Hawaii Republican Convention Meets, Elects New Party Leaders
HB888: Gun Owners May Not Drink at Home--Even with Gun Locked in Safe
Full List: $28M Grants in Aid Funded in State Budget
Whose Tax Is It, Anyway? (Part 1)
NextEra: Legalized Tax Fraud
Sacred? NYT Complains Telescopes Pay 'Little to no Rent'
NYT: ...Over the decades (UH) has collected little to no rent from its many scientific tenants. (The Thirty Meter Telescope is to be the rare exception, paying up to $1 million a year.)
It’s hard to know if the anti-telescope furor has crested yet. The telescope builders have a strong claim to legitimacy, and they are being blamed for things they had nothing to do with — like the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, the loss of native lands, the state’s many social ills and degraded environment. This is an unfair burden for a group that has spent years cultivating local support, navigating the approval process and successfully — so far — fending off lawsuits. It insists its paperwork is in order. It also points to plans to donate about $2 million a year to local causes like business incubation; job training; and scholarships in science, technology, engineering and math.
Mr. Ige, who has been far too withdrawn in this confrontation, needs to step up. If he thinks the telescope is an important asset that promises great benefits to Hawaii’s residents and economy, not to mention to science and humanity at large, he should say so. If he thinks more needs to be done to protect the environment and native interests, he should say what that is and make it happen. His mild news releases urging more dialogue are not enough.
read ... All About Money
Telescope Protesters Ugly Words Demonizing
Shapiro: ...I get that Mauna Kea is a special spiritual place.
I don't get the notion that the only way to protect Mauna Kea is to restrict human activities to what Hawaiians did there 200 years ago.
I don't get the demonizing of astronomers, whose honorable studies of the stars are lumped with the perceived evils of military bombing on Kahoolawe and corporate GMOs.
I don't get the ugly words directed at the Hawaiian high school senior who hopes to work at a Mauna Kea observatory....
read ... Shapiro
Telescope: A matter of faith?
ILind: Several fans of the “annexation never happened” theory of Hawaiian sovereignty took me to task this week over my latest Civil Beat column (“Ian Lind: Dangerous Intersection of Social Policy and ‘Sacred’“).
The previous week, I had written about the legal challenge to the permit allowing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea (“Ian Lind: The Legal Challenge to the Thirty Meter Telescope“).
So it seemed natural to follow-up with a closer look at the findings of fact and conclusions of law that capped the contested case proceeding under the auspices of the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2011. These are the legal findings that are currently being challenged in court by telescope opponents.
It seems to me that you can agree or disagree with them, but it’s not honest to ignore them.
In any case, after being called lots of names by those commenting on the “dangerous intersection” column, I thought it might be useful to reprint several of my earlier Civil Beat columns dealing with similar issues....
read ... Looking back: “A matter of faith”
Maui Hospital Partnership: The Hardest Part Still to Come
MN: The hardest part lies ahead, though. As soon as Gov. David Ige signs the bill, the hunt for a partner begins in earnest. We'd recommend the governor study quickly the work Lo has already done with Hawaii Pacific Health. They still remain the most likely candidate for partnership and the work already done should speed up the deal.
And it is important to remember that a partner must be found quickly. Facing massive deficits, important services will be cut if there is any foot-dragging.
So congratulations to all on passing the bill. Now let's do the really hard part and secure that much-needed partner.
read ... Partnership
State Tax System Becomes More Regressive as Rail Tax Extends, Income Tax Sunsets
Borreca: If you are rich, your state income taxes are going down by up to 2.75 percent while extra taxes to pay for Oahu's over-budget heavy rail system are going into overtime.
As of press time, the specifics of the perpetuation of the rail tax had not been set, but the state Legislature was going over plans to extend it either five or 25 years. No one was saying it was time for the Legislature to tell the county to curb its transit plans.
The Legislature, at the behest of then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann, asked for a supplemental tax to pay for rail, promising it would expire in 2022.
The general excise tax is a regressive tax because it takes the same amount from every taxpayer, which means that the poor end up paying a larger portion of their money compared to the rich.
"Low-income people must spend basically all of their income on necessities subject to the GET. They pay almost twice as much of their income — 13.4 percent — toward state taxes as the wealthiest 1 percent. Because the burden of the GET is so high, low-income households in our state actually face the second-heaviest state tax burden in the country," said Jenny Lee, Hawaii Appleseed attorney, in a Star-Advertiser commentary.
