Monthly Archives: February 2004

Update on Rep. Karamatsu’s H.B. 2569 Relating to Niihau Shell Products

Today, I summarized my Niihau Shell bill on the House floor for third reading. It passed the House and will be heading to the Senate.

The House Draft 1 of this bill prohibits items made of seashells from being labeled “Niihau” if not 100% made of Niihau shells and made within the State; allows items made with at least 80% Niihau shells to be labeled as to percentage content.

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Representative Karamatsu’s Testimony Regarding Niihau Shell Products

Below is my testimony before the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce regarding Niihau Shell Products:

Testimony of
Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu
H.B. 2569
Relating to Niihau Shell Products
Monday, February 9, 2004
3:00 p.m.
Conference Room 325

Good afternoon Chair Hiraki, Vice Chair Herkes, and members of the committee.

I am Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu, and I am testifying in favor of H.B. 2569, which prohibits items made of seashells from being labeled “Niihau” if not 100% made of Niihau shells and made within the State. I dream of seeing Hawaii as a global economic power with a strong and diversified economy. However, as we are moving ahead in solidifying our tourism and military industries, and promoting our knowledge based industries such as technology and science, we must include our native Hawaiians to be a part of this historical movement. This bill takes a small step towards that direction.

Specifically, H.B. 2569 would protect the Native Hawaiian Niihau shell product businesses on Niihau from other businesses using the term “Niihau” on their products when in fact their products (1) do not comprise of seashells harvested from the island of Niihau, its waters, or beaches and (2) are not fabricated, processed, or manufactured entirely within the State. In addition, this bill allows discussion on a percentage measure for non 100% Niihau shell products to be permitted to use the term “Niihau” and be labeled with a percentage component.

The Native Hawaiian Niihau shell product businesses on Niihau are known for their craftsmanship and choice of pristine shells. The policy behind this measure is to protect Hawaii businesses, especially native Hawaiian businesses from being taken advantage of by companies capitalizing on the term “Niihau” just as the term “Kona” was for coffee. After all, customers pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for Niihau shell products. Hawaiian cultural products are becoming more and more popular in the global economy as Hawaii in itself is a brand name. Besides retail businesses, with e-commerce businesses on the Internet, the potential for abuse is even greater, if it has not already occurred.

Therefore, I support H.B. 2569 to help protect our Hawaii businesses, especially those owned by our Native Hawaiian brothers and sisters. Thank you Chair Hiraki, Vice Chair Herkes, and members of the committee for allowing me to testify.

With Warmest Aloha,

Jon Riki Karamatsu
State Representative, District 41

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Racing Against Time

Late last year, a person told me, “Man, Jon Riki, you’ve done so much in a short time.” In my opinion, I haven’t done much yet. I cram as much work as I can because at times, I feel as if I am working against time. I have no idea when my last day in public office will be or when I will die. I know that death could be around the corner, so I live life to the fullest. I am determined to leave something meaningful for future generations before my time comes.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love Hawaii.

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Update on Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu’s 2003 Bills

2003 bills are still alive for the 2004 legislative session if it was not held in committee. Some of the policy behind my bills were achieved quietly. For example, two out of three of my capital improvement projects were included in the 2003 state budget. My crystal methamphetamine prevention bill was included in a catch-all bill being addressed this year. Finally, a couple of my bills are being achieved administratively. The following are some of my 2003 bills:

House Bill 678 would establish the Hawaii Employer Mutual Health Insurance Company to provide health insurance to Hawaii employers. My intent was to have a company that would help smaller businesses (i.e. “mom and pop” stores) and entrepreneurs in their health coverage for their employees.

House Bill 679 would require the department of transportation to establish standards for the placement of school zone traffic signals, signage, and crosswalks, on public roads, to help ensure the safety of students, parents, and school personnel.

House Bill 680, House Draft 1 would require mandatory ethics training for legislators, elected members of the board of education, governor, lieutenant governor, executive department heads and deputies, and trustees of the office of Hawaiian affairs.

House Bill 682, House Draft 1 would appropriate funds for the Department of Health to work in cooperation with the Department of Education to prevent crystal methamphetamine use. There needs to be greater education on the danger of drugs to help prevent future drug users.

House Bill 683 would give students enrolled in University of Hawaii (UH) film courses reasonable access to the Diamond Head film studio. I was hoping to get UH film students some hands-on job experience in the film industry. Fortunately, UH and Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism will be working towards this goal administratively.

House Bill 684 would provide a tax credit for the purchase of motion picture and film, and television production and post-production equipment.

