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Tuesday, October 15, 2013
October 15, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:52 PM :: 3734 Views

Rally Oct 28: "Let the People Decide on Marriage"

AG Louie Issues Formal Opinion Claiming Legislature Has Authority to Enact Gay Marriage

Hawaii LDS Churches Release New Letter on Gay Marriage

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted October 15, 2013

Ratepayers Soaked to Enrich Landowners as PUC Approves 10M Gallon HECO Biofuel Contract

Now and Later: The Impact of the Government Shutdown

"Where was the Governor?" Grassroot Institute Calls for Greater Transparency on Governor's Travel

Video: What Gay Marriage did to Massachusetts

Solar Scammers Con Consumers into Taking out Loans for Non-existent Solar Panels

KHON: Safety first. That's what Hawaiian Electric Company is telling people who are still waiting to get their photovoltaic systems approved.

It's paid for. but not being used.

"I took a $9,000 loan," Ray Ichihara said.

"I took out $14,000," Ronald Hayashi said.

More than 1,000 people statewide are still waiting to benefit from Mother Nature.

"Very frustrated," Ichihara said.

read ... Solar Loans

Solar Doubles Electric Bill for Hundreds of Scam Victims

CB: If you feel a twinge of resentment each time you pay your electricity bill each month, imagine how you’d feel if you had to pay it twice monthly.

That is pretty much what William Walker does. He pays Hawaiian Electric Co. about $250 a month and he pays $300 monthly installments for the new solar panels on his roof in Ewa.

Usually people pay a sizable bill to HECO or they invest in solar. So why is Walker doing both?

The answer is that his new rooftop panels aren’t generating any electricity so, while his solar payments were supposed to cancel out his normal electricity bill, he has to pay both. And since solar panels must be active for users to qualify for tax credits, he hasn’t gotten any help from either the state or federal government.

Walker isn’t alone — hundreds of Oahu customers have gotten burned in their transition to solar.... Customers and solar contractors are now being told to submit proposals for the installation of solar systems to HECO for review before they start the installation process.

SA: HECO application change stymies PV installation, firms say

(Reality Check: Solar contractors knew exactly what would happen to these customers.  They just wanted to make a buck and now they are using their unfortunate victims a spawns in a political game.) 

read ... Some Solar Customers Getting Burned in Limbo

State AG Refuses to Save Counties from anti-GMO Mobs

HTH: On Thursday, state Sen. Malama Solomon sent Hawaii Attorney General David Louie an email asking for an opinion on the issue.

Solomon, D-North Hawaii, said she chose to raise the question after hearing concerns from the Hamakua Farm Bureau about a proposed ban on most crops with modified genes that’s now before the Hawaii County Council.

“When you deal with GMOs (genetically modified organisms), you are dealing with interstate commerce laws, which is why the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) usually takes on those issues,” she said.

But the response was less than definitive, Solomon said, adding she doesn’t plan to push the issue any further.

“I’ve withdrawn my letter,” she said after speaking with Louie on Monday. “They said they really can’t give a response because it’s unclear.”

Anne Lopez, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said she couldn’t speak to the conversation directly but confirmed the issue is not something the office plans to weigh in on.

“We have not analyzed it to come up with a legal opinion,” she said.

Perhaps reassuring to GMO opponents, Lopez said the proposed ban, if adopted, is not something the state plans to challenge.

“We have no current plans to do that,” she said. “We know that’s a really big issue.”

read ... Green Light to Mob Rule

State to request more inspectors for pesticides

SA: The state Department of Agriculture wants to fill several positions in its pesticides branch, including jobs for inspectors that were eliminated because of budget shortfalls.

The department said it will seek funding from the Legislature next year to fill positions statewide.

Officials say they are still determining how many inspector and other positions are involved and the amount to be requested.

Three inspector positions were among eight jobs cut from the pesticides branch in 2009 through attrition and workforce reductions when Linda Lingle was governor. Three or four, including one of the three inspector positions, have since been restored.

read ... Enough to satisfy the mob?

Heroic Republicans Save Unions, Large Employer Health Plans from Obama's Diabolical $25B Reinsurance tax

TH: Labor unions are poised to score the delay of an ObamaCare tax in the bipartisan budget deal emerging in the Senate.

