Monthly Archives: May 2007

Correction to Thursday, May 17, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser Commentary By Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu


I made a mistake on my 2006 car expenses for the Honolulu Advertiser commentary dated Thursday, May 17, 2007.  Instead of $3000 in fuel expenses, it should be $2,111.70. I forgot to subtract the car insurance and registration expenses.  Nonetheless, my car expenses in 2006 seemed high.  I often drive throughout the island of Oahu for meetings and events, often going back and forth from the Leeward area to Honolulu.

The following are my 2006 car expenses breakdown:

 
Car Expenses
Fuel: $2,111.70
Insurance: $864.00
Registration: $165.25
Service and Repairs: $754.19
Auto Miscellaneous: $103.03
Total: $3,998.17

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Thursday, May 17, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser Commentary By Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu


Thursday, May 17, 2007

COMMENTARY
Legislature addressed fundamental needs

By Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

As the youngest member of the House of Representatives, I may view the successes and failures of the legislative session from a different perspective than some of my colleagues.  For most people my age in Hawai'i, sustainability is important, but affordability is the immediate concern – being able to afford the basics such as housing, healthcare and education, for themselves and their young families.

I was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2002, at age 27. As a very young legislator, I was determined to make a change in the lives of Hawai'i's people. Then, as now, many young people were questioning whether they could afford to live in Hawai'i and raise a family. Today, rents are skyrocketing and gas prices are going through the roof. I spend more than $3,000 a year on gas commuting between Honolulu and Waipahu.

We set a course to help people with affording the basics, and I believe we took many solid steps forward, some big and some small. In addition, state economists and the Council on Revenues have indicated for quite some time that our economy is slowing. The Legislature's approach to spending is fiscally conservative, and aims to use surplus funds for education and infrastructure, which I think will be appreciated by the next generation.

For example, being able to own or rent a place is probably the biggest worry for people my age. Even those with higher incomes are having a hard time buying or even renting a home.

To help with the housing crunch, we put an additional $15 million into the Rental Housing Trust Fund to encourage the development of affordable rental housing. We designated $14 million out of the fund for the development of affordable housing projects with private and nonprofit developers. We also raised the percentage of conveyance tax revenue that will be put in the Rental Housing Trust Fund and extended the sunset date on the allocation of those revenues to June 2008.

Many young people think of healthcare as an issue only when they start to have children. The Keiki Care bill will provide free healthcare to all uninsured children. Other bills will reduce prescription drug costs, bring back health insurance rate regulation, and increase Medicaid reimbursement for doctors.

Our tax-relief package was designed to help those who need it most, and many working students and families just starting out will qualify for these credits. Low-to-middle-income earners will get the most back through a sliding-scale credit. Couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of $5,000 to $60,000 will receive credits ranging from $160 to $90. The food and excise tax credit will help people save money that can be spent on other needs. And, we voted to restore the general excise tax exemption of 10 cents per gallon of gas, which will help the pocketbooks of us all.

We set aside more than $497 million to boost education and repair cracks in the system. The Legislature designated resources for a new College of Pharmacy, which will become part of University of Hawai'i-Hilo, and put $135 million toward building the long-awaited UH-West O'ahu campus in Kapolei.

I am proud that many in my generation are forward-thinking, not just about our own lives, but about the future of the planet. We passed measures encouraging technology, innovation, and renewable energy. These included bills to explore potential broadband access statewide, develop a life-sciences research complex in Kaka'ako with a wet laboratory space and expand Project EAST, a technology-based initiative for public schools that started on Maui. These measures will encourage the growth of Hawai'i's fledgling life-sciences industry.

Most importantly, we took steps to help Hawai'i become less reliant on fossil fuels and more self-sustainable through renewable energy. We pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020. We also helped finance clean energy projects like a solar-farm power plant at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai'i and a seawater air-conditioning system for Downtown Honolulu.

It's important to recognize that our state's well-being will depend on keeping Hawai'i affordable. The world around us is also changing, becoming interconnected and more competitive. While my generation is trying to solve one set of issues, our kids will face a brand new set of problems. We are aiming to develop an economy that will provide the kinds of jobs needed to first afford, and then sustain, quality of life.

While our most important measures may not have made big headlines, the content of these bills will have a positive impact on all our lives and lay the foundation for future generations.

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu is vice speaker of the House and represents District 41 (Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele). He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

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Written Comments on Senate Bill 907 Relating to Aerospace Development


Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Senate Bill 907 SD2 HD2 CD1

Relating to Aerospace Development

Written Comments for the House Journal

May 3, 2007 (Day 60)

 

I rise in support.

 

For nearly half a century, the State has supported our national space efforts, beginning with astronaut training programs in the late 1950s and the development of world-class observatories in the 1960s.  Over the past three decades, the University of Hawaii, the United States military, and numerous companies statewide have also engaged in a variety of nationally-funded pioneering programs in planetary geosciences, satellite communications, remote sensing, environmental monitoring, and meteorology.

 

The purpose of this bill is to position Hawaii to be nationally and globally competitive and recognized in aerospace development.  The measure renames the Office of Space Industry to the Office of Aerospace Development, and adds additional duties and appropriates out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $500,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2007-2008 for the Office of Aerospace Development to carry out its duties to identify and promote opportunities for expanding and diversifying aerospace-related industries in the State.

