Archive for January, 2015

A FAIL-SAFE SOLUTION TO HAWAII’S EMBARRASSINGLY LOW VOTER-TURNOUT

January 31, 2015

Hawaii reporter LogoJanuary 31, 2015

Representative Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) introduced legislation to increase voter turnout in the state of Hawaii, which in the last election was the lowest in the nation.

“We’ve slipped to such a low-level of voter turn-out that only about 32% of eligible voters determine who our leaders will be. It may just be time to go “down under” for some lessons from Australia where you are fined for not voting; in my bill it will cost you $100 to skip your vote on election day,“ Ward explained.

Voting has been compulsory in Australia since 1912 and appears to have reached about 94% voter turn-out in most elections. For Americans the Australian model has been rather controversial; major arguments for and against compulsory voting are:

ADVANTAGES OF MANDATORY VOTING:

  • Voting is a civic duty comparable to other mandatory duties citizens performed by citizens e.g. taxation, compulsory education, jury duty, the military draft, etc.
  • Compulsory voting teaches the benefits of political participation
  • Elected officials may more accurately the “will of the electorate” (than minority controlled democracies)
  • With mail-in voting becoming increasingly popular, mandatory voting becomes easier
  • Candidates can concentrate their campaigning energies on issues rather than encouraging voter registration and voter turn-out at the polls
  • The voter isn’t actually compelled to vote for anyone because voting is by secret ballot.

DISADVANTAGES OF MANDATORY VOTING:

  • It is undemocratic to force people to vote – an infringement of liberty
  • The ill-informed and those with little interest in politics are forced to the polls and may elect the ‘wrong people.’
  • It may increase the number of informal votes
  • It may increase the number of safe seats for incumbents with low-information voters
  • Resources must be allocated to determine whether those who failed to vote have “valid and sufficient” reasons.

In Ward’s proposed legislation, people who fail to vote are given the opportunity to be excused from voting and not be fined $100 for not voting.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“My intent is to get Hawaii back into the voting booth and is the primary reason I’m taking this Australian model into our legislature for discussion,” Ward concluded.

Representative Fukumoto Chang on Mike Buck Jan 20, 2015 – Audio Only

January 27, 2015

Audio only – Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang on  Mike Buck Jan 20, 2015

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA contact: repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Cynthia Thielen discusses Hemp with Michael Bowman

January 24, 2015

Hemp is all business.  It is grown for food and hundreds of other uses. Hemp contains very little of the chemical THC. Hemp can be used to make just about anything: rope, paper, plastic, clothing, shoe polish, car parts and even dog chew toys — and there’s more. The Department of Justice says it’s reviewing the legalization initiatives approved in Colorado and in Washington state. For now, the United States is the only industrialized country that bans hemp.

Michael Bowman and Rep # 2Contact: repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

or Michael Bowman match2green@me.com

Reps. McDermott, Ward, Tupola and Fukumoto Chang Comments on Proposed Army closures

January 23, 2015

Representatives McDermott, Ward, Tupola and Fukumoto Chang address a House Concurrent Resolution to strongly oppose the U.S. Army’s proposed force  reduction of Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter Bases.

beth mil-1Contact: repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov, repward@capitol.hawaii.gov, reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov and repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Click to read  the House Concurrent Resolution

Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang Opening Day Speech 20015

January 22, 2015

Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang gives an Opening Day Speech in the House of Representatives.

bethContact: repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov

Video excerpt by Capitol TV

Opening Day Remarks for the 2015 Legislative Session
by the House Minority Leader

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and welcome to our many distinguished guests.

I’d like to start by personally thanking my family and the people of Mililani for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives. I would not be here today without your sacrifices and support.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I also want to thank every single person in our State for casting your vote in the last election. This is your House, and I thank you for taking ownership of it.

Finally, I’d like to thank our staff for all of your hard work, particularly, those staffers who serve in the House Minority Research Office. Less than three years ago, I was sitting in that very office writing the Minority Leader’s speech and resenting the many long, sleepless nights that we staffers needed to spend in this building. No one understands better how much work you do, and I am so very thankful to have every one of you on our team.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I speak to you as the Leader of the Minority Party. It is tradition to use these remarks to look ahead, and to share the Minority Caucus’ thoughts on how this institution will help make a better life for the people of our State.

First and foremost, I will start by stating that we, the Minority Party, are committed to creating a government that meets the needs of everyday people.

