Category Archives: Education

Industrial Hemp Bill Becomes Law

Industrial Hemp Bill Signed Into Law
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2175 (Act 56), a measure that allows the University of Hawaii (UH) College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program. The industrial hemp bill has been supported for years by State Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Senator Sam Slom.

Act 56 authorizes the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in accordance with requirements established by the federal Agriculture Act of 2014, which allows higher education institutions and state departments of agriculture to conduct industrial hemp research.

Act 56, which takes effect July 1, requires the state Department of Agriculture to certify the industrial hemp seed stock and verify that plants grown are not marijuana. The program will be limited to one test site. It also states that the dean of the UH CTAHR must submit a final report, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature prior to start of the 2016 legislative session.

Industrial Hemp Bill Becomes Law

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Senator Sam Slom at the Governor’s office in their hemp shirts.

Niu Valley Middle School Band Honored by Hawaii State Senate

Niu Valley Middle School Band Honored

The Hawaii State Senate recognized the outstanding teachers and students of the Niu Valley Middle School Band during a floor presentation held at the opening of the regular Senate Session on Friday, March 28. More than 100 students and teachers in the music program attended the floor session, where Senator Sam Slom led the formal presentation with the help of Senator Laura Thielen, who spoke about the American School Band Directors Association.

Senator Thielen also introduced Brendon Burns, interim Principal; former Principal Justin Mew (now Principal of Kaiser High School); Kent Miyashiro, International Baccalaureate Coordinator of the school; Zachary Morita, music director; and Wayne Fanning, music teacher in the program.

Senator Slom introduced Kylie Nakano (clarinet), Dylan Poon (trombone), Dylan Wacksman (saxophone), Reina Yamashita (French Horn) and Cobe Yoshino (bassoon), who represented the student band members seated on the floor. The rest of the band sat in the Senate Gallery after performing for a half-hour concert prior to the floor session in the State Capitol’s atrium.

The Niu Valley Middle School Band was selected to perform at the prestigious American School Band Directors Association’s (ASBDA) National Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly 90 students and over 20 adults will travel to the conference in July to premier a new work by the world-renowned composer and conductor Brian Balmages.

Top photo: Members of Niu Valley Middle School Band pose with State Senators and Niu Valley music faculty and staff in this group picture taken after Senator Slom presented the band with a certificate commemorating their accomplishment. Photo courtesy Senate Communications Office. Additional photos below this text were taken by Noelani Bonifacio and Jerry Stanfield.

Article republished from text extracted from the Kuliouou Neighborhood Board #2 Report issued monthly by Senator Slom.

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

In the Gallery with Niu Valley Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Middle School Students Honored for Musical Talents

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Good news for education! The musical philosophy underlying the unique curriculum at Niu Valley Middle School is proving to be highly successful. Just this year, the Concert Band was selected to perform at the prestigious American School Band Directors Association’s (ASBDA) National Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly 90 students and over 20 adults will travel to the conference in July to premier a new work by the world-renowned composer and conductor Brian Balmages.

This is not the first time the band has been so honored. In 2011 they were invited to perform at the ASBDA regional conference in Denver, Colorado. The school actually provides its 420 students enrolled in music with three different performing groups: Band (260 students), Orchestra (70), and Polynesian Music (90). All ensembles perform regularly every year, at events ranging from the Governor’s Inauguration and special community events to concerts at local care homes, shopping centers, and other schools.

The school’s disciplined, motivated students usually go on to participate in high school and college music programs. Some have even pursued music as a career. The Hawaii State Senate will recognize the outstanding teachers and students of the Niu Valley Middle School music program during its regular Session on Friday, March 28th.

“If Not Me, Then Who?”

Award-Winner Kimberly Uehisa

Award-Winner Kimberly Uehisa

Student Kimberly Uehisa found a personal challenge in a quote by soldier Travis Manion—“If not me, then who?”–while attending a special summer program at the US Naval Academy. Kimberly was moved to found a service club at her school, Island Pacific Academy, with the support of the Travis Manion Foundation.

For her efforts and service to her community, Kimberly Uehisa has been recognized as a 2014 Distinguished Finalist by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. At the beginning of her junior year, she took every step necessary to launch her service club during opening week activities at Island Pacific Academy, managing to secure the commitment of 25 of her peers. She now organizes care drives and park clean-ups to honor the memory of the heroic soldier whose question changed her life.

Kimberly Uehisa is also an active member of her school’s Interact service club and a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. In recognition of her Prudential Award and all her contributions to her school and community, she will be presented with a special certificate by the Hawaii State Senate on Tuesday, March 25th.

