Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Speaker Souki Receives Distinguished Alumni Award from Woodbury University

Woodbury President Dr. Luis Maria R. Calingo presents Speaker Joseph M. Souki with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
In the early 1950’s Joseph M. Souki left the island of Maui for Southern California to attend, what was then called, Woodbury College.  He worked three jobs to pay for his tuition and living expenses and, in what might be considered his first venture into the leadership arena, also was President of Woodbury’s Hawaiian Club.  In 1954 he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Woodbury and returned to Maui.

For his many accomplishments and service to the people of Maui and the State, Woodbury University presented Speaker Souki with its Distinguished Alumni Award at a dinner honoring him earlier this past weekend in Honolulu.

"Speaker Joe Souki is the embodiment of the Woodbury alumnus that we seek. He has demonstrated his entrepreneurial skills in his profession as a realtor. He has demonstrated design thinking when he initiated the Maui Economic Opportunity wheelchair accessible bus service, the senior citizen discount card program, Meals on Wheels, and Youth Transportation Services that help young people today to have fun and be productive. His civic engagement is best evident in his advocacy for the women and children who are victims of domestic violence,” said Woodbury President Dr. Luis Maria R.Calingo.

“Representative Souki has transcended disciplinary boundaries by applying his organizational and management skills to political leadership as Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives. Entrepreneurship, design thinking, civic engagement, and transdisciplinarity – these are the Four Pillars of Woodbury Education, all epitomized in the Honorable Speaker Joseph M. Souki,” said President Calingo.

Speaker Joseph M. Souki with Woodbury President Dr. Luis Maria R. Calingo and University Relations Vice President Gregory S. Krikorian
“I am extremely honored to receive this award from my Alma Mater Woodbury University.  Never did I imagine when I first traveled to Los Angeles to pursue my education, that such a recognition would be possible for me.  Back then I wasn’t sure that I would even make it through,” joked Speaker Souki.

“Every phase in a person’s life begins with a significant moment and decision. For me, one of those moments began with the decision to attend Woodbury, and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to further my education at such a fine institution,” said Souki.

Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California.  Founded in 1884, Woodbury offers bachelor’s degrees from the School of Architecture, the School of Business, and the School of Media, Culture and Design.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Leadership Team and Committee Chairpersons

House Speaker Joseph M. Souki today announced the appointments of the House of Representatives Majority leadership lineup for the 28th Legislature which convenes on January 21, 2015.

“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-elect David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”

Members of the House Leadership are as follows:

Speaker of the House        Joseph M. Souki
Vice Speaker                     John M. Mizuno
Majority Leader                Scott K. Saiki
Majority Floor Leader      Cindy Evans
Majority Whip                  Ken Ito
Asst. Majority Leader       Chris Lee
Asst. Majority Leader       Roy M. Takumi
Speaker Emeritus             Calvin K.Y. Say

2015 House Committee Chairpersons:

Agriculture (AGR)
Clift Tsuji, Chair
Richard H.K. Onishi, Vice Chair

Economic Development & Business (EDB)
Derek S.K. Kawakami, Chair
Sam Kong, Vice Chair

Veterans, Military & International Affairs (VMI)
Romy M. Cachola, Chair
Ken Ito, Vice Chair

Tourism & Culture and the Arts (TCA)
Tom Brower, Chair
Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

Labor & Public Employment (LAB)
Mark M. Nakashima, Chair
Jarrett Keohokalole, Vice Chair

Public Safety (PBS)
Gregg Takayama, Chair
Kyle T. Yamashita, Vice Chair

Transportation (TRN)
Henry J.C. Aquino, Chair
Matthew LoPresti, Vice Chair

Health (HLT)
Della Au Belatti, Chair
Dee Morikawa, Vice Chair

Housing (HSG)
Mark J. Hashem, Chair
Richard Creagan, Vice Chair

Human Services (HUS)
Mele Carroll, Chair
Bertrand Kobayashi, Vice Chair

Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)
Chris Lee, Chair
Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)
Kaniela Ing, Chair
Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

Water & Land (WAL)
Ryan I. Yamane, Chair
Ty J.K. Cullen, Vice Chair

Education (EDN)
Roy M. Takumi, Chair
Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

