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Wednesday, January 1, 2014
January 1, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:27 PM :: 3484 Views

Hanabusa Hits Schatz for Ties to Bloomberg, Schatz camp Hits Hanabusa for Ties to Inouye

Federal Wind PTC Tax Credit Expires

State, County Retirees Health Plan Now Costs $524 to $2173/mo

WHT: Another law establishes base monthly contributions for health benefit plans, including two-party plans, paid by the state and counties for retired employees. The specified amounts include $524.73 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare self plans; $1,051.70 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare two-party plans; $1,531.78 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in supplemental Medicare family plans; $736.60 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare self plans; $1,484.72 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare two-party plans; and $2,173 for each employee-beneficiary enrolled in non-Medicare family plans....

Background: Act 268 Hawaii Unfunded Liabilities Plan: Pot of Gold for Corrupt Union Leaders

read ... New Year, New Laws

HSTA: No, We Do Not Support Abercrombie's Pre-K Initiative

(Wil Okabe corrects out a week of ignorance from Abercrombie and the media.)

SA: We appreciate the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's interest and recent article on the Hawaii State Teachers Association's (HSTA) legislative priorities for 2014 ("HSTA backs pre-kindergarten plan," Dec. 24).

HSTA recognizes that public education in Hawaii needs to change to meet the changing education requirements that students face in this extremely complex world. That's why we believe in optional pre-kindergarten and mandatory kindergarten for all children in Hawaii and do not support the use of public funding for private programs

read ... Children deserve high-quality, public early education

Elections stand to change political contours

SA: An election season that could alter Hawaii's political landscape for a generation, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's push to allow public funding of private preschool programs and the continuing quest by state and county leaders to deal with housing demand and homelessness are issues expected to dominate local headlines in 2014....

John Hart, chairman of Hawaii Pacific University's Communication Department and a political analyst, said the outcome of the two congressional fights likely will shape the state's political power structure for decades to come.

"The two federal elections are once in a generation in Hawaii," Hart said, pointing out that 50th State voters have a tendency to keep incumbents around once they have established themselves in Washington. "These are legacy seats, elected-for-a-lifetime seats, and we have two of them in one year," he said....

The House race offers a wide-open field that features City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, state Sen. Will Espero, state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, state Rep. Mark Takai and human rights activist Kathryn Xian. All are Demo­crats....

Two others are also rumored to be considering the race are former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Demo­crat, and former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a Republican.

Djou won a winner-take-all, nonpartisan special election to replace the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink in 2010, only to lose to Hana­busa for the ensuing two-year term.

Assuming Djou enters the 2014 race and gets by any GOP opposition, he will face in the general election a battle-tested (or is that battle-weary?) Demo­crat who emerges from that primary....

"I think it's going to be a huge issue, with the two biggest impacts being the time frame and cost to help our state move forward," GG Wei­sen­feld, director of the state's Executive Office on Early Learning, said of the amendment....

The nonprofit Good Beginnings Alliance has said it will start a public education campaign in support of the amendment....

AM: A New Year in Hawaii?

read ... Elections stand to change political contours

Vote yes for KIUC rate fairness, Make the Conspiracy Nuts Pay their Own Way

KGI: Fairness demands we vote yes on the KIUC ballot initiative to insist that those few requesting more expensive non-smart meter service pay for it themselves.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved KIUC’s smart meter plan in 2010 saying, “The project is transformative for the island of Kauai.” Smart meters, paid for in part by a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, help us increase renewable generation, pinpoint outages and slightly reduce KIUC’s expenses — savings which end up back in our pockets as annual patronage capital refunds.

Smart meters are demonstrably and provably safe. Tens of thousands of scientists over 100 years have studied radio frequencies, thermal exposure, and photonic energy’s effect on molecular bonds and living tissue. We absolutely know what’s safe and what’s not. Smart meter electromagnetic emissions are way, way below any threshold which can possibly impact health. It is an indisputable fact that cellphones, natural lightning, and KQNG’s FM transmitter generate more electromagnetic emissions than smart meters.

A few on Kauai fear smart meters. They are probably good, caring people. But sometimes something just goes wrong with someone’s ability to think critically and they choose to believe Internet gossip and conspiracy theories, ignoring the real evidence, disregarding careful studies and irrespective of settled truth....

But now the few people who want non-smart-meter service don’t care enough to pay for it themselves. They want it, but only if all of us pay for it for them. They forced this special election to ask, is KIUC doing the right thing to charge just those who opt-out of smart meters the extra costs that are a direct result of their choice?

read ... Make the Conspiracy Nuts pay their own Way

New Law Allows Petitions for Involuntary Mental Health Care 

WHT: Problems of high incarceration and hospitalization rates of those with severe mental illness exist in Hawaii. The state Legislature found “the situation can be mitigated if individuals are assisted in being treated in the community.”

A new state law takes effect today establishing an assisted community treatment program for people with severe mental illness, as well as features amended procedures for program admission and discharge. It strives to treat these individuals in “the least restrictive setting” and reduce the trend toward criminalizing mental illness.

The law requires an entity designated by the state Department of Health to submit an annual report to the Legislature about the hospitalization of people under an order for assisted community treatments. It also prohibits state-operated providers from filing a petition for assisted community treatment until July 1, 2015. However, it allows private providers and any other interested parties to file a petition after today....

In 2013, there were 288 acts produced by the state Legislature and a dozen bills that became law without Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s signature.

Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read ... New Year, New Laws

Home prices and Chinese tourism are slated to increase, and Queen's is headed west

SA: The new year will see many changes in Hawaii business that are impossible to predict, but there are some events and trends that don't require a crystal ball to identify. They include rising home prices, increasing Chinese tourism and the return of a key health center in West Oahu.

read ...  New for 2014

Resolve to be a hero in 2014

SA: Hawaii shows its generosity each year at this time through various holiday demonstrations of aloha. The Star-Advertiser takes full measure of that through its Good Neighbor Fund campaign, which this season raised nearly $85,000 that was distributed, along with donations in kind, by Helping Hands Hawaii.

Everyone who gives in such ways has contributed to a heroic act, making life a little easier for families who need a boost.

But there are others who are particularly good role models of community service, which is why the Star-Advertiser sought nominations for its "Heroes Next Door" series, which concluded Monday. Each hero story described an individual who has made their world a little better, by turning their focus outward.

read ... 2014 Heroes

Hawaii PUC plans meeting to discuss undersea cable between Oahu, Maui

PBN: The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission said that it is looking for input from stakeholders regarding whether an interisland transmission system connecting Oahu and Maui grids may be in the public interest.

Specifically, the PUC is wanting feedback on policy issues and overall objectives with respect to how, where and at what cost an undersea cable may be developed.

The meeting, which is being held at the Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria in Kahului, is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23.

For more information, email Hawaii.PUC@hawaii.gov.

read ... Big Cable...

Get Ready to Pay More

E: MOST American business leaders will be pleased that Republicans and Democrats in Congress were able to agree a compromise budget deal, which President Barack Obama signed last Thursday in Hawaii. The deal makes a disruptive government shutdown less likely and provides certainty about tax and government spending levels going forward. But for business travellers, at least, that certainty comes at a price: the airline security fee assessed on each airline passenger will more than double, from $2.50 per segment to $5.60.

Thanks to the change, which takes effect in July, user fees will cover 43% of the costs of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), up from the previous 30%, and should save the government more than $12 billion over the next decade. The airlines hate the fee increase, which they worry will hurt their business....

read  ... The Economist

High court kicks back Hapa Trail case

KGI: The 5th Circuit ruled on Dec. 7, 2010, that Hapa Trail is state-owned land, and would not offer judgment on Blake’s motion on whether or not to allow Hapa Trail to be breached for a entrance road to the Knudsen project.

The Intermediary Court of Appeals upheld the decision. When the county cleared development, Frankel filed the suit to stop construction.

The state Supreme Court ruling ensures that the courthouse doors remain open in cases to protect historic sites, Blake said, strengthening the case against the destruction of historic sites....

Hapa road is a single lane unpaved road connecting Koloa Town to the beach road in Poipu. It is marked by a stacked boulder wall on both sides.

The county rezoned Knudsen land for the project in 1979, on the condition that significant historic sites would be protected.

The suit alleges that 18 historic sites were bulldozed. Portions of the Hapa Trail rock walls were damaged.

The Knudsen EIS stated that the Hapa Trail was owned by the county, and then the county did not catch that mistake and waived the EIS, Frankel said. The NHLC conducted a title search and discovered that the trail was owned by the state and all parties stipulated to the fact prior to the lower court decision.

Blake’s position was not challenged, however, Knudsen argued that no evidence of injury existed.

“This is an archeological gem,” Blake said. “That is why this is important.”

This trail intersects an intact kaneiolouma makahiki site and nearby irrigation system with evidence of aqueducts dating back 500 years, he added.

This is one step in preserving a system that was destroyed when land was leased for sugarcane operations after 1835, he said.

Blake said he wants to see the irrigation sites operational for historic demonstration and to once again produce agriculture.

Background: Blake v Kauai: Recktenwald Court continues Moon Court's policies

read ... Hapa Trail

Justice delays health law’s birth control mandate

WaPo: The Supreme Court has thrown a hitch into President Barack Obama’s new health care law by blocking a requirement that some religion-affiliated organizations provide health insurance that includes birth control.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor late Tuesday night decided to block implementation of the contraceptive coverage requirement, only hours before the law’s insurance coverage went into effect on New Year’s Day.

Her decision, which came after federal court filings by Catholic-affiliated groups from around the nation in hopes of delaying the requirements, throws a part of the president’s signature law into temporary disarray. At least one federal appeals court agreed with Sotomayor, issuing its own stay against part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

read ... Justice Sotomayor

Family sues over police cellblock death

HNN: The Honolulu Medical Examiner ruled that no foul play was involved and that Lopez committed suicide by choking himself with a white shirt.

According to a report by the city Prosecutor's office, Lopez -- who is over six-feet tall and weighted about two-hundred ten pounds -- was sitting down when he tied the shirt to his cell door to hang himself.

But Breiner said Lopez wasn't even wearing that shirt when he was arrested but was wearing a black tank top. He added that it would have been difficult for Lopez to choke himself from a sitting down position.

Breiner questioned whether the soft cotton shirt couldn't have made the thin, wire-like ligature marks that the Medical Examiner's office found around his neck.

"We have no explanation why the police would claim this is suicide especially with a shirt he neither owned or possessed," the attorney said.

Lopez's cellblock was just a few feet away from where on-duty officers worked but none of them saw how Lopez died, the lawyer said.

And Breiner said that none of the surveillance cameras were working that day.

read ... Family sues over police cellblock death

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