Archive for January, 2014

Representatives Ward and Fale address HB 525 – Veterans

January 31, 2014

RELATING TO FAMILY COURTS.
Report Title: Spousal Support and Maintenance; Veterans Disability Benefits
Description: Prohibits courts from considering a person’s federal veterans disability benefits in determining whether to award support and maintenance allowances or the amount of such allowance to the person’s spouse or former spouse. Effective July 1, 2014. (HB525 HD1)

Contact: KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

award fale broadbandrepfale@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Gene Ward addresses HB 1498 – Public Order; Urination

January 31, 2014

RELATING TO PUBLIC ORDER.
Report Title: Public Order; Urination and Defecation
Description: Prohibits urination or defecation on paved roads or sidewalks.

SCR 169 WARDContact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii House and Senate Minority Press Conference Jan 2014

January 29, 2014

Several other bills and issues with full Minority support were introduced at the joint press conference. These include bills for the protection of children and elderly persons, bills supporting veterans, tax exemptions, and more.

  • Referendum/Initiative:
  1. SB 2142 (Initiative)
  2. SB 2143 (Referendum)
  3. HB 1816 (Initiative/Referendum)

Children/Elderly:

  1. HB 1981/SB 2145: Bill of Rights for child victims & child witnesses
  2. HB 1982/SB 2146: Video testimony of child
  3. HB 1983/SB 2147: Silver Alert system

Military benefits:

  1. HB 1986/SB 2167: Income tax exclusion for military on active duty who our serving outside the State
  2. HB 1984/SB 2151: Military veteran designation on driver’s license

Taxes/Transparency:

  1. HB 1985/SB 2159: Moves up disclosure deadline for financial interests to January 15th.
  2. HB 2625/SB 3080: Conforms State personal exemption amount to federal PE amount.

Ward  Slom Johanson Press Conference Jan 2014Contact: repjohanson@capitol.hawaii.gov or senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov or repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Legislators on the Move – Host Rep. Thielen – Outdoor Circle

January 24, 2014

Outdoor circle Olelo show Jan 22, 2014Representative Cynthia Thielen speaks with Alexandra Avery, President of the Outdoor Circle and Kathy Whitmire former Mayor of Houston, Texas from 1982 to 1992.

Contact: repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Better Government – 2014 Minority Package – Hawaii State House

January 22, 2014

Representative Aaron Johanson, Minority Leader discusses highlights from the 2014 Minority Package with Floor Leader, Representative Beth Fukumoto.

Reps Johanson and Fukumoto Olelo Jan 2013Contact: repjohanson@capitol.hawaii.gov or repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

CRIME BILLS CLAMP DOWN ON HABITUAL OFFENDERS

January 18, 2014

ImageWith the alarming rise in property crime, and the recent violent stabbing of a Kailua man, crime control is a primary concern this Legislative Session.  Representative Cynthia Thielen (Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) recently drafted and co-introduced HB1520, HB1521 and HB1542 which will change the way our judicial system punishes repeat offenders.

HB1520 creates harsher penalties for repeat criminal offenders. Specifically, HB1520 purposes that repeat offenders, when the conviction is for a class A, B, or C felony, murder in the second degree, or attempted murder in the second degree, be sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence without the possibility of parole.

Additionally, HB1521 creates a mandatory minimum sentencing period of imprisonment for any person who is convicted for and has a prior conviction or prior convictions for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle in the first degree.

House Bill1542 has also been introduced to deal specifically with repeat offenders of property crime. HB1542 amends the sentencing options for habitual property crime by requiring that the offender serve the entire one-year term of imprisonment imposed as a condition of probation.

“Property crime in Hawaii constitutes ninety-two percent of all reported crime in Hawaii,” Representative Thielen said, adding that, “the law enforcement property crime conviction rate in 2012 was a mere 14 percent.”

Representative Thielen said, “House Bill 1542 aims to reduce recidivism among habitual property crime offenders by requiring that they serve prison time as a condition of probation. Given the overwhelming amount of crime committed by habitual offenders, these three major crime bills are of the upmost importance this Legislative Session.”

HB1520, HB1521, and HB1542 have passed the first House reading and been referred to the House Committee of Public Health and the House Judicial Committee for review.

COASTAL CONSERVATION LEGISLATION

January 18, 2014

ImageHawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay), cosponsored House Bill 1537 which would require the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to administer a permit program for grading and grubbing within shoreline areas of the state with established penalties for offenders. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Ocean Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs (OMH) and Water and Land (WLO) committees on Wednesday, January 22nd at 8:30 a.m. in Conference Room 325.

House Bill 1537 directly addresses the fact that Hawaii’s current regulations for coastal construction projects do not take sea level rise into account, a growing problem for shoreline communities which rely on natural barriers such as sand dunes for environmental protection and stability. By implementing a permit program and best practices outlined in HB 1537, project managers can anticipate the long-term environmental hazard of sea level rise and its relationship with sand dunes, thereby providing better protection for properties and occupants.

Thielen notes, “Coastal dunes act as flexible barriers to ocean storm surges and waves, protect low-lying backshore areas, and serve as sand reservoirs for beach nourishment. However, coastal dunes are highly sensitive to human activities and require limited interaction with humans to ensure their preservation.”

“As sand accumulates, plants adapted to the beach environment emerge, stabilizing the surface and promoting further dune formation.” Thielen also added. “However, as the sea level continues to rise, dunes will be more heavily relied upon. If construction codes are not updated to respond to this threat, the sand dunes affected by the current rates and methods of construction will not be able to keep pace with increasing surges and coastal erosion, resulting in catastrophic events like those on the North Shore in December 2013.”

