Bad Company: Honolulu Rail Car Supplier Ansaldo Breda May be Sold, Liquidated
Atheist Scores $200K from New Hope Lawsuit Settlement
How They Voted: House Rejects Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Video: Legislators Debate Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Slom: SB2160 Should be called Peter Boy Kema Bill
SB2196: Barrel Tax Snatches $80M out of Consumers Pockets
First Wind Dumps Battery System to Restart Kahuku Windfarm after Fire
House Committee May Consider Expulsion of Hanohano after Cannibalism Remarks
SA: Aarin Jacobs, an HPU environmental studies student, spoke in favor of a bill that would have created administrative penalties for harming sharks and rays within state waters. He said in an email Wednesday to House leaders that Hanohano, who is Native Hawaiian, told him that he wanted to take her food. He said Hanohano also asked whether she would have to resort to eating people if there was a taro famine and she faced penalties for eating shark.
Jacobs, who is 22 and from Portland, Ore., said Hanohano rhetorically asked the audience why Westerners come to Hawaii and tell people what to do. He said the representative also inquired about his age and then dismissed him with a "pfft" and told him to sit down.
In February 2013, Hanohano (D, Hawaiian Acres-Pahoa-Kalapana) apologized on the House floor after she made a barrage of racial and ethnic remarks in front of exhibit specialists who were installing art in her office as part of the "Art in Public Places" program. Hanohano was upset that none of the work was from Native Hawaiian artists, and used terms such as "haoles," "Japs" and "pakes."
Hanohano said at the time that her office had contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for training to ensure that similar incidents would not happen again.
House leaders said privately Thursday that there have been several incidents involving Hanohano that raise concern about her behavior.
House Speaker Joseph Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku) informed Hanohano on Thursday about the special committee, sources said. The special committee will be made up of three Democrats and three Republicans and will determine whether the House should consider any disciplinary action....
Jacobs, the HPU student, told House leaders in his email that an apology is not enough for the latest incident. In his opinion she should be removed.
SA: Prejudice complaint filed against Hanohano, House speaker points out this isn't the first time Hanohano has gotten flak
read ... Hanohano Again
HCDA Reform? House is Just Faking it to Look Good for Voters
Borreca: Right now it appears there is some willingness among House leaders to change the procedures used by the HCDA to develop the prime acreage. There is support for increased development standards and also a call for an audit of HCDA, plus House members are eager to go over the HCDA budget. The Senate, however, does not appear to share the House members' zeal.
If the House says "Yes," and the Senate says "No," the result will be that nothing moves and the HCDA plans and its resulting construction spree remain in place.
Viewing the pending possible impasse, one veteran Democrat told me the "entire effort will be mostly symbolic, because even if we pass something, the governor will veto it and the Senate won't override it."
read ... Wally Fujiyama
Underground Pesticide Market Secretly Serves Hawaii Vegetable Farms
HR: The investigation exposed a black market pesticide operation, which distributes regulated pesticides to farmers on Oahu who cannot get - or do not have - proper licensing, for an estimated three times the price.
The farm workers, including many illegal immigrants who appointed as “sprayers”, get sick and have even died as a result of repeated, excessive exposure to this pesticide.
Several of the workers on Oahu farms who spoke through translators, cannot read product labels and warnings because they are written in English, so they may not mix or spray the pesticide safely.
Workers said they are not given protective gear and don’t have the proper training to apply pesticide safely on the fruits and vegetables they grow – fruits and vegetables that show up in Hawaii’s farmers’ markets and grocery stores, and also are shipped overseas.
Hawaii Attorney Clare Hanusz said she has heard reports of unapproved pesticides being used for years on dozens of farms throughout the islands....
In 2012, Fat Law Farm, which deems itself “The King of Basil” in Hawaii, was ordered by the state Department of Health to destroy its entire basil crop – all 29 acres – because it used an unapproved pesticide. Through spot testing, state investigators found the farm was using the pesticide methomyl at two of its farm properties. Methomyl is toxic to humans and for that reason was unapproved for use on some foods....
(Really obvious question: How many anti-GMO organic farmers are secretly buying pesticides via the black market?)
More Reality than some people can handle: USDA: Pesticides, Chemicals, and Synthetic Ingredients Used in 'Organic' Food
read ... State May Step Up Funding for Ag Inspections
Trask: Elected Officials Should be Censured for Spreading anti-Geothermal Hysteria (LOL!)
IM: Indigenous Consultants discussed the ban on fracking: “Why do we have this bill? …It’s a fabrication to create hysteria against geothermal development. …We need to move forward with responsible geothermal development and we’re not going to get there by beating the drum of hysteria over fracking which is a technology for oil and gas.”
