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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
April 28, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:44 PM :: 7064 Views

Escalate II  (Still nearly zero Special Election coverage)

DCCC spending another $80,560 against Djou. 

Shapiro: Back to the political future  (2010 = 1970?)

(These are the ONLY items on the Special Election in today’s papers.)

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SB: Lingle vetoes tax hikes, but overrides expected

Lingle issued six more vetoes late yesterday, bring the total of vetoes this year to 14. Lawmakers are expected to override many of them tomorrow.

But Lingle did approve a 20-cent-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes, which is expected to bring in an extra $11 million.

The biggest tax increase veto was for the barrel tax bill that tacked $1 on to the 5-cent tax now charged for importing a barrel of oil to Hawaii.

Burris: Budget at base is truly just a good guess

ADV: Job cuts and new taxes balance state's budget

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Voters to decide on appointed school board

The bill is HB2376.  (And it doesn’t mean anything unless the Voters approve it on the November Ballot.  Who will organize a PAC to fight for approval and defeat the HSTA/NEA spending $$$ to defeat this?) 

The proposed constitutional amendment allows a governor to appoint the board after a transition period for the current publicly elected board. The state Senate would have to confirm the selections.

Gov. Linda Lingle had wanted to give future governors the power to appoint the state school superintendent. But lawmakers chose instead to direct that authority at the school board.

A companion bill due for a vote Wednesday would limit a governor's appointees to those submitted by an advisory council.  (The companion bill should be rejected.  it is how the HSTA could gain control over even an appointed BoE.)

SB: Measures target school hours, BOE

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Shapiro: Time to cut a deal on school furloughs

$10 million isn't very far apart compared to the $30 million a couple of weeks ago, and there's a deal to be had if the two sides are willing to stop finger-pointing and start bargaining.

Lingle has compromised by backing off her demand that ending furloughs be tied to giving the governor the power to appoint the school superintendent, and she's increased her original offer of $50 million for two years to $57 million for one year.

Now it's the turn of the BOE and HSTA to show some movement to settle this.

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Ruling paves way for consolidation of Honolulu's 2 daily newspapers

With yesterday's decision, Justice officials said they had closed their investigation into the purchase of the Star-Bulletin.

"The process was quite extensive and arduous but understandably necessary," said Dennis Francis, Star-Bulletin publisher and president of Oahu Publications Inc.

Slom expressed his disappointment on the floor of the Senate yesterday afternoon, saying he had experienced difficulty in getting information.

"We made every good-faith effort and spent an inordinate amount of time, energy and personal resources and money to make this sale come about," he said.

Francis refuted Slom's claims.

"Sen. Slom's assertion that we were uncooperative with regard to providing data or information is blatantly false," he said. "We acknowledged every request."

Obama’s Justice Dep’t says no to Inouye: OKs purchase of Advertiser by group including Ed Case’s uncle

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It Works!  More seek shelter following tent ban

The Institute for Human Services has seen a slight increase in homeless people seeking shelter after the city recently enforced a ban on tents and shopping carts at all city parks.

As of yesterday an additional 20 homeless people — 10 men and 10 women — were staying at the Institute for Human Services. The institute's family shelter also experienced a 10 percent increase.

AS EXPLAINED: Kapiolani Park: Homelessness industry takes Hawaii tourism hostage , Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii

(Keep pushing)

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AP: HI lawmakers vote to limit Obama document requests

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii legislators have passed a measure allowing a state agency to ignore repeated requests from a person or organization for President Barack Obama's birth certificate.  The bill is SB2937.

HFP: Birtherism: Hawaii Legislature set to "fuel the fire"

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ADV: Your dentist loves HB 1212 but here's why you shouldn't

Arguments that frivolous complaints can mar a professional's reputation or violate privacy rights have little merit. Only complaints that the state deems worthy of investigation are posted. The information provided is basic, little more than the nature of the complaint and its disposition. Nonetheless, such information can be useful for a consumer who wants to see if, and why, others have gone through the trouble of filing a formal complaint — especially if there are a lot of complaints, or are about a specific issue.

We see no reason why legislators would support such an obvious piece of anti-consumer legislation, but we know why they would want to keep it under wraps.

It's an election year.

