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Wednesday, January 6, 2016
January 6, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:28 PM :: 3458 Views

OHA Trying to Convince Telescope to Stay and Pay

Friedrichs v CTA: Will Supreme Court End Mandatory Union Membership for Government Employees Nationwide?

Anti-GMO Leader: “Bring Islamic Nation to Battle in Hawaii—Allah Akbar”

Possible Pipe Bomb Found After Big Island Police Arrest Three at Protest Against License Plates

UHERO: Status Update on Federal GHG Emissions Reduction Policy for Hawaii

“Entire American Samoa school system must be revamped”

UH appeals NCAA ruling on men’s basketball program

Guard Your Wallet: State lawmakers gear up for new legislative session

KHON: How will your tax dollars be used? That’s what state lawmakers will decide as they gear up for a new legislative session….

Hawaii State Teachers Association president Corey Rosenlee is getting ready to convince lawmakers to spend more ….

The HSTA will present a broad package to cover it all, and is asking for a one percent increase in the general excise tax to pay for it….

The issue of homelessness will also return to the Capitol — Governor Ige is asking for money for outreach and other programs.

KHON2 spoke to officials from the Institute for Human Services and they said, aside from shelter and housing, they will be asking for help to prevent homelessness, which includes a focus on mental health care.

Besides ongoing issues like education and homelessness, there’s one that’s already gaining attention, and that is the governor’s budget proposal.

This week, state departments are informing lawmakers about their needs. Senators and representatives asked the Attorney General Tuesday about spending on numerous vacant positions.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said “these are all funded positions and they’re positions that we found, out of 127 positions, are at least four years old. There are some questions as to whether or not you need to redefine them.”

PBN: Working group recommends Hawaii provide $2.2M for legal services to low/moderate income individuals

SA: Child Support Agency faces $1.3M budget hit

read … Guard Your Wallet

Legislators Baffled by State’s Inability to Spend Federal Money—DoE Fails to Even Ask for It

SA: Gov. David Ige’s top staff was warned Tuesday that lawmakers expect them to find out why state government has been so slow to spend federal funds, and find a way to fix the problem pronto.

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said the state departments of Health, Transportation and Hawaiian Home Lands are “terrible at utilizing federal funds.”

“What state agency cannot spend money? That just completely baffles me,” Luke said during a briefing for lawmakers on the budget for the Governor’s Office.

Ige appointed Elizabeth Kim as his special adviser on federal funds maximization, and members of the House and Senate money committees wanted to know what Kim is doing to get state departments to move more quickly to put federal funds to use in Hawaii for transportation, housing and clean-water programs.

Federal agencies are asking state departments why they are not spending the federal funds they have been given, and “that’s just clearly embarrassing,” said Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu).

Luke aimed special criticism at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands….

By far the largest of the backlogs in unspent federal money involves highways. The Federal Highway Administration has warned the state Department of Transportation that Hawaii could lose out on federal funding unless the state processes its highway projects more quickly and reduces the backlog of unspent federal transportation money….

The federal government also announced last year it is withholding $8 million that was earmarked for repairing Hawaii’s drinking-water infrastructure because the Hawaii Department of Health has been too slow to spend federal funds, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency….

Luke, meanwhile, said the problem is not limited to just the three departments.

“There are so many types of federal funds available, and we have been frustrated, especially with the Department of Education, not being able to grab down the impact fees,” Luke said, referring to federal money that is available to support local schools that military dependents attend.

Luke argued that when Mark Takai was a state lawmaker, he was more effective than the DOE at drawing down federal impact funding. Takai has since been elected to the U.S. House.

“The expectation of this office was to maximize the federal money that is available for the state of Hawaii to use,” she said. “If Mark Takai can pull down this money, then you can, too. And the state of Hawaii can, too, and the Department of Education can, too.”

(But they have plenty of time to raise taxes.)

read … Baffled

Shed light on NextEra/HECO alliance

SA: Officially NextEra remains an entity external to the workings of Hawaiian Electric Industries, the power utility it hopes to acquire. The Public Utilities Commission has the authority to sign off on the merger, but the agency has been hard-pressed to elicit the full information needed to make its decision.

But now it’s apparent that NextEra may be positioned more closely to HEI than previously assumed, and this suggests it ought to provide more information on its proposed future than has emerged to date.

