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Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

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New Website for Friends of Jon Riki Karamatsu at http://jonriki.wordpress.com [Jun. 16th, 2008|10:52 am]

Aloha Everyone!

I happy to announce that http://jonriki.wordpress.com is the new official website that will be the headquarters for Friends of Jon Riki Karamatsu on the World Wide Web.  I will continue to share with you my policy ideas, legislation, legislative appropriations, speeches, philosophy, creative writing, events, and personal life.  I also want to share with you my pictures, videos, music, and business ventures.  My archives from livejournal.com has been inputted there as well.

I have been sharing with you a part of my life since the Fall of 2002, and I look forward to sharing with you much more exciting things!  I hope my life ventures impacts you in a positive way or at least inspires your constructive thoughts. My ultimate quest is to be compassionate, happy, and at peace.  Likewise, I hope I can play a small role in helping others to be compassionate, happy, and at peace as well.

With Warmest Aloha,

Jon Riki Karamatsu

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"Make Hawaii the Best Place in the World" - Senator Nadao "Najo" Yoshinaga [Jun. 4th, 2008|01:24 am]
Meeting with Enterprise Honolulu Through Senator Nadao "Najo" Yoshinaga

On Wednesday, May 28, 2008, I had a 1:30 P.M. meeting with Michael Fitzgerald, CEO of Enterprise Honolulu, Former Senator Nadao "Najo" Yoshinaga, and my former office manager of 5 1/2 years, Baron Gushiken at my office.  Baron set up the meeting at the request of Sen. Yoshinaga.  We discussed Hawaii's current economic climate and some of the legislation I introduced in the past and ideas I have for the future to help better Hawaii's economy.  The following are some of the subjects we covered: renewable energy, technology, film, digital media, long-term care, workforce development, education, mass transit, and agriculture.  We discussed further into the subcategories within these subjects.  I am working on a dozen of bills relating to these subjects, and if I get re-elected, I will introduce them for the 2009 Legislative Session.  Our meeting ended after an hour and a half.  Sen. Yoshinaga stated, "This was a good meeting."  I agree, it was a meeting that I will cherish forever.

Sen. Yoshinaga did great things for equality, labor rights, infrastructure, and much of what we see as modern day Hawaii in his twenty years in the Hawaii State Legislature.  As best as I can, I am going to help him fulfill one more goal, to make Hawaii an economic power.  When I was a teenager, it was a dream of mine to have a mentor who was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and politician from the 1954 Democratic Revolution, thus, I am lucky to have become friends with Sen. Yoshinaga.  On top of his many credentials, the senator is also an attorney.

Sen. Yoshinaga has mentored a number of great leaders: State Administrator and Businessman, Pundy Yokouchi, Former State Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, State Senator Carol Fukunaga, Former State Representative David Hagino, Attorney Jim Stone, Attorney Kerry Komatsubara, and the list goes on.  These proteges of Sen. Yoshinaga have many years of knowledge and helped to shape Hawaii as well.  If I am the last of the senator's proteges, I have big shoes to fill, a lot of information to learn, many dreams to accomplish, and an obligation to pass on the knowledge I gained from my elders and ancestors to many generations following me.  I am no where close to the leaders before me, as I have already made the biggest mistake in my life last October, but I have to keep doing my best in the public sector and private sector to "make Hawaii the best place in the world" as Sen. Yoshinaga likes to say.

From the middle of the Pacific, I dream of Hawaii impacting the world as a leader of renewable energy, technology, healthcare, tourism, art, culture, entertainment, tourism, diversified agriculture, and of course, peace and happiness by December 21, 2070, the final year of the tiger for whoever is alive from my generation.
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Written Remarks on S.B. 2646, S.D.2, H.D. 2, C.D. 1, Important Agricultural Lands: Part 2 [May. 13th, 2008|03:25 am]

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

Senate Bill 2646, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 2, Conference Draft 1

Relating to Important Agricultural Lands

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Continued...

Designation of Important Agricultural Land and Reclassification to Other Land Use Districts by Declaratory Order of the Land Use Commission

 

            Chapter 205-44, Hawaii Revised Statutes, defines the standards and criteria for the identification of important agricultural lands.  Lands identified as important agricultural lands need not meet every standard and criteria listed below.  Rather, lands meeting any of the criteria below shall be given initial consideration; provided that the designation of important agricultural lands shall be made by weighing the standards and criteria with each other to meet the constitutionally mandated purposes in Article XI, Section 3, of the Hawaii Constitution and the objectives and policies for important agricultural lands in sections 205-42 and 205-43 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

           

            Section 205-44 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes lists that the standards and criteria to designate land as important agricultural lands shall be as follows:

            (1)        Land currently used for agricultural production;

(2)        Land with soil qualities and growing conditions that support agricultural production of food, fiber, or fuel- and energy-producing crops;

(3)        Land identified under agricultural productivity rating systems, such as the agricultural lands of importance to the State of Hawaii (ALISH) system adopted by the board of agriculture on January 28, 1977;

(4)        Land types associated with traditional native Hawaiian agricultural uses, such as taro cultivation, or unique agricultural crops and uses, such as coffee, vineyards, aquaculture, and energy production;

(5)        Land with sufficient quantities of water to support viable agricultural production;

(6)        Land whose designation as important agricultural lands is consistent with general, development, and community plans of the county;

(7)        Land that contributes to maintaining a critical land mass important to agricultural operating productivity; and

(8)        Land with or near support infrastructure conducive to agricultural productivity, such as transportation to markets, water, or power.

