Hemp plant is exciting agricultural opportunity for Hawaii By Rep. Cynthia Thielen

Image February 19, 2013

It is ironic that our country’s Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper, because any mention of hemp today is likely to be met with raised eyebrows.

However, the public perception of hemp, which is not the same plant as marijuana, might be on the verge of a dramatic national shift.

Last week, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I am convinced that allowing (hemp’s) production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me.”

McConnell is cosponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.

For centuries, hemp was a major crop in the Americas, Europe and Asia, where it was — and still is — used in rope, textiles, nets, paper, oils, cosmetics and food. Abraham Lincoln illuminated his home with lamp oil made from hemp seeds. The Puritans grew hemp, as did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The Founding Fathers promoted a hemp-based economy for the new country. Some of the colonies even required farmers to grow the endlessly useful crop, seeing it as necessary to their survival.

Our state has a chance to lead the nation in this exciting agricultural opportunity. Hawaii’s climate and soil offer ideal conditions for cultivation — and in return, where hemp grows, it cleanses the soil of pesticides, oil, gasoline and other toxins through a process called “phytoremediation.” Industrial hemp phytoremediation works so well, it was used to help clean up and stop further soil contamination after the nuclear power plant catastrophe at Chernobyl.

This soil-cleansing characteristic is the focus of House Bill 154, a bill moving fast through the Legislature, which authorizes the state Board of Agriculture to establish an industrial hemp remediation pilot program. The purpose clause of the bill explains that the “state’s extensive agricultural operations in the past have left toxins in vast tracts of land. Phytoremediation will remove these toxins.”

HB 154 establishes a two-year hemp phytoremediation pilot project to extract toxins such as metals, pesticides, solvents, explosive and crude oil without the need to remove any of the contaminated topsoil. This process will leave a clean, balanced and nutrient-rich soil, which can then be safely used for agriculture or improving conservation habitats.

Today, in Hawaii and the rest of this country, you can buy hemp beer, hemp iced tea, hemp carryall bags, hemp shirts, hemp sheets, blankets and tortilla chips (corn chips sprinkled with hemp seeds). You can even wrap your baby’s bottom in hemp diapers. And hemp-seed oil isn’t just for Honest Abe’s lamps. The oil from this little seed is packed with essential amino acids, essential fatty acids (Omega 3, Omega 6), and magnesium.

We must get beyond the irrational opposition to this valuable plant. We know Hawaii is an ideal place to grow hemp — we did it in 1999, with the Hawaii Industrial Hemp Research Project. We can do it again.


Rep. Bob McDermott Addresses Teachers’ Contract

Hawaii reporter Logo February 20, 2013 by Rep. Bob McDermott

It is long overdue to settle the teachers’ contract. Making them grovel over less than a 2% increase (when health care costs are factored in), while at the same time proposing an expensive new preschool program is breathtakingly insulting. This reinforces the belief among teachers that they are not appreciated and they are made the perennial whipping boys for all of the systemic shortcomings that produce public dissatisfaction. The teachers are by and large dedicated professionals who feel underappreciated and this preschool maneuver by the Governor offers them solid evidence that they are indeed taken for granted.

I have spoken to many teachers and while pay is an issue, another important issue is that they are also suffering from a morale problem. Aside from antidotal discussion with teachers, one need only look at our absenteeism rate as documented in a report by the Center for American Progress. Written and released in November 2012, it showed about half of Hawaii teachers had more than 10 absences, the second-highest rate in the nation. Or, one could look at our teacher attrition numbers (excluding retirements), we lose about 10% of our full complement each year; the total annual costs associated with teacher turnover in Hawaii alone, excluding retirements, is estimated to be $23,895.228.00 per annum according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. Will Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said “there’s no question” that teacher absences affect student learning. One can also safely assume that high teacher turnover, particularly at our “at risk” schools, lowers our student achievement outcomes. Both of these are indicators of poor morale and lack of job satisfaction.

Morale is affected by many things. However, we know what needs to be done. We must include more professional mentoring time for teachers. Increased planning time is needed because, although we have curriculum standards, we have no standard curriculum. We can reduce their workload by enforcing a hard cap on the number of students per classroom. Teachers need to have a say in school policy. And finally, they need to believe that the school (and Parents) stands with them, shoulder to shoulder, when dealing with problematic student behavior.

