Rail Timeout Honolulu!
Hawaii the extortionate state--Vacation Rental Bills Violate NAFTA
Gun-Related Bills Set for Hearing Tuesday
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 2, 2015
Applicants Wanted for Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions
Oil prices dropped by half, but Hawaii electricity rates decreased just 18 percent (except Kauai)
CB: On Oahu, a typical residential bill for 600 kilowatt hours of electricity will only be 18 percent cheaper than last July, falling to $177.45 from $217.24.
A bill for the same amount of energy on the mainland is about $72 per month.
Hawaii electricity rates were similar to other states in the 1990s, but have since soared. While other states switched to cheaper natural gas and coal, Hawaii remained heavily dependent on oil. (Chart courtesy of Hawaii’s DBEDT)
This is in spite of the fact that crude oil prices, which generally track with prices in Hawaii, fell from $105 a barrel in July to $47 in January, a 55 percent drop. Oil powers about 70 percent of the state’s electricity.
On Maui, the decline is even smaller, with the discount to bill payers averaging just 15 percent. Typical bills on the island are expected to decline from $235.28 last July to $198.78 for February.
On the Big Island, typical bills will average $214.71 this month, down 17 percent from a high of $259.42 last July.
RELATED: Coop: Kauai Electric Rates Now Lower than Hawaii Island, Maui
read ... Rip Off
Soaring Property Assessments Used to Feed HGEA, UPW
SA: Assuming tax rates stay the same as this year, the projected continued rise in property values in fiscal 2016 will result in an 8 percent jump in property tax collections, the operating budget's main source of funds. That negates the need for the administration to propose any tax or fee increases, or any other revenue-generating proposals, in the operating budget, Caldwell's lieutenants said.
But despite a $2.28 billion operating budget that is $139 million, or 6.5 percent, higher than the current year's pot, employee pay and other operating expenses will grow at a much slower pace.
Employee salaries will increase about 2.4 percent, while departmental spending is going up by a mere 1 percent. The employee workforce will stay relatively flat, with a new increase of only 21 new positions, most having to do with converting contracted lifeguards to permanent civil service employees.
Amemiya said the reasons for the operating budget increase would become clear Monday.
"It's a variety of things," he said.
He insisted, however, that operational costs have not gone up 6.5 percent.
Ember Shinn, executive assistant to Caldwell and formerly city managing director, echoed Amemiya.
"Very little money is going into new initiatives," she said.
read ... No New Initiatives, Just New Costs
Early Education, After-School Bills Clear Senate Committee
CB: Senate Bill 64 to allocate funding to continue POD passed through the Senate Committee on Ways and Means after a hearing Monday. It currently provides subsidies to approximately 1,300 low-income families to help send their children to preschool.
As originally written, SB 64 would have allocated $6 million to provide subsidies and another $440,000 for three positions and other services to run the program. However, it was amended to leave the funding amount blank so lawmakers could factor in the budget request later in the legislative session....
Meanwhile, another bill that would start a public prekindergarten program passed through the Senate Committee on Ways and Means last week. Senate Bill 844 would set up a program to establish pre-K offerings at public and charter schools that would be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning.
SB 844 would give priority to low-income or at-risk children, and could be taught in either of the state’s official languages. Parents would be able to voluntarily enroll their children in a early education programs at public and charter schools across the state....
read ... Early
Danner Sisters Ask Legislature to Give Them More Control Over DHHL
MN: A coalition representing Native Hawaiian homesteaders has created a plan outlining ways to improve the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Their plan calls on the state to fully fund the department, which is responsible for administering the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission Act.
Representatives from the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and other groups will share their proposal with lawmakers in a joint meeting of Senate and House committees today.
The plan was developed by beneficiaries of the act, who are supposed to have access to lands placed in trust for Native Hawaiians. It calls for more transparency and openness between the government and the beneficiaries of the land trust.
read ... About What the Danner Sisters are up to
Civil Beat Finally Dares to Mention Gabbard's 'Religious Affiliation'
CB: ...It’s a strategy that rarely works in today’s digital environment. Fueled by speculation and past media coverage of the Gabbard family’s religious affiliations, the matter has mushroomed on message boards and social media. As of Sunday, posts of the stories on Civil Beat, HNN and Huffington Post had drawn many hundreds of comments from critics and defenders.
Reality: Tulsi Gabbard Hires Cult Associate as Chief of Staff
read ... Rather Oblique
Gay Activist Appointed Opinion Editor for Civil Beat
CB: Hawaii residents may already be familiar with Todd Simmons. Todd joins Civil Beat as its new — and first ever — Opinion Editor to help lead a higher level of debate and discussion on important issues....