 

            Senate Bill 2646 amends Chapter 205-44, Hawaii Revised Statutes to include a petition for a declaratory order submitted under Section 205-45, Hawaii Revised Statutes that seeks to both designate lands as important agricultural lands and reclassify lands in the agricultural district to the rural, conservation, or urban district, the lands shall be deemed qualified for designation as important agricultural land if the commission reasonably finds that the lands meet at least the criteria of "(5) Land with sufficient quantities of water to support viable agricultural production" and (7) Land that contributes to maintaining a critical land mass important to agricultural operating productivity" of this section.  Therefore, when using this declaratory incentive, the criteria for designating important agriculture lands is much stricter than designating important agricultural lands without the declaratory incentive where a petitioner can basically use only one criterion.  The farmers felt that of the eight criteria in Chapter 205-44, Hawaii Revised Statutes, land with sufficient quantities of water and land that contributes to maintaining a critical land mass were the most important for agricultural productivity.

 

            Prior to the Land Use Commission considering a petition for a declaratory order to designate important agricultural land in combination with the reclassification of agricultural land to the rural, urban, or conservation district, the petitioner shall submit to the commission a certification issued by the Department of Agriculture as to the quality of the land for which designation as important agricultural land is being sought.

 

            The Land Use commission may include reasonable conditions in the declaratory order.  The declaratory order is an incentive for landowners to designate their lands as important agricultural lands because under the Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 15, Chapter 15, Subchapter 14, Section 15-15-103, the Land Use Commission may, but shall not be required to, conduct a hearing on a petition for a declaratory order.  However, a contested hearing can be requested.  Any petitioner or party in interest who desires a hearing on a petition for a declaratory order shall set forth in detail in the request the reasons why the matters alleged in the petition, together with supporting affidavits or other written briefs or memoranda or legal authorities, will not permit the fair and expeditious disposition of the petition, and to the extent that the request for a hearing is dependent upon factual assertion, shall accompany the request by affidavit establishing those facts.  Further, under Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 15, Chapter 15, Subchapter 7, Section 15-15-75, parties to proceedings to amend land use district boundaries may obtain judicial reviews thereof in the manner set forth in Section 91-14, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

            A farmer or landowner with lands qualifying under Section 205-44, Hawaii revised Statutes may file with the commission a petition for declaratory order to designate the lands as important agricultural lands.  The petition may be filed at any time in the designation process.  Within this same petition for declaratory order, the petitioner may seek a reclassification of land in the agricultural district to the rural, urban, or conservation district, or a combination thereof; provided that:

(1)        The land sought to be reclassified to the rural, urban, or conservation district is within the same county as the land sought to be designated as important agricultural lands;

(2)        If the reclassification of the land is proposed to the  urban district, that reclassification to urban is consistent with the relevant county general and community, development, or community development plans; and

(3)        The total acreage of the land sought to be designated or reclassified in the petition complies with the following proportions:

(A)       At least eighty-five per cent of the total acreage is sought to be designated as important agricultural land; and

(B)       The remainder of the acreage is sought to be reclassified to the rural, urban, or conservation district.

 

            The Land Use Commission may grant declaratory orders pursuant to this section before the commission receives from any county a map delineating recommended important agricultural lands.

 

            A petitioner granted a declaratory order that designates important agricultural land, whether or not combined with the reclassification of land to the rural, urban, or conservation district, shall earn credits if the amount of land reclassified to the rural, urban, or conservation district is less than fifteen per cent of the total acreage of land subject to the order.  The credits shall equal the difference between the following, rounded to the nearer tenth of an acre: (1) The number that is fifteen per cent of the total acreage of land subject to the order; less (2) The amount of the petitioner's land that is reclassified from the agricultural district to the rural, urban, or conservation district by the declaratory order.

 

            A petitioner with credits earned within a county may petition the Land Use Commission for a declaratory order to reclassify any of the petitioner's other land in the same county from the agricultural district to the rural, urban, or conservation district until the credits are exhausted or expired.  The "petitioner's other land in the same county" means land owned by the petitioner that is in the same county as the land designated or reclassified under the petition.  The commission may issue the declaratory order if it finds that the land is suitable for reclassification in accordance with Section 205-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes and that the reclassification is consistent with the relevant county general and community, development, or community development plans.  The petitioner may petition for such reclassification until all of the petitioner's credits are exhausted.  Any unexhausted credits shall expire and become unusable ten years after the granting of the declaratory order that designated the important agricultural land and, if applicable, reclassified land to the rural, urban, or conservation district.  A petitioner with unused and unexhausted credits shall not transfer the credits to another person.

 

            The Land Use Commission may grant declaratory orders pursuant to this section before the commission receives from any county a map delineating recommended important agricultural lands.

 

            Land designated as important agricultural land pursuant to a declaratory order that both designates land as important agricultural land and reclassifies land in the agricultural district to the rural, urban, or conservation district, or a combination thereof pursuant to this section shall be re-designated only with the prior authorization of the legislature.  The authorization shall be expressed by the adoption of a concurrent resolution approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature voting separately.  When making its decision, the legislature shall consider the standards and criteria in Section 205-50, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

            A farmer or landowner with qualifying lands may also petition the Land Use Commission to remove the "important agricultural lands" designation from lands if a sufficient supply of water is no longer available to allow profitable farming of the land due to government actions, acts of God, or other causes beyond the farmer's or landowner's reasonable control.  If the "important agricultural lands" were designated by a declaratory order in combination with the reclassification of land in the agricultural district to the rural, urban, or conservation district pursuant to Section 205-45 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the commission shall not remove the designation unless the legislature provides prior authorization by adoption of a concurrent resolution in accordance with Section 205-45, Hawaii Revised Statutes."