We have got a lot of ideas, Mr. Speaker, and you’re going to hear about them in speeches, you’re going to see them in committee, and you’re going to read them in bills that are signed and delivered to your office. My only request, Mr. Speaker, is that you continue to listen to the Minority and the people that we have been elected to represent.

Mr. Speaker, many of the Minority’s priorities are consistent with both yours and the Governor’s. Instead of creating new programs, we see a need for this body to focus on strengthening our existing programs, addressing our state’s hospitals and health care needs, tackling our high cost of living, and increasing transparency and openness in government.

But, Mr. Speaker, this is only half of the picture.

Mr. Speaker, I’m the first Minority Leader in this body that is a member of the millennial generation. We were the generation most hit by the Great Recession, and we are the generation leaving in droves for better opportunities on the Mainland. Now, with a potential army reduction on the horizon, it is critical that this body start addressing our state’s economy.

Jobs are what matter to people, Mr. Speaker. Jobs are what matter to my generation and they are what matter to our parents. Our constituents want to know that we’re doing something real to make their lives better.

Here at the Legislature, we spend a lot of time talking about creating jobs and diversifying the economy, but in truth, this Legislature has done very little about it.

People in Hawaii don’t always believe in us, Mr. Speaker. This past election, only about 35% of those eligible to vote actually voted. Whether they didn’t believe that their participation would gain them new job opportunities, or they didn’t believe that it would make their bills any easier to pay, simply put, they just didn’t believe that their vote would make a difference.

The Minority Party in this legislature is committed to changing that.

Mr. Speaker, we don’t have a coalition any more, but I would ask my colleagues across the aisle to remember that the Minority Party isn’t here as a token adversary or as a reminder of the strength and power of your establishment.

The Minority Party is here to provide diversity of thought and a voice that isn’t doesn’t represent by the status quo.

If you allow that diversity, if you encourage it, if you value it, then this body will make stronger legislation that can make people’s lives better in real, tangible ways. Only then will we have a true democracy and a reason for the people of our state and the people of my generation to have faith in their government and a reason to believe that their voice, even if it’s in the minority, can make a difference.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hawaii State Capitol to Fly Hemp Flag on Opening Day

January 21, 2015

A new law allows the University of Hawaii to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program.

January 20, 2015·By Chad Blair

On Wednesday, the opening day of the 2015 legislative session, Hawaii will join the U.S. Capitol and four other states in having flown an American-grown and -produced hemp flag.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, a Republican who has long advocated for hemp use, is sponsoring the local flag-raising and will borrow a flag from Colorado hemp advocate Michael Bowman.

Bowman, according to a press release from Thielen’s office, enlisted the help of area companies — including a Colorado hemp farmer — to make the flag.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen

hemp flag

Rep. Cynthia Thielen and a flag made of hemp.

The flag is said to have “a vintage feel to it which appears to be a nod to America’s hemp growing founding fathers and the many original flags that were made of hemp.”

Thielen’s office adds, “This durable flag will be flying high.”

Act 56, signed into law last year, allows the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program.                  

The federal Agriculture Act of 2014 allows higher education institutions and state departments of agriculture to conduct industrial hemp research.

On a related note, Maui “is slated to become the first island in the state with a home built using industrial hemp,” according to Maui News.

Rep. Andria Tupola – Making Kiawe Energy Bars

January 21, 2015

Representative Andria Tupolda makes Kiawe Energy Bars with Vince “Kana’i” Dodge, known on the Wai’anae coast by most kids as “Kumu Vince” from ‘Ai Pohaku.  Milling the Kiawe Bean into diabetic friendly, sweet flour they share various recipes you can use with Kiawe flour.

# 2 Vince Doge Rep Tupola Olelo Show

Representative Andria Tupola with Vince “Kana’i” Dodge

Contact: reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov

Proposed Keiki Caucus Bills Would Undermine Parental Rights

January 15, 2015

Hawaii reporter Logo

January 15, 2015

McDermott Head shot blue shirtBy Representative Bob McDermott

It was a giant step in the right direction when DOE revised Regulation #2210.1 in June.  Starting with the 2014-15 school year, parents must affirmatively sign an opt-in form to have their children to participate in sexual health education.  This was a positive change, given the public outcry after community members spoke out against the many troubling aspects of the human research project called “Pono Choices”.  Whereas the new policy recognizes and strengthens the role of parents in their children’s education, the old policy was just the opposite – students would be subjected to whatever sexual health education program was being taught in their classroom, unless parents took the time to write a letter notifying the school that they did not want their child to participate.  In other words, it was opt-out, not opt-in, which requires more thought and active participation from parents.  Even the DOE belatedly agreed stating in a September letter, “The DOE strengthened the role of parents in this decision by changing its policy from an opt-out to an opt-in.”

