Archive for March, 2013

Rep. Cheape invites UH Men’s Volleyball fans to join her on March 30, 2013

March 29, 2013

Representative Lauren Cheape said we sit in the “cheap” seats and will have yellow shirts. Please join Rep. Cheape to watch her brother senior Matthew Cheape  play at 7:00 p.m.
Senior night Saturday, March 30, 2013
UC Santa Barbara
Stan Sheriff Center

mathew cheape

Mike Buck with Rep. Beth Fukumoto – Audio File – March 25, 2013

March 29, 2013

Minority Floor Leader Beth Fukumoto talks with Mike Buck about being a first year Legislator,  issues concerning House District 36 Mililani Mauka and Mililani; along with bills that are moving through the House and Senate this week. Tune in Monday mornings during the 7 o’clock hour to hear Legislative issues on 690 AM. Call in to: 808-296-5467. Audio File


Easter Baskets for IHS

March 28, 2013

Easter Baskets for IHS

The Women’s Legislative Caucus held its annual Easter Basket drive at the Capitol. The program has been running for more than a decade. The Institute for Human Services collects the donations from the Hawaii State House and Senate.

Photo Left to right: Senator Laura H. Thielen, Representatives Chris Lee and Cynthia Thielen

Civil Beat:


Proposed Capital Improvements For Campbell High

March 28, 2013

ImageMarch 27, 2013  By  Representative Bob McDermott

My first CIP (capital improvement project) requests for House District 40, the Ewa area, were focused on Campbell High School. After a series of meetings with school administrators, teachers and the Department of Education engineers, I came to several conclusions.

First, a new second high school is not needed, but major improvements to Campbell High School’s existing facilities are long overdue.

When it comes to investing in our future, I cannot think of a better place to start than our public education system. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be investing in improvements to our school’s physical infrastructure. I have made reforming the educational system my No. 1 goal as a state legislator.

There have been several projects started, but not finished, at Campbell, including extensive improvements to the electrical system. Years ago new transformers were installed in anticipation of renovation to the electrical distribution systems. These transformers have been sitting unused for almost 10 years.

These types of false starts are both wasteful and misleading. Not only is momentum lost, but piecemeal execution makes any project end up costing much, much more than it should.

McDermott Head shot blue shirtI have asked for $5 million, to complete the entire second phase of the electrical build-out. My colleagues in the Legislature have urged me to lower my sights and ask for smaller CIP requests, but I would rather take the time to identify what our district really needs.

We will rally to move Campbell High School back up the priority list for air conditioning. It is ridiculous that Campbell has dropped out of the top 10 schools in need of air conditioning statewide.

A proposal was submitted to cover costs for a new surface for the football field, which will bring our field up to the same standards as other public high schools in Hawaii.

Funds also were identified to renovate the old Ewa fire station, so it can be used as a new EMS center that would service our community.

You have my assurance that, despite these tough times and tight budgets, I will continue to work so that our community will not be slighted when it come to getting our fair share of capital improvement funds.

State Rep. Bob McDermott represents District 40 – Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point. He can be reached by calling 586-9730 or emailing

Rep. Bob McDermott Honors Vietnam Veterans on the Chamber Floor

March 26, 2013

Honoring from the House of Representatives, Hawaii – Representatives Bob McDermott honors Vietnam Veterans, March 25, 2013:

Colonel John Bates USMC Retired
Colonel Gene Castagnetti USMC Retired
Captain Jerry Coffee US Navy Retired
Captain Jim Hickerson US Navy Retired
Lieutenant General Hank Stackpole USMC Retired

Vietnam honorees Ward and Mcdermott takaiContact: excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Ward and Senator Slom Address – The Great Lawn – Town Hall Meeting – March 2013

March 26, 2013

Did you know that the “Great Lawn” is separated into two parcels? The parcel closest to Kalanianaole Highway is owned by Kamehameha Schools (KSBE) and is the site of the
proposed strip mall. The parcel mauka and on the marina is owned by the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association (HKMCA).

At a Town Hall meeting, on March 21, 2013, Representative Gene Ward, Senator Sam Slom and other officials discussed Hawaii Kai’s issues concerning a new strip mall.

