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Wednesday, April 12, 2017
April 12, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:30 PM :: 3683 Views

Robin Danner Writing OHA’s Budget

How They Voted: SB501 Mandatory Promotion of Abortion

Conservative Rankings of Hawaii Legislators—2016 Session

Family Prosperity Index: Hawaii Ranks 41st

UH 2017 legislative budget update

Leapfrog: Hawaii Among States With Most ‘A’ Grade Hospitals

How They Voted: House Approves $792M GE Tax Hike 41-10

HPR: The state House of Representatives approved its version of Senate Bill 1183 to extend the half-a-percentage point General Excise Tax surcharge for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.   House Finance Committee chair, Sylvia Luke, says a 2-year extension to 2029 plus the return of administration fees should be enough to complete the project.

“This provides $792 million and reduces the state administrative fee which is also known as the skim from 10 percent to one percent, totaling $397 million.  Therefore this bill would provide $1.2 billion which is just enough to cover the rail’s deficit of $1.3 billion.”

Luke says the surcharge extension does not cover a one billion dollar contingency reserve and will require the City to pursue bond financing and seek cost-cutting measures.   GOP Minority Floor Leader, Gene Ward, joined 10 other Democrats and Republicans to oppose additional funding.

“Not one dollar has come from the City and County for this project.  I couldn’t believe that.  Seven years of working and billions of dollars and they haven’t put one dollar in.  And they even have an ordinance that says you will not spend city money for this thing.”

The House version requires the city to repeal its ordinance prohibiting the use of city money for rail.  GOP Representative Lauren Matsumoto joined majority Democrats to support the measure even though it wasn’t ideal….

HOW THEY VOTED:  SB1183 Passed Third Reading as amended in HD 2

  • Representative(s) Har, Oshiro, Say, Tokioka voting aye with reservations;
  • Representative(s) Brower, Cachola, Johanson, Kobayashi, Lowen, Nishimoto, Quinlan, Thielen, Tupola, Ward voting no (10) and
  • none excused (0).

SA: “Threatening the public with a property tax increase is doing a disservice to our citizens”—Rep Sylvia Luke

read … House Advances Honolulu Rail Transit Funding Bill

Rate Hike Coming: Gays Demand You Pay to Give Them Children

SA: Lawmakers are once again considering a measure to require insurance companies to offer in-vitro fertilization coverage to same-sex couples, unmarried couples and unmarried women.

(Translation: Insurance rate hike coming.)

Sen. Maile shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-¬≠Waianae-Makaha), who introduced the bill, said this is the third session at which such legislation has been presented. She said similar measures weren’t passed in previous sessions in part because insurance companies were concerned about expenses…. She also said insurance companies may have to raise prices on their health plans if the bill goes into effect: “They’re going to have to figure it out on their own how they’re going to add these additional benefits to the membership and cover those additional costs.”…

Supporters of the bill may feel increases in insurance premium costs in exchange for wider IVF coverage is justifiable….  (because you stupid heterosexuals will be the ones paying.)

Kaiser Permanente, which insures about 250,000 people in the state, opposed the bill. According to its testimony, Kaiser doesn’t get involved in IVF procedures that require third-party assisted reproduction “because of the complex legal issues and inherent medical risks.”

Kaiser’s legal and government relations consultant also wrote that it is problematic if a third-party individual involved in assisted reproduction is not Kaiser-insured.

“Third party” refers to egg and sperm donors, surrogate mothers, and gestational carriers.

Kaiser clarified that it supports equal coverage for women seeking IVF services, both single and married.

(Translation: Two males cannot get pregnant therefore should not be covered.)

read … Bow and Pay Your Obsequiences to Your Gay Lords

Senate approves Health Savings plans in insurance bill

AP: State lawmakers approved legislation that would allow employers to offer employees a high-deductible health insurance plan that’s paired with a savings account.

High-deductible plans have not been allowed in Hawaii’s insurance market….

“What we are proposing here is not like the mainland high deductible,” he said.

“What we are proposing is focusing more on a savings mechanism — that the employer puts in money for the employee so that they could continue to build reserves for security, peace of mind.”

The legislation has been supported by some Hawaii employers, including Alexander &Baldwin and JTB Hawaii. But it faced opposition from local unions, such as ILWU 142 and the Hawaii State AFL-CIO.