State Teacher and Principal of the Year Honored by Hawaii State Senate

Matthew Lawrence, a teacher at Waikiki Elementary School for 13 years, was selected as Hawaii’s 2014 Teacher of the Year by MetLife/NASSP, and Vice Principal Celia Main-Anakalea of Kaimuki Middle School won the Hawaii Middle School Principal of the Year Award.

2014 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year
Matthew Lawrence

2013 Hawaii Vice Principal of the Year
Celia Main-Anakalea

For their outstanding accomplishments, the Hawaii State Senate recognized both with certificates during Education Week, March 17th through March 21st. Matthew Lawrence was commended for providing his students with educational experiences that encourage creativity and higher-level thinking skills in math and science, two subjects often considered difficult. Vice Principal Celia Main-Anakalea was recognized for seven years of collaborative leadership and curricula advancements, as well as her support of family involvement and community organizations at Kaimuki Middle School.

State Instrument Debate Highlights First Crossover Session

By State Senator Sam Slom (R)

DBEDT Business Day @ The Capitol

The most debated item of the March 4 bill crossover vote focused on whether or not the ukulele should be declared the official State Instrument (SB 3107). While the ukulele seems to be a worthy nominee as state instrument, several senators including myself mentioned that the ukulele was imported to Hawaii from Portugal, even though today it is widely regarded as a mainstream component for Hawaiian music.

I mentioned the nose flute as a possible, made in Hawaii instrument, while Senator Rosalyn Baker advocated for the steel guitar and Senator J. Kalani English spoke highly of the pahu drum. The bill passed 17 to 7. I voted “with reservations.”

The ukulele bill was a convenient sideshow to more important issues and legislation that was voted on Tuesday.

Senator Sam Slom

The bill to raise the minimum wage will have long-lasting consequences for the economy, future employment and business. SB 2609 will raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10. The minimum wage is a “training wage” and most people get paid well above the minimum. Read the attached article on page 4. SB 2609 passed with a vote of 24 to 1, I being the lone opponent.

More than 300 bills were up for vote. The following is a list of bills that I voted “no” on:

SB2497: Increases fees for tobacco retailers

SB2886: Income Tax; Conformity to the Internal Revenue Code for 2013

SB2609: Minimum Wage increase; Tip Credit

SB2222: Prohibits sale of flavored tobacco Products

SB3041: New tax on small breweries or brewpubs

HB2281: Office of the Governor; Emergency Appropriation

SB2303: Fireworks; Permit Fee; Increase

SB2857: Recycling; Electronic Devices; TVs

SB2073: Collective Bargaining Cost Items; Bargaining Unit (6); Appropriations (this is one of several public union cost item bills, all of which I voted “no” on)

SB2454: Genetically Modified Organisms; Task Force; Regulation

SB2768: Kindergarten; Early Learning; School Readiness; Individualized Assessments; Appropriation

SB2436: Transit-Oriented Development Advisory Committee (WR*)

SB2437: Rail Transit; working groups; state agencies near train stations

SB2196: Energy; Barrel Tax; Energy Systems Development Special Fund

SB2234: Child care licensing exemption for private schools

SB2496: Tobacco Products; Cigarette and Tobacco Tax; Hawaii Cancer Research Special Fund

SB2855: Appropriation for the Dept. of Health Developmental Disabilities Division for the Compact of Free Trade population

SB2344: Over $500,000 appropriation for a Climate Change committee

SB 2731: New tax on car sharing

SB 2550: U.H. Hilo College of Pharmacy special fund

SB 2704: Overtime compensation for public works construction contracts

SB 2761: Disputed roads, county surcharge (tax)

SB 2858: Establishment of Office of Environment Information and Management

SB 2139: 990 student instructional hours

SB 2246: Appropriations for claims against the state

SB 1227: Mandated coverage for brain injury

SB 702: Internet crimes against children; “Alicia’s Law”

Voting on seven additional bills that were amended on the floor March 4 commenced today. These bills included the following that I also voted “no” on:

SB 2054: Mandatory health coverage for autism

SB 2495: Definition of electronic smoking device as a tobacco product and the establishment of an excise tax on such products

All Senate bills passing third reading by March 6 crossed over to the House. Several hundred House bills have crossed to the Senate, where both sides will commence hearing these bills, referred to subject matter and funding committees.