Most recently, Todd has been executive director of of Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest LGBT organization. In that position, he has put in considerable time meeting with lawmakers and community leaders....
read ... The Gay Agenda
Muslims: Lets Do Everything We Can to Keep the Homeless on the Streets in Hawaii
AJ: In Hawaii — where lawmakers are considering legislation similar to Right to Rest — the number of laws targeting the homeless has also risen. In Honolulu, it was recently made a misdemeanor to rest on sidewalks in the tourist district. The offense is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
In response, homeless rights advocates created Hawaii's Homeless Bill of Rights, which last week passed through state Senate hearings, advocates said. It heads next to the House for more hearings.
The bill would assert the right to use public spaces, to vote, to not have police or other authorities search their belongings without reasonable suspicion, to sleep in a legally parked car and to have access to restrooms and other hygiene facilities.
"Actions by state, county or private organizations shall not impede an individual's ability to maintain access to services essential to survival," the legislation reads.
read ... Al-Jazeera
Envision Laie Hearing Thursday
CB: The planned homes are part of a project known as Envision Laie that’s backed by Hawaii Reserves Inc., a company that manages land owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Supporters say that adding 800 homes on ranchland in Malaekahana would help ease the affordable housing crisis. But opponents argue that would worsen traffic on the two-lane highway and ruin the rural lifestyle.
The hearing is at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Honolulu Hale. Click here to read the agenda and the amendments.
read ... Envision
Panos: Hoopili Doesn’t Fit
CB: If today’s traffic is bad, then in 2035 with Hoopili and the rest of the planned developments, traffic will be severely congested.
read ... Hoopili
Hawaii Co Officer Arrested for Deadly Hit and Run
WHT: A 63-year-old Michigan man was killed Sunday after being struck by an on-duty Hawaii Police Department officer in what the Hawaii County Fire Department described as a hit-and-run incident on Waikoloa Road in South Kohala.
The officer has been identified as 30-year-old Jody Buddemeyer, according to police. He was arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide and subsequently released pending further investigation.
The officer, who was assigned to the department’s South Kohala District, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an administrative investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, according to police. The investigation is standard practice in any officer-involved fatality, police noted.
West Hawaii Today’s attempts to reach Area II commander, Assistant Chief Paul Kealoha, were unsuccessful as of press time Sunday.
The bicyclist, identified by police as Jeffrey C. Sunow, was found lying face down near a “severely damaged” bicycle on the shoulder of the eastbound lane of Waikoloa Road, near mile marker 11, according to fire department personnel who responded about 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The rescue personnel determined that the West Bloomfield, Mich., man had died prior to their arrival and handed the investigation over to police.
Police did not provide any details on the when the accident occurred, only that Buddemeyer reported the crash at 6:25 a.m. Sunday. The Hawaii County Fire Department, in a prepared statement released Sunday morning, described the incident as an apparent hit-and-run.
H247: Hilo man in critical condition after police shooting Saturday Night
read ... Another One
Hawaii group moves to change shipping regulations governed by Jones Act
SN: While American Samoa is exempted from the U.S. build federal requirement provision of the Jones Act, two states and two territories are hoping to be given a similar exemption, through a proposal being worked on by the Honolulu-based Hawai’i Shippers’ Council (HSC), according to the group’s president Michael N. Hansen, who is hoping that American Samoa will support their move if and when the proposal goes through the U.S. Congress.
“Many people in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico would like to have an American Samoan exemption from the Jones Act,” Hansen said from Honolulu. “The NJAR proposal seeks a limited exemption from the Jones Act for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico – essentially an exemption from the domestic build requirement of the Jones Act.”
read ... Samoa News
UH to Kick Smokers off Campus--But only Tobacco Smokers
KL: In spring 2012, the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii, UH Manoa's student government, and the Manoa Faculty Senate passed resolutions in support of a tobacco-free campus. A campuswide ban on the use of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes was supposed to take effect last year on Jan. 1, but it was postponed pending review by unions and faculty.
The new policy does not explicitly mention chewing tobacco or electronic cigarettes.
read ... Tokers Welcome
Public can view state’s storm water management program plan
KHON: The Hawaii Department of Transportation is making available for public viewing and comment its storm water management program plan.
The document is now available for public review online and a hard copy is available for public viewing at the Oahu District office at 727 Kakoi Street in Honolulu.
The public has the ability to review the plan and submit comments until Sunday, March 29. Please submit all comments as a word document attachment on our comment form or via email. All comments received on time will be considered.
A public informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 11, at Radford High School’s cafeteria from 5-7 p.m. to address questions and discuss the content of the plan.
The storm water management program plan outlines the steps that the DOT’s Highways Division will enact to reduce the discharge of storm water pollutants into state receiving waters.
read ... Storm Water