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Friday, January 24, 2014
January 24, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:14 PM :: 4141 Views

Hawaii's Weak Congressional Delegation Unable to Protect Tsunami Center

Minority leaders dispute governor’s claims that Hawaii is on solid financial ground

Michael Medved to Discuss 3 Point Plan for Conservative Victory at GOP HQ

Hawaii Supreme Court Eases Path to Challenge Subdivision Approvals

Senator Introduces Anti-Child Pornography Bill “Alicia’s Law”

Video: Homosexual Child Molester's Alleged Victims Describe Grooming Process at Maui Pineapple Camp

Tobacco Control? Hawaii Scores 'A' for Taxes and Regulation, 'D' for Prevention

Marijuana export could pay off Hawaii’s debts, lawmaker says

Hawaii Pedestrian Plan Wins National Recognition

Legislators Launch Aerospace Caucus

Legislative Agenda: January 24, 2014

Body of soldier killed in Afghanistan returns to Hawaii

KHON: Sgt. Drew Scobie’s body arrived to Oahu on Thursday.

The National Air Guardsman was killed earlier this month when the surveillance aircraft he was in went down in eastern Afghanistan.

Scobie worked at Straub Hospital and Clinic.

He is survived by his wife, son, and child on the way.

read ... KIA Afghanistan

HB2506: Change in Right to Farm Act will reverse Big Island GMO ban

BIVN: State legislators have introduced a bill that – if passed – will overrule Hawaii County’s ban on new GMO crops.

House Bill 2506 would amend Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act “to ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices.”

The change to the Act reads:

The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this State. No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations. HB2506, Jan. 23, 2014

36 representatives have attached their name to the bill, including Hawaii Island representatives Richard Onishi, Clift Tsuji, Cindy Evans, and Faye Hanohano.

Senate Version: Senate Bill 3058

PR: Food politics

SA: Bill clamps down on county ag laws

read ... Luddite Smack Down

Pension Tax: Abercrombie Still Running from Angry Seniors

Borreca: Gov. Neil Abercrombie's first State of the State speech in 2011 was his boldest and he is still digging himself out from the resulting fallout.

This year Abercrombie's address served as a launching point for his reelection campaign because shortly after giving his fourth State of the State speech, his campaign commercials went up on statewide television.

The speech did two things: first, claim credit for managing a deficit, and second, allow him to back away from his wildly unpopular pension-taxing proposal.

In 2011, Abercrombie said Hawaii should "treat pension income like all other income for tax purposes."

In 2014, he said "I will be asking the Legislature to look at the way we tax seniors in order to provide more equity and fairness for those on fixed and middle incomes to see that more of their money remains in their pocketbooks."

Back when he proposed a state tax on pensions, Abercrombie argued that most states taxed pensions and so did the federal government — therefore it was unfair that seniors here escaped paying tax on that income.

The resulting howls of protest from senior citizens continue to echo in Abercrombie's campaign.

Related: Ward: No Pension Tax

read ... It has been a rocky road.

Deal to sell city's 12 rental housing complexes terminated

SA: William Rice, an official with the managing partner of Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC, said in a letter to city Budget Director Nelson Koyanagi that the group would not be able to come up with $35 million demanded by the city by March 31, the deadline for closing specified in an August 2012 sale agreement.

In anticipation that a deal could not be reached, the Caldwell administration got Council Chairman Ernie Martin to introduce Bill 6, giving the administration permission to restart the formal "request for proposals" process on the 12 complexes. The measure is expected to be up for the first of three required full Council approvals next Wednesday.

The cancellation of the deal is causing a $20 million shortfall in the city's current year $2 billion operating budget....

Koyanagi said the city will only cut services as a last resort to fix the shortfall, and will instead look at holding off scheduled payments to "provisional" or rainy day accounts first....

CB: Collapse! Honolulu’s $142M Housing Deal Falls Apart

read ... Rental Housing

Mizuno's HB1889 Would Make Homeless Sacred Cows

SA: State Rep. John Mizuno has introduced a bill to create a "Homeless Person's Bill of Rights." (Translation: They have a superior claim on all public and private property.  We will never be able to force them into shelters.)

"I knew going in this would be a little controversial," said Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley). "With that said, though, I think it's a worthy endeavor. It's something we have to address."