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Buying Our Way Out of Problems Rather Than Setting Priorities

The problem evolved over years as tourism began to hit its stride during the mid-1980s. Fueled by the Japanese bubble, the visitor industry grew nearly every year until the bubble burst.

All of this growth in economic activity spurred lawmakers to find new ways to spend the windfall of tax revenues. Add to that in the mid-1980s the transient accommodation tax (TAT) that was adopted, but instead of designating the proceeds for the convention center, as the hotel industry had requested, the money went into the general fund for nearly six years. And less readers forget, the hotel industry went into the 1986 legislative session willing to pay a TAT of 2% provided the money was used to build the convention center, but when the lights went out on that year’s session, the hotel industry found themselves paying a 5% TAT with no money designated for the convention center.

Those revenues created an embarrassing situation by the end of the decade with the state sitting on a general fund surplus that approached a billion dollars. Not wanting to reduce tax rates and, therefore, the amount of taxes collected, the legislature and the administration resorted to a number of machinations. Among those was to be generous to the counties by “sharing” some of the TAT windfall with the counties as a state grant-in-aid program. The first year of the “sharing” the legislature gifted the counties with about $100 million in TAT proceeds, followed the next year by establishing the current formula for sharing a portion with the counties.

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Health fund trustees delay decision: EUTF board wants more information before raising rates

Trustees at the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund want more information (continue stalling) before they make a decision (that they should have made months ago) on a possible 26.2 percent increase in health insurance premiums for many state and county workers.

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Council passes resolution backing Hawaiian recognition

By a vote of 8-1 yesterday, the Council approved Resolution 10-56 supporting the Akaka Bill in Congress.

Councilman Gary Okino was the lone vote in opposition, saying there are too many uncertainties surrounding the proposal and that the Council should not get involved.

"If it's approved it will be very racially divisive," he said, "not only between Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians, but within the Hawaiian community itself."

VIDEO: Honolulu City Council Holds Hearing on the Akaka bill

RELATED: Akaka Bill: More than 73% of Hawaiians not "Qualified” for membership in Akaka Tribe

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Jobs bill an anti-business mess that should stay vetoed

It's an illogical, impractical anti-business measure designed only to give legislators an easy-to-remember jingle during election season: Local jobs for local people.

Lingle vetoes “local jobs” bill that isn’t

Burris: Education best way to protect local jobs

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Hawaii Senate votes to cut off Act 221 high-tech tax credits

The state House had already agreed to curtail the high-tech tax credits —known as Act 221 — and was waiting on the Senate. The Senate voted 14-11 to end the tax credit program in May, instead of December, which would save the state $13 million. Senators, by an identical margin, also voted to suspend investors' ability to claim high-tax credits for three years, saving $93 million next fiscal year and millions more in the following years. A tax credit for research activities would be extended for one year.

Investors have argued that suspending the high-tech tax credits is unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment because the investments have already been made. The tax credits can be taken over five years — and unused credits earned before May 2009 can carry forward — so the credits will remain alive even after the program ends.

DePledge: Bait and switch

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Hawaii filming of 'Lost' spent $228M locally over 4 years  (ACT 221 propaganda)

The locally produced TV show, which airs its final episode on May 23, spent $228.2 million in Hawai'i from 2006 to 2009 and employed an average of 973 people full-time in each of those years. That's according to state figures given to The Advertiser last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed Dec. 24.

The state has not released the value of the tax credits claimed by "Lost" producers, but it's likely they exceeded $32 million.

Whether the tax breaks were cost-effective for the state is debatable.

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Ballots with only English challenged

The suit was filed by attorney Eric Seitz on behalf of two registered voters, De Guang Chen and Yong Tang Xie, "who speak Chinese and have limited proficiencies with the English language," the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges that the mail-in ballots to be sent to registered voters by the state Office of Elections will be only in English and that voters will separately receive "abbreviated" multilingual instructional materials.

"Facsimile ballots" which can be requested from the state also will be only in English, as will the instructions on how to fax the completed ballots to the Office of Elections, the suit alleges.

Absentee ballots in Chinese, Japanese and Ilocano will be available to voters, but instructions on how to obtain them are written only in English, according to the suit.

The state Attorney General's Office issued a statement last night that "the Office of Elections believes it is in compliance with federal law with respect to limited English proficiency voters, and that the lawsuit lacks merit."