This new and better approach has hardly taken hold, but the State Legislature’s Keiki Caucus is already planning to attack it. Keiki Caucus bills are intended to advocate for children and youth, and have merit – but two bills proposed for 2015 are an affront to parental rights and require greater scrutiny.  The first bill would undo the DOE’s new “opt-in” requirement specifying that sexual health education must be provided in all public schools – even elementary schools – but forces parents to “opt-out” via written request if they do not want their child to participate.  This is a disappointing development, and disrespectful to parents.

The second bill would establish a “Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program”.  I voted against the bill in 2014 because of its potential for misuse and its clear threat to parental rights.  The bill would give “youth in crisis” ages 14-20 a network of “safe places” to receive counseling and social services.  But some provisions are deeply disturbing.  While well-intended, the simple fact is that the counseling and services (which address subjects like pregnancy prevention, suicide, and tobacco/alcohol abuse) might involve sensitive subjects that parents would rather address directly with their children, rather than rely on a complete stranger.

Also, the bill’s definition of “youth in crisis” is quite broad and includes minors having “problems at home” (read: any child mad at mom and dad because they must be home by 10:00 PM and can’t smoke pot).  And while minors under age 18 are usually considered too young to consent to services, a service provider participating in this program would be excused from obtaining consent from the minor’s parent or guardian. The provider could ignore the parent or guardian’s refusal to consent, if for example the minor simply alleges that he/she would feel “unsafe” if forced to return home immediately, and the provider believes the minor.  Parents everywhere should be concerned, especially since the program would require service providers to report suspected child abuse or neglect to authorities, and would house the minor elsewhere.  Make no mistake, this undermines, not strengthens parental rights.

Today, more than ever, young people need the stabilizing influence of their parents. As a father who has raised 8 children with my wife of nearly 30 years, I strongly urge parents and concerned community members to contact their legislators, understand the ramifications of these proposed bills, and prepare to testify at the Legislature if the bills move forward.  Anyone needing assistance tracking these bills may contact my office at repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Nanakuli traffic update with Rep. Tupola

January 10, 2015

Representative Andria Tupola speaks with Bryan Wittekind about West Oahu traffic.

Visit the website on Facebook: Westside Traffic Alert

Brian Wittikind and Rep Tupola  # 2

Bryan Wittekind with Representative Andria Tupola

Contact: reptupola@capitol.hawaii.gov

Sabers JV Basketball Team Rallies To Help Neighbor

January 8, 2015

Clean up McDermott

McDermott’s Message …Rep. Bob McDermott

midweekDecember 2014

Lourdes Torres didn’t know who to call for help. Her yard had become seriously overgrown. But at her age, she no longer had the energy to take on the rigorous work of climbing, trimming and hauling the clippings from her yard.

“It is just too much,” said Torres when she called me. “You are the only person I could think of calling who might be able to help me.”

Although I normally don’t see yard service as part of my legislative job description, I always try to help my constituents, no matter what their problems might be. I have been known to clean roadsides, haul old mattresses, corral stray dogs and even guard crosswalks. I also know a great network of community volunteers who help their neighbors in Ewa, and I can always count on them to be there when called upon.

I knew the answer was to call District 50′s Ewa Beach Lions Club. So I picked up the phone and called the president, Kurt Fevella. He immediately contacted his friend Joe Atinma, who in turn rounded up some of his JV basketball players from Campbell High School.

The team of community volunteers was hard at work when I arrived at Torres’ house. With hedge clippers and other yard work paraphernalia in hand, everyone was hacking and hauling away. There were overgrown hedges, dead branches and weeds. The yard was indeed overgrown and needed a lot of attention, but the team met the challenge with gleeful hearts. Mrs. Torres was so happy to have her yard in order.

As we finish celebrating this holiday season, it’s reassuring to know that when the call goes out, the Ewa Beach community is full of members who always stand ready to help their neighbors. I’m proud to be part of this community, and I’m thankful for generous people like Kurt, Joe and the young high school boys from Campbell who are willing to step up and do the right thing. In Ewa Beach, this spirit of caring and giving is not just a holiday ritual, it is a daily practice!

From Ewa, let us be among the first to wish you Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou!