Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Dec. 13, 2013

Ka`u High & Pahala Elementary School is one of five Big Island schools where students are unable to access campus libraries during school hours, unless accompanied by a teacher, because there is no school librarian. The library is also a place where anyone can
follow the state legislature online. Photo from Hawai`i State Library System
“THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE in the legislative process are you and me,” said Suzanne Marinelli at a workshop on how the public can participate in lawmaking and tracking legislation in Hawai`i. Marinelli, who heads Hawai`i’s Public Access Room at the state Legislature, said that in order for the process to work, “the Legislature needs you to add your voice.” She suggested that the best time to talk to state representatives and senators is when the Legislature is not in session, when they are in their districts rather than at the Capitol in Honolulu. That time is now. The 2014 Hawai`i State Legislature begins Wednesday, Jan. 15. 
      Martinelli noted that Hawai`i has the most transparent legislative process in the country in that anyone, even in a remote place like Ka`u, can go online at capitol.hawaii.gov to testify and search for any word, from surfing to taxes, and find out all the legislation proposed and where it is in the process. Those without computers can go to Pahala Library, which has many computers for public use.
      As well as talking with their senators and representatives, members of the public can also discuss issues with others involved in the legislative process. Marinelli suggested finding out who is on committees that would be involved in an issue and contact them. For example, if someone has an idea for a law regarding traffic, that person could contact members of the Transportation and Public Safety Committees.
      Marinelli also said it’s good to get to know representatives’ and senators’ staff members.
      She also gave tips on submitting testimony for bills:
  • Testimony can be submitted at capitol.hawaii.gov
  • Call or write a letter instead of emailing. 
  • If sending email, include your name. 
  • Be brief, clear and to the point. 
  • Direct testimony to the relevant committee. 
  • Instead of following a form letter, use your own words. 
  • Explain your position and why it matters. 
  • Include return address or contact information.
      The workshop included an overview of the Legislature’s website at capitol.hawaii.gov, where the public can find a wealth of information on current and past Legislatures, track measures and sign up for email notification of progress of measures as they go through the legislative process.
Hawai`i State Legislature's website at capitol.hawaii.gov offers a wealth of information
for citizens who want to follow the upcoming legislative session.
       Marinelli encouraged the public to be persistent, pointing out that during each two-year legislative cycle, a bill that did not make it through the first session automatically comes up for reconsideration in the second year. If it doesn’t make it through the second year, then it dies. Even then, it is possible to continue trying to have an idea considered in future sessions. “Bills die, but ideas never die,” Marinelli said.
      Among those who attended the workshop were Ka`u Farm Bureau vice president Phil Becker, Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative and Friends of Ka`u Libraries member Ann Fontes, South Point Road resident Paul Komara of No GMOs Hawai`i, Ka`u Scenic Byway committee member Lynn Hamilton and former head of the local Democratic party Sara Witt.
      PAR’s website is hawaii.gov/lrb/par. For more information, call 974-4000 x 7-0478 or email par@capitol.hawaii.gov
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

LIMITED PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT ACCESS to Pahala Public & School Library and other Big Island libraries is the topic of a story in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. The library is part of the state library system, and because the school has no school librarian, “students are unable to visit the libraries during normal school hours unless accompanied by a teacher or school administrator,” the story says. 
      According to reporter Megan Moseley, funding of a school librarian position is decided by each school’s administrators, and funding comes from the Department of Education. While Hawai`i State Public Library System is separate from the DOE, but both institutions report to the Board of Education.
      Moseley said Hawai`i Island BOE representative Brian De Lima was aware of a similar situation at Pahoa, where “they have a public library that’s attached to the school, and it presents some challenges for that school, and is something we really need to take a look at,” he said.
   According to the story, De Lima later said he was not aware of any complaints concerning availability of the libraries at the other four schools discussed in the story, including the Pahala campus. “The only concerns that have been raised have been at Pahoa, and issues haven’t come up elsewhere,” he said.
      The subject had previously come up during the 2012 state Legislature, when the state was considering transferring Pahala Public & School Library from the state library system to the DOE. In her testimony, Ka`u High & Pahala Elementary School principal Sharon Beck said, “When the school could no longer afford to fund the librarian’s position, the library would not allow students to use the facility without DOE personnel accompanying them.”   
      Pahala Public & School Library, which had until recently been open 15 hours a week, is now open 34 hours a week. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
      See hawaiitribune-herald.com.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono 
PROVIDING EXPEDITED TAX RELIEF for Americans making charitable donations in support of Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts in the Philippines is the purpose of the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation co-introduced by U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono. The bill is intended to spur donations to charitable organizations by allowing taxpayers who donate to the relief efforts to receive tax benefits nearly a year faster than usual.

