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Thursday, February 02, 2017
February 2, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:15 PM :: 1664 Views

OHA LLCs—A License to Self-Deal

Support OHA Forensic Audit

Full Text: OHA Chair Sues to Force Crabbe Out

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Bills Scheduled for Hearing

Zuckerberg Steps In It In Hawaii

Hawaii Tops Gallup Well-Being Index for 6th Year Straight

Hawaii: The State of Tobacco Control

One Party Justice: Republican Faces Criminal Charges Because he did not put Name on Two Mailers

Recycling Company Cited for Water Pollution

Future Oahu Community Correctional Center Down to Four Sites

Taxing The Poor: Will Legislators Ever Enact Working Family Tax Credit?

SA: …The federal government, and 26 states, already provide this credit to low-wage earners — but Hawaii, the most expensive state in the union, does not have a similar credit. It’s time to make Hawaii’s tax policy align better with the culture of aloha and being pono, core values that make us who we are. Tax credits are an incentive to work.

As the Hawaii Appleseed Center For Law and Economic Justice points out, the Working Family Tax Credit goes only to people who actually work and earn low wages. That makes it a great incentive to stay employed because with the credit, more of what is earned is kept by the worker. The credit increases for those with children to alleviate poverty among our keiki — and who does not want to help our keiki?

More broadly, the credit is a boon to the local economy because low-income earners typically spend all of their dollars locally to meet basic needs. This is a bill that is as good for businesses as it is for the working poor, and businesses should let our legislators know that they welcome it.

A recent poll shows 81 percent of the Hawaii community supports the Working Family Tax Credit. If enacted this year, 11,000 low-income families will see a state income tax bill of zero, allowing monies that otherwise would go to pay taxes to instead purchase food, rent and gas.

We all agree self-sufficiency is better than merely depending on handouts. We all agree that a willingness to work should be encouraged. Let’s further both by passing, this legislative session, the Working Family Tax Credit. The Renters’ Credit and Food (GET) Credit would also help….

read … Working Family Tax Credit rewards hard work for low pay

GEMS and Batteries: Revenues from Ratepayer Fee to be Given to Silicon Valley Billionaires

SA: State lawmakers are proposing to tap into a failed $150 million renewable energy loan program and use it to offer rebates to residents who invest in batteries connected to solar systems….  (Transition: Tesla Billionaire Elon Musk will get your $18/year electric ratepayer fees.)

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Waikoloa-Waimea-North Hilo) introduced Senate Bill 660, which would set aside funds from the program to pay for rebates and costs to administer the rebate program. Rep. Justin H. Woodson (D, Kahului-Puunene-Old Sand Hills-Maui Lani) proposed the House’s version, House Bill 1593. Woodson’s bill also would reduce the state Public Utilities Commission’s oversight of the loan program.

Hawaii lawmakers created the Green Energy Market Securitization program, or GEMS, in 2013 to make rooftop solar systems more affordable. GEMS raised roughly $150 million through a bond sale and was to have lent that money by the end of November. To date it has lent roughly 2 percent of the funds, while $33 million in interest on the bonds is being repaid by Hawaii ratepayers via a $1.50 “Green Infrastructure Fee” on every monthly electrical bill….

read … Failed energy loan setup may fund solar batteries

Another Tax Hike: State considers targeting online shoppers

HNN: …a bill proposed by State Rep. Isaac Choy could cut into Conner's savings. HB398 requires online retailers to send shoppers a reminder that they will have to pay tax on what they bought. 

At the end of the year, consumers would then receive a statement itemizing all online purchases.

"That would more likely than not be accompanied by a line in future tax returns where we put in an amount of use tax that we owe on the purchases that we made for consumption in Hawaii," said Peter Fritz, attorney.

The state says it appreciates what the bill is trying to do and suggested online retailers who collect the excise tax for Hawaii would not have to send the purchase reports to customers.

The latest estimate shows Hawaii is losing out on more than $122-million a year in uncollected taxes from online sales….

read … Another Tax Hike

Caldwell’s City Hall: Blood, Feces and Broken Windows

HNN: Something's broken at Honolulu Hale. Councilman Trevor Ozawa has been dealing with a shattered window after recent high winds but that's just the beginning of costly repairs for asbestos and water damage. Ozawa says when he entered office in 2015, his window was been cracked. Last year, a bird flew into the cracked window which made it worse.

"Believe it or not that's actually blood from a bird that was injured right out here," said Ozawa.

Then last week's high winds blew out the whole window leaving glass strewn over his office.

"Not only is it embarrassing, but it's distracting when it keeps rattling," he said.

