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Sen Ruderman: HRS 171-93 Allows BLNR to Provide Land to Volcano Victims
SA: …recovery will require a concerted effort — even a special session of the state Legislature is a distinct possibility.
State Sen. Russell Ruderman, whose district encompasses Puna and Pahala in Ka‘u, said there are discussions for a convening in early July. This likely would be oriented around providing resources, and making any changes in law that recovery plans might make necessary.
In particular, he said, there is concern for providing some relief to the farmers and homeowners who have lost everything. And there seems to be at least the statutory basis for disposition of public land for this purpose.
Chapter 171-93 allows the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to dispose of public land by sale, lease or lease with option to purchase, through drawing of lots to persons “dispossessed or displaced as a result of a natural disaster, as determined by proclamation of the governor.”
These losses would seem to qualify, Ruderman said, but the issue is open to discussion.
And there are many more issues to decide, implications that could affect the county government. Would property in a high-risk zone be made available for residential development again, or any use at all?
That, said Puna state Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, is another open question, for another time.
I think that is a discussion that needs to take place,” she said, “but the likelihood is, as a practical matter, people are going to move away, anyway.”…
is 20/20, as the saying goes, but some critics assert that the state should not have enabled housing subdivisions to sprawl here in any case.
Residents whose houses are in mortgage were required by the lenders to get insurance, but the types of coverage are wide-ranging, said state Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito. Homeowners have been instructed to contact their agent to verify whether their coverage includes loss due to lava, to fire caused by lava, or to neither.
Carriers have come and gone in this particular market, he said, but in 1991 the Legislature authorized the creation of the Hawaii Property Insurance Association, which he called an “insurer of last resort.” If the general insurance market ceases writing policies for properties in volcano risk zones, Ito said, the HPIA steps in to offer one.
In 2015 a state amendment allowed the insurance commissioner to issue a declaration directing HPIA to write new policies. Ito said he now has issued that declaration, although the law allows a six-month waiting period to elapse first.
HPIA, according to its website, is “a nonprofit unincorporated association of all licensed insurers that write property and casualty insurance in Hawaii. Each insurer is required to be a member of the HPIA as a condition of their authority to transact business in the state.”
But Keli‘i Akina, president and CEO of the libertarian think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said establishing the association was unwarranted encouragement of development.
He summarized the critique he authored, published last week in The Wall Street Journal, for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, underscoring that he would like to see HPIA wind down after this crisis.
“Grassroot is generally concerned about government interference with markets,” he said in a telephone interview. “People built there only because government made it seem safe….
HPIA could be up for discussion if a special session is called….
read … Kilauea eruption: Is recovery possible?
After Decades of Hysteria--Lava Covers Geothermal Well-AND NOTHING HAPPENS!
KHON: At 6:00 p.m., Hawaii County Civil Defense confirmed that lava was covering one of Puna Geothermal Ventures (map) wells that was successfully plugged.
That well, along with a second well 100 feet away, are stable and secured, and are being monitored.
Neither well is expected to release any hydrogen sulfide….County, State and Federal agencies continue to monitor hydrogen sulfide levels and no hydrogen sulfide has been detected….
HTH: Concern has previously been expressed about the potential release of hydrogen sulfide from lava reaching PGV’s production wells. The power plant has been taken offline, but KS-14 is still considered active. Travis said it would be “difficult … to imagine” a hydrogen sulfide leak “as a result of the intrusion of the lava.” “That doesn’t mean that there may not be a case that I haven’t anticipated. (But) I can give you no example of how that might happen right now,” he said.
HNN: Neither well is expected to release any hydrogen sulfide.
(Thus proving decades of Punatic anti-geothermal hysteria wrong. They won’t notice and nobody but Hawai’i Free Press will call attention to it.)
read … Hysteria Debunked
Hanabusa: Political Insiders are My Strength
CB: … Hanabusa said the main differences between her and Ige are her leadership abilities and record….
