#AuditTheRail, now more than ever
Why Con-Con Opponents Willfully Ignore Legislative Bypass Issues
General Income Tax Credit: How Legislators Subverted Will of 1978 ConCon
ACLU: Let the Homeless Eat Meth
Legislators Leave Puna in Lurch—No Special Session
HNN: …The county asked the state to convene a special session on the issue, but one lawmaker said they’ll look at it during the regular legislative session in January…
“House legislators are generally supportive of the County’s recovery efforts, but there are still many questions about specific funding requests and legislative proposals. In addition, several natural disasters have affected communities statewide and decisions about funding for recovery can occur during the regular session,” according to House Majority Leader Della Belatti….
Other disasters include flooding from recent tropical storms and wildfires on Maui.
“It is important for the Legislature to assess the statewide impact of natural disasters affecting the State and not to view the volcanic eruption on Hawaii island in isolation of the recovery needs on all islands,” Belatti added.
Hawaii Count estimates that $335 million is needed for priority recovery expenses from the Kilauea eruption alone.
That number includes $22 million for emergency response operational support up to 2020….
Overall, the recovery needs are estimated at $854 million and includes emergency response operational support through 2023, infrastructure projects, recovery planning and implementation studies.
House legislators have encouraged Hawaii County to refine their recovery plans and focus on specific needs as well as continuing to work with the proper federal agencies….
read … No Special Session
Will Ige Call Special Session? -- Bellatti—No State Funds for Punatic Property Buyout
HTH: Mayor Harry Kim continued to hold out hope Friday for a last-minute special session of the state Legislature to approve disaster recovery funding for Puna, even as lawmakers say that window has closed.
Kim said the county needs to have a session called by the end of the month before its aid requests in response to the Kilauea eruption become folded into the next regular session that starts in January.
He said it wasn’t looking likely that lawmakers would call one, so he asked Gov. David Ige to consider calling the session himself late last week. Kim said Ige agreed to consider it as of Friday afternoon, and a spokeswoman for the governor said that option was “on the table,” though no decision was made….
Rep. Della Au Belatti, an Oahu Democrat who is House majority leader, said lawmakers are sympathetic but she couldn’t see how a special session could happen at this point, even if Ige wanted to.
“There’s no plan to go into a special session at this time,” she said. “We have not heard of anything from the governor’s administration. There might be some informal discussion going on but I haven’t seen any concrete proposals or concrete legislation we would take up in a special session.”
Belatti said the House couldn’t agree to one because the county wasn’t specific enough with its proposals. There also were concerns about how to tackle major policy questions such as using state funds to buy inundated property.
Background: HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3
read … Prospects for special legislative session for disaster recovery funds for Puna dwindling
Putting school tax on ballot lets unions sidestep debate
Shapiro: …We spend nearly a quarter of the state general fund on education, raising a vital question of whether the struggles in our public schools are a result of not enough funding or money not spent wisely.
We should have a clear answer to this question before a major tax increase is imposed for the schools, and any new taxes should be part of a broader plan to identify and prioritize all of the needs of public education — not just the interests of teachers.
And higher taxes to support education shouldn’t come at the expense of the counties, which depend on the property tax — the only major tax they control — to fund their operations. Public education here is a state function, and there are more than a dozen existing state taxes the Legislature could use to raise money for education.
A tax measure of such importance shouldn’t be hidden behind vague wording that gives voters little information about what they’re approving and leaves the Legislature with broad discretion to tax nearly any property by any amount it wishes….
read … Putting school tax on ballot lets unions sidestep debate
Strike-related dampening of visitor numbers could cross into 2019
SA: …Some 2,700 Marriott hotel workers in Hawaii spent a sixth day on strike Saturday, seeking higher wages and better benefits while exacerbating challenges to the state’s visitor industry, which already has had to deal with floods, a volcanic eruption and hurricanes.
The state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism’s third-quarter 2018 forecast anticipated visitor arrivals by year’s end would rise above 9.9 million, up more than 6 percent from 2017. DBEDT also forecast visitor spending to grow to $18.4 billion, a more than 9 percent gain from the previous year.
If correct, Hawaii would achieve its seventh consecutive record-setting year in tourism. Tourism officials say that’s still possible given the strength of the first half of 2018. But they said a union strike, especially a protracted one, would only add to a dampening that began in June….
A bigger concern than the strike-related cancellations that are hurting tourism now is the potential for the labor dispute to curb next year’s bookings, said Keith Vieira, principal of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting, who was formerly a top executive at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which once managed the Kyo-ya properties.
“We’ll still probably finish 2018 ahead of 2017 because the beginning of the year was so strong. However, the booking pace in the fourth quarter is considerably behind last year and specials are emerging in the market. That will carry over and automatically soften the first quarter, which is a worry given that the first quarter often sets the pace for the year,” Vieira said.
He said October 2017 was pacing far ahead of where Hawaii tourism is now….
read … Strike-related dampening of visitor numbers could cross into 2019
Mililani: Will Republican Val Okimoto Win Legislative Seat?
SA: …In state House District 36 that covers Mililani Mauka and part of Mililani, a Republican is squaring off against a Democrat to replace a Democrat who won the seat as a Republican.
This race could be the Legislature’s most competitive contest in the Nov. 6 general election.
… Lee was first elected to the Legislature in 1996, taking the place of her husband, Sam, who served five two-year terms and died in 2012.
