Press Releases

SEN. GABBARD GIVES KEYNOTE SPEECH AT AM. SAMOA CONFERENCE

HONOLULU -July 21, 2008- Senator Mike Gabbard just returned from the 25th Annual Pacific Educational Conference (PEC) in Pago Pago, American Samoa where he delivered the keynote speech during the opening festivities on July 14th.

Gabbard said, "As a life-long educator and native of American Samoa, it was a great honor to come back and speak at the 25th anniversary of the PEC. My speech focused on Kapolei High School's Career Academies and the Malama Learning Center. Both of these exciting Kapolei-based programs can be tweaked and replicated to help improve education all over the Pacific Islands."

PEC, the largest educational conference in the Western Pacific, brought together close to 1,000 participants during the July 14–17 event. Past hosts for the PEC include Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Pohnpei, Palau, Marshall Islands, Chuuk, and Rota. The PEC was co-sponsored by the American Samoa Department of Education, American Samoa Community College, and the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. The theme for this year's PEC was The Pacific Child: A Legacy of Community, Culture, and Art.

Senator Gabbard was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa in 1948 and lived in American Samoa from 1971-1983. During this time, he 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.

Upon returning to Hawaii, Senator Gabbard commented, "You know, every election year, we hear politicians talk about improving our schools. But it’s time, we start walking the talk and do what needs to be done to help our children be, who and what they want to be. If American education is in crisis, as many people think, then it’s time for us to get serious about making improvements. If we want our children of the Pacific to grow up knowing who they are, and be well-rounded citizens who actively contribute to their communities, why not start with paying teachers a decent wage, so they don’t have to get two part time jobs to make ends meet."

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.


At the conclusion of the 25th Annual Pacific Educational Conference, Senator Mike Gabbard was presented with a commemorative plaque from (L to R) Dr. Thomas Barlow, the President and CEO of the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, and Dr. Claire Poumele, the Director of the American Samoa Department of Education.

GOVERNOR SIGNS SEN. GABBARD'S BILL TO STEM "ICE" FLOW

HONOLULU -June 18, 2008- Senator Mike Gabbard applauds Governor Linda Lingle's decision to sign a bill he introduced to reduce the prevalence of "ice" in Hawaii communities.

Gabbard said, "This new law will close a loophole in our current legal system and allow law enforcement to better track those criminals who go store to store 'smurfing' – buying products with pseudoephedrine with the intention of making 'ice'."

SB 2373, now Act 184, requires pharmacies and retailers to maintain an electronic logbook for sales of products containing pseudoephedrine and send it to the Department of Public Safety every 30 days. All pharmacies and retailers will have until January 1, 2010 to comply with the law.

Gabbard continued, "Back in March of this year, DEA officers busted 'ice' dealers in my district, Royal Kunia, with 50 pounds of 'ice' with a street value of over $1 million. This is one of the largest drug busts in Hawaii history. And with busts like this, it's obvious we need to have the proper tools in place to prevent an increase in 'ice' labs."

In 2006, Hawaii passed a law to allow people to buy no more than 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine at one time and only 9 grams per month. However, there was nothing in the law to prevent people from going store to store to buy the products.

Act 184 creates a class C felony penalty for any person who is guilty of knowingly purchasing, possessing, or receiving more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine without a valid prescription within a 30-day period. It also establishes a misdemeanor and the immediate license suspension for any retailer who intentionally or knowingly fails to transmit information on the electronic log.

Forty states have passed laws regulating pseudoephedrine sales. Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have passed laws similar to Act 184.

For more information on SB 2373 (Act 184), please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

SENATOR GABBARD'S BILL TO RID OUR BEACHES OF ATVs ON TO GOVERNOR'S DESK

HONOLULU -May 1,2008- A bill to give the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) greater enforcement powers to protect Hawaii's public lands and beaches has passed both chambers of the State Legislature and now heads to the Governor's desk for her signature.

Senator Mike Gabbard authored and introduced SB 1891 last year after receiving complaints from people statewide and reading media reports about the problem of ATVs and other vehicles driving on our beaches. These vehicles have created a public safety hazard, cause destruction to our natural ecosystem, and can potentially desecrate sacred burial grounds.

