The Senate Ways & Means (WAM) Committee met on Feburary 1 to review information from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents regarding salaries and compensation. WAM members asked the U.H. officials several questions regarding salaries and free tickets to sporting events given out to one regent.
Home Schooling Bills on Extracurricular Activities (SB 789 & SB 922):
SB 922: Requires all home school students to enroll at the public school in the student’s service area…. Allows home school students to participate in any extracurricular activities offered by a public school.
Nearly all of the public comment on SB 922 was in opposition to the bill.
“The DOE has no comment or position, even though similar pieces of legislation have been introduced several times over the past 10 years. Their representative stated they will discuss the matter at the board meeting in February. While all the testifiers spoke against SB922, three spoke out specifically for SB789. Opposition to the bill included a vehement opposition to the word ‘enroll’, and language in the bill that only included parent, guardian and blood relatives as eligible teachers, that all homeschooled student must enroll, even if they do not want to participate in extracurriculars, and the future interpretations of the word ‘enroll’. Suggestions given were for education in Hawai’i to include a voucher program, cite the 40-140 form of intent to homeschool instead of requiring the students to enroll, have only those interested in extracurriculars enroll, and using SATs, TB Tests, User Fees, Try-Outs, and Grade-Checks, as requirements of participation.” — Noelani Bonafacio, Senator Slom’s Legislative Aide
In the end SB 922 was deferred, while SB 789 which “allows home schooled students to participate on an equal basis in extracurricular activities offered at the public school they would otherwise be required to attend” without the enrollment requirement will be amended and up for decision making on February 13. Senator Slom has been a longtime supporter of home schooled students and has sponsored legislation to allow home schoolers to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities offered at their area public school.
Home schooled students and their parents (lower two panels) appeared before the Senate Education Committee on January 30 to present testimony on SB 789 and SB 922. Senator Slom could not get a satisfactory answer out of the State Dept. of Education (DOE) official (top panel left) when asked about the issue. The written testimony received from the DOE states that the department has “no comment” on SB 922.
Floor Session Day 8: Two bills were re-referred to the Health Committee.
Floor Session Day 9: The Senate adopted the administrative and financial manual of the Senate for the 27th Legislature.
Floor Session Day 10: The Senate Session began with its first, voluntary “moment of contemplation” before the formal proceedings of the session started. Near the end of session, some debate surfaced on the PLDC bill that was taken off the Water & Land committee hearing agenda for January 31.
The PLDC or Public Land Development Corporation ”is a state entity created by the Legislature in 2011 to develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. ” Since its creation as Act 55 in 2011, the PLDC has come under increasing opposition since it creates projects that “are exempt from state and county laws regarding land use, zoning, and construction standards for subdivisions, development, and improvement of land.”
SB1 is one of several bills introduced to abolish the PLDC. Senator Slom also introduced his own bills (SB 780 and SB 781) to repeal both Act 55 and Act 282 relating to the PLDC. None of those bills are scheduled for hearing by the chair of the Water and Land Committee.
Hundreds of emails have come in to Senator Slom’s office urging for a repeal of the PLDC and for SB1 to be heard. Typical of those emails:
“Please hear SB1 and repeal the PLDC. Let’s not put ourselves in the position of being vulnerable to developer’s decisions on our valuable land. This is the people’s land, not the government’s only to make the decisions on it’s use. All need to be involved. Only responsible, complete oversight of land use should be allowed.” — Mary Louise O’Brien
“It seems clear that there is widespread public sentiment in favor of passing SB1 and repealing the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC). In view of this, it is extremely frustrating and reminiscent of the worst of Hawai’i politics that this bill may not even be heard. I strongly urge you to make sure that SB1 is heard and passed and that the Legislature repeals the PLDC. ” — Richard Frankel
Hundreds showed up at the beginning of session to protest the PLDC and Act 55.