Hawaii Legislature 2017

Opening Day at the Hawai‘i State Legislature
Several hundred people gathered at the state Capitol on January 18 for the opening of this year’s legislative session. Wearing fragrant lei, Senate and House lawmakers opened the new session with prayers and speeches. A full gallery of spectators enjoyed music by Taste of Harmony, Raiatea Helm, Kahaluu Ukulele Band, Shar Carillo and Kauai artists Loke Sasil and Shay Marcello. Photos by StarAdvertiser.com

It has been an honor to serve you and the people of Maui County alongside the members of the Maui delegation. I thank you for the opportunity and responsibility you have entrusted me with over these past many years. 

Aloha and Mahalo nui loa.
Speaker Joe Souki

Speaker Joe Souki’s Priorities

Solving Gridlock
With Joe leading the House of Representatives his primary legislative agenda will be topped by the pressing need to fund the Rail Project, Oahu’s solution to ever increasing traffic gridlock.

Joe Souki supports plans to make the half-percent excise tax surcharge for the rail project permanent to help finance construction of the line, but also said he wants to reduce the surcharge. To make up the difference, Joe believes the city should help pay for the construction from its own treasury.

However, Joe also supports reducing the 10 percent administrative fee the state charges the city for collecting the excise surcharge to 5 percent.

“It does come at a high cost, but make no mistake, rail is the key to the future of Oahu,” he told the Star Advertiser, speaking only for himself because his fellow Democrats have not yet taken a formal position on the rail excise tax.

Solutions for the Homeless
Maui non-profits are receiving $4.4 million towards helping those unable to afford the simplest rental.

The funding will help Maui cope with homelessness by assisting those with minimal incomes get into living spaces. The process of moving people off the street into housing stabilizes peoples’ lives, allowing them to learn skills that earn sufficient income to become self-sustaining.

Housing in Hawaii needs innovation. By 2025 the state will be short nearly 65,000 housing units and, without creating more affordable housing, many local families will be priced out of their communities.

Hawaii’s Millennials in particular need to be empowered with jobs and opportunities for inexpensive housing as they are Hawaii’s citizen workforce of the future.

Supporting Diversification of HC+S Agriculture
Former HC+S employees received an extension of unemployment benefits. Efforts are underway to find new jobs for those displaced workers. A+B innovates new agriculture opportunities taking advantage of Maui’s climate and available water, more jobs will again become available in the ag sector.

Prison Sentencing Reform
Advances in online technology can transform the penal system and help Hawaii overcome the serious problem of overcrowded jails.
Joe believes prison overcrowding can be relieved by allowing non-violent inmates and those convicted of minor offenses to be released while being monitored electronically.

Death with Dignity
In opening remarks, Joe also urged his colleagues to approve a “death with dignity” measure. He promised to introduce his own bill for what he  describes as “compassionate choices.” The bill would provide a way to provide legal medical aid in dying for mentally sound people who are terminally ill.

Joseph M. Souki is currently Speaker of the House. Rep. Souki has served in the Hawaii State Legislature since 1982. He represents the 8th District that includes Wailuku, Kahului, Waihe‘e, Waiehu, Pu’uohala, Kahakuloa and Waikapu.

Leadership Team for 2017 Session

Members of the House Leadership for 2017:
Speaker: Joseph M. Souki
Speaker Emeritus: Calvin K.Y. Say
Vice Speaker: John M. Mizuno
Majority Leader: Scott K. Saiki
Majority Floor Leader: Cindy Evans
Majority Policy Leader: Marcus R. Oshiro
Majority Whip: Ken Ito
Assistant Majority Leaders:
            Chris Lee
            Dee Morikawa
            Roy M. Takumi

“The team that we have formed represents the kind of talents and abilities that will best serve our residents and will address the issues facing our state,” said Speaker Souki. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Governor David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”
--Speaker Joe Souki

Agriculture (AGR)
Chair: Richard P. Creagan

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)
Chair: Angus L.K. McKelvey
Economic Development & Business (EDB)
Chair: Mark M. Nakashima
Education (EDN)
Chair: Roy M. Takumi
Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)
Chair: Chris Lee