 

Thank you.

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Written Comments on Senate Bill 1922 Relating to Creative Media


Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Senate Bill 1922 SD2 HD1 CD1

Relating to Creative Media

Written Comments for the House Journal

May 3, 2007 (Day 60)

 

I rise in support.

 

In recent years, we have passed tax incentives to help attract more film and creative media projects in Hawaii.  However, what is the use of having film and creative media projects in Hawaii if the people of Hawaii cannot be a part of it?  Therefore, importantly, we supported the inception of the Academy of Creative Media at the University of Hawaii to help prepare our students to become a significant part of Hawaii's film and digital media industry.  The academy is playing a huge role in making sure Hawaii has its share of filmmakers, screen writers, computer graphic designers, and computer game programmers.

 

In spite of its success, the academy for creative media is without a central facility or permanent home on any campus and does not receive any funding for programmatic needs outside of faculty salaries.  Senate Bill 1922 authorizes the academy for creative media to designate the existing public broadcasting system (PBS Hawaii) facility and studio located on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus as an interim home and appropriates $2,870,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2007‑2008 and $2,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 for the equipment and installation suitable for the Academy for Creative Media programs, costs associated with handicapped compliance, and common area spaces of the PBS Hawaii facility and studio.

 

In addition, we recognize that Hawaii's music industry is an established segment of Hawaii's creative media industries sector, with a growing popularity reaching far beyond the shores of our island state.  Full recognition of the merits of Hawaiian music came in 2005 when the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced the creation of a Hawaiian music category in its annual Grammy Awards, the world's most prestigious music awards program.

 

While Hawaii has an unusually high concentration of raw musical talent and industry professionals, it lacks the technical support infrastructure to assist individuals in the progression of their careers and businesses.

 

Thus, Senate Bill 1922 also establishes a music and enterprise learning experience program at the University of Hawaii – Honolulu Community College to develop the technical business skills required by Hawaii's music artists and music industry.

 

There is established at the University of Hawaii – Honolulu Community College campus the music and enterprise learning experience program to expand the existing industry capacity, and to create new technological, intercultural, and genre-bending forms of music through creativity and professional business expertise.  The program will be developed around artist creativity, entertainment business expertise, and technical production skills.  The program will collaborate with Belmont University of Nashville, Tennessee, on the joint use of Belmont's curriculum, technical facilities and equipment specifications, training, dual credit course offerings, and will also offer internships in some of the most varied music environments in the world.

 

The program will be seeded through a Title III Developing Institutions grant that has been awarded to the Honolulu Community College native Hawaiian center, and will provide for some basic program development of course offerings in coordination with Belmont University of Nashville, Tennessee.

 

The bill appropriates out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $150,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2007-2008 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 to carry out the purposes of leasing, operating, and maintaining a music and entertainment business training center.

 

Thank you.

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Written Comments on SB 1228: Historical Preservation of Japanese Internment Camps in Hawaii


Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Written Comments

Senate Bill 1228, Senate Draft 1, House Draft 1, Conference Draft 1

Historical Preservation; Japanese Internment Camps in Hawaii
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

 

I rise in support.

 

The story of the wrongful and unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans by the United States government during World War II must never be forgotten.  Many of them lost their jobs and property because of their imprisonment for simply having Japanese ancestry.  Unfortunately, some died in these internment camps.  Many young Japanese American men volunteered for military service and died for their country while their families were imprisoned by the very country they were fighting for.  Through this bill, the State of Hawaii supports establishing a process to determine the most appropriate means of memorializing the World War II Japanese American internment camp experience in Hawaii.

 

Thank you.

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Written Comments on SB 896 SD1 HD2 CD1: High Technology Incubation Center at Kakaako


Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Written Comments

Senate Bill 896, Senate Draft 1, House Draft 2, Conference Draft 1

High Technology; Incubation Center; Kakaako

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

 

I rise in support.

 

This bill would help in developing Hawaii's technology and life science industries by appropriating $150,000 for fiscal year 2007-2008, and the sum of $250,000 for fiscal year 2008-2009, for the lease agreement between the High Technology Development Corporation and the developers or owners of a life science complex in Kakaako, and for plans for and operations of a high technology incubator and innovation center to be held at that complex.

 

Thank you.

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Written Comments on HB 692 HD2 SD1 CD 1: Extending Special Purpose Revenue Bonds For Aloun Farms


Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu

Written Comments

House Bill 692, House Draft 2, Senate Draft 1, Conference Draft 1

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Special Purpose Revenue Bonds; Lapsing; Aloun Farms

 

I rise in support.

 

I am in strong support of extending the lapse date of special purpose revenue bonds issued to assist Aloun Farms to June 30, 2010.  This company has played a huge role in Hawaii's agricultural industry and sustainability.  Aloun Farms plans to use the special purpose revenue bonds to build an agricultural processing plant in the future to strengthen its operations.  However, not too long ago, the company's landowner sold the land to a developer that plans to build homes on its land once the lease expires.  With the uncertainty of where Aloun Farms will be located in the future, an extension of the special purpose revenue bonds would be very helpful for this important Hawaii agricultural company.

 

Thank you.

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