Hawaii: The Laughing Stock of Obamacare
Audit: Hawaii Medicaid Loses $67M/yr Due to Fraud, Waste, and Abuse
HB744 Forces Gay Agenda on Hawaii Churches
Republican Party Plans Statewide Caucuses, Fundraising Dinners
House Republican Caucus 2014 Legislative Package
Crime Bills Clamp Down on Repeat Offenders
AARP Urges Passage of Caregiver Support Legislation
Chang: Mufi Welcome to Join Republican Party
SA: Chang and other Republicans have been hearing for the past several weeks that former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann might switch political parties and run for governor as a Republican.
Political insiders have also mentioned Hannemann as a potential candidate in the Democratic primary for urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, which is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
Hannemann lost badly in the Democratic primary for governor to Abercrombie in 2010 and in a Democratic primary for Congress to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in 2012. Those losses fuel the perception that the political career of the moderate-to- conservative-leaning Hannemann is over in the Democratic Party.
Hannemann, when asked by the Star-Advertiser whether he was in discussions about running for governor as a Republican, did not rule the option out.
"Many people talk to me every day — Republicans, Independents and Democrats — expressing to me that our government should be doing better, especially at the top," he said in an email Thursday. "I am indeed in discussions with a lot of people, seeking their input and searching my heart on how and where to best serve our community and expect to make a decision at the right time."
Chang said he would welcome Hannemann into the GOP in the spirit of party-building. Most of the political defections over the past several years have been Republicans who have joined the dominant Democratic Party.
"E komo mai," said Chang, a potential candidate for lieutenant governor. "I want as many people to join our party as possible."
January 7, 2014: Hannemann Should Jump to the GOP
Related: Chang: Prominent Democrats Consider Joining GOP
read ... Join the GOP
Chang Happy to Have Democrats Switch Parties
CB: David Chang, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, told Civil Beat today that he welcomes Aiona into the race, and said others may enter. There are rumors, for example, that former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, nominally a Democrat, may enter the Republican primary race (or maybe as an independent).
Meanwhile, Chang says former GOP Congressman Charles Djou will decide soon on his political ambitions, likely a return bid for the 1st District seat he briefly held and that is open again because Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running for the U.S. Senate against Brian Schatz....
Chang, who will attend the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C., next week, said the party is excited that it now has candidates to promote. He said he’d be happy to have Democrats switch parties.
"The more the merrier,” he said. “As long as they share our values, e komo mai.”
read ... Happy to Have Democrats Switch parties
Report: Hawaii has heaviest debt load among states, in some cases
PBN: A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found Hawaii has the heaviest debt load of any state, at least in five of 12 different metrics using data from two and three years ago.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York were also ranked first, in terms of debt load, in two categories each, while Illinois was ranked first in one, according to the report issued in December.
read ... In Some Cases
'Passive Renewal' Enables Hawaii Medicaid Fraud
SA: Medicaid beneficiaries are renewed annually for medical coverage through a process called passive renewal in which residents are only required to return forms if their eligibility status has changed, a policy put in place to ensure continuous coverage for families with children. Recipients are automatically renewed for another year if they don't respond to the annual query.
In 2013 there were roughly 89,000 passive renewal recipients with an estimated cost per beneficiary of more than $2,000 per year. The auditor, applying an error rate of 10.5 percent, estimates $19.6 million in erroneous payments for this group alone.
DHS has tried in the past to change the passive renewal policy that began in 2004, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied its requests, citing federal regulations that prohibit changes that would make eligibility standards more restrictive, the report noted.
2011: DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls
read ... About How Community Clinics Make Money
Regulator sets hearing on proposed Oahu-Maui power cable
SA: The first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Farrington High School Cafeteria in Honolulu. The second is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria in Kahului.
The PUC is investigating whether a transmission cable between the two islands is in the public interest. The Commission is looking at issues such as whether the benefits to utility ratepayers would exceed the cost of the cable, which the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimates would be around $700 million. The PUC also wants to know about potential development risks and how they would be mitigated.
read ... Big Wind, Big Cable
Council Outfoxes Caldwell, Delays Bus Ad Decision Until Budget Hearings
SA: Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said Friday it's likely she and her colleagues will decide whether to take up the issue again in March after the Caldwell administration submits its budget to the Council.
"We're putting it in our toolbox so that after seeing the mayor's budget, we can see how we can raise other revenues," Kobayashi said. "And if not, well, we'll go with the advertising on buses. But it's the last thing we want to do."
(Now Caldwell can't use the bus ad rejection as an excuse for proposing tax hikes.)
Kobayashi told colleagues the bill should be deferred because of lingering legal questions, as well as a desire by some Council members for language to be included in the measure requiring that revenues go directly to bus operations.
