Parents charged in 1997 death of ‘Peter Boy’
DoH Announces Eight Marijuana Dispensary Licenses
Hiding the Failure: DoE Gets Another Testing Waiver for Hawaiian Language Immersion Schools
Status of Bills in Conference
How a Bill Becomes a Law Part 3
Duke Aiona Legislative Update April 28, 2016
Audit: DHHL Hides Loan Delinquencies from Commissioners
Carlisle: I want Rail to go to Hawaii Kai
HNN: …Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle is a big rail supporter and recently sought former Gov. Ben Cayetano's backing for a potential mayoral campaign.
But during a recent meeting at the Kahala Zippy's restaurant, rail critic Cayetano asked for something in return for his endorsement.
"To make a long story short, I asked him 'Will you support a compromise on rail?' I'm talking about the Middle Street compromise. And he said no and that one day he would like to see rail go to ... Hawaii Kai," said Cayetano.
Cayetano said he was surprised a week later to see Carlisle on Hawaii News Now, blaming him for the rail cost overruns.
"But that's Peter, see. I'm sorry I can't support you for mayor because you don't tell the truth," Cayetano said.
HNN: Kalihi business owners brace themselves as rail moves to town
read … Carlisle to Hawaii Kai
Budget: Yes to Wahiawa, Mental, Rentals, Homeless, and mini-Dole Deal – but no more for UH Cancer Center
SA: …State lawmakers have wrapped up negotiations on a $13.7 billion budget for the coming year that includes a financial bailout for Wahiawa General Hospital and $160 million to rebuild much of the Hawaii State Hospital for the mentally ill.
However, lawmakers refused a request from Gov. David Ige to pay $4 million to prop up the finances of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. Earlier in the session lawmakers also rejected a proposal to increase the state cigarette tax to help fund the financially struggling cancer center.
To help cope with the state’s housing shortage, House and Senate leaders agreed to provide more than $97 million in next year’s budget from the general treasury, conveyance tax revenues and other sources to help finance affordable rentals. That was less than Ige had proposed, but some housing advocates hailed the appropriation as a significant step in providing more affordable housing for Hawaii residents.
Last week lawmakers announced they would also authorize spending of an extra $12 million next year to fund homeless shelters and pay for outreach and other services for the homeless. According to federal statistics, Hawaii now has the highest rate of homelessness per capita of any state in the nation.
The new budget also includes $31.5 million for the state to buy prime agricultural lands between Wahiawa and Waialua from Dole Food Co. The company has listed more than 18,000 acres for sale, and lawmakers want to purchase the best of those lands to lease out to farmers to increase the state’s local food production.
Senators initially had wanted to spend $107 million to buy about 8,000 acres, but that request was pared back dramatically during last-minute negotiations over the budget.
read … Budget
HB2740: Will Legislators Protect Patients Against HMSA Greed?
SA: …Lawmakers deferred their decision until today on a controversial bill that would make the Hawaii Medical Service Association legally responsible for deaths or other harm as a result of undue delays in diagnostic tests.
House Bill 2740, which would establish pre-authorization standards for all Hawaii health insurers, was heard Wednesday and Thursday by a conference committee but deferred until 10 a.m. today as legislators try to reach a compromise on a final version of the bill….
read … Obamacare
'TMT bill' would eliminate silly lower courts from appeals process
HNN: House and Senate lawmakers agreed Thursday to a bill that would speed up contested case appeals to five state agencies by eliminating lower courts from the process.
The measure applies to the Board of Land and Natural Resources, which issues rulings on conservation districts and permitting for projects like the Thirty Meter Telescope. Challenges to contested case hearings at four other boards -- Water Resource Management and Land Use Commissions, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Hawaii Community Development Authority -- would also be directed straight to the state Supreme Court, bypassing two lower courts.
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, (D-McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown) said the measure is about speeding up appeals that can bog down projects.
"There have been several cases that have just lingered in the courts for years and years and that's unfortunate because it costs everyone time and money when that happens," he said. "We just want to bring certainty to these cases. Everyone will still have the opportunity to bring their evidence and testimony, their arguments -- both at the contested case level and at the Supreme Court."
As the bill is written, if justices determine the state agency's decision was "procedurally and substantively" decided correctly, then the Supreme Court will not accept the appeal and the administrator's ruling will stand. If they're uncertain, it will take up the case….
The measure still must pass a third and final reading in both the House and Senate.
read … Lets just get to it already
How TMT Bill Would Affect NextEra Merger
IM: …The Public Utilities Commission decision could approve, approve with conditions, or reject the NextEra application.
Thereupon, any party can file a motion for reconsideration.
Once the final verdict is in, a window to appeal the decision opens.
Until just a few years ago the appeal would have gone directly to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Then the State Legislature passed a law (Act 94 in 2004) stating that Public Utilities Commission contested case appeals should go first to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA).
In 2014 the Legislature passed a bill establishing environmental courts (Act 218).
This year the State Legislature reversed itself again.
