Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 19 Meeting: 6th Annual Community Forum

Legislators Panel

Legislative Panel -- from left to right, Rep. Michael Magaoay, Rep. Cynthia Thielen, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Marilyn Lee, Rep. John Mizuno

Community Panel

One of the community panels

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On October 19, Kokua Council held its 6th Annual Community Forum, themed: “Be Part of the Solution.” The program began with a panel of leaders of legislative caucuses and was followed by a series of panels presenting needs of non-profits, service providers and administrators. At the end, participants voted on top issues. This process is step 1 in determiningg Kokua Council's 2010 legislative priorities.


The sixth annual Kokua Council Community Legislative Forum brought together over 60 representatives of the legislature, community organizations and concerned individuals to discuss community needs and concerns and to share ideas for legislative action in the coming session. The discussion this year of both the panelists and the audience were colored by the concern of everyone for a budget shortfall, the economic crisis and concern for the most vulnerable.

The Forum helps Kokua Council identify those issues that will be top legislative priorities for our organization. And, finally, the Forum is a way to encourage organizations to work together to achieve common goals and objectives. Kokua Council will continue to support past issues that are still pending. The following presents a summary of the issues presented by the Panel:

Rep. John Mizuno, Human Services Committee: In response to complaints he wants better oversight of case managers, to better control drug abuse, making Sudafed a schedule 5 drug requiring a doctor’s prescription, creating a task force to better address domestic violence, to help curb obesity by requiring fast food establishments to list calorie information and voting by absentee ballots.

Rep. Marilyn Lee, Joint Legislative Committee on Family Caregiving: Committee meets jointly with the Kupuna Caucus on the first Friday of each month, 2pm, State Capitol Room 229. The committee will support bills that provide service to help people age in place and extend time for the Home For Life Task Force. They intend to follow up the Paid Family Leave Act to see if the state started the process of collecting data?

Rep. Cynthia Thielen: Women’s Commission Is working to pass a Silver Alert system with bipartisan support similar to the Amber Alert system as well as a progressive tax break for caregivers.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Kupuna Caucus: Working to preserve gains in Adult Protective Adult Services, Kupuna Care, and Senior Centers. Will follow up on task forces and commissions for Long Term Care, Fall Prevention, Grandparents Raising Grandparents, and fall prevention.

Rep. Michael Magaoay, Vice-Speaker: Suggested negotiating with Hawaiian Home Lands for use of land or existing structures in urban center to develop senior services.

Request from audience to post on the web amendments to bills at least 24 hours ahead of a hearing.


Doug Kreider, OASIS: is developing mental health improvement services to underserved populations and their caregivers, the elderly and the homeless. There is a need for subacute services for those who don’t qualify for aid.

Barbara Stanton, AARP: It is important to keep critical positions especially for services that bring in funds and where the most important person is dismissed. AARP is concerned that the administration is not releasing state funds needed to get matching Federal grants. AARP supports Kupuna Care, LTC taskforce funding, and will be watching the impact on seniors of any new taxes.

Bruce McCullough, HARA: Kupuna Care must be funded and money released to ease the wait-list. Other issues are lower prescription drug prices and Long Term Care funding. While HARA has always been against raising the GET in the past, the current fiscal crisis has changed their views and revenue raising should be considered.

Alex Santiago, PHOCUSED: We must all work together to support a key issue like Kupuna Care.

Kat Brady, Women in Prisons: Prison reform: Mandatory sentences are too severe for nonviolent crimes and should be revised, incarcerated women must not be separated from families and sent to mainland, treatment cheaper than prison.

Debbie Shimizu, NASW: Will support civil unions, emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms. The Silver Alert. She is alarmed at suggested change in the Handivan application process requiring handicapped people to be approved in person when they have no way to get to the application office.

Cullen Hayashida, Kapiolani Community College: The Kupuna Education Center is focusing on workforce development by training para-professionals and family members in LTC caregiving. Long term care financing and services must be supported.

Pat Urieff, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: 14,000 grandparents are raising 35,000 children here. Legislators, educators, government administrators need to include these Grandparents when writing legislation/directives for caregivers and education their workers re rules and regulations. Managers of public housing must give Grandparents reasonable time to find other housing when they suddenly are required to house their grandchildren. Two weeks is not enough.

Jeanne Ohta, Drug Policy Forum: Enhancing the medical marijuana program and instituting fines instead of jailing those who are arrested with less than 1 ounce of addictive substance.

Lyn Moku, Family Caregivers Coalition: The Coalition will focus on educating 2010 candidates on caregiver issues and will support funding for Kupuna Care.

Kent Anderson, Family Promise: Believes that everyone has a right to decent shelter and is supporting programs that help people become self-sufficient in order to obtain housing. Keep or increase rental housing trust fund, release city funds for affordable housing.

John McDermott, PABEA Legislative Committee: The committee is seeking support for having care home inspections posted on the internet to help families find appropriate placement for their family member.

Pat Stanley, Democratic Party Kupuna Caucus: Wants to include part-time workers in Hawaii’s pre-paid health plan, as well as prescription drugs, mental health services in rural communities and give incentives for prevention.


The audience was asked to list their top 3 issues of concern to give guidance to the Kokua Council Board in selecting their 2010 legislative priorities.
Below are the votes.

  1. Support for funding Kupuna Care (11)
  2. Inspections of care homes posted on the internet (10)
  3. Change drug policy from incarceration to treatment (save big bucks for the state) (7)
  4. Support increased housing for the homeless including grandparents raising grandchildren(5)
  5. Getting funds released by Governor to support services provided by law.(5)
  6. Silver Alert (4)
  7. Raise revenue (3)
  8. Certification and oversight of case managers(2), Lower Rx costs, (2) Community College workforce development (2)
  9. Others mentioned, mail in ballots, campaign-spending reform, oppose legalized gambling, rescind 3 strikes law.

(Notes by Laura Manis)