Finance (FIN)
Chair: Sylvia J. Luke

Health (HLT)
Chair: Della Au Belatti

Higher Education (HED)
Chair: Justin H. Woodson

Housing (HSG)
Chair: Tom Brower

Human Services (HUS)
Chair: Dee Morikawa

Intrastate Commerce (IAC)
Chair: Takashi Ohno

Judiciary (JUD)
Chair: Scott Y. Nishimoto
Labor & Public Employment (LAB)
Chair: Aaron Ling Johanson

Legislative Management (LMG)
Chair: Bertrand Kobayashi
Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)
Chair: Kaniela Ing

Public Safety (PBS)
Chair: Gregg Takayama

Tourism (TOU)
Chair: Richard H.K. Onishi
Transportation (TRN)
Chair: Henry J.C. Aquino
Veterans, Military & International Affairs & Culture and the Arts (VMI)
Chair: Ken Ito
Water and Land (WAL)
Chair: Ryan I. Yamane

    Improvements for Maui County 2016

    Newly appropriated State funding for Maui County Capital Improvement Projects:

    These items were approved by the state Legislature according to an announcement from the State House.


    Hana Highway - $29 million for widening from Kaahumanu Avenue to Haleakala Highway from four to six lanes.

    Hana Highway - $13.5 million for improvements.
    Haleakala Highway - $1.8 million for widening at mile post 0.8 from one lane to two lanes, extending a box culvert and constructing headwalls and wing walls.

    Hana Highway/Kaahumanu Ave - $1.05 million for Dairy Road to Naniloa Overpass beautification of the main corridor between Kahului and Wailuki to include landscape and irrigation.

    Honoapiilani Highway - $13.5 million for widening and/or realignment from Lahaina to Maalaea and from Launiupoko Road to the vicinity of Lunaiupoko.

    Piilani Highway - $2 million for traffic signal improvements at the intersection with Kalanihakoi Street in Kihei.

    Makakupaia Stream Bridge - $3.5 million for replacement.

    Haiku crosswalk - $250,000 on Pilialoha Street along Hana Highway.

    Paia Bypass - $300,000 for improvements.

    State Highways, Maui - $1 million for guardrail and shoulder improvements and other repairs countywide.

    Kahului Harbor - $38 million for land acquisition and design for improvements including demolition of existing structures, paving utilities, landscaping, fencing and plan, design and construction to provide a safer and more efficient use of operational areas at the harbor.

    Maalaea Small Boat Harbor - $3.72 million for plans, design and construction for dredging.

    Kahului Airport - $11.08 million for removal of existing sewage lift station and replacement, renovation of airport restrooms, design for lease lots and other related improvements.

    Kahului Airport - $7.6 million for design and construction of hold room, security and ID office improvements, and a new conference room.

    Kahului Airport - $6.8 million for design for hold room and gate improvements.

    Kahului Airport - $213,000 for design for inbound baggage handling system improvements.

    Hana Airport - $33.39 million for construction of a new aircraft rescue and firefighting station and other related improvements.

    Molokai Airport - $3.2 million for improvements. Lanai Airport - $5.2 million for improvements.

    Lahaina Small Boat Harbor - $2.25 million for construction and equipment for emergency dredging and replacement of buoys.

    Kihei Boat Ramp - $800,000 for plans and construction for maintenance dredging, parking lot and access road improvements.

    Support for Local Farmers
    A number of bills were passed to support Hawaii's agriculture including the Livestock Revitalization Program, Molokai Diversified Agriculture Loan Program, and to create an Agriculture Workforce Development Program to provide training to teachers on all islands in agricultural self-sufficiency.

    Hawaii is also poised to become the first state in the nation to implement an organic foods production tax credit and the Industrial Hemp Pilot Project that will allow for the cultivation and distribution of seed for industrial hemp.

    Department of Agriculture and Vector Control positions have been increased to support the distribution and export of Hawaii grown crops, as well as to address public health issues and controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease such as rats and mosquitoes.