 

            In conclusion, Senate Bill 2646 is a historical bill that provides incentives for landowners to designate lands into important agricultural lands and incentives for farmers to have productive and profitable farm operations.  In addition, it requires the Department of Agriculture and Department of Land and Natural Resources to jointly identify the state-owned lands that should be designated as "important agricultural lands."

 

            This legislation will begin the process of identifying and protecting our most important agricultural land.  It is my hope that thousands of years from now, agricultural lands in Hawaii will be an important part of our economy, culture, and way of life.

 

Thank you.

 

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Written Remarks on S.B. 2646, S.D.2, H.D. 2, C.D. 1, Important Agricultural Lands: Part 1 [May. 13th, 2008|03:19 am]

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

Senate Bill 2646, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 2, Conference Draft 1

Relating to Important Agricultural Lands

Thursday, May 1, 2008

 

            I rise in support.

 

            In 1978, voters approved Article XI, Section 3, of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, which sets out the framework for state policies to promote agriculture and the conservation of productive agricultural lands in the State.  Article XI, Section 3, reads as follows:

 

     "The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.  The legislature shall provide standards and criteria to accomplish the foregoing.

 

     Lands identified by the State as important agricultural lands needed to fulfill the purposes above shall not be reclassified by the State or rezoned by its political subdivisions without meeting the standards and criteria established by the legislature and approved by a two-thirds vote of the body responsible for the reclassification or rezoning action."

 

            To address the issue of important agricultural lands, Act 183, Session Laws of Hawaii 2005, established standards, criteria, and mechanisms to identify important agricultural lands and to implement the intent and purpose of Article XI, Section 3, of the Hawaii Constitution.

 

            Act 183 also recognized that while the supply of lands suitable for agriculture is critical, the long-term viability of agriculture also depends on other factors, including:

            (1)  Commodity prices;

            (2)  Availability of water for irrigation;

            (3)  Agricultural research and outreach;

            (4)  Application of production technologies;

            (5)  Marketing; and

            (6)  Availability and cost of transportation services.

    

            The purpose of Senate Bill 2646, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 2, Conference Draft 1 (Senate Bill 2646) is to establish a variety of incentives that meet the requirements of Act 183 by:

(1)        Providing incentives and protections to establish and sustain viable agricultural operations on important agricultural lands; and

(2)        Providing for the designation of important agricultural lands on public lands by:

 

(A)       Requiring the Department of Agriculture and Department of Land and Natural Resources to jointly identify the state-owned lands that should be designated as "important agricultural lands"

(B)       Transferring management authority over those lands to the department of agriculture; and

(3)        Providing for the combined designation of important agricultural land and reclassification to other land use districts by declaratory order of the land use commission.

 

            Senate Bill 2646 is a comprehensive bill that addresses the issue of designating our important agricultural lands that has remained unresolved for thirty years.  The following are the details of Senate Bill 2646.

 

Important Agricultural Land; Farm Dwellings and Employee Housing

 

            Farm dwellings and employee housing on important agricultural lands were identified as essential for a farm operation.  The farmers expressed that they wanted to be able to live and work on important agricultural land.

 

            Senate Bill 2646 amends Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes by adding a new section to Part III that allows a landowner whose agricultural lands are designated as important agricultural lands to develop, construct, and maintain farm dwellings and employee housing for farmers, employees, and their immediate family members on these lands; provided that:

(1)        The farm dwellings and employee housing units shall be used exclusively by farmers and their immediate family members who actively and currently farm on important agricultural land upon which the dwelling is situated; provided further that the immediate family members of a farmer may live in separate dwelling units situated on the same designated land;

(2)        Employee housing units shall be used exclusively by employees and their immediate family members who actively and currently work on important agricultural land upon which the housing unit is situated; provided further that the immediate family members of the employee shall not live in separate housing units and shall live with the employee;

(3)        The total land area upon which the farm dwellings and employee housing units and all appurtenances are situated shall not occupy more than five per cent of the total important agricultural land area controlled by the farmer or the employee's employer or fifty acres, whichever is less;

(4)        The farm dwellings and employee housing units shall meet all applicable building code requirements;

(5)        Notwithstanding section 205-4.5(a)(12), the landowner shall not plan or develop a residential subdivision on the important agricultural land;

(6)        Consideration may be given to the cluster development of farm dwellings and employee housing units to maximize the land area available for agricultural production; and

(7)        The plans for farm dwellings and employee housing units shall be supported by agricultural plans that are approved by the Department of Agriculture."

 

Important Agricultural Land Qualified Cost Tax Credit

 

            Tax incentives are a critical component of the long-term viability of agriculture on important agricultural lands in the State.  The legislature finds that it is in the public's interest to assist agricultural businesses in establishing and sustaining viable agricultural operations on important agricultural lands by providing incentives such as income tax credits.

    

            The purpose of this part is to establish an important agricultural land qualified agricultural cost tax credit to establish and sustain viable agricultural operations on important agricultural lands. 

