Archive for January, 2009

Representative Gene Ward Cyber and Domestic Violence

January 31, 2009

Representative Gene Ward talks about Cyber Violence.  He also refers to the article in the Honolulu Advertiser on January 29, 2009 by Peter Boyan. 

Daughter lobbies for ‘Karen’s Law’

Bill ensures juveniles charged with murder will be tried as adults

“Karen’s Law” was first introduced at the start of the 2008 legislative session but died when former House Judiciary Chairman Tommy Waters declined to schedule a hearing on it.  The bill’s author, Rep. Kymberly Pine, R-43rd (‘Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu’uloa), said the law requires a waiver hearing that can take more than a year before a juvenile accused of murder can stand trial as an adult.


Rep Ward Talks Solar Energy with Ted Peck

January 30, 2009

Representative Gene Ward PH.D. talks to Ted Peck about solar energy

Rep Thielen Says Come On down

January 27, 2009

“I would say get there at the grassroot level. Get in.  Tell us why we shouldn’t do something or should do something.  But use the common sense and come on down here and  just don’t sit on the side lines,” said representative Cynthia Thielen.

Rep. Thielen’s Legislation Aims to Protect Kailua Shoreline

January 26, 2009

KHON By Brianne Randle

It was once America’s best beach – now erosion has taken Kailua’s shoreline out of the running. Literally digging away at the sand, creating a five foot drop-off. Slowly working it’s way up the coast.

“Erosion is starting at the south end by the boat ramp, we don’t want this to turn into another Lanikai,” says Cynthia Thielen, Kailua, Kaneohe Representative.

Thielen has represented the Windward district since the 90’s. She says erosion along Kailua is bad and getting worse – unless action is taken Hawaii will loose one of it’s world class treasures.

“This is a resource, I mean look at this, this is just glorious.”

And she wants to keep it that way. Thielen is proposing a new bill that aims to protect this resource for the next two years. Establishing an interim coastal construction line.

“So we have a short term measure that says you can’t build any further makai, toward the water, than your house is located now.”

Putting a two year stop to new beachfront construction.

“I think the houses are too close now, look at this one now. I was watching this one come up and I thought this one was too close,” says beach-goer Gail Fugimoto. “I’m all for it yeah.”

“It’s to keep the status quo, for the two year period to allow the Department of Natural Resources to see what needs to be done on a more permanent basis,” says Thielen.

Government agencies could then assess and adopt new rules determining shoreline setback. Keeping homeowners from building out onto dunes.

“This is what Hawaii’s all about the beaches, we have to protect them,” says beach-goer Richard Perez.

“This is where pres Obama and his family vacation, two times here, we want to keep the beach here and want to welcome them back,” says Thielen.

The cost to fund the bill would be minimal. Thielen says agencies are already in the process of creating strategies to manage erosion across the state. This measure will help put those ideas to work in Kailua


January 24, 2009

cynthia-headshotState Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District) hailed today the introduction of a measure that seeks to protect the Kailua shoreline and the value of beachfront homes.  The bill is in response to recent beachfront construction that degrades the views of several existing homes and has generated backlash from the public.  Property values of beachfront homes are largely a reflection of their open view plain, a vista that is enjoyed by the thousands of people who use Kailua Beach for daily recreation.  The bill establishes an interim coastal construction line that restricts new construction makai (seaward) of existing structures on beachfront properties in Kailua, and directs government agencies to assess and adopt rules determining shoreline setback and the mauka extent of shoreline conservation districts in Kailua.  The bill sunsets upon the adoption of rules, or in 2011, whichever is sooner.


“The alarming construction of new homes onto the sand dune has generated many complaints among beach users,” Thielen said.  She also pointed out that recent erosion at Kailua Beach Park threatens the entire beach.  “Erosion at the park can propagate down the beach, leaving beachfront homeowners susceptible to coastal hazards.”  The legislation, in addition to protecting the value of existing development, will prevent new development in areas that may be threatened by the recent erosion problem.  Thielen continued, “I’ve worked on this piece of legislation for the past year with shoreline specialists from UH and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  In analyzing the rates of erosion and northward propagation along Kailua Beach, and the potential for degradation of property values, we determined that an interim moratorium on construction makai of existing structures was in the public’s best interest.”


