate adjourned on this final day of the 2012 Legislative Session, passing many bills in support of its priorities set forth at the beginning of the session.  Throughout the second year of the legislative biennium, the overarching themes and priorities of the Senate were in alignment with Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawaii.”  

“We advanced important measures with the citizens of Hawaii in mind, hoping to make our State a better place to live for everyone now and in the future,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.

“I commend everyone in the Legislature for their hard work this session and I thank those who came to be part of the process and let their voices be heard,” said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

The Senate Majority, whose members are Democrats, remain committed to improving the quality of life for the people of Hawaii.  Here are highlights of the Senate Majority’s accomplishments: 

Job Creation & Creating a Sustainable Economy

Although Hawaii is experiencing a steady economic recovery, many people are still unemployed or under-employed, especially in the construction and trade industry.   Realizing this grim reality, the Senate made job creation and creating a sustainable economy a top priority through its flagship initiative, The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012.  To accomplish this goal, the Senate was able to include in excess of $414 million for repair and maintenance projects in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) portion of the budget for fiscal year 2013, pursuant to House Bill 2012.  The funding will allow for the creation of more than 4-thousand shovel-ready jobs for all trades in the construction industry – from carpenters to consultants, and help put money in workers’ pockets and give companies confidence to begin hiring again.
The projects will focus on smaller repairs and maintenance to address aging infrastructures and to extend the useful life of existing state-owned assets and facilities; energy conservation and sustainable improvements; and health, safety and code requirements.  Not only the state departments, but everyone in the State will benefit from this funding.  All trades in the construction industry will prosper, as well as businesses that provide goods and services to the industry.  
Highlights of the funding are provided as follows:
The Department of Education will receive $296M in FY13, including $116M that has been appropriated for classroom renovations and school building improvements to address the departments’ repair and maintenance backlog, $10M for electrical upgrades to support the rapidly evolving technology that is imperative to keep students competitive in the global economy, and $30M in various lump sum appropriations for schools throughout the State to address Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, health and safety and special education needs. 
For the University of Hawaii, over $80M was appropriated for capital renewal and deferred maintenance as well as health, safety, and building code requirements, System wide. Additionally, to address significant growth in student enrollment at the community colleges, an additional $27.5M was provided to the community colleges, as well as $10M for Kapiolani Community College to begin construction of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. 
Additionally, over $60M has been provided for Hawaii Public Housing Authority to continue to upgrade its units and help to shelter low-income families; $35M has been appropriated for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to help tackle the repair and maintenance needs at community hospitals statewide; $26M has been provided to the Department of Agriculture and Department of Land and Natural Resources to allow them to continue their efforts to maintain the State’s irrigation systems, as well as rivers, reservoirs and dams statewide, including $1.1M to upgrade, repair and reinforce the Hanalei River breach which was made worse by the recent heavy rains.
Finally, to shore up our safety net, many community programs run by non-profit organizations were provided a total of $20M to assist them in the continuation of services and programs throughout the State.
To further continue supporting our top industry, strategic investment was made in our tourism industry through Senate Bill 490.  The measure develops and implements new initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the State, taking advantage of an executive order signed by President Obama to ease access for international travelers.  The expanded visa programs would help provide up to an estimated 154,000 jobs in Hawaii. China in particular is a rising market for Hawaii’s tourism industry, with unprecedented growth potential.

Looking ahead into the future of tourism, the Senate supports an emerging market, such as Space Tourism, which has the potential of being a billion dollar global industry that could significantly increase state revenues, provide new aerospace jobs, and rejuvenate economic development in the Kalaeloa area.  The ground work for the industry is established through Senate Bill 112, which appropriates funds for the application for a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

People and Children

As a result of our State’s steady economic recovery, the safety net continues to need strengthening. There are many who still suffer job loss and significant wage and benefit reductions.  The Senate Majority is mindful of the struggles of Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens and supports efforts to assist them.  Child welfare, domestic violence shelters, MedQuest, and various shortfalls across the Department of Human Services were addressed in the State Budget, House Bill 2012. 

