Press Releases

LEGISLATORS FACE OFF IN FOODBANK FUNDRAISER, PUBLIC INVITED

Senator Mike Gabbard is organizing and hosting “Capitol Idol 2012” aka “Senate vs. House Talent Smack-down!”, a showcase of Legislators’ hidden talents, at 5pm on Monday, April 16 at the State Capitol Auditorium with Augie T as a guest host.

Five Senate acts and five House acts will display their talents in dancing, singing, slam poetry, juggling and more in individual and team competitions to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank. Senate contenders are Senators Mike Gabbard, Brickwood Galuteria, Josh Green, Pohai Ryan and Malama Solomon. House contenders are Representatives Tom Brower, Cindy Evans, (to be named), John Mizuno and Marcus Oshiro. The winners will earn a perpetual trophy. Admission is free. State employees may purchase scrips to vote for their favorite acts. There is no limit on the amount of scrips that one can purchase to vote.

After the competition, there will be an open mic segment of the program for legislators, staff or anyone else to perform while voting and counting occurs. This promises to be an epic showdown that you won’t want to miss! See who earns bragging rights and who slinks away in defeat!

Senator Mike Gabbard Introduces Bill to Reserve Domain Names for Hawai‘i

HONOLULU – January 31, 2012 – Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) has introduced Senate Bill 2985 to direct the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), in cooperation with the state chief information officer, to apply with the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the generic top-level domain names (gTLD) “.hawaii”, “.hi” and “.aloha”.

“It’s very important for us to apply for these top-level domain names to prevent someone from misappropriating them and possibly tarnishing the name, acronym and nickname of our state,” Senator Gabbard said.

ICANN has jurisdiction over gTLDs, such as “.com”, “.gov” and “.org”. ICANN is drastically expanding the realm of gTLDs. The application period began on January 12, 2012, and ends on April 12, 2012. The application fee is $185,000 per gTLD. In addition, state Chief Information Officer Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia has informed Senator Gabbard's office that the ongoing costs would be $165,000 annually per gTLD.

Because the application period ends on April 12, 2012, this would require an emergency appropriation from the 2011-2012 budget. DBEDT would then develop licensing procedures for approved vendors to use those gTLDs after paying a licensing fee to the state.

Senator Gabbard continued: “This could be a much-needed revenue generating measure allowing us to license the appropriate use of those top-level domain names and also help with marketing the state both on the mainland and internationally. In the near future, we could end up seeing domain names like ‘weddings.hawaii’, ‘hotels.hi’ or ‘honeymoons.aloha’.”

The text of SB 2985 can be found at this link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/bills/SB2985_.htm. For more information, contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

Legislative Informational Briefings on Climate Change and Invasive Species

HONOLULU – January 9, 2012 – The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment and the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection will be holding joint informational briefings on invasive species and on climate change. On Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 10 a.m. in the State Capitol’s room 325, the committees will be updated on invasive species threatening our environment and resources by various agencies that deal with combating invasive species. Participants will include: Coordinating Group on Alien Pet Species, Watershed Partnerships, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee, Maui Invasive Species Committee, Moloka‘i Invasive Species Committee, O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources, state Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control, state Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Branch and the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council. “It is vital to our ecosystem that we receive the most updated information on invasive species so that we can better understand how we can prevent invasive species from entering Hawai‘i and to combat those that get through in order to bring them under control,” said Senate Committee on Energy and Environment Chair Mike Gabbard.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 1 p.m. in the State Capitol’s room 325, the committees will be briefed on climate change and its impact on Hawai‘i. The following departments have been invited to provide information: UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, UH Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy, NOAA Climate Services Division and State Office of Planning. “Climate change affects our environment, our native species, our infrastructure and our very way of life. It’s crucial for us to learn the scope and ramifications of climate change in the foreseeable future so that we can plan to reduce and mitigate the resulting impacts,” said Senate Committee on Energy and Environment Chair Mike Gabbard. No public testimony will be accepted at both informational briefings.

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

Senator Gabbard Holds Tennis Clinic for Hawai'i Foodbank

HONOLULU – April 1, 2011 – Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) is holding a beginning tennis clinic to raise money for the Hawai'i Foodbank tomorrow, Saturday, April from 2:00pm to 4:30pm. The tennis clinic will take place at the Governor's tennis court at Washington Place, which is very rarely open to the public. Gabbard said, "Mahalo to the Gov and the First Lady for making the tennis court available for such a worthy cause. I thought this would be a creative way to teach people the great game of tennis and also raise money to help feed needy families. Those signing up won't get into Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, but will learn the mechanics to enjoy this wonderful sport for a lifetime. I'm hopeful we can make this an annual event."

Senator Gabbard played collegiate tennis at California State University at Sonoma and was the former head tennis pro at Kuilima Resort (now Turtle Bay Resort) in the 1970s. He also coached/played tennis throughout the South Pacific during the 1970s and 1980s. The tennis clinic is limited to 20 people and is open to people of all ages. The registration deadline is 2pm today. For any last minute registrations, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830. The minimum donation is $100 and all proceeds will benefit the Hawai'i Foodbank.