"This bill is about giving DLNR officers the tools they need to better protect people and the environment from ATV and 4 X 4 owners who choose to be reckless and use our beaches for sport," said Gabbard. "Our beaches are beautiful places where families go to rest and relax. They shouldn't have to be constantly looking over their shoulders and worrying about being mowed down by an ATV."

SB 1891 would establish criminal penalties (petty misdemeanor) for violations on public lands. The bill would allow DLNR Enforcement officers to issue criminal citations, arrest violators, and confiscate vehicles. Fines would be $500 for the 1st offense, $1,000 for the 2nd offense, and $2,000 for the 3rd or any additional offenses. This bill would also allow DLNR to address other violations on public lands, such as setting unpermitted fires and illegal dumping.

The Governor has until July 8th to either sign the bill into law, allow the bill to become law without her signature, or to veto.

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

STATE SENATE BREAKS RECORD IN DONATIONS TO HAWAII FOODBANK

HONOLULU -April 30, 2008- The Hawaii Foodbank was presented with $11,922 and well over 5,000 pounds of food at an event held at the State Capitol today by Senator Mike Gabbard, his colleagues and Senate staffers.

Gabbard said, “We started with the modest goal of raising $5,000 and bringing in 1,500 pounds of food. We were totally blown away by the excitement and outpouring of aloha shown for this very worthy cause.”

The Hawaii State Senate has been active in raising money and collecting food for the Hawaii Foodbank's Annual Food Drive every year since it all began in 1990. This year was record-breaking for both food and monetary donations. The Senate had a friendly competition among the different offices and various incentives along the way to earn points for helping in this year's food drive. The Senate Minority Research office finished first with 15,175 points, Senator Ron Menor’s office placed 2nd with 10,510 points and Senator David Ige’s office came in 3rd with 9,260 points.

Gabbard continued, “I know that the donations to the Hawaii Foodbank this year have been less than what is needed, so I’m hopeful that our efforts help to bridge the gap. Mahalo to everyone who participated in making our fundraising efforts an outstanding success.”

As part of the incentive to motivate the other Senate offices, Senator Gabbard offered prizes to the winners: 2 tickets on board the Star of Honolulu whale watching and luncheon cruise ship, a gift basket of assorted goodies from the Gabbard ohana, and a private gourmet lunch prepared by Senator Gabbard and his wife, Carol.

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. Please contact his office at 586-6830 for more information.

COMMUNITY GROUP PRESENTS GE LABELING, FARM NOTIFICATION PETITION TO SEN. GABBARD

HONOLULU -February 24, 2008- Members of a newly formed ad-hoc community group, Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice presented Senator Mike Gabbard with over 4,000 signatures gathered through a statewide petition at a news conference at the State Capitol today.

The petition urges state lawmakers to pass important legislation (SB 3232) which would require all genetically engineered (GE) whole foods sold in Hawaii to be labeled and (SB3233), which would compel biotech companies to identify the location of test plots and production of GE crops.

Gabbard said, "The main thing about this issue is that we live in a democracy where people have the right to know what we put in our bodies. National statistics show that up to 94% of people want GE foods labeled. Even Senators Obama and Clinton have weighed in favoring the labeling of GE foods. And here locally, a recent study done by UH shows that 85% of Hawaii residents think it’s important that GE fruit be labeled.”

“The second bill,” Gabbard said, “is meant to give people more information on what's happening on our lands. It’s actually a “good neighbor” bill because those who are growing GE crops would be required to report their location to the Department of Agriculture (DOA), who would post this information on their website, thus making it readily available to the public.”

Hawaii Citizens for Food Choice was started less than a month ago by Kailua resident, Penelope Perez. Ms. Perez said, "I read an article in the paper about these bills and was motivated to get involved. I'm a single mom and don't have a lot of time on my hands, but I feel strongly that I've got the right to know what I'm eating and what I’m feeding my son. Frankly, I couldn't believe how easy it was to get this many signatures.”

