House District 13

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

House Bill 1225 passes out of House Judiciary Committee – Establishes Bingo and a Bingo Commission within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2011 at 4:22 am

HONOLULU—On Friday, February 18, 2011, the members of the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance House Bill 1225. Introduced by Representative Mele Carroll, House Bill 1225 allows bingo to be conducted by one licensee at one location on lands designated by the Hawaiian homes commission. House Bill 1225 also creates Hawaii bingo commission within department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to regulate bingo. Allocates 20% of general excise tax on gross receipts to the state general fund; 1% for a compulsive gambler program; up to 4% for administrative expenses; and the balance for deposit into the Hawaiian home lands trust fund.

House Bill 1225 will provide an important tool in fulfilling the mandated responsibility to native Hawaiian by providing additional revenues to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

House Bill 1225 passed on the House session floor today and will now go to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.

Representative Mele Carroll stated that, “The severity of the economic strains within the Hawaiian community as well as the economic slowdown has had an enormously acute impact on native Hawaiians and the state of Hawaii. The importance of increasing revenues for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) cannot be overstated and as such I have fought to pass legislation that will put our people in the best possible position to succeed.

House Bill 1225 is another mechanism for fulfilling our fiduciary responsibility to the native Hawaiian people. For many years the infrastructure required has been greatly underfunded and unable to place many people on the lands. The State has had a hard time providing the resources so that critical services can function at a level where needs are met. By providing more funding methods combined with controlled and successful strategy, the existing infrastructure can be fortified. With these improved opportunities, self sufficiency can be attained by the native Hawaiian people.”

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Neighbor Islands May Be Exempt from DHS Reorganization

In News Release, Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 at 1:51 am

Rep. Mele Carroll Speaks with DHS Clients

 

HONOLULU—On Saturday, April 10, Rep. Mele Carroll (D-13th) visited Lana`i with a House Speaker Calvin Say (D-20th) and Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-10th), who chairs the House Committee on Economic Revitalization, Business, and Military Affairs.

Rep. Mele Carroll says, “Citizens on O`ahu always have the option of coming to the Capitol directly to discuss their concerns, but citizens in my district often feel they are isolated from the Legislature and from the decision-making process.  I’m happy that the House leadership, specifically Speaker Calvin Say  recognizes the importance of this issue and is willing to take the time out of their busy schedules to acknowledge Lana`i and hear its citizens’ concerns.”

Among the chief reasons for the visit was to give House leaders the opportunity to see how the Department of Human Services runs on Lanai, more importantly the neighbor islands.  Rep. Mele Carroll says, “There is a huge difference between Lana`i and O`ahu in terms of how DHS workers communicate with their clients.  On Lana`i, face-to-face contact is crucial.  Many of the residents don’t have internet access and there is only one public fax on the island.  It is very important to them that they know the person handling their paperwork—their lives, essentially.  About 58% of the population are of Filipino ancestry, many of whom came to Lana`i work on the plantations, so it is very important that a worker be present to explain exactly what is required.”  Especially with many of the residents being bilingual, a person with the skills to speak their language and assist them with services is necessary.

Several DHS clients attended the meeting to ask questions and offer suggestions to Representative Mele Carroll and her colleagues that were present.  One client claimed she was once on hold for five hours when calling an O`ahu DHS office and asked how such situations could be avoided if all DHS beneficiaries were required to apply for services over the phone.  Others cited concerns over whether elderly and disabled clients had the technical knowledge necessary to apply for services electronically, saying, “We are worried that Lana’i will be forgotten if they get rid of our DHS staff and office.”

After hearing concerns from the residents from Lana’i and discussing the issue with Representative Mele Carroll, Speaker Calvin Say recommended as a solution that EPOD reorganization occur only on O`ahu, where access is not as limited, and that Senate Bill 2650 include a proviso preventing EPOD reorganization from affecting neighbor island offices.  The present draft of the bill authorizes the governor to implement a pilot program in counties with a population exceeding 500,000.  Only Honolulu County currently meets that criteria.

Rep. Mele Carroll says, “Although my ultimate goal is to ensure that no cuts are to take place in the Department of Human Services, this visit to Lana’i has accomplished saving neighbor island offices to be exempt from this reorganization that the administration is proposing.  It is not right to impose a new system without any consultation with the people who will be affected by it the most.  I want to thank the Lana`i residents who came to meet us on Saturday and spoke out about their concerns regarding the closure of the Lana`i office.  Together we have inspired a measure that could save our most vulnerable residents from losing the benefits they so desperately need.”

The State House of Representatives and the Senate will vote on SB 2650 for third reading on Wednesday, April 14th.

Rep. Mele Carroll says, “My colleagues and I have been fighting the reorganization for months.  I am very grateful to the Speaker, Representative Angus McKelvey and Representative John Mizuno for your assistance in this matter.  More importantly, to the residents of Lana`i whose stories were told to us that really made a difference.”

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Rep. Mele Carroll, Speaker Calvin Say, and Rep. Angus McKelvey Hear Questions and Comments

Rep. Mele Carroll Addresses the Lana`i Community

DHHL List Assets, Shortfalls, Future Plans

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm

HONOLULU—Spokespersons from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands convened at the Capitol on February 17 for an informational briefing on their financial assets and plans to increase revenue in the future.  Chairman Kaulana Park stated that the Department’s plan for attaining economic self-sufficiency is twofold: first, researching its options in terms of how to maximize revenue produced from existing properties, and second, exploring which commercial options are viable means of producing stable income.  Representative Mele Carroll (D-13th), Chair of the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, questioned Park and his associates regarding how much revenue DHHL has been able to generate, whether an aggressive plan is being shaped to meet their revenue goals, how DHHL intends to pay the plaintiffs in Kalima vs. DHHL, and what DHHL is doing to place more Native Hawaiians on their land.

