Full Text: Sen. Sam Slom Opening Day Address
House Republican caucus announces Legislative Package
House Republican Caucus announces Committee Assignments
Fiscal Notes and Economic Impact Statements for Hawaii Legislation?
Prisons May Release Up To 1,000 Offenders
Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s pledge to bring home 1,900 Hawaii inmates in mainland prisons had lawmakers worried about how they would pay for the new prison space required. But Tuesday, the new Director of Public Safety, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, said the plan includes releasing hundreds, perhaps up to 1,000. prisoners into community programs.
“We want to start bringing the offenders home so we can transition them with programs that can assist them being successful while they are out there,” Maesaka-Hirata said.
She told lawmakers that a third of the 1,900 men now serving time in Arizona and several hundred others in Hawaii prisons have been classified as safe for community confinement, outside of prison.
The approach was applauded by prison reform advocate Kat Brady.
(For some reason, neither Brady nor Maesaka-Hirata have volunteered to let released inmates stay in their homes as they “transition”.)
Maesaka-Hirata said the releases would be carefully considered. “We are not going to do a mass release….” (To know what they are going to do—look at what they deny.)
HNN: Prisoners to be released next month, school to be converted to prison
House Leadership Fight Could Spill Into Opening Day
Infighting between progressive and old-line Democrats has left the Hawaii House of Representatives without leadership as the state's annual legislative session begins Wednesday….
"I am very optimistic that we will get it done during the opening day ceremonies," Say said.
Say said that the chairmanships of 13 committees are in play.
The eight House Republicans have said they will back Say if Democrats can't decide among themselves before opening day. One Democrat-held seat is vacant.
ILind: This should be a good day for the Democratic majority. Right now, it doesn’t feel that way
Shapiro: Both sides lacking specifics in battle for House leadership
Political Radar: Lists II
Leadership void persists
State House Democrats, unable to agree on leadership, were on the brink last night of allowing internal differences to affect opening day of the state Legislature.
(Shocking, just shocking. We are actually going to have an open debate over leadership and committee assignments? How can we tolerate government which doesn’t function in secret?)
But majority Democrats have taken advantage of GOP votes in the past. In 1971, House Speaker Tadao Beppu accepted Republican help to end a leadership struggle that extended two weeks -- 10 legislative days -- into the session. In 1981, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Democratic Party of Hawaii Chairman Dante Carpenter were among a group of Democrats who formed a coalition with Republicans to organize the state Senate.
Say said last night that if no deal is reached by this morning, his preference is to open the session with the traditional speeches and music and put off a leadership discussion until this afternoon. Under that scenario, House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa Valley-Aiea Heights) would likely give opening remarks instead of Say. House Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Queen's Gate-Hawaii Kai) is scheduled to speak for Republicans.
By tradition Rep. Mark Nakashima (D, Kohala-Hamakua-N. Hilo), who represents House District 1, functions as the presiding officer until a speaker is chosen by resolution.
Nakashima, one of the dissidents, said it would likely be "chaos" if individual lawmakers attempt to force a floor vote on a resolution this morning….
Separate from the leadership talks, four dissidents suggested a rule change yesterday that would limit a speaker, other leaders and committee chairmen to serve six years in those posts. The dissidents believe a time limit would help ensure routine succession and promote fresh ideas.
Ward has been urging Say for more than a week to accept the Republican votes and to organize the House. "Let's get on with the business of doing the business of the people who sent us here," he said.
House Republicans released their legislative package yesterday, which includes a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds' votes in the House and Senate for any tax increase, college tuition incentives for high-school students who finish early and enroll in the University of Hawaii system, and public hearings whenever the state salary commission recommends pay raises for lawmakers.
RELATED: Stalemate Broken: House Republican Caucus backs Calvin Say for Speaker
Feds Clear Way For Transit Construction
The Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday cleared the way for the city to begin construction as soon as March on a rail transit system for Oahu.
The FTA determined that the project met all of the requirements and environmental reviews, city officials said….
The city hopes to break ground on rail transit in March.
But former mayoral candidate and University of Hawaii civil engineering professor Panos Prevedouros, a rail critic, said, "My question to Peter Carlisle is, 'Where is the money?' Wait for it, and only if you get it, maybe start it."
The Federal Transit Administration is expected to provide at least $1.55 billion for the $5.5 billion project.
Only about $65 million of those federal funds have been delivered to Honolulu so far, according to city transportation officials.
Republicans who've taken over the U.S. House have promised to slash spending, including some money for transit projects.
"Transit appropriations are very heavily relied upon Congressional earmarks. And the overall environment at Congress is not particularly friendly right now. They are in a cost-cutting mode," Prevedouros said.
Carlisle plans to meet with the new Republican head of the House transportation committee, John Mica of Florida, on Thursday.
"The indications that we've had is that Rep. (John) Mica and other members of the transportation committee are positive about the rail project and we're hopefully going to be confirming that this week," said Doug Chin, the city's managing director, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
SA: Rail gets OK to break ground
Politico: Hanabusa suddenly doesn’t want to bend rules to dictate policy
First Hanabusa complains about the weather for three paragraphs, then….
Before being elected to Congress, I served as Hawaii State Senate president for the past four years. Only one of 25 senators there was a Republican. Now, as a freshman congresswoman, I am one of the “noble (sic) nine” Democratic freshmen in a GOP-controlled House.
Discussions are governed by rules. Rules are fundamental to the operation of any judicial or legislative body. Congress is no different.