 

            Senate Bill 2646 amends Chapter 235, Hawaii Revised Statutes, by adding a new section that establishes the important agricultural land qualified agricultural cost tax credit.  The credit shall be deductible from the taxpayer's net income tax liability, if any, imposed by this chapter for the taxable year in which the credit is properly claimed.  The tax credit amount shall be determined as follows:

(1)        In the first year in which the credit is claimed, twenty-five per cent of the lesser of the following:

(A)       The qualified agricultural costs incurred by the taxpayer after July 1, 2008; or

            (B)       $625,000;

(2)        In the second year in which the credit is claimed, fifteen per cent of the lesser of the following:

            (A)       The qualified agricultural costs incurred by the taxpayer after July           1, 2008; or

            (B)       $250,000; and

(3)  In the third year in which the credit is claimed, ten per cent of the lesser of the following:

            (A)       The qualified agricultural costs incurred by the taxpayer after July           1, 2008; or

            (B)       $125,000.

 

            If the credit under this section exceeds the taxpayer's net income tax liability for the taxable year, the excess of the credit over liability shall be refunded to the taxpayer; provided that no refunds or payments on account of the credits allowed by this section shall be made for amounts less than $1.

 

            If in any taxable year the annual amount of certified credits reaches $7,500,000 in the aggregate, the Department of Agriculture shall immediately discontinue certifying credits and notify the department of taxation.  In no instance shall the Department of Agriculture certify a total amount of credits exceeding $7,500,000 per taxable year.  To comply with this restriction, the Department of Agriculture shall certify credits on a first come, first served basis.

 

            "Agricultural business" means any person with a commercial agricultural, silvicultural, or aquacultural facility or operation, including: (1) The care and production of livestock and livestock products, poultry and poultry products, apiary products, and plant and animal production for nonfood uses; (2) The planting, cultivating, harvesting, and processing of crops; and (3) The farming or ranching of any plant or animal species in a controlled salt, brackish, or freshwater environment; provided that the principal place of the agricultural business is maintained in the State and more than fifty per cent of the land the agricultural business owns or leases, excluding land classified as conservation land, is important agricultural land.

 

            "Qualified agricultural costs" means expenditures for:

(1)        The plans, design, engineering, construction, renovation, repair, maintenance, and equipment for:

(A)  Roads or utilities, primarily for agricultural purposes, where the majority of the lands serviced by the roads or utilities, excluding lands classified as conservation lands, are important agricultural lands;

(B)       Agricultural processing facilities in the State, primarily for agricultural purposes, where the majority of the crops or livestock processed, harvested, treated, washed, handled, or packaged are from agricultural businesses;

(C)  Water wells, reservoirs, dams, water storage facilities, water pipelines, ditches, or irrigation systems in the State, primarily for agricultural purposes, providing water for lands, the majority of which, excluding lands classified as conservation lands, are important agricultural lands; and

(D)  Agricultural housing in the State, exclusively for agricultural purposes; provided that:

(i)         The housing units are occupied solely by farmers or employees for agricultural businesses and their immediate family members;

(ii)        The housing units are owned by the agricultural business;

(iii)       The housing units are in the general vicinity, as determined by the department of agriculture, of agricultural lands owned or leased by the agricultural business; and

(iv)       The housing units conform to any other conditions that may be required by the department of agriculture;

(2)        Feasibility studies, regulatory processing, and legal and accounting services related to the items under paragraph (1);

(3)        Equipment, primarily for agricultural purposes, used to cultivate, grow, harvest, or process agricultural products by an agricultural business; and

(4)        Regulatory processing, studies, and legal and other consultant services related to obtaining or retaining sufficient water for agricultural activities and retaining the right to farm on lands identified as important agricultural lands.

 

            The Department of Taxation, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, shall submit to the legislature an annual report, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session, beginning with the regular session of 2010, regarding the quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact of the important agricultural land qualified agricultural cost tax credit.

 

            There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $50,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 for the Department of Agriculture to administer the important agricultural land qualified agricultural cost tax credit.

 

Loan Guaranty; Important Agricultural Lands; Agricultural and Aquacultural Loans

 

            Financing is also a critical component of the long-term viability of agriculture on important agricultural lands in the State.  The legislature finds that it is in the public interest to assist agricultural producers in meeting their financing needs for projects that are located on important agricultural lands.

 

            The purpose of this part is to further implement Act 183, Session Laws of Hawaii 2005, by authorizing the chairperson of the Board of Agriculture to guarantee loans relating to agricultural projects located on important agricultural lands.

 

            Senate Bill 2646 amends Chapter 155, Hawaii Revised Statutes, by adding a new section to establish a loan guaranty on important agricultural lands for agricultural and aquacultural loans.

 

            From July 1, 2009, the chairperson of the Board of Agriculture may guarantee loans made by commercial lenders authorized to do business in this State, to agricultural producers for the purpose of developing and implementing agricultural projects; provided that the chairperson of the Board of Agriculture shall determine that: (1) The agricultural projects are located on lands designated as important agricultural lands pursuant to Part III of Chapter 205; and (2) The commercial lender has completed its due diligence in approving the loan, including ensuring adequate collateral.

 

            Any loan guaranty made pursuant to this section shall meet the following conditions:

            (1)        For any loan that finances operating costs, the maximum term of the loan                                    shall be ten years;

(2)        For any loan that finances capital improvement costs, the maximum term of the loan shall be twenty years;

(3)        The interest rate charged on any loan shall be one per cent below the commercial lender's prime rate for as long as the loan guaranty is in effect;

(4)        The loan guaranty may be up to eighty-five per cent of the outstanding principal amount of any single loan, but shall not include any fees or accrued interest associated with the loan or its collection; and

(5)        The total principal amount of the guaranteed portion of all loans outstanding at any time shall not exceed $2,500,000.