Maui Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Baker said she was willing to give the bill a try, while acknowledging it might “be a very beneficial opportunity” for some employees…

PBN: Competing Insurers Oppose UHA Bill

read … HSAs in Hawaii

Hawaii County tax, fee hikes on table

HTH: …Among the tax and fee options are property taxes, gas taxes, permit fees and a one-half cent general excise tax surcharge.

Kim said he is most amenable to raising the gas tax, currently at 8.8 cents per gallon, which can be used for road repair and mass transit projects. Hawaii County’s gas tax is the lowest in the state and it hasn’t been raised in a long time, he said. The gas tax brings in just more than $8 million and was last raised in 1988….

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung questioned whether Kim would support a half-cent surcharge to the general excise tax, if the choice is again enacted by the state Legislature. The previous County Council voted this measure down, but Chung said something needs to be done in a tight budget year.

“The Legislature makes the rules. You can’t escape that already,” Chung said. “That’s the reality. …. We’re going to be grumbling for the next 20 years. They’re not giving (the transient accommodations tax) to us because they don’t want to raise taxes. … It’s something we really have to look at if we want to be responsive to our districts. We’ve really got to start thinking about this if we want to service the public.”

That’s Kim’s last choice.

“It is the most regressive tax there is,” Kim said. “We would tax most heavily those who could least afford to pay it.

read … Some tax, fee hikes on table

Under Fire In DC, Gabbard Is Still A Hit On The Big Island

CB: About 400 people turn out for the congresswoman’s town hall, and seem unconcerned about her controversial stands on Syria….

On Tuesday night, Gabbard held the first of seven town hall gatherings she has scheduled throughout the islands in the next two weeks, meeting with her constituents in a run-down building without air conditioning that serves as the Kealakehe Intermediate School’s cafeteria and auditorium…..

She got a standing ovation upon arrival and when she started to speak. The crowd frequently applauded throughout the event….

“He essentially stabbed his supporters in the back.” — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, referring to President Trump…

read … Nobody Cares About what the National Media Says

Rep Ing to Run for Maui Mayor, Arakawa to Run for Governor

MN: If Tsutsui does decide to run, he will further complicate an already complex race. Former County Council Member Mike Victorino has already announced his intention to seek Arakawa’s post.

Additionally, current Council Member Elle Cochran has announced in a YouTube video that she will forego a re-election bid to run for mayor. Friday’s story also speculated that current Council Member Don Guzman, former member Don Couch and state Rep. Kaniela Ing are also eying the mayor’s seat….

And what of Arakawa himself? Term limits prohibit him for running as mayor again. Some folks, though, think Gov. David Ige might be vulnerable in 2018 and the mayor is considering a run for governor….

read … Interesting race coming

Veterans: Choice program a good option, but needs improvement

MN: “It’s one of the best programs that the VA has ever given to the veterans in Hawaii, so that we don’t have to travel to Honolulu to see a doctor,” said Fred Ruge, a Korean War veteran and Wailuku resident. “The only problem with that program — I talked to a lot of private doctors, and it takes so long for them to get paid after we visit them that a lot of doctors don’t want to participate in the program.”…

Vietnam veteran and Kahului resident Bill Staton said there’s a disconnect between the doctors and the VA clinic, which sometimes is unaware of the type of medical care that veterans are receiving through the program….

Kiyokawa said that, because the reporting system wasn’t in place yet, “it backed up all the payments.”

“But as of the first of this year, we’re pretty much caught up with payments, so providers should see payments coming their way,” Kiyokawa said. “But if do hear from your doctor that they’re not getting paid, please get in contact with us.”

The Veterans Choice Program is a health plan that provides “back-up” care if a veteran cannot be seen by a health care facility under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs within 30 days, or if the closest VA medical facility is more than 40 miles away, according to the VA website.

For Neighbor Island veterans, it’s a useful option. And while Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu is the de facto military hospital, it’s not officially a VA facility, so the program applies to veterans in Hawaii, the U.S. territories of Guam and American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….

If veterans have questions, they can call the general choice line at (866) 606-8198, Kiyokawa said….

read … Veterans Choice

Time to accelerate audit on Tourism Authority

SA: …Wisps of the fog enveloping Hawaii Tourism Authority spending are lifting. For example, the agency is adopting a new policy requiring its board to approve expenditures of more than $250,000. But a transparency-focused bill calling for more unredacted budget information and fewer closed-door meeting secrets is dead at the state Capitol, as is a resolution calling for an HTA audit this year.

However, there’s now a push for early delivery of an already scheduled HTA management and financial audit. Conducted every five years, it’s due in December 2018. But legislators want to see the results in January — to help guide the drafting of another round of legislation aimed at balancing “proprietary information” and “competitive advantage” with the public’s right to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent….

read … Time to accelerate audit on Tourism Authority

SB562: House Wants to Eliminate Lifeguards, Replace Them with Lawyers in Speedos

MN: A bill to extend limited liability immunity for county lifeguards made its way through the Senate, but the House’s version guts the original measure. It allows the current law to expire. The House bill returns to the Senate and a likely conference committee, where a panel of lawmakers from both chambers hammers out differences in the measure.

The House version requires the state attorney general to defend any civil action based on the negligence, wrongful act or omission of a county lifeguard for services at a designated state beach park.

The counties are seeking permanent protection for their ocean lifeguards.

“Simply put, without these protections, the County of Maui will not be able to provide lifeguard services at state beach parks, which includes the popular Makena Beach Park, due to fear of potential liability,” Mayor Alan Arakawa said.

As introduced, Senate Bill 562 would have made permanent the liability protections given county lifeguards since 2002. A revised bill that made it from the Senate to the House would have extended the law’s liability protection for lifeguards for four years, or until June 30, 2021….

CB: Stripping Lifeguards Of Immunity Would Be A Perilous Mistake

SB562: Text, Status

read … Lawyers

$270K to be Wasted on Honolulu Climate Change Office

CB: Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Resilience and Sustainability hasn’t opened yet, but it’s already on the City Council’s chopping board.

The council’s Budget Committee axed $134,694 from the Caldwell administration’s request for $404,388 to fund seven positions in the office at a meeting Tuesday. Voters created the agency through a 2016 charter amendment.

Council members Kymberly Pine, Ernie Martin, Ann Kobayashi and Brandon Elefante all supported six-figure cuts to the agency’s budget….

UH: Pretend to Believe and We’ll Give you a Degree for Flying a Drone on the Beach in Hawaii

read … Nobody Believes in Global Warming

Homeless Shelters Sit Empty Because Homeless Choose to Refuse Shelter

SA: …millions of dollars supporting homeless shelters that sit many nights with empty beds because they were established with “build it and they will come” optimism and not the hard reality that many of Oahu’s homeless willingly choose their lifestyle….

read … Need to Apply More Force

Star-Adv: Clear out Homeless Camps Before They Burn Freeway Down

SA: Encampments occupied by the homeless here are difficult to clear, given Hawaii’s shortage of affordable permanent housing, and the fact that the islands’ mild weather enables more to seek refuge on the streets….

The problem already is well known to city and state officials. In January 2013 a homeless man suffered burns to his face and arms following a rubbish fire under the viaduct. The blaze, which burned three spans of concrete ramps near Kilihau Street, also caused widespread telephone, internet and cable television outages because of the damage to fiber optic cables.

The encampments themselves are a danger to their residents; the lack of bathrooms causes a sanitation problem. Some of the campers try to ward off flies and insects with the campfires, and that should ring alarm bells for everyone.

Garbage collecting beneath bridges from Waipahu to Wahiawa — and out in the open, as in Iwilei — pose a real health and safety hazard. But it’s this freeway viaduct, traveled by nearly everyone on Oahu at one time or another, that is the most worrisome…..

read … Clear homeless under highways

Need a Meth Pipe?  Hawaii Legislators are Trying to Help You Get One

CB: A bill that decriminalizes the possession or sale of drug paraphernalia — downgrading the offenses from a felony to a civil violation — is sailing through the Legislature, despite fierce opposition from state and county prosecutors.

Just a year ago, virtually the same measure died without so much as getting a single hearing.

But, on Tuesday, Senate lawmakers gave their stamp of approval on House Bill 1501 — five weeks after House counterparts did the same — setting the stage for a rollback of the harshest penalties in the country for violating paraphernalia laws.

In the coming days, the bill’s fate will likely be determined by a House-Senate conference committee, which will work to reconcile two versions of the measure — the original with a $100 civil fine for violating paraphernalia laws and the current one calling for a fine of up to $500.….