Mizuno's bill would establish the rights of homeless individuals to move freely in public places without being harassed or intimidated by law enforcement officials; to have equal opportunities for employment; to receive emergency medical care; and to vote, among other rights dealing with privacy and equal treatment....

The bill is likely to stir up controversy because parts of it would directly conflict with various city laws aimed at dealing with sidewalk nuisances, homeless encampments and other homeless-related issues, Mizuno said....

Mizuno said he agreed to introduce House Bill 1889 at the request of a number of advocates because he felt it has merit....

CB: SB2395 Calls for Prison Without Parole for Killing Homeless People

SA: Homeless dude dies at bus stop because liberals refuse to force him into shelter

read ... Homelessness Industry Sacred Cows Walking Around

Department of Health Releases Records Detailing Alleged Sex Assaults at the Hawaii State Hospital

HR: After an open records request by Hawaii Reporter, the state Department of Health has released its history of alleged sex assaults over the last five years at the Hawaii State Hospital for the criminally insane.

There have been 11 alleged sexual assaults at the Kaneohe facility since 2008, including 5 alleged patient-to-patient sex assaults, 5 alleged staff-to-patient sex assaults and one classified as an “unknown allegation.”

Just one of the alleged staff-to-patient assaults resulted in an attorney general and Honolulu police investigation while others were dismissed for being “unsubstantiated” by the Patient Protection Committee or because the alleged victim withdrew the complaint.

read ... Sex Assaults

HB2529 would make Failed Hawaii Health Connector a state entity

PBN: House Bill 2529 would specifically transition the Hawaii Health Connector into a state entity and reassess who serves on its board, while also creating two advisory groups: one on consumer, patient, business, and health care and a second on intergovernmental agency. Those advisory boards would provide recommendations to the board. Specifics of restructuring the Hawaii Health Connector have yet to be discussed, as it would require a lot of input from the state Senate, industry stakeholders and community, Belatti, D-Makiki-Manoa, noted....

The other bills being introduced by House lawmakers relating to health care include:

  • H.B. 2527 that would establish a sustainability fee for the Hawaii Health Connector that would go to a subaccount of the Compliance Resolution Fund;
  • H.B. 2525 would require individual health insurance plans and small group plans to create rates based on community rating without considering age, sex, health status, tobacco use or occupation;
  • H.B. 2530 would reduce the number of positions on the Hawaii Health Connector’s board to 12, with a maximum of nine voting members;
  • H.B. 2531 would require more transparency from the Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange by requiring compliance with open meeting and notices as well as an annual report for the Legislature.

Background: Hawaii: The Laughing Stock of Obamacare

read ... Broken Obamacare

Star-Adv: Thanks to Obamacare, Medicaid Fraud Set to Rise in Hawaii

SA: As pointed out in the audit — and confirmed by officials with the state Department of Human Services, which administers the program — there are some constraints on how much control the state has over costs and losses through fraud or error, even though Medicaid includes both federal and state funding sources.

The problem is compounded with the new enrollments under the Affordable Care Act. For example, the ACA now requires that, without actively re-enrolling, Medicaid beneficiaries be kept on. Unless they are found to have lost eligibility, their benefits will continue.

That's because the health care reform law is intended to get more people insured, not to allow families to fall out of coverage because of a bureaucratic hurdle. But that puts the onus on the state to ride herd on who still qualifies for the benefit, and currently DHS has insufficient staffing assigned to that.

Further, the ACA no longer requires an asset check. Again, it was all about expedience rather than vigilance. The federal authorities have ready access to data to check earnings, but not on bank accounts or other liquid assets. At least in theory, someone who has a lot of cash but lost a job could be deemed eligible.

Background: Audit: Hawaii Medicaid Loses $67M/yr Due to Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

read ... Heed findings of Medicaid audit

Bill Introduced to Abolish HCDA

CB: Below is the list of the HCDA-related bills that Saiki introduced and their official descriptions. Click on the bill numbers to see their statuses and submit testimony.