Higher Education, (HED)

Isaac W. Choy, Chair
Linda Ichiyama, Vice Chair

Finance (FIN)
Sylvia Luke, Chair
Scott Y. Nishimoto, Vice Chair

Legislative Management (LMG)
Scott Y. Nishimoto, Chair
John M. Mizuno, Vice Chair

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)
Angus L.K. McKelvey, Chair
Justin H. Woodson, Vice Chair

Judiciary (JUD)
Karl Rhoads, Chair
Joy San Buenaventura, Vice Chair

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rep. Karen Awana Opposes Proposal to Dispose of Illegal Fireworks in Nanakuli

Representative Karen Awana (Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili) today voiced opposition to a new proposal to store and dispose of a large cache of illegal fireworks at a rural property on the Waianae Coast.

A public notice was placed in the Star-Advertiser last week announcing that fireworks display firm Grucci Inc. is seeking an emergency permit to store and dispose of a fireworks cache at a property located at 87-879 Paakea Road. The notice failed to provide any information on the public comment period for the permit’s application before the Department of Health. Additionally, there has been no communication with the community from officials regarding the proposal.

The cache contains the remnants of the shipment of confiscated commercial grade fireworks that were involved in the 2011 fatal explosion at a Waikele storage bunker—which resulted in 5 deaths.

“This plan to bring hazardous fireworks into our backyard is downright exasperating. Both the state and city have used the Waianae Coast as a dumping ground for far too long,” said Representative Awana.

“We have seen the danger that it poses to the public and the community, and now they want to store and dispose of these fireworks here amongst our neighbors. There has been no outreach or information from the parties involved with the members of the community who are being forced to bear this weight. While I still oppose this proposal, I will work towards facilitating a public meeting with all stakeholders so that the community will have an opportunity to be briefed about the plan and provide their input,” added Awana.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Task Force Releases Updated Report to Establish Medical Marijuana Dispensary System in Hawaii

The Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has announced the release of a newly updated report on the policies and procedures for access, distribution, security, and other relevant issues related to the medical use of marijuana in Hawaii. The report was produced by the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and updates findings released in an earlier report first published in August 2009.

In 2000, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law enabling the use of medical marijuana by qualified individuals. However, the law did not provide these individuals with a legal method of obtaining marijuana—making it illegal for patients and caregivers to get medical marijuana for legitimate use.

This year the Legislature passed HCR48, establishing under the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Public Policy Center, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force to develop recommendations to establish a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana.

The updated LRB report highlights glaring uncertainties within Hawaii’s medical marijuana program in regards to the access and transportation of medical marijuana. The program currently only allows qualifying patients to use medical marijuana, but does not provide them with any method to obtain it other than for them to grow a limited amount on their own. However, the sale of marijuana—including seeds for cultivation—remains illegal under state law. As a result qualifying patients who suffer from cancer or other debilitating diseases are unable to legally acquire medical marijuana to find relief and improve the quality of their lives.

Additionally, it is uncertain whether or to what extent a qualifying patient or caregiver may transport medical marijuana anywhere outside the home on the same island, or island to island, without violating state drug enforcement laws.

“It has been over a decade since Hawaii took the historic step of legalizing medical marijuana to better the lives our residents. But as we have learned throughout the years and once again validated by the report, issues still exist with the program that need to be addressed,” said House Health Chair Della Au Belatti. “The task force is working towards improving our medical cannabis system with the goal of facilitating access for patients through a legal dispensary system or other means.”

The Dispensary System Task Force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation to the 2015 Legislature.

On Tuesday, September 9, from 9:00 – 11:00 am at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 325, the Dispensary Task Force will be briefed by the Legislative Reference Bureau on its 2014 report.

Public hearings on Hawaii Island and Oahu have been scheduled by the Task Force to obtain public testimony on issues and concerns regarding dispensaries in Hawaii and any input on the updated Legislative Reference Bureau report. These public hearings are scheduled as follows:

· Hawaii Island (Hilo): Wednesday, September 10th at 5:00 pm. Aupuni Center.
· Oahu: Wednesday, September 24th at 5:00 pm. Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium.