The House and Senate Conference Committees have reached agreement on HB 1581 HD2 SD2 CD1 which requires decisions in contested case hearings of the commission on water resource management, land use commission, public utilities commission, Hawaii community development authority, and those involving conservation districts to be appealed directly to the supreme court, with certain exceptions.
The proposed bill was introduced by House Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads….
read … What`s Next for NextEra and HECO?
Council acts to widen input on wind projects
SA: …The resolution, introduced by City Council Chairman Ernie Martin in November, would amend the land-use ordinance permitting requirements to provide greater opportunity for public input.
The current permitting process for wind machines does not require a public hearing, presentation to the area neighborhood board or community association, notification to nearby property owners of the pending permit application, or posting of a “notice of pending permit” sign on the property….
There was disagreement between the chairman and those testifying whether the bill would affect a current wind project planned to be built in Kahuku. Na Pua Makani Power Partners LLC is planning to build a 25-megawatt wind project near the North Shore community.
“Should any projects come forward in the future, beyond this project, it would likely be in my district,” Martin said. “It probably will not affect the current project at hand, but should any succeeding projects come forward, then I think it is within our realm of responsibility to allow as much public input as possible.”
Keoki Wallace, consultant for Na Pua Makani, testified that the resolution is singling out one specific project.
“We need to make changes in order to survive,” Wallace said. “The concern I have is this particular legislation is targeted at one project. … To change rules at the last second just doesn’t seem right.”….
read … Rusting Wind Junk
Honolulu’s construction costs still the highest in the United States
PBN: Honolulu’s construction costs, which have been responsible for stalling or shuttering several projects, continues to be the highest in the United States, according to a new report.
The rapid rise in construction costs also means that the more than $6 billion Honolulu rail transit project will cost an additional $240 million.
In terms of comparative costs, Honolulu which ranked only behind New York in July 2015, jumped ahead to the top spot as of October 2015, according to the Rider Levett Bucknall U.S. Fourth Quarter 2015 Construction Cost Report.
The report’s comparative cost index tracks the true bid cost of construction, which includes, in addition to costs of labor and materials, general contractor and subcontractor overhead costs and fees.
From July 2015 to October 2015, Honolulu saw a percentage change in comparative costs of 1.28 percent….
read … We’re Number 1
Students not fooled by Administrators’ tuition hike sales pitch
HTH: Earlier this year, when officials first pitched the University of Hawaii’s new tuition proposal, they hoped students would view the plan’s relatively modest increases as a relief.
“I hope (the plan) is a welcome surprise for students,” Risa Dickson, UH vice president for academic affairs, said in February after presenting it for the first time to the Board of Regents.
But when Dickson presented that same plan Thursday at Hawaii Community College, it didn’t appear to be all that welcome. Several of the roughly 30 students and faculty in attendance held signs or wore T-shirts opposing increases. A large, spray-painted sign hanging on the wall read “Got Debt?”
In all, around 15 people testified against tuition increases at the roughly two-hour meeting, which was one of 11 held statewide this spring to gather feedback before regents convene next month to make revisions. A second meeting was held at UH-Hilo later in the day.
“For us, we see administration making hundreds of thousands of dollars, living a very comfortable life,” said Ryu Kakazu who said he was a recent UH-Hilo graduate.
“For me, it’s almost offensive to see this presentation being focused on this idea of, ‘It’s either (students) pay it or we get it from the state.’”
“Tuition increases are one option, but I feel like there are other options that need to be explored other than pinning (increases) on those of us who are working three part-time jobs,” added Sophia Benacquista, who said she’s a student at the HCC Palamanui campus….
read … Students not pleased with proposed tuition hikes
City ethics body handles anonymous complaints
SA: Question: Is there a way for a city employee to file an anonymous complaint against his or her bosses for stealing taxpayer resources? If so, how? I need to stay anonymous, at least until I know the complaint is being taken seriously, because I’m afraid I will lose my job.
Answer: Yes, you may contact the Honolulu Ethics Commission, which investigates alleged misuse of city government resources and conflicts of interest. Although the commission prefers to know a complainant’s name, which it keeps confidential, it does accept anonymous complaints from city workers and the public.
read … Ernie Martin
Borreca: Ala Moana Upgrades Could be Excuse for Tax Hike
Borreca: …If just the first round of planning goes for $1.2 million, the whole bill will have many more zeros tacked on the end.
Here’s a plan to pay for part of it. The plan is as obvious a solution as it would be unpopular.
Look across the street at those gorgeous new condos going up. Those new buildings lining the prime real estate in Kakaako have a unique value: an unobstructed, guaranteed forever, front-row seat to view the park, the beach, the Pacific Ocean and the daily sunset.
If the city copied the tax plan used in New Hampshire, the Ala Moana condo occupants with the guaranteed view could help pay for the park they will surely enjoy.
Since 2003, towns in the New England state have been allowed to include in the property tax assessment the view. A great view is considered a bonus feature, just like a third bedroom or a backyard pool….
read … Tax Hike