  • HB 1860 Amends HCDA public notice requirements and requirements for project approval. Creates an administrative appeal process with available judicial review for HCDA decisions or actions.
  • HB 1861 Amends procedures of the HCDA to require additional public notice and public input for development projects and rule changes. Establishes additional requirements for development projects before HCDA approval can be granted. Creates appeal process for HCDA actions and decisions.
  • HB 1862 Requires the Hawaii Community Development Authority to implement affordable-housing policies that are in greater conformity with those of the City and County of Honolulu. Effective July 1, 2014.
  • HB 1863 Eliminates the operating budget for the HCDA for FY 2014-2015. Requires a minimum horizontal separation of 300 feet between each building in the Kakaako community development district that is more than 100 feet in height. Establishes a maximum floor area ratio of 1.5 for any building in the Kakaako community development district. Authorizes citizen suits against the HCDA for violations of its required duties. Requires rules established by the HCDA to comply with all laws, ordinances, and rules.
  • HB 1864 Repeals the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
  • HB 1865 Imposes a one-year moratorium on the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s approval of any plans or proposals for development in the Kakaako Community Development District. Effective on July 1, 2014, and repealed on June 30, 2015.
  • HB 1866 Amends the manner in which members are appointed to the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Enhances legislative oversight of the Authority.
  • HB 1867 Amends Hawaii Community Development Authority statute to establish building restrictions and prohibitions.

read ... Abolish the HCDA

Oahu electrical bills spike in January as Lower-Cost Production Goes Off Line

SA: Residential electrical rates on Oahu rose in January to their highest level in nearly a year as a result of Hawaiian Electric Co. taking some of its more efficient generating stations out of service for maintenance.

The bill for a typical household using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month is $211.22 in January, $5.02 more than in December, according to HECO. The January rate is 33.7 cents a kilowatt-hour, the highest since 34.9 cents a kilowatt-hour in March 2013.

Although the price of fuel used for generation fell in January, the decline was more than offset by higher costs associated with removing the more efficient generators from service, said Peter Rosegg, company spokesman.

read ... Inefficient

Lanai Windfarm Back in Big Cable Plan?

CB: ...imagine my surprise to see Big Wind/Lanai a centerpiece of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)-sponsored "briefing" at the Capitol on January 9.

The briefing was called so a “Team” from General Electric (GE) could explain the results of a “Hawaii RPS Roadmap Study,” an assessment of the utilities’ (HECO, MECO, HELCO and KIUC) progress in achieving the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

Yes, Elected Officials, yet again another study - for which Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) will pay GE $850,000 - to see if the utilities can meet the RPS with lots of new wind, solar, and quite the focus on a one-way cable from Lanai. They tried to hide it, of course, mapping out a 200 MW cable between Oahu and Lanai while insisting there was “no specific project evaluated.”

Please, GE, for real? Lanai wind and the one-way cable showed up over 20 times in your handouts (at least it did in the version GE/HNEI passed out January 9; “revisions” have been made since then.)

Other “stakeholders” in the audience were HECO staffers, PUC staffers (and ex-PUC staffers who are now HECO staffers), the Consumer Advocate, DBEDT, and folks from the HNEI, which is part of the University of Hawaii, all talking to themselves about an electricity future that is, well — highly unlikely....

read ... Dear Elected Officials (of the 2014 Legislature)

Supreme Court: Workers Comp Must Cover VOG Exposure

SA: An employee can collect workers' compensation for exposure to vog that aggravates an asthma condition, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The Department of Education and the Labor Industrial Relations Appeals Board both denied a claim by Lynedon Van Ness. (This is why Hawaii scores dead last in business environment.)

KITV: Hawaii Supreme Court rules vog can trigger workers’ comp

read ... Companies Must pay for Natural Phenomenon

Feds Refuse to Reimburse City for $1M in Obama Vacation Costs

KHON: From the time President Barack Obama and the First Family arrive in Honolulu, Honolulu police officers are needed to provide back up for the Secret Service and a motorcade to get them wherever they need to go.In just over two weeks visiting Oahu, HPD says the overtime cost for the trip totaled more than $293,000. The city doesn’t get that money back from the federal government.

“To not get reimbursed is very difficult for us. We’re having a tough time financially,” Honolulu City Councilmember and Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said.

Councilmember Kobayashi says the city has asked the federal government for money back for the president’s other visits and was turned down.

HPD says overtime costs for those ran anywhere from $200,000 to $250,000 each year. After five visits since taking office, the president has cost the city more than $1 million.

read ... $1,000,000

Thanks to Reagan, Hawaii is Larger than Texas

BIN: But all of that turf (6,470 miles to be exact) is of course surrounded by surf. Which leads us to a little-known, but incredibly powerful benefit the US government enjoys thanks to our status as state number 5-0:

Hawaii’s epic-in-size “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ).