Last week, the Florida-based company submitted a document to the commission, a notification that it will be helping Hawaiian Electric Companies, HEI subsidiaries, with the latest revision of their Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIP).

These are documents outlining HECO’s renewable-energy plans over a 15-year period. The Oahu utility has had two previous versions of the required state plans rejected by the PUC, which found that they insufficiently changed HECO’s business model, among other criticisms.

It’s not unusual that the electric company would use an outside consultant, but the NextEra assist is distinct in that it is a pro bono service. Rob Gould, the Florida company’s spokesman, said HECO is not paying for the collaboration.

So it’s a reasonable conclusion that NextEra wants to help craft a plan that it would find workable to implement, should the merger go through. The reasonable conclusion is that the company believes the unpaid service to be a fairly safe investment, that it likes the odds that the $4.3 billion sale will be approved….

read … Shed light on NextEra/HECO alliance

PHOCUSED: Profitable Nonprofit Nailed by Ethics Commission

CB: A high-profile nonprofit organization that advocates for health and human services in Hawaii has agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty to settle charges it violated the state’s lobbying law by failing to disclose its lobbying-related expenditures over the past three years, according to a summary of the case made public last month by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

In addition, the group’s executive director at the time agreed to pay a $500 penalty to settle related charges that he failed to register as a lobbyist representing the organization during the 2015 legislative session.

Neither the organization nor its director are named in the commission’s statement of the case, which describes the “apparent violations” of the lobbyist law and how the matter was resolved. The redacted “Resolution of Investigations 2015-2,” with all names removed, is dated Dec. 2 and was made public on the commission’s website.

A high-profile nonprofit organization that advocates for health and human services in Hawaii has agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty to settle charges it violated the state’s lobbying law by failing to disclose its lobbying-related expenditures over the past three years, according to a summary of the case made public last month by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

In addition, the group’s executive director at the time agreed to pay a $500 penalty to settle related charges that he failed to register as a lobbyist representing the organization during the 2015 legislative session.

Neither the organization nor its director are named in the commission’s statement of the case, which describes the “apparent violations” of the lobbyist law and how the matter was resolved. The redacted “Resolution of Investigations 2015-2,” with all names removed, is dated Dec. 2 and was made public on the commission’s website.

However, officials of PHOCUSED, a nonprofit group which describes itself as “advocating for Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens,” confirmed to Civil Beat on Tuesday that the organization was the subject of the ethics investigation….

They also said Scott Morishige, the group’s former executive director, was the person identified as its “Chief Executive Officer” in the commission’s summary of the case….

The PHOCUSED website lists three dozen bills that were among its legislative priorities in 2015. After reviewing Morishige’s testimonies, and other activities before and during the session, the commission concluded the legislative advocacy would have taken more than five hours a month, which is the threshold that triggers the lobbyist registration and disclosure requirements….

read … PHOCUSED

Lawmaker argues new 'limited' driver's licenses open to abuse

HNN: The city issued eight "limited purpose" driver's licenses on Monday, the first day they became available.

Supporters of the license say is a public safety measure. It's designed for undocumented immigrants and others who pass the driving test but don't have a Social Security number.

But opponents continue to argue it's a bad idea.

State Sen. Sam Slom was the lone lawmaker to oppose the creation of the a "limited purpose" driver's license in the islands.

"With RealID that the federal government imposed on us, it's really difficult for a lot of American citizens to get or renew their licenses. Now we're saying, 'Okay, but you folks, we're going to create a special category and you don't have to have the documentation.' My question is why not?" Slom said….

"Why give special treatment to certain people? Why aren't they required to do the same things that everybody else does?" Slom said.

Estimates put the number of people eligible to apply for the license at 40,000….

read … Not REAL ID

New ID Law May Trip Up American Samoa Residents

CB: A driver’s license might not be enough to get through airport security checkpoints for areas that don’t comply with the Real ID Act.

Related: Real ID Begins Jan 10: Will Washington State Residents Need Passport to Fly to Hawaii?

read … Am Samoa

2012 Law Saves Hawaii Fisheries from Rampaging Eco-Whackos

AP: …a federal rule allowing Hawaii-based fishermen to catch more bigeye tuna than permitted under international agreements can be traced to his time as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In 2010, catch limits forced Hawaii fishermen to stop catching bigeye in waters west of Hawaii in November. That left Hawaii markets without much locally-caught tuna just holiday demand spiked.

