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Saturday, April 7, 2018
April 7, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:53 PM :: 2768 Views

Elections: 249 Candidates Pull Papers

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

1 Hour Notice--Hawaii House Committee Passes Trigger Modification Ban

Chief Justice Appoints Kirstin M. Hamman as Maui District Court Judge

HB1585: Another Gut-And-Replace Bill Concerning Mauna Kea

BIVN: Once again, a House Bill making its way through the Senate has been completely altered to take aim at Mauna Kea management practices.

HB1585 HD1 SD2 previously proposed to eliminate the University of Hawaii’s deferred maintenance backlog by funding staff positions for the implementation of capital improvement projects. But the bill has been “gutted and replaced” in favor of an audit of UH activities related to Mauna Kea.

The astronomy community is sounding the alarm, because the bill appears to threaten any new construction on the mountain, which they fear could include the Thirty Meter Telescope.

According to the new description of the bill:

Requires the Auditor to conduct a financial, performance, and management audit of the University of Hawaii’s activities related to Mauna Kea. Requires the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to adopt rules to regulate public and commercial activities on Mauna Kea lands. Requires the University of Hawaii Office of Maunakea Management to complete the management actions established by the various comprehensive management plans, complete an environmental impact statement for land authorizations regarding long-term continuation of astronomy within the Mauna Kea science reserve area, and secure a new master lease regarding Mauna Kea. Prohibits all construction at Mauna Kea until the requirements of the measure are met.

The sudden action is reminiscent of the gut-and-replace of HB1985, which previously related to public lands, now replaced with an altered version of the controversial Senate Bill 3090, which proposed a new Mauna Kea Management Authority. A hearing on that bill was held last week and the bill was advanced to the full senate….

HB1985 has passed through the Senate Ways and Means Committee with recommendation of passage on Third Reading at the full senate on April 10….

HB1585: Text, Status 

read … Second Gut-And-Replace Bill Concerning Mauna Kea Emerges

Medically assisted death bill should not have been passed

Ira Zunin: …Hawaii should not have passed a law to condone actively facilitating death. During this legislative session a Pandora’s box was opened for medically assisted death in the form of House Bill 2739. It passed through the Legislature with only cursory debate, and this week Gov. David Ige signed HB 2739 into law.

No one has the right or the capacity to judge which patients should die and when. Neither a panel of physicians, nor lawyers, nor community members, nor clergy. We still struggle even to aptly build a public rail. There remain myriad human frailties: arrogance, jealousy, greed, prejudice, misogyny, racism, xenophobia. The human condition is rife with hidden agendas and secondary gains which will be unleashed by HB 2739.

Any law for medically assisted death places the people of Hawaii at risk for the slippery slope. Facilitated death could be encouraged not only to relieve human suffering, but also by economic motivations. Consider the recent announcement that Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan and Amazon are teaming up to create their own health care system. Walmart just announced its interest in acquiring Humana. The primary responsibility of publicly traded companies is to their shareholders, not to their would-be patients.

Society is vulnerable to mind-bending as the result of data profiling and social media. Will we be encouraged to end it all if we have outlived our usefulness? It certainly would improve health care budgets if benefits were curtailed by medically assisted death for seniors and those with chronic disease. Perhaps the gravely ill who are undocumented, destitute or uninsured will one day be more aggressively offered a facilitated death.

Many proponents of this bill are motivated by fear of loss of self-control and pain. Some argue that “it’s my life. I want to chose my own exit and don’t want to suffer.” We have come to expect immediate gratification, ready distraction and to avoid suffering at any cost. As I’ve written previously, today’s culture is removed from death, hence people fear it and desire instant access to turn off the life-switch.

As distinct from the traditional Polynesian voyagers who held a deeply connected view of the world, a GPS mindset leaves us isolated. We resist change, but how often have we trusted only to later feel betrayed? How often have we mistrusted only to build trust over time?

I have treated countless patients who thought living was pointless, but with thyroid hormones re-balanced, antidepressants on board, a new job or relationship, suddenly life was now bright again. With breakthroughs in health care including cancer, a facilitated death could occur when a cure is around the corner. To truly fathom the nature of dynamic change is to be reluctant to facilitate an untimely death, an action that cannot be re-traded. Rather, death should be allowed to happen in its own time. ….