She said she essentially has the support of the Hawaii Legislature, suggesting without directly saying that the governor does not.
In March, the top leaders of the state House and Senate held a joint fundraiser for Hanabusa in the middle of the 2018 session. Ige said the fundraiser illustrated his opponent’s desire to “return to the old days of doing things and the attendant backroom dealings.”…
Party delegates chose a new party chair, denying Tim Vandeveer a second two-year term.
The new chair is Keali’i Lopez, director of government relations for the law firm of Alston, Hunt, Floyd and Ing who formerly ran the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and Olelo Community Media.
Gloria Borland, a longtime party activist, finished third….
After the vote, Lopez, a Native Hawaiian, told the convention she hoped delegates would work to advance the causes of the state’s indigenous people….
A subtext to the fight for chair was whether the party would move in the direction of more progressive Democrats (read: Bernie Sanders) like Vandeveer, or more establishment Democrats (read: backed by labor and lobbyists) like Lopez….
The election came after the party certified that the official roll of credentialed delegates, alternates, guests and observers as of Sunday midday totaled more than 600 people. That was many more than Saturday’s count and was at the core of a dispute over exactly how many people were on hand to deal with party business — especially the vote for chair….
One of the most well-received speeches came from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard….she reminded Democrats that Akaka never descended to “talk stink” about others, regardless of their party….
Gabbard’s primary opponent, Sherry Alu Campagna, was one of the few candidates to criticize an opponent directly from the podium at the convention.
A total of 147 Democrats have pulled papers to run for office, compared with 54 Republicans and a handful of Greens and Libertarians…..
read … Hawaii’s Future Is At Stake, Hanabusa Tells State Democratic Convention
Isle Democrats elect lobbyist as new chairwoman
SA: …Hawaii’s Democrats elected lobbyist Kealii Lopez as their new chairwoman for the next two years Sunday, dealing a blow to the more liberal or “progressive” wing of the party.
The election of Lopez was in part a reflection of continuing party tensions that date back to the 2016 split between supporters of Hillary Clinton and the more liberal backers of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Lopez, 57, served as director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs under former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. She defeated current party Chairman Tim Vandeveer, a Sanders supporter….
This year’s convention in Waikoloa was well attended by the more liberal wing of the party, which is particularly well represented in the ranks of Hawaii island delegates, but Lopez defeated Vandeveer by a vote of 529-472. A third candidate, Gloria Borland, received 38 votes.
The convention at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort was actually attended by only 605 delegates, but the vote count was weighted to give more votes to off-island delegates to compensate for party members who were unable to manage the interisland travel trip to attend….
“I will be very upfront with you. The Hawaiian community and the Hawaiian agenda, I hope, is going to be very important to this family,” she said referring to the state Democratic Party.
Vandeveer supporters, including Democratic National Committeeman Bart Dame and former state Sen. Gary Hooser, said they were satisfied the election process was fair, but some delegates expressed concern privately that the party had just elected a “corporate lobbyist” as its chairwoman.
Lopez is director of government affairs for the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd &Ing, and was registered to lobby this year for clients that include the American Resort Development Association, Expedia Inc., the Hawaii Association of Mortgage Bankers and the Western Plant Health Association, which represents biotechnology and fertilizer companies….
read … Political Insider
State economists forecast speedy growth
SA: …Tian said DBEDT’s bullishness stems from the state’s most visitor arrivals ever for a quarter, with 2.4 million visitors coming by air in the January-March period; the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at an all-time Hawaii low of 2 percent; the state’s general excise tax receipts increasing 15.3 percent, the highest growth since the third quarter of 2002; and an 8.2 percent increase in air seats for 2018, which doesn’t even include possible flights from Southwest Airlines should the carrier begin service later this year.
With tourism on pace for its seventh straight year of record visitor arrivals and spending, DBEDT revised upward its visitor arrivals forecast to 6 percent from 2.7 percent in its previous forecast, and boosted its projection for visitor spending to 8.6 percent from 4.5 percent. Both revisions largely were due to additional air seats coming into the market.