“The Kailua shoreline is one of our community’s most valuable resources.  The wide, sandy beach is not only a community treasure- it is the reason that property values are so high along the shoreline.  We are preserving a natural resource for community use, and protecting property values for owners of beachside residences.”


Kailua Beach is a unique jewel within the Hawaiian Island chain, as one of only a few accreting, urban coastlines that is entirely unarmored.  Kailua Beach‘s development history, with large open areas makai of beachfront homes, has allowed the beach and dune system to remain intact and healthy while residential lots have been used to their highest and fullest potential.  This has created a win-win situation where private property owners and the general public each enjoy full use of this beautiful coastline.  The bill’s intent, states Thielen, “is to ensure that everyone has the best possible opportunity to coexist along Kailua‘s coast for the decades to come.”

Representative Pine Discusses the Hawaii Auto Industry at the House State Conference

January 23, 2009

Rep Finnegan’s Opening Day Speech Jan 21, 2009

January 22, 2009

rep_finnegan_jan_21_2009Congratulations Hawaii as we celebrate 50 years of statehood. This beautiful state has so much to offer the world, especially with the most recent example of the election of our 44th President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama. I firmly believe our multi ethnic people and culture coupled with the Aloha spirit helped shape President Obama – a direct contribution to his abilities to win over a nation and bring people together.  


I just returned from a conference where I was able to talk to legislators from a variety of states that are having similar struggles such as ours. California’s executive and legislative branches are feuding with one another and the result is a gridlocked government on the verge of bankruptcy. The very last thing that we need here in Hawaii is to have our differences blind and overcome our goals for this session.  


Your House Republicans believe, especially in this day and time, that we need to support the existing pillars of our economy; tourism, construction, and our military.  We also believe that we should create an environment to keep our businesses open and growing so labor keeps working.  And, we need to do these things while ensuring steps are taken toward our long range goals.


Recently an audit criticized the Hawaii Tourism Authority for a lack of leadership and vision. Rather than pointing fingers, we need to come together and support HTA in these tough times. For instance, the heritage tourist stays longer, spends more, respects our environment, and wants to understand our history. Working with the heritage tourism industry we can create a marketing plan for HTA. This could save money and time.   


In the good times we routinely ignored infrastructure needs in favor of fancy programs. We need to come together to address these long overdue needs while helping our economy. We need to support the Governor’s plan to streamline the 1.9 billion in existing construction projects. Governor Lingle, your Administration is taking on a huge responsibility to accomplish the much needed modernization of our airports, harbors, and highways. Your aim for transparency and innovation in planning and execution are concepts we can support.


The military in Hawaii plays a key part in defending our nation and bolstering our economy. This state has a love/hate relationship with the military. We need to support our military and are proposing legislation to do so.   


Another vital way for us to strengthen the economy is to keep businesses open and to keep labor working. Our people cannot pay their mortgages and their rent without jobs. With our state tax revenue shortfall, government cannot be the answer for everything. Like government, businesses are experiencing loss in revenue. Too often, this state looks to squeeze businesses to make the books balance. Business, labor, and government need to come together to move us past these economic struggles in a way where businesses can thrive, workers can realize a better quality of life, and government can craft a fiscally sound budget.  This is not the time to raise taxes whether unemployment insurance or business fees. Let us commit to making it better for business and find ways to remove unnecessary regulations.


Let us not underestimate the power of the individual to create their own opportunities. I suspect that with our unemployment numbers increasing and the job market tightening, people might want to start their own business as their chance, their opportunity. Let’s encourage that behavior as another source of job growth.  


Your Republican members also recognize areas where we must step in to help employees directly. We are asking the legislature and the Governor to partner with us to help protect pensions. Employees should not lose a lifetime of investments earned through their hard work.  


