From the Governor: Celebrating wins on and off the court

Posted on May 27, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main

How do we prepare for the future when we’re still navigating the pandemic? We might take a page out of the UH men’s volleyball team playbook as 2021 NCAA champions. We stay the course, battle together and meet the challenges as a community. Talk with Governor Ige and those trying to build a more resilient future for the state, and you start to see the value of playing the long game — whether it’s mask mandates or Hawai‘i 2.0 — and how we shape our lives post-pandemic.

WARRIOR PRIDE: Governor and Mrs. Ige honored the NCAA champion UH men’s volleyball team at Washington Place.

WARRIOR PRIDE: Governor and Mrs. Ige honored the NCAA champion UH men’s volleyball team at Washington Place.

Q. What has changed in the current statewide mask mandates?
A. Effective immediately, people will not be required to wear a mask while outside. However, mask wearing is highly recommended in large crowds outdoors. The indoor mask mandate remains unchanged until more in our community get vaccinated. We do recognize it may be safe for fully vaccinated individuals to go without a mask, but it’s impossible to know who’s vaccinated and who isn’t.

Q. What should we know about Hawai‘i’s vaccination efforts to reach more people?
A. Our state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, but we still have more work to do. We know the vaccines are safe and effective. We’re making a big community push in June with promotional events at vaccination sites as well as mobile pods. Now that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 12- to 15-year-olds, we’re encouraging students and the rest of their families to get their shots. The faster we can get people vaccinated, the sooner we can get everyone back to work, school and our normal activities.

Q. Are we close to having a vaccine exception for trans-Pacific travel?
A. The next phase we’re working on is exceptions for Hawai‘i trans-Pacific travelers. We want to see if CommonPass and CLEAR can verify vaccine exceptions for those vaccinated in Hawai‘i. If we can automate that, then we’ll see if they can access records in other states for travelers. I’m targeting the 4th of July to allow trans-Pacific travel for mainland-vaccinated people without the need to be tested.

Q. What’s the most challenging part of the bill review process?
A. As governor, I have only three options: sign the bill into law, veto it or let it become law without my signature. I take public comments and the views of state agencies into account and ask, “Is it the right thing to do for the people of Hawai‘i? The measures I veto may have some merit but propose something that is in error legally or violates the state constitution or may just not be good policy. The bills that become law without my signature might involve concerns I have with the process, or I might disagree with parts of the measure, but they’re not so egregious that I would veto the whole bill. (The governor’s deadline to announce his veto list is June 21.) Members of the public can submit comments on bills at https://governor.hawaii.gov/contact-us/comments-on-legislation/.

Q. What’s your overall assessment of the legislative session in terms of your priorities?
A. We were able to make progress in some of the most critical areas, such as affordable housing, the environment and education. The American Rescue Plan helped tremendously in avoiding furloughs and layoffs of public employees. We also need to make government smaller as we look to the future. I have real concerns about the legislature taking away the dedicated funding for the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and for the counties. Such a significant change in policy — in the closing days of the session — didn’t leave much time for the public to understand the changes and to comment.

Read more in the June Capitol Connection newsletter.

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