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Sunday, May 01, 2011
May 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:47 PM :: 4271 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

 

Hawaii spending to increase despite down economy

Overall state government spending is expected to increase to $11 billion next fiscal year, a 7 percent increase over this fiscal year's $10.2 billion budget.

General fund spending, the part of the budget over which lawmakers have the most control, would rise to $5.4 billion, an 8.5 percent increase from this fiscal year's $4.9 billion budget.

Legislators said they cut about $600 million from Gov. Neil Abercrombie's requested spending.

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Contractors Fear GE Tax Hikes Will Hurt Business

John Emery has run Waialae Plumbing & Construction for 17 years. He started the plumbing, contracting and electrical business by himself, with just one truck, back in 1994. He now employs dozens, but the bad economy has hurt.

“I just had to lay 8 people off. It was not very easy to do.” Emery said.

Hawaii lawmakers decided Friday night to make small businesses like Wailalae Plumbing and Construction pay a four percent General Excise Tax. They had been exempt.

“Companies such as my own have had to cut back, lay off workers and reduce costs. The state doesn't seem to want to do that,” Emery said….

Faced with rising health insurance, property taxes and soaring fuel costs Emery is already forced to put four trucks in his fleet up for sale. …

Lawmakers believe taxing contractors will help generate up to $200 million ….

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House, Senate Reach Deals on Tax Increases

The Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees sat down at 9:30 p.m. Friday after reaching an accord on three revenue-generating measures.

Senate Bill 570 was amended from the House version to delete the pension tax provision after WAM Chair David Ige made clear throughout the afternoon and evening that the Senate would not give in to the House demands.

Senate Bill 1186 was capped at $93 million in Transient Accommodations Tax for the four counties, a compromise between a lower Senate figure and a higher House proposal.

And House Bill 1039 will transfer some $60 million in increased rental car fees to the general fund — but only for one year. Previous versions would have transferred funds for each of the next two fiscal years.

The bag fee is just one of the bills stuck in purgatory in the minutes following the Senate's 6 p.m. deadline for measures to pass out of committee.

The House and Senate Environmental Committees reached an agreement on Senate Bill 1363 Thursday, but Denny Coffman was never able to secure approval from the House Finance to move the bill forward. Even with Marcus Oshiro in Comittee Room 225 Friday afternoon giving his OK for other measures, the bag bill didn't get a green light.

Senate Bill 367 — which would create a regulatory system for an undersea cable as part of the Big Wind project — is stuck in a similar spot. If the Senate and House leadership can't agree to grant exemptions to continue negotiations, the bills will die.

Lawmakers agreed on conference drafts for the bills allowing them to raid special funds and end GET exemptions for certain businesses:

  • SB 120 would repeal some special and revolving funds: $21.8 million in fiscal 2012
  • SB 754 would suspend GET exemptions for businesses: $175 million a year

Senate Bill 249 — the bill allowing the state to buy an Oahu slaughterhouse to help local agriculture — is dead this session

Lawmakers couldn't come to terms on a pension tax, and effectively killed Senate Bill 570 and House Bill 1092.

House and Senate lawmakers killed Senate Bill 741, which would have raised the state's liquor tax by 20 percent

KITV: Huge Changes To Hawaii's General Excise Tax

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County looks ‘OK’ despite cap on TAT: If tourism picks up, any excess will go into state’s general fund

He noted that the county had tentatively budgeted for about $17.5 million in TAT revenues - comfortably within the $21.2 million cap for Maui County….

"We didn't take away the county's TAT," said West Maui Sen. Roz Baker. "But if tourism picks up, and we get more visitors, any of the excess will go into the (state) general fund."

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Bailey: Why are we struggling so hard with the concept of the importance of instructional time in Hawaii?

I am following the discussion of Act 167 (delay of the instructional hours law) from afar. I am in Austin with family.

The next day comes and my niece goes to school. She starts at 8 a.m. and is finished at 3:30 p.m. She is in school for seven and a half hours. And I think, why are we struggling so hard with the concept of the importance of instructional time in Hawaii?

The CAS says we can't have longer school days because "children need time to be children", the Athletic Director says "extra-curricular activities may be affected", HSTA says "put it off until 2018". Really?

CB: Less School Time In Hawaii, But Only For Some

SA: Job fair unites schools with potential teachers

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DoE: 66% of class of 2014 won’t be taking Algebra II

Schools are urging eighth- and ninth-graders to opt into tougher high school graduation requirements by the end of May.

So far, some 3,813 freshmen and 1,744 eighth-graders statewide have pledged to pursue the more rigorous "Step Up" diploma track.

On Oahu, about one-third of the class of 2014 is pursuing the tougher graduation requirements. About 13 percent of eighth-graders have said they'll pursue it.

The Step Up diploma debuted in 2009 as a way to better prepare students for college or an increasingly competitive work force, and is part of a national effort to beef up graduation standards….