The updated report and more information on the Dispensary Task Force is available online at

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rep. Awana elected as Vice-Chair of National Caucus of Native American State Legislators

The National Caucus of Native American State Legislators (NCNASL) has elected Representative Karen Awana (Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili) to serve on the Executive Committee as Vice-Chair of the Caucus. The election occurred during the NCNASL’s annual meeting held last month in Minneapolis.

The National Caucus of Native American State Legislators is comprised of state legislators from across the United States who work to promote a better understanding of state-tribal issues among policymakers and the public at large.

"The NCNASL is the premier group providing communication and discussion among state legislators from across the country on issues important to Native populations," said Representative Awana. "I am extremely honored and humbled to be able to contribute to the advancement of these issues on the national level.”

Members hope to encourage a broad awareness of state-tribal issues across the country and raise the profile of tribal issues throughout the state legislative arena. The effectiveness of the organization and the strength of individual Native American legislators, increase the ability of the state legislatures to more appropriately address tribal issues and develop public policy in cooperation with tribal governments.

Awana also serves as the Chair of the NCNASL Policy Committee on Economic Development. The committee meets to address all topics associated with economic development including financial partnerships, community and corporate boards, and investments in Native communities.

She is joined on the committee by fellow Hawaii lawmakers Senator J. Kalani English, Senator Brickwood Galuteria, Representative Ty Cullen, Representative Derek Kawakami, and Representative Mele Carroll.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Japan-Hawaii Legislators' Friendship Association Holds International Talks at Hawaii Convention Center

Hawaii State Legislators and members of the Japanese House of Councillors met yesterday to hold the second international meeting of the Japan-Hawaii Legislators’ Friendship Association (JHLFA) at the Hawaii Convention Center. The parties engaged in discussions on a wide range of common topics important to Hawaii and Japan focusing on political, economic, and business matters.

The association was formed to hold legislative-level dialogue to strengthen relationships between Japan and Hawaii.

Japan’s visiting delegation was comprised of members from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) majority party of the House of Councillors. The House of Councillors is the upper house of the Japanese National Diet, equivalent to the United States Senate.

Heading the Japanese delegation were JHLFA Chairperson Mr. Hiromi Yoshida and Chief Whip Masaji Matsuyama. Hawaii’s JHLFA Chairperson is State Representative Scott K. Saiki with Former Governor George Ariyoshi serving as Honorary Advisor. Participants at the meeting included sixteen members of the Japanese Diet, twelve Hawaii lawmakers, Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney, Hawaii state officials, the Honolulu Consul General of Japan, the Hawaii Business Roundtable, and various local Japan-affiliated organizations.

The meetings commenced with private discussions between the parties on the political climate of Japanese and Hawaii relationships, followed by business and economic presentations on topics of mutual interest such as the facilitation and growth of tourism to Hawaii, the proliferation of renewable energies, and the international development of young emerging leaders in Hawaii and Japan.

The day’s sessions also included an awards ceremony to recognize individuals and organizations that have contributed to the development of economic and cultural ties between Hawaii and Japan. The honorees were:
  • Hawaii HIS Corporation - Honolulu Ekiden & Music
    • Mr. Konosuke Oda, General Manager
  • Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce
    • Mr. Wayne Ishihara, President
  • JALPAK International Hawaii Inc. - Hula Ho'olauna Aloha
    • Mr. Shinji Iijima, President
  • Japan Hawaii Travel Association
    • Mr. Akio Hoshino, President & Chair
  • Japanese Culture Center of Hawaii
    • Ms. Carole Hayashino, President & Executive Director
  • JTB Hawaii Inc. - Honolulu Festival
    • Mr. Tsukasa Harufuku, President & CEO
  • Kinki Nippon Tourist Company Inc. (Kintetsu) – Pan Pacific Festival
    • Mr. Manabu Yada, President
    • Mr. Masaharu Matsuoka, Vice President
    • Ms. Christine Kubota, Pan Pacific Festival Chair
  • Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu
    • Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda
    • Deputy Consul General Kazunari Tanaka

Friday, August 22, 2014

Statement by Speaker Joseph M. Souki on the passing of former Hawaii Island Legislator Robert Herkes

Representative Robert (Bob) Herkes

“Hawaii has lost a dedicated and passionate public servant who championed protecting consumer rights during his 18 years in the State House of Representatives. Bob worked tirelessly to pass legislation that strengthened the rights of residents in mortgage foreclosures. He was an early and strong advocate of natural disaster preparedness and was one of the first to call attention to the health effects of vog. He was a good legislator, highly respected by his colleagues and a great friend. I will miss him.

