Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Gov. Abercrombie (July 9-18)

MEDIA RELEASE

Governor Shares Update from President’s Climate Change Task Force

While participating in a panel discussion today at the 22nd Hawaii Conservation Conference, Gov. Neil Abercrombie shared an update from President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, to which the Governor was appointed last fall.

In the plenary panel, titled “Navigating Change: A Dialogue with Island Leaders on Climate Change,” Gov. Abercrombie was joined by Ronald Jumeau, United Nations Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues; state Rep. Chris Lee; and Malia Nobrega-Olivera, director of Strategic Partnerships for Loli Aniau, Makaala Aniau (Climate Change, Climate Alert) at the University of Hawaii.

“When the President’s task force initially convened in December, the State of Hawaii emerged as a leader by presenting a comprehensive report on our state’s approach to adaptation titled Navigating Change at the very first meeting,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We showed up prepared and ready to provide a strong voice for Hawaii on how best to partner with federal agencies in addressing the impacts of climate change.

“The White House has responded with an announcement yesterday on federal investments that focus on a National Disaster Resilience Competition, grants for green infrastructure, localized data and mapping, partnerships to integrate traditional ecological knowledge, and coastal management and planning – a number of areas where Hawaii is demonstrating leadership.”

The Aloha State was also recognized as having the most local stakeholder engagement among the task force members. This was achieved through an online survey and a series of Resilient Hawaii Forums hosted by the Governor earlier this year, where more than one-thousand citizens participated. The Abercrombie Administration incorporated the input from across the state into its recommendations for the task force.

State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel represented the Governor at the fourth task force meeting, held this week in Washington, D.C., at the White House with a special visit from President Obama.

“Our proposal outlines steps to engage the next generation of leaders and communities,” she said. “One example of a priority recommendation being considered by the White House and federal partners is our plan for ‘Climate Change Corps.’ The proposal would create green jobs and service learning opportunities through community-based climate preparedness and resilience projects. Climate Change Corps members would help to restore watersheds, support food security and public health, remove invasive species, respond in disasters, and build trails and infrastructure.”

Other major issues raised to the President’s task force included the following:

* Critical importance of water and watershed management for climate adaptation (Hawaii’s “Rain Follows the Forest” program was recognized as a model for protecting water supplies)

* Improved coordination across federal agencies with state and local partners for smart, system and place-based solutions that look at nexus between energy, water, food and conservation

* Climate migration and displacement due to impacts like sea level rise on coastal communities, which is already being seen in the Pacific

* How the threat of invasive species is exacerbated by climate change (Hawaii Invasive Species Council and island Invasive Species Committees provided working models for coordinated response)

* Capacity-building and training for community-based disaster preparedness and response

* Multi-modal transportation (transit, biking, walking) as a strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

* Support for P-20 education to strengthen climate and environmental science into curriculum, including hands-on-learning through school gardens

* Need for partnerships with government, businesses, non-profit organizations and communities to build and invest in climate resilience

* The unique vulnerability of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands to the impacts of climate change and the opportunity to develop innovative solutions for sustainability and resilience with strong federal partnerships

The Governor also shared priority recommendations from the Coastal States Organization and Rising Voices – a community of engaged Indigenous leaders (including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders), environmental experts, students, and scientific professionals from across the United States with representatives from federal, state, local and tribal resource management agencies, academia, tribal colleges, and research organizations to highlight the special needs of coastal, island and indigenous communities across the nation and Asia-Pacific region.

The task force is drafting its final recommendations to present to President Obama this fall.

Governor Expedites Appointments to Boards, Commissions with Several Vacancies

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the nominations of Jonathan Scheuer to the Land Use Commission (LUC), as well as Rona Fukumoto and Edwin Taira to the Board of Directors of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), effective immediately. All are interim appointments subject to state Senate approval.

Scheuer was appointed to an at-large seat and is the first LUC appointee to fill vacancies left by five recent resignations on the nine-member commission.