    East Maui Water systems - $3 million for plans, design and construction for water systems; $1.5 million for plans, designs and construction for irrigation and water delivery systems for agricultural enterprises and/or agricultural purposes.

    Molokai irrigation system - $4.7 million for improvements.

    Molokai Homestead Farmers Alliance - $1.7 million for improvements to Lanikeha Center and
    commercial kitchen.

    Homestead Community Development - $600,000 for nonpotable agricultural waterline in Keokea. Grow Some Good - $65,814 to support garden programs in the schools.

    Honoring our Veterans
    The Legislature has provided additional support for the Office of Veterans’ Services to provide assistance to all veterans. An additional position will be established to focus primarily on the needs of our female veterans

    Additional funds are provided to support the Vietnam Veterans 50th Anniversary Commemoration.

    Positions and funds were also approved to support the Hawaii State Veterans’ Cemetery and provide veterans assistance burial services, equipment, cemetery repair and maintenance, statewide.

    Other funding for veterans:
    Molokai Veterans Center - $4 million for plans, design and construction of a parking lot and installation of a septic tank.

    Caring for Kupuna
    This year, the Legislature passed Hawaii's Care Act, a measure which requires hospitals to maintain written discharge policies and support caregivers in providing better care to patients upon leaving the hospital. Members of AARP lobbied hard for this bill which will enhance quality of life for our seniors and those who care for them.

    Funds were also appropriated for Aging and Disability Resource Centers and fall prevention and an additional $3 million will go to support the Kupuna Care Program statewide.

    Other funding for Kupuna services:
    Hale Mahaolu - $250,000 for personal care services for the elderly, frail and chronically disabled.

    Hale Makua Health Services - $350,000 for services for nursing home patients.

    Hale Mahaolu - $1.5 million for the design and construction of senior affordable rental housing at
    Kulamalu Town Center.

    Improvements to our Schools
    Baldwin High - $3.4 million for design and construction for parking lot improvements including pedestrian routes, improved students drop-off and traffic flow; ground and site improvements; equipment and appurtenances; $525,000 for various repair and maintenance projects.

    Iao Intermediate - $50,000 for electrical upgrades.

    Waihee Elementary School - $900,000 for plans, design and construction for a new administrative building; $432,000 for replacement and repair of air conditioning and fire alarm system.

    Wailuku Elementary - $797,000 for re-roofing and replacement of water meter.
    King Kekaulike High School - $1.6 million for plans, design and construction and equipment for amphitheater improvements in the quad area and design, construction and equipment for track and field; and $300,000 for re-roofing.

    Kihei High School - $37.5 million for design and construction of Phase II.
    Lahainaluna High School - $10.77 million for construction and equipment for a new eight classroom building, ground and sites improvements; air conditioning; reroof Building A; and $694,000 for renovation to locker rooms and other repair and maintenance projects.

    Makawao Elementary School - $2 million for design and construction of covered play court; $510,000 for replacement of flooring in cafeteria and other repair and maintenance projects.

    Maui High School - $6.1 million for construction of weight training and wrestling room, renovate and expand the band/choir building including additional storage, replace and expand the gymnasium floor, gymnasium heat abatement, and ground and site improvements and $509,000 for replacement of air conditioning.

    Maui Waena Intermediate - $1.499 million for school renovations.

    Paia Elementary School - $1.4 million for plans and design for a classroom building.

    Molokai High School - $3.5 million for plans, design and construction for renovation of the gym/ emergency shelter and equipment; and $290,000 for re-roofing.

    Molokai Public Library - $4.7 million for plans, design and construction to expand the existing library.

    UH Maui College - $7 million for design, construction and equipment for Maui Food Innovation Center.

    Caring for our Keiki and Community
    The Legislature approved an additional $10 million to expand the Preschool Open Doors program to allow more keiki to enter preschool.

    $3 million was added to support the state’s family and elderly housing facilities. $12 million was added to address homelessness and provide services and support to families and individuals obtain temporary and permanent housing.

    Hana Health - $500,000 for plans and construction of new health facilities.