 

            "Agricultural producer" means a farmer, cooperative association, or landowner who derives at least fifty per cent of its gross income from agricultural or aquacultural activities.

 

            The Department of Taxation, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, shall submit to the legislature an annual report, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session, beginning with the regular session of 2010 that provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact of the loan guaranty program.

 

Hawaii Water Plan

 

            Water is essential for productivity on agricultural lands.  Senate Bill 2646 amends the Hawaii Water Plan in Section 174C-31 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes to ensure the availability of water on important agricultural lands.  Section 174C-31, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (e) and (f) to read as follows:

 

            "(e)       The department of agriculture shall prepare a state agricultural water use and development plan for agricultural uses in the State in accordance with chapter 167 and this chapter, and subsequently modify and update the plan as necessary.  The state agricultural water use and development plan shall include but not be limited to a master irrigation inventory plan [which] that shall:

            (1)        Inventory [the] public and private irrigation water systems;

            (2)        Identify the extent of rehabilitation needed for each system;

(3)        Identify sources of water used by agricultural operations and particularly those on lands identified and designated as important agricultural lands under part III of chapter 205;

(4)        Identify current and future water needs for agricultural operations and particularly those on lands identified and designated as important agricultural lands under part III of chapter 205;

    [(3)] (5)        Subsidize the cost of repair and maintenance of the systems;

    [(4)] (6)        Establish criteria to prioritize the rehabilitation of the systems;

    [(5)] (7)        Develop a five-year program to repair the systems; and

    [(6)] (8)        Set up a long-range plan to manage the systems.

The commission shall coordinate the incorporation of the state agricultural water use and development plan into the state water projects plan.

(f)         Each county water use and development plan shall include but not be limited to:

(1)        Status of water and related land development, including an inventory of existing water uses for domestic, municipal, and industrial users, agriculture, particularly agriculture on lands designated as important agricultural lands under part III of chapter 205, aquaculture, hydropower development, drainage, reuse, reclamation, recharge, and resulting problems and constraints;

(2)        Future land uses and related water needs; and

(3)        Regional plans for water developments, including recommended and alternative plans, costs, adequacy of plans, and relationship to the water resource protection and water quality plans."

 

Agricultural Processing Facilities; Permits; Priority

 

            Expediting the permitting process for agricultural process facilities will further support farm operations in the State of Hawaii.  Senate Bill 2646 amends Chapter 205 and Chapter 321 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, by adding new sections to require any agency subject to these chapters that issues permits to establish and implement a procedure for the priority processing of permit applications and renewals, at no additional cost to the applicant, for agricultural processing facilities that process crops or livestock from an agribusiness; provided that the majority of the lands held, owned, or used by the agribusiness shall be land designated as important agricultural lands pursuant to this part, excluding lands held, owned, or used by the agribusiness in a conservation district.

 

Important Agricultural Lands; Public Lands

 

            Before December 31, 2009, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Land and Natural Resources shall collaborate to identify public lands as defined under Section 171‑2, Hawaii Revised Statutes that should be designated important agricultural lands as defined in Section 205‑42, Hawaii revised Statutes and shall prepare maps delineating those lands.  In making the designations, the departments shall use the standards and criteria of Section 205-44, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

            Beginning January 1, 2010, after receipt of the maps of public lands identified as important agricultural lands, the Land Use Commission shall designate the public lands as important agricultural lands and adopt the maps of those public lands.

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Final Reading Written Remarks on H.B. 2954, S.D. 1 Relating Towing Companies [May. 9th, 2008|04:01 am]

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

House Bill 2954, Senate Draft 1

Prohibits a towing company from charging the owner of a vehicle hooked up for towing if the owner of the vehicle appears on the scene.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

            I rise in support.

 

            I want to thank Speaker Emeritus Joseph M. Souki for inserting language into this bill to address a concern of a resident of Hawai'i who contacted me explaining how he disliked the fact that a towing company can charge an owner of a vehicle that is hooked up for towing even if the owner of the vehicle appears on the scene.  This bill would amend the current law by prohibiting a towing company from charging the owner of a vehicle hooked up for towing if the owner of the vehicle appears on the scene.  In the case of a difficult hookup, meaning an above or below ground hookup in a multilevel facility, a towing surcharge of $30 is applicable.

 

            In addition, this bill encourages towing companies to be open twenty-four hours a day in a county with a population greater than five hundred thousand by allowing an overtime charge of $15 when the tow occurs between the hours of six o'clock P.M. and six o'clock A.M., from Monday through Thursday and from six o'clock P.M. Friday to six o'clock A.M. Monday.

 

            Any towing company engaged in towing in a county with a population greater than five hundred thousand shall not be entitled to any overtime charge if towing services to consumers are not offered twenty-four hours per day every day of the week; provided that a towing company shall file their hours of operation with the police department in a county with a population greater than five hundred thousand.

 

            Thank you.

 

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Final Reading Written Remarks for S.B. 2803,S.D. 1, H.D. 1, C.D. 1 Relating to Personal Information [May. 9th, 2008|03:27 am]

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

Senate Bill 2803, Senate Draft 1, House Draft 1, Conference Draft 1

Relating to Personal Information (Identity Theft)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

            I rise in support.

