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Monday, May 01, 2017
May 1, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:28 PM :: 1367 Views

Tracking Tax Hike Bills: And Then There Were Two

70 Republicans Running for Oahu Neighborhood Board

HB1469: Allows BLNR to Extend Telescope Lease

ILind: …HB 1469 started out as a way to redevelop the hotels on Banyan Drive – urban lands classified for resort development that do need to be redeveloped.

But somewhere along the way, it morphed into a sweetheart deal for existing tenants on any state land, including UH and TMT.

Under existing law, leases of state lands can’t exceed 65 years. Then they need to go back out for auction. The policy is that any lease longer for 65 years is essentially a sale of land. So to be fair, you put it up for auction to allow new parties to bid.

The conference committee just signed off on a final version of the bill that amends the section of the law that governs all state leases – and eliminates the 65-year limit on any new or existing lease on any state lands. Basically, it’s turning tenants into potential owners of state land.

It also eliminates the Land Board’s rights to access certain information from lessees (making it optional) who sell, assign or sublease state land. Which means an existing tenant can get an extension of a lease, turn around and sell it or sublease it for a profit, and the state can’t necessarily take action.

Then some language that specifically applies to the TMT lease was added:

· Allows the Land Board to extend a lease in perpetuity to any person or entity, including any school, government entity or non profit organization upon approval of a development agreement proposed by the lessee to make substantial improvements or construct new improvements. (pp. 20-21). No auction or separate public process needed.

So the Land Board could extend the UH and/or TMT lease at the same time it approves the construction or agreement to improve the area…..

It is scheduled to be up for final floor votes in House and Senate Tuesday, May 2…..

read … Red flags surround bill on public land redevelopment

Eco-Lawyers Outline Strategy to Keep Obama Tuna Monuments 

CB: On Wednesday, President Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act….

President Trump calls recent national monuments “a massive federal land grab,” and argues that control over some should be given to the states. In our view, this misrepresents the law. National monuments can be designated only on federal lands already owned or controlled by the United States.

(Right, but this argument does not address any proposed change in the terms of the monument’s operation—such as allowing fishing.)

The president’s order also suggests that he may consider trying to rescind or shrink monuments that were previously designated. Based on our analysis of the Antiquities Act and other laws, presidents do not have the authority to undo or downsize existing national monuments. This power rests with Congress, which has reversed national monument designations only 10 times in more than a century.

(Right, but this argument does not address any proposed change in the terms of the monument’s operation—such as allowing fishing.)

Trump’s executive order responds to opposition from some members of Congress and local officials to national monuments created by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It calls for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review certain national monuments created since 1996 and to recommend “Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions,” presumably to shrink or eliminate these monuments. The order applies to monuments larger than 100,000 acres, as well as others to be identified by Secretary Zinke.

When a president creates a national monument, the area is “reserved” for the protection of sites and objects there, and may also be “withdrawn,” or exempted, from laws that would allow for mining, logging or oil and gas development. Frequently, monument designations grandfather in existing uses of the land, (uh…you mean like … uh…fishing?) but prohibit new activities such as mineral leases or mining claims. 

Zinke said that he will examine whether such restrictions have led to “loss of jobs, reduced wages and reduced public access” in communities around national monuments. Following Secretary Zinke’s review, the Trump administration may try either to rescind monument designations or modify them, either by reducing the size of the monument or authorizing more extractive activities within their boundaries. (Bingo!)

Critics of recent national monuments argue that if a president can create a national monument, the next one can undo it. However, the Antiquities Act speaks only of designating monuments. It says nothing about abolishing or shrinking them.  (Translation: Since there is no clear precedent, we will go judge shopping before we sue.  See you in the 9th.)

read … Trump May Try, But Only Congress Can Undo National Monuments

Eco-Lawyers Grab for Control of Lanai Water Supply

SA: For the third time in three decades, the state Land Use Commission has come to a different conclusion on whether the owner of Lanai is using a proper source of water to irrigate its luxury ocean-view golf course.

The decision made Thursday was in favor of Lanai’s owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, and allows him to continue using potable water on the golf course. But the issue probably hasn’t been settled for good.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., representing a Lanai community group opposed to the resort’s source for irrigating its Manele Golf Course, suggested it will appeal the decision, which it called “faulty” and “illogical.”

read … Cash Flow from Water Flow

Hawaii: High Costs Squeeze Local Food Processors

CB: Stroll the aisles at the local supermarket, and you’ll find an assortment of products evoking a Hawaiian heritage: Hawaiian Sweet Maui Onion Rings, Wai Koko Kona Mocha Coconut Water and Kona Brewing Co.’s Longboard Lager, to name a few….

But they weren’t made in the islands.

The onion rings come from a New Jersey food giant that posted $3 billion in sales in 2016. The coconut water is a product of Thailand. And the beer is from Craft Brew Alliance, a publicly held Portland firm that brews and bottles it in Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

It’s a problem that kamaaina food manufacturers have long faced: how to compete with knockoffs while marketing authentic local products in a place where land, energy and labor costs are higher than on the mainland….