I appreciate rules and how they may be needed to make debate effective and structured. It is through debate that ideas are raised, discussed and often defended. Debate allows for the casting of votes with full information. Congress is no different. Rules can ensure structure and decorum of the body. However, rules should not and cannot dictate policy, nor should they be bent, suspended, amended or applied at the whim of the majority. There must be balance.
Shapiro Debunks: All trains not created equal
Political Radar: Worlds Apart
Debate might hold up switch to appointed BOE
State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Education Committee, said she drafted the bill that does not include the advisory council to ensure a clear line of accountability for the board's composition.
Tokuda voted in favor of the advisory council model last session but said the council plan would go against the strong message from voters. "My goal was to provide the public with the kind of accountability they asked for in November," she said.
State Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Momilani-Pacific Palisades) said he plans to push the council model forward. "The vast majority of the Legislature supported it, not just me," Takumi said. "If people feel it's overly cumbersome or it takes away the supreme authority of the governor, we can always change it."
Takumi said lawmakers might not decide on the selection process until May. Legislators had hoped to pass a bill by February so that the governor could act more quickly to appoint members.
(HSTA flunkey) Marguerite Higa of the advocacy group Save Our Schools said without the advisory council "there's just too much danger for abuse and political payback" in appointments to the BOE. (No surprise there)
DANGER: Legislature in Session
Former city supervisor gets jail time for stealing nearly $20K in taxpayer money to inflate pension
Manuel Castro oversaw the city Department of Facilities Maintenance's street sweeping unit. Prosecutors say he "cooked the books" and submitted fraudulent time sheets for himself, as well as for several of his employees in exchange for kickbacks.
"The defendant was trying to increase the amount of his annual pay so that his retirement paycheck would be calculated on a higher amount of money," Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor, said.
"His base pay was only like $50,000 and with all the theft entered into the picture in 2008 he made $94,000....excuse me $96,000. So he nearly doubled his salary just in that year.," Van Marter said.
Prosecutors asked for a 10-year prison sentence, saying others in government positions need to be deterred from committing similar crimes.
"Bribery, theft, kickbacks, multiple employees -- this is serious criminal activity that undermines the public's confidence in their city officials," Van Marter said.
Publisher: Nobody wants to share Civil Beat
In the past eight months, Civil Beat has formed a core community of paying readers who regularly visit the site and lead discussion threads, Ching said. He wouldn't say how many subscribers the site has.
The site hopes to expand its readership by giving viewers a taste of its content and allowing people to share links to articles - an essential way to bring in new members, Ching said.
''No one wants to share something that their friends and family can't read,'' he said.
Ching said he will trust users not to get a free ride by doing things ''that go against civic behavior,'' like deleting their cookies. (Hahahahahaha)
FCC OKs local airing of satellite radio
Satellite radio has been available on the mainland for nearly a decade, but the service has not been extended to Hawaii or Alaska, except online via subscription.
Sirius XM has applied to alter the orbit of some of its satellites, but whether the proposed change will include Hawaii and Alaska in the satellite footprint is unclear. In the meantime, the FCC approval gives Sirius XM the right to send its signal for 180 days from a 2,000-watt repeater.
By comparison, KSSK-FM is authorized to transmit at 100,000 watts.
MMMC poised to be among state’s largest heart programs
Maui Memorial estimates that as many as 400 cardiovascular cases have been transferred off-island annually in the last two or three years because of the hospital's inability to provide acute interventional care such as angioplasty. The medivac expense alone costs approximately $18,000 per patient, Lo said.
With (attempts to build a competing hospital blocked and) angioplasty now offered at Maui Memorial, Lo said residents can be treated near their homes and be spared the transportation costs of being flown elsewhere.
Disney Looking To Hire 1,200 For Aulani Resort In Koolina
Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina will be among 135 employers at Wednesday’s Job Quest Fair.
Disney said it is looking to hire 1,200 employees for its new resort and it is working hard to attract Hawaii's best and brightest.
TOTALLY RELATED: CONGRESSWOMAN HANABUSA'S STATEMENT ON THE WAIMANALO GULCH LANDFILL
TOTALLY RELATED: Ko Olina beaches still closed after waste release
SA: Get handle on waste disposal
Hawaii Democrats say world will end if Obamacare repealed
Repealing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law could affect approximately half of the state's population because they have pre-existing medical conditions, the Democratic Party of Hawaii said at a news briefing yesterday.
Dylan Nonaka, executive director of the Republican Party of Hawaii, said Carpenter's estimate sounds like a scare tactic.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll this week showed just 1 in 4 Americans support full repeal, while a CNN/Opinion Research poll said 50 percent support the repeal vote and 42 percent do not. Unlike CNN, the AP poll gave respondents the option of saying they would like the law changed, a choice favored by 43 percent. (So nobody likes Obamacare, but Democrat media want you to believe only 1/4 want repeal.)
Nonaka said two provisions involving health coverage for young adults and individuals with pre-existing conditions are reasonable parts of the legislation Republicans can agree with. Still, they remain opposed to the law, which he said is essentially a government takeover of the health care industry.
Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican in the state Senate, said he supports repealing the law and methodically looking at each measure in the 950-plus-page bill. "There's no question that this bill was rushed and very few have read it," he said.
At the Democrats' news briefing yesterday, 24-year-old (HAWAII DEMOCRATIC PARTY STAFFER) Jason Kamalu said he has health coverage for the first time in six years under his parents' plan because of the reform law, lessening his worry over accruing out-of-pocket medical expenses should he injure himself while surfing. "I don't have this stress in my life that I'm not covered," said Kamalu.
(Said one AP reporter, “Heh, lets not tell them Kamalu is a Dem staffer.”)