    Kalaupapa Settlement - $405,000 plans, design and construction to close landfills and assess other environmental issues; and $251,000 for design and construction to re-roof buildings and other related improvements.

    Maui Youth and Family Services - $525,000 for construction for a new administration facility.

    Arc of Maui County - $192,000 for programs to support special needs children and adults.

    Hui Malama Learning Center - $300,000 for youth development services for at-risk youth.

    J. Walter Cameron Center - $600,000 for repairs and renovations of the center.

    Women Helping Women - $246,550 for a domestic violence emergency shelter on Lanai.

    Mental Health Kokua - $50,000 to create micro-units for a homeless Housing First project.

    The Legislature Approves $100 Million for Cooling our Schools
    Hearing the appeals of students, parents, teachers and the legislature, the Governor has signed a bill to bring heat abatement and energy efficiency to 1,000 public schools statewide.
    Electrical costs have always been a hurdle in cooling our classrooms. New energy saving technology can help us overcome that barrier and save on our utility costs.
    The Department of Education will address the hottest classroom first, bringing needed relief so our students can concentrate on learning.

    Priority schools in Maui county include: Maui High, Lahaina Intermediate,
    Nahienaena Elementary, Lihikai Elementary, Kilohana Elementary Kaunakakai Elementary

    Additional Funds for Maui County
    Maui Community Correctional Center - $17.5 million for the design and construction of a new correctional center including housing and support offices; and $10 million for design and construction of new housing and support offices.

    Maui Office Annex Building - $4 million for design and construction of a replacement building and related improvements to support various departmental division and programs.

    Kahului Base yard - $650,000 for improvements.

    Central Maui Regional Park - $7.75 million for ground and site improvements, equipment and

    Maui Motor Sports Park - $2 million for plans, design and construction of track improvements.

    Lipoa Point at Honolua Bay - $500,000 for plan, design, construction and equipment for health, safety and public improvements.

    Maui Police Department 911 Call Center - $1.2 million for system enhancements.

    Kalamaula Homesteaders Association - $500,000 for plans, design and construction for
    redevelopment of the Kiowea Park facilities.

    Kaupo Community Association - $975,000 for restoration of old Kaupo School.

    Maui Lawmakers Come Home with CIPs

    May 6, 2016, Excerpt from The Maui News, by Melissa Tanji

    Maui County will see funding for various capital improvement projects, including nearly $38 million for more work on the new Kihei high school, $38 million for Kahului Harbor improvements and $29 million for expansion of Hana Highway in Kahului.

    The price tags for Maui projects are among the larger capital improvement projects approved by the state Legislature this session.

    In the supplemental state budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Maui County will receive more than $200 million from the state – money for schools, highways and affordable housing. The lawmaking session ended Thursday.

    "I think the Maui delegation is going to come back pretty well off," said Central Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran of this year's session. "We wanted to address a number of issues regarding homelessness, affordable housing and agriculture. I think we did do that."
    Keith-Agaran said $12 million will go toward helping the homeless statewide. Included in the funding will be standards for housing the homeless to ensure money is used efficiently, he said. Affordable housing funding will help developers offset their costs, he added.

    While much attention was focused on a bill to allow Alexander and Baldwin to continue to divert water from East Maui under current lease terms, there was other legislation to help taro farmers as well as the state do work on streams on state property in East Maui.

    Legislators also were keen to help employees facing lost jobs with the closures of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. and the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.

    Bills approved this session call for job training and support services for workers unemployed or dislocated by the closures. Another bill creates a temporary program limited to Maui County to extend jobless benefits to unemployed workers.

    Keith-Agaran said lawmakers also passed is a bill to help Hawaii Health System Corp. employees at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital who are nearing retirement. The bill will enable them to "bridge that gap" and receive retirement benefits even as their jobs as state employees will end with the takeover of operations by Kaiser on July 1.

    Maui County will receive around $23 million from state hotel tax revenues, the same amount it is receiving this current fiscal year, despite county officials lobbying for more.

    Used by permission from The Maui News