In 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan signed proclamation 5030, which (at little cost to the US government) granted the USA full control over all living and non-living resources within 200 miles of US coastlines.

This means that in total, Hawai`i currently enjoys control over nearly 1 million square miles of Pacific Ocean resources. By comparison, the state of Texas has a total land area of around 269,000 square miles....

In the early 1960s, Hawaii’s State Land Use Commission effectively carved up all lands in the state into four distinct classifications.  They now comprise (by proportion of land area), rural (0.2%), urban (4.7%), agricultural (47%) and conservation lands (48%)....

read ... Land in Hawaii

Hawaii Baptists Reaffirm Support for Traditional Marriage

BP: ...the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention's 71st annual meeting reaffirmed their stance on traditional marriage in a Nov. 8 resolution. Five days later, Hawaii became the 15th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill allowing same-sex marriages to begin Dec. 2. In the midst of this, Hawaii messengers urged church members to continue their commitment to pray for others to know God's will through Christ and to uphold the biblical standard for marriage in their own lives....

read ... Marriage defense rises in state conventions

Hawaii at Bottom for Spending on Safe Routes to School Program

HR: Once again Hawaii is at the bottom of the barrel. This time it is with respect to the amount of spending on the federal Safe Routes to School program.

The federal government gave Hawaii about $1 million per year from 2005 – 2012 for a total of just over $8 million. Of that amount, only 17% has been obligated (including $400,000 for state “administrative” costs). The next lowest state is Oklahoma at 33%. About half a dozen states are on track to spend more than their allotted federal amounts.

It should also be noted that the most recent awards given by Hawaii were in February 2012, and in 2013, the state Department of Transportation spent about $131,000 on administrative costs such as staff labor.

Meanwhile: Hawaii Pedestrian Plan Wins National Recognition (Plan yes, execution no.)

read ... Hawaii at Bottom for Spending on Safe Routes to School Program

Women’s Caucus Focused on Health, Human Trafficking, Violence

CB: “This year’s initiatives include bills relating to women’s health issues, strengthening the family, violence against women, human trafficking, and Title IX,” Sen. Rosalyn Baker in a press release. “I am also very pleased that one of our bills directs the state Department of Education to name the new high school in my district of Kihei, Maui the Patsy Takemoto Mink High School. As a role model for young women and as a pioneer in women’s rights, she deserves this honor for all that she accomplished for women in Hawaii and across the nation.”

Click here for the full list of bills.

read ... Women’s Caucus

THE STATE OF AMERICA'S CHILDREN 2014 REPORT

CDF: In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in his State of the Union Address. Fifty years later, how have American children fared? CDF’s new report The State of America's Children 2014 finds child poverty has reached record levels and children of color are disproportionately poor. This is a comprehensive compilation and analysis of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on population, poverty, family structure, family income, health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence. The report provides key child data showing alarming numbers of children at risk.

PDF ... Download the report

Nella Media Group to launch Hawaii magazine for gay tourism market

MS: The first issue of the magazine will be distributed in May to households in specific neighborhoods in target markets in cities including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago

SA: State official admits guilt, faces prison time in child porn case

read  ...  Market Penetration

Council works in Secrecy to fill auditor position

HTH: A shroud of secrecy continues to surround the selection of a new legislative auditor, 13 months after the previous auditor resigned to take a job with the United Nations.

The County Council ended an hourlong executive session Wednesday with no decision, following months of such sessions and a closed meeting Jan. 7 where it interviewed two applicants.

They are the former Deputy Auditor Lane Shibata, who is now acting auditor, and an unnamed woman who could be heard from the hallway being interviewed by videoconference inside the closed chambers.

Shibata came out of that meeting looking harried and declining comment following a half-hour interview.

read ... Auditor

He plans to run for Congress -- in 4 states including Hawaii CD1

CNN: A number of people, including Powell, brought up a common saying coined by former House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill: "All politics is local."

"It's very much true in Hawaii," said David Chang, chairman of Hawaii's Republican Party. "People care what high school you went to, what nationality you are, what your last name is, how many generations your family has been in Hawaii, whether you know my auntie and uncle."

"Being from the mainland and running for the office Hawaii, you have an uphill battle because of those dynamics," he added.

Levene hasn't lived in Hawaii; he has only visited the state. But he says he still has a plan specific to the Aloha State.

read ... CD1

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