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Friday, May 3, 2019
May 3, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:45 PM :: 5043 Views

OHA: Where is the promised audit for fraud, waste and abuse?

House Passes 298 Bills

DLNR Audit: Four Material Weaknesses

Mayor signs Bill 96 relating to fire safety into law

‘Sticks’ won’t resolve vacation rental debate

UHERO: Recent data confirm weaker growth

Two Anti-Gun Bills on Governor's Desk

Republicans: Hirono an Embarrassment

House Republican Caucus: Session Mostly Notable for Marijuana Legislation

Senators: House Played us for the Fools that we are 

CB: … Ask House Speaker Scott Saiki how this year’s legislative session went and he’d probably say swimmingly. Ask Senate President Ron Kouchi, however, and he’d compare his chamber to a canoe, with paddlers all stroking the water in different directions.

“It’s been incredibly difficult,” Kouchi said from his lectern Thursday, moments before the Senate adjourned its 2019 session.

He said the Senate, where 24 of 25 members are Democrats, were deeply divided on some major issues. “Clearly everybody feels like everybody’s paddling in a different direction,” he said.

The disparate reactions by the Legislature’s leaders as session closed on Thursday highlighted the divide between how the two chambers approached some of Hawaii’s most pressing issues like minimum wage and taxing illegal vacation rentals in the last days of the legislative session.

Kouchi’s statements before the close of session also topped off a tense several weeks for the Senate that saw itself at odds over several high-profile gubernatorial nominations, and most recently, a vote to tax vacation rentals that split the Senate.

The House forced the Senate’s hand on Senate Bill 1292 by refusing to negotiate during conference committees….

Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English took issue with the House’s inactions on several measures during conference committees….

But the House didn’t send negotiators to the table on several measures.

“We understand you may not like the bill, but you passed a version, now come and negotiate your version,” English said. “At least show up. If negotiations fail, they fail. But at least we tried.”

SB 1292, the bill to tax illegal vacation rentals, was one of those bills. The House did not come to the table on that bill or a similar one, House Bill 419, forcing the Senate to take the House’s position on SB 1292 ….

Cataluna: Lawmakers missing the point about illegal rentals

read … Senate Closes The 2019 Session With Some Sharp Divisions

No Aloha: House Leaders Lock Senators out of Closing Ceremony

SA: … The state Legislature on Thursday adjourned for the year without its traditional display of unity, when House and Senate members clasp hands and sing “Hawai‘i Aloha.”

Instead, Senate leaders were left standing outside a locked door leading to the House chamber after knocking three times.

Whether or not it was an intentional snub by the House, it was symbolic of tensions that played out between the two houses, particularly when it came to emotionally charged issues of water rights and the proliferation of illegal vacation rentals blamed for driving up housing costs for struggling residents.

“I really can’t say what motivates the House,” said Senate Majority Leader Kalani English when reporters asked what happened to “Hawai‘i Aloha.”

Members of the House sang it without them….

read … Hawaii legislative session ends on a divisive note

Fuchigami Quitting as Ige’s Administrative Director

CB: … Gov. David Ige’s top staff member, Administrative Director Ford Fuchigami, will resign his post later this month.

Fuchigami made the announcement during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday….

It is not clear who Ige will name to replace Fuchigami, who replaced Chief of Staff Mike McCartney at the beginning of this year.

All three men sat next to each other in the Senate gallery Thursday before the confirmation vote of McCartney to lead the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism….

read … The top aide to the Hawaii governor will step down at the end of May.

Wakai vs McCartney: DBEDT and Energy Office Under Attack by Cronies

IM: …The five-member committee voted 2-2 (on the Mike McCartney nomination) with one excused. Chair Wakai and Senator Fevella, the only State Senate Republican, voted against the nomination. Senators Inouye and Keohokalole voted in favor. Vice Chair Taniguchi did not vote.

Hawai`i State Senator Glenn Wakai supports SpinLaunch, a California company that wants to catapult rockets into space from the Big Island….

Wakai supported SB 1008 to allow the South Korean-owned Ho`ohana to carve out an industrial solar facility in the middle of prime agricultural land….

Wakai was the sole author of SB988 which would allow Mele Associates to issue $50,000,000.00 in Special Purpose Revenue Bonds for unknown purposes and unknown projects….