This year, Hawaii longline fishermen hit their limit in August. But the National Marine Fisheries Service created new limits for U.S. territories like Guam and allowed Hawaii's fleet to use up to half of them.

Congress directed federal agencies to create the quota shifting program in a 2012 appropriations bill….

read … Local Food Saved

Study Of Pesticide Use On GMO Crops Delayed

CB: …State and county officials have asked a consultant to hold off on releasing the initial draft report on pesticide use by large-scale agribusinesses on Kauai to allow more work on the health chapter, according to an update Tuesday….

AP: Criminal Investigation After 100s Sickened by Disgusting Organic Food at Anti-GMO Restaurant Chain

read … Delay

Nonprofit launches new housing program for recovering addicts

HNN: …After his release from prison, Aquino enrolled in the Clean and Sober program at the Institute for Human Services. The program launched in October and so far has housed 12 people. It's got funding for dozens more.

Lyle Matsuura, a housing specialist at the Institute for Human Services, says the Clean and Sober program rewards those who take the initiative to kick their habit by providing first month's rent, security deposit and partial rent payments for up to three months.

"When you're trying to treat yourself and take care of your body and be healthy it's hard to maintain employment and hold down an apartment," Matsuura said.

To qualify, participants must be in treatment and have an income…

read … Recovering

HPD officers erred in not arresting men for major illegal fireworks bust

HNN: The Honolulu Police Department said its undercover officers made a mistake when they failed to immediately arrest two men who were stopped with more than a ton of illegal fireworks in their vehicle just two days before New Year's.

And Hawaii News Now has learned one of the men is a convicted drug dealer who was on federal probation at the time of last week's fireworks incident.

read … Erred

Orgy of outlawed fireworks flaunts our island anarchy

SA: …Fireworks aren’t the problem. They’re a symptom of the problem.

Hawaii is becoming a place where laws don’t matter, an idiosyncratic outpost where blowhard lawmakers pass legislation for appearances’ sake with little concern for how the laws are to be enforced and no follow-up when they aren’t.

How many people still use their cellphones while driving? Not even sneaky-kind, like texting in their lap. No, people hold that thing up to their ears and yakety-yak with full animation and no inhibition. “Whatever. I’m important. I know how to drive with one hand.”

Setting up a house on public property and pooping in an alley is against the law, and if you or I did it, we might get in trouble, but in modern Hawaii, vagrants get a gentle heads-up notification days in advance of eviction and are asked to please, please consider free shelter space (“It’ll be great! Just try it!”). And even after that, enforcement actions have to be defended for being too mean and the stubborn folks just move to where they know they won’t be hassled by law enforcement.

Doesn’t anybody worry about being busted for anything anymore?

Which leads to the impending introduction of marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. How confident are we that that’s going to be rigorously regulated, every law enforced to the letter?

Yeah, right. I can hear you giggling.

How about this: How about we go back to fireworks being legal?

read … Lee Cataluna

DOE report reveals 21 students caught with So-Called ‘firearms,’ most in elementary, middle schools

KHON: …Sixteen involved airguns, while five were classified as “other.”

The report clarifies: “With the revision of Chapter 19, Hawaii Administrative Rules, the definition of ‘firearm’ has been expanded beyond the federal and state laws.”

According to Hawaii Administrative Rules §8-19-2: “Firearm” means: (1) Any weapon including but is not limited to a starter gun, shotgun, air guns which includes BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, or cross bow or any other instrument which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile;

Every island except Kauai saw some type of firearm show up in a school. Incidents were reported at eight middle schools, eight elementary schools and three high schools.

In all 21 cases, the students were expelled. Read the full report here….

read … Airguns

Gun Sales Through the Roof after Obama Cries

KGI: …Bronson Bautista, owner at PD Designs & Armory, said the discussion about new gun restrictions proposed by President Barack Obama has already led to higher gun sales.

“Just today I had two guys come into my store to buy AR-15s,” Bautista said.

He later tried to reorder the same type of gun from his supplier, but it was out of stock.

“Sales are going through the roof,” he said. “They don’t even know what’s going on. If they are banning these types of rifles, they will buy them.”

Bautista said three other men walked into his gun shop looking to buy pistols.

“I think there is a sense of fear for losing a right,” he said….

AP: Obama’s move on guns may have only modest effect on violence

read … Gun Sales

North Korea Tests Possible H-Bomb

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