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Wednesday, February 3, 2016
February 3, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:03 PM :: 4331 Views

Sovereignty Activists’ Declaration Protesting Na’i Aupuni, Federal Recognition

Time To Elect Hawaii's Judges? Maybe Not Such A Bad Idea

Renewable Energy: How the 100% Mandate Hurts Hawaii

DraftKings Quitting Hawaii After Prosecutor Issues Cease-and-Desist Letter

Experts split on rail’s options

Mainland Homosexuals Target First Amendment, Children, Bathrooms in Hawaii

HB1701: Hawaii First State to Introduce ‘Safe Child Act’

HSPAN: Hawaii Capitol On Demand Video

Looking back at the 2015 Hawaii Legislature

Video: Anti-GMO Crackpot Peddles ‘Molecular Hydrogen’ Tablets

Communist Acquitted Killer Named Inouye Professor at UH Manoa

HB2712: Will Legislators Save Telescope with Zoning Change?

WHT: Several Big Island lawmakers are backing legislation that would establish seven “science and technology research subzones,” including one covering Mauna Kea’s astronomy precinct.

The 21-page bill would give the Board of Land and Natural Resources authority over subzone activities in Conservation Districts, such as those covering the mountain, and would appear to simplify rules for building within those areas.

Barry Taniguchi, a Big Island businessman who circulated the bill among lawmakers, said it was drafted by a group of telescope supporters in Hilo concerned about the future of astronomy on the mountain following the loss of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s land use permit. He declined to name the other people involved.

Representatives of the University of Hawaii, which holds the master lease for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, and Mauna Kea observatories said they didn’t draft the bill.

“We are worried Mauna Kea might be taken out” of astronomy, said Taniguchi, owner of KTA Super Stores. “I think we’d like to start the conversation.”

Rep. Mark Nakashima (D-Hamakua, Hilo) introduced the bill in the House, along with signatures from Big Island Reps. Nicole Lowen, Richard Onishi and Clift Tsuji. Senate President Ronald Kouchi introduced a companion bill.

Nakashima said he saw the bill as a way to attract jobs and address concerns over Hawaii’s reputation as a bad place to do business.

But Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the TMT litigants, said the bill is just a way to change the rules in favor of the state after it lost an appeal of the $1.4 billion project’s Conservation District land use permit for Mauna Kea.

“When you can’t prevail with the law, you change the law,” she said after reviewing the legislation….

The legislation was filed as HB 2712 in the House and SB 3020 in the Senate.

Attorney sought to oversee possible telescope hearing

read … Proposed bill would create science ‘subzones’

Committee OKs Bill To Shield UH Regents From Revealing Financial Info

CB: A bill to exempt members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents from a law that requires them to publicly disclose their financial interests cleared its first hurdle in the House on Tuesday.

The Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Isaac Choy, unanimously passed House Bill 1532, although Reps. Takashi Ohno and Lauren Matsumoto noted their reservations.

Choy, who introduced the measure, said he understands there is “a lot of concern from the good-government people.”

To that end, he amended the bill by adding language (a fig leaf) that requires the Hawaii State Ethics Commission to specifically review the annual financial disclosure statements filed by members of the Board of Regents and report back to the Legislature. 

read … Shield Law

An audit of UH?

KL: …the University of Hawai‘i’s flagship campus deals with expensive contract buyouts, legal fees and rising students costs, some lawmakers are calling for a thorough inspection of the system.

“[The university] is in deficit in a number of different areas: athletics, the cancer center, a number of programs,” Sen. Sam Slom said. “A number of miscues, mismanagement, administrative faux pas in the last couple years and unaccounted for money demands that there be a full financial and management audit of the university.”

Senate Bill 950, carried over from the 2015 session, would enact the state’s Office of the Auditor to assess the financial, managerial and program operations of the university. 

Slom, a UH alumnus, said he does not think the university is operating within its current budget and drafted the bill after noticing financial downfalls within the system. Lawmakers are unsure of what the audit will reveal, however Sen. Russell Ruderman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said a comprehensive audit is a good place to start identifying areas of improvement in the university system.  

Despite Slom’s accusations of management problems within the system, UH isn’t opposed to the audit and school officials see this audit as an opportunity to improve the system…. 

