Press Releases


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.

State Not Taking Action to Prevent Further Spread of H1N1 Virus

HONOLULU -May 14, 2009- Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) stated today that the refusal of the state administration to close down a local public school for a week/ten days to prevent the further spread of the swine flu virus among students and their families and the state’s continuing refusal to take more proactive aggressive screening measures at entry points to Hawai’i, make it clear that there is no serious attempt being made to contain the spread of this virus throughout the community.

Gabbard said, “The decision by the state not to temporarily close Anuenue School is shortsighted and the height of irresponsibility. However, it is consistent with their failure to do the most basic precautionary screening at the airports.”

Two recent studies show that timely temporary closures of schools can significantly decrease the spread of flu transmission:
“A 2007 study( led by Marc Lipsitch, of the Harvard School of Public Health, compared the progress of the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic in American cities that adopted different public health policies. Cities such as St Louis, which rapidly closed schools and banned many public gatherings, experienced a relatively flat pandemic, with deaths peaking at 31 per 100,000 people. Philadelphia, which waited three weeks before imposing controls, suffered peak deaths of 257 per 100,000. The overall death rate for Philadelphia was 719 per 100,000, more than double the rate of 347 per 100,000 for the same period in St Louis.” (Times Online, May 6, 2009)

“A 2008 study(, led by Simon Cauchemez and Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, London, used data on how school holidays influence seasonal flu transmission in France to simulate the effect of school closures in a pandemic. It found that they could significantly slow the spread of the virus, reducing the numbers falling ill at the pandemic’s peak by as much as 45 per cent. A school closure policy could also prevent up to one in seven cases.” (Times Online, May 6, 2009)

“In addition,” Gabbard said, “whatever faith the people of Hawai'i have had in the Department of Health has been further undermined by them not counting tourists swine flu cases or officially listing them.”

Gabbard commented that taken as a whole, the state's policy of inaction in regards to protecting the people of Hawai'i borders on criminal negligence.

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

Swine Flu Virus

HONOLULU -April 30, 2009- The purpose of this news release is to inform the media that Australia has now joined Japan, Hong Kong, and other island states in the implementation of aggressive measures at their airports and seaports to prevent the introduction of swine flu. These are the exact same measures that Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) has asked our state leaders to begin implementing here in Hawaii.

Gabbard said, "There is no reason in the world why Hawaii cannot or should not implement the aggressive screening policies of these other island states. We should not be foolishly imitating the policies of the US mainland, which, unlike Hawaii, has thousands of miles of porous borders. This is a war and every theater of war requires a different strategy. Hawaii is a completely different theater of war than the US mainland."

Senator Gabbard is again urging that the following policies being implemented in Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong, also be immediately implemented here in Hawaii:

  1. Taking the temperature of incoming passengers.
  2. Passengers coming from Mexico need to be more carefully screened.
  3. Right now, passengers fill out agricultural/customs forms when they arrive. Why not make an announcement on each flight, and have them fill out an additional questionnaire detailing whether they have any symptoms and where they have travelled in the last week?
  4. Distribute an info sheet to airline passengers and hotel guests with a hotline number to call if they develop symptoms in the next 10 days.

Gabbard continued, "Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong have proven that these measures are very effective and can be done in a very efficient manner and cost-effective way. The people of Hawaii deserve to know why our leaders are not implementing the same kind of aggressive policies as other island states/nations. "

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


HONOLULU -April 28, 2009- Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) called a press conference today to express concerns about the Governor’s handling of the swine flu virus entering Hawai’i.

Gabbard said, "I'm calling on the people of Hawai'i to join me in demanding that the Governor and her Administration do everything that they can and should be doing to protect the people of Hawai'i from the swine flu virus. Based on what I've seen, they've handed over that responsibility to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has not even seen fit to formulate and institute a policy for Hawaii that is different from the mainland."

