The 2011 Legislative Session kicked off on Jan. 19 at the State Capitol with an air of optimism but with the realization that hard work needs to be done to cut the budget. At least in the Senate, the presentations reflected a festive mood. This year I got invited by Senate Carol Fukunaga to join her and a few guests on the Senate floor, a first time for me from this vantage point. This video was shot, edited and posted all from my iPhone, something Nani Daniels, local Apple rep and guest might appreciate.
As the legislature gears up for the 2010 session, the tech community is mobilizing to make the most out of what is to be one of the more difficult law-making years. In order to make up for the $1.2B deficit Gov Lingle is already looking at deferring tax returns, restricting spending and refinancing debt. It is highly unlikely lawmakers will support any tax-credits for the tech industry. Even back in October at the Rebuilding Tech workshop, Senators Fukunaga, Hanabusa and Representative McKelvey predict "programs are being cut, nobody will be giving away money in the form of credits." So what is the tech community going to do? Mobilize for one thing. Jay Fidell, Bill Spencer and a host of others are organizing Crucible 2010: Hammering out Tech Initiatives For the 2010 Legislative Session. For anyone in the tech industry interested in efforts to introduce new bills in this session should attend this workshop being held at the Plaza Club on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 starting at 4:00pm. The program agenda includes:
• WELCOME – JAY FIDELL • STATE OF TECH: JOBS AND SO MUCH MORE – BILL SPENCER (5 minutes) • HAWAII’S FUTURE IN TECHNOLOGY – KEIKI-PUA DANCIL (5 minutes) • THE COALITION WORKGROUP – CAROL FUKUNAGA & ANGUS MCKELVEY (5 minutes) • RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COALITION WORKGROUP (40 minutes) GENERAL FINANCE – DAVID WATUMULL & KARL FOOKS ENABLING ENVIRONMENT – MARK GILBERT & YUKA NAGASHIMA R&D CREDIT – JOHN CHOCK & IAN KITAJIMA RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY – DARREN KIMURA & TED PECK CREATIVE MEDIA – RIC GALINDEZ & NANCY GREKIN • Q & A FROM LEGISLATORS AND INDUSTRY – BOB TOYOFUKU (20 minutes) • CLOSING REMARKS – JAY FIDELL & BILL SPENCER (10 minutes) • 5:30 p.m. LIBATION AND BONDING • 6:30 p.m. PAUThe event is free but you need to RSVP by calling the Hawaii Venture Capital Assoc. at 808-262-7329 or ThinkTech at 808-524-0544. You can also email Bill Spencer or Jay Fidell. In related news Lisa Gibson is stepping down from her post at the Hawaii Science and Technology Council as President/CEO. Keiki-Pua Dancil is replacing Gibson as the new President/CEO. Dancil will be presenting at Crucible 2010 and talk about Hawaii's Future in Technology. I spoke briefly with Gibson who told me "it's time for a change." She wasn't clear what she would be doing now but whatever it is it will be dynamic. We all wish Lisa the best in her future endeavors. For those interested in a primer on the legislative process you might want to check out the Legislative 101 Workshop on Jan. 28th. The program will feature experts from the legislature’s Public Access Room, elected officials, and experienced advocates who will explain the legislative process and share insights on how to participate effectively. Speakers include Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, Jeff Mikulina (Blue Planet Foundation), and Kapua Sproat. The program is free of charge and a good way to understand how to engage in a process that might otherwise look quite daunting. Reserve your seat here.
This is the most coordinated tech movement I have seen to date. Jay Fidell (ThinkTech Hawaii) is on a mission to help establish the tech sector in Hawaii. He's brought together Pacific New Media's, Susan Horowitz; Dan Leuck from Tech Hui; Mary Fastenau from Anthology Marketing Group and Bill Spencer from the Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association and put together quite an interesting set of panels. The program called Rebuilding in 2010: A Tech Prospective Approaching the 2010 Legislature provided a forum for discussing next steps in the post Act 221/199 world. As Act 221 sunsets in 2010, it is unlikely that another bill will make it through the legislature to provide the tech sector with tax credits. In this period of down revenues and furlough Friday's, the panel of legislators, Sen Colleen Hanabusa, Sen Carol Fukunaga and Rep. Angus McKelvey made it clears that when programs are being cut, nobody will be giving away money in the form of credits. During the Aspirations Panel, Ian Kitajima from Oceanit lead a rally cry for the tech sector to unify around the cause of Hawaii's survival in the world economy. The objective is bigger than one industry fighting against another in Hawaii. It's about Hawaii staying competitive against other tech centers in the US and the world. During the Methodology Panel, Darren Kimura (Sopogy) and Kelly King (Pacific Biodiesel) represented Hawaii's unique position in alternative energy. Hawaii has to focus on areas where it can excel. Solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and wave are all readily available here. Besides tax credits, what can the legislature do for these industries? Reduce the permitting overhead! Bill Spencer from Hawaii Oceanic Technologies also participated on the panel to bring attention to his two year struggle to get permits for a deep ocean aquaculture operation. He finally got it from the Board of Land and Natural Resources but it was a long and costly effort. Why can't the workers processing these permits feel the sense of urgency felt by the entrepreneur? Lack of top down leadership and message! 2010 looks to be shaping up to be an interesting year for tech. With the tech sector mobilizing, dynamic new industries forming and the ongoing search for new political leadership there will be a lot of potential for positive change. Well, that is at least the hope...