Town Hall March 2013 # 7Contact: or

At Legislative Town Hall, East Oahu Residents Express Outrage Over Proposed Commercial Development on Preservation Land

March 25, 2013

ImageBY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Hundreds of East Oahu residents packed into Kamioliki School’s cafeteria Thursday night to hear more about a proposed commercial retail development on preservation land that the vast majority of attendees said they adamantly opposed.

Kamehameha Schools wants to build a “gathering place” on 4.5 acres of land on the entrance to Hawaii Kai, which would include stores and restaurants and possibly an educational facility and bike and walking paths along the marina.

Foodland, a locally owned supermarket that lost its lease for the nearby Koko Marina Shopping Center in 2011, would anchor what many residents are referring to as a “strip mall.”

“It’s definitely not a strip mall,” Kamehameha Schools Area Development Director Susan Todani told the skeptical audience. ”We’re really thinking about a gathering place that’s so much more than just retail.  We’re thinking about combining community amenities, such as a waterfront-recreational path and pedestrian and bikeways and playgrounds.  Incorporating the dog park, that’s a really important feature to this community.”

The land, now zoned as preservation, is one of the few undeveloped parcels in the busy community, and it would have to be rezoned by the Honolulu City Council before development moves forward. There already are three major shopping centers in Hawaii Kai and a smaller one that is relatively unused at the entrance to Kalama Valley – all of the land under the centers is owned by Kamehameha Schools.

Residents did not buy Todani’s attempt to downplay the development’s size or purpose, and were upset by several of her statements, especially as she compared Hawaii Kai to other “anti development” communities, as she claimed the development would benefit Hawaiian children at Kamehameha Schools, and as she used Hawaiian words that native Hawaiians attending took offense at.

The meeting went further downhill for Kamehameha Schools and Foodland when they brought up their poll conducted by OmniTrak Group Inc. to gage support for the project. A representative from OmniTrak testified 72 percent of the nearly 400 people who were contactd were in support of the project, but several people in the audience said those results were highly suspect.

Marian Grey, a resident who received a call from the polling company, said the pollster who she spoke to tried to convince her to support the retail project, even after she said several times that she was opposed and wanted the area to remain open preservation space.

Rep. Gene Ward, the organizer of the town hall, announced he took his own poll with the results turning out much differently: 87 percent of residents oppose the strip mall’s construction on preservation land.

Foodland Vice Chairman Roger Wall and two Kamehameha Schools representatives maintained the “Great Lawn” at the entrance to Hawaii Kai was the best location for the popular Foodland store to reestablish itself. Many residents hoped Foodland would return after it lost its lease to Walgreens and Petco in 2011, leaving just Safeway as the only remaining grocery store.

“Following the Koko Marina store closure, we were asked by several community members to contact Kamehameha Schools because it owned parcels of land throughout Hawaii Kai that offered potential for us. The Kuapa site that we’ve really focused in on is the most viable.  It’s central, it’s conveniently located close to the core of Hawaii Kai residents and to us, it’s the only site that makes sense,” Wall said.

Ward co-sponsored the town hall with other area lawmakers including by Sen. Sam Slom, Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Mark Hashem, and City Council Member Stanley Chang as well as the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board.

Hawaii Kai loves Foodland, but we love the ‘Great Lawn’ more,” Ward said.

Several residents spoke on their concerns about the project and how it would impact the popular dog park and Maunalua Bay, which is heavily used by paddlers, boaters, fishermen, picnickers, tour buses, firefighters in training and workout clubs. They also cited concerns about already heavy traffic fronting the Great Lawn property on Kalanianaole Highway. Others mentioned the view of the mountains that surround Hawaii Kai would be marred by development, and preservation land and open space is disappearing at too rapid a pace.

“People know me as pro-business, pro-development, but you can’t do that at the expense of the last open space. This should be open, wild, nature space for all of us to enjoy because we have so little of it,” said Slom, who received loud applause from the audience.

The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, the organization that runs the Hawaii Kai dog park, many paddlers from Hui Nalu Canoe Club, and several other environmental and community groups have already come out in support of keeping the land zoned as preservation and free from commercial development.

Neighborhood Board Chairman Greg Knuden said it is important for the land, which is the gateway to Hawaii Kai, to remain preservation.

Resident Ann Marie Kirk also spoke passionately about keeping the land as preservation and said she had already written to the Kamehameha Schools President to ask if the land could be donated to the community so it could be a park for everyone in the area to use.