Many times, the legislature gets caught up in the important issues of the day; however, we must simultaneously work to achieve our goals for the future. We owe it to future generations of Hawaii’s people to stay committed to creating better opportunities for them. It is not an option to sacrifice tomorrow for today. This is why your Republican caucus is committed to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and ACT 221 to truly diversify our economy.   


The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership between the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy, will be offering a proposal that synchronizes a variety of efforts to be able to meet the renewable energy standard portfolio goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030. We are pleased to adopt the recommendations of HCEI. This is not easy for some of us in the Republican caucus because of the need for the inclusion of certain mandates.  However, we are willing to come together with the Majority on this proposal, and the trade off is worthwhile. Achieving this goal will keep 7 billion dollars of Hawaii’s money in Hawaii, a substantial positive effect for our economy. It is good for the environment, and makes us good stewards of our natural resources.  It also gives us energy security, which is also economic security.  

Throughout the decades, all of our State’s governors have tried to establish another sector of our economy. We scream that we need to diversify our economy yet many are unwilling to take the risk and make the investment to do so. 


Act 221, the high tech tax credit, has received a lot of negative attention.  We need to move past this. We need to come together to realize that the aggressive nature of Act 221’s tax credit is needed in order to build a high tech pillar of our economy. Act 221 is a complicated machine with many gears that works to convince people, companies, technologies, research, and money to invest in Hawaii. One investor I interviewed described Hawaii as “a toxic business environment” and if not for Act 221, many companies and their investors would not be here contributing 1.4 billion dollars into our economy.   


Capital investment is shrewd, and will go where it has the best potential with the least risk. I believe that not extending Act 221 will equate to the loss of good paying jobs for our people and work against diversifying our economy. Act 221 attracts the international and local investor and high technology companies that could take their money or ideas anywhere on the globe and gets them to say “Let’s try Hawaii”. 


Our goals to educate our keiki in science, technology, engineering, and math, otherwise known as STEM, will only be halfway achieved if we are unable to find local jobs for them in the future.


I would like to introduce to you five individuals who have been able to live in Hawaii due to Act 221. Tamotsu Hirai, Laboratory Technician at Kuehnle Agrosystems, has been able to live close to his family and has the job the he desires in his field of work. Teri Wong, Scientist at Panthera Biopharma, is an Aiea High School and Washington State graduate. Darren Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, a leader in MicroCSP technologies, born and raised in Hilo. Keiki Pua Dancil of Chitpure, a Kamehameha graduate, was brought home as a Director of Research and Development after graduating from Santa Clara University, earned her PHD from UC San Diego and a MBA from Harvard Business School. And Henk Rogers, CEO of Blue Planet Software, who studied Computer Science at our University of Hawaii and successfully sold his first 221 company and now has three new ones in his incubator.


On New Year’s Day, the Akiona side of our family started a new annual tradition. We potlucked Saimin. My husband, Peter and I, brought the Saimin noodles and dashi, while everyone else brought their favorite garnish. Peter and I started to debate if Saimin was of Japanese or Chinese origin. What I learned brought so much more meaning to our new tradition.   


Saimin means thin noodle. Living on the plantation, all of the different ethnic groups would come together to cook communally. Each group offered up what they could spare in order to save money and create a meal for all. Most likely, dashi and kamaboko was from the Japanese, noodles and won bok from the Chinese, green onions from the Filipinos, and so on.   


I share this story not only because my grandparents were plantation laborers who came from the Philippines in search of a better life for the generations to follow, but because I’m reminded in tough times we need to pull together.   

Whether employee or employer, economic or environmental, old or new, democrat or republican, executive or legislative, like the example of the different cultures working together in the plantations, we bring our differences to the table and create benefits for all.  We must focus on keeping businesses open and labor working while staying committed to creating a better future for Hawaii’s generations to come. 


Tough times are here. But if we are committed to coming together, we will forge a better tomorrow.  Mahalo.  



Tough times call for optimism, not gloom by Representative Gene Ward Ph.D.

January 20, 2009

ward-official-photoWhen trying to understand what happened to our economy in October when our banking system took a tailspin and led to national panic, I think of FDR’s famous quote about fear and what it meant then and means now.