Selling mainland beer packaged to look like a craft brew from Hawaii might seem like a cynical marketing ploy, but interviews with several business owners reveal a more complex situation.

“It’s a difficult thing,” said Sandi Shriver, operations manager of Kona Brewing’s brewery in Kona, which does produce the beer sold on tap in Hawaii. Bottling all of the company’s beer in Hawaii and shipping it to the mainland would be a lot more expensive, she said. “We didn’t want to do it just for the sake of saying we brew it all here.”

In truth, beer companies can brew here and ship elsewhere. Maui Brewing Co. of Kihei, brews and cans its beer on Maui and distributes to 22 states and 10 countries, said Marsha Hansen, the firm’s marketing manager. Canning instead of bottling allows the company to ship more efficiently, plus the opaque can keeps out light that can affect the beer’s longevity, she said…..

Bona fide Hawaii producers face another challenge: the cost of doing business in the islands….

Hawaiian brand potato chips and onion rings….is actually owned by Pinnacle Foods of Parsippany, N.J., which also owns brands like Birdseye, Duncan Hines and Vlasic pickles. And although the product has little connection to the islands, it sits on shelves near real local products that sell at a much higher price.

Hawaiian’s snacks were recently selling for $3.49 a bag.  That was less than half the $7.99 price tag on the same size bag of Ono Giant Shrimp Chips produced by Cortney Thai, who employs four workers making chips at her shop in Aiea…..

read … Were These ‘Local’ Products Really Made In Hawaii?

NB Elections 541 Candidates Represent an 11% Drop from 2015

SA: …Candidate profiles and photos are posted online at ‘NB Profiles’.

There are 437 seats up for grabs in all and 541 candidates running for them, city officials said. There are 33 seats without any candidates, while only 52 of the seats are being contested. Seats left vacant will be filled by people selected by the individual boards after July 1.

In the 2015 neighborhood board elections, 611 civic-minded people offered themselves up as candidates, so this year’s list represents an 11 percent drop. There were 27 seats left unfilled after the 2015 election.

The Neighborhood Commission website lists five neighborhood boards with no contested seats, so voters in those areas won’t receive either passcodes or ballots. They are McCully-Moiliili (No. 8), Kalihi Valley (No. 16), Wahiawa-Whitmore Village (No. 26), Kahaluu (No. 29) and Nanakuli-Maili (No. 36)…..

read … Neighborhood Board voting taking place through May 19

SB505: Regulate opioids to curb misuse

SA: …Lawmakers made significant concessions to medical groups and others in removing some of the stricter provisions of Senate Bill 505, a measure that would more closely regulate opioid prescriptions. The bill was sent to a final floor vote after clearing a conference committee Thursday.

SB 505 is a rational response to a growing problem, and deserves support. The bill would require informed consent by a patient before receiving opioids, and limits initial prescriptions to seven days, with some exceptions….

read … Regulate opioids to curb misuse

HMSA Putting Pediatricians on Welfare

SA: HMSA is in the midst of enrolling all primary care physicians (PCPs) in its new Payment Transformation (PT), and pediatricians are the last group required to start participating by the July 1 deadline (or face serious financial consequences). This is despite numerous concerns we have expressed about the negative effects the PT will have on our ability to care for families covered by HMSA in the future.

The basic idea of this system is that instead of paying PCPs “fee for service,” HMSA will pay a flat monthly fee per patient in each PCP’s practice, regardless of any office procedures or treatments provided, or how often the patient needs to see the doctor.

HMSA has proclaimed that the new PT will result in “improved access to care,” although it essentially forces pediatricians to spend less time with each family in the office. HMSA seems to believe that our availability by phone, text or email is more important than having a trusting patient-doctor relationship.

We look at it quite differently. When we accept the challenge of caring for a child, we invest time and effort to build a relationship of trust with each child and family. This can only be achieved with face-to-face interaction, sincere open communication, hands-on contact and ongoing dialogue…..

HMSA furthermore insists that the PT will allow PCPs to “practice medicine the way they believe is best” — yet it increases our administrative demands, taking more time away from us to care for our patients…..

read … HMSA’s misguided payment change sets pediatrics back 50 years

HSTA Minion: 13.6% is Not Enough

SA: A number of Hawaii public schoolteachers who had been reluctantly planning to leave the profession or the state were given a reprieve. The Hawaii State Teachers Association negotiated a new contract that makes it (barely) feasible for them to hang on for a few more years.

A reprieve, not a pardon. This new contract will slow, not stop, the teacher exodus. We still have a recruitment and retention problem.

It’s going to take more than a contract that barely stays ahead of inflation to stop the bleeding and make people want to teach in Hawaii. It’s the best that can currently be funded absent an additional permanent, dedicated funding source for education, but it isn’t good enough. HSTA’s proposed constitutional amendment, recently squashed by House leadership, could establish that funding source. The war for public education rages on.

read … Insatiable

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