Students who opt for the Step Up diploma must take four math courses, including Algebra II, and three science courses, as well as complete a senior project.

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UH pays teachers more than nearly 40% of other PH&D universities

The average annual salary for professors at the University of Hawaii at Manoa was about $109,700 for 2010-2011. That puts UH just below the 40th percentile, meaning 60 percent of other doctoral institutions' averages were higher.

The average salary for full professors at U.S. doctoral institutions was $173,615, according to the study. The average salary for associate professors at universities that grant doctorates was $114,043. The Manoa campus is the only Hawaii institution listed as a doctoral institution….

Starting in August, faculty can expect increases from 5.9 percent to 16.6 percent, he said.

At Hawaii Pacific University, the average annual professor salary was $92,200, just slightly below the 80th percentile of baccalaureate institutions.

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Casino: Midnight at The Sausage Factory

That's why the supporters of casino gambling in Waikiki need to get to know the folks, before assuming it is time to pick a corsage and rent the limo.

Last Thursday afternoon, Sens. Malama Solomon (D, Hilo-Honokaa) and Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) offered up a casino gambling bill during a House-Senate conference on an entirely different subject.

"The Senate considers this a possible revenue generator," Solomon told the House members.

The bill has been popping up and down with little success all session long….

It is time to stop playing "midnight at the sausage factory" by trying to slip in a last-minute gambling bill. Hawaii should have a full chance to fill the Capitol with people both for and against it, pack the committee hearings and spend a long time getting used to the idea, before actually taking a defining vote on gambling.

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SA: Panel must assure openness to Democrat groups in redrawing voter districts

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission got off to a rocky start in its early weeks. The eight members, evenly divided between Democratic and Republican appointees, were unable even to agree on whom to appoint to its ninth member slot, forcing the state Supreme Court (under Lingle appointed Chief Justice Recktenwald)  to finish constituting the panel on Friday.

That's not exactly a record that inspires confidence that the commission can rise above partisan fights and keep the public interest in the forefront.  (Translation: Democrats actually don’t control this show and boy are they scared.)

No wonder three citizen Democrat groups sounded the alarm when the commission voted to give itself a wide berth on public notification for its meetings.

This week the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, Common Cause Hawaii and Americans for Democratic Action (all Democrats) followed their well-founded partisan concern with a letter protesting the commission's decision to require only three days' public notice for its meetings rather than the six required under the state Sunshine Law.

In addition, the grassroots Democrat organizations also objected to another commission rule of order, in which members of the public would have to make a request to testify 48 hours in advance of a meeting.

(Republican) Dylan Nonaka, the acting commission chairman, said that the panel has an advisory from the state attorney general that, because of its limited time frame, the reapportionment commission is not bound by Sunshine Law rules.

CB: Retired Judge Named Hawaii Redistricting Chair

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Obama not immune from state's twisted bureaucracy

…here in Hawaii, we should also take a moment to reflect on why it took a presidential signature, a round-trip plane ticket for a D.C. attorney, and an executive decision by the newly appointed director of the Department of Health — which had to be backed up by the new state attorney general — for a guy to get his hands on a copy of his own birth record.

Wow laulau, Barry O got the full-on DMV treatment, yeah? It's like one of those "you know you're from Hawaii if …" lists: You know you're from Hawaii if you have to stand in line in a government office to get a number to stand in another line to request the document that can only be requested online but the computer is down so please try again tomorrow but your signature in person is required so you'll be back again next week, only even more frustrated.

This was Hawaii's legendarily tangled bureaucracy playing out for the world to see.

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Failed Solar Water Heaters to be replaced by On-Demand Hot Water heaters at Mayor Wright…

Hawaii's government is spending $5.6 million to restore hot water service to residents of Mayor Wright Homes public housing project who have gone without it for years.

The appropriation is included in the capital improvement project portion of the state budget, which allocates a total of $2.86 billion mostly for infrastructure upgrades over the next two years.

The money will pay for permanent repairs, including the removal of solar water heaters, installation of an instant hot water system, roof replacement, painting and other improvements.

This funding supplements $798,000 being spent by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority for initial fixes to restore hot water service to all apartments by July 5.

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…meanwhile Hawaii Energy to hand out more Solar Water Heater rebates with federal funds

Hawaii's energy office announced Friday additional money from U.S. Recovery Act would be allocated to rebates due to a large demand for the energy-efficient systems.

Hawaii Energy, which administers the program, first announced the rebate in March in order to lift sagging sales of the units.

The company says more than 600 households have purchased the systems and 220 customers are on a waiting list.

The state has authorized more applications for a $1,000 rebate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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It Begins: Snapshots of 1930s Japan add “context” at new Arizona Memorial Visitor Center

The Gramscians told us they would be re-writing the history of WW2 and now they are.

