“As a public policy maker, it’s my job to find solutions,” said Hawaii State Sen. Malama Solomon at a community meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Waikoloa School — a meeting that was her sixth in as many days throughout the 4th Senatorial District.
Part of the legislative mandate to come home and work with constituents during the annual five-day midsession recess, the meeting was attended by more than 70 residents, who had an opportunity hear Sen. Solomon’s thoughts and learn more about those potential solutions.
• Sen. Solomon said that Hawaii must find ways to stop exporting $3 billion annually for energy, especially electricity. As alternatives to fossil fuels, Solomon supports safe, reliable baseload geothermal power, as well as biomass. Specifically, she proposes clearing invasive plants from public forest lands and burning the plants to create energy and jobs.
• She also said that the Legislature needs to find a “nexus” for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the County and the visitor industry regarding the high cost incurred to rescue lost and stranded hikers and swimmers, a majority of whom are visitors. With good data, she believes there’s justification to put some of the Transient Accommodation Tax to work managing and restoring public parks and other public lands and providing life safety and rescue services at public beaches.
Sen. Solomon, who chairs the Water and Land Committee, also spent time during the mandatory recess visiting almost every public school in her district as well as the harbors and public parks, and she said they were “all in very poor condition.” The answer, in part, she said is securing a more equitable share of the taxes her district pays, both in General Excise Taxes and Transient Accommodation Taxes.
She has already started by bringing home to Hawaii Island more than $270 million during the 2013 Legislature and many of these projects are moving forward. She reported that Gov. Neil Abercrombie is in the process of releasing more than $140 million to fund projects in the District, including for Waimea District/Regional Park, Kohala Hospital, schools, Kahilu Theatre, and also extensive renovation and new construction at Kona International Airport and Kawaihae Harbor, and more.
Briefly, she recapped several new diverse initiatives including Bishop Museum having approached the state to purchase the approximately 700 acres the museum owns in Waipio Valley as a cultural resource. She also talked about her work with the Judiciary Committee to address child trafficking, and with the Transportation and International Affairs Committee to again designate Kona International Airport as a second international point of entry to the state, along with Honolulu. Additionally, she pointed to needed upgrades to state harbors where increasing cruise ship traffic competes with cargo shipping operations for space.
However, most of the meeting focused on the state’s proposed establishment of a shooting range in Pu’uanahulu, near the present landfill, a project that has been in the works for years and that Solomon supports. Still in the discussion stages, the range would provide a facility for firearms education and certification. Well represented, the hunting and sport shooting community voiced its desire to communicate and work with the coastal hotels and resorts towards mitigating noise and alleviating hospitality-related concerns.
For detailed information on legislation and the legislative process, including online submission of testimony, visit the Public Access Room at http://hawaii.gov/lrb/par. To contact Solomon, email SenSolomon@capitol.hawaii.gov or call 974-4000, ext. 67335.