More information on third reading bills are online at:

Originally published in the Diamond Head, Kapahulu, St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Report #5 newsletter. 3-13-2014

A Better Day with Senator Slom

In this upcoming episode for February 2014, Senator Slom special guest is Kimberly Kepner Sybounmy, Ph.D. They talk about the legislature and focus on education issues.

Twenty Schools Implement Controversial Pono Choices

PonoChoice01sPono Choices, a controversial sexual education program in the State of Hawaii, has been implemented in twenty schools statewide, including Niu Valley Middle, and is expected to be implemented in all middle schools statewide, by School Year 2014-2015.

After reviewing the material I believe the material is inappropriate for the target audience (ages 11–13), and in other cases, any educational environment. Pono Choices, while claiming ‘abstinence,’ gently pushes — in some cases shoves — children towards sexual activity. Pono Choices describes situations where an ‘abstinent’ teen girl is on the pill. It also includes teens discussing living together or being sexually active after a few weeks of dating, homosexual relationships, and condom demonstrations (described as a ‘critical health skill’). Children are informed where they can receive free condoms and that there is no age requirement to obtain them.

The most egregious of the material included in Pono Choices is a video entitled “You Cannot Get HIV Ladatt!” in which Augie T. is operating a condom wagon.

Pono Choices offers little to no information on sexual harassment, Sexually Transmitted Infections, their symptoms and consequences or single parenthood. If the Department of Education and UH Center for Disability Studies stands so strongly behind Pono Choices, they should implement an ‘opt-in’ policy, as opposed to an ‘opt-out’ policy when it comes to their sex-education program, while making the entire curriculum readily available for review.

- Noelani Bonifacio

DOE’s “Pono Choices” Under Fire

State Senator Sam Slom participated in a press conference called by State Rep. Bob McDermott regarding the controversial “Pono Choices” sex education program that has been implemented in more than a dozen public schools in the State of Hawaii by the Department of Education (DOE).

It is alleged that the Pono Choices program which is taught using a series of ten 60 minute modules exposes middle school students to “alternate” and “gay” sexual practices.

Senator Slom made an effort independent of Rep. McDermott’s inquiry to request all materials used in the taxpayer funded Pono Choices curriculum after hearing from parents, constituents and teachers during the special session that got same sex marriage enacted. The DOE denied that request.  “To treat us like children … I think it’s going to have far-reaching consequences,”  stated Slom.

Pono Choices was suspended for 2 weeks while the DOE investigated allegations before re-approving the program.


Video: Press Conference Rep. Bob McDermott
Hawaii’s education department keeping sex-ed curriculum a secret –

Floor Action: Session Days 41 and 42

April 2, 2013 Senate Spotlight

April 2, 2013: Floor Action – Session Day #42

The State Senate recognized the Waianae High School Searider Productions Digital Program / Apple Distinguished Program Award Recipient. The Searider program has been producing video with Apple equipment for years. It is a worthy award for this distinguished program.

Three governor nominees were advised and consented by the full senate.

Five resolutions were approved by the Senate. Senator Slom voted against two resolutions: SCR 189 and SR 144 which requests the Dept. of Transportation to adopt rules to encourage taxis to use high efficiency vehicles, including hybird electric vehicles , at Honolulu International Airport.

Three house bills were also passed on Third Reading. Senator Slom voted “No” on HB 868 “Relating to eliminating the asset limit eligibility requirement for the temporary assistance for needy families program.”

COMMITTEE REPORT: The Senate Higher Education Committee  approved 5 nominees to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. Senator Slom voted in favor of all 5 but not before the Higher Education Committee grilled some of the nominees on transparency issues, funding of legal services, and the hiring of outside attorneys. The residency of the University of Hawaii President, MRC Greenwood also came into question. The Office of Information Practices issued a memorandum opinion regarding the UH Fact Finders’ Report.

All 5 Board of Regent nominees will be subject to full Senate confirmation soon.

Photo from the Hawaii Senate Majority Flickr stream.

Link: University of Hawaii Board of Regents

April 1, 2013: Floor Action – Session Day #41

The Senate presented certificates to the Challenger Center of Hawaii in honor of its 20 th Anniversary and the William M. Keck Observatory, also commemorating its 20th Anniversary.

The Senate also confirmed 5 nominees on various boards and commissions relating to agriculture  (GMs 597, 503, 504, 505 and 506) and one person confirmed to the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. (GM 522)

Four resolutions were also adopted:

SCR 97 / SR 63 – DOE Systemwide review

SCR 108 / SR 74 – “Qualified Aliens” resident citizens of the Freely Associated States.