Tian said he doesn’t expect the April flooding damage on Kauai and the ongoing volcanic eruptions on Hawaii island to hurt tourism….
NYT: Hawaii Eruptions Have Disrupted Tourism, but Fears May Be Exaggerated
read … State economists forecast speedy growth
Constitutional Amendment won’t lock in school funds
SA: …A recent editorial addressed the proposed constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to tax real property, a right currently unique to the counties (“Let public decide on tax for schools,” Star-Advertiser, Our View, April 6). It’s being sold as a source of funding for the state Department of Education.
That’s a nice sales pitch, truly deceitful. That tactic is known as the “bait and switch.”
You see, nothing in this proposed amendment you’ll be asked to vote on in the November election guarantees one additional dollar to the education of our keiki. The power of the purse will not be given up by the Legislature.
The same tactic was used in selling the transient accommodations tax, now over 10 percent of the revenue of our core industry.
Much of the revenue from the TAT, sold as increased income to the counties, was eventually diverted to the state’s general fund.
Additional taxation on “investment” properties means higher rents on rental properties.
Everyone can agree that our schools and teachers need more funding. This proposed amendment does not put any more money into our schools. It will make housing less affordable….
read … Amendment won’t lock in school funds
Star-Adv: With Wind and Geothermal Coming to an End, Give All Your Money to Elon Musk for batteries
SA: …Wind exemplifies the challenge. It’s a technology that has an appealing yield, capturing non-polluting energy from the prevailing winds, a resource that persists in optimal locations such as Kahuku. That’s where Na Pua Makani will develop the farm on 707 acres.
But opponents cite the noise and aesthetic detraction of the massive windmills among its demerits.
In this case, it was the protection of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat and other wildlife that led the company to produce a habitat conservation plan.
That document was approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources following a contested-case process a year ago. It outlines how Na Pua Makani would follow the lead of an adjacent windfarm. It aims to reduce bat deaths by adjusting the blades of its eight turbines when they’re spinning at slower speeds.
That was a needed adjustment. And while this company may have threaded the needle with sufficient care to get through the environmental reviews, there is still need for oversight by the state.
Officials must see that Na Pua Makani fulfills its pledge to provide a community benefit fund of $10,000 per turbine per year, for the life of the project, or $2 million over its anticipated 25-year term.
And the state Public Utilities Commission must ride herd on this utility and others to see that some of the technology’s cost savings are passed on to ratepayers. Na Pua Makani is touted as capable to deliver electricity at about half the cost of oil-fired generators, and as being the lowest-cost wind project in the state. The public deserves at least a cut of that….
Now that advantage is threatened. The eruption of Kilauea is a slow-moving disaster, one that has forced Puna Geothermal Venture to quench its wells, even as lava has entered its property.
The ongoing risk has hung a question mark over future prospects for geothermal energy. At the very least, it will propel the stakeholders to re-evaluate how to insulate the plant against such hazards.
The public and private sectors must work toward further gains in the use of solar energy, which has been the predominant success in Hawaii thus far. Innovations that could advance solar battery storage are encouraging developments and may enable consumers to reap the benefits without too much of a dent in household budgets….
read … Elon Musk Needs More Money—That’s Why He’s a Billionaire
Dire need for truly affordable housing must be met with action, not just political promises
Borreca: …If there are secret orders for Hawaii’s governors, they must include the admonishment that every four years you shall call for a $100 million housing program.
As long as 48 years ago, now-retired Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Helen Altonn wrote in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that when the administration of Gov. John A. Burns faced a tough campaign against his lieutenant governor, Tom Gill, he came out with his own $100 million project….
Ige says he’s “on track to build 10,000 units by 2020.”
Of the 5,300 units that Ige said have been built since taking office, 40 percent are affordable.
What is not said is that the definition for affordable would be a stretch for many. For instance, included in the list is Kaneohe Elderly Apartments, which rents a 588-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath unit for $1,895. Another rental, Keahou Lane in Kakaako, starts out with studios ranging from 298 to 368 square feet for between $1,319 to $1,550 a month.
