Anti-GMO Activists Welch on Promise to Provide Pro-Bono Defense for Kauai County
Fiscal watchdog disputes Hawaii governor’s surplus claims
Schatz v Hanabusa: Vituperative, Byzantine Contest Hottest in USA
HB2148 Would Allow Military Pistol Training to Satisfy Handgun Training Requirements
Justice Reinvestment: Hawaii Reduces Prison Population by 4%, Increases Costs by $900K
I Aloha Molokai opposes HB1942 & SB2754
Guard soldier adored his family and the ocean
SA: The ashes of a 25-year-old Hawaii National Guard soldier with a love of the ocean will be scattered in an aloha oe ceremony and paddle-out Sunday at Makapuu Beach Park, one of his favorite surf spots, officials said.
Sgt. Drew M. Scobie of Kailua, a married father of a 4-year-old son, was killed along with a Wyoming soldier and a civilian in the crash of a twin-engine turboprop reconnaissance aircraft on a night mission in Afghanistan on Jan. 10.
His wife, McKenna A.K. Panui-Scobie, is expecting their second child in June.
Memorial services for Scobie will be held Saturday at Hawaiian Memorial Park chapel, 45-425 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe.
Viewing will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. with a service to follow. A celebration of life lunch will take place at 2 p.m. at Senator Fong's Plantation & Gardens, 47-285 Palama Road, Kahaluu.
An aloha oe gathering will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at Makapuu Beach Park with a paddle-out at 10 a.m. Members of the community who wish to pay their respects are invited to attend.
read ... Guard soldier adored his family and the ocean
Attorney: Creagan Appointment Rigged
WHT: Lei Kihoi, an attorney for Native Hawaiian issues and member of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, one of the nine candidates who submitted applications, appealed the election to state Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter, saying she was barred from the meeting even though she was president of a precinct in the district and thus eligible to vote.
Kihoi also accused the district council of barring Hawaii Island Democratic Party Chairman David Tarnas from the meeting and requiring those in attendance to sign confidentiality agreements, according to party emails and documents obtained by Stephens Media Hawaii.
Kihoi asked the election be redone.
“The core question is whether the election on Dec. 27, 2013 was ‘rigged’ in order to bring an expected result,” Kihoi said in a Jan. 6 memo to Carpenter. “My answer is yes.”
The House party process was in marked contrast to two recent procedures filling Big Island Democratic seats in the state Senate. In those two cases in 2011, the meeting where the party election was hosted was open to the public, and the press reported on the finalists immediately after the election.
Carpenter and Hawaii Island Democratic Party officials looked into the allegations and determined (decided to claim) they were without merit, several party officials said....
Names of the finalists were initially withheld by the governor, the state party and Hawaii Island Democrats.
John Buckstead, West Hawaii vice chairman for the local party, ultimately released the names of the finalists four days after Creagan was appointed.
Related: Abercrombie Appoints Creagen to House from Secret List
read ... Claims of rigged election dismissed
20,000 Hawaii Medicaid Applicants May Lose Subsidies because of State's Inability to Complete paperwork On Time
SA: Despite a last-ditch effort to boost Obamacare sign-ups, some consumers who want to get tax credits to lower the cost of health insurance before the March 31 deadline could run into a glitch if they file a paper application instead of filing online.
The Hawai‘i Health Connector, the online insurance marketplace that is the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, launched a new statewide enrollment drive last week. But the possible delay in processing paper applications could hurt that effort.
Connector applicants who want financial assistance must first be deemed ineligible for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income residents run by the state Department of Human Services.
If paper applications are faxed or mailed, DHS has up to 45 days to process them, said spokeswoman Kayla Rosenfeld. She added that if applications are done online via Kolea, DHS' new automated Medicaid eligibility system, it has been a "much shorter turnaround time," averaging about two days if completed properly.
DHS received 20,861 paper applications — some for Medicaid and some for the Connector — and 13,611 online applications since open enrollment started Oct. 1.
read ... Another Glitch
House Committee shelves plan to kill HCDA
SA: But four bills that moved forward take aim at the agency and Kakaako's development....
Key elements of bills limiting Kakaako development and the Hawaii Community Development Authority that were advanced by a House committee Tuesday:
>> HB 1867: Towers must be separated by 300 feet, no tower higher than 400 feet.
>> HB 1866: Limit governor’s power to appoint HCDA board members.
