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Thursday, January 28, 2016
January 28, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:59 PM :: 3704 Views

2016 Elections: Candidate Filing Begins Monday Feb 1

Fraud Risk as HGEA, UPW Members Give Each Other Undocumented Vacation, Sick Leave

State bank bill deferred

Is HART's train factory a joke?

Aloha Aina Activists Holding their Own ‘Aha

Hawaii Reclaims Top Spot in U.S. Well-Being

8.6M–Tourism Sets New Record for 2015

Council Passes GE Tax Hike: Extending Rail to Manoa More Important than Affordable Housing

PBN: …The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday passed a bill extending the 0.5 percent surcharge on Hawaii’s 4 percent general excise tax until 2027 for the city's rail transit project.

The amended Bill 23, which also raises the cap on the amount of money that can be used for rail, was approved on a 7-2 vote, with council members Ann Kobayashi and Ikaika Anderson opposing the measure. The bill now goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is a strong supporter of the rail project, for his signature.

The amended bill has been reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration, which approved of the bill and said it was “a positive step,” Dan Grabauskas, executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told council members.

At the last budget committee meeting, Council Chairman Ernie Martin proposed an amendment to the bill that raises the cap on the amount that could be used for the city’s rail project from $910 million to $1.1 billion. Martin said he worked with Don Horner, chairman of the HART board, to come up with that number….

the final bill was amended to make a list of priorities of things that extra money may be spent on, with affordable housing last. The other priorities are contingency, planning future route extensions and Americans with Disability Act accessibility improvements along the route….

read … Unaffordable 

Kobayashi: Rail Will go Bankrupt

KHON: The latest projected cost for the rail project is now at $6.57 billion, more than a billion dollars over the original projected cost….

“…have they really told the FTA we’re gonna go bankrupt? We can’t afford to do this. We can’t afford to continue with the operation and maintenance after construction. We have to stop at Middle Street or we just can’t do it,” said Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.

Grabauskas adds that any additional costs to the project will be determined in June or July. That’s when the final bids will revealed for the remainder of the project.

read … Additional Costs Coming

Hawaii County Council Considers Massive GE Tax Hike – Would Take $20M out of Consumers’ Pockets

HTH: A measure being considered by Hawaii County officials would add another half-percent to the general excise tax charged on goods and services.

The added tax must be used for transportation projects, under the authority the state Legislature and Gov. David Ige gave the counties last year….

If the county had the additional tax in September, the latest data available, it would have brought in about $1.7 million more that month, based on calculations using the $14.6 million collected for September and reported by the state Department of Taxation. ($1.7M x 12 = $20.4M)

The County Council must have a public hearing before passing the tax surcharge and must have a bill passed and signed by the mayor before July 1, or the ability to enact the tax expires. If passed, it wouldn’t go into effect until January 2018.

Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi is sponsoring the as-yet unnumbered bill…

SA: With the TAT, be careful what you ask for

read … GE Tax Hike

Kauai Council Considers Massive GE Tax Hike

KGI: …10 Kauai residents who testified at Wednesday night’s meeting. Seven opposed Bill 2610. Many cited concerns about the county’s money management record.

“I oppose this because the people that will administer this have shown failure after failure after failure in money management in this island,” said Rob Abreu.

Abreu said roads and bridges have been budgeted to be fixed for years, but action has yet to be taken on those projects.

“Show some accountability,” Abreu said, “and then maybe we can look to see where the money needs to be spent correctly and properly. Until then, I don’t think this should pass.”

Lonnie Sykos said he is opposed to the tax hike because it’s a regressive tax that’s “going to impact poor people more than the middle class, and it’s not going to impact the wealthy people whatsoever.”

“I’m also opposed to this on the grounds that the government is not supposed to tax us and take our money until you have a plan of exactly how and when you’re going to spend it on what,” Sykos said.

