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What State issues are south Maui  residents "Talking about...?"


1. Environment

Renewable Energy: The state of Hawaii announced the Clean Energy Initiative in 2008, which calls for 70% of Hawaii's energy to come from wind power, solar energy, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass energy by the year 2030. By law, no new coal plants can be opened, and as of 2011. According to Maui Electric, one of the biggest issues with renewable energy is the inconsistent availability of resources on each of the islands.

Wastewater Disposal: Rob Parsons, environmental coordinator for Mayor Arakawa, identified wastewater disposal as one of Maui's biggest environmental issues of 2011. On a daily basis, 3 to 5 million gallons of wastewater are dumped into the ground through injection wells at a facility in Lahaina. Ultimately, this causes wastewater to end up in the ocean, which is a major concern for marine life, including fragile coral reef and more than 7,000 marine life forms, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on Earth but Hawaii.  It was also determined that the discharged wastewater contains levels of bacteria that could violate standards of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which is why four different Hawaii community groups sued Maui County in 2012 in order to secure a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System to set limits on pollutants discharged from injection wells in Lahaina.

Humpback Whales: Every Winter, thousands of whales flock to the shallow waters around Maui. This is a wonderful thing for most residents and visitors, who get the chance to witness these amazing creatures from recreational activities but we need to respect and take care of the environment and all of its species.

Invasive Species: While Maui is certainly home to many beautiful, majestic creatures, it's home to some that are not good for our environment as well. Roi, To'Au and Ta'ape, three types of fish that were introduced to Hawaiian waters in the 1950's, are causing major problems for marine life on Maui. The county has responded by hosting spearfishing tournaments to reduce the number of these invasive fish, but plenty of land species threaten Maui as well, including cats.

Agricultural Sustainability: Maui County offers tax breaks on areas that you farm, making sustainable agriculture a huge incentive for those that own property on the island but we will have new issues due to Cane leaving the island and there are still too many regulations that truly affect especially the small farmer.


GMO:
This is and still will be a hot topic on all sides.
Critics and scientists argue that GMOs cause significant health effects, including diseases that are resistant to antibiotics, cancer, tumors, new allergens, and dangerous toxin level increases.
Opponents, conversely have data that disputes this.
Therefore, the jury is still out but ultimately.  I believe we need to take care of our environment, especially on a fragile Hawaii.  Our number one industry in tourism and will always be our number one industry and without a pristine environment we all lose.  We also need to take care of our farmers and their abilities to produce clean products but reduce a lot of the regulations that make the small farmers unable to compete with the larger corporations.


2. Kihei School Update

Currently (out of the $230 million dollar budget approved for Maui) $37.5 million was approved for design and construction for the new high school in Kīhei.
We need a high school but the costs of this high school are way out of line and will cost, at the current estimates, $604 per square foot (New York is $204 per square foot for a lot more difficult building environment with difficult government regulation, like here in Hawaii).  Material are not that much higher for a 215,000 square foot building here on Hawaii verse New York City and since labor is relatively dictated by unions and other acts across (Service Contract Act {SCA} and Davis-Bacon Act {DBA} we should not be building for a small community one of the most expensive {per square foot} high school in the nation.


3. Issue of State assistance for private A& B Sugar Plantation landholding conversions

HC&S also lost a potentially big power-sharing deal with Maui Electric Co. that would have given it about $19 million in revenue. A&B officials blamed not making their earning projections in 2015 based upon a $30 million operating loss, and the forecast for continued significant losses in 2016 are clearly not sustainable.
The NHLC (Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation) is a nonprofit public interest law firm that's spent the last decade and a half petitioning the state-on behalf of the East Maui residents who make up Na Moku 'Aupuni o Ko'olau Hui-to restore flows in 27 Maui streams diverted by East Maui Irrigation (a subsidiary of A&B) to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (another subsidiary of A&B). It's a tedious legal process, given that HC&S uses for so much water.  The NHLC noted that HC&S are paying the State of Hawaii $160,000 a year for the rights to the streams, but receive 164 million gallons per day that comes out to less than a penny per 1,000 gallons of water. That is a good price considering that county water rates can be in excess of 75 cents per 1,000 gallons.

