PAHOA, Hawaii – Criticism over the state Department of Health’s efforts in Puna was heard loud and clear by state lawmakers on Thursday night during a well-attended “Lawmakers Listen” event at the Pahoa Community Center.
House representatives attempted to answer for what many residents in Puna believe to be the health department’s failure to assist in the battle against rat lungworm disease, the growing dengue fever outbreak, or the regulation of the geothermal industry in their backyard. At House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke’s suggestion that the Big Island Invasive Species Committee has dominion over the funds that could help address some of these problems, BIISC manager Springer Kaye stood up to correct the lawmaker, saying vector control is a health department issue.
Puna District Representative Joy San Buenaventura arranged the event at the Pahoa Community Center to hear feedback on issues that matter to constituents. Members of the community were invited to share their questions and concerns directly with Rep. San Buenaventura, Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki, Majority Leader Scott Saiki, and Finance Chair Luke. The group was also joined by Hamakua Representative Mark Nakashima.
“Lawmakers Listen” is an ongoing series of community town halls across the state with district Representatives, members of the House Leadership, and Committee Chairpersons. The purpose of the meetings is for legislators to listen to the concerns of area residents and to discuss solutions, according to the state house.