Some constituents were perturbed when Sam Lee announced his campaign for re-election in 1996 but then backed out one day before the filing deadline for candidates to run against him. Marilyn Lee was ready to step in and then beat a hastily arranged Republican contender.
In the upcoming contest, Lee is facing a more prepared candidate as well as a bigger fundraising challenge after fending off three Democratic contenders in the primary.
According to state Campaign Spending Commission reports, Lee spent $14,153 on the race through Aug. 11 and had $722 remaining at that point.
Okimoto, who was unchallenged in the primary, reported raising $31,860 and having $17,689 on Aug. 11.
Okimoto, 42, says she will bring a fresh outlook, represent a younger generation and offer a Republican option to serve the district.
“I don’t come from a professional political background,” she said. “I consider myself just a normal person in the community who wants to make a difference.”
Okimoto was born on Kauai and earned an accounting degree from Brigham Young University-Hawaii and a teaching certification from Chaminade University.
The married mother of two moved to Mililani in 2003 after college and spent 10 years as a special education teacher at Makalapa Elementary and Highlands Intermediate schools before taking a break to be a full-time mom to two daughters, ages 10 and 5.
Okimoto still serves as a substitute teacher at Mililani schools and also sits on the Mililani Town Association board of directors….
read … Race for Mililani House seat pits veteran against rookie
DoE Anti-Bullying Policy – Not Enough Effort put into Gay Recruitment
SA: …It is not true, as stated in a Star-Advertiser story and editorial, that the state Department of Education “for the first time” is specifying protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in DOE policy (“Hawaii Department of Education discipline policy gets stricter on bullies,” Oct. 6; “A stronger plan to fight bullying,” Our View, Oct. 10).
DOE has for years specified sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected bases under these student misconduct rules (Ch. 19), and also in BOE/DOE policy 305.10 and code of conduct for employees, volunteers and contractors.
The problem has been that the DOE has not taken the steps to put anti-bullying measures into actual action in the schools and throughout the system to
protect (elevate) these and other students….
It is a greater concern that DOE’s approach indicates that it will continue to focus on waiting for complaints and on how to punish students who bully, rather than on the education needed for staff and students alike to
create truly inclusive and safe schools (turn more students gay, because as Charles Darwin so eloquently pointed out, they weren't born that way)….
read … DoE Anti-Bullying Policies
Push for Legislature to Fund Medicaid Dental Plan
SA: … While nearly all states and Washington D.C. cover some dental services for their adult Medicaid populations, Hawaii covers only emergency tooth extractions. It’s been a decade since adults covered by Hawaii Medicaid have had dental coverage, and we think it’s time to make a change.
Beginning January 2019, AlohaCare and ‘Ohana Health Plan are voluntarily offering adults eligible for Medicaid basic dental care benefits such as biannual teeth cleanings, an annual exam, fluoride treatment, bitewing x-rays and one filling or non-emergency extraction….
Like all health care, preventive dental care is the best type of care. Early intervention stops the onset of disease and focuses on whole-person wellness. Studies have proven there are links between gum disease and higher risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women also need good oral health care because oral health diseases has been shown to cause low-birth rates and pre-term births.
This approach aligns well with the priorities of the Hawaii Medicaid program, which seeks to address physical, behavioral and social determinants of health to create healthy communities. As Hawaii Medicaid partner organizations, it is important to us that we to support this critical initiative.
Financially, the stakes are high, and we believe proactive care is the wisest choice because it reduces long-term costs. According to the Hawaii Department of Health’s key health findings report, in 2012, there were more than 3,000 emergency room visits in Hawaii for preventable dental problems that represented more than $8.5 million in hospital charges. We believe making a basic dental benefit available could help to reduce those costs….
read … Access to dental care crucial to health
See Level Rise?—or Not: Priesthood of Eco-Religion has a Plan for Your Land
SA: … For some exceptionally expensive critical facilities such as airports, some sewage treatment facilities and port facilities, costs and engineering may justify building dikes, levees and other protective structures to reduce the impacts of climate change, storm surge and other events.
Counties have begun or are beginning to develop general plans and regional development plans to address climate threats, plus long-term strategies to reduce the risks of threats to life and property.
All four counties participate in the National Flood Insurance Program that permit homeowners to qualify for federally subsidized flood insurance.
Because sea level rise and storm surge will increase the frequency and geographic extent of flooding, updated county flood insurance maps will qualify more landowners and encourage more resilient building standards.
The recently designed post-disaster reconstruction plan developed on Maui provides a useful adaptation plan to address the impacts of climate change as well as hurricanes, storm surge or tsunami.
Identification of some highways, road, bridges, ports and other transportation infrastructure requiring strengthening or relocation has begun or is beginning.
Some drainage canals are inadequate to manage the volume and frequency of intense storms that cause heavy flooding and siltation in coastal areas.
Enlarging drainage canals can be engineered in some areas, but the addition of retention basins to retain some stormwater runoff in upper watersheds, engineering “green” infrastructure to absorb or divert stormwater and more extreme means such as diverting excessive runoff such as the proposed Ala Wai golf course as a temporary means to reduce flooding.
“Safety measures” also include updating building and plumbing codes and other more-stringent design standards in specific vulnerable areas.
Adapting to a changing climate will require changes in how we manage our land…
read … Land and Power