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Saturday, April 26, 2014
April 26, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:18 PM :: 4493 Views

Quo Warranto Fu: Is Calvin Say a Qualified Voter in his District?

Voting Rights Denied: What Hawaii Can Learn from Davis v Guam

April 25, 2014: Election Commission Releases Updated Candidate List

Complete List of Bills up for Final reading in House and Senate

Ige's Dirty Deal With HSTA: Phony 'Procedural Mixup' Dooms Key Education Measures

CB: ...most of the key school-related bills — including a statewide preschool program — died when the legislative clock struck 6 p.m. Friday, the hard deadline for joint Senate and House committees to negotiate final wording on legislation before the final votes....

It's unclear (NOT!) why the money committee chairs — Sen. David Ige and Rep. Sylvia Luke — didn’t sign off on the bills. Even Sen. Jill Tokuda, who chairs the Education, was at a loss as to explain what happened at the end....

(Simple: These were almost all bills the HSTA wanted dead.  The HSTA endorsed Ige for Governor and Ige is delivering.)

One of the bills to die was House Bill 2276, which would have set the groundwork for a statewide preschool system. The bill was contingent on whether voters choose to ratify a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow the state to use public money for private preschools.

One preschool bill, however, was given the green light on Wednesday: a plan to develop pre-kindergarten classrooms at some of the state’s public schools....

A group of measures sought to come up with more funding for the state’s charter school facilities.

Hawaii’s 33 charter schools have long struggled to pay for construction, campus upkeep, and even basic furniture because — unlike regular public schools — they can’t dip into capital improvement funds. Instead, the schools have to rely on their operating budgets to cover those costs.

Without money for facilities, some charter schools have had to hold classes in tents or portables. One school even has some of its students using plastic buckets for seats.

The bills would have helped offset some of those costs in various ways.

Senate Bill 2516 would have given the state Charter School Commission money that it could then distribute among select charter schools for facilities projects.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 2517 allowed the charter school commission to request general obligation bonds from the state and then allocate those proceeds to charter schools to help them pay for facilities.

House Bill 2576 created a special fund for charter school facilities and established an income tax credit for people who contribute to it.

House Bill 2257 would have increased the ceiling on the Hawaii Department of Education superintendent’s salary....

House Bill 1796 aimed to crack down on the use of restraint methods on children in public schools and specify when, if at all, those practices are permissible....

House Bill 1675 would have turned the clock back on a controversial policy passed in 2010 that set across-the-board minimum instructional time for all schools.

read ... Hawaii Legislature: Procedural Mixup Dooms Key Education Measures

Lawmakers reject OHA's bid for Kakaako towers

SA: The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs was denied in its bid to develop residential towers on a couple of large parcels in Kakaako Friday evening after House leaders in the Legislature dramatically altered a bill sought by OHA and then rejected that draft citing a lack of support from OHA.

The death of Senate Bill 3122 decided one of the most controversial bills at the Legislature this year, and came after three days of negotiations in a joint House-Senate conference committee that was capped by a long day of suspense.

OHA officials were clearly frustrated by how SB 3122 was treated, while opponents of allowing residential use on OHA land in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard rejoiced in the bill's fate....

Earlier Friday, OHA officials announced that they did not support a proposed amendment from House leaders that would have broaden an area in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard for residential high-rise development.

The proposal made by Rep. Cindy Evans would permit 400-foot residential towers to rise on eight large parcels between Ala Moana Boulevard and Ilalo Street -- four owned by Kamehameha Schools, two owned by OHA and two owned by the state.

A competing proposal offered by Senate leaders supportive of OHA would have allowed residential towers on just two parcels owned by OHA. Previously, SB 3122 aimed to allow residential development on three OHA parcels.

House Speaker Joe Souki issued a statement saying that committee conferees could not agree on a compromise. He cited OHA's lack of support for the latest House proposal. "We look forward to working with OHA during the interim to find solutions to help maximize the value of OHA's Kakaako properties," he said.

read ... Lawmakers reject OHA's bid for Kakaako towers

Galuteria Angered by His Failure to Stick His Constituents With Kakaako Makai Development Scheme 

HNN: OHA blamed the House conferees, saying that they drastically changed the bill at the last minute and then rejected it.

"We were prepared to vote. The Senate was prepared to go with that particular version, but unfortunately the House couldn't produce the votes," said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D-Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako), one of the sponsors of the original bill.

"I think if there's any good stewards for Kakaako lands, it would be OHA. They wouldn't put up anything that they wouldn't be proud of, that we wouldn't be proud of," Galuteria added.

"Clearly there's going to be disappointment and some frustration in the situation, but we'll re-group and we'll be back," said OHA Chief Operating Officer Kawika Burgess.

read ... On the Wrong Side of his District

AJ Musto, Inouye, Shiseki back retired general for UH president

KHON: Wiercinski was commander of the Army in the Pacific until July of 2013, when he retired after 34 years in the Army.

In December of 2012, he was Irene Inouye's official escort at her husband's Punchbowl funeral.  During the service, Wiercinski delivered her the folded flag that had been draped on the late senator's casket.

Sources said she is one of the well-known people who are professional references for Wiercinski in his application to be the next UH president.

Another of his references is U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, a Kauai native and former Army chief of staff.