Council Chairman Ernie Martin said he would have preferred the bill be shelved permanently. Rather than allow for bus ads to pay for the routes Caldwell is promising, Martin said, "I can find the money for all these services."
He suggested eliminating vacant positions in the managing director's office and Council staff as a starting point.
The deferral was supported by other members of the Budget Committee, although Stanley Chang and Kymberly Pine said they were doing so with reservations because of the need to increase bus service.
Chang and Pine stood with Caldwell at a news conference Thursday supporting changes that would make the bill more palatable to opponents.
Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga said she's hoping state lawmakers will be able provide more funding for operations.
read ... Caldwell's Tax Hike in Search of a Justification
Hawaii lawmakers launch new attempt to raise minimum wage
PBN: House Bill 1488 would raise the state’s current minimum wage of $7.25 by $1 on July 1, Jan. 1, 2015, and Jan. 1, 2016, while keeping the credit for tipped employees such was waiters at 25 cents per hour.
A bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2017 died last year after lawmakers in conference committee failed to agree on an increase for the tip credit.
read ... Learned Nothing from Last Session
Maui News: Use Lottery, Marijuana Tax to Pay for Pre-K
MN: ...a lottery affiliated with one of the big ones - Powerball or Mega Millions - is not a bad idea....
We think perhaps even more specificity should be used in earmarking those funds. They could be used as base funding for the governor's push to establish universal access to pre-K education....
Another possible source of funding is licensing fees and taxes from medical marijuana dispensaries....As House Speaker Joe Souki pointed out, the only problem is that there is no legal way to obtain the drug. State-licensed dispensaries are the answer.
If we are convinced that universal pre-K education is essential, then identifying funding sources is the next step. Lottery proceeds and dispensary fees and taxes may be two good ones.
read ... Drugs and Gambling pay State to take kids from Family
HB420: Constitutional Amendment Needed to Reveal Secret Judicial Nomination Lists
SA: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ask voters whether the state Constitution should be amended to require the Judicial Selection Commission to publicly disclose lists of judicial nominees it sends to the governor or chief justice for consideration and final approval.
The League of Women Voters testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday in support of the bill, saying that requiring the commission to release its list of nominees would promote public discussion regarding judicial nominees and improve the public's confidence in the Judiciary.
"We strongly think the public has an interest in knowing which names were sent to the governor," Janet Mason, vice president of the league, told committee members.
A representative from Attorney General David Louie's office said the attorney general opposes House Bill 420 because a lack of confidentiality in the judicial nomination process could have a negative effect on the applicant pool Abercrombie's ability to name crooks to the bench.
read ... Bill seeks voters' take on naming judicial nominees
Schatz maintains fundraising lead over Hanabusa in race for Senate
SA: With the August primary on the horizon, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
Schatz brought in about $704,600 over the past three months and has raised $3.4 million overall, according to a draft of his latest federal campaign-finance report. Hanabusa raised about $454,700 during the past quarter, according to her campaign, and has brought in $1.6 million overall.
read ... Schatz' 'New White Ruling Class' buys in
Hawaii PUC Commissioners: Who They Talk to, Where They Travel
IM: The public can gain some insight as to how they are educating themselves by seeing the conferences they have attended, the people they have met and the talks they have given.
read ... Transforming PUC Commissioners
Report: ‘Tremendous progress’ made on Honolulu rail project
PBN: The report said that more than 30 of the 422 columns that will eventually be built to support the first 10 miles of the rail system have been built. Grading has been completed on 154,000 cubic yards of the 250,000 cubic yards that will support the buildings on the 43-acre operations and maintenance center near Leeward Community College.
However, overall construction progress stands at 8.4 percent compared to the early plan of 12 percent and the late plan of 9.7 percent. Overall design progress stands at 60.7 percent, versus the early plan of 64.8 and the late plan of 59.5 percent.
So far, the project has cost $812 million, or 18.9 percent of the current project $4.4 billion, which doesn’t include contingencies and finance charges. The total cost of the project is $5.16 billion.
As of December, 26 of the 42 contracts that HART plans to award have been signed.
PDF: HART Monthly Report
read ... Pacific Business News
Time and Resources are Running Out: Supreme Court ruling on Haleakala permit may Delay TMT case
WHT: A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Hawaii regarding the issuance of a conservation district land use permit for the construction of a telescope on Maui may influence the case involving plans to construct one of the world’s largest optical telescopes on Mauna Kea.
According to court documents, the state Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 13 that the Board of Land and Natural Resources should have had a contested case hearing prior to approving a permit for a large telescope that is currently under construction on the summit of Maui’s Haleakala. Native Hawaiian group Kilakila O Haleakala had been fighting against its construction since 2010.