Gabbard thanked the group for getting involved in the process. He said, “The results of these petitions make it even clearer that the people of Hawaii want to be able to choose whether they eat GE foods or not. Labeling is the only way to provide that option. Both of these bills are really about democracy and letting the public know that our elected officials are listening to them.
We’re hopeful and confident that the voices of Hawaii’s people will be heard."

SB 3232 and SB 3233 have been referred to the Senate Agriculture/Hawaiian Affairs and Senate Energy/Environment committees. Both bills must be passed out of the committees by Thursday, February 28th.

Senator Gabbard represents District 19, which includes Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina. For more information about this legislation, contact his office at 586-6830.

New Entertainment and Sports Office Introduced by Sen. Gabbard

HONOLULU -February 6, 2008- A proposal to create a new state agency that would promote the entertainment and sports industries of Hawaii has been introduced by Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 19- Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina).

"With the success of the UH football program and the Lost TV show, it's critical that we take advantage of this opportunity," Gabbard said. "Over 325 states and cities in the U.S. have had success in creating authorities and commissions. We should be positioning ourselves as a center for these important industries in the Pacific region and Asia."

SB 2362 would establish an Entertainment and Sports Authority with the goal of marketing, promoting, developing, and coordinating entertainment and sports-related activities and events in the state.

The Authority would be housed in the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism and have a policy-making board similar in structure to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Funding for the agency would come from the Transient Accommodation Tax, legislative appropriations, gifts and grants, and interests and revenues generated by the Authority.

Gabbard envisions the Entertainment and Sports Authority acting as a clearinghouse to bring together all of Hawaii's entertainment and sports-related businesses, clubs, trade associations, and government agencies to maximize their potential growth and development.

"The Authority would help these industries establish their own voice in promoting our state to the rest of the world," Gabbard continued. "Given that the U.S. sports industry alone is worth over $200 billion, the potential is enormous."

SB 2362 will be heard by the Senate Economic Development and Taxation/Tourism and Government Operations committees on Thursday, February 7th at 1:15pm in Conference Room 229 at the State Capitol. The bill can be accessed by visiting the State Capitol website at this link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2008/bills/SB2362_.htm.

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

GE Labeling, Farm Notification Bills Introduced by Senator Gabbard

HONOLULU -January 25, 2008- Food labeling and farm notification bills related to genetically engineered (GE) crops, also known as genetically modified organisms – GMOs, have been introduced in the Hawaii State Legislature by Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 19- Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Portions of Waipahu and Ko 'Olina.)

Senate Bill 3232 would require labeling for all GE whole foods sold in Hawaii (fruits and vegetables in their raw or natural state). Senate Bill 3233 would require companies to reveal the location of test plots and production of GE crops.

“These bills are about consumer choice,” says Gabbard. “People have a right to know what food they put in their bodies and what is happening on our lands, and they should be informed.”

Gabbard said his bills reflect the wishes of almost all Hawaii residents. A local study published last year by a professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo showed that 85% of the people surveyed felt it was important that genetically modified fruits be labeled. Gabbard says this finding confirms polls conducted on the mainland, which concluded that an overwhelming majority of people favor the labeling of GE foods.

"The bottom line is that people have the right to choose whether they eat a GE papaya or not,” he explains. “And, they have the right to know whether a company is testing GE crops nearby.”

Knowing the location of GE test fields is of particular concern to organic and conventional farmers worried about the potential for GE contamination of their crops. Their concern is understandable, says Gabbard. “With over 4,000 permits having been issued to conduct GE testing in the state, Hawaii is one of the primary biotech research and development centers on the planet.”

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

Gabbard Announces Extended hours for Barbers Point Post Office during the Christmas Holidays

HONOLULU -November 9, 2007– Senator Mike Gabbard announced today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has agreed to extend the hours at Barbers Point Post Office during the Christmas Holidays. From December 1 to 24, post office hours will be 9:00am – 3:45pm, Monday – Friday, and 9am – 12pm on Saturdays.

"It's great news to hear that USPS listened to the community and added hours to their operations", said Gabbard. "During the Christmas Season, the Barbers Point and Kapolei post offices are jam packed with people trying to mail gifts to their loved ones. These extra hours at Barbers Point will be a welcome relief."

