In Final Days of Session, Hawaii Legislature Gets Briefing on Japan

The Hawaii State Legislature is wrapping up on May 5, and leading up to that date, House and Senate members continue to meet in conference committees to negotiate final versions of bills where there is disagreement over details.

In addition to the conference committees, Senate members continue to review and consider confirmation of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nominees to various departments and committees.

On Tuesday, April 26, there will be a joint session with the House and Senate in the House chamber at noon, where the Japanese counsel will update lawmakers on the situation in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami hit March 11.

More than 27,000 people are dead or missing. The Japanese government has approved a $49 billion spending package to build infrastructure, construct temporary housing for 100,000, clean up debris and raise the levis.

Private donations also have been pouring into Japan, in part through the American Red Cross’ partnership with the Japan Red Cross. The American Red Cross announced on April 11 that it will donate a total of $100 million to Japan.

Hawaii residents have been holding various fundraising events for Japan. The Kokua for Japan concert at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, put on by local media and the American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter, raised more than $1 million.

State Big Island Representative, Bob Herkes, launched his own fundraiser on April 13, Breakfast with Bob, at the Pacific Club in Honolulu, and successfully raised $50,000 for Red Cross Relief efforts.

Former California Mayor Jumps Into Hawaii Election Legislation Controversy

Tony Santos, former resident of Hawaii, Farrington High School student, and past Mayor of the City of San Leandro, California, has been actively advising Hawaii lawmakers to kill off a proposal to establish Instant Runoff Voting on the county level.

House Bill No. 638, HD1 SD1 would force the City & County of Honolulu along with the County of Hawaii to implement a new type of voting procedure during special elections called ‘instant runoff voting’ or ‘ranked choice voting’ which requires voters to rank candidates in order of preference rather than merely selecting one candidate to vote for, Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg said.

In a letter to lawmakers, Santos writes: “I have been monitoring your consideration of IRV for the past several months and I have been somewhat disturbed by the process used to pass the measure in the State Legislature. It is my understanding the measure applies to County government only and so the question of implementation of the measure is critical. From speaking to family members in Hawaii they know nothing about IRV and have no knowledge on how the system works. This is difficult for most individuals using IRV. There is confusion about applying IRV and it further discriminates against minorities and is basically undemocratic. The method does not produce as a majority winner as claimed by its supporters.”

He notes that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Hawaii, is considering whether IRV is constitutionality. The case emanates from San Francisco’s referendum, which was done in 2004, and could render Hawaii’s new law unconstitutional.

Also, four communities – Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont, Cary, NC and Pierce County, Washington – that had IRV in place have now repealed IRV, Santos said.

Yesterday, the Honolulu City Council adopted Resolution 11-116 asking the Hawaii State Legislature to defer action on the IRV legislation.

Berg said “It’s a huge infringement on the long established concept of home rule and an assault on our democratic form of government in clear violation of the Constitutional principle of one man-one vote.  It’s also an unfunded, discriminatory mandate on just two of our four counties during a time of scarce resources.”

See more about the issue here.

UH Libraries Donate to Micronesia

Four cargo containers of educational materials and medical supplies are being sent to Micronesia this Saturday, April 23. The assortment of items will be heading to Youth Centers in Saipan/Rota Public Library (CNMI), and the Pohnpei Public Library. Both areas suffer through a lack of resources due to severe budget cuts.

The donations include 38 pallets of book shelves from UH (210 double faced sections; 30 double sided shelves donated by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court; 7 pallets of textbooks and educational materials donated from various public schools; 175 pieces of furniture (filing cabinets, card catalogs, chairs, tables, study carrels, study sofas, and desks); Medical examining tables and dozen IV poles.

This shipment is organized by Reach out Pacific (REPAC) a non-profit which takes surplus medical and educational supplies from Hawaii to Pacific Islands. REPAC is attached to the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, in which Hawaii holds membership.

“This is our largest project,” says REPAC President, Glenn Wakai, who also is in the Hawaii State Senate. “It’s a shining example of diverting valuable educational items with an enduring shelf life to our friends in Micronesia.”

Over the past six years, REPAC has sent more than $900,000 in surplus medical and educational supplies to the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Palau, American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and the Philippines. (www.reachoutpacific.org)

Submitted by the Hawaii State Senate

Can The Honolulu Rail Transit Finally Be Stopped? – Plaintiff Against the City Reviews Complaint

Honolulu Transportation Expert Cliff Slater – founder of HonoluluTraffic.com – will address the Smart Business Hawaii Sunrise at the next SBH Networking Breakfast, Thursday, April 28, 7 a.m. to 8:30 am in the Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana Center.

The public is welcome, advance reservations are required.

Slater will speak on, “Can The Rail Transit Finally Be Stopped?” He is well known as an entrepreneur with Maui Divers, the state’s leading expert on traffic, and currently, a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this month against the City and the rail.

Last month’s speaker was Joe Teipel of Auction Action who talked about the business and held a mini auction. Becky Norton Dunlap of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. also discussed her organization’s current efforts to assist small business and taxpayers.

SBH members and their guests pay $25 (in advance) for networking, the program, a complete buffet breakfast and free parking. Participants are all introduced and may bring promotional materials. The cost is $35 at the door if space is available.  Contact Darlyn at SBH, 808-396-1724 for details.

Please download attached registration form or go to:  http://smartbusinesshawaii.com/index.php/events/rsvp to register.

Submitted by SBH

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