Todani said Kamehameha Schools wants residents to be a part of the planning for the commercial center, leaving many residents feeling like she was implying it was a done deal, and all that had to be decided was what the mall would include.

But after  Thielen detailed the extensive permitting and rezoning process Kamehameha Schools still has to go through, Todani admitted it would take at least four years to get the project completed if it moved forward.

Thielen suggested that many in the audience call their council member, Stanley Chang, to make sure they are informed if Kamehameha Schools tries to move the project ahead.

According to a show of hands at the meeting, Foodland owners have the public’s support for a new store in an existing Hawaii Kai mall, but not for a new project on the Great Lawn. With nearly 400 people in the cafeteria that had standing-room only, just four people raised their hand in support of the project, and everyone else raised their hand in opposition.

Realtor Rob Burns, who lives in Portlock not far from the land in dispute, is one of the residents strongly in support of the project. He asked his neighbors to keep an open mind.

“Most of the people in Hawaii Kai live in homes on land previously designated preservation with underlying urban residential,” Burns pointed out. “The public should not crucify Kamehameha Schools who is doing the best thing they can do with their lands to create income to fund their [mission to educate] Hawaiian kids.”

But Burns was vastly outnumbered and his comments were met with groans. “I’m not trying to win a popularity contest,” Burns said.

The audience “booed” Council Member Stanley Chang after he first said he would listen to the people of Hawaii Kai who made their feelings opposing the project clear, but then qualified his statement moments later saying he had not decided whether he would support the project.

Several people after the meeting said they were disappointed by Chang’s “wishy-washy” behavior and would not support him in the council next election.

Hawaii Reporter Mqarch 22, 2013

Legislative Report – March 18, 2013

March 21, 2013

Leg ReportMarch 18, 2013

Caucus Jan 2013 # 2

Left to right:  Representatives Gene Ward Ph.D, Beth Fukumoto, Aaron Ling Johanson, Cynthia Thielen, Bob McDermott, Lauren Kealohilani Cheape and Richard Fale

News Release: Governor dismisses hotel industry concerns over upholding hotel tax increase as “propaganda”

Governor Abercrombie today dismissed industry concerns that his proposal to repeal the sunset on the high transient accommodations tax rate would harm Hawaii’s tourism industry. In response to a legislator’s echoing of industry worries that the high tax rate is hurting business and the greater Hawaii economy, the governor interrupted by saying he has been hearing “the same propaganda.”

Our caucus members are concerned that the governor would show this kind of insensitivity toward the needs of our state’s private sector, especially as this attitude was coupled with numerous requests for new and higher taxes and fees and higher spending on numerous government programs. The House has already killed most tax and fee increase proposals and passed a fiscally responsible.

The bill the governor was commenting on, SB 1194 SD2, failed to pass the House Committee on Tourism today. The TAT rate was incrementally increased twice in 2009 and 2010 from 7.25 to 9.25 percent. The rate is set to revert to 7.25 percent on June 30, 2015 if the sunset is not repealed.

To read the complete news release, please click here.

House passes fiscally responsible budget

The House budget that passed last week does many things for which the House Minority Caucus has long been advocating. This is a clear sign that the House is moving in the right direction. The budget has now crossed to the Senate for further consideration.

The House budget improves government accountability and restructures and reprioritizes spending by:

  • Proposing $600 million less in spending than the governor’s proposal;
  • Removing automatic funding of vacant positions so the legislature can evaluate need on a case-by-case basis;
  • Beginning to pay down the state’s staggering unfunded liabilities with $100 million per year for the two fiscal years. If passed, this could be the first year the state will contribute to unfunded liabilities; and
  • Restoring some of the most vital services for protecting our economy and environment, such as agricultural inspectors.

Some members expressed reservations regarding some of the taxes and fees that are still alive and the potential resurrection of other increases. The House Minority Caucus will remain vigilant to protect Hawaii residents from increasing our state’s already high cost of living.

HB 200 HD1 appropriates general fund spending for the current biennium fiscal years FY 2013-2014 and FY 2014-2015.

Notable bills to be heard this week

Information about how to send testimony on the below measures can be found at the corresponding links.

Tuesday, March 19

  • SB 215 SD3 establishes the public-private partnership authority (PPPA). While some argue that the PPPA would spur jobs and economic development, critics argue that the proposal is too similar to the controversial Public Land Development Corporation. See more details here.
  • SB 693 SD2 HD1 establishes a three-year pilot program for red light cameras. See more details here.

Wednesday, March 20

  • SB 1133 SD2 HD1 removes the exemption for dietary supplements in amounts greater than one ounce from the deposit beverage container program, effectively raising the fee for those purchases. See more details here.

Bill updates

Conveyance tax

A measure to increase the conveyance tax on high-end real estate transactions passed the House Water & Land Committee today. The bill directs funds to watershed protection and invasive species control. The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill, citing a potential threat to real estate sales. (SB 1166 SD1)

Early childhood education

Many people have voiced concerns that an early education program would grow the size of government, create a public education voucher system and possibly restrict religious freedom in private schools. The House Education Committee passed bills last week that would:

  • Ask voters whether to amend the state Constitution and allow public money to fund private preschool. (SB 1084 SD1)
  • Establish a school readiness program for 4-year-olds who are no longer eligible for junior kindergarten for the 2014-2015 school year. (SB 1093 SD2)
  • Establish an early childhood education system to move the state toward universal preschool. (SB 1095 SD2)

Minimum wage increase

  • The House Labor Committee passed a proposal last week to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.25 by 2016 and indefinitely tie future increases to the consumer price index. (SB 331 SD2)

In Our Communities

Rep. Gene Ward (District 17 – Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley) 

In place of the “Great Lawn” of Hawaii Kai, Kamehameha Schools and Foodland are requesting a change in the East Honolulu Sustainable Communities Plan and proceeding with plans to construct a strip mall. Please join Rep. Ward and other community leaders at an upcoming town hall meeting to gauge public opinion of the proposed development. Invited speakers include representatives of Kamehameha Schools, Foodland and the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

When: 7:00-8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21, 2013
Where: Kamiloiki Elementary School Cafeteria, 7788 Hawaii Kai Drive, Honolulu

In The News

Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson (District 31 – Moanalua, Foster Village, Aiea)
Aiea gears up for new library

Rep. Cynthia Thielen (District 50 – Kailua, Kaneohe Bay)
Lawmakers Call for Study on Health Risks of Popular Weed Killer

If you have any questions or concerns about measures in the House or Senate, please don’t hesitate to contact the House Republican Caucus. We look forward to continuing to work with you to make Hawaii an even better place to live.


Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson
Minority Leader
T: (808) 586-9470

Rep. Beth Fukumoto
Minority Floor Leader
T: (808) 586-9460

Hemp Truths

March 21, 2013

Image March 20, 2013

Hemp Truths

The U.S. Constitution was written on this fiber, yet it’s illegal to grow it here.
by Cynthia Thielen | Mar 20, 2013
Mauka to Makai / When I offered samples from a bag of hemp-seed tortilla chips–purchased at Whole Foods–to my House colleagues recently, some of them recoiled, asking, “Is that legal?” Others asked, only half-joking, “Will it get me high?”

Not for stoners

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Hemp is not a drug. Unlike its fun-loving cousin marijuana, hard-working, utilitarian hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They’re different varieties of the species Cannabis sativa L. Hemp’s tall stalks, sparse leaves and budless branches immediately distinguish it from short, bushy, bud-laden pakalolo.

ImageBut I can’t blame my fellow lawmakers for not understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana. This is the result of official U.S. drug policy, which equates and frowns upon both.

Nation-founding crop

“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. For centuries, hemp was a major crop in Asia, Europe and then America. It was, and still is, used in rope, textiles, oils, medicine, bedding, building materials and food. Confucius and Lao Tsu wrote on hemp paper. The painters of the Renaissance plied their craft on hemp canvas (a word derived from cannabis).

Luckily for Americans, when it came to hemp, the colonists who fought off British tyranny weren’t as quavering and timid as some of our leaders today. As the colonists showed increasing disenchantment with the Crown, England forbade them to process the hemp they grew. They had to ship the raw materials to England, which exported the finished products back, thus keeping the colonists dependent.

In preparation for independence, the colonists defiantly started turning hemp into the necessary materials for war: paper, clothing, rope, sails. How fitting that the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution on hemp.

