January 20, 2019, Kailua, HI. The 30th Legislative session opened on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. At 10 AM, the program within the stately Senate floor started with Temporary Chair, Senator Kaiali Kahele (District 1-Hilo) pounding the gavel and calling the Senate to order. The anthems brought attention to the historic meaning of the session opening day to state governance.
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald swore the elected Senators to office, after which Senate President Ron Kouchi was formally elected. Senator Kurt Fevella, as Minority Leader delivered his party’s response. Delightful singing by Na Hao, accompanied by Kumu Hina’s hula, temporarily lifted gravitas in the chamber. Ms. Aloha Hula 2018 Shalia Kamakaokalani chanted and danced a kawiko as well as auwana hula. Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14) introduced the video tribute to her cousin Malani Bilyeu, a founding member of the popular singing group, Kapena, who passed away only last month. Business was adjourned at 12:30 to the relief of everyone anxious to network. Welcome lunches were also offered the public within the politicos’s offices.
Outside in the courtyard, tradition continued as the annual “Ku’i at the Capitol” unfolded at 9 am. It is a community event that provides participants the chance to experience the cultural practice of poi pounding. Hundreds of pounds of kalo were provided by event organizers. Traditional hula performances and guest speakers were also featured.
The first “Ku’i at the Capitol” event was held after lawmakers passed SB101 in 2011, which allowed hand-pounded poi to be exempt from certain strict food processing guidelines.
ALSFH Board members Divina Telan Robillard, Katherine O’Connor, and Ronaele Whittington, attended the opening in the front row gallery seats, thanks to tickets provided by longtime Robillard friend, Senator Maile Shimabukuro (District 21).
In its brochure, The 30th Legislature promised a program dedicated to following the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals, more specifically seven (7) of them: sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; decent work and economic growth; quality education; peace, justice, and strong foundations; good health and well-being; and partnerships to achieve the goals. For more info on the UN Sustainable Goals, refer to www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.