Text, Status: SB950

read … Audit

Audit: Hawaii DoE Sped Programs ‘Marginal, Inefficient’

SA: Staffing shortages and inefficient technology are hampering operations of the special-education program in Hawaii’s public schools, according to an internal audit released this week that found the program is functioning at a “marginal” level.

The review, which was presented Tuesday to the Board of Education’s Audit Committee, focused on the business operations of the program, which services more than 18,800 special-needs students. It did not review curriculum or instruction.

“Based upon our review, we found the DOE’s controls related to the business processes to manage the (special education) program are functioning at a marginal level,” the report concluded. “A marginal rating indicates that there may be a potential for loss to the auditable area and ultimately to the DOE.” …

Link: The Audit Report

read … Marginal

Medicare: “Value-based” payment can encourage unethical behavior

SA: …Medicare is pushing payment and delivery system reforms referred to as “value-based” payment, designed to reward doctors financially for delivering less care.

“Value-based” payment can encourage unethical behavior, and so far it is adding administrative burdens but not achieving any of its stated goals of improved care, improved health or reduced cost.

Doctors who fail to adequately computerize and report detailed data to Medicare will receive a 2 percent reduction in fees starting this month, escalating to 9 percent over the next five years.

Prior authorization and documentation demands have been worst for Medicaid-managed care and Medicare, and now HMSA is jumping on the same bandwagon for the commercially insured. Physicians now must obtain prior authorizations for almost all advanced imaging studies and a high percentage of the prescriptions they write, including many generics.

Conversion to a much more complex diagnostic coding system last October, complex evaluation/management procedure codes, and data demands for pay-for-performance and risk adjustment, required by “value-based” payment, are forcing doctors to spend much more time on documentation at the expense of listening to and paying attention to their patients….

read … Policymakers should be listening to doctors

Dengue Emergency? Gabbard, Ige Jostle for Credit

KHON: Gov. Ige and other county and state officials said in a news conference Tuesday that they are continuing an “aggressive, collaborative response” to the current dengue fever outbreak on Hawaii Island.

It was revealed at the news conference that a final draft of the governor’s state of emergency declaration for Hawaii County has been made in case more resources are needed.

On Friday, Jan. 29, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called for the governor to declare the island’s outbreak a state of emergency, saying the declaration would allow the state to deploy resources, including the National Guard, to assist with mosquito abatement, public information, clearing, and providing completely free testing for those with suspected symptoms.

The governor said a first draft was made back in November 2015 when the state Dept. of Health first announced the potential of a dengue fever outbreak on Hawaii Island….

read … Jostling for Credit

Anti-GMO Activists, Anti-Vaxxers: Dumb and Dumbest

KE: …Sadly, ignorance is too often fostered in the classroom, as evidenced by this Facebook comment left by a Hawaii substitute teacher following news of the Syngenta workers seeking treatment following exposure to pesticide:

"If it kills insects, obviously it will kill man."

Right. Like we have the exact same physiology! Yikes. And they wonder why the keiki are uneducated.

Which offers a perfect segue to a Psychology Today article that reports:

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America adds another perspective: “In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”

We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.

In fact, that need to weigh in on everything, even when you don't know WTF you're talking about, is so prevalent that Saturday Night Live turned it into a skit:

“The game is simple: We bring out three idiots and give them hot button issues and ask them, 'should you chime in on this?' The answer should always be no. OK, now let's meet the idiots.”

The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz also found the phenomenon richly ripe for satire:

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports….

read … Fact-Resistant Humans

HPV vaccination bill spurs emotional debate

HNN: …"We don't need to have women die as a result of cervical cancer when there is a vaccine that can prevent it," she said.

Several parents, however, provided emotional testimony questioning the safety of vaccines in general.

"We have experienced all kinds of awful things for my children like bleeding eczema, asthma," said Mililani resident Virginia Porter.

"I feel like the HPV vaccine has not been on the market long enough to make it a mandate," said Dawn Poiani, a Nuuanu mother of three boys.

The state Department of Health supports the intent of the legislation, but officials have concerns about some parts of the bill. State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the U.S. has some of the most stringent requirements for any vaccine or medication to make it to the market.