Growing prohibition

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 applied to hemp as well as marijuana, effectively killing U.S. hemp production until World War II. Then, American farmers were encouraged to grow hemp as part of the war effort. When the war ended, hemp cultivation dropped off again as plastics, nylon and other petroleum-based materials flourished.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act made it illegal to grow hemp, lumping it in with marijuana under the umbrella of cannabis prohibition.

Cannabis conundrum

Today, as a result, while it’s legal in the U.S. to purchase and own consumer items made with hemp, it’s illegal to grow the hemp itself. Fortunately, a growing bipartisan movement is addressing this. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) has joined forces with his state’s Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul and Oregon’s Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to co-sponsor a bill that would legalize hemp cultivation in the U.S.

This mirrors Hawaii’s own bipartisan effort, House Bill 154 HD2 SD1, introduced by Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, Representative Angus McKelvey and myself. The bill passed its first Senate hearing last week.


Hemp’s use in thousands of consumer items is well known, but some of its practical applications were discovered more recently. “Hempcrete,” a blend of hemp and lime, has a natural ability to repel termites that makes it ideal for Hawaii home construction.

Hemp also appears to be an efficient feedstock for biofuel. Providing hemp to Hawaii’s existing biodiesel producers would further reduce our reliance on imported oil.

As demonstrated after Chernobyl, the hemp plant, with its fast growth cycle and deep root system, has an uncanny ability to cleanse the soil through phytoremediation, drawing toxins in through its roots and storing them its stalks and leaves.

This soil-cleansing characteristic and hemp’s use in biofuel are the focus of HB 154 HD2 SD1, which would authorize the state Board of Agriculture to establish an industrial hemp pilot program in Hawaii.

Let’s get beyond the irrational opposition to industrial hemp and put Hawaii at the front of this national effort, heeding the advice of George Washington: “Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”

Cynthia Thielen represents the 50th District (Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Johanson Floor Presentation for Moanalua High School’s Symphony Orchestra

March 21, 2013

Hawaii reporter Logo 

Johanson’s Floor Presentation Comments

Mr. Speaker, I move for the adoption of the resolution.

Mr. Speaker and colleagues, the Representative from Salt Lake and I are proud to recognize our alma mater’s continued excellence in the arts today.

In the minds of many in and outside the broader Moanalua community, our high school is synonymous with phenomenal achievement in music.

Today, we honor and commend the Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra for its record third invitation to play at Carnegie Hall in New York City, one of our country’s most prestigious musical performance venues.

The symphony orchestra consists of the symphony strings, selected winds and percussion. The music program has experienced unprecedented growth and success over the years. Moanalua High School places a special emphasis on music; the Music Department offers a wide range of courses including Marching Band, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Chorus. The department has over 650 members, approximately 1 in every 3 students at Moanalua are a part of a Music Department.

In fact, it often feels like literally everyone has been a part of the music program, ironically except the Representative from Salt Lake and me!

We especially wanted to commend the Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra because their national recognition is significant.

Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra holds the distinction of being the first student orchestra in the country ever to be formally invited to perform at Carnegie Hall by the Carnegie Hall Corporation in 1998. This was not only an important achievement for the school, but also an important achievement for Hawaii. It demonstrated that Hawaii is nationally recognized for musical performance. Moanalua made history by performing in 1998, but rather than being a one-time success, they continued, received and accepted an invitation to perform for a second time in 2005, and again, they will perform on one of the most prestigious musical venues in the world later this month.

To quote the public release of Mid-America Productions, the company in charge of organizing performances at Carnegie Hall, “the talented young musicians of Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra have made their mark throughout the country highlighted by two performances in Carnegie Hall. They received standing ovations for their spectacular performances both times they performed previously in Carnegie Hall. The Symphony Orchestra has received ‘Superior’ ratings for their astounding performances in their State Orchestra Festival for the past 23 years, and the ensemble is considered by many to be one of the finest high school orchestras in the country.”

This is an important achievement for all of Hawaii’s public schools as it demonstrates much of the great work being done.

Many great things are going on at all of the schools that we are privileged enough to represent.

Moanulua Hight School floor PresentationContact: Excerpt from Capitol TV

Left to Right – Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, Jaynie Gaoiran, VP of the Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra, Skyler Sponberg, President of the  School Symphony Orchestra and Elden Seta, teacher for the Moanalua High School Symphony Orchestra.