According to their annual report, DHHL generated $14.4 million in revenue in 2009, a figure almost double their listed $7.4 million earnings in 2003. Park stated that DHHL intends to increase this figure to $30 million in 2015, an effort that may or may not be realized in light of the current deficit.  DHHL is currently researching potential sources of revenue, including commercial leases and governmental grants at a federal level.  Doing so is highly important, as they will no longer receive $30 million annually from the State in 2015.  Additionally, DHHL stated that its operational costs are currently $22 million and will likely rise in the future.

Representative Mele Carroll asked if DHHL makes any effort to support Native Hawaiian business owners when administering commercial leases.  Park stated that of 113 commercial leases DHHL has granted, between 5 and 7 went to Native Hawaiians and claimed that a revised strategic plan would provide that more Hawaiian business owners will be helped in the future.

Citing Kalima vs. DHHL, which requires that damages be paid to over 1,000 plaintiffs who were waitlisted twenty years or longer, Representative Mele Carroll asked what DHHL is doing to ensure that its beneficiaries are provided with adequate and efficient service and how many Native Hawaiians are currently waitlisted.  Park admitted that DHHL doesn’t have a precise figure and is still assessing how many people are still waiting for land.  He said that once that number is determined, DHHL will be better able to serve its beneficiaries.

Representative Mele Carroll pointed out that if these applicants are not placed quickly, more lawsuits could be brought against DHHL.  She said, “If this is the case, and DHHL is unable to pay damages, then that responsibility will fall to the State. I’m worried that the outcome of the funding issue will be that we legislators will be forced to raise taxes, not by 1%, but by up to 5%.  Personally, I think that raising taxes should be a last resort and I’m not at all comfortable doing that unless we’ve discussed every other option.  I introduced the gaming bill to help supplement your budget, but I am not attached to it and I do want to hear whether you have an aggressive plan in the works to generate revenue and, if so, how we as lawmakers can help you.”

In response, Park stated that he appreciated the Representative’s concern and passion on the matter and that while DHHL has not yet established an itemized plan, they are currently researching what course of action will best meet their funding needs.  Bobby Hall, another DHHL spokesman, said that they are looking into ranching and aquaculture as future sources of revenue and will travel to Washington D.C. next week in an effort to acquire funding for that purpose.

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Committee on Hawaiian Affairs Pass Bills on Prisoner Reintegration,

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

HONOLULU—The House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs convened on February 10 to discuss and hear testimony on five bills dealing with subject matter that ranges from restructuring the way in which prisoners are rehabilitated to honoring Hawai`i’s kupuna for their work within the community.  Chairperson Mele Carroll presided over the hearing and, with the Committee’s concurrence, passed the following bills.

 HB 1778 requests that the Na Ala Hele Program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating a trail between Kaupo to Kapalua as an important path to the Hawaiian community.  The bill recommends that the Pi`ilani trail be opened to the public if it meets the requirements. 

The spokespeople for the Maui County Council and Kanaka Council Moku O Keawe testified in support of this bill, whereas the department of Land and Natural Resources opposed it for budgetary reasons.  The Committee passed the bill with amendments to correctly reflect the intent of the bill to designate the public lands from Kaupo to Kapalua along the Pi`ilani trail as an important Hawaiian coastal cultural heritage corridor; to delete a section that would require Na Ala Hele to report requirements, including a proposed budget, to the legislature; to change the effective date upon the bill’s approval; and to make the language more consistent and transparent.

HB 1796 requires that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) create a kupuna honorary degree program, which would award the pohaku degree, the Hawaiian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, to qualified kupuna worldwide.  The Committee voted to pass an amended version of this bill wherein the word “shall” is changed to “may” so to provide OHA the flexibility to implement the program when financial resources become available.

HB 1818 requires the Department of Public Safety to combine cognitive behavioral theory with Native Hawaiian holistic interventions such as ho`oponopono as a means of rehabilitating prisoners.  This program would address issues such as domestic violence, addictions, self-mastery through identity, and community connections to promote successful transitions into the community and reduce recidivism.

The Community Alliance on Prisons, the Institute for Family Enrichment, LLC, and Kanaka Council Moku O Keawe testified in support of this bill, while the Department of Public Safety opposed it, partly for budgetary reasons.  However, because the bill only applies to new contracts, it should not impact the budget unnecessarily.  The Committee voted to pass an amended version of this bill that contains a severability clause and technical amendments to the language.

The last two bills raised the question as to which figures from Hawai`i’s era as an independent nation should be commemorated.  HCR 8 urges strongly that the portraits of officials of the Provisional Government of Hawai`i be removed from display in positions of honor in State government buildings.  The Provisional Government consisted of those individuals who initiated the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and eventually the illegal annexation of Hawai`i as a territory of the United States.  The Committee voted to pass the bill unamended.

HCR 9 urges that a task force convene to consider the merits of building a monument to Queen Ka`ahumanu in or near Hana, Maui.  The task force would collaborate with the appropriate Native Hawaiian organizations, kupuna in the Hawaiian community, and DLNR to discuss this measure.  The Committee voted to pass this bill with amendments to state that the Hawai`i Legislature and OHA strongly support the efforts of the current working group in creating a monument to Queen Ka`ahumanu and that the convening of a new task force would be unnecessary.

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