San Buenaventura says a key reason why the bill has received the Legislature’s backing this year is that medical marijuana dispensaries will soon be up and running….

In his written testimony, Nolan Espinda, director the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, notes that the number of prisoners is now down to 150, but another 109 inmates are in jail awaiting trial for paraphernalia offenses. 

(It will be so wonderful to have these 259 fine citizens back out on the streets scrounging for copper from your ac unit.)

read … Meth

Former inmates sue DPS, claim they were held too long at HCCC

HTH: Perry’s suit claims he was incarcerated at the Hilo jail 20 days beyond his scheduled release date, while Cardines’ filing alleges he was kept three days longer than his sentence specified.

Also named as defendants in the suit are DPS Director Nolan Espinda, Deputy Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirota and HCCC Warden Peter Cabreros….

Perry’s suit claims the 41-year-old Kailua-Kona man was re-sentenced to 90 days in jail on Aug. 12, 2016, with a release date of Nov. 10, 2016, for violating probation on a 2014 terroristic threatening conviction. Perry wasn’t released, however, until Nov. 30, after Deputy Public Defender Andrew Kennedy contacted HCCC’s records department requesting information about why the jail hadn’t released Perry, according to the suit.

HCCC’s records department allegedly told Kennedy the jail was holding Perry on separate drug charges, but Kennedy replied those charges were dismissed Oct. 18, and the jail released Perry.

The Department of Public Safety website indicates Perry had a scheduled release date of Oct. 22, 2016, but was released Nov. 30.

According to Cardines’ suit, the 43-year-old Waimea man was re-sentenced Nov. 4, 2016, in Kona Circuit Court on a probation violation for a 2014 conviction for unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle. His re-sentencing included a year in jail with credit for time served, but that year had already been served, so he was to be released immediately. Cardines requested to be transported back to Hilo before being released and the court granted that request, the filing states.

The document states Cardines was released only after Kennedy wrote to HCCC’s records department Nov. 7, 2016, requesting information about why HCCC refused to release Cardines.

HCCC’s records department allegedly told Kennedy it was detaining Cardines on a 2016 domestic abuse case, but Kennedy informed the jail that case was dismissed in October 2016, and HCCC then released Cardines.

The Department of Public Safety’s website indicates Cardines had a scheduled release date of Oct. 18, 2016, but was released Nov. 7….

read … Former inmates sue DPS, claim they were held too long at HCCC

Why Condo Associations Are Sweating After A Judge’s Ruling

ILind: It’s probably going to take years to unravel the legal and financial uncertainty now facing condominium associations and law firms that used nonjudicial foreclosures — private sales without supervision by courts — to collect unpaid maintenance fees or other assessments prior to 2012.

That’s the best guess after the recent ruling by a federal judge in Honolulu that condominium associations were not legally eligible to use the streamlined, nonjudicial foreclosure process that allowed properties to be sold at auction with minimal notice to — or procedural protections for — the unit owners.

In a 57-page ruling filed March 30, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi concluded condominium associations did not have the power under Hawaii law to pursue quick, nonjudicial foreclosures under  Part I of the state’s foreclosure law, which gave special rights to lenders whose mortgage contracts include a “power of sale” clause. 

HNN: Recent court ruling could mean millions for evicted condo owners

ILind: Judge says condos had no right to pursue nonjudicial foreclosures

read… Sweating

Suit claims school, DOE complicit in sex assault

SA: …According to the suit, Nagamine groomed the plaintiff for a relationship by “encouraging, manipulating and befriending her by giving her inappropriate gifts and presents, including but not limited to a bag, a jacket, a bracelet, a ring, a necklace and an “infinity charm.”

The suit said Nagamine also drove the student home after practice, took her out to eat and gave her excessive attention, which eventually included intimate talks in which he encouraged the student to confide in him and in which he discussed his own family and marital issues.

The plaintiff alleges that Nagamine manipulated her into an intimate relationship that included sexual acts carried out in his car and at his home amid promises that “they would have a wonderful life together.”

The suit asserts that Campbell administrators and athletics department officials knew that Nagamine was a danger to the young women under his charge because of his prior relationship with a student-athlete, whom he later married. That previous relationship led to Nagamine’s departure from the school. However, as the suit notes, he was later rehired….

read … Suit claims school, DOE complicit in sex assault

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