Indigenous Consultants then suggested that Legislators who disagreed should be officially censured.
"We need to stop playing the environmental games, that are groundless, and that were created, in a way, as an abuse, of the Legislative process. When I saw the false bill in the Senate, I went to the Senate President, and I showed her the evidence, and I said, is there any rule, in the Legislature that will allow us, to move for censure, of an elected official who deliberately puts in a bill that is false? And do you know that the Senate President was ashamed to tell me, that other States have that protection, but in Hawai’i, we never had. In Hawai`i, you can tell a lie, in a bill, and get away with it."
Background: After Receiving Campaign Cash, OHA Trustees Give $1.25M to Insolvent Geothermal Company
read ... Mililani Trask Protests 'Hysteria'
HHSC Privatization proposal advances
SA: Hawaii Health Systems Corp. is hoping this will be the year for legislation paving the way for privatization.
The Senate Health Committee this week passed Senate Bill 3064, which allows for the HHSC facilities to partner with or be purchased by a local nonprofit provider such as Hawaii Pacific Health, The Queen's Health Systems or Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
The measure also prohibits any decrease in services for at least five years, continues the state's financial support and protects workers' already negotiated benefits.
read ... Privitization
Experts Fret over Abject Failure of Hawaii Obamacare
PBN: – Patty Murray, senior manager at the Hawaii Medical Service Association, on the role employers have in helping employees understand health-care reform and how it affects them, if at all.
“There are taxes in the pipeline that are going to influence costs.”
– Reg Baker, executive vice president of the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association, warning of expected additional costs on insurers related to health-care reform.
“Before, policy prices were based on usage, and now they are based on age. So, there isn’t going to be a direct benefit to corporations with corporate wellness programs.”
- Paul Saito, partner at Cades Schutte, in response to a question about direct incentives for corporate wellness programs, which no longer exist in the 2014 plans.
“The only source of revenue available is a 2 percent fee assessed on all plans sold through the Connector; and it is clear that we need enrollment.”
– Tom Matsuda, interim executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, speaking to the challenges of the state’s online health insurance exchange, which must operate without federal funding by the year’s end.
read ... Experts weigh in on health-care reform
Caldwell's Garbage Tax Would Hit Nonprofits, Small Business Hard
SA: About 20,000 Oahu households that get the traditional manual pickup twice a week, typically those homes in geographic areas where automated trucks cannot operate, would also pay the $10 monthly fee and follow the same guidelines, Houghton said.
There are also about 80 properties owned by nonprofits that get automated collection and 30 nonprofit properties that get manual service. They would be charged a "business" rate of a minimum $75 that would be higher if they have multiple containers or containers that are larger in size, Houghton said.
Those nonprofit properties include churches, temples or other houses of worship as well as private schools.
A third group of about 250 condominium, apartment and townhouse complexes and nonprofits that currently get city "front-loader" or dumpster pickup service would also need to pay a disposal charge of $314 per standard, 3-cubic-yard dumpster. "The language we're proposing makes sure that nonprofits and for-profit businesses get treated the same,"Houghton said. Currently there are about 73 nonprofits in the front-loader category.
The $314 amount was based on an estimate provided in a 2010 study, Houghton said. Like the other fees, it is subject to changed based on the whims of Council members.
read ... Garbage Tax
Rail facility redesign costs $4.25M
SA: One transit board member calls altering a storage site a "very expensive lesson"
read ... Just Getting Started
Bills may weaken Sunshine Law
HTH: A proposal rejected by the Hawaii County Council as unnecessarily weakening the Sunshine Law has made its way to the state Legislature, where it’s getting serious consideration.
The bills, HB 2139 and SB 2962, were sponsored by state lawmakers from Maui after the Hawaii County Council struck the measure from a package the counties were sending jointly to the state Legislature under the Hawaii State Association of Counties umbrella.
The bills carve out an exception to the Sunshine Law by saying, “Members of a county council may jointly attend and speak at a community, educational or informational meeting or presentation, including a meeting of another entity, legislative hearing, convention, seminar, conference or community meeting, without limitation, provided that the meeting or presentation is open to the public.”
The bills would allow a quorum of council members to attend meetings and discuss issues that could come up on future council agendas, as long as the meeting is open to the public, even if minutes are not taken for the public record and the council members in attendance make no report of their discussion.
SA: Preserve Open Government
read ... Sunshine
Bill to legalize pakalolo dies but bill to decriminalize lives
SA: A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Hawaii died in committee Thursday, but state lawmakers advanced a measure that could decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of the drug.