>> HB 1865: Require a management and financial audit of HCDA.
>> HB 1863: Allow citizens to sue HCDA.
PBN: House committee OKs bills limiting Kakaako agency’s authority
read ... HCDA not Dead
Hawaii Senate Committees Advance Dole Land Exchange Proposal
CB: Senate Bill 3065 ... sets aside money for the state Dept. of Budget and Finance to conduct the land switch with Dole Food Company, Inc.
Another measure, Senate Bill 112, creates a special fund to help pay for the deal if the state’s property in West Oahu falls short of the value of Dole’s land, which is (purportedly) on the market for $175 million.
The bill goes next to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
read ... Hawaii Senate Committees Advance Dole Land Exchange Proposal
Hawaii Legislature Moves Closer to Raising Minimum Wage
CB: In spite of objections by Izumo, Chang, other business owners and their advocates, the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment voted to approve House Bill 2580. It calls for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, where it's been since 2007, to $9.50 by 2017....
HB 2580 also eliminates the tip credit, the 25 cents employers can deduct from the wages of waiters and other employees who depend on gratuities. And it lets the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations adjust the wage in accordance with the Consumer Price Index beginning September 2017.
The tip credit and CIP components of HB 2580 dovetail nicely with Senate Bill 2609, which passed the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee Jan. 31. But SB 2609 would increase the wage to $10.10; in the meanwhile, some lawmakers still want to keep the tip credit intact....
Lawrence Boyd, an economist with the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu, said in written testimony, "The effects on employment and firms will be non-existent. One reason being because the minimum wage and its rise is so low, covers so few people, and basically restores the minimum wage to levels it achieved several years past due to inflation."
(Which naturally leads one to enquire: Does Mr Boyd's spouse pay the "Volcano Girls' ' $7.25/hr -- or do they receive the tip credit wage of $7/hr plus tips? Or do these rules not apply to the vanguard of the sexual revolution?)
read ... Minimum Wage
Ige: We Have Minimum Wage Bill from Last Years Conference Committee
PR: Sen. David Ige, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, issued a statement on Tuesday pledging to work with the House to ensure that a minimum wage increase is approved this session.
“We are committed to working with our counterparts in the House and the leadership of both chambers to ensure that we pass a minimum wage bill this legislative session," Ige said. "Currently, there is a bill still in conference that has carried over from the 2013 legislative session as well as new bills that have been introduced this year. I support increasing the minimum wage, and passing a bill as soon as possible this session. We have Senate Bill 331 in conference committee and would be able to take action immediately once we have agreement on the bill.”
Some observers interpreted Ige's statement to mean that he would prefer to take up the bill that stalled in conference committee last session than the bill that moved out of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee in January.
read ... Stalled in Committee
Hawaii Legislature to Hear Bills Decriminalizing Pot
CB: Senate Bill 2733 would legalize the personal use of marijuana “in a specified quantity,” require licensing to operate marijuana establishments and subject those establishments to excise and income taxes. It has a hearing Thursday afternoon.
Senate Bill 2358 would establish a civil violation for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana subject to a fine of not more than $100. It has a hearing Thursday afternoon, too.
A third, related measure redefines hashish as marijuana.
read ... Hawaii Legislature to Hear Bills Decriminalizing Pot
In Motion in the Legislature
Star-Adv: Pono Choices is Anti-Gay
SA: The state Department of Education should seriously consider the complaints of parents who say that a sex-education curriculum being piloted in Hawaii public schools is too explicit for 11-year-olds and downplays the health risks of certain sexual acts.
While it is easy to dismiss criticism of the inclusive Pono Choices curriculum as homophobia in the wake of a state law legalizing same-sex marriage, that knee-jerk reaction would be a mistake. It is gay youths, males in particular, who could suffer the most from an unduly politically correct point of view....
(Pono Choices leaves out the one key fact necessary to reduce HIV transmission--the warning about the risk of unprotected male on male anal sex. So what cause is it that justifies the sacrifice of these lives? [This is not a rhetorical question.] Who at UH Manoa will be called to account for their decisions? [This is a rhetorical question.])
Two complaints about Pono Choices are that it teaches children about vaginal, oral and anal sex in an explicit manner that treats each sex act as typical, and that it minimizes the health risks of anal sex. Only 5 percent of Hawaii youth have engaged in sexual intercourse by age 13, which means that 95 percent haven't — so it's not a stretch to imagine that this information is overwhelming for some prepubescent 11-year-olds, even in the Internet age.