Ultimately:

Will A&B sell off some or all of that land to homebuilders?
Will the "task force" recently set up by the Arakawa Administration help laid off HC&S workers find new work?
Will Monsanto sweep up more land?
What will become of the power-sharing agreement between HC&S and Maui Electric Co. (MECO) once the mill shuts down?
Energy crops: "HC&S has initiated crop trials to evaluate potential sources of feedstock for anaerobic conversion to biogas," stated the company's press release. The statement added that HC&S has entered into "preliminary, but confidential, discussions with other bioenergy industry players to explore additional crop-to-energy opportunities."
Cattle: HC&S is "working with Maui Cattle Company to conduct a grass-finishing pasture trial in 2016."
Food crops: "A&B plans to establish an agriculture park on former sugar lands in order to provide opportunities for farmers to access these agricultural lands and support the cultivation of food crops on Maui." Former company employees would get preference in leasing lots.
"A&B is committed to looking for optimal productive agricultural uses for the HC&S lands."


4. Maui Memorial Hospital conversion

Mary Ann Barnes, president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan,
Hawaii region, says the hospitals will continue to care for all patients,  regardless of their insurance.  Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) will operate as an open, community hospital, and Kula and Lanai as critical access hospitals. Barnes further says, "We've talked about orthopedics, looking closely at some of the surgical services that are there, but again, we've got to make that assessment and work with the people of the community.  Kaiser will invest at least $20 million in electronic medical records and IT infrastructures."  "IT systems support, from a health record, administrative system, time card, business services, that will be the work over the next six months to make sure we have those in place supporting the people providing care."


"The board was interested in services like expansion of orthopedics, some surgery improvements, some additions of adolescent behavioral health and psychology services," said Avery Chumbley, Chair, Maui Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.


Gov. Ige believes the transfer to privately funded medical facilities will save the state money and provide better care opportunities for the community.
"The Maui proposal saves the state more than a hundred million dollars in operating costs from the subsidy perspective," Ige said.
The governor said they have been meeting with the union to make sure employees have a seamless transition. Once Kaiser takes over, they will no longer be state employees.


5. What is the State doing to insure nearshore water quality for Maui?

This will be an ongoing discussion, there are facts on both sides where a middle decision will have to be compromised to resolve the issues.  Ultimately, we have to do what is best for the island, the people (inclusive of the business environment and economy) and the environment.
On one side there is a newsletter by Environment Hawaii, according to the report's by authors, Charles Hunt Jr. and Sarah Rosa. The plant, operated by Maui County, takes in about four million gallons a day of sewage. On a good day, about a fourth of that is treated to the standard of irrigation water (R-1) and is used to irrigate golf courses and landscapes along the West Maui coast. The rest is shot into four holes, or injection wells. The wastewater, which is only minimally chlorinated - just enough to keep the wells from plugging up with gunk - is more buoyant than the surrounding salty water, and so it rises to the top of the aquifer, spreading out in a kind of a horseshoe-shaped plume. Eventually, in, say, two or three weeks, it flows to the sea, entering the marine waters through seeps and springs right along the coast.

The DOH-CWB (Hawaii State Department of Health and Clean Water Branch) is required by the CWA (Clean Water Act) Sections (§) 303(d) and 305(b) to report on the State's water quality on a two year cycle known as the Integrated Report (IR). An overall standardized assessment methodology (SAM) is being developed to establish consistency and transparency with respect to how water quality data is assessed for regulatory decision making purposes by the DOH-CWB programs. Most of the recent studies (2014) show water quality to be within acceptable ranges.