House Bill 686 would provide tax credits to small high technology companies that increases the amount of their employees. I created this bill to help push the growth of our technology industry and create jobs. I want Hawaii’s young adults to have a technology career here if they choose rather than looking towards the mainland as their only option.

House Bill 687 would require the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to include performance goals, monitoring requirements, and measures of effectiveness in each contract in which public funds are expended for tourism marketing or promotion. It would require HTA to provide an annual report. Ironically, not too long after I introduced this bill, a state audit revealed mismanagement by Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) on contracts they had with HTA. As a result, HTA took away all international marketing contracts from HVCB, leaving them with only a marketing contract for North America.

House Bill 690 would require the Hawaii Tourism Authority to allocate a portion of its biennial budget to contract with the Hawaii Technology Trade Association to market and promote high technology industries in Hawaii. My intent was to diversify Hawaii’s marketing strategy. This bill would promote Hawaii as “business friendly” and bring more investment monies into our State.

House Bill 689 would provide matching funds up to $75,000 for the plantation village programs through the Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park. I supported the park because the rich history of Hawaii’s plantation life must be retained for future generations to see.

House Bill 691: In a contract for a public works project, a joint venture of two or more contractors shall qualify for the preference in this section if all joint venture contractors meet the requirements: a state agency shall award the 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 per cent 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. The policy behind this measure is to allow smaller companies to join together in the bidding process so they will be able to compete against larger companies.

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Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu’s 2004 Bills and Resolutions

Each Representative can introduce up to ten bills for the 2004 Legislative Session. Chairs and leadership can introduce much more. The following are some of the bills I introduced this session:

House Bill 2571 authorizes the formation of a purchasing pool for small employers to purchase health care insurance to meet the requirements of the prepaid health care law. I created this bill to help entrepreneurs and small businesses get reasonable health insurance rates for their employees.

House Bill 2573 allows the Director of Finance to invest up to 10% of state short-term investment moneys in linked investments. Moneys invested in financial institutions would be made available as a loan to an eligible borrower who is an entrepreneur in the State. A cap on loans will be set. The lending institution will pay an interest rate to the State for the certificate of deposit of not more than two percent below the current market rates.

House Bill 2568 requires the Department of Education to establish the Academy of Hawaii for gifted and talented students in order to develop the potential of students who have demonstrated superior achievement through the provision of appropriate educational opportunities, to be located on the University of Hawaii -–West Oahu campus. As we are attracting investments and companies in the knowledge-based industries, we need to prepare our students to be active participants in this historical movement.

House Bill 2569 prohibits items made of seashells from being labeled “Niihau” if not 100% made of Niihau shells and made within the State. Allows items made with at least a to-be-named percentage, but less than 100% of Niihau shells to be labeled as to percentage content. My intent is to protect the brand “Niihau shells” from money-makers using inferior shells and lei-making. Further, this bill will keep the market value high and protect the native Hawaiians in this industry.

House Bill 2570 provides a bonus for public school teachers if state revenues exceed an unspecified amount.

House Bill 2572 establishes the Tourism Diversification and Economic Development Committee to review and prioritize existing tourism diversification and economic development initiatives and facilitate the implementation of initiatives deemed most promising.

House Bill 2781 exempts the Hawaii convention center from the freedom of information law for the Hawaii convention center if compliance would result in a license agreement not being executed by a licensee requesting nondisclosure. The reasoning behind this bill is that companies may want to hold conventions without having to release private information that could endanger their trade secrets.

House Bill 2574 funds an Emergency Rear Exit for Kaleiopuu Elementary School and the Reinforcement of Building G at Honowai Elementary School.

House Bill 2781 exempts booking business records of the Hawaii Convention Center from the freedom on information law. The purpose is to protect a potential licensee’s confidential business information or proprietary information. This measure will encourage more conventions, especially business conventions and further promote Hawaii as being business friendly.

House Bill 2575 makes an appropriation for the continuation and expansion of the project east (environmental and spatial technology) initiative in Hawaii’s public schools.

House Resolution 85 and House Concurrent Resolution 126 requests the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women to maintain and utilize the self-sufficiency standard, where feasible.

House Concurrent Resolution 127 Requests the Department of Accounting and General Services to conduct a study comparing the cost of a new stadium with the cost of maintaining Aloha Stadium.

If you would like to express your support or disagreement with a bill through testimony, please call our office at 586-8490, or e-mail me at My staff will track the bill for you and keep you informed when it is scheduled for a public hearing before a legislative committee. Mahalo!

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