Similar to the Kilakila O Haleakala case, six petitioners opposing the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea are arguing that the state violated due process when issuing the conservation district land use permit. According to an article previously published by Stephens Media Hawaii, BLNR granted approval of the TMT’s conservation district use permit at its meeting in Honolulu on Feb. 25, 2011, while at the same time requiring a contested case hearing be held. The appellants argue the hearing should have been held before the approval....
“TMT has been in planning for over 10 years. Time and resources are running out. TMT is asking that it be allowed to be a part of the case,” Ing told Nakamura.
read ... Telescope
Hooser Panics as Proposal calls for Kauai Council district elections
KGI: Lance Collins, a Maui attorney visiting from Kahului and former Maui County Council candidate, said having a district system makes it easier for non-incumbent candidates to run in smaller districts than to campaign islandwide....
(Panicking), Councilman Gary Hooser (sent his) son, Dylan Hooser, (to say) he would support a proposal that would include a mixture of at-large and multi-member district seats to create some flexibility and offer more options to voters save his butt from the destiny that awaits him in a one-on-one race.
read ... Nobody Wants Hooser
Measures Seek to Bolster Hunting Community
SA: The five bills being introduced would:
» Ban a reduction of public hunting area by requiring the state Land Department to replace hunting land made unavailable.
» Require the Department of Land and Natural Resources to issue hunting permits to children to hunt under adult supervision.
» Authorize the Board of Land and Natural Resources to enter into an agreement with other states for the mutual enforcement of wildlife laws and to enter into the wildlife violators compact and adopt necessary rules.
» Establish a lifetime hunting license for veterans who are at least 60 percent disabled or who are Purple Heart recipients. The cost is tentatively set at $3.
» Designate September as "Outdoor Heritage Month" to celebrate Hawaii's natural environment and recreational activities.
read ... Measures Seek to Bolster Hunting Community
Rep Evans proposes gender-neutral bathrooms at State Capitol
WHT: In what would be a one-year pilot project, Rep. Cindy Evans, a Democrat representing the North Kona and Kohala areas on the Big Island, proposed designating at least three public restrooms at the capitol building as gender neutral, making them available to wahine and kane.
While the idea might make some uncomfortable, to say the least, Evans thinks the practice could cut down on construction costs if expanded.
That is, if it doesn’t get flushed by her colleagues first.
“You don’t have to invest so much in building costs,” she said. “It’s kind of like doing renewable energy.”
read ... To Help Perverts
Hale Kipa, Hawaii Youth Services Network Push Gay Agenda
SA: In 1976 (Kailua United Methodist Church Pastor Samuel) Cox became founding director of Hale Kipa youth services, helping runaway and homeless youth who were often drug-addicted. When Cox retired in 1998, Hale Kipa was helping up to 1,500 kids a year and running 12 shelters.
Cox noted that about 15 percent of the kids were gay and had been kicked out of their homes by their parents because of their sexual orientation. (And what percentage of these homeless so-called gay youth are being exploited by predatory adult homosexual child molesters? A: Nearly 100% How many of these child molesters have been caught? A: Almost none.)
As an ordained United Methodist Church minister, Cox was among the first to perform civil unions in Hawaii. He recalled that the suicide of a young gay man who had been connected to Hale Kipa prompted his strong support for civil rights matters tied to the gay community such as same-sex marriage legislation.
"Ever since one boy — condemned even by his family pastor and teased at school — hanged himself, I've been an advocate for equality (for homosexuals). There's good in every person," Cox said.
With an aim of protecting victims of abuse and sexual exploitation, Cox also founded the Hawaii Youth Services Network. He co-established the Teen Line, Peer Listener and the Gay and Lesbian Youth Support projects. In addition, in 1970 he helped to organize the Kokua Council for Senior Citizens and continues to serve as a board member....
Cox said, "I declared myself an atheist when I was about 14 years old."
read ... Let the predators off the Hook
DLNR Educational Coordinator Busted for Kiddie Porn
HNN: The case against Randy Honebrink is part of an international kiddie porn sting that's netted nearly 350 arrest in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Germany.
Sources said Honebrink was one of the website's alleged customers. Prosecutors said they found two images of young children engaging in sex on his computer.
"On or about June 4, 2013 ... Randy Honebrink knowingly possessed matters that the defendant knew contained visual images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct," federal prosecutors Thomas Brady and Darren Ching wrote in their criminal complaint....
The 58-year-old Honebrink is employed as an educational coordinator by the DLNR where he is often called by the media whenever a shark attack occurs.
The international investigation -- dubbed Operation Spade -- focused on a Canadian man Brian Way who ran a clearinghouse of child pornography through a website called AZOF Films Dot Com.
read ... Kiddie Porn Bust