Feb 2018: $25M Special Purpose Revenue Bonds for Rocket Launch Scheme?

read … Sine Die With Fireworks: DBEDT and Energy Office Under Attack

Ikaika Anderson nominated to be Honolulu City Council chairman

SA: … Ikaika Anderson could become chairman of the Honolulu City Council under a resolution up for vote Wednesday.

The Council’s interim chairwoman, Ann Kobayashi, on Thursday introduced Resolution 19-105, which also lists herself as vice chairman and Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga as floor leader. Committee assignments have yet to be finalized. …

read … Ikaika Anderson nominated to be Honolulu City Council chairman

Final State Audit On Rail Expected To Be Released Today?

CB: … Here are some of the dozen or so issues that the state audit, conducted by private firm Baker Tilly, are expected to cover, based on HART interim Chief Financial Officer Ruth Lohr’s report to the board:

  1. Incorrect billing with rail consultant HDR, which has staff embedded within HART to help manage much of the project. HART says it’s now seeking reimbursement from the firm.
  2. HART uses undocumented procedures for verifying costs. During the briefing, Lohr said that HART acknowledged these procedures need to be updated.
  3. HART does not require Hawaiian Electric Co. and other utility companies to provide sufficient documentation for their overhead costs related to the project.
  4. HART does not verify that contractors pay their subcontractors within 10 days of being paid by HART. (HART responded that its contractors are required to do that under contract.)

The report, according to Lohr, also flags HART for not requiring certificates of insurance from its contractors but the agency said it does indeed require that. The report also raised concerns about construction-related lien-wavers that HART officials said wouldn’t apply to the infrastructure project….

read … Final State Audit On Rail Expected To Be Released Friday

NEA: Hawaii Teachers Salaries 18th Highest in USA

CB: … Hawaii’s average public school teacher salary in 2017-18 was $57,866, a 2% increase from the year before that ranks its pay 18th highest among the states, but falls below the U.S. average, according to a new analysis released by the National Education Association.

The average U.S. public school teacher salary in 2017-18 was $60,477. Most states’ average teacher salaries fall well below that, but due to the upper range of figures, the average U.S. teacher salary is pushed up.

The states with the highest average teacher salaries in 2017-18 were New York ($84,227), California ($80,680) and Massachusetts ($80,357) while states with the lowest teacher salaries were Mississippi ($44,926), West Virginia ($45,642) and Oklahoma ($46,300), according to the NEA report….

NEA: Report

read … How Hawaii’s Average Teacher Salary Ranks In U.S.

EPA Slaps Down Anti-Pesticide Hysteria (again)

KGI: … For the seventh time in history, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

The May 1 announcement was included in a proposed interim registration review decision on registering glyphosate. The agency is determining whether the pesticide meets standards for registration in the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act….

read … The glyphosate inquiry

Homeless Tent City: 21 dog attacks in the last 3 years

HNN: … State taxpayers could end up paying big after another dog attack near a Kakaako homeless camp.

Officials say there have been more than 20 such attacks in recent years. The latest one involved a young mother carrying her baby girl.

“I was honestly fighting for my life,” said Brandy Bennett.

One week after Bennett was mauled by a pair of loose dogs in the park outside the Children’s Discovery Center, the bite marks and bruises are still visible.

“They were at both of my legs," she said. "Scratching biting, just trying to drag me to the ground.”

As she was mauled by two, 30-pound dogs, her primary instinct wasn’t her own safety. It was to protect her daughter.

“I held her in the air and just screamed for help,” said Bennett….

“That’s an extraordinary number of attacks,” said Mark Davis, a personal injury attorney.

The attorney said that could open up the state to lawsuits, putting taxpayers on the hook every time there’s a payout….

According to Honolulu police, the two dogs belonged to two separate owners. One of the owners was located and cited for a dangerous dog violation. Officers couldn’t find the second owner.

The dogs and the investigation have been turned over to the Hawaiian Humane Society. Bennett says she was asked to come to the humane society Thursday to identify the dogs….

WHT: Death at homeless shelter ruled to be from natural causes, police say

read … There have been 21 dog attacks at this Kakaako park in the last 3 years

Hawaii is facing a tourism ‘tipping point,’ warn travel experts

NYP: … In a paper published by the University of Hawaii, researchers claim that tourism in Hawaii has hit a so-called “tipping point” of overtourism as increasing numbers of annual visitors are reportedly on the brink of overwhelming the island state’s resources, damaging the quality of life for residents and negatively impacting general economic vitality….

read … Hawaii is facing a tourism ‘tipping point,’ warn travel experts






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