The majority of health providers report that they will opt out, leaving prescriptions to a few practitioners who might offer them liberally. Even with a take-back provision, lethal prescriptions will fall into the wrong hands and be used for suicide or homicide. It’s not a question of “if,” but “when and how many.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii combats extensive diversion of controlled substances while our teen suicide rate is nearly twice the national average. What’s more is that in Hawaii treatment for mental illness is limited, and even nationwide only 4 percent of those who request medication to die are assessed for depression. How tragic, the thought of mistakenly facilitating death in one with a treatable mental illness. “Counseling” is not a fail-safe.

read … Medically assisted death bill should not have been passed

Gubernatorial Candidates Appear Before CNHA

CB: Andria Tupola (R) -- Several candidates, including the House minority leader, were asked why state leaders spend $80 million annually on the Hawaii Tourism Authority but say they don’t have enough funds for other constitutionally mandated needs such as water and natural resource management, and Hawaiian homesteads.

Tupola, like most of the candidates, didn’t delve into specifics — but she did say the state does have enough cash. It all depends on priorities, and state leaders need to scrap their longstanding “mentality of scarcity” for a “mentality of abundance,” she said.

She further pledged not to raise taxes as governor.

She expressed a desire to cut into the 22,000-person wait list for Hawaiian Homesteads and  issue “thousands” of leases during her tenure — but she also said the program should set “realistic goals” and only promise what it can deliver.

Tupola said she’s not running for re-election for her Leeward coast House district because she “can’t keep doing this and be OK that we’re not fixing the system.”

“As you know I’m a music teacher, and I’m way out of my comfort zone,” an emotional Tupola told the audience. “But everything inside me tells me this is what I have to do right now.” ….

David Ige (D, Incumbent) -- …Ige told the forum that he’s the only candidate who can talk about what he’s done, versus what he’s promised.

He also said he doesn’t make decisions based on “special interests” or “secret deals” — an apparent swipe at … Hanabusa, who’s been endorsed by top legislative leaders.

As a state legislator, Ige said he served as vice-chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee that helped draft the state’s water code, which provides access to water for homesteads. He said that he’s been a strong supporter of Hawaiian-language immersion programs in public schools.

Ige also said he’s the state’s first governor to have his cabinet members trained in their constitutional obligations to uphold the Native Hawaiian Trust.

The debate’s moderators said that Hawaiian artists are grossly underrepresented in the state’s public arts collections, representing about 4 percent of the works. Ige said he would work with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts officials to remedy that.

He also called for “pu’uhonua”-modeled substance rehabilitation programs that reflect the islands’ traditional cultural practices.

Ige said he’s looked for ways to accelerate Hawaiian Homestead leases and make sure those eligible can accept them. Often they’re not accepted because those eligible don’t approve of the location, they don’t have a down payment, or they can’t qualify financially.

Notably, moderators did not ask Ige about the controversies surrounding the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. They did ask other candidates….

Colleen Hanabusa (D) -- A recent Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll gave the congresswoman an approximately 20-point lead over Ige, and in her remarks before an audience of mostly Hawaiian constituents, the 1st Congressional District representative seemed to play it safe.

All of the candidates agreed that if elected they would participate in a February policy summit with forum organizers, along with their eventual cabinet members. Only Hanabusa qualified that she couldn’t be certain her cabinet would be confirmed by the Legislature by February. “That’s the lawyer in me,” she quipped.

Hanabusa was the only major candidate to mention the death of former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the first Hawaiian elected to that chamber. “Who will be there” to represent Hawaiians? she asked.

Hanabusa said her record on Hawaiian issues is well-known. She studies the matters carefully, and her “views have evolved over time,” she said.

On the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hanabusa said she voted for the project in 2010 as the state Senate’s president as an effort that could help during a sluggish economy.  She said the project hasn’t been executed properly, but didn’t go into detail….

Clayton Hee (D) -- …Asked what he would do about the state’s brain-drain, in which recent college graduates and skilled workers leave Hawaii, Hee said that the owners of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope should further “open their wallets” to help solve the issue by funding college tuition for public students.

“As governor, I would be the can opener to open their wallets,” he said…. 

SA: Ige, Hanabusa and former state Sen. Clayton Hee all support the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope   

read … Candidates For Governor Focus On Native Hawaiian Issues At Forum

Ignorance Defeats Agriculture Again: House Unanimously Passes anti-Pesticide Bill

KGI: …the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill aimed at disclosure, buffer zones, and a phased ban on the use of chlorpyrifos.

Senate Bill 3095HD1 is now headed to the Senate….