Gabbard had launched a petition drive in early 2007 after USPS made their November 6, 2006 decision to scale back weekday hours at Barbers Point Post Office from 9am – 4:00pm to 9:00 – 12:00pm.

Gabbard continued, "I got many calls and emails from concerned Kapolei and Kalaeloa residents who were upset with the decision. We were able to get over 1,000 residents to sign our petition in support of extending the hours and this definitely helped our cause."

In addition to the extended Christmas hours, Post Office Operations Manager, Mr. Greg Wolny, wrote in a November 5, 2007 letter to Senator Gabbard that "effective Saturday, November 10th residents can bring their 'Late Notice' slips to Barbers Point Station rather than drive to Kapolei to pick up their mail." This second change will also be big improvement for area residents and will be permanent.

If you would like more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830

Gabbard Announces Kaleiopuu Elementary School to participate in Operation Caring Classroom National School Initiative.

HONOLULU -November 2, 2007- Senator Mike Gabbard announced today that Kaleiopuu Elementary School in Village Park has been selected as the only school in the state participating in the 2nd Annual Operation Caring Classroom national school initiative.

Operation Caring Classroom is sponsored by the Armed Forces Foundation and has the goal of remembering and supporting military children during a week long celebration from November 5th to 9th, leading up to Veteran's Day. This year the program was launched by U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, and will involve one school from every state in the country.

"It's great to see the students at Kaleiopuu Elementary supporting their peers who have parents in the military", said Gabbard. "Keiki who have parents deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other places around the world have added responsibilities and stress. Operation Caring Classroom is a nice example of the aloha spirit in action."

Each participating school, like Kaleiopuu Elementary, has received a school kit with patriotic items, such as flags, magnets, bookmarks, and activity books for the students. Teachers will engage their classes in writing letters to a military child, coloring patriotic pictures, creating a patriotic display case, and building a strength chain.

If you would like more information about the program, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830 or Principal Carolyn Alexander at 675-0266.

Gabbard Switches Parties To Better Serve Constituents

HONOLULU -August 30, 2007- Republican State Senator Mike Gabbard, (Waikele to Ko Olina) announced his decision today to join the Democratic Party at the party’s new headquarters in Ward Warehouse.

“I made this decision after a great deal of thought and soul searching,” said Gabbard, “and after many, many discussions with my daughter Tulsi, a former state representative and a card-carrying Democrat who works for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka. It was also talking story with Senator Akaka, Congressman Abercrombie, and other Democrats in leadership, as well as my constituents—Democrat, Republican, and Independents—that helped me make this decision. In the past few months, I’ve come to know and respect Senator Akaka and I’ve been greatly influenced by the aloha and welcoming attitude that he and others have extended to me.”

Gabbard said, “While working together with my colleagues and constituents, we’ve been able to accomplish many things. However, my experience at the legislature has convinced me that to be even more effective, it would be best if I were a member of the majority Democratic Party.”

“Some people have told me that my move could damage me politically,” Gabbard commented. “But I can’t make my decision based on politics. I have to make my decisions based on my conscience, on how I can best serve the people of Hawaii. I’m not a very partisan person, that’s actually why I have a lot of supporters. I’ve been an independent-minded Republican who always follows the dictates of my conscience, not the party line. And I will be just as independent as a Democrat.”

Here are a couple common questions I've received regarding my switch and the answers:

Q: How can you be a social conservative on issues like same-sex marriage and be a Democrat?

A: I'm perfectly in line with the majority of Democrats on this issue. During the same-sex marriage debate, 70% of Hawaii voters agreed with me and voted to protect traditional marriage. The vast majority of those people were Democrats. And on the grassroots level, I have tons of Democrats thanking me for my role in protecting traditional marriage, much more than Republicans.

Q: How can you switch to the Democratic Party when you don't agree 100% with the Party's Platform?

A: If everybody who didn't believe in the Party Platform left the Democratic Party, the Party would consist of a couple thousand people at most.

Pages