Additionally, since the closure of Hawaii Medical Center-West, hospitals on Oahu are faced with an increased volume in patient admittance.  The Senate provides support for the hospitals system through House Bill 304.  

With the growing demand of health care, Senate Bill 2939 appropriates funds for the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, formerly known as Hawaii Medical Center-East to improve its facilities and services in the interest of the health, safety, and wellbeing of residents.

The Senate also continues its strong support for education. Notably, the Senate has underscored education as a top priority.  Through the State Budget, key areas of investment were made in the student weighted formula, student meals, Community Schools for adults and student transportation. 

To strengthen Hawaii’s Charter School system, Senate Bills 2115 and 2116 increase accountability in the governance of Hawaii’s Charter schools that will foster improved student outcomes.  Senate Bill 2115 establishes clear lines of authority and clarifies the relationships, responsibilities, and lines of accountability among stakeholders of Hawaii’s Charter School System.  Senate Bill 2116 appropriates funds to help with the transition. 

The Senate believes early life experiences lay the groundwork for a child’s lifelong learning and providing high quality early learning programs that are affordable and accessible for all children are critically important for ensuring the success of Hawaii’s keiki.  Working in concert with the Governor’s Early Childhood Education Initiative, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 2545, which establishes the Early Learning Council and the Early Learning Advisory Board. 

Renewable Energy and Sustainability

The Senate Majority strives to make Hawaii a model for the rest of the country by continuing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.   Reducing electricity costs depends in part on diversifying the energy sources within the State.  Geothermal energy is a solid source of indigenous, renewable energy that could be made available at low costs. Senate Bills 2001 requires consultation and input from the Native Hawaiian community and general public when developing geothermal projects on public trust lands. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 3003 allows geothermal resources exploration and development in all state land use districts and all zones of the conservation districts, respectively.  Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 3003 into law in April.
With our State’s dependence on imported foods and threat to our food security, Senate Bill 2695 establishes a livestock feed feasibility pilot project to help address the rising cost of feed and explore ways to increase the sustainability of our local protein sources.  Self-sufficiency is critical to Hawaii’s food security and ability to respond effectively in the event of natural disasters or disruptions in transportation.
Retooling Government 

In the area of technology, the Senate calls for investing in the State’s information technology (IT) infrastructure in order to improve government and to better serve the public.  The investment in IT upgrades aims to increase productivity, making government more efficient.  The State Supplemental Budget, House Bill 2012, makes significant investments in software upgrades, integration in information technology, and modernization of database and records, to name a few.  Hawaiian Homelands, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Accounting and General Services and Human Services are some of the departments that will be receiving IT upgrades.

The Senate also supports the Governor’s broadband initiative to improve services and to ensure that each and every citizen has access.  The initiative is supported by Senate Bill 2236, which assists Clearcom or a partnership headed by Clearcom, Inc., with the planning, designing, constructing, and operating of broadband infrastructure throughout the State.

Other Notable Bills:

House Bill 608, Relating to Health, Act 1 (2012)

Governor Abercrombie signed House Bill 608 (Act 1) into law in February. The measure appropriates state funds to The Queen’s Medical Center to perform kidney and liver transplants and to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawai’i to maintain its chronic kidney disease management program.  Act 1 helps ensure that organ transplant patients are able to remain in the islands and receive efficient and timely care. 

Senate Bill 2783, Relating to the Public Trust Lands, Act 15 (2012)

Senate Bill 2783 conveys Kaka‘ako Makai lands to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).  The State and OHA agreed that an approximately $200 million settlement represents a reasonable compromise of the
disputed claims.  To satisfy that $200 million amount, the State is conveying contiguous and adjacent parcels in Kaka‘ako Makai.  Under this law, all disputes and controversies relating to OHA’s portion of income and proceeds from the public trust lands will be extinguished and discharged as well as bar all claims, suits, and actions for the period November 7, 1978 through June 30, 2012. Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2783 into law in April.
Senate Bill 2776, Relating to Public Safety

After an unprecedented collaboration between the Governor, Chief Justice, Senate President, House Speaker and Director of Public Safety, a data-driven justice reinvestment strategy was created to bring out-of-state prisoners back to Hawaii, reduce spending on corrections, and reinvest savings generated in strategies that would reduce recidivism and crime and increase public safety.