The bill incorporates parts of the current voluntary good neighbor program, increases funding to the Department of Agriculture for pesticide education and investigation, bans all restrictive use pesticides within 100 feet of schools during instructional hours, and phases out chlorpyrifos over a three-year period.

Opponents of pesticide regulation cite potential to hurt small farmers and the encroachment of those rules into households that use products containing restricted-use-pesticides as reasons for dissent….

“This is a clean and straightforward bill. I believe the House has actually ‘threaded the needle’ and balanced the needs of the various stakeholders as best as could be done, given the legislative history,” said Gary Hooser, president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action….

SB3095: Text, Status

read … Pesticide bill passed

Hawaii County Cost of Government Commission Convenes

HTH: …The Cost of Government Commission, required by charter to be convened every four years, has its work cut out for it considering almost three-quarters of the county budget is tied up in county employees’ salary and benefits set statewide, in payments on bond debt made years previously and other uncontrollable costs….

…The previous commission, in 2015, said Hawaii County needs to get a better handle on overtime, the use of county vehicles, fuel costs and excess paperwork. Many of the recommendations also were proposed by the prior Cost of Government Commission, which issued its report in 2011.

The County Council implemented recommendations by the 2011 commission to require financial documentation to qualify for agricultural property tax exemptions. A proposal to eliminate homeowners’ property tax exemption for unpermitted dwellings hasn’t progressed far, however.

The administration also has been trying to implement a countywide technology management plan and make greater use of videoconferencing and other technology instead of travel.

Feedback the 2015 commission received indicated a perception that county vehicles might be misused. To address this, the commission recommended development and implementation of a uniform computer mileage tracking system for all county-owned vehicles. That hasn’t happened.

Recommendations for regional transit hubs for the Hele-On bus system, tying in the island’s airports and other top destinations, are slowly being implemented as part of a $500,000 master plan….

read … Cost of Government Commission faces challenge

Oahu home sales break million-dollar mark for average price

SA: …Oahu’s housing market set two price records in March even as it felt a little drag from slightly fewer sales.

One of the records was a million-dollar milestone: The average sale price for single-family homes topped $1 million for the first time.

The other record was more of a recurring one in recent months: The median sale price for condominiums reached a new high: $435,000. That represented a 9 percent gain from $400,000 in March 2017…..

read … Oahu home sales break million-dollar mark for average price

The return of vagrancy laws

SA: …The growing‚ and very visible, problem of homelessness is so complex that myriad approaches must be deployed. See item above for one promising strategy. Of course, building more truly affordable rentals would go a long way to help those of sound mind and body off the streets —but it’s been a painfully slow process.

Meanwhile, aberrant behavior by those who are not of sound or body has ratcheted frustrations. And while many residents have compassion for the homeless plight, that compassion dips with each additional public sidewalk or promenade being overrun by squatters and tarped mounds.

That’s why it’s understandable that Mayor Kirk Caldwell, in his State of the City speech Tuesday, finally broached the “v” word — as in vagrancy law. The idea behind the vagrancy proposal, seen as an aid to enforcement efforts, would prohibit public sidewalks and malls from being used for anything other than for walking and standing that doesn’t block passage. Reclaiming public sidewalks for safe, smooth passage would seem simple enough.

But no. Caldwell is a lawyer, so he surely knows the legal difficulties of enacting, and upholding, vagrancy laws. The U.S. Supreme Court has found variations of such laws to be unconstitutional and overly broad: in the 1972 Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, for example, the court struck down Florida’s vagrancy law for being unconstitutionally vague and bestowing police with too much power to interfere with innocent behavior.

It’ll be interesting to see if 40-plus years of mounting homelessness nationwide have changed any legal minds….

read … The return of vagrancy laws

Brand New Chinese Built Superferry Arrives in Honolulu—On Way to Trinidad & Tobago

LTT:… In a statement issued Saturday, April 7, NIDCO said the MV Galleon's Passage docked at the Port of Honolulu on April 3 after experiencing delays in security clearance to enter the port further to the tight docking schedule.

NIDCO said inspections by the US Coast Guard - Port State Control Department began on Wednesday, April 4 and are ongoing.

The company added that while the ship is at the port it will also undergo routine checks. 

Once completed, bunkering operations will begin and the vessel will depart for Acapulco, Mexico, as it continues its journey to Trinidad and Tobago….

read … NIDCO: Galleon's Passage undergoing checks in Honolulu




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