“If what you’re asking us to do is approve taxing ourselves so that we can provide a kitty of money that some future administration will decide when and how and what to spend it on, you’re asking us to give the future administrations a blank check for a lot of money,” he added….

read … 7 of 10 say no to tax hikes

10 Bills that would raise taxes

read … Bills that would raise taxes

Hawaii lawmakers file 2,000 bills on lottery, ferry, guns

AP: …Here are the bill numbers: Ferry Dreams: SB3022; Lottery for Homeless: HB2536; Fantasy Sports: HB1838, HB2111, HB2722 and HB2429; Singing Fountain: HB1988; Indigenous Peoples' Day: HB2268; Concealed Carry: HB1691; Tipping Point: HB2599….

AG: ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINES THAT DAILY FANTASY SPORTS CONTESTS CONSTITUTE GAMBLING UNDER HAWAII LAW

read … 2,000 bills

Hanabusa, HSTA Team up to Gut Hawaii Ethics Laws

ILind: …HSTA hired former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to lead its legal challenge. In December, the commission turned down an HSTA demand that it either reverse its position on teacher travel or convene a contested case proceeding.

House Bill 1571, introduced by Rep. Isaac Choy, and a companion, Senate Bill 2600, introduced by senators Michelle Kidani, Donovan Dela Cruz, Clarence Nishihara, and Maile Shimabukuro, are a frontal assault on key provisions of the ethics law and would have ramifications far beyond the narrow issue of the proper role of teachers in organizing student travel.

The House bill has a double referral to the Judiciary and Finance committees, while the Senate bill has not yet received a committee referral….

Since the ethics code was adopted in 1972, its very first provision has remained unchanged: “This chapter shall be liberally construed to promote high standards of ethical conduct in state government.”

This means simply that if there are instances where the plain language of the law or its application are ambiguous, then it should be applied in a manner consistent with its overall legislative goal, “to promote high standards of ethical conduct in state government.”

These bills would simply repeal this guidance and eliminate the law’s existing strong presumption in favor of high ethical standards.

Next, the bills would gut the provision regulating gifts, which prohibits state legislators or employees from accepting any gifts “under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence the legislator or employee in the performance of the legislator’s or employee’s official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on the legislator’s or employee’s part.”

The approach of the current law recognizes that the public confidence in the integrity of government is undermined if gifts appear to be linked to efforts to influence a public official’s actions or as a reward for those actions, whether or not that intent can be proven.

If a gift doesn’t pass this reasonable “smell test,” then it shouldn’t be solicited or accepted. That seems pretty simple.

But these bills would throw out all consideration of the circumstances of a gift and instead “require a finding of actual intent to influence the recipient of the gift” before it would be considered a violation of the ethics code.

This would effectively legalize gifts that appear to compromise the public interest unless the Ethics Commission is able to somehow prove each and every one was actually intended to improperly influence or reward official decisions. The effect would be to make any enforcement of the prohibition on questionable gifts much more difficult….

www.TheRealhanabusa.com

read … Crooks Rewriting Ethics Laws

Governor Just another small voice in Union Orchestrated Chorus

CB: A teachers union proposal to raise taxes for wide-ranging education improvements is a long shot, but just about everyone is talking about more air conditioning….

The Governor Joins The Chorus…

Ige has yet to put forth any large education reforms the way his predecessor did with the push for early childhood education.

“I don’t know that (Gov. Ige) has an agenda or vision for public education,” Shon said. “I think he has a vision for administering public education at the school level.”

Rather than focus on legislation, Ige’s strategy when it comes to education might be changing the composition of the Board of Education and impacting education policy that way, Shon said.

But Ige has joined the chorus calling for school air conditioning. In his State of the State address Monday….

read … Join the Union, make yourself small

A proposed bill could cut salaries of 10 UH executive employees

PBN: A proposed bill could prohibit any University of Hawaii employee from making double what Governor David Ige makes. The bill would cause 10 executive management officials at the university to be at risk of salary cuts.

Gov. Ige makes $146,628 a year. Double that would be $293,256 a year. Senate Higher Education Committee chairman Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa-Punchbowl, introduced Senate Bill 2768, saying the matter of salaries was "of statewide concern since such offerings could have an adverse impact on the state's budgeting ability."

Jan 8, 2016: UH Manoa—10 Salaries over $300K

read … Cuts

Don’t politicize medical licensure

SA: I am writing as a Hawaii physician since 1985, and one who has always accepted Medicaid and Medicare patients.