"Washington and Colorado have taken the big leap, and everybody is looking at these two states to see how they will be dealing with all of the issues that come up," said Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee. "At this time the legalization bill is dead."...
During the committee hearing, opposition to mere decriminalization was notably softer than on legalization. Sixteen states have decriminalized nonmedical marijuana. Under the Hawaii decriminalization bill, getting caught with up to an ounce would result in a $100 fine on first offense.
read ... Decriminalize
HB1899 Would Make Homeless into Sacred Cows
CB: House Bill 1889, which has a hearing this morning, would establish a homeless person’s bill of rights.... HB 1889 was introduced by Vice Speaker John Mizuno....
read ... Legislation Calls for Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights
HCDA Schedules Hearing for Residents Protesting New Condos on Ala Moana Blvd
CB: The Hawaii Community Development Authority is holding a hearing next week to consider a petition by Kakaako residents who are upset with the agency’s approval of an application to build new condos along Ala Moana Blvd.
It’s the first time in recent history that the state development agency has scheduled a hearing to consider a petition disputing a development project, HCDA spokeswoman Lindsey Doi said.
The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. at the agency’s office in Kakaako.
read ... February 19, 2014
Iolani Palace releases surveillance video of vandalism suspects
HNN: The video does not show the actual vandalism, but it clearly shows the two suspects walking inside the palace. Drew Paahao, 21, and Koa Alii Keaulana, 30, are accused of shattering an etched glass door panel and then breaking into the palace. The pair was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and criminal property damage.
read ... Iolani
Hawaii Among 10 Places Where Health Insurance Costs The Least
WUKY: The 10 regions with the lowest premiums in the nation also include Salt Lake City, all of Hawaii and eastern Tennessee. This ranking is based on the lowest cost of a silver plan, the midrange plan most consumers are choosing.
What sets these bargain markets apart? They tend to have robust competition among hospitals and doctors, allowing insurers to wrangle lower rates.
Many doctors in these places are salaried rather than being paid by the visit or procedure. The salaried approach weakens financial incentives to perform more procedures. Health systems focus on organizing patient care rather than letting specialists work detached from each other....
Several of the other lowest cost areas, including Salt Lake City and Hawaii, also have major hospitals and health systems that have been at the forefront of integrating health care. Those systems foster and reward collaboration among primary care doctors, specialists and nurses. But people who buy the cheapest Salt Lake City plan won't have access to Intermountain Healthcare, the most prestigious system in the area.
read ... Insurance
SB2126 Allows Schatz to Resign so Abercrombie can Appoint Hanabusa after she wins General Election
PR: Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., voted for SB2126SD1 with reservations, sharing concerns with the League of Women Voters of Hawaii that such a process may put pressure on incumbents to step down before their terms expire.
Incumbents may not be in such generous moods after losing elections. Politics aside, incumbents may also have the practical consideration of wanting to finish their work and complete their terms.
Imagine this scenario: Schatz loses to U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary in August. Hanabusa defeats her Republican opponent in November. Would Schatz voluntarily step down in November so Hanabusa could have a leg up on seniority?
read ... Veto Bait
UH Hilo Pharmacy school in peril
HTH: “Come May, if their decision is not positive, that would be equivalent to pushing us off the cliff, and we would be in a freefall. … Perhaps someone — Superman — could come along and save us, but what he would be saving would be a house in shambles,” Pezzuto said.
This week, the College of Pharmacy recieved a report from its accreditor, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, following its executive board meeting last month. According to the report, Pezzuto will be required to submit no later than May 1 a detailed description of continued progress toward obtaining a physical facility — a requirement for any accredited program.
read ... Peril
The Conversation: Carl Bonham on Raising the Minimum Wage
HPR: UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about the research surrounding the issue of raising the minimum wage.
read ... Bonham
KFVE-TV ownership transfer challenged
SA: Media Council Hawaii has filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission opposing the planned transfer of the station's FCC license from HITV to American Spirit Media.
The opposition is an extension of the nonprofit Media Council's 2009 effort to get the FCC to disallow creation of the shared services agreement under which KFVE, KGMB-TV and KHNL-TV are jointly operated.
While the FCC later ruled that the shared services agreement was at odds with public policy and its own duopoly rules, the commission ruled against the media council.
The shared services agreement was structured in such a way that it did not involve a license transfer, so FCC approval wasn't necessary.
Background: Raycom Honolulu TV Deal: Honolulu Community Media Council has its own issues with "media control"
read ... The Stalinists Again