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Lingle hedges airline support

Even though hometown carrier Hawaiian Airlines is competing with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines—as well as three other carriers—for four available U.S. slots from Haneda, Lingle has written letters to the U.S. Department of Transportation supporting both Hawaiian and Delta for proposed Haneda-Honolulu routes.

"Only two airlines have requested routes to Honolulu, and we support all new seats coming into our state," said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert, speaking on behalf of Lingle.

Hawaiian, though, faces tough competition in that larger carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines, as well as Delta, are all seeking Haneda routes that do not include Hawaii. Delta listed Honolulu as its last choice among four city pairings, which also include Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle.

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Charter school must move, set up new site

Over the years, the Hakipu'u Learning Center has developed a close relationship with the college, which offers the Running Start Program in which high school juniors and seniors take college level courses and earn college credits. Remaining near the college ensures better participation, Hoe said, adding that 85 percent of their seniors go on to college.

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Bill to dissolve Aloha Tower agency dies in Legislature

The bill died Friday when a conference committee didn't act on it before a midnight deadline.

The Aloha Tower Development Corp. is the state agency created nearly 30 years ago to develop the waterfront property near Honolulu's landmark Aloha Tower.

The bill is SB2942.

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Visitor arrivals jump 9.3 percent

The visitors who came by air spent about $874 million, which equated to a 12.7 percent increase from March of 2009. The spending increase was the largest since April 2006.

Even the neighbor islands, which were hit the hardest during the recent tourism downturn, improved last month. There was increased activity, especially on Maui, as a result of increased direct flights and air seats from regional airports on the West Coast and Canada….

ADV: Hawaii tourism rises in March: More visitors, more spending

ADV: Flying to Hawaii one more reason visitors stay home

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Lawmakers pass bill to protect public access to beaches

Under the measure, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources would enforce the law to maintain access within beach transit corridors by requiring landowners to keep those walkways passable.

The agency would be empowered to give landowners 21 days to clear beach corridors.

Landowners who don't remove obstructions could be charged with a misdemeanor

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Tort Reform in the States: Protecting Consumers and Enhancing Economic Growth

Abstract: The role of the states, particularly the idea that most governmental power should be in the states, is important to America's constitutional system. It has been somewhat eroded in many fields by adverse Supreme Court decisions, but the states are still where much of the innovation in governmental activity is to be found, particularly the kind of activity that assists and encourages economic growth. One of these areas of innovation is tort reform, which includes malpractice lawsuits with their enormous impact on medical care, especially the cost of medical care. Overall, it is estimated that in 2007 alone, the tort system cost an estimated $252 billion--almost $1,000 for every person in the United States. But states like Mississippi, Texas, and Ohio have proven that with the political will and political leadership, and if the public understands the problem and policymakers pick the right tools, this problem can be solved.

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In-car smoking ban raises legal questions

Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason introduced the measure earlier this year. Her legislative aide, Roxanne Hampton, told council members it will likely not be enforced.
The bill is awaiting approval by the mayor.
Dissenting council members argued that most parents who smoke knew not to smoke in a car when their children were present, because they followed their own common sense. Those council members said educating parents would be a better plan.

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Lingle vetoes DHS-reorganization bill, saying it is discriminatory

“Because fewer government workers are needed with a modern processing system, Hawai‘i taxpayers would save an estimated $8 million per year if DHS implements the system statewide,” said Koller.

“Predictably, the Hawai‘i Government Employees Association strongly opposes bringing benefits processing into the 21st century because some union members would lose their jobs.

“The loss of these DHS positions is unfortunate, but it is clearly wrong to put the interests of government workers above the needs of the people we serve — the most vulnerable children and adults in Hawai‘i,” Koller said.

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Maui County directors say plan to cut (vacant) jobs devastating

Council members are considering a $524.2 million spending plan for the year, about $6.1 million less than Tavares proposed. The council's proposal would cut spending more and increase property tax rates less.

"The status quo has changed," said council Chairman Danny Mateo, who blasted some department heads for saying the cuts would hurt public services, instead of finding a way to make it work with the reality of lower revenues.

"They put the drawbridges up and said, 'We're not going to be able to do it,' " he said.

"We in Maui County have not laid off one person," he said. "Are we proud of this?"

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