For HHFDC, Fukumoto was appointed to the “community advocate for low-income housing affiliated with a private nonprofit” seat, and Taira to the Hawaii County seat. Two vacancies remain on HHFDC, also a nine-member board, which likewise had multiple resignations recently.

“Filling vacancies on the Land Use Commission is a top priority for the administration right now so commissioners can resume decision-making,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The appointments to HHFDC were expedited to avoid interruption of its duties. I thank Jonathan, Rona and Ed for quickly stepping up to accept their nominations to ensure that the public continues to be served.”

Jonathan Scheuer of Honolulu has 25 years of experience in policy and land management in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Since 1990, he has run his own consulting practice helping clients manage conflicts over natural resources. Scheuer was also land management director for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) from 2006 to 2010 and a policy analyst for OHA from 2004 to 2006.

He has been a lecturer at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa, a fellow with the Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools, staff lead for the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Natural Area Reserves System Commission, and a legislative aide to Rep. Jim Shon. Scheuer currently serves on the Board of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and with the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter.

His previous public service includes serving as vice chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council and work with the Oahu Land Trust, Malama Manoa and Malama Hawaii.

An Iolani School graduate, Scheuer holds bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a master’s degree from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Rona Fukumoto of Honolulu is currently division administrator for Catholic Charities Hawaii’s Housing Assistance and Referral Programs, and is the nonprofit’s former director of intake, information and referral. Prior to that, she worked her way up from employment specialist to vice president and director of employment and community programs at Winners at Work from 1995 to 2004. Fukumoto also served as an educational specialist and office assistant at UH Manoa’s KOKUA Program.

She currently volunteers as a member of the Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation and Hawaii State Department of Human Services Financial Assistance Advisory Council, and is a former member of the Hawaii Parkinson Association.

Fukumoto also volunteers for Project Dana, providing respite care through home visits to elderly individuals. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in public administration from UH Manoa.

Edwin Taira, a resident of Hilo, has more than 30 years of housing experience that includes management, program and development background. He previously served as housing administrator, assistant housing administrator and development division head for Hawaii County’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

While there, Taira gained experience with the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Investment Act, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 and Community Development Block Grant programs. His development experience includes numerous affordable for sale and rental projects.

Taira has served on the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation and the Rental Housing Trust Fund Commission, and has been a private consultant for HHFDC and private developers.

He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UH Manoa.

Land Use Commission

The State Land Use Law was adopted in 1961, establishing a framework of land use management and regulation in which all state lands are classified into urban, rural, agricultural or conservation districts.

The Legislature established the Land Use Commission to administer this statewide zoning law. The commission is responsible for preserving and protecting Hawaii’s lands and encouraging those uses to which the lands are best suited.

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation

The mission of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation is to increase and preserve the supply of workforce and affordable housing statewide by providing leadership, tools and resources to facilitate housing development.

Governor Appoints Members to BLNR

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has announced the nominations of Vernon Char, Ulalia Woodside and Christopher Yuen to the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). All are interim appointments effective immediately and are subject to state Senate approval.

Char was appointed to an at-large seat; Woodside to the seat representing the City and County of Honolulu and a BLNR requirement of having experience with Native Hawaiian cultural practices; and Yuen to an at-large seat and a BLNR requirement of having experience in conservation. They replace two members who recently resigned for personal reasons and another whose term expired.

“Because of several recent resignations, these appointments were expedited to ensure that the land board would have sufficient members to conduct business without interruption to its meeting schedule,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Vernon, Ulalia and Chris all have extensive background in public service, and Hawaii’s resources will benefit from their commitment and passion.”