"It has been a recommended vaccine now for 10 years so if you add those things all together, that's quite a number of years for a lot of study," said Dr. Park.

After the hearing, Baker said she plans to make adjustments based on the feedback.

"One of the things we're going to take a look at is making it clear that there are exemptions for religious, health, medical, and I'm probably going to recommend to the committee that we include cultural practices," she said….

SA: Vaccine mandate too controversial?

read … Vaccine

Committee Defers Bill to Fly Homeless Back to Mainland

CB: Hawaii’s controversial program to fly homeless people back to the mainland is likely to expire at the year’s end.

The Legislature adopted the three-year program in 2013, infusing it with $100,000 in state funds to buy one-way tickets to those wishing to return to their families on the mainland.

State Rep. John Mizuno, the main sponsor of the bill that created the program, tried to extend it beyond its expiration date of Dec. 31 with House Bill 1587, but the measure was deferred Tuesday by the House Committee on Human Services.

read … Were gonna keep ‘em all to ourselves

On the Move in the Legislature

Caldwell Has $1.6M For Re-Election

CB: …The figure comes from the Honolulu mayor’s filing this week, which covers the past six months of 2015.

Major donors include Monsanto Company, Hawaii Laborers PAC and a lot of people who work for the mayor, like George Atta, the director of the Department of Planning & Permitting….

Ernie Martin, the City Council chair who may or may not challenge Caldwell, has less than one-third of Caldwell’s cash, or about $492,000….

Duke Aiona’s most recent filing with the CSC shows that he has less than $19,000 in cash.

read … Bought n Paid For

Nearly 6,000 HMSA members did not reenroll in ACA plans, insurer says

PBN: Nearly 6,000 Hawaii Medical Service Association members did not reenroll in individual Affordable Care Act health plans, the health insurer confirmed Monday.

As of January 26, HMSA counted 7,907 individuals who enrolled through Healthcare.gov, the federal insurance exchange. Another 12,716 had enrolled in ACA plans with HMSA directly, taking the total ACA Individual Medical Plan member count to 20,623.

Those 20,623 HMSA members accounted for include 2015 existing re-enrollees, new members, and "grandmothered" individual plans that switched to ACA plans.

That left at least 5,730 HMSA members who failed to reenroll — some of whom may have switched insurers, or found employment, as Hawaii's Prepaid Health Care Act mandates that employers cover health insurance for workers who put in more than 20 hours a week….

read … Nobody Wants Obamacare

Hawaii Had a Master Plan for Prisons in the 1970s—It Didn’t Work Either

ILind: Forty years ago, Hawaii tried to re-envision and reform the state’s old and obsolete prison system. The aim: to create a prison system second to none.

The magazine of the American Correctional Association, an organization of prison professionals, reported that Hawaii’s new prisons were expected to be “the most modern, the most humane and the most sophisticated anywhere.”

But even as the new buildings were going up, the widely hailed vision was being undermined by bureaucratic inertia and infighting, and by the Legislature’s failure to fund key parts of the system.

And with a surge in crime brought about, in part, by the unprecedented size of the the baby boom generation (sex, drugs and rock n roll), we saw the arrival of a new political era that leveraged the fear of crime into a potent campaign issue, first nationally and then locally (If only we had been even softer on crime, the prisons would have been real comfy for the few criminals we actually put inside).

Instead of leading the nation, Hawaii’s new prison system was overcrowded on the day it opened….

read … Falling Short Again On Prisons

SHOPO Claims to Support Heightened HPD Discipline

KHON: …learned on Monday 58 officers were disciplined. That’s up from 39 the year before.

The department recommended 17 officers be discharged last year. That is up from three the year before.

SHOPO says this shows that the department and its chief are doing their jobs.

“Without a doubt we shall be held to a higher standard so these officers are being disciplined. So there’s no cover up of such and again to your point here. It’s just a minute (amount) of the entire department. The great percentage that are still there work. And again these officers who make these mistakes, albeit small or grave, they’re being punished accordingly according to what the law calls for as well as the department’s rules and regs,” said SHOPO Union President Tenari Maafala.

Senator Will Espero told KHON2 on Monday he wants more transparency, and thinks the reports should include the names of the officers as well.

Maafala says that’s still being decided in the state supreme court.

