The Senate Committees on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs (PSM) and Transportation and International Affairs yesterday deferred the Safe and Responsible Driver's Act (SB2935), which would allow access to driver's licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents. The TIA Committee will take up the measure for decision making on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. in room 225 and the PSM Committee will take up the measure for decision making at 2:45 p.m. in room 224.
"The Hawaii Safe and Responsible Drivers Act ensures that all residents of Hawaii and visitors to Hawaii are safe by making sure that everyone who drives on our roads and highways is trained, tested and insured," said Senator Will Espero, chair of the PSM Committee, and the primary introducer of the measure. "Currently, there are too many people driving without licenses in Hawaii, and the rules keep some people from even applying for a license. For example, there is no way for many immigrants to apply for the driver's license they need to take their children to school, go to work or carry out other daily activities."
"We must also ensure the bill is crafted so that when implemented it does not infringe on the rights of those that have legal presence in the United States and that the law remains compliant with federal law," said English, chairman of the Senate TIA Committee, and co-sponsor of the measure. "For example, we don't want students with visas to be grouped with undocumented persons when they try to apply for a Hawaii driver's license. We also have to answer questions about how the new driver's licenses will be marked to satisfy federal law. Illinois has a Driving Privilege Card title on front of the license and Colorado has "not for federal use" on the front of the license. "
Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to nine percent.
Nationwide, state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Nine states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to increase access to driver's licenses.
**SB2935, Testimony and status on this bill can be found by clicking here.
Senator J. Kalani English listens to Don Burden's presentation on walkable and livable communities.
The Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs is looking at ways to improve highway and road design for all Hawaii users, which include drivers, bikers, and pedestrians alike in order to ease traffic problems. The Inrix Traffic Scoreboard last year ranked Honolulu second behind Los Angeles in worst traffic congestion among top 100 cities in the United States. The U.S. General Accounting Office predicts that road congestion in the U.S. will triple in 15 years. Traffic is growing about five times faster than the growth in population.
"There needs to be a paradigm shift in our attitudes about road usage and solving our traffic problems," said Senator J. Kalani English, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International affairs. "We need to plan communities for all road users and not just for cars."
Don Burden, executive director for Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, presented some solutions to traffic problems and how to better plan communities to the Committee on Thursday, March 8, 2012. Walkable and Livable Communities Institute is an educational, non-profit organization working to create walkable streets, livable cities and better built environments.
Referencing the Complete Streets Law, Act 054 (2009), Burden said roads need to be improved for the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, children, older citizens, non-drivers and the mobility challenged, as well as those that cannot afford a car or choose to live car free.
"We're looking for a way to build for people so that we don't have to drive that far," said Burden. "We need to plan so that we can include walkable and livable communities."
"Improving road and highway designs will not only decrease traffic congestion, but increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists," said English. "It will improve the quality of life for all."
For an overview of the presentation, click here to view a brief conversation between Senator English and Don Burden.
View the media release
(L-R) Noda Lojkar, Marshall Islands Consul General, State of Hawaii; Christopher deBrum , Chief of Staff to President Loeak; Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance; President Christopher Loeak; Hawaii State Senator J. Kalani English; and Bruce Kijiner, Aide to President Loeak.
Newly elected Republic of Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak and First Lady Anono Lieom Loeak made their inaugural visit to Hawaii on February 2, 2012. President Loeak and his delegation met with Governor Neil Abercrombie as well as other state officials. While meeting with officials, President Loeak discussed issues relating to the Compact of Free Association and to reaffirm the RMI government's commitment towards a mutually beneficial outcome to the significant issues.
"I would like to thank the people of Hawaii for their hospitality during my visit," said Republic of Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak. "Hawaii is such a beautiful place and we can see why many of our residents have chosen to make their home here. I thank the people of Hawaii for opening their hearts to them and for their generous compassion."
"This was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen ties with the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as well as forge a relationship with their newly elected president," said Senator J. Kalani English, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs. Last month, Senator English was invited by the United Nations Development Programme to conduct an Induction Seminar for the Nitjela (Parliament) of Marshall Islands in Majuro. The seminar was intended to support members and assist them in identifying a better use of the parliamentary process to support the delivery of Government services. Senator English spoke on topics including, responsible government, leadership roles, the role of the majority party and the importance of committee hearings.
Prior to being elected to the Hawaii State Legislature, Senator English worked at the United Nations in New York. He continues to be active with the organization, which has enabled him to be invited to participate in seminars such as the Induction Seminar for the Republic of the Marshall Islands' Nitjela (Parliament).
"It is fulfilling to be able to help other countries improve their democratic system," said Senator English. View the media release
With 756 state-owned bridges in Hawai‘i, the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs is taking a closer look at the condition and integrity of the structures. The Department of Transportation (DOT) presented the committee with a report that included an analysis of the safety, utility and structural standards of these bridges during an informational briefing on January 19, 2012.
"We're trying to get ahead of the process and take a look at how the 756 state bridges are ranked in order to plan for the care and preservation of these vital structures," said Senator J. Kalani English, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs. "Bottom line, we are trying to take a proactive approach and take care of the bridges before a catastrophic event or a natural disaster takes place," he added.
According to DOT's report, there are about 39 structurally deficient bridges. Seventeen of those bridges have been programmed for replacement or rehabilitation. Meanwhile, there are 250 functionally obsolete bridges. Hana Highway, along route 360, has the highest percentage of deficient bridges mainly because of their inability to support legal truck loads (posted at 10-tons) and their narrow one-lane bridges. To address issues concerning Hana Highway, the DOT initiated a project called, the Hana Highway, Bridge Preservation Plan.
"We are not only looking at bridges in Hana but at bridges across the state. However, bridges along Hana Highway need a majority of the attention because of their condition. The bridges are life lines for those living in Hana," said Senator English, who represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe. "We will work with the community before major work begins."
The DOT receives $20M annually in funding to maintain bridges statewide. However, the department needs $750-800M to do the job.
"The Senate will try to find ways to increase funding that would accelerate maintenance programs in order to prevent fatalities and the disruption of motorists' and residents' lives," said Senator English. View the media release
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