The 2018 Legislative Session opens on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 and is scheduled to conclude on the first Thursday in May. In preparation for the session, we have been researching and considering a diverse list of issues, among which we hope to increase protections of agricultural lands, improve the judicial process for child welfare cases, explore alternative uses for recycled glass, and better manage coastal erosion protocols.
Of course, hardly a week goes by without a call from someone who is stuck in the traffic at Laniakea. The Department of Transportation continues to drag their feet, refusing to either complete the alternatives study or cancel it. Their standard reply that they are studying the issue rings hollow. Since last year, the DOT has publicly pushed back hard against any new projects, choosing instead to focus on system maintenance and preservation.
The homeless encampment at Waialee has been a major concern, along with ongoing concerns about other, less aggressive homeless camps around the district. I recently met with Scott Morishige, the Governor's homeless coordinator, for an update on state efforts to address this crisis. State efforts focused originally in Honolulu and have gradually expanded to other parts of Oahu. It is hoped that state outreach will be expanding to Wahiawa and the North Shore within the next few months.
The annual Point in Time Count will occur in the last week of January. Last year, Alea Bridge successfully organized the census of homelessness in Central and North Oahu. This count verified what everyone already knew, but what had yet to be properly quantified: there are a great many homeless in our community. These data are important for future funding of supportive services and efforts to solve this vexing problem. New volunteers can find more information and register to help at PartnerInCareOahu.org.
The Department of Health just released a report that reveals high levels of ground and near shore water contamination from cesspools. Waialua is one of the identified hot spots. We have 88,000 cesspools in Hawaii, most of which are in rural regions like ours, and all of which will have to be closed by 2050. This will be a challenging task; few people can afford to upgrade their individual wastewater system. There will need to be great collaboration between the state, counties and homeowners to devise a workable plan of action to meet the requirements of the law to replace cesspools within 32 years.
Along with Representatives Quinlan, Matsumoto, and Keohokalole, I will be hosting a series of
Town Hall meetings to discuss bills that are moving this year, offer updates on district issues, and to listen to resident concerns and ideas. The meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. at Ahuimanu Elementary School on January 30, Waialua Elementary School on January 31, and Hauula Elementary on February 1. Please come out and join us.