      “With up to 6,000 casualties, almost 1,800 missing people and more than a million destroyed houses in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, it is clear that our work to help this community rebuild is not over,” Hirono said. “We simply cannot wait to support recovery efforts in the Philippines. To help all families during the holiday, the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will boost charitable giving by providing tax relief this year for those who donate to help communities rebuild homes, schools and roads.”
      Edmund Aczon, chair of the Filipino Community Center Board of Directors, sent a mahalo to Hirono and her colleagues for encouraging Americans to contribute this holiday season. “It has been truly heartbreaking to witness the death and destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Many families are still struggling to rebuild their lives, facing displacement and hunger. Everybody can make a difference, even if it’s donating just a little bit.”
      Taxpayers can claim a tax deduction for contributions they make to charities, but they receive the tax incentive many months later after they file their tax returns the following year. The Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act would eliminate this delay by allowing taxpayers who donate to the relief efforts in the Philippines before March 1, 2014 to take the charitable deduction when they file their 2013 tax returns.
      Original co-sponsors of the bill also include Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Arlene Araki and Dick Hershberger sing and play horn for Ka`u Chamber
of Commerce last night in Ocean View. Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE held a meeting and Christmas celebration for the public yesterday at Tiki Mama’s in Ocean View, featuring Christmas music with baritone horn, trumpet, accordions, baritone `ukulele, washboard bass and electric bass, drums and piano. A general membership meeting will be announced for January, when The Directory 2014, the Ka`u phone, business and community organization guidebook, will be presented and distributed, said Chamber president Dallas Decker.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE LATEST draft document for the Ka`u Community Development Plan is due this Monday, Dec. 16. Appendix V4C: Local Economic Development Plan Analysis is available to read at area libraries and community centers and online at kaucdp.info. The public can submit testimony using feedback forms found with the reference documents and on the website.
      The appendix discusses opportunities in various sectors of Ka`u’s economy, including construction.
      While the construction sector is still struggling, particularly with new homes, and “it is unlikely any immediate substantive increase in jobs related to construction will be seen in Ka`u, there may be limited opportunities” in this economic sector, according to the analysis. The draft document mentions the possibility of an increase in home remodeling, both from local residents and secondary homeowners.
      Another area of construction possibilities may come from growth in other sectors including renewable energy, health and wellness, education and research, visitor and retail, the document states. 
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

BIG ISLAND POTTERS TR ANDREWS, Ron Hanatani, Shannon Hickey and Carol Yamashita show and sell a variety of their functional and sculptural work at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus on the lawn beside Hale Ho`omana from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. tomorrow during the Second Saturday Volcano Pottery Sale. 

THY WORD MINISTRIES PRESENTS CHRISTMAS IN KA`U tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Na`alehu Hongwanji. The event offers free lunch plates while supplies last, live entertainment and a craft fair.

OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION’S Keiki Christmas Party begins at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7033 for more information.

PARTICIPANTS LEARN ABOUT THE VITAL ROLE of `ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the `ohi`a lehua tree and its flower Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Bring lunch to this free program. Call 985-6011 for more information.



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