If you’re interested in covering this story, please contact Senator Gabbard’s office so we can let the Washington Place Security Office know. Senator Gabbard’s Statement on Civil Union Signing

Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) made the following statement to the media today on Governor Abercrombie’s signing of SB 232 (civil unions bill) into law:

HONOLULU – February 23, 2011 – "It's a sad day for the people of Hawai’i. Politicians have shown that they just don’t care about the views and values of the majority of Hawaii’s residents.

Civil unions is same sex marriage with a different name. Even Tim Earhart, one of the civil unions advocates, president of Dignity USA/Honolulu said the other day, “No doubt about it, it’s the equivalence of marriage.”

The people of Hawai'i made it clear that they're against civil unions and same-sex marriage and the politicians have basically said 'To hell with you.'"

GABBARDS ELECTED TO OFFICE IN HAWAI'I

HONOLULU -November 8, 2010- American Samoa native, Mike Gabbard, was re-elected as a Hawai’i State Senator with 74% of the vote on November 2nd. Senator Gabbard was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and represents District #19, which is comprised of the West Oahu communities of Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale and portions of Waipahu and Ko Olina.

Senator Gabbard will continue serving as the Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee and Vice Chair of Transportation and International Affairs--posts he’s held since November 2008.

Gabbard said, "I’m humbled to have this opportunity to continue serving the people of West Oahu and the rest of the state. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot working together over the last 4 years, but there’s still much more work to be done in our growing community.”

Senator Gabbard previously served as a Honolulu City Councilman (Ewa, Kapolei, Waianae Coast) from 2003 to 2005. He was born to Benjamin Harrison Gabbard and Agnes Yandall Gabbard of Leloaloa and lived in American Samoa from 1971-1983. During this time, Gabbard taught at Faga’itua and Samoana High School, and served at American Samoa Community College as a guidance counselor, Assistant Dean of Instruction and Dean of Adult and Community Education.

His daughter, Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, also a native of American Samoa was elected as a Honolulu City Councilwoman for District 6, which encompasses the areas of Honolulu from Kalihi to Makiki..

Councilwoman-elect Gabbard Tamayo said, “My parents taught me the importance of service-that serving others and making a positive impact on people's lives is the most rewarding thing you can do with your life. I took this to heart, and have tried to live my life centered around this service attitude. It’s an honor to have this opportunity to get in there and make a positive difference for the people of Honolulu.”

In 2002 at the age of 21, Gabbard Tamayo became the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history when she won her election as State Representative. Since that time, she has risen to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Hawai'i Army National Guard, earning top awards and accolades in training and in combat while serving on two Middle East deployments (2004-2006 and 2008-2009). Additionally, she worked as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington D.C., where she assisted him with issues relating to veterans affairs, energy and natural resources, and homeland security.

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

MAJORITY OF STATE SENATORS SEND PRO-RAIL LETTER TO GOVERNOR

HONOLULU -March 11, 2010- A majority of State Senators signed a letter that was delivered to Governor Linda Lingle today urging her to review and accept the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in a timely manner once the document is released by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The letter was spearheaded by Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19 – West Oahu) and stated, "Considering the many years of study and public input, it doesn't make sense to delay this project from moving forward. Our opinion is seconded by the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, neither of which sees anything at this point to preclude us from making rail transit a reality. The longer we delay Oahu's economic recovery, the longer we leave our working families unemployed and struggling during the prolonged recession."

The letter was signed by the following 13 Senators: Mike Gabbard, Will Espero, Clarence Nishihara, Michelle Kidani, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Gary Hooser, Brickwood Galuteria, Roz Baker, David Ige, Jill Tokuda, Bobby Bunda, Norman Sakamoto, and Shan Tsutsui.
A similar letter signed by 39 members of the state House of Representatives was presented to Governor Lingle on February 10, 2010.

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

Hawaiian Electric’s Solar Moratorium

HONOLULU -February 24, 2010- Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair, Committee on Energy and Environment

Prohibiting Hawai'i’s homeowners and businesses from installing solar energy systems on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i is not in the public interest. In fact, it is directly at odds with the interests of the families and small business owners that my colleagues and I represent.

Today’s solar and other types of renewable energy systems being installed directly on homes and businesses are a glimpse into a future that is not far off. These efforts by thousands of individuals committing to a clean energy future are a crucial part of the solution to Hawai'i’s energy problems and should not be discouraged by our utilities.

Hawai'i’s energy security situation is dire – we are incredibly vulnerable to oil price spikes and supply disruptions that are charged to utility customers, who must simply pay their bill no matter how high it rises. Furthermore, as an island chain, we are exposed to sea level rise and other consequences of global warming that threaten the way of life that we are so fortunate to enjoy. If Hawai'i – which has so much to lose - cannot move decisively to address its own impact on climate change we cannot credibly expect others to do the same.

Meanwhile, in these challenging economic times when Hawai'i needs jobs more than ever, the solar industry is creating green jobs for working families. It is one of the few industries that have survived the economic downturn relatively unscathed. There is no doubt that Hawaiian Electric’s proposal will put solar contractors out of business and this is simply unacceptable in the current environment.

