Monthly Archives: March 2003

Rep. Karamatsu’s Floor Speech on His Procurement Bill

Floor Speech on House Bill 691 Regarding Procurement.
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this measure.

According to HRS §103D-1007, a state agency shall award a public works contract to an offeror who has filed all state tax returns due to the State and paid all amounts owing on such returns for two successive years prior to submitting the offer; provided that the amount of that offer is not more than seven percent higher than the amount offered by any competing contractor who has not filed or paid all applicable state taxes, and the amount of the offer by the state tax paying offeror is $5,000,000 or less.

However, the current statute disqualifies a joint venture of two or more contractors from receiving the preference because the joint venture has not previously filed a state tax return even though each contractor individually qualifies for this preference. This places the smaller contractor at a disadvantage in bidding against larger contractors.

For public works projects, House Bill 691 would allow a joint venture of two or more contractors to qualify for the preference if all joint venture contractors meet the requirements of HRS §103D-1007. Passage of this measure will help the smaller contractors to compete for and bid on larger contracts that they might not be able to perform individually and result in a greater number of bids being submitted.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Floor Presentation for the Hawai‘i Arts Education Partners and Apple Computer

On March 7, 2003, I did a floor presentation celebrating the public unveiling of the Hawai‘i Learning Interchange’s Archetype and commending the Hawai‘i Arts Education Partners and Apple Computer for creating a national model of academic excellence

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Floor Speech Supporting an Economic Diversification Authority

Floor Speech Supporting an Economic Diversification Authority
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Standing Committee Report Number 836.

Mr. Speaker, many of our state departments and agencies work hard to economically develop their subject matters. However, there needs to be greater coordination between these government entities to ensure economic diversification occurs. House Bill 1579 House Draft 1 addresses this by creating an authority that will coordinate the State's efforts to create a plan, develop policies, strategize in how we market Hawaii, and find ways to eliminate or reduce barriers to diversify our economy. Therefore, to make Hawaii competitive in the global market, we must take action now to diversify our economy.

Thank you Mr. Speaker

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Floor Speech on Contraceptives for Sexual Assault Survivors in Hospital Emergency Rooms

Floor Speech on Contraceptives for Sexual Assault Survivors in Hospital Emergency Rooms
Tuesday, March 4, 2003:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Standing Committee Report Number 838.

Mr. Speaker, the statistics on sexual assault in our country and Hawaii are staggering. One in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. One out every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 2001, the Department of the Attorney General reported a 16.8% increase in reported forcible rape in Hawaii from 2000.

However, research indicates that less than 30% of all sexual assaults are reported. If everything were reported, the statistics would drastically increase. Personally, I have friends who have never reported or sought help for their sexual assault.

When I was a student leader at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I served on the Sexual Harassment Policy Committee and was astounded to hear the stories of sexual assault just at the college level, many of which were not reported beyond the University's sexual assault counselor. Part of the problem is that our society is very quiet about this crisis. Consequently, survivors feel unsupported or even at fault for their predicament.

House Bill 189 House Draft 2 takes a positive step in their healing process. This measure will help inform sexual assault survivors of all options available to them including emergency contraceptives for sexual assault survivors in emergency rooms.

After the attack, many of these women and girls are traumatized and may not be able to think clearly. Many survivors develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the same disorder suffered by survivors of war. This measure will help our women and girls at the beginning of their lifelong struggle. As statistics indicate, many will eventually face drug abuse, eating disorders, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and even suicide, in addition to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Restricting information and options available at our hospitals does not make the process any easier for them. We must do all we can to support survivors, and not re-victimize them by withholding all options available in their time of need.

Mr. Speaker, seven years ago, when I was in college, I tried to do what I could to help a friend who survived a rape she experienced as a teenager that was not reported. My friend implied that there was nothing I could do. I entered politics determined to make a difference, especially for those who feel abandoned. And so today I stand before the House of Representatives in support of this measure to send a message to the women and girls of Hawaii that they are not alone. I want them to know that their leaders will do all they can to ensure sexual assault survivors have all information and options before them because their welfare is the top priority.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Rep. Karamatsu’s Floor Remarks Entered Into the Journal Regarding His Enterprise Zone Bill

Floor Speech on the Enterprise Zone Bill
Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Standing Committee Report Number 849.