For two years, Ozawa has been asking for answers.

"The Department of Facilities and Maintenance said he can't just replace the window because of the asbestos in the caulking," he said.

Honolulu Hale, an historic center of city government was officially opened on December 17, 1929. It's an architectural beauty, but has asbestos, lead paint and other unsightly leftovers like bird feces tainting the building.

read … Caldwell

5 Reasons To Oppose Physician-Assisted Suicide

CB: Government should not be involved in determining if physician-assisted suicide should be legalized since government has a role in controlling the cost of medical care. At some point government may step in to decide who lives or who dies — largely based on the cost of surgery, chemotherapy, psychiatric care, extended care of Alzheimer’s patients, etc….

read … 5 Reasons To Oppose Physician-Assisted Suicide

Let Psychologists Pass Out Crazy Meds?

HNN: …Oliveira Gray wants lawmakers to let psychologists with additional training prescribe psyche medicines on a very limited basis.

But psychiatrist Jeffrey Akaka said that the suggested training wouldn't be enough to qualify them.

"Why would you want someone who had no chemistry, no biology, never even took the test to get into medical school, make up their own classes and make up their own tests to practice medicine?" said Akaka. "There's a reason it takes eleven years." ….

Psyche Meds: 2 isle companies get green light to grow medical marijuana

read … Psychiatrist shortage hot topic again at legislature

Lynch Mob: Hawaii Supreme Court to hear arguments over 3rd Deedy trial

HNN: …he showed Elderts his badge and was trying to protect himself and others from being assaulted by a belligerent Elderts and his friend.

Deedy went to trial for murder in 2013, but the jury wasn't able to reach a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

At that time, jurors were not given the option to consider finding Deedy guilty of manslaughter or other lesser charges.

Deedy went on trial for murder again a year later, only this time jurors were given the option to consider manslaughter, or that Deedy was under extreme mental or emotional distress when he shot Elderts.

But the second jury was also unable to reach a verdict and were hung on the manslaughter charge. That's when the judge acquitted Deedy of murder, but refused the defense's request to dismiss the case completely and instead ordered Deedy to stand trial one more time, this time, specifically on manslaughter charges.

But now, Deedy's defense team is arguing that a third trial would violate Deedy’s constitutional rights against double jeopardy….

read … Triple Jeopardy

HPD fired, tried to fire 25 officers in 2016

HNN: …A department spokesperson said Wednesday that 10 officers had already been discharged, with actions against 15 others still pending.

32 other officers were disciplined last year, the department says.

The report does not name the individual officers, but based on the descriptions of some of the cases and media coverage of the events in question, some of the officers who were disciplined can be contextually identified.

The incident that resulted in the strongest level of discipline that was included in the report was the shooting of a bartender by former officer Anson Kimura, who has already pleaded guilty to assault for the April 2015 off-duty shooting. 

Kimura was sentenced to 60 days in jail, four years of probation, and 200 hours of community service. Kimura retired shortly after the shooting, but the report says the department fired him last year.

The list also includes former Honolulu police officer Jessie Laconsay, who was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for sexually assaulting a teen relative last year. The report says his case is still in arbitration.

Former officers Roddy Tsunezumi and Landon Rudolfo were also fired after being convicted of multiple federal crimes, including the selling of stolen cars with altered Vehicle Identification Numbers.

PDF: Full Report

read … HPD fired, tried to fire 25 officers in 2016

Police Reform Bills Before Legislature

ILind: Growing public concern about police misconduct has triggered several bills aimed at increasing public disclosure….

Senate Bill 424, introduced by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, chair of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, would require disclosure of an offending officer’s name and additional information if the officer is suspended twice in a five-year period. That’s a step forward, but a small step. A companion measure, House Bill 456, was introduced by Rep. Gregg Takayama, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, along with Rep. Scott Nishimoto, House Judiciary chair, and several others.

Other bills would go farther. Sens. Kalani English and Les Ihara are among the sponsors of Senate Bill 557, which would repeal the provision giving police officers special protection from public disclosure. A similar measure, Senate Bill 1038, was introduced by Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who chairs the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee.

And Senate Bill 263, introduced by Sen. Will Espero, would similarly repeal the special treatment accorded police officers, and also require names of officers involved in incidents of misconduct to be included in annual police department reports to the legislature….