One of the outcomes of the Justice Reinvestment Initiatives was the passage of Senate Bill 2776.  The measure establishes a statutory structure to improve the criminal justice system, relying on the Department of Public Safety, Hawaii Paroling Authority, and Adult Probation Services to effectively implement changes to policies and practices.

Senate Bill 2247, Known as Kelsey’s Law, Act 94 (2012)

Senate Bill 2247, which was signed into law by Governor Abercrombie in April, will require cell phone or communication service providers to assist law enforcement agencies in determining the location of a cell phone in emergency situations.  The bill was named in honor of Kelsey Smith, an 18-year-old Kansas woman who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 2007. It is believed that if Verizon Wireless had turned over cell phone records on the day Smith was kidnapped, she may be alive today.  

House Bill 2030, Relating to Emergency Vehicle; Move Over

House Bill 2030 requires motorists to move over and slow down their vehicles when passing a stationary emergency vehicle on a highway.  If this measure becomes law, a violation against it will result in a civil fine, which will not impact the driver’s car insurance rates.

 (Submitted by Caroline Julian.)

15 replies
  1. Buddah Belly
    Buddah Belly says:

    No more geothermal in Puna. Period. It’s not worth the health and environmental impacts to us here to send the power to Oahu…

  2. Tom Burnett
    Tom Burnett says:

    Yeah. I said it was a done deal and it is. Argue with me for telling you, but I am not invested in the thing. I just know what’s going to happen.

  3. punated
    punated says:

    Many other states would kill to be in Hawaii’s position of being able to balance the budget so easily plus have several large scale public works projects funded.

    This bill pretty much says it all:
    “Meanwhile, Senate Bill 3003 allows geothermal resources exploration and development in all state land use districts and all zones of the conservation districts, respectively. Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 3003 into law in April.”

    None of this is going to happen fast, just the 8MW more from Ormat on the east side and 50MW on the west side, the cable probably not until 2020. If Ormat can deliver competitively for a couple years, then probably one of the fossil fuel plants will be shut down.

    The plant on the west side is going to deliver a lot more royalties for the county and the Kanaks (no, you are not forgotten). It really is the time for natives to leverage the increased influence, become power brokers like Qatar and Bahrain. It isn’t about the money but money is power. With more money behind them, the natives can buy back properties to turn into living trusts. It might even be possible to buy up a large area where natives could totally live the pono life if they wanted.

  4. geo turmoil
    geo turmoil says:

    Gary Hooser which rhymes with (you choose) said that geothermal is a totally clean energy source and the State should do everything thing in its power to utilize (read exploit) it. Mililani Trask also was on the tube saying that the Ormat plant has been in existence for twenty years and it has never prevented any Hawaiian from practicing their religion. Maybe it’s in the water they’re drinking in Honolulu? Yikes. Houston, we have trouble.

  5. punated
    punated says:

    @ Kelly

    You know, it is just a small little band of you fear mongers loitering around puna that are so paranoid about geothermal energy, possibly drug induced. Yeah, the 400 at the pahoa meeting but spearheaded by about 7 or 8 “leaders”.

    “poisoning the neighborhood” — your problem here is this is just made up. Like the rest of you guys are hallucinating, you have no data to back up that statement.

    Nobody is saying geothermal power is the only system, look at the state’s policy and it clearly states promoting multiple alternative energy sources. Nobody is saying anything against solar electric and heating. In fact, more power to anybody that can foot the $5000 for the solar heater system and the $15000 for the solar electric system. But don’t expect the state to hand out these systems.