Mr. Speaker, the enterprise zone program was created in 1986 to encourage business activity, job creation, and economic diversification where they are most needed through regulatory flexibility and tax incentives. However, with the threat of war and economic uncertainty, time is of the essence, therefore, we must go further and work proactively to support areas losing a great number of jobs.

Current law allows each county in the State of Hawaii to select six areas for designation by the Governor as enterprise zones. House Bill 685 House Draft 2 would go further by directing the governor to work with the city and county of Honolulu to create additional enterprise zones in areas where commercial real estate have a vacancy rate of fifteen percent or more. Underutilized commercial real estate and the loss of jobs in these areas must be addressed before the situation worsens.

Although this measure would waive the requirements in sections 209E-4 and 209E-5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to zone designation and application review, the strict eligibility requirements in section 209E-9 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes will still be applicable for these two-year period enterprise zones.

Accordingly, to be eligible, a business located in an enterprise zone must earn at least half of its annual gross revenue from trade or business within the zone. In addition, businesses must satisfy one of the following hiring requirements. “New” businesses must increase their average annual number of full time employees by at least 10 percent the first year. At the end of Year 2, the average annual number of full-time employees must not drop below the required Year One average. For “Existing” businesses, they must increase their annual average number of full-time by at least 10 percent the first year. In Year 2, existing businesses will need to continue their average annual number of full-time employees by at least 10 percent as well. Therefore, businesses must still work to receive state and city incentives.

For the sake of fiscal responsibility, House Bill 685 House Draft 2 is very specific. On Tuesday, February 25, 2003 before the House Committee on Finance, The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) in its written testimony, stated, “…we have determined that of the three types of commercial real estate: office, industrial and retail space, there are few geographic areas on Oahu that have a vacancy rate of 15% or more in any of these categories.” Hence, this bill will not be applied freely but rather prudently to areas in dire need.

For members concerned about “home rule,” the city and county of Honolulu can choose not to provide any of its incentives set forth in section 209E-12 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes if it is unable or unwilling to participate. Such a decision by the City will not terminate the temporary enterprise zone term of two years. Moreover, qualified businesses in these temporary enterprise zones will still be eligible to receive the state tax incentives until the zone terminates as a result of this measure’s two year sunset clause.

Finally, this measure supports our goal in diversifying our economy by allowing a variety of industries to participate in this program, including a good number from the knowledge-based industries.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Floor Presentation for Recipients of the Milken Family Foundation 2002-2003 National Educator Award

Floor Presentation for Teachers Leonard Villanueva and Lynne Aki Johnson, Recipients of the Milken Family Foundation 2002-2003 National Educator Award

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution.

When it comes to heroes, Mr. Kanemoto, Mrs. Higashi, and Mrs. Chun come to mind. They were also my teachers.

The unsung heroes are the teachers who try to keep our young people engaged in their education. They serve as a member of each child's extended “ohana,” as they counsel, discipline, and support our children for nearly six hours a day, five days a week, nine to ten months every year.

Critics complain about the school system and call it “broken.” They are so eager to make a point about some of the failures of the system, but forget to recognize and honor the many positive things that are happening. Regardless if we have one, seven, or a hundred boards of education, it is people that make are schools great.
Leonard Villanueva, a teacher at Honowai Elementary School in my district, and Lynne Aki Johnson, a teacher at Aikahi Elementary School in Representative Thielen's district, represent the best in teaching because they make small miracles happen everyday in the lives of the children in their classrooms.

They too, are heroes.

Leonard Villanueva dreamt about becoming a teacher and has lived his dream for the past 15 years. He is a fourth grade teacher at Honowai Elementary School and with his knowledge of standards-based education and high expectations of his students, he is affectionately called “Mr. Standards.”

By his presence and example, he energizes his students and motivates them to learn. Even in his free time, he still teaches as a volleyball coach and an after-school tutor. And, through all his activities and by his example, he involves and continues to teach his son as a single parent. It is for these reasons The Milken Family Foundation named Mr. Villanueva as a recipient of their 2002-2003 National Educator Award, citing him for his exceptional and exemplary classroom practice and leadership. I am proud to present him before our honorable body to be able to say thank you for teaching and loving our children.

Mr. Villanueva, can you please rise. Also joining Mr. Villanueva today are his parents: Jose and Judith Villanueva.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Bill Update

I am currently working on my floor speeches for Third Reading bills that will be on the floor on Tuesday, March 1, 2003. My House Bill 685 HD2 relating to enterprise zones will be up for third reading on that day as well.

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