Advocates counter that sex-ed is most effective in deterring young people from unhealthy behavior if it is delivered before they become sexually active.
The second point is clearer: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that gay males are disproportionately affected by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; that infection rates are rising, especially among males ages 13 to 24; and that risky sexual behavior accounts for most new infections. By the advocates' own argument, it seems that Pono Choices misses an opportunity to more powerfully deliver this message just when it would do the most good.
It is our hope that the working group can rise above the controversy to refine Pono Choices into a relevant, effective curriculum that helps students, as it was created and intended to do.
read ... The Christians are Easy to Fool
Kalbert Young: Sustainability = More Spending
KGI: During these favorable economic times, investing in critical government services makes perfect financial sense. Our long-term objectives include investing in information technology for government, supporting the business community, combating homelessness and educating our keiki.
Achieving financial sustainability is not single-faceted. It is not simply defined as reducing spending, nor is it about increasing revenues. A financial plan for sustainability is much more robust and multifaceted, and we have a plan in motion that builds a vision for financial sustainability.
It is about building financial reserves and managing expenditures, but it is also about providing for increased public services. After all, that is the reason we all contribute taxes
read .. The New Math
Schatz and Hanabusa strut their credentials as liberals
Borreca: If the political truism is that "all politics is local," then in Hawaii the corollary is that all local politicians are liberal....
Calling something "liberal legislation" is no slight in Hawaii; it is a stamp of approval. The only label better than "liberal" is "liberal progressive."
So in this year's race for the late Daniel K. Inouye's Senate seat, Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa are campaigning as bona fide liberals.
Last week, Washington's National Journal helped with the assurances by rating all members of Congress....
Neal Milner, University of Hawaii political science professor emeritus, said the scores for Schatz and Hanabusa show that "from a statistical standpoint, the two are so close that it means very little."
The key, however, is that political primaries are a gathering of the faithful and there are bound to be measurements of just how liberal are the credentials of Schatz and Hanabusa.
"Being the most liberal has advantages because people who vote in primaries tend to be more ideological and less centrist than general election voters. In other words, being a liberal — progressive is the term candidates now use — helps in a Democratic primary," said Milner in an email interview.
Two years ago, in a Senate race, former U.S. Rep. Ed Case was chewed up by Hirono over the question of whether Case was liberal enough for Hawaii Democrats.
Case had a liberal rating of 59 percent from the National Journal, but that was sufficiently lower than Hirono's rating to trigger a rant by political bloggers.
In this election, no one should question that Hanabusa and Schatz are both big enough liberals with voting records that should erase worries that either would suddenly side with the NRA or the Chamber of Commerce.
Background: Schatz 93% More Liberal Than Average Senator
read ... Schatz and Hanabusa strut their credentials as liberals
Lawmakers attempt to reopen popular rock climbing site
KITV: "We began things late last spring going to the attorney general, DLNR and our legislators and saying, 'Hey, we need to come to the table and reach a solution on this,'" explains Michael Richardson, the owner of Climb Aloha, who has spearheaded the legislative effort.
The collaborative effort resulted in a bill (SB 1007) that's currently making its way through the state Senate. The bill states any sign that warns of dangerous conditions on improved or unimproved public lands, is adequate protection for the state and counties against lawsuits. The measure has received support from state and county agencies, who view the bill as the proper balance between common sense and holding government accountable.
However, the bill would not protect state and local governments from litigation if there is gross negligence, for example, if a warning sign becomes unreadable.
"We feel a lot more hopeful about this year's effort," said Richardson. "The current bill I think is a real good compromise, or solution, and that's kind of what politics should be about."
Meanwhile, a separate measure (HB 2592) in the state House indemnifies the state and counties against lawsuits if a person is injured while participating in hazardous recreational activities, such as surfing, hiking or kayaking.
read ... Rock Climbing
Bills Would Make it Even Harder to Keep Criminals in Prison
SA: This session, there are three bills before the state Legislature — House Bills 1785 and 2116 and Senate Bill 2214 — that would take off our books the laws that allow us to sentence our youth to die in prison.
KHON: Serial Manoa rapist just needs job offer for parole
read ... Support bills to end jailing juvenile offenders for life