OPENING DAY OF 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
From HAWAII SENATE MAJORITY·WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017
HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate convened the 29th Biennium Legislative Session reaffirming their commitment to work collaboratively in addressing the state’s most pressing problems and ready the state to be sustainable and prepared for the future.
Today’s opening session commenced with an oli by kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao and included an invocation by Kahu Curt Kekuna, Pastor of Kawaiahao Church. The National Anthem was performed by Ms. Nalani Brun and Hawai‘i Pono‘i by Mr. Nick Castillo. The Kahaluu Ukulele Band and Na Hoku Hanohano nominee Shar Carillo and Kaua‘i artists Loke Sasil and Shay Marcello also provided entertainment during today’s program.
Among the honored guests in the Senate Chamber were government officials from the Fukuoka Prefecture, Consul General Yasushi Misawa of Japan, Commander Ulysses Mullins, United States Coast Guard, Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, Governor David Ige, Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, and former Governors George Ariyoshi, John Waihe‘e, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie, and mayors from the neighbor islands.
In his remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi pressed his Senate colleagues to work towards building our economy and creating educational opportunities for the younger generation in Hawai‘i.
Senator Kouchi recognized Chenoa Farnsworth, managing partner of Blue Startups, a Honolulu-based startup support program, for her efforts in supporting entrepreneurship and creating jobs to build the economy in Hawai‘i. Farnsworth also manages the Hawai‘i Angels investment network, which has invested over $40 million in startup companies. She also co-founded Kolohala Ventures, a Hawai‘i-based venture capital firm that invested $50 million into Hawai‘i-based technology start-ups.
In highlighting the successes of Hawaii’s education system, Senator Kouchi mentioned Waimea High School principal and Masayuki Tokioka Award winner, Mahina Anguay. The Senate President said Anguay represents the best of Hawai‘i’s school administrators and under her leadership, a record number of students at Waimea High School are now the first in their family to attend college.
Senate President Kouchi also introduced Sarah Kern, who is currently a teacher at Wai‘anae High School. Kern was Valedictorian at Kaiser High School and graduated with a degree in Biology from Tufts University where she made the Dean’s List throughout her four years. The Senate President said Kern was a shining example of Hawai‘i’s young people who come home to pursue noble, but not necessarily high-paying careers, such as teaching.
“We need to create the economy to support all of our citizens,” said Senator Kouchi. “We need to support principals like Mahina and just as importantly we need to support teachers like Sarah who are on the frontline, so that we can create the educational opportunities for our young people.”
Senator Kouchi went on to say, “the only equalization that we can offer our children is a quality education to ensure that they get the tools and the skills to compete in the global market that they are going to enter.”
The Senate President introduced Mr. Kevin Johnson, the former Mayor of Sacramento and professional basketball player, whom he lauded for his work in establishing award-winning after school programs, reading programs and programs for the homeless.
Senate President Kouchi said he has been meeting with Johnson and hopes to work with him to address many of the concerns in Hawai‘i that mirror those of the Mayor’s hometown. “Our problems are not unique to the rest of the world. Where we have others who have found success why not find those who can help us solve our problems,” said Senator Kouchi.
The Senate President also referenced the Senate Majority Legislative Program which outlines the main themes for the State Senate.
“The Senate Majority Legislative Program serves as a guide as to where we will focus our work over the next sixty days and continue to build upon the work from the previous session,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English.
Photos of today’s opening session can be viewed on the Hawaii Senate Majority website www.hawaiisenatemajority.com and on Flickr www.flickr.com/hawaiisenatemajority.
The public can access more information on hearings and session activities on the Hawai‘i State Legislature’s website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov
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HAWAI‘I STATE SENATE UNVEILS 2017 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM
From Senate Democratic Caucus, January 11, 2017
HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Our communities, environment, sustainability and public safety are areas of which the Hawai‘i State Senate will focus in the 29th Legislative Biennium.
The areas are incorporated under four over-arching themes that embrace Hawaiian values and collectively form the Legislative Program the Hawai‘i State Senate will use as a guide throughout the Regular Session of 2017.
“On many of these issues, we’re continuing the work that had begun in the previous legislative sessions,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “We recognize the importance to be self-reliant and take care of our island home. There’s also a responsibility to be prepared for the future, ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with problems we can do our best to address right now.”
The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:
Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities
• Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.
• Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i's extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.
• Social Services – We will support the State's core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.
• Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.
• Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.
Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu - Preparedness
• Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.
• Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State's information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.
• Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.
Aloha Honua - Climate Change and Energy
• Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i's natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i's unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State's water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State's fragile marine ecosystem.
• Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i's natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.
Pono Kaulike - Transforming Justice
• Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.
• Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.
It is the Hawai‘i State Senate's sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives, the Governor, and the Judiciary to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.
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