The executive director of the UH faculty union, JN Musto, wrote a letter of reference for Wiercinski. Musto said he was speaking as an individual, and not representing the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, sources said.

Art Ushijima, president and CEO of Queens Health Systems and Queens Medical Center, also wrote a letter supporting the general, a source said....

Public relations executive Kitty Lagareta chaired the UH Board of Regents a decade ago, when the board chose longtime UH faculty member David McClain as interim president for two years and then president for the next three years.

"There are an awful lot of people who think they know how the university should be run, who should run it and how it should all be handled, and yet the regents have to make a decision based on some pretty formal criteria," said Lagareta, who is chief executive officer of Communications Pacific.     

She said selecting an ex-general as UH president with no university background would be unconventional.

"It's a rather complex system and somebody needs to really understand academic governance and all that entails to do that well," Lagareta said.   "I imagine they're two very, very good candidates, but they are quite different."    

The other finalist is Interim UH President David Lassner, who's worked at the university since 1977, a source said.  Supporters have said he's brought calm leadership to UH since he took the temporary top job Sept. 1. 

read ... No Lassner

Legislative Wrap-Up: The Status of Energy Bills

IM: One of the defining energy bills of the 2014 Hawai`i State Legislature will be the restructuring of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The PUC would be transferred by 2015 from being an attached agency controlled by the Department of Budget and Finance to being a quasi-independent agency attached to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

read ... Legislative Wrap-Up: The Status of Energy Bills

State legislature passes bill to increase minimum wage after Hee Capitulates

SA: State House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Friday to increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by January 2018. The tip credit would expand to 75 cents.

Businesses could deduct the tip credit on workers who earn at least $7 more than the minimum wage, up from 50 cents.

Read ... With Tip Credit

Key committee approves $1.5M for Hawaii exchange

KITV: The funding amount was well below the $4.7 million that officials from the Hawaii Health Connector had recently asked for....  

Tom Matsuda who leads the Hawaii Health Connector says the exchange will survive. He says the Connector has to do some planning over the next few months.

The $1.5 million still has to be approved by the full House and Senate.  It would help the Connector fund its operations for six months starting next January.

Background: Hawaii to be First State to Dump Obamacare Health Exchange?

read ... Key committee approves $1.5M for Hawaii exchange

Voter Registration on Election Day Gets OK from Hawaii Legislators

CB: It still awaits a final vote next week, but House and Senate conferees on House Bill 2590 today gave initial approval to allowing late voter registration, including on election day, beginning in 2018.

HB 2590 also would allow voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016....

The Legislature has appropriated $100,000 to help the Office of Elections facilitate the bill’s requirements.

read ... Voter Registration on Election Day Gets OK from Hawaii Legislators

Attention All Lawyers: State Department of Housing Illegally Harassed Tobacco Smokers for One Year

KHON: It was more than a year ago that the state rolled out a public housing smoking ban for residents, guests and workers.

But we’ve learned the state will no longer enforce the rule.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority implemented the ban in February 2013.

If residents were caught breaking the rule, they could have lost their lease.

The HPHA said it went forward with the smoking ban despite no lawmaker approval.

Now it appears the HPHA may have jumped the gun.

The HPHA realized it needed a law to be passed before it can make such drastic changes, and this month, sent out a notice to its residents retracting its no smoking policy.

But one of the public housing properties in Kalihi, Kamehameha Homes, still has last month’s notice posted on its bulletin board reminding residents about the no smoking policy.

In fact, some residents we spoke with seemed to think the policy was still in effect.

“We’re not supposed to smoke around the housing.  I think we can get evicted if we break the law,” said Easterlyn Kaminanga, Kamehameha Homes resident.

read ... Illegal Harassment of Tobacco Smokers

Pine's illegal-dumping plans earn approval

SA: Four measures designed to address illegal dumping and stockpiling have advanced out of the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee despite questions about the potential for unintended consequences negatively affecting the public.

Introduced by West Oahu Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, Bills 35, 36 and 37 increase maximum penalties and establish new penalties for recurring violations, explicitly bar the stockpiling of harmful substances on agricultural lands and prohibit an owner or developer with a willful violation from obtaining a grading permit after the fact.

The committee chose to make one of the bills even tougher on violators, changing the language so that fines could be doubled in cases of recurring violations taking place within a five-year period — significantly longer than the 12-month period proposed in the original bill.

Pine said Waianae Coast residents have "experienced decades of illegal dumping, especially on ag land that can no longer be used for farming." In an apparent attempt to avoid paying to use the landfill, materials containing chemicals, debris and construction waste have been illegally dumped in the area.

Pine acknowledged the concerns about potential unintended effects but said that "the consequences for our community is that our land has been dumped on and destroyed for far too long, and we've had enough."

City Planning Director George Atta said the administration generally favors the intent of Pine's bill but that the definitions of "contaminants" and "deleterious material" may be overly broad.

read ... Dealing With Dumping

DLNR Boosts Concession Fees to $200/mo

SA: More than 100 canoe and surfboard businesses statewide are now expected to pay at least $200 a month in concession fees under administrative rules approved Friday by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The board adopted the new statewide rules and retained a "blue card" qualification that allows Wai­kiki beachboys to retain control of their concessions.

Waikiki beachboys said they feared the state would do away with blue card qualifications, opening the door to allow anyone

read ... Fees Increasing

Legislative Motion:

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