In his first inaugural address on March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

After being bombarded by the doom and gloom of the media with terms like “meltdown” or “free fall of the economy,” some people are coming to the conclusion that America’s best days are over and we’re proceeding down a path to hell in a handbasket. Without Roosevelt-like attitudinal adjustments in the next few months, this could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hawai’i needs more Roosevelt-like antidotes to a building wave of fear in our islands. And I don’t mean just cheerleading or pretending things are rosy just because we say they are, but that we have a positive recovery mindset that looks for opportunities in these hard times, learns to make lemonade out of lemons, and gains strength through the testing of our mettle.

Common sense tells us that now is the time to take advantage of the many bargains that are available — in stores, housing and even the stock market for those who are fortunate enough to be able to invest. It is also an ideal time to walk more and drive less as we diversify our economy with renewable energy made in America rather than the fossil fuels we import every year, worth over $7 billion, from foreign countries often unfriendly to us.

It is also a time to count our blessings that we in Hawai’i live the longest in the nation and that our unemployment rate is still just around 5 percent.

In 1933 the national unemployment rate was nearly 25 percent. By 1940, the unemployment rate was still at about 15 percent when the economy began to recover with the start of World War II. Though our country is now again at war, our economy and our citizenry are not on a war footing, nor have we had a terrorist attack since 9/11. We are a freer, richer and more healthy nation than ever before. So what are we afraid of?

FDR said the problem was in the part of the economy that is in our heads and not in the marketplace. The market economy is composed of 65 percent consumer spending (derived from everyday stuff such as buying food and clothing, or visiting the doctor), and 15 percent from private investment (such as companies purchasing new machinery or building new offices). The rest comes from government spending (building roads, bridges, schools, and national defense).

That’s what our economy is made of — but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s where FDR was trying to get our attention about fear and how our attitude influences how we — as consumers, investors and government — behave. A truly healthy economy is one which has the confidence of its consumers and its investors.

As Americans, we each need to do our part to get us out of the economic doldrums:


  • As consumers, we need to be prudent in our purchases, but not fearful to maintain as much of our normal lifestyle and consumption patterns as possible. We do not — indeed, should not — spend extravagantly, but have a clear idea of our needs and priorities, avoiding buying things that have more to do with vanity than value.  
  • For those who are fortunate enough to be investors, we should realize that the future of so many jobs are at stake in where we put our money. If individuals and financial institutions (such as banks) just sit on their money and do not invest, this will only lead to more layoffs, and our recovery will take longer. Let’s invest wisely and create wealth and jobs. Sitting on our money only retards its value.  
  • As for government, we in the Legislature and the executive branch need to be frugal with the public treasury while revenues are down, while at the same time protecting the weakest among us and promoting the general health and welfare of the state. We must also make the best use of our asset base and not overburden families with higher taxes or fees and overburden businesses with more regulations while also asking them to hold on to their employees. The bottom line is that no one has anything to gain by frightening people and discouraging them from prudent spending.

    Every day trillions of dollars change hands in today’s modern and global economy. The problem is not a shortage of money, but a lack of confidence — and sometimes of wisdom — in spending the money we have.

    So let’s not panic or let fear blur our vision. Let’s work hard, and help one another, and we’ll get through this like we’ve always done as Americans. FDR’s statement is as apt today as it was in 1933: We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

    Rep. Gene Ward is a member of the House Finance Committee and Co-Chair of the Small Business Caucus in the Hawai’i State Legislature. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

  • Representative Pine at the Filipino Chamber of Commerce – Part 2

    January 20, 2009
    Rep Pine speaks at the 2009 Filipino Chamber of Commerce Breakfast and discusses President Obama, Hawaii’s congressional delegation, the Akaka Bill, and her outlook for 2009.

    Representative Kymberly Pine addresses the Filipino Chamber

    January 20, 2009

    Rep Pine speaks at the 2009 Filipino Chamber of Commerce Breakfast and discusses the economy and the target of smart, market stimulus packages that will focus primarily on keeping people in jobs