Press Releases


Honolulu (April 11, 2014) – Everyone’s got talent, right? We’ll see about that at Capitol Idol II: The Return of Capitol Idol, a government talent show fundraiser for the Hawai‘i Foodbank, featuring a handful of brave government leaders from the executive and legislative branches. Members of the Senate, House and executive branch will sing, dance, and showcase other talents to win the applause of audience members on Monday, April 14 from 5-7 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. Admission is FREE. The event is hosted by Senator Mike Gabbard, with Champ Kaneshiro, of The Champ Show on OC16, emceeing.

The first Capitol Idol was held in 2012, with Rep. Marcus Oshiro (aka “Madame Moshiro”) stealing the show. People are still talking about the lady in the red dress today. However, the word lingering about Capitol hallways is that the Senate will definitely be rocking the House this year. Individual and Senate/House perpetual trophies are at stake, but more importantly, bragging rights go to the winners for a year.

“We hope to see lots of smiling faces in the audience this year,” said Gabbard. “We want to surpass what we raised last year and encourage everyone to dig deep and support this very worthy cause. You won’t be disappointed in the show.”

Competing from the executive branch are Linda Rosen, Director of the Dept. of Health; Keali‘i Lopez, Director of the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Maria Zielinksi, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Accounting and General Services; Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation; Keone Kali, Chief Information Officer; Joshua Wisch, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Taxation; Jesse Souki, Deputy Director of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources; and Blake Oshiro, Deputy Chief of Staff.

In the House’s corner, Reps. Lauren Cheap Matsumoto and Ken Ito will take the stage on behalf of their 51 members.

Representing the Senate are Sens. Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard and Malama Solomon. In addition, a group called Da Kolohe Bruddahs, given their name, will surely rouse laughter in the auditorium. The group wishes to remain anonymous, so the only way to find out who they are is to attend.

Although this is a FREE event, it is also a fundraiser to raise money for the Hawaii Food Bank. Therefore, state employees are encouraged to donate $1 for a scrip worth one vote. Per the State Ethics Commission, only state employees can purchase scrips.

Votes (scrips) from the audience will determine the winner. Scrips can be picked up in Gabbard’s office, Capitol Room 201, until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 14. After 5 p.m., scrips can be picked up in Capitol Room 016 until 15 minutes after the end of the show. There is no limit on the number of scrips that a state employee can purchase. And people can vote for their favorites as much as they wish.



Date: March 7, 2014

“On Wednesday, I went on a tour of the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility with other legislators to see first-hand the situation with the recent fuel leak on January 13th. Today, we heard from the U.S. Navy, the Department of Health, and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply during an informational briefing at the Capitol. We definitely appreciated the openness of the Navy and have learned much about the current situation with the leak of 27,000 gallons of fuel. Our main goal is to work toward a situation where we can hopefully prevent any future leaks, so that we can ensure the safety of our water supply and the surrounding environment. This will require a major, ongoing effort by all agencies involved.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee



Date: March 7, 2014

Joint Senate-House informational briefing to provide an update on Ka Hei, the Department of Education’s five-year comprehensive sustainability energy program.

Given the interest in renewable energy and technology in the effort to create a master cooling strategy for all schools, a discussion of measures such as SB2424 SD2 is expected.

Capitol TV will broadcast this informational briefing live statewide on ‘Ōlelo channel 49.

Monday, March 10, 2014
2:00 p.m.

Hawaii State Capitol
Room 309

The Senate Committee on Education; the House Committee on Education; the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; and the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection

The following have been invited to speak: Hawaii Department of Education (DOE); Chevron Hawaii; the University of Hawaii’s Natural Energy Institute; and the State Energy Office of the Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)



Honolulu (February 14, 2014) Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, today announced that Hawai‘i lawmakers are taking action to protect and inform the public through an informational briefing on the Navy fuel leak situation and its impacts on our water resources.

Committees on subject matters relating to energy and environment, health, and public safety and military affairs from both the Senate and House will sit down with Navy officials and other relevant government agencies (to be announced at a later date) to learn more about the situation: how it happened, what are the impacts, and what's being done to ensure it doesn't happen again.

The joint Senate-House informational briefing is scheduled for Friday, March 7, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Hawai'i State Capitol in Room 329.


WHO: Rep. Chris Lee, Chair, House Energy & Environmental Protection Committee
Sen. Mike Gabbard, Chair, Senate Energy & Environment Committee

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Monday, January, 27, 2014
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Fourth Floor Lanai
Hawaii State Capitol

Representative Chris Lee and Senator Mike Gabbard have introduced measures in both houses addressing issues relating to ocean-harbor spills in the aftermath of the September 2013 molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor and will be holding a joint press conference. The bills address emergency response, reporting, and oversight responsibilities for state agencies involved in marine spills.