READ: East-West Center hammered for “sustained, biased and politically-motivated attack on World War II veterans”

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Parks Statewide Get Sprucing From Thousands Of Volunteers

More than 6,500 volunteers from the Mormon church took on the herculean effort of beautifying city and state parks as part of an annual day of service.

They had to pull out the heavy equipment to help tackle the mountain of trash inside Waipahu Cultural Gardens. An army of 200 volunteers cleaned up what has become an illegal dump site on the hillside.

Similar scenes could be found at 81 city and state parks across the state on this annual day of service for the church. However, Waipahu Cultural Gardens was the most difficult and dangerous.

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Medical? Behind backs of Doctors, Doper slips cannabis oil into feeding tubes of cancer stricken child

His father, Mike couldn’t stand for it anymore. He began to give Cashy an edible oil made from Cannabis (marijuana) through his intravenous feeding tube…. (and this is an argument FOR ‘medical’ dope.)

SA tries to make it respectable:  Fear of medical pot abuse deserves full public vetting  (Note their use of the word “fear”  the correct word would be “abuse” but that would not assist in keeping Hawaii kids doped up.)

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State Health Officials Declare Latest Dengue Outbreak Over

 

The outbreak of Dengue fever 10 years ago, saw more than 100 confirmed cases. This time there are only five confirmed cases isolated to the Pearl City area. The initial reports, dating back to last month, triggered closer surveillance statewide with some 85 reports of suspected cases sent to the Center For Disease Control, but they did not check out.

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Land titles expert wrote 'Mahele' book

Jon J. Chinen, a retired federal bankruptcy judge regarded as a leading expert on Hawaiian land titles, died April 14 in Honolulu after an illness. He was 91.

He wrote three books on Hawaiian land titles, including "The Great Mahele: Hawaii's Land Division of 1848," which was published in 1958 and is still relied upon by attorneys, real estate brokers, students and government agencies.

Chinen was first appointed as a bankruptcy referee in 1976, according to the federal judiciary. He was the first judge appointed to the newly created Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawaii in 1984 and reappointed in 1986. He retired in 1992, but was recalled as bankruptcy judge, serving from 1993 to 2000.

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Hawaii UPW was trailblazer in Communists’ quest for Government Unions

…I also was inspired by my uncle's unwavering commitment to his principles Party.

Henry grew up in Harlem with my mother and her sisters, and served in the Pacific during World War II. A lifelong progressive (and card-carrying member of the Communist Party, USA), he (was ordered to Hawaii from Chicago to) started a union in Hawaii after the war.

The founder and state director of the United Public Workers, he was dedicated to securing decent salaries and benefits for public employees, from nurses to garbage collectors taking power.

I saw him work quietly, tirelessly and idealistically, regularly traveling to the other islands, always guided by humanitarian values Party discipline.

He led the United Public Workers for 30 years, and when that work was completed, countless lives had been improved organized, an astonishing legacy. Today the UPW building in Honolulu is named the Henry B. Epstein building.

(The other ones look like log cabins and they landed Gary Rodrigues in prison.)

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Republican Lawmakers push back against Democrats’ Birther scam

some of his rhetoric and this focusing on the president’s birth, I do not think is the way for us to win the White House,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R., S.C.), said on Fox News Sunday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, acknowledged Mr. Trump as a voice in the political debate, but questioned his line of attack against the president.

“I don’t know a lot about Donald Trump’s politics,” Mr. Rubio said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I’m more concerned about the issues that are happening back here on planet Earth.”

And on CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said that while Trump is “having a lot of fun,” questions about Mr. Obama’s citizenship or grades in college are unnecessary.

“With unemployment where it is, with the challenges we face, let’s not have a national conversation about that. Let’s have the national conversation about the upcoming debt limit … That’s what we ought to be focusing on,” McCain said.

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Food shortages and a frigid winter intensify pressures in North Korea

In North Korea, a decade of starvation has gotten worse this frigid winter. Shortages of electricity, what one observer called "cascading corruption," and soldiers walking away from their posts has given rise to fresh speculation that the regime of dictator Kim Jong Il may be the target of an uprising like those in the Arab world….

Much information from inside secretive North Korea comes from a Buddhist organization called Good Friends that publicizes the sufferings of North Koreans in an effort to get aid for them.

Good Friends recently quoted an unnamed North Korean official: "This year's food shortage is the worst we have seen in the last couple of years" and more severe than the famine of the 1990s. Despite Kim Jong Il's "military first" policy, in which the armed forces get priority in almost everything, the official said: "There is no food for the military right now."

Equally serious, many homes get electricity, needed for cooking and heating, for only one hour a day. Freezing to death has become commonplace. An exception: The Joong or Central district of Pyongyang where senior government and Communist Party officials live gets electricity 24 hours daily….

Good Friends reported Thursday a rare instance of open dissent, saying graffiti had appeared on the wall of a factory run by disabled veterans: "The revolution is fizzling out as it runs out of food." That set off an investigation in which every worker was interrogated and handwriting compared. The culprit was not found.

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