House Emergency Preparedness Task Force Bill Advances

Feb 8, 2018

A joint House committee considered a number of bills dealing with emergency preparedness in the aftermath of the January 13 false missile alert.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The State Legislature is considering a number of bills in the aftermath of the False Missile Alert Jan 13th. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports. 

Brig. Gen. Moses Kao'iwi, interim administrator, Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

House Bill 2582 would establish a task force to identify and correct weaknesses in the state’s emergency management system and develop a disaster preparedness plan.  The task force would include 30 members representing state and county governments, businesses, utilities and the media.   But Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency HI-EMA interim administrator, Brig. Gen. Moses Kao’iwi, testified against the measure.

“The opposition goes to ensuring that it’s not replacing HI-EMA or trying to duplicate what HI-EMA does.”

Veterans, Military & International Affairs and Culture & Arts Committee chair, Rep. Matt Lopresti
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

But, House Veterans, Military and International Affairs Committee chair, Matt Lopresti, says the task force could help HI-EMA.

“There’s a lack of public confidence in a organization that there must be confidence in because the mission is to help protect and inform statewide.”

Minority Policy Leader, Representative Gene Ward, put it this way.

“January 13 is not going away.  People want some answers and everybody in our society is going to be represented.”

House Minority Policy Leader, Rep. Gene Ward
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

That prompted this response from Brig. Gen. Kao’iwi.

“HI-EMA is not broken.  We can respond.  This one mistake shouldn’t be that mistake that dictates and defines who we are because that is not who we are.  I can understand what your constituents and the people out there are feeling.  They are scared.  They’re afraid.  But I’m telling you now that we are working towards making this state safe.”

The bill was amended to add HI-EMA and maritime and shipping members to the task force.  House Public Safety Committee chair, Greg Takayama, introduced the measure.

“The intent of the task force is to assist you in regaining the trust of the community, statewide.  And that is it’s intent.  Not to denigrate the work that you’ve done.”

The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.