On behalf of the House of Representatives I would like to offer our condolences to his wife Jo-Anna and his sons Bobby, Kenny and Doug.”

Robert N. Herkes served in the State House for 18 years until 2012, representing District 5 (Puna, Ka'u, South Kona, North Kona).

His political career began in 1982 when he served on the Hawai'i County Police Commission. Then in 1994, he was elected to the Hawai'i County Council. In 1988, he was appointed to the State Senate to fill the seat vacated by former Hawai`i Island Senator Richard Henderson. He was elected to the State House in 1992, ran for Hawai'i County Mayor in 2000, and was re-elected to the State House in 2002. A retired hotel executive, Representative Herkes graduated with honors from Cornell Hotel School and worked in the hospitality industry for 40 years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Representative Rida Cabanilla Recognized as Global Woman of Distinction

Representative Rida Cabanilla (Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe) has been selected by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World. Honorees are invited to attend the Filipina Leadership Summit and awards gala on October 5-8, 2014 in Makiti, Philippines.

The 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award™ recognizes Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace, having reached status for outstanding work in their respective fields and are recognized for their leadership, achievement and contributions to society, mentorship and legacy. Annual and past awardees are asked to mentor a young Filipina protégé through the FEMtorship program to develop the next generation of Filipina global leaders.

“I am truly proud to be honored by an organization so relentlessly dedicated to the development and promotion of women across the world,” said Cabanilla. “I intend to contribute my own talents and experience in building the future of our community and I look forward to the exciting opportunity to mentor a young woman so that she too may one day be a benefit to society.”

“The Global FWN100™ women are dynamic entrepreneurs, practitioners, community leaders and executives who have moved through the ranks in large organizations, nonprofits, and government agencies. They are powerful examples of women doing extraordinary work who will motivate our youth and future leaders,” said Thelma Boac, Chair of the Global FWN100™ Worldwide Search and Selection Committee. “They were selected based on the size and scope of their positions, influence in their industries and their communities, board affiliations and other leadership roles. Nominations were received from 16 countries.

FWN is a nonprofit professional association based in San Francisco, California with members worldwide founded to increase awareness of the activities, careers and status of women of Philippine ancestry. FWN’s mission is to advance Filipina women in the global workplace through programs and activities that enhance public perceptions of Filipina women's capacities to lead and to build the Filipina community's pipeline of qualified leaders, to increase the odds that some Filipina women will rise to the president position in the private and public sectors worldwide.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Representative Rida Cabanilla Urges Governor to Implement Statewide 'Return to Home' Program

Representative Rida Cabanilla (Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe, West Loch) urged Governor Neil Abercrombie to implement the ‘Return to Home’ program created to reduce homelessness in Hawaii.

SB515 (2013), signed into law as Act 222 (SLH 2013) by Governor Abercrombie in June 2013, created and appropriated $100,000 for a three-year ‘Return to Home’ pilot program, an initiative to provide one-way airfare tickets for eligible homeless individuals to return home to their families on the mainland. However, the Department of Human Services—the coordinating department as written in law—declined to establish and administer the program.

The intent of the program would reduce the ever growing problem of homelessness in Hawaii and ensure that individuals who find themselves homeless in the islands are able to reconnect with family and support networks where they would have the opportunity to recover. Additionally, the program would possibly further save Hawaii taxpayers millions of dollars in welfare costs that would have been spent on homeless individuals who have travelled to live in the state.

“The Governor has not released the $100,000 that was appropriated in the 2013 state budget for the ‘Return to Home’ program for the homeless. This appropriation is much needed to decrease the homeless population in our state, to return these stranded homeless individuals from the mainland to an environment of their choosing, and most importantly to preserve these funds for our own homeless kamaaina. Let us implore the Governor to release the money and create the program,” said Cabanilla.