 

            The purpose of this bill is to protect the personal information collected and maintained by state and county agencies through the implementation of the recommendations of the "Hawaii Identity Theft Task Force Report" of December 2007.  I served on the task force, and through this bill we hope to reduce identity theft of personal information held by the state and county agencies.  The bill:

 

(1)  Requires each state and county agency designate an employee by September 1, 2009, to ensure the agency's compliance with requirements relating to the security of personal information;

 

(2)  Establishes the Information and Privacy Security Council to be placed administratively within the Department of the Accounting and General Services and authorizes the Comptroller to establish support positions.  By January 1, 2009, the council shall submit to the legislature a report of the council's assessment and recommendations on initiatives to mitigate the negative impacts of identity theft incidents on individuals.  No later than June 30, 2009, the council shall develop guidelines to be considered by government agencies in deciding whether, how, and when a government agency shall inform affected individuals of the loss, disclosure, or security breach of personal information that can contribute to identify theft.  The council shall review the individual annual reports submitted by government agencies, pursuant to section 487N-C, Hawaii Revised Statutes and submit a summary report to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2010 and each year thereafter.  The summary report shall include the council's findings, significant trends, and recommendations to protect personal information used by government agencies.  The initial report to the legislature also shall include proposed legislation to amend section 487N-2, Hawaii revised Statutes or any other law that the council deems necessary to conform to the guidelines established.  No later than March 31, 2009, the council shall identify best practice relating to automated tools, training, processes, and applicable standards.  No later than July 31, 2009, the best practice identified by the council shall be posted on each government agency's website in a manner that is readily accessible by employees of the government agency;

 

(3)  Makes effective January 1, 2009, any government agency that maintains one or more personal information systems shall submit to the council an annual report on the existence and character of each personal information system added or eliminated since the agency's previous annual report.  The annual report shall be submitted no later than September 30 of each year;


(4)  Requires that by
December 31, 2008, the information privacy and security council established under section 487N-A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, in consultation with the information and communication services division of the Department of Accounting and General Services, and the information technology divisions of the respective counties, shall develop recommended practices and procedures to provide guidance to information technology managers in all government agencies relating to the security of laptops, removable data storage devices, and communication devices used to remotely access applications installed on state or county networks.  The council shall include recommendations on best practices and standards for protecting personal information that may be used with, stored on, or transmitted by the foregoing devices;

 

(5)  Makes effective September 1, 2008, any government agency that contracts with third parties to provide support services on behalf of the agency that requires access to personal information; or is requested to provide access to social security numbers and other personal information by a credit bureau or similar financial reporting organization,

shall include, in all new or renewed contracts, provisions to protect the use and disclosure of personal information administered by the agency;

 

(6)  Mandates that no later than September 1, 2008, all government agencies that collect, maintain, or disseminate documents containing personal information that are subject to disclosure pursuant to section 92F-12, Hawaii Revised Statutes, shall develop and implement a plan to protect and redact personal information, specifically social security numbers, contained in any existing hardcopy documents prior to making the documents available for public inspection.  Consumer reporting agencies, as defined by 15 U.S.C. section 1681a(f), which operate under 15 U.S.C. section 1681 et seq., shall continue to have access to personal information, including the nine digit social security numbers as the legislature finds that such access is necessary for criminal background checks, credit reporting for financial transactions and other similar purposes.  Agency plans shall be consistent with these purposes;

 

(7)  Requires that no later than December 1, 2008, all government agencies that collect, maintain, or disseminate documents containing personal information that are subject to disclosure pursuant to section 92F-12, Hawaii Revised Statutes, shall develop a written plan to eliminate the unnecessary collection and use of social security numbers;

 

(8)  Establishes that no later than January 1, 2010, the lead state and county government agencies that have primary responsibility for human resource functions shall develop and distribute to the appropriate government agencies written guidelines detailing recommended practices to minimize unauthorized access to personal information and personal information systems relating to personnel recruitment, background checks, testing, employee retirement and health benefits, time reporting and payroll issues;

 

(9)  Mandates that no later than September 1, 2009, all government agencies shall develop a written agency policy relating to notification of any security breach of personal information; and

 

(10)  Establishes no later than July 1, 2008, within the office of the auditor, the identity theft task force working group, to provide continuity from the work of the identity theft task force, established pursuant to Act 65, Session Laws of Hawaii 2005, as amended by Act 140, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006; and assist in the transition and development of recommendations and best practices related to personal information.  The working group shall include five members of the identity theft task force, the auditor, and the consultant retained by the auditor for the work of the identity theft task force.  The identity theft task force working group shall cease to exist on June 30, 2009.

 

            Thank you.

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Final Reading Written Remarks on S.B. 2456, S.D. 2, H.D. 1, C.D. 1 Relating to Harassment [May. 9th, 2008|01:47 am]
 

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

Senate Bill 2456, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 1, Conference Draft 1

Relating to Harassment (Harassment by Impersonation)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

            I rise in support.

 

            Since the 2005 Legislative Session, I have been working to create a new law to discourage impersonation.  The reasoning is that people are being harassed by individuals impersonating as them, especially on the Internet.  It has already happened to a friend of mine.  The act of harassing by impersonation can cause irreparable damage by ruining one's reputation, placing one in fear of one's safety, and inflicting emotional distress.