Also included in Ige’s tally of new housing construction are 1,914 “market-priced” units in Kakaako. Those aren’t market-priced — they are sky-high priced and even if you have a million dollars in your checking account, you probably can’t afford to be looking at them….
Last week the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest housing numbers. Since 2010 we have 4.5 percent more housing units. But as we all know, that is not enough….
read … Dire need for truly affordable housing must be met with action, not just political promises
State Drug Court helps rebuild lives
SA: …Since establishment of the state’s first Drug Court in 1996, more than 2,000 people throughout Hawaii have graduated from the intensive court-based treatment program. Equally important, but far more difficult to count, are the lives of the children, spouses, siblings and grandparents, who have been helped after suffering through significant emotional turmoil while trying to deal with the problems of substance disorder in their family. Add to that our community members who have been spared the trauma and difficulties that come to victims of crimes committed by substance-addicted individuals.
In addition to rehabilitating individuals and reuniting families, Hawaii’s drug courts have helped reduce overcrowding in our prisons and eased the social costs that often follow incarceration, including a reduced quality of life for the children and extended family members of addicts, lost earnings while the offender is incarcerated, lost future earnings of the releasee, lost taxes to the state on those lost earnings, up-front criminal justice system costs, as well as other costs such as parole and foster care for children of prisoners….
read … State Drug Court helps rebuild lives
Lumpy Poi expected after floods smother Hawaii staple crop
AP: Farmers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai say their state should brace for a shortage of its taro crop, a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet, after record-breaking rains flooded their fields….
The state’s taro crop was valued at $2.5 million last year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Farmers say last month’s floods smothered their taro patches with mud and silt, which turns their crop watery and spongey. They suspect they’ll suffer from dramatically reduced yields for at least a year.
The downpour also destroyed seven Kauai homes and badly damaged 65, the state said in a preliminary assessment. It triggered dozens of landslides, including more than 12 on a 2-mile (3-kilometer) stretch of the area’s main artery, a highway traveling through coastal communities.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has designated the entire island a disaster area, which makes local farmers eligible for federal assistance, including emergency loans….
The muck is packed with nitrogen, so it’s as though a big kick of fertilizer walloped taro patches. It’s nourishing for the taro’s stalk and leaves but makes its corm, or underground bulb, watery and spongey. The Hawaiian term for this is “loliloli.”
The perfect taro is heavy and dense and mashes into smooth poi. Loliloli taro produces lumpy poi….
read … Shortage expected after floods smother Hawaii staple crop
Hawaii’s private firearms likely number well over 1 million
SA: …The report, “Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2017,” says that conservative estimates in the late 1990s (before annual registration reports were compiled) put the number of privately owned firearms in Hawaii at “at least one million” and that another 561,257 firearms were registered from 2000 to 2017. That would bring the total to roughly 1.56 million guns. However, that number does not account for guns that have left the state, moving with their owners, for example. There’s no way to track that and therefore no way to know the precise number of privately owned firearms in Hawaii, according to the report, which you can download at ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/rs….
read … Hawaii’s private firearms likely number well over 1 million
Gay Activists Saddened by Lost Opportunity to Exploit Injured Amtrak Passenger
AP: …Amtrak said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened by the significant injuries to one of our customers" and that the Amtrak Police Department's investigation included reaching out to more than 300 customers, crew and friends.
"The individuals who noted interactions with Mr. Salazar shared that he had expressed to them a number of life concerns and challenges. We are unable to comment on Mr. Salazar's medical condition, but note that a fall from a moving train would cause significant injury," the statement said. "There is no evidence of a physical altercation occurring while Mr. Salazar was travelling on Amtrak."…
Remember This? Gay Advocate: ‘Martyr’ Matt Shepard Killed by Homosexuals not Homophobes
read … Gay Activists Saddened by Lost Opportunity