Gabbard commented that at a press conference yesterday, the state administration admitted they were only taking passive action at the state’s airports and that the swine flu virus will inevitably enter Hawai’i. "I was surprised to hear the Governor parroting words from the CDC and telling people to be concerned but not alarmed. What's her point, that we care but we're not going to do anything about it?"

“The state administration is basically sitting on its hands until after it’s too late,” Gabbard said. “Hawai’i is extremely fortunate that we’re isolated from the rest of the country and the world. The only way this virus can come to Hawai’i is by air and water. So we should be having a full court press to prevent that from happening. A few measures that the administration could be implementing immediately are:

  1. Taking the temperature of incoming passengers using quick, non-invasive procedures.
  2. Passengers coming from Mexico need to be more carefully screened.
  3. Right now, passengers fill out agricultural/customs forms when they arrive. Why not make an announcement on each flight, and have them fill out an additional health declaration questionnaire detailing whether they have any symptoms and where they have travelled in the last week.
  4. Distribute an info sheet to airline passengers and hotel guests with a hotline number to call if they develop symptoms in the next 10 days.

Gabbard said: “Hawai’i is in a unique situation. We’re not in the same position as other states. It’s a sign of laziness and irresponsibility not to have our own policies based on our unique situation Other island states such as Japan and Hong Kong are responding aggressively at their points of entry, why can’t we? We're a group of isolated islands and we can prevent it from coming here if our state leaders simply have the commitment and determination to do so."

Gabbard concluded, “An ounce of prevention is going to be worth many, many tons of the cure. We can and must do more.”

Please contact me if I can help you. My phone is 586-6830 and e-mail is Mahalo for the privilege of serving you!


HONOLULU -January 4, 2009- State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment, today announced that his committee, in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection chaired by Senator Roz Baker (West Maui), will convene an informational briefing on January 14, 2009 at 2:00pm in Conference Room 229 at the State Capitol.

The purpose of the briefing is to investigate the causes of the power outage on December 26 that left the entire island of Oahu without power. The briefing will also focus on the reasons for the delay in restoring the power and possible solutions. In addition, the status of electrical systems on the neighbor islands will be explored.

Gabbard said, “I want to make it clear that this is not about pointing fingers and playing the blame game. The business community and residents deserve some answers. These outages do far more than simply leave our residents sitting at home in the dark. They have serious negative effects on businesses and our economy which is having a tough enough time as it is. I’ve been getting calls from small businesses that lost tens of thousands of dollars in damaged merchandise, in addition to lost business because they couldn’t stay open without electricity. We also need to find out what steps need to be taken to develop a more stable and reliable electrical grid.”

Baker said, “Reliable electric power is important for our residents and businesses. Through this briefing, we want to ascertain from a regulatory and policy perspective what needs to be put in place to ensure redundancy to improve current reliability as we move forward to new energy platforms.”

The briefing’s main presentation will be by officials of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Other briefings may be provided by the State Public Utilities Commission and the State Division of Consumer Advocacy. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. The public is welcome to ask questions pertaining to island-wide power outages and preparedness.

For more details on the informational briefing, please call Senator Gabbard’s office at 586-6830.


HONOLULU -December 5, 2008- Senator Mike Gabbard announced today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has agreed to extend the hours at Barbers Point (Kalaeloa) Post Office during the 2008 Christmas Holidays. From December 8th to 19th, post office hours will be 9:00am – 2:30pm, Monday – Saturday.

"Mahalo to Greg Wolny, Manager for Post Office Operations-Honolulu District, for responding to my request. I'd gotten tons of phone calls from area residents, so it's great news that the post office will be open for extended hours each day leading up to Christmas", said Gabbard. "This will help reduce long lines and make it much easier for Kalaeloa and Kapolei residents to send packages to their loved ones.

Gabbard had launched a petition drive, garnering over 1,000 signatures, 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 – 1:00pm. Barbers Point (Kalaeloa) Post Office hours were extended for the Christmas Holidays in 2007 and once again this year.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.