The extra money, regressive or not, is needed because the city's rail plan is nearly a billion dollars over budget.
While the Legislature is likely to break its promise to Oahu taxpayers and not stop the rail tax in 2022, the same Legislature has already stood up strong for the state's top income earners.
Back in 2009, with the state staring at a $2.3 billion deficit, it took $36 million a year from the state's most wealthy to help pay down the deficit.
But it promised that the money grab would end this year, when the tax credit would return to its former rate and all would be fine....
In an interview this week, state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, former Finance Committee chairman and the architect of the tax increase, said it was needed in 2009 and he hoped that it would not sunset. "I hoped all along that that we could keep the rate," Oshiro told me.
read ... More Regressive
SB519 Vacation Rentals Report to Homeowners Associations, DoTax
SA: Only one bill has survived this year's legislative session out of the dozen or so aimed at stepping up enforcement and tax collections for Oahu's burgeoning home-based vacation rental market.
Senate Bill 519, approved by a conference committee Friday, extends for one year Act 326, which requires operators of transient accommodations to report to their homeowner associations, which must forward information to the state tax office. Under the 2012 law they must supply contact information for short-term rental owners and their local operators. Transient accommodations tax license numbers and website addresses also must be forwarded.
SB 519 takes Act 326 further by requiring that the registration number and address of each transient accommodation and timeshare unit be displayed on Internet advertisements. Legislators also clarified the penalties with escalating daily civil fines for operators and plan managers who fail to follow advertising and reporting requirements....
read ... Rules stricter for online ads
Cesspool conversion tax credit passes
HTH: A $10,000 sewer conversion tax credit will allow 500 homeowners a year to defray the cost of converting from cesspools to sewer systems. The income tax credit with a $5 million yearly cap was approved in legislative conference committees on Friday.
The credits apply to sensitive areas within 200 feet of shorelines and streams and near public drinking water wells.
The Lono Kona subdivision, where residents will have to pay an average of around $9,000 for a public sewer system — plus the bill for all of the work on their property to hook up — does not qualify for those credits. However, the subdivision could potentially engage in a limited pilot program created by the bill. Through two introductory projects statewide, the program extends the credits to homeowners who are hooked up to large capacity, or “gang” cesspools, said Kona Rep. Nicole Lowen, who authored the bill.
read ... Cesspool
Rep Creagan Still Wants to Get Rid of UH Hilo Pharmacy School
SA: A call to explore moving the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy to UH-Manoa failed to gain traction in the Legislature this year, but the resolution’s sponsor says it’s a question likely to come up again.
House Resolution 100, sponsored by state Rep. Richard Creagan, D-Naalehu, requested the university system study the feasibility of swapping the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources with the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
Creagan argues CTAHR is better suited for Hawaii Island’s robust agriculture industry, while the pharmacy school belongs near the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu.
The legislator, who is an emergency room physician at Kona Community Hospital, said Wednesday his primary goal was to raise the question about relocating CTAHR to Hawaii Island.
“I put both ideas back on the table,” he said. “I mean, I’m not the first one to come up with either one of those things. In fact, many, many, many people here have opinions on both those issues. But, most people support the idea of CTAHR going to the Big Island. They think that makes great sense. … It would make sense that at least part of CTAHR should move to the Big Island.
“That issue, generally, there’s fairly strong support on.”
Moving the pharmacy college, however, was an idea that generated a lot of pushback, primarily from Hawaii Island delegates, Creagan said.
“The issue of pharmacy coming back (to Oahu) also has a lot of support, except for the Hilo people,” he said.
read ... Representative who is against his own Island
University Refers only 2% of Rape Complaints
SA: Fewer than a quarter of the nearly 50 sexual assault complaints reported on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus over the last five years was adjudicated by the university as called for by federal law, and only one case advanced to the justice system for prosecution, according to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis of crime and student disciplinary data....
"I think that is so critical, because so much of what people tend to focus on is the outcome — how many cases were adjudicated, how many people were suspended," said Rose, a former attorney and advocate for domestic violence victims. "Title IX isn't actually about the formal outcome. It's about what did the university do to try to change the culture for that individual, but also for other students within that same environment."