“Beach erosion is a dangerous and immediate issue facing several coastal communities including Kailua,” says Thielen. “By working with my fellow legislators this session on HB 1537, I hope we will be able to address this problem proactively rather than waiting until our feet get wet.”

Hawaii currently faces sea level increases of 1.46 millimeters per year, but some areas of the western Pacific are seeing as much as a 10 millimeters per year. As these rates continue to grow over time, HB 1537 will help to protect Hawaii’s shoreline, one of our state’s most valuable assets, by anticipating this environmental threat.

House Republican Caucus releases 2014 legislative package

January 17, 2014

Empowering Hawaii’s People to Improve Our Quality of Life”


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Left to right:  Representatives Aaron Ling Johanson, Gene Ward, Beth Fukumoto, Cynthia Thielen, Richard Fale, Bob McDermott

The House Republican Caucus released its 2014 legislative package today, aiming to empower everyday people and advocate for solutions that improve quality of life. The proposals would lower Hawaii’s cost of living, strengthen education, protect people and improve access to government.

“We want people to have a sense of ownership of their government and to explore solutions that are most important to them,” said Representative Aaron Ling Johanson. “These are proposals that can actually improve our quality of life.”

“People deserve a government that works for them. Our priorities this year reflect what the public is most concerned about, because people are at the center of everything we do,” said Representative Beth Fukumoto.

More detail about the proposals can be found in the attached PDF and the video at this link: http://youtu.be/pOoQo3rlcGY.

Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson serves as the House Minority Leader and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Finance. He represents the 31st House District covering Moanalua, Foster Village and Aiea. Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang serves as the House Minority Floor Leader and represents the 36th House District covering Mililani and Mililani Mauka.

Ward Opposes Speaker Souki’s Pension Tax on Seniors

January 16, 2014

Representative Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) says he vehemently opposes a call made by Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki to tax Hawaii’s wealthy, retiree population as outlined in the Speaker’s opening day speech.

“Speaker Souki’s call for a pension tax on older, well-off residents of Hawaii is like Governor Abercrombie’s Pension Tax of 2011. It’s simply unfair and a bad idea,” Representative Ward said. “People work their entire lives to build a retirement nest-egg. Increasing taxes for older members of Hawaii’s community who have worked hard for their financial success sends the wrong message to our youth and discourages the kind of activity that leads to economic prosperity,” the Representative added.

ImageRepresentative Ward feels we should reward, not punish, people who have worked hard all their lives and are now retired. The Representative serves as Vice Chair for the House Committee on Economic Development and Business.

OPENING DAY REMARKS 2014 – Representative Aaron Ling Johanson – Minority Leader

January 15, 2014

Rep Aaron Johanson Opening Day Speech Jan 15, 2014Thank you, Mr. Speaker, distinguished guests, fellow colleagues, and people of the great state of Hawaii.

A special thank you to the many former legislators who have joined us today.  Welcome back to the House…welcome home.

Your presence here today is as special as the mark that each of you left on the institution as well as imprint that you’ve left on Hawaii.

Indeed, your legacy of service has guided us here today and helped contribute to the foundation upon which many of us stand.  It is that legacy that compels us to serve.

We wear many hats in this building and go by many titles, but above all else, we are public servants and here to serve.

That is what the public expects of us and that is what we should expect of ourselves.

All of you returning members share something in common, irrespective of your differences in background, philosophy, and present circumstances.  You all labored to make Hawaii a better place and to improve the lives of all people.

That’s the intrinsic link we all share.

Just as you faced in your time of service, we still face significant issues today.

These include citizen participation in democracy and government, a high cost of living, educational opportunities, and the health of our people.

Hawaii still has the lowest voter turnout in the nation. We are all familiar with the cynicism and apathy that characterizes many of our neighbors, which leads them to remain unengaged in their government.

The call of service requires us to do more…And responsibility compels us to answer.

Accordingly, the minority caucus seeks to empower the electorate directly through the initiative and referendum process.

Financial experts generally rank us the most costly state in which to live in America.

We all know far too many people living in poverty or barely making enough to survive and one need only look around to see our homelessness problem.

The call of service requires us to do more…And responsibility compels us to answer.

We advocate lowering the cost of living by linking income tax brackets to the Consumer Price Index to help provide some measure of tax relief to those at the margins of each bracket as they see their dollar buying less while still having to pay the same level of taxes, with essentially less money.

Public education in Hawaii is one of our largest governmental expenditures. It has societal consequences for generations to come.

The call of service requires us to do more…And responsibility compels us to answer.

We propose greater educational opportunity by ensuring that all five year olds attend kindergarten.

The healthcare system can be a complex web of overlapping pieces and difficult for patients to navigate.

The call of service requires us to do more…And responsibility compels us to answer.

We support formally establishing by law the Hawaii Wraparound Program to effectively care for at-risk youth.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the ideas that we will be debating this year, it is a snapshot of our legislative priorities.

We believe that the 2014 Legislative Session affords us a unique opportunity to help engage the people of Hawaii on the important issues of the day.  By pressing for the goals of increasing participation in government, lowering the cost of living, strengthening education, and protecting people, we can improve the quality of life for all who live in Hawaii.

To our esteemed former colleagues – You all labored to make Hawaii a better place and to improve the lives of all of our people and all of us who have that responsibility today must continue to take up that mantle of service.

Mahalo and best wishes for a productive 2014 legislative session.

Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, Minority Leader & Vice Chair, Finance Committee

Hawaii State House of Representatives, 415 S. Beretania St., Rm 427, Honolulu, HI 96813

Telephone: (808) 586-9470  E-mail: repjohanson@capitol.hawaii.gov