The bargain under negotiation would make small adjustments to the healthcare law, including delaying the law's reinsurance fee for one year. The three-year tax is meant to generate revenue that will stabilize premiums on the individual market as sick patients enter the risk pool.

The tax applies to all group health plans, but unions argue it will raise their healthcare costs while providing them no benefit.

The reinsurance tax figured prominently in discussions at a recent AFL-CIO convention, where workers passed a resolution demanding changes to ObamaCare.

read ... Unions poised to win delay of ObamaCare tax in budget deal

After Two Weeks of Miserable Failure, Health plan connector site Supposed to go live today

SA: The Hawaii Health Connector expects to launch its online marketplace for health insurance policies today, two weeks after failing to meet its original Oct. 1 start date.

Consumers should be able to compare health plan prices and sign up for a policy on the state’s health insurance exchange by late morning today, Connector officials said Monday evening.

“We have worked diligently to improve the functionality of our current website, and the results have thus far have been very positive,” Coral Andrews, executive director of the Connector, said in a statement. “The interim goal we’ve worked toward is October 15th. We feel we are on track to meet that goal.”

read ... Will It?

GovTech: Hawaii is Worst-Case Scenario

GT: Sixteen state-run health insurance exchanges launched this month, and so far the norm has been errors, downtime and long waits. Hawaii’s portal, which had very little functionality as many as 11 days after the launch, showed what a worst-case scenario looked like, while states like Washington and New York had initial problems but recovered quickly in the first week. The state employees who manage these portals are quick to point out the huge demand for health insurance and how important these portals are, but the ongoing problems left many wondering: If health insurance marketplaces are so important, then why weren’t states ready?

read ... Why Weren't States Ready?

Military families mow overgrown grass at shutdown Arizona Memorial entrance

HNN: The work outside the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial visitors center lasted until the last blade of overgrown grass was cut down to size.

"The grass was pretty out of control. So I said, 'Hey! Let's try to do something about it,'" Josh Stone said.

The U.S. Army medic posted a plea on Facebook Sunday night. Monday morning, dozens of military men, their spouses and kids answered the call. They were armed with lawn mowers, trimmers and rakes, and good intentions.

"We all come from the military. I think we're all in the same agreement that it's sad it got this way and no one's taking care of it. I think we all felt that something needed to be done," U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Dylan Welter said.

The partial government shutdown closed the memorial two weeks ago. Grounds keeping stopped but visitors still come to see the area.

KHON: Military volunteers spruce up Arizona Memorial

read ... Military families mow overgrown grass at shutdown Arizona Memorial entrance

Shutdown? Most Hawaii federal Workers are Getting Paid

Borreca: Hawaii's military importance may be what is saving the state from the potentially disastrous effects of the federal shutdown.

With the end result of the negotiations in Washington still unknown at press time yesterday, it appears that most of Hawaii's federal workers have already been spared.

The state Labor Department calculates there are 25,500 civilian defense workers in Hawaii. Almost all of them are back at work, thanks to the decision by Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense, to put furloughed civilian defense workers back on the job.

There are another 8,600 federal workers in Hawaii, and the state is trying to track their employment status, but it is almost on a case-by-case basis.

read ... Shutdown, What Shutdown?

Hawaii's Public Records: Law's Creators Didn't Expect Cost To Be An Issue

CB: In 1993, a University of Hawaii student asked the Honolulu Police Department for the names and titles of its employees who had been suspended or discharged.

HPD responded with a bill for $20,000. That sparked a lawsuit and eventually spurred the Hawaii Office of Information Practices to finally set rates for how much agencies can charge to find and process public records requests.

But despite the fee structure that’s now in place — or arguably because of it — cost continues to stifle public access to government records.

CB: Redactions Are Often the Bulk of the Expense of Public Records Requests

read ... Creators Didn't Expect Cost To Be An Issue

Matson reimburses businesses affected by spill

HNN: Matson Inc. is starting to cut checks to businesses hurt by last month's molasses spill disaster.

About a dozen companies have filed claims against the shipping giant after the spill shutdown Keehi Lagoon and much of Honolulu Harbor for nearly two week. One of those companies, Bonefish Honolulu, confirmed that it has resolved its claims.

"We've settled with Matson so we have something to fall back on if the bookings don't come through," said Joaquin DeNolfo.

read ... Matson reimburses businesses affected by spill

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