Reality: University Snoops in Rape Victims' Medical Files to Save Money on Litigation--Legally
read ... Rulings lag in UH rape cases
Kauai Homosexual Child Molester Dead After Portland Bust
KHON: A nationally-recognized mixed martial arts fighter from Hawaii died of an apparent suicide in an Oregon jail, one day before a scheduled court appearance on child sex abuse charges.
Kauai native Eben Kaneshiro owned a martial arts school in Portland and was accused of sexually abusing a boy.
Now, Oregon officials are looking for more possible victims because of a letter found in Kaneshiro’s jail cell hinting at additional crimes.
Kaneshiro was a veteran MMA fighter and a native of Omao on Kauai. Since 2007, he owned the New Breed Jiu Jitsu Academy in Portland, where he taught several kids.
The studio closed down after his arrest last week on three counts of sex abuse and sodomy of a child under the age of 12....
KGI: Kauai Garden Isle Article on Dead Homosexual Child Molester
read ... Gone
Hall of Mirrors: Tranny is Everywhere in Media
Gloves Have Come Off in the War for Tobacco Tax Revenues
MF: According to a bill that's now made it onto the desk of Hawaii Governor David Ige, SB 1030 (the name of the bill) would make the new legal age to buy tobacco products (which includes electronic cigarettes) 21. While New York City has raised the legal age limit to buy tobacco products to 21, no state has thus far made the move to raise its minimum smoking age limit from 18 to 21.
If teens or young adults below the age of 21 are caught with tobacco products, or attempting to buy tobacco products, SB 1030 suggests they be hit with a $10 fine for the first offense, and $50 or 48-72 hours of community service thereafter. Businesses caught selling to those below the legal age limit would face a stiff initial fine of $500, which would increase to $500-$2,000 thereafter.
Why the sudden attention from Hawaii's lawmakers? Keeping teens and young adults away from tobacco products is a goal of all regulators, but Hawaii has witnessed a rapid surge in electronic cigarette use among high school students over a very short time span. (And a sharp decline in tobacco tax revenues as fewer buy regular tobacco.) A Hawaii state report suggested that between 2011 and 2013, electronic cigarette usage among high school students rose from around 5% to 17%. National studies from the CDC have pretty much coincided with Hawaii's state report on tobacco product usage over the prior 30-day period by high school students. You can see the CDC's data on high school student tobacco product use rates below....
A more recent concern for the industry is what the Food and Drug Administration could do with its new method of attracting current and former smokers: electronic cigarettes. If the FDA decides to label electronic cigarettes and their liquids as tobacco products, they would then fall under the strict safety and manufacturing guidelines of the FDA.
Right now, there is little known about the liquids being used in electronic cigarettes, and recent studies -- such as the one conducted by National Jewish Health that discovered liquid vaping solution leads to inflammation of epithelial cells in users' airways and a higher risk of respiratory viral infections -- have suggested electronic cigarettes may not be as safe as they're perceived.
read ... Tobacco tax revenue
Marijuana Retail Store bill not dead, Josh Green removed from Conference committee
HTH: In a highly unusual move, House and Senate leaders resurrected medical marijuana dispensary legislation Friday night. Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki decided to extend negotiation deadlines on House Bill 321, and Senate conference chairman Josh Green has been removed from the process.
Lawmakers extended the negotiation to a noon Monday conference, in political drama that played out well past newspaper press deadlines.
“My colleagues decided it was important to get past the impasse I reached with the House chair,” said Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, on Saturday. “I trust they’ll keep the more compassionate parts of the bill.” (Translation: I was the problem so they kicked me off the committee, but I think my constituents are doped up enough that they wont figure this out.)
Oahu Sen. Will Espero, formerly the co-chairman of the conference committee wrangling the bill, will take Green’s place....
The legislation contains a 15 percent special excise tax and 10 percent special sales tax.
SA: Another high-powered advocate for the bill is John Radcliffe of Capitol Consultants of Hawaii, who represents a company called Pacific Eclipse. Founded in Southern California in 2006, Pacific Eclipse bills itself as an "an industry leader in producing high-quality and safe medical marijuana products." Radcliffe was on hand to watch the tense moments Friday evening as the dispensary bill appeared to be dying. Also on hand for the excitement was Bruce Coppa, executive vice president of Capitol Consultants, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
HTH: Don't Bother I'll Give my Dealer a Call
Related: 25% Tax Would Make State Senior Partner in Marijuana Business
read ... Remove Josh Green
Newsflash: Marijuana Causes Global Warming
IM: A landmark 2011 study by Dr. Evan Mills at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory dealt with energy use and indoor medical marijuana growing.