HONOLULU – January 7, 2014 – The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, chaired by Senator Mike Gabbard, and the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee, will host an informational briefing on problems caused by invasive species on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in Conference Room 225 in the State Capitol.

The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch will bring examples of invasive species, such as little fire ants and strawberry guava. They will also display Brazilian scale, a biocontrol agent for invasive strawberry guava; Madagascan Fireweed Moth, a biocontrol agent for invasive fireweed; an African wasp, a biocontrol agent for the invasive Erythrina Gall Wasp which attacks wiliwili trees; and native collector urchins, a biocontrol agent for invasive algae.

Presentations will be made by:

· Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species
· Hawaii Invasive Species Council
· Department of Agriculture - Plant Quarantine Branch
· Island-based Invasive Species Committees
· Department of Land and Natural Resources - Division of Forestry & Wildlife
· Department of Land and Natural Resources - Division of Aquatic Resources
· Department of Agriculture - Plant Pest Control Branch

Here is a link to the hearing notice:

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard Regarding Hawaiian Electric's Decision to Grandfather PV Solar Customers Held Up by Their Recent Policy Changes

Honolulu, November 27, 2013 – Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate of the Energy and Environment Committee, made the following statement regarding Hawaiian Electric's decision to grandfather PV solar customers held up by their recent policy changes.

"I commend both Hawaiian Electric and the solar industry for sitting down and talking story over the last several weeks to find a solution for those solar PV customers who've been held up from getting their systems connected to the grid. This was the only fair thing to do, considering many of these folks already had a PV system on their roof, but weren't getting the benefit of reducing their electricity bills. I'm hopeful these constructive talks will continue to ensure that the solar industry keeps growing, the grid stays reliable, and homes & businesses continue having the opportunity to go solar in a timely and low-cost manner."


Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard Regarding Solar PV Interconnection Hearing

(Honolulu, October 14, 2013) The Energy & Environmental Protection, Energy & Environment, Consumer Protection & Commerce, and Commerce & Consumer Protection committees held an informational briefing today at the State Capitol to discuss recent changes to Hawaiian Electric Company’s solar PV grid interconnection policies.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, issued this statement after the hearing:

“One positive result of today’s discussion is that HECO has made the decision to allow 228 customers who already had a PV contract before these interconnection changes to go ahead and connect to the grid. But we’re still faced with the huge problem that PV installations on O‘ahu are virtually at a standstill. This means the solar industry is laying off people during its busiest time of the year and homeowners and businesses can’t move forward with installing PV to lower their electricity costs. I’ve asked HECO and the solar industry to report back to the Legislature by November 14th on the progress they’ve made in coming up with a solution.”


Legislators Want to Know Impact on Consumers and Solar Industry

WHO: House and Senate Committees on Energy and Environment and Consumer Protection

WHAT: Informational Briefing

WHEN: Monday, October 14, 2013, 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawai‘i State Capitol Conference, Room 325

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) will update legislators on recent changes to its solar photovoltaic grid interconnection policies, the justification for the changes and how they will affect consumers and solar installers.

HECO, the Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association, Hawai‘i PV Coalition and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council will offer presentations.


Senator Mike Gabbard Applauds Governor for Enacting “PV Renter” Bill

Date: July 3, 2013

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure to encourage renewable energy generation on rental and leased property.

Senate Bill (SB) 19, enacted as Act 261, removes the barriers for landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems for their tenants and lessees by removing them from the definition of what constitutes a public utility.

“I'm a big supporter of distributed generation - generating electricity where it's used. That's why I introduced SB 19 to get rid of the barriers to allowing renters to also access PV. Renters make up 40% of our population, so it's huge that they'll now be able to lower their electricity bills but without having to pay the upfront cost,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment.

SB 19 will allow landlords and lessors to install renewable energy systems on their property and then sell that electricity to their tenants or lessees on the premises. The bill requires that the electricity rate charged must be lower than that charged by the utility and be included as a provision in the lease.

Gabbard continued, "These energy savings will greatly benefit our renters, including those in Kalaeloa who are faced with a steep electricity hike recently announced by the Navy. It will also open up a great investment opportunity for places like Ala Moana Center that could put up a big PV system and then sell the electricity to the different stores in the mall."
The bill went into effect immediately upon receiving the signature of the Governor today.