 

            Senate Bill 2456 is the companion to my House Bill 2319, which proposed to add computer communication as a form of nonconsensual contact in the offense of harassment by stalking.  However, Senate Bill 2456, Senate Draft 2, House Draft 1 was amended by the House Judiciary Committee to include the policy goal of discouraging impersonation, which is from another bill of mine, House Bill 2320.

 

            This measure would create a new section in the Hawai'i Revised Statutes to include "harassment by impersonation."  Under this definition, "A person commits the offense of harassment by impersonation if that person poses as another person, without the express authorization of that person, and makes or causes to be made, either directly or indirectly, a transmission of any personal information of the person to another by any oral statement, any written statement, or any statement conveyed by any electronic means, with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm any person."  Harassment by impersonation would be a misdemeanor.

 

            Thank you.

 

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Final Reading Written Remarks for House Bill 2500, H.D.1, S.D.1, C.D.1 Relating to the State Budget [May. 9th, 2008|01:39 am]
 

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Final Reading Written Remarks

House Bill 2500, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1, Conference Draft 1

Relating to the State Budget

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

            I rise in support.

 

            House Bill 2500 appropriates supplemental funds for the operating and capital costs of the Executive Branch for the fiscal year July 1, 2008, through June 20, 2009.  After strong economic growth in the mid-2000s, peaking with double-digit growth rates in fiscal year 2005 (16 percent) and 2006 (10.9 percent), Hawai'i's economy slowed sharply in 2006 and 2007.

 

            With considerably lower than projected general fund revenues available, this bill preserves essential health and safety funding in this supplemental budget.  Unfortunately, reductions were made to the Governor's supplemental budget through a combination of denying requests, making vacancy adjustments, and reducing the departments' general fund non-fixed cost "discretionary" budget appropriations.

 

            I would like to highlight some of the appropriations and investments that were included.  Investing in the aging infrastructure of our public schools was the primary focus.  For fiscal year 2008-2009, $310,193,000 was provided by the legislature to the Department of Education in General Obligation and General Obligation Reimbursable bond funds, including: $100,000 for whole school classroom renovations statewide; and $66,461,000 for school building repair and maintenance statewide.  The following are some of the capital improvement projects I supported for schools in or near my state representative district and non-profit educational institutions in the State of Hawai'i:

 

1.         Honowai Elementary School: The legislature appropriated $2,000,000 for fiscal             year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design, construction, and equipment for electrical system improvements; ground and site improvements; and equipment and appurtenances.

 

2.         Kaleiopu'u Elementary School: The legislature appropriated $85,000 for fiscal   year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design and construction for a covered walkway to the cafeteria and office area; ground and site improvements; and equipment and appurtenances.  In addition, the legislature appropriated $550,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design, construction, and equipment for electrical upgrades; ground and site improvements; and equipment and appurtenances.

 

3.         Waikele Elementary School: The legislature appropriated $100,000 for fiscal year         2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design and construction to expand the faculty parking lot; ground and site improvements; and equipment and appurtenances.

 

4.         Waipahu High School: The legislature appropriated $75,000 for fiscal year 2007-          2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design and construction for fencing; ground and site improvements; equipment and appurtenances.

 

5.         Children's Discovery Center: The legislature appropriated $125,000 for fiscal year         2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 and $300,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009 for construction for facility improvements at the Children's Discovery Center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

6.         KCAA Preschools of Hawaii: The legislature appropriated $250,000 for fiscal year 2008-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for plans, design, and construction for the development of a new training center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

            The legislature has taken note of the alarming state of some facilities within the University of Hawai'i system and provided $161,446,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009 by all means of financing for capital improvements in the university system.  The following are some of the capital improvement projects I supported for the University of Hawai'i system:

 

1.         University of Hawai'i system: The legislature appropriated $60,000,000 for fiscal           year 2008-2009 for system wide capital renewal, deferred maintenance, and health and safety measures.

 

2.         University of Hawai'i at Manoa: The legislature appropriated $8,500,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 and $35,883,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009 for plans, design, construction, and equipment for renovation and addition to the campus center complex.

 

3.         University of Hawai'i - West Oahu: The legislature appropriated $135,000,000 in          fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design, construction, and equipment for the development of the University of Hawai'i – West Oahu.  The project is to include ground and site improvements, construction of infrastructure and new facilities, and all project related costs.

 

            An efficient system of harbors and airports is vital to the flow of people and goods to, from, and within Hawaii.  The legislature provided an investment of $124,375,000 in revenue bond funds for harbor modernization projects and an additional $130,236,000 for airport modernization.  In order to maintain and improve our highway system, the legislature appropriated $183,066,000 by all means of financing for fiscal year 2008-2009.  The following are some of the transportation capital improvement projects I supported:

 

1.         Kamehameha Highway Improvements, Waipahu Street to Ka Uka Boulevard: The        legislature appropriated $150,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 and $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009 for land acquisition and construction for traffic operational and other improvement, including sidewalk, bikeway, highway lighting, drainage, and other improvements.  This project is deemed necessary to qualify for federal aid financing and/or reimbursement.

 

2.         Interstate Route H-1, Westbound Afternoon (P.M.) Contraflow: The legislature             appropriated $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design for a P.M. contraflow lane on interstate route H-1 from the vicinity of Radford Drive to the vicinity of Waikele.

 

3.         Ke'ehi Small Boat Harbor: The legislature appropriated $4,000,000 for fiscal year         2008-2009 for plans, design, and construction of a bulkhead, pier, pad, and storm water management system and utilities installation at Ke'ehi Small Boat Harbor to relocate Honolulu Marine, LLC from Hawai'i Community Development Authority property.