The legislative proposal to link medical and dental state licensure to acceptance of these insurers, who reimburse us at less than a quarter of the market (HMSA/UHA/Kaiser) rate, does not address the root cause of the problem and is somewhat offensive to a highly trained professional….

Would it be reasonable to mandate attorneys to work for 25 cents on the dollar for clients who cannot afford them, or forfeit their license to practice? Or that grocers be forced to mark down their goods for shoppers using food stamps?

read … Don’t politicize medical licensure

SB3022: Bring Back Superferry

MN: Re-establishing an interisland ferry capable of carrying hundreds of passengers as well as vehicles and cargo should be a priority for Hawaii, giving residents an alternative to expensive air transportation, according to a bill introduced Wednesday by Big Island Sen. Lorraine Inouye.

Under Senate Bill 3022, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources would be required to conduct an environmental assessment for a ferry system. The measure would provide a company operating an interisland ferry vessel with a tax credit and a 50 percent reduction in harbor fees for its first year of operation….

Maui Sens. J. Kalani English (East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai) and Gil Keith-Agaran (Wailuku-Waihee-Kahului) are among the bill's sponsors….

Referring to the now defunct Hawaii Superferry, the measure says the Legislature's previous attempt at implementing a statewide ferry operation "failed due to a lack of mandatory environmental impact statements."

"However, the limited run of the Hawaii Superferry did prove to be a successful mode of transportation, for both persons and limited property, between the islands of Maui and Oahu." the bill says. "The operation connected family members, provided individuals physically unable to fly with a less burdensome alternative to air travel and supported interisland business opportunities."

The measure says an interisland ferry service is a "missing link" in Hawaii's transportation system.

News of the ferry bill's introduction brought a swift reaction from Albert Perez, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation (insert over the top rhetoric here) …

read … Superferry

More Privileges for Electric Car Eco-Elites

HNN: …Hawaiian Electric Co. announced Wednesday that it has installed two more fast chargers on Oahu, one in Kapolei Common and the other by the 7-11 in Hawaii Kai.

Meanwhile, at the state Capitol, lawmakers are proposing that one electric vehicle reserved spot be required for every 100 stalls.

These are all in addition to current perks, like being allowed to drive in the HOV lane even if there's only one person in the car, getting two and a half hours of free parking at meters, and free parking at the airport.

The overall number of electric vehicles in the state still pales in comparison to gas cars: 3,990 to just over 1 million registered as of December….

Electric vehicle owners say the perks are needed to make the cars more attractive to budget-conscious buyers.

Others, though, say the perks don't make sense.

PearlRidge shopper Sharon Perreira said she doesn't understand why the vehicles get free parking.

"Everybody else is paying, and I don't think it should be different because you have an EV," she said.

Meanwhile, driver Joshua Young says HOV rules should apply to everyone the same.

"I think if there's only one person in the car, they should drive on the other side of the freeway, not the HOV lane," he said….

Wikipedia: Zil Lanes

read … Zil Lanes for the Superior Beings

Bike share Program Has $2.5M Won’t do Anything Unless Legislature Wastes Another $8M 

HNN: Bikeshare Hawaii planned to roll out its bike rental system this month, but the start date has been delayed because of a lack of capital.

"We need about $7 million," Bikeshare Hawaii CEO Lori McCarney said.

The money is needed to pay for a fleet of up to 2,000 bicycles, a GPS system and bike racks for up to 200 parking stations that would be spaced out from Chinatown to Diamond Head and the University of Hawaii.

To get the program started, the city and state contributed $2 million. Private sources kicked in $500,000.  Bikeshare Hawaii is asking state lawmakers for an $8 million revenue bond.

"If they are to pass the bill then it allows us to go onto a bond market and access creditors that are interested in these kinds of projects (only when the taxpayer assumes all the risk)," Bikeshare Hawaii president Ben Trevino said.

The non-profit has re-set its grand opening date to May….

read … Future Bankruptcy

Proposal would require gun insurance, firearm renewals every 5 years

HNN: Hawaii gun owners would be required to have insurance for their firearms and renew their gun registrations every five years under a bill introduced Wednesday at the State Legislature, proposals that gun advocates said are unneeded and would have a chilling effect on constitutional gun rights.