    That is the thing that is standing out with you guys is you are almost schizophrenic, on one hand demonizing the government and handouts, next demanding a hand out because it is your right. It really made me laugh when Petricci brought up “oh, its the money then?”. This from somebody that was caught with 630 plants and 8 pounds. Nobody is going to smoke 8 pounds. That was for sale and distribution, all about the money. And his business is selling *RARE* Hawaii hard wood, mostly for export.

    Hypocrisy is partner, hand in hand, with deceit and treachery.

  6. Doc
    Doc says:

    Aloha “geo turmoil”, for the record, here is a quote from former Senator, Gary Hooser:

    “I was interviewed by a local news station after voting NO on a request by the DLNR before the Environmental Council to allow the exemption of “exploratory drilling” from EA and EIS review. FWIW I was the only NO vote.

    I do believe geo thermal offers great potential as an energy source but we must be very careful in how we manage its development, and yes I think I understand some of the potential negative downside which is why I voted NO on their request to exempt the exploratory drilling from Chapter 343.”

  7. Brian
    Brian says:

    Well this Senate may not understand PGV but they know how to double your car registration fee. I would brag if I was in government to day from th Congress to the Council.

  8. Brian
    Brian says:

    Sure brag it takes guts to ignore real problems and tax more. Go for it Hawaii vote for who ever has been paid for by the Unions and Corporations.

  9. Robert Petricci
    Robert Petricci says:

    Many people are looking for information after being mislead by the state and developers all these years, or talking to their neighbors and being told what happened the last time they wanted to do this.

    Promises of new geothermal technology, BACT, and clean safe power are the exact same ones we heard about when they wanted HGP-A and Ormat.

    We have learned to do our own research and hire our own experts because it wasn’t true. When we got sick after years of venting and constant leaks. Instead of a health study they told people, it’s just a small fringe group, we were all imagining it, or making it up. The same things we hear now. Imagine how the parents of the many children who were sick felt. We remember that and so do those children who have grown up now. It is a mistake to not take our concerns seriously now just like it was then.

    We will be updating the power point presentation and have been invited to give it in Kalapana this Tuesday at Uncle Robert’s from 6:00-8:00pm everyone is invited. After that we have been invited by a well known group to give the presentation in Kona. The Kona presentation will be big. We are working out the details and will announce the time and place soon.

    Then we are talking with Maui about doing it near the planned plant there. There is a lot of interest from people that do want to see it.

    I did the history portion, I lived through it and still have the pictures I took back then. I also used the report prepared by Wilson Goddard after the blow out at PGV. He provided the chemical analysis we used. The 18 declared civil defense emergencies are part of the record.

    Because I know about these things first hand having lived through it, I have no choice but to raise my voice for a better way.

    Geothermal has widespread opposition in Puna because it has earned it.

    They have no one to blame but themselves and instead of learning from their mistakes they are repeating them.

    Basically nothing has changed saying it has doesn’t change it. What is different now?

    Who gets the money? OK that could be different but What is this amazing new technology? We post our information with links. Show us your new technology. after all the name calling and insults I have yet to see anything new or better. Where is it?

    Ball is in your court, you can continue to attack us or simply show us your amazing new technology that will miraculously tame the most toxic and geologically unstable resource located in the middle of a large residential community.

    You criticize us but offer nothing but promises. We have heard those same promises many times.

    Post your science here as a new article for everyone to see. So far all we have are promises backed by nothing but words.

  10. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    @ punated; your attempt to personalize this is embarrassing but kinda also endearing: First, assuming gender, “you guys”, and then belittling my personal experience. I’m paranoid, don’t get me wrong. And you kinda feed new material into that orifice of fear.
    AND then there is a riff, a musician might say, there is a pattern. Disparage the local, discount their experience. Announce the inevitability of the agenda of the powerful, intoned with the voice of the oppressor…”you are loitering around puna”.
    Yes, loitering around Puna, my family for more than 100 years. So your point is? I no count? Dat it? It ain’t one small little band. It’s a community…whoever you are…and whoever you really represent. Classic corporate-think-template, punated, of trying to silence good people. By the way, and I’m not quite sure how to say this, but I quess I’m way more happy not being dehumanized. Oh, and also by the way I’m way more happy with friends that grow cannibis to support their ohana…than those who are empathy impaired.
    You just don’t like my ‘data’.