On a more personal level, my district has world-class solar potential and at the same time folks are paying as much as $600 per month for electricity for their homes. I'm concerned that Oahu could possibly be next in line for this PV ban, and I’m not willing to stand by and watch Hawaiian Electric remove the one off-ramp that these families have to reduce their electricity bills.

As Chair of the Senate's Energy and Environment Committee, it's clear to me that our efforts to convert Hawai'i to renewable energy cannot succeed if we allow the utilities to have veto power over which plans and projects get selected. The Hawaiian Electric companies must begin living up to their responsibilities as public utilities and stop acting in opposition to the interests of the citizens of our state.

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

SENATOR GABBARD DEMANDS GOVERNOR ADDRESS H1N1 VACCINE SHORTAGE

HONOLULU -December 13, 2009- Hawai‘i State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) demanded today that Governor Linda Lingle and the Department of Health (DOH) take swift action to get more H1N1 vaccine into the hands of doctors for high-risk patients.

Gabbard said, "We're in the middle of a pandemic and people who need the vaccine to protect themselves and their families can't even get it. Basically, what we've got right now are bureaucrats standing between patients and their physicians. We’ve already had 11 deaths in Hawai’i. People's lives are at stake here, so we have to stop fooling around."

Gabbard’s first main point was that he has been contacted by constituents, doctors, and others in the medical community who are very frustrated with the DOH's current vaccine distribution system which has been plagued by problems. Doctors have complained that they've had little to no input in how the vaccine is being distributed, that there’s been a lack of transparency in the distribution process, and that a disproportionate amount of vaccine has gone to pharmacies.

Gabbard continued, "Secondly, why can’t we get more vaccine to Hawai’i now? We’ve received two thirds of our original allocation. Where’s the other third? Also, Director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says about 85 million doses of swine flu vaccine are now available. In addition, Fourteen states have so much H1N1 vaccine right now that they no longer have to reserve it for priority groups, but are instead making it available to anyone that wants it. My questions are why haven't we gotten our fair share and why isn't the Governor fighting for us?”

Gabbard concluded, “Now that the shortage of vaccine on the mainland has eased, the Governor and her team at DOH should be demanding that the CDC direct it to us. There’s absolutely no excuse for pregnant women, chronically ill patients, and young children to go another day without having the protection of being vaccinated. Given that our flu season will most likely peak after the Christmas holidays, it’s critical that we act quickly. No excuses. Everyone is saying how unpredictable this virus is. The Governor and DOH bureaucrats should be aggressive advocates for the people. To summarize: 1) Stop standing between patients and their doctors and 2) Get more vaccine from the mainland now.”

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

SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT TO CONDUCT BRIEFING ON ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL CONTROVERSY

Council has lost three members, deferred further work because of lack of support.

HONOLULU -September 29, 2009- Hawai‘i State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), chair of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and the Environment, will convene an information briefing to gather information on the operations of the state’s Environmental Council, which has lost three members to resignation since April, and recently announced that it would defer further work until it receives adequate support from the State Department of Health.

The briefing will be held on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 1:00 p.m., in State Capitol Room 016.

“The Environmental Council serves important statutory functions,” said Senator Gabbard. “I think we have a responsibility to find out how we have reached the point that a lack of support from the administration has caused council members to quit, and forced the council to defer all further action.”

By statute, the Environmental Council is attached to the State Department of Health for administrative purposes.

In April 2009, former Environmental Council chair Robert King resigned from the council, expressing his frustration over the lack of support offered by the Lingle administration. In May 2009, council members David Bylund and Wade Lord also resigned, citing similar reasons.

In August 2009, Gail Grabowsky, chair of the Environmental Council, informed Laurence Lau, Deputy Director of the State Department of Health, that all further meetings of the council and its standing committees would be postponed until “the conditions to conduct a successful Council meeting have been met.” In particular, Grabowsky’s letter cited inadequate meeting rooms, non-functioning video conferencing equipment (which had been intended to eliminate the cost of flying council members to meetings), insufficient staff support, and “extremely slow” appointments to fill vacancies on the council.

On September 8, 2009, Senator Gabbard sent a letter to Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Department of Health, expressing his concern over the challenges facing the Environmental Council. “I stand in complete support of the Environmental Council, its charge, and the services it provides to our community,” Gabbard said in the letter, “and share a commitment to seeing that it has the resources it requires to fulfill its mission.” He has not received a response from the Department of Health.

“My intention in sending that letter was to find out of how we reached this point,” Gabbard said. “We all know that the state is facing funding challenges, so how do we solve the problem? Where are the collaborative solutions that will let the Environmental Council achieve its very important objectives, at a price the state can afford to pay? The administration didn’t respond, so now it is time for us to go out and ask questions. And we will keep asking until we get answers.”

Those expected to testify at the briefing include Gail Grabowsky, chair of the Environmental Council, as well as representatives of the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law, Life of the Land, the Office of Environmental Quality Control, and the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. One or more of the council members who have resigned may also appear.

For more information online: VIEW BRIEFING

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

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