The proposal, introduced by State Sen. Josh Green (D – Kona, Ka’u) would require gun owners to obtain firearms liability insurance from private insurance companies.  Hawaii would be the first state in the country to enact such a requirement, if lawmakers and the governor approve of the law.

BA: Hawaii Legislator Proposes Blatantly Unconstitutional Gun Insurance Bill

read … More Burdens for the Inferiors 

Making it easier to hospitalize the mentally ill could help ease homelessness

CB: …HB 1686, promotes safety first for each of our citizens whether homeless or housed.

Hawaii’s existing law allows for the involuntary hospitalization of mentally ill persons only when there is imminent, or at-hand, danger to either that person or others. Given that our nation has recently suffered the worst violent crimes in its history attributed to mental illness, I am cosponsoring a bill with an improved standard of involuntarily hospitalization.

Rather than wait for imminent danger to appear — oftentimes too late to prevent killings and other heinous acts — HB 1686 allows for the commitment of individuals, who based on their recent behavior are likely to harm themselves or others. This less-restrictive pro-safety standard is consistent with the law in most other states, where serious or substantial risk, likelihood or probability of harm is sufficient.

Mental-health treatment may then be available at the hospital or psychiatric facility before any self-harm or harm to others occurs….

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

read … Mental Health Care

Pensions at Risk: Bill Pushes for Oil and Coal Divestment 

CB: Hawaii lawmakers will be asking themselves this week if the state should be investing millions of dollars in oil, gas and coal companies at a time when climate change threatens the planet as we know it.  (its called the buy high, sell low plan.  Wait for oil prices to crash then dump all your stocks taking a hopping loss in the process.) 

Senate Bill 2155 would require the Employees’ Retirement System to divest its investment portfolio of coal, oil and gas companies by July 2021.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Mike Gabbard, Les Ihara, Gil Keith-Agaran, Russell Ruderman, Roz Baker, Brickwood Galuteria, Breene Harimoto and Maile Shimabukuro. The Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Keith-Agaran, is set to hear it at 9 a.m. Friday in conference room 016 at the Capitol.…

A similar bill stalled last year in the House but has been revived this session.  House Bill 1511 was deferred last week and is set to be heard at 2 p.m., Tuesday, by the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee…. the latest draft of HB 1511 just calls for a feasibility study of the ERS divesting from fossil fuel companies and an assessment of the risks.

The bill has a triple referral….

read … Make the HGEA Suffer for the Eco-Faddism of those they elect

Hawaii Bill Would Legalize Marijuana for Recreational Use

TAC:  (Former cocaine dealer) Sen. Kalani English (D-Maui) (whose law partner is seeking a marijuana dispensary license) introduced Senate Bill 2581 (SB2581) along with four co-sponsors. The bill would permit individuals twenty-one years and older to do the following:

(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the personal use of marijuana is permitted.

(b) Personal use of marijuana shall not be the basis for arrest, seizure, or forfeiture of assets.

(c) The possession, use, display, purchase, transfer, or transport of marijuana, marijuana accessories, or marijuana paraphernalia for personal use shall be immune from criminal prosecution.

(d) The possession, growing, processing, or transporting of not more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants are grown shall not be subject to criminal prosecution; provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed and locked space and is not conducted openly or publicly, and that the plants are not made available for sale.

(e) The transfer or sale of one ounce or less of marijuana with or without remuneration to a person who is twenty-one years of age or older is permitted.

(f) The consumption of marijuana products is permitted.

(g) Assisting, advising, or abetting another person who is twenty-one years of age or older in any actions described in this section is permitted.

If SB2581 is successful, Hawaii would be the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than the ballot initiative process….

read … 10th Amendment

HB1677: Oversee Dope Doctors, HB2455: Price Controls for Weed

SA: …Oshiro is concerned about doctors issuing medical marijuana cards to healthy residents who want it for recreational use.

To address that issue, he is pushing House Bill 1677, which would require oversight of doctors who certify medical cannabis patients.