Vernon Char brings 20 years of experience on various State of Hawaii boards and commissions. He was a member of the Hawaii Tourism Authority from 2003 to 2011, chairman of the State Bicentennial Commission for the U.S. Constitution from 1986 to 1991, and the first chairman of the State Ethics Commission from 1968 to 1975.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Harvard Law School, Char is currently a founding attorney for Char Sakamoto Ishii Lum & Ching. He was previously with Damon Key Char & Bocken and also served as state deputy attorney general in charge of the Antitrust and Consumer Protection Division.

In the late 1980s, Char was one of the founders of the UH Alumni Association, serving as its first president. He was awarded its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1991.

Ulalia Woodside of Waimanalo previously worked for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources from 1988 to 1995. She is currently the regional asset manager for natural and cultural resources at Kamehameha Schools’ Land Assets Division. Prior to that, Woodside was with Wilson Okamoto Corporation from 1997 to 2002 and The Hallstrom Group from 1996 to 1997.

She currently serves as a steering committee member for Hawaii Green Growth, the indigenous representative for the Landscape Conservation Cooperative National Council, a former commissioner for the Natural Area Reserves System Commission, and a former executive council chair for the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative.

Woodside received bachelor’s degrees in political science and Hawaiian studies, along with a certificate in Hawaiian language, from UH Manoa.

She is also a kumu hula, having completed the uniki rites of her family’s genealogical hula traditions.

Christopher Yuen, a resident of Ninole, held BLNR’s Hawaii County seat from 1990 to 1998. He is currently on the advisory councils for the Laupahoehoe and Puuwaawaa Experimental Tropical Forest. Since 1995, Yuen has been owner and manager of The Family Farm, Inc., a 20-acre certified organic farm supplying local markets with bananas, lychees and rambutans.

Previously, he was Hawaii County’s planning director and deputy corporation counsel, an interpretive naturalist for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and a private attorney.

Yuen received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University, a master’s degree in environmental science from State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a juris doctorate from UH William S. Richardson School of Law.

Board of Land and Natural Resources

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, headed by an executive BLNR, is responsible for managing, administering and exercising control over public lands, water resources, ocean waters, navigable streams, coastal areas (except commercial harbors), minerals and all interests therein within the State of Hawaii, as well as 750 miles of coastline.

Governor Appoints Members to State Ethics Commission

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has announced the reappointment of David O’Neal as well as the appointment of Melinda Wood to the State Ethics Commission (SEC), effective immediately.

“David O’Neal and Melinda Wood have proven themselves to be great leaders, equipped with knowledge, insights, and experience from which our state will directly benefit,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “I am confident the Ethics Commission’s mission will be well served.”

David O’Neal, a resident of Waipahu, brings more than 20 years of experience as a general manager, president and entrepreneur for multiple local business and associations, including Shop and Ship Hawaii LLC, Healthcare Directive Partners LLC, Hawaii Dental Partners/Akamai Dentals, Hawaii Dental Group, Hawaii Family Dental Centers, and Hawaii Medical Service Association. Since 2011, he has served as general manager for the Mililani Town Association.

O’Neal is also president of the Waipahu Community Foundation, serving since 2009. Previously, he volunteered as a Waipahu Neighborhood Board member, was a member of the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Citizen Advisory Committee, and served as part of the Kaleiopuu Elementary School Community Council.

O’Neal earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration and a minor in accounting from the University of Hawaii (UH) – West Oahu.

Melinda Wood of Honolulu is currently the grants development specialist at the East-West Center. She has worked in the field of higher education for nearly 40 years in Hawaii and abroad, specializing in international relations and academic affairs.

Wood’s community service includes former president and board member for Planned Parenthood of Hawaii, current board member and former chair of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii Action Network, and as a volunteer at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. Wood received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in applied communications from the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from UH Manoa.

She is the recipient of the Margaret Y. Oda Scholarship for Doctoral Students in Educational Administration and was awarded the Fulbright Grant for Administrators in International Education Seminar in Germany.

State Ethics Commission

Since its establishment in 1960, the SEC has promoted and enforced high standards of ethical conduct in state government and has preserve public confidence in public servants. Responsibilities of the commission include administering and enforcing State of Hawaii governmental ethics and lobbying laws.