One bill introduced by Keith-Agaran (Senate Bill 331) would would exempt from public disclosure any body-cam videos taken in private homes or health care facilities, and in sensitive situations such as cases of sexual assault. It would also prohibit deleting, destroying or publicly disclosing any body-cam video until “until all criminal matters have been finally adjudicated and all related administrative investigations have concluded,” provided, however, that disclosure would be allowed if “the release furthers a law enforcement purpose.” A companion measure in the House was introduced by Takayama.

Another version introduced by Takayama (House Bill 1380) calls for treating body-cam videos in the same manner as other government records subject to the Uniform Information Practices Act. Generally, the bill provides that police videos would “be deemed to constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy unless the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interests of the subject of the recording.” That same balancing test is central to the UIPA, and Takayama’s bill would rely on those existing procedures to govern as videos become available….

read … Public Interest Measures Surface At Legislature

Sunshine Law Amendments Before Legislature

ILind: …Several other measures also address issues of openness and access.

Keith-Agaran’s Senate Bill 245 would require all government agencies to “exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of all government records under its control that are required by chapter 92F to be available for public inspection.”

The bill is a response to a 2014 decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court, which ruled against a plaintiff seeking damages after a key document regarding his property was missing from the Hawaii County Planning Department when he was provided relevant files to inspect….

Senate Bill 312 amends the state Sunshine Law to require meeting notices, meeting packets, and minutes to be made available in digital as well as paper form, and delivered on request either electronically or by postal mail. Meeting minutes, which currently have to be available within 30 days, would also have to be posted on the agency’s website or another appropriate state or county site at the same time.

A pair of bills would allow elected officials or appointed board members to meet privately “concerning the selection of board officers.” Currently, discussions of internal organization (or reorganization) by county council members are limited to less than a quorum. That limit would be removed by Senate Bill 1209 and House Bill 1383….

A pair bills in Gov. David Ige’s legislative package raise special concerns. The bills, Senate Bill 1022 and House Bill 1156, would authorize a University of Hawaii “Innovation and commercialization initiative.” In the process, they would create giant loopholes in the UIPA, the Sunshine Law, and the state ethics code while trying to encourage the commercialization of “intellectual property” by the University of Hawaii system.

The proposed initiative would authorize the university to appoint advisory committees “as necessary,” all of which would be exempted from the sunshine law.

read … Public Interest Measures Surface At Legislature

Hawaii Environmental Council Wants to Change Human Nature, Reorganize Economy

CB: The council…has all 15 of its governor-appointed seats full for the first time in a decade.  (Big mistake.)

The council is proposing the use of a “genuine progress indicator” to evaluate the state in a way that goes beyond dollars and cents….

read … Environmental Council Wants Hawaii To Redefine Success

Idaho Republican Launches Bid to Split 9th Circuit

CN: The GOP-led effort to split the Ninth Circuit into two circuits appears to be gaining steam, with an Idaho congressman introducing a bill that mirrors efforts that stalled in the Senate in 2016.

Rep. Mike Simpson’s bill would keep California, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Ninth Circuit, and create the new 12th Circuit to include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

Simpson’s bill hews closely to similar ones introduced by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake last year, seeking to move Arizona into a smaller, more efficient court. Both Flake and Simpson maintain the reason they want to divide the Ninth Circuit is because the court’s caseload is so large, judges and their staff are overworked and people and businesses lack ready access to decisions as a result.

“One of the main tenets of our justice system is swift access to the courts, but the Ninth Circuit is so overburdened and overworked that Arizonans simply don’t have that access,” Flake said when he introduced his bill in 2016. “Establishing another circuit would solve that problem, and it would give Arizonans and others in the West what they deserve – swift access to justice.”

read … Idaho Republican Launches Bid to Split 9th Circuit

California Liberals Begin Castrating Prisoners

AP: …California corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said 57-year-old Shiloh Heavenly Quine was admitted to the Central California Women's Facility on Wednesday.

The prison northwest of Fresno holds about 2,900 women.

Quine previously was at a men's prison, although she has been living as a woman since 2009.

The convicted killer, who is serving a life prison sentence, underwent the surgery in December after a court settlement.

Her case led California to become the first state to set standards for transgender inmates to apply to receive the surgery. It also led a federal magistrate to provide transgender female inmates housed in men's facilities with items such as nightgowns, scarves and necklaces….

(New disciplinary ‘tool’ for Wardens.)

read … Prisoner Abuse

Will President Donald J Trump Keep 1,250 Unwanted Muslim ‘Refugees’ Out of Hawaii?

WaPo: …“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” ….

Nov, 2016: Coming to Hawaii?  Obama Admin Deal to Take 1000s of Muslim ‘refugees’ from Pacific Island Detention Centers

read … Next Boston Bombers

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