However, As per the Kihei Community Association (I agree), we need adequate testing done on water quality, & results publicized, so the community is aware, and can make informed choices. Hiding poor water quality from visitors and the community is counterproductive. The visitor industry and our community should be leading this charge as long as our government. But all of us who care need to participate.


6. A MAJOR concern to all of Maui .. the TAT (transient accommodations tax) .. where do you stand on this important issue ?

General background information about the TAT, it is the second largest source of income, after real property taxes in Hawaii. It was established in the 1990's with the objective of funding the Counties' tourism related costs.  When it was implemented the County's share of the TAT revenues was 95% with the state receiving a 5% administrative fee.  Studies say that 53% of all public outlays for tourist are made by the counties, verses the expenditures by the state.  This is where the state has become greedy getting more of the funds than the Counties as we get further away from it conception date in the 90's.
The Counties' portion of these TAT revenues has been reduced constantly (for Honolulu Convention Center and State's Hawaii Tourism Authority {Tourism Special Fund}) to say a few.
The original fee was 6% and the state has raised the fee and taken more of the funds from the counties to where today's fees are 9.25% with the last 2% not going to any of the Counties.  Then the state placed a cap on the portion to the Counties with 2017 cap going back to 93 million, where as the Counties' share last year would have been more than 170 million if the cap was not in place.  The Counties portion now only 23.5%. The Counties' portion f the TAT revenues is split between the Counties that is supposed to reflect the number of tourist. From 2011-13 Counties' shares have been: Hawaii Counties 12-13%; Honolulu 47-48%, Maui 30%, Kauai 9-10%, and County of Hawaii 3%.
the State legislature has formed; County Functions Working Group to recommend what portion of TAT should be allocated to the Sate verse the Counties.
My standpoint is that the funds should be what they were originally developed for and directly allocated to each County based upon the revenues earned in each County. Period!!!


7. As we have an ''aging population" growing rapidly in the islands .. what have you done .. or will you do .. to help our kupuna? 

We have various issues that need to be addressed our aging population with a large increase in the 85 year age: 
(a) Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC's):
has improved access to services so elderly can obtain appropriate services in a timely manner with reduced expensive visits for hospitals, emergency rooms and nursing home visits with an annual cost currently over $3 million.
(b) Kupuna Care:
Beginning in 1999, this program provides long-term services for frail and vulnerable older adults who lack access to other comparable services.  Executive Office of the Aging (EOC) funds $4.85 million annually for funds distributed to the Agencies on Aging (AAA): personal care services, attendant care, case management, housekeeping, assisted transportation, home-delivered meals, and day care programs.
(c) Fall Prevention Programs:
Falls are among the leading causes of hospitalization and severe injury among the elderly.  Annually there are approximately10-11,000 seniors that die/hospitalized/treated in emergency rooms that result in $120 million in charged fees.  The fall prevention request in a bill of $32,000 is more than reasonable for training of instructors statewide to work in: pharmacies, OTs, PTs, and organizations to provide balance screening and medication reviews to prevent falls.
(d) Healthy Aging Partnerships: 
Has had funding of the Omnibus Aging Bill of $485,000 to use proactive measures to strengthen and teach elderly to make better life/health choices.
(e) Alzheimer's and Dementias:
5 step approach: Prevent/Treat, Enhance Care, Expand Support to Families, Increase public awareness, and improve tracking data/progress.
(f) Personal Caregiver Issues:
A lot are family members, unpaid so health to the caregivers can become an issue: stress, learn needed skills, affects family financially/health, finding professional care, and paying for expensive in-home or institutional care.
I believe that we need to continue elderly care.  These individuals come from our Greatest Generation and they took care of us and our country so we need to continue and to the right thing to secure their lives.


8. We have many Veterans  in our islands, what have you done, or will you do, to help our Veterans ?

We need to continue to work for our veterans: health care (VA System), mental health care, homelessness, and joblessness: by working with private agencies and public agencies to integrate our veterans successfully back into society.

Thank You for Your Support!!!