The commission’s duties include issuing advisory opinions, investigating and considering charges of alleged violations of the ethics and lobbying laws, and educating state government officials and employees and the citizenry on matters relating to ethics in government.

The Office of the Governor oversees more than 180 boards and commissions established by the state constitution, statues or executive orders.

Governor Signs 229 Bills, Vetoes 7 Bills, 6 Become Law without Signature

After reviewing 245 measures passed by the 2014 Hawaii State Legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today notified legislators of his decision to veto seven bills and to allow six bills to become law without his signature.

“I am pleased to have signed 229 bills into law, continuing a year of progress that included historic legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage (Act 82) and protect hundreds of acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore from development (Act 81),” Gov. Abercrombie said. “While fewer bills reached my desk this year compared to years past, laws generated this session will have a positive impact on Hawaii and its people.”

On June 23, the Gov. Abercrombie notified the Legislature of his intent to veto 10 measures. After hearing from various legislators and members of the community, the governor vetoed the following legislation:

* Senate Bill 60 (Relating to Victims of Crimes) – While Gov. Abercrombie supports the concept of restorative justice, he objected to this bill because, as written, it does not provide adequate protection for victims of domestic violence, child sexual assault, or elder abuse from intimidation, coercion, and manipulation by the offenders.

* Senate Bill 2431 (Relating to the Hawaii Tourism Authority) – Gov. Abercrombie vetoed this legislation because it makes permanent the provision of Act 58, Session Laws of Hawaii 2004, which takes away the checks and balances that ensure transparency in the operations of Hawaii Tourism Authority that the comptroller’s account supervision provides.

* Senate Bill 2589 (Relating to Law Enforcement) – The governor agrees with the underlying objectives of the bill to transfer the harbors law enforcement functions of the Department of Transportation Harbors Division to the Department of Public Safety, but believes both departments are already working collaboratively to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and that they should be allowed more time and opportunity to administratively implement the objectives of this legislation with duties and responsibilities being resolved through a memorandum of agreement.

* Senate Bill 2874 (Relating to the Board of Land and Natural Resources) – House Bill 1618 (Relating to the Composition of the Board of Land and Natural Resources), which Gov. Abercrombie signed into law (Act 104) on June 19, is substantially similar to this measure, so there is no necessity to also approve this bill.

* House Bill 1288 (Relating to Order of Succession) – The governor objected to this measure because it does not provide for succession in the situation when the Office of the Governor becomes permanently vacant at the same time as the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, and the Senate President and the Speaker of the House belong to a political party different from that of the governor.

* House Bill 2163 (Relating to Parental Parity) – Gov. Abercrombie vetoed this bill because the rebuttable presumption that an asset given to a parent is a joint gift is vague, ambiguous and inconsistent with well-established principles guiding the parties and the courts in divorce matters.

* House Bill 2427 (Relating to the Repeal of Non-General Funds) – This measure repeals several funds, including the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) Revolving Fund, which the governor believes should be retained and used by CLEAR instead of being deposited into the General Fund.

The governor also line-item vetoed the budget bill (House Bill 1700) on June 23 in order to address an inconsistency of approximately $444 million between it and the bond authorization bill (House Bill 1712) passed by legislators that had prevented him from signing both into law. Both have since been signed.

The following measures will become law without the Gov. Abercrombie’s signature.

In some cases, the governor encouraged the Legislature to further review the measures and consider additional action during the next session:

* Senate Bill 2288 (Relating to Education)

* Senate Bill 2365 (Relating to Insurance Claims)

* Senate Bill 2470 (Relating to the Hawaii Health Connector)

* Senate Bill 2483 (Relating to Condominium Associations)

* Senate Bill 2682 (Relating to Financial Disclosure Statements)

* Senate Bill 2821 (Relating to Insurance)

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