 

            The following are other capital improvement projects I supported that are located in or near my state representative district:

 

1.         Kunia Agricultural Park: The legislature appropriated $250,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for plans to develop Kunia Agricultural Park.

 

2.         Waipahu United Church of Christ: The legislature appropriated $250,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design and construction for improvements for a community center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes.

 

3.         American Box Car Racing International: The legislature appropriated $75,000 for          fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for plans, design, and construction for a youth facility.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

4.         Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park: The legislature appropriated $250,000         for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for construction for improvements at Hawai'i's Plantation Village.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes.

 

            The following are other capital improvement projects I supported that are located in the State of Hawai'i:

 

1.         Iolani Palace State Monument: The legislature appropriated $4,500,000 for fiscal          year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for construction for air conditioning, climate control, and related improvements to preserve historic and cultural artifacts.

 

2.         Lanakila Rehabilitation Center: The legislature appropriated $300,000 for fiscal             year 2007-2008 and reauthorized for fiscal year 2008-2009 for design and construction for renovation of the Lanakila Wahiawa center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes.

 

3.         Bishop Museum: The legislature appropriated 1,000,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009 for plans, design, and construction for repairs and maintenance and other related improvements at the Bishop Museum.

 

4.         Hawai'i Theatre Center: The legislature appropriated $250,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008 and reauthorized it for fiscal year 2008-2009 for construction for improvements to facilities owned by the Hawai'i Theatre Center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes.

 

5.         Japanese Cultural Center: The legislature appropriated $250,000 for construction          for repairs and improvements to the Japanese Cultural Center.  This project qualified as a grant, pursuant to Chapter 42F of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes.

 

            For the 2008 Legislative Session, I introduced House Bill 2323, which would establish within the beach restoration special fund a sub-account to be known as the resort beach restoration fund to be administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, into which shall be deposited general funds appropriated by the legislature and revenues from the tourism special fund, which receives moneys from the transient accommodations tax.  No funds would be released for expenditure from the resort beach restoration fund unless matched by non-state funds on at least a one-to-one basis.  Moneys in the resort beach restoration fund would be used to provide for the development and restoration of visitor area resort beaches, including maintenance of any improvements placed on the visitor area resort beach or in the nearshore waters, as determined by the department, including debt service on any capital expenditures projects and the contracting for services for those purposes.  Fortunately, the legislative money committees created a proviso in this state budget bill, appropriating $1,000,000 from the special fund for tourism (BED 113) for fiscal year 2008-2009 for beach restoration, provided that restoration projects on resort beaches shall be matched dollar-for-dollar from private sources and shall be on beaches with public access.  This beach restoration fund for resort beaches is to be administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

 

            The legislature recognized that energy efficiency is an investment that pays off for itself and, provided $17,460,000 for energy conservation and efficiency projects throughout the State for fiscal year 2008-2009.

 

            The lack of affordable housing is a major concern of the legislature.  Appropriations to address this issue include a total infusion of $25,000,000 in general obligation bond funds into the Rental Housing Trust Fund and the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund in order to finance additional affordable housing.

 

            Given substantially lower than projected general fund growth for fiscal year 2007-2008, the legislature has crafted an honest, responsible, and sustainable supplemental budget.  In total, this supplemental budget appropriates $10,789,367,663 in fiscal year 2008-2009.  Specifically in regarding general fund appropriations, this budget appropriates $5,318,212,5547 in fiscal year 2008-2009.

 

            Thank you.

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Compassion: 3. Your Opponents [May. 4th, 2008|04:57 pm]
Opponents are those who are mean, vindictive, heartless, impatient, jealous, self-righteous, and/or selfish.  They like to criticize and attack you in hopes of taking you down personally or your career.  I don't hate them.  I only wish them peace and happiness.

In April 2008, I made an invocation for the Hawaii State House of Representatives.  My prayer:

"This prayer is based on two philosophies, Itoism and Karamatsuism.  Members and guests, I would like us to make a silent prayer to our loved ones and even our opponents in hopes that they achieve peace and happiness.  At this time, can we have a silent prayer.

Thank you."
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Compassion: 2. Your Enemies [May. 4th, 2008|04:12 pm]
Having compassion for your enemies is the most difficult thing to do in my opinion.  How do you have compassion for someone who harmed you or a loved one, or even go as far as to kill your loved one?  

I still have difficulty with the males who raped female friends of mine.  For some of us, our first instinct would be to retaliate.  When a number of girls told me their story of domestic violence and sexual assault during college, I was very angry at these male perpetrators.  Pain and in this case, anger drove me into politics.  Later in life, more females revealed to me their stories.  It never ends.

The world is full of violence and it is a cycle.  There are so many wars and terrorist attacks.  They killed my loved one so I will kill your loved one.  Women and children are innocenlty raped and killed.  We are just going back and forth with our violence and there is no end in sight.

It is easier to have compassion for my opponents who will try to ruin your life and take you down.  They have no feelings and are just plain mean.  Although they do bad things against you personally, they won't try to physically harm or kill you or your loved ones. 

On the other hand, enemies will harm and even kill you and your loved ones.  Instead of retaliating, we must take all their immense negative energy and convert it to positive energy and do as much good as we can.  This is the least we can do through compassion.  The most compassionate ones can pray to their enemies and the spirits of their enemies in hopes that they will eventually change and stop the violence or even find peace within themselves.
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