A separate measure introduced by Oshiro, House Bill 2455, authorizes the state Health Department to regulate the price of pot at dispensaries to ensure that people with legitimate ailments “regardless of income level can obtain safe, clean, pure medical marijuana.” ….

read … Price Controls

In Soft on Crime Hawaii, Bills Make it Even Easier to Let Criminals Roam Free

CB: …in Hawaii, the concept of electronic monitoring has yet to fully take hold. Only 87 people are now under electronic supervision in the islands, compared to more than 5,600 behind bars….

Last week, a bipartisan group of 11 state senators introduced Senate Bill 2147 to launch a program to test the use of ankle bracelets as an alternative to incarceration.

Two other bills from the 2015 legislative session are also still in play: Senate Bill 517 would place some probationers under electronic supervision as a “cost-effective approach to deterring recidivism,” while Senate Bill 1020 would use ankle bracelets to monitor some parolees, probationers and those who are participating in the state’s work furlough program….

And the Hawaii Department of Public Safety has been running a pilot program since October to place a small number of furlough participants at the Kauai Community Correctional Center and Oahu Community Correctional Center under electronic supervision.

Under Gov. David Ige’s supplemental budget proposal, the Public Safety Department would receive a boost of more than $160,000 to expand the program by monitoring as many as 120 furlough participants….

read … Soft on Crime

State lawmakers push for new bill to expand public database of officer wrongdoings

KHON: Hawaii state lawmakers are pushing for a new bill to make wrongdoings by officers become public knowledge.

The bill was co-introduced by Sen. Will Espero, along with Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Sen. Clarence Nishara, Sen. Laura Thielen, Sen. Maile Shimabukuro,

Sen. Espero says he does not want to see another situation like the incident involving Ethan Ferguson, who was hired by the Department of Land and Natural Resources as an officer on the Big Island….

read … Database

Kona police officer charged with assault

HTH: A Hawaii Police Department officer has been charged with felony assault for allegedly hitting an elderly neighbor during an off-duty confrontation late Friday night at a Kailua-Kona apartment complex.

Jami Harper, a 39-year-old Kona Community Policing officer, is free on $2,000 bail. He’s scheduled to appear in Kona District Court at 1 p.m. Feb. 25.

According to a police statement, at 11:14 p.m. Friday, officers responded to a report of a disturbance at an apartment building on the 75-5600 block of Kuakini Highway. Police say their investigation revealed that Harper had confronted a 72-year-old man who lives in the apartment above him….

read … Assault

Rod Tam to Run for State Senate?

CB: Tam did not say which Senate seat he would seek, but in the past he has represented downtown Honolulu, Nuuanu, Liliha, Pauoa, Alewa Heights, Papakolea and Kalihi.

Suzanne Chun Oakland currently represents some of those same neighborhoods in the Senate….

Best Comment: “As a small time crook, Rod Tam would be an improvement over at least a few of the current members of the State Senate.”

read … Dumb and Dumber

Confessions Of A Native Hawaiian Poster Child

CB: I have always been told — whether by a relative or in some kid’s horribly misspelled Instagram caption — to stay true to my roots.

I have also had it drilled into my mind that nothing should come between my bloodline and me.

But what if I do not feel like I fit into my predestined culture?

The concept of culture, for me, has always been a constant fight between what I want to be and the mold I was placed into at birth….

read … Rebellion Against Identity Politics

Inaccuracies sink report critical of Jones Act

HSC: The American Journal of Transportation (AJOT) carried verbatim a press release issued January 27, 2016, by the Jones Act industry trade association, the American Maritime Partnership (AMP), critiquing a report, The Jones Act: Protectionism V Global Trade, released by Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) on January 19, 2016.

The release of the Aii report was accompanied by an op-ed written by the organization’s Chairman, Brigham A. McCown, published by Forbes Magazine also on January 19th.

Two interlocutors notified the Hawaii Shippers Council (HSC) of the report. Noting several errors in the report, the HSC notified Shane Skelton, Executive Director, Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, but did not receive a response….

The AMP reaction to the inaccuracies in the Aii report points out the practical problem with making untrue claims regarding Jones Act cabotage. A report issued with so many errors offers Jones Act interests the opportunity to further confuse and minimize the economic impact of cabotage to their benefit….

read … Errors

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