HTH: Trial set for DLNR officer in child sex assault case

read … Say one Do other

Pro-Bowl: Total Frustration Four Hours in Traffic

SA: We left for the game four hours before kickoff. We spent the entire time in traffic and never were able to get to a site to park, let alone attend the game. It seemed as if many of the onsite parking stalls were given to tailgaters, not ticket holders.

We were under the mistaken impression that a community that had put on an event over the last 40 years actually knew how to manage traffic and conduct an event.

We were not alone, in that many people who bought tickets were unable to attend the event. We and our friends were very disappointed.

What was to be a once-in-a-lifetime event turned into total frustration.

My advice to anyone visiting the islands to see the Pro Bowl: Don’t.

read … Pro Bowl

Hawaii is the top state for potential savings through mortgage refinancing

PBN: Hawaii homeowners could save at least $300 a month if they refinance their loans, according to a study from NerdWallet.

Hawaii is the top state for potential savings, according to analysis of mortgage loan data from Black Knight Financial Services.

read … $300 / mo

Kauai: 62% oil Powered Electricity, Oahu 85%

HNN: …Four times in January, KIUC generated 90 percent of the island's electrical needs with renewable resources….

the backbone of the island's solar power comes from two solar array farms, in Koloa and Anahola.

Additionally, five hydroelectric plants account for almost 8 percent of the island's electricity needs.

Lastly, the green energy plant burns wood chips from trees, like the invasive albizia. …

Annually, 38 percent of Kauai's energy comes from renewable sources, meaning the majority of it still comes from imported oil. The co-op is on target to have 50 percent green energy in seven years.

On Oahu, about 15 percent of energy comes from renewable sources, according to HECO….

read … Renewable

Ige Not very Interested in LNG Plan

SA: Hawaii Gas President and CEO Alicia Moy said Tuesday that the utility has yet to sit down with Gov. David Ige to show him the utility’s updated plans for bringing liquefied natural gas to the state.

Moy said she is hoping to show Ige Hawaii Gas’ recent agreement with a supplier of LNG to build the facilities needed to import bulk LNG into the state for $200 million. Ige came out against LNG in August, saying he would actively oppose the construction of any future LNG receiving stations in Hawaii because it would cost too much money.

“We haven’t taken him through the results of our findings,” Moy said during an editorial board meeting at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “He was definitely concerned with the cost of the infrastructure, and, to be honest, a while ago when we first started this, we were looking at on-land storage. So, maybe that is what he is referring to, because that is expensive.”

SA: Governor maintains opposition to NextEra and LNG

read … Barely Paying Attention

More NextEra Merger News

Lawsuit: Hawaii man HIV-positive after blood transfusion

AP: A man is suing Blood Bank of Hawaii, American Red Cross and others because he says he became HIV-positive from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery in 2011.

The lawsuit says the blood bank and the Red Cross were negligent in not properly testing the blood. Other unidentified corporations and agencies are defendants in the lawsuit.

The man, his wife and children are not identifying themselves. They say doing so would subject them to public ridicule.

The lawsuit was first filed in state court last year but was transferred to federal court earlier this week.

Meanwhile: FDA To Lift Ban on Gay Blood Donation

read … AIDS

Legislators Push Back Against Cesspool Ban

WHT: …Nearly a dozen legislators are asking Gov. David Ige not to sign off on a proposed state Department of Health rule change that would ban new cesspools statewide.

A letter, dated Monday, was signed primarily by neighbor island state representatives and senators whose constituents include many rural communities that rely on existing cesspools or the ability to install new ones. Big Island legislators signing the letter include: House Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo); Rep. Richard Creagan (Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona); Rep. Richard Onishi (Hilo Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano), Rep. Clift Tsuji (Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa, Waiakea), Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala), Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna, Ka’u), and Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona).

The letter points out that a previous version of the rule change would have required conversion of all cesspools to septic systems, and would have cost Big Island homeowners, with over 50,000 cesspools, $1.5 billion. It also notes that septic systems in Hawaii cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to install, compared to cesspools which range from $2,000 to $3,000.

“A bill to do that same thing was introduced into the Legislature in 2015 and DID NOT PASS. In fact, a bill to ban new cesspools was NOT passed….

read … Swimming against the stream

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