  11. punated
    punated says:

    Been doing some investigation of this Pele Defense Fund. It is looking more and more like a fraud scam.

    The first real question is if it is a FUND, that involves money, and of what use is money to Pele? The truth is nothing, the money is all about the humans involved.

    PDF was claiming non-profit status for all those years. Non-profit status was being abused in general and laws were passed to provide the government more oversight of these organizations, including the requirement to file IRS Form 990. When this was done, magically, many non-profits disappeared.

    A site that keeps track of non-profit status provides this about PDF:

    “Pele Defense Fund
    Legitimacy Information
    This organization is not registered with the IRS.
    This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.
    This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.”

    PDF is on a state list of de-listed non-profits. It appears now PDF is not even legal.

    My concern is if indigenous peoples have been duped by PDF, into contributing money or lands in support of it. Plus who is managing this “fund”?

    It may be time for an IRS audit of this “organization”, along with its leadership.

  12. gregowen
    gregowen says:

    I would like marion higa ,state auditor to completely review state efforts for geothermal…hey punated its not a done deal…i remember when gov wihee told dante carpenter our mayor back then {in his state of the union adress} that he wanted c. to start on the spaceport ,at south point within 2 yrs….never happened… a hurricane would knock down every albizzia tree in the lava tree state park area….there are not enough chain saws in e. hawaii to rescue the well….what about an earthquake like the 7.2 on nov 29 1975…. and dont forget if you want a 50mw plant in kona …kona hawaiians may not want it at all of course that remains to be seen…also no need insult your opposition it makes your arguement even weaker

  13. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    And, legally, Hawaii isn’t the USA.
    Your attempt to discredit the PDF is easily seen as an attempt to discredit community resistance to geo development.
    If anyone has been duped by PDF, please step forward.
    Non-profit status has nothing to do with the issues of industrializing Puna with more geo plants.
    I have never been part of PDF, but I have known many good people who have. And they have done great things for our community, regardless of their relationship to the IRS.

  14. Robert Petricci
    Robert Petricci says:

    PDF was not aware they had been delisted. They have reapplied and will be reinstated shortly. Any investigation is welcome and comes with the territory.

    Any money went to litigation for things like suing the DOH to force them to promulgate rules and air standards for geothermal’s deadly gases and to education of the public and our youth.

    Anyone wanting information is welcome. PDF will be at Uncle Robert’s this Tuesday evening from 6:00-8:00pm giving the geothermal power point presentation.

    PDF also has a booth at Kalapana market every Wednesday evening and their regularly scheduled meetings are open to the public every Monday evening at 6:00pm in the Papa Mu art gallery in the Prince Kuhio Mall at 6:00pm.

    If you want to know about the Pele Defense Fund just go to the source and ask. Unlike the pro geothermal commissions, panels, developers and state all our meetings are above board and open.

    Good luck with your investigation, I hope the information I provided helps. I have known Pali and the PDF members since the early 1980’s.

    We would not have re injection, Wao Kele O Puna, gathering rights, access, and many other things without there efforts. None of them get paid, they are all volunteers and we all owe them a great deal.

    Mahalo to PDF from the residents of lower Puna that had no one else when the state threw us under the geothermal bus.

    The support for PDF has never been stronger in our community and even now they have legal teams and organizers preparing for the upcoming geothermal battle.

    They will be fundraising and taking donations to help fund the work they do as soon as the non profit status is reinstated.

    PDF also is working with the Hawaii hunters to get access to fenced forest and to stop desecration of Hawaiian burial sites.

    You will be hearing a lot more from PDF, they are currently working with the next generation to carry on the work PDF started so many years ago. The Monday night meetings have gotten so large they are looking for a bigger space in Hilo to hold them. Anyone with a building that wants to donate it can contact PDF.

    See you at Uncle Robert’s….

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