“Energy up in Smoke: The Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production” found that a single joint represents about 10 pounds of CO2 emissions.
“Current indoor Cannabis production and distribution practices result in prodigious energy use, costs, and greenhouse-gas pollution.”
“The emissions associated with one kilogram of processed Cannabis are equivalent to those of driving across country 5 times in a 44-mpg car. One single production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home and triples that of an average California home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators. Producing one kilogram of processed Cannabis results in 3,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions. The energy embodied in the production of inputs such as fertilizer, water, equipment, and building materials is not estimated here and should be considered in future assessments.”
New York lawyer Anne Wallace wrote Environmental Regulation Can Make Growing Green.
“Electrical consumption is a big driver of greenhouse gas production. The requirements of indoor lighting, ventilation, heating, dehumidification, air conditioning and odor control are big drivers of electrical consumption. Reducing electrical consumption will therefore reduce greenhouse gas production.
In Oregon, voters have already begun to call for statewide energy efficiency standards for growers. The hope is that this will incentivize manufacturers to produce fixtures to meet new codes and prompt utilities to adjust standards to go along with them. …
The city of Boulder, Colorado, requires marijuana growers to purchase their energy from renewable sources like wind energy, solar energy or by buying carbon offsets.” (Translation: Green Energy scammers want to cash in on weed.)
A recent High Times article asserted, “From conserving water and reducing waste to reusing soil and implementing renewable sources of energy like solar and wind into powering production, the cannabis industry has the potential to become a forerunner in setting eco-friendly industry standards—as opposed to becoming one of the worst environmental offenders.”
Greener marijuana can use aquaponics to reduce water use, renewable energy and organic production methods.
Elon Musk just made growing weed easier. Solar panels and Tesla batteries will enable non-grid connected marijuana growers to have a reliable source of power. This benefits both legal growers and black market growers. One way law enforcement has located indoor black market operations is due to their enormous energy draw. (Translation: Green Energy scammers want to cash in on weed. Billionaires know that keeping the people doped up is not only good for social control, but it is also profitable.)
read ... The Energy Required for Producing Medicine
Another Maui Mayoral Candidate Heads for Prison
MN: Former mayoral candidate Nelson Waikiki Jr. was sentenced Friday to prison terms totaling 20 years for securities fraud charges tied to an investment scheme that bilked people out of more than $100,000....
His sentencing followed months of delays, as Waikiki sought new attorneys and didn't show up for his original sentencing Dec. 10.
After pleading guilty to four felony securities fraud charges on April 11, 2014, Waikiki was released on supervision to give him a chance to repay the money. The plea agreement between the defense and the state called for Waikiki to be placed on probation if he paid at least $60,000 of the $141,000 in restitution by the time he was sentenced. If not, the plea agreement called for a 10-year prison term.
While free on supervision, he was arrested twice - once at a mayoral candidates' forum - for failing to follow court requirements by not showing up for drug testing. He has remained in jail since his second arrest Jan. 6, with his bail set at $300,000 cash only.
Remember: Video: Anti-GMO Maui Mayoral Candidate Runs from Cop, Gets Tazed
read ... Duckburg
Kunia Camp Residents to Get Boot
SA: ...Former pineapple plantation workers whose Kunia Camp homes were saved from demolition six years ago are facing a future with improved housing -- but also possible displacement -- under a redevelopment plan intended to end a struggle over maintaining the historic community.
The nonprofit owner of the rural Central Oahu neighborhood also known as Kunia Village is proposing to renovate or replace all 121 existing affordable rental homes and also add 79 more homes within the community.
However, many current residents -- including some retired Del Monte plantation workers who have lived at Kunia Camp for decades -- would become ineligible for the improved homes because of restrictions tied to tax-credit financing for an initial phase of the project, according to a report from the village's owner.
Some residents who are independent farmers also could be excluded under conditions of a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan that would help finance redevelopment but requires that residents be employees of farm businesses.
The plan and its ramifications are laid out in an environmental assessment recently submitted to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control by a subsidiary of the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, or HARC.
read ... Redevelopment