In return, the teachers will gladly accept reasonable evaluation standards. They want to be measured so that they can improve as professionals and root out the teachers who do not perform. The loss of good teachers is devastating to the taxpayers, schools, educators, students and the communities that they serve. We need to pay them what they are worth and grant them a 4% raise, and address the morale issues.

The time to settle is now.

Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov

Article on the Hawaii Reporter on Feb 20, 2013 http://www.hawaiireporter.com/it-is-time-to-settle-the-teachers-contract/123

Kaiser Complex Schools Make History!

Rep. Gene Ward (R – Hawai‘i Kai-Kalama Valley) announced that Hahaione Elementary School in Hawaii Kai was authorized to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School making the Kaiser complex (Kaiser High School, Niu Valley Middle School, Hahaione Elementary School) the first public school complex in the State to offer the IB World School Programme grades K-12.
The IB Programme is a coveted status for schools around the world. The curriculum emphasizes and highlights the importance of international awareness and responsible citizenship for students. Its world class curriculum prepares students for college that includes the speaking of a foreign language before high school graduation.

“Congratulations to Principal Cindy Giorgis, her faculty, staff and students at Hahaione Elementary for their hard work and dedication in earning their school this designation last week and making Kaiser a full IB complex. I also owe a heartfelt handshake to Mr. John Sosa, Principal of Kaiser High School, for being a prime mover to put the Kaiser complex of schools as the first IB Programme complex in the entire State of Hawaii.” Ward said.
In 2012, Kaiser High School graduated its first cohort of IB Diploma Programme candidates, with 22 earning the prestigious IB diploma.


Representative Gene Ward and

“Kaiser is now the first complex in the State that will prepare our keiki from kindergarten to high school graduation in intensive academic programs that will guarantee that our graduates are competitive nationally and internationally,” Ward concluded.

Olelo show:  Representative Gene Ward introduces Principal John Sosa to discuss the IB program:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lQC715kpYI




Rep. Gene Ward Addresses HB964 – General Excise Tax

Report Title: General Excise Tax; Exemption; Scientific Contracts
Description: Amends general excise tax exemption for scientific contracts with the United States. (HB964 HD1)

2/19/2013 H Passed Third Reading as amended in HD 1 with Representative(s) Ward voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) McDermott voting no (1) and none excused (0). Transmitted to Senate.

Contact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov excerpt from capitol TV

Reps. McDermott, Fale and Johanson Address HB 902 – Deposit Beverage Program

Report Title:  Deposit Beverage Container Program; Dietary Supplements
Description:  Exempts a container of liquid which is deemed to be the sole item of a meal or the diet from the Deposit Beverage Container Program. Removes the exemption for dietary supplement beverage containers from the Deposit Beverage Container Program. Effective July 4, 2100. (HB902 HD2)

2/15/2013 H Report adopted. referred to the committee(s) on FIN as amended in HD 2 with Representative(s) Cheape, Johanson voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Fale, Fukumoto, McDermott voting no (3) and Representative(s) Carroll, Coffman, Hanohano, Har, Kawakami, Ward excused (6).

Contact: repfale@capitol.hawaii.gov, repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov or repjohanson@capitol.hawaii.gov  Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Ward Addresses HB837 – Fees

Report Title: Money Transmitters; Fees; Bond
Description: Authorizes the Commissioner of Financial Institutions to require money transmitters to register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and establishes additional regulatory requirements. Effective July 1, 2112. (HB837 HD1)

2/15/2013 H Passed Second Reading as amended in HD 1 and referred to the committee(s) on FIN with Representative(s) Aquino, Cachola, Cullen, Ito, Tsuji voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Cabanilla, Fale, McDermott, Oshiro, Tokioka voting no (5) and Representative(s) Carroll, Coffman, Hanohano, Har, Kawakami, Ward excused (6).

contact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov  Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. McDermott Addresses HB 853 – Amendment to Childhood Education Programs

Report Title: Early Childhood Education; Public Funds; Constitutional Amendment (ConAm)
Description: Proposes a constitutional amendment to permit the appropriation of public funds for private early childhood education programs, as provided by law. (HB853 HD1)

2/15/2013 H Report adopted. referred to the committee(s) on FIN as amended in HD 1 with Representative(s) Cachola, Cheape, Fale, Fukumoto, Johanson, Jordan, McDermott, McKelvey, Morikawa voting aye with reservations; none voting no (0) and Representative(s) Carroll, Coffman, Hanohano, Har, Kawakami, Ward excused (6).


Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov  excerpt from Capitol TV