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Friday, February 19, 2016
February 19, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:01 AM :: 3538 Views

Rusting Wind Junk off Waikiki? Ige Flies to NYC, DC for Meetings

HB1713—Exempt all State Employees from Ethics Laws

House Incumbents: Who Has Campaign Cash, Who Doesn’t

CB: With six months to go before the Aug. 13 primary, two high-profile lawmakers seem to be having trouble raising money for their re-election bids.

But while Reps. Calvin Say and Tom Brower may be cash poor, two of their colleagues — Romy Cachola and Sylvia Luke — have been raking in the cash, despite easy wins in the 2014 election.

All 51 members of the Hawaii House of Representatives are up for re-election this year….The filing deadline is June 7….

read … Targeting Intel

Hawaii House legislators band together to grab lobbyist donations during session

DN: Each session it happens. Certain legislators hold fundraisers outside of their districts but close to town, so that they can rake in lobbyist and special interest campaign contributions—while the legislature is still in session and matters may come before them that the lobbyists are paid to advance.

This year a group of House members have jointly sponsored a fundraiser during the session, and the majority represent out-of-town districts (see list, below).

This one fundraiser presents both issues, which are separate but each troubling on its own. I treat both issues together because they so commonly occur together.

Since special interests are not philanthropies—they expect a return on their investments—we have the ethically dubious situation wherein constituents are sidelined and deprived of their representation while doors and campaign coffers are opened wide for lobbyist access.

Since Neighbor Island constituents are unlikely to attend this fundraiser, the motivation of these legislators is clear.  Lawmakers who hold fundraisers out of shouting range of their constituents are clearly listening to other voices….

LINK: Photo 

read … Bought n Paid For

HB2773: Convicts Will Receive Absentee Ballots to Give to the UPW

CB: Hawaii would become the third state to allow imprisoned felons to vote if House Bill 2773 becomes law.

Incarcerated state residents would be allowed to vote by absentee ballot under the bill introduced by Rep. Kaniela Ing. It’s scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Maine and Vermont are currently the only two states that allow felons to vote in prison.

read … More Blank Ballots to be Voted by Union

HPD Scandals: Never Enough to Break Through Culture of Impunity

Borreca: …we do have a police department that promoted someone convicted of terroristic threatening of his wife, a police department that routinely only tests 15 to 20 percent of the rape kits and has 1,500 untested kits that contain the forensic evidence gathered from sexual assault victims, and a police chief who is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation launched by the FBI.

It is the Hawaii version of water torture. Every day some new troubling news hits, wearing away the public’s trust, but never enough to say, “Throw them out,” “Throw them in jail” or just “Deal with this.”

read … Never Enough for Accountability

Star-Adv Applauds as ACLU, Criminal Lawyers Beaver Away at Marsy’s Law

SA: … HB1144, a revision of the original introduced last session, was redrafted by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Karl Rhoads, based on the wording of the federal victim’s rights law. It was meant to lay out the principles of victim protections, Rhoads said, leaving it to future laws to work out the implementation details.

The legislation includes this caveat: “No right in this section shall be construed to supersede the constitutional rights of the offender.”  (But that’s not good enough for us and our buddies on the criminal defense bar.)

But the concern of the critics — who included (lawyer) state Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee — is that there would be real-world complications in how the rights are balanced.

She argued, correctly, that something short of a constitutional amendment — better oversight by agencies set up as victims’ advocates at the county and state levels, for example — would be the better objective.  (Translation: Do nothing.)

Further, critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union have pointed out that the statute is there to protect the victim.  (And its working soooo very well.)

“The statutes have the force of law,” ACLU Hawaii attorney Dan Gluck said in an interview last week. “The judges ought to follow those as well as they follow the Constitution.”  (If its all the same, why oppose?)

The purpose of a constitutional bill of rights is protection of the individual — as currently stands, someone accused of a crime — against abuse of governmental power. The fact that in many cases the government fails to support victims is a sign that agencies need better resources and procedures to carry out that mission; it’s not a reason to put a defendant’s rights (lawyer’s paycheck) at risk. 

Rick Sing, president of the Hawaii Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, proposed a scenario in which victims did not appear at a proceeding as expected; that by itself doesn’t mean they waived a constitutional right, and that could compel the court to cancel …. (And if you believe this, you deserve what you get.)

read … No right shall be construed to supersede the constitutional rights of the offender’s lawyer 

HB2501: Stop Anti-Agriculture Water Grab

SA: …Critics of the department’s management of the program applauded Thursday’s announcement, saying they were pleased DLNR recognized that reforms were needed. But they cautioned that until the recommendations are unveiled and acted upon, it was too early to determine whether meaningful changes actually will result.

“It’s a good first step,” said Marti Townsend, director of Sierra Club of Hawaii.

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chairman of the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Agriculture, likewise called Thursday’s announcement a positive step.

“I’m glad they responded quickly,” Gabbard said of the department.

Once the recommendations are made, the senator said he plans to hold an informational briefing to determine whether proposed legislation needs to be introduced in next year’s session.

Gabbard this week shelved a controversial revocable-permit bill on the Senate side that has added fuel to critics’ calls for reforming the DLNR program.

Opponents of Senate Bill 3001 said it would circumvent a January court ruling, allowing Alexander & Baldwin Inc. to retain the right to divert millions of gallons daily from East Maui streams for agriculture and other needs.

Maui Circuit Judge Rhonda Nishimura ruled the four month-to-month permits that A&B has held for the water rights for more than a dozen years were invalid, saying they defied the state law about temporary use.

A House version of the bill, HB 2501, is still alive.

In her interview with the newspaper, Case said revocable permits enable the department to get tenants on state land — some of it remote or landlocked — that otherwise would be unoccupied, reducing the state’s potential liability and such issues as fire and health hazards.

“There are a lot of things that could come up with unoccupied land that’s a huge headache for us,” she added

read … Review may yield shake-up of leases

Rail Condemnation: HART Squeezes Blood Bank for Every Drop

SA: Rail leaders have restarted condemnation proceedings for Blood Bank of Hawaii’s headquarters in Kalihi, despite the blood bank’s urging that they hold off as negotiations continue.

Robert Thomas, an attorney for the blood bank, told the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board Thursday that the parties are “well on their way” to a settlement over the Dillingham Boulevard property and that restarting the eminent domain process at this point would lead to “negotiations under the threat of a hammer.” ….

read … HART renews blood bank condemnation

Hawaiian Electric Claims it won't pursue LNG after NextEra Energy sale dies

PBN: …Hawaiian Electric would modify five of its existing generating stations to allow the utility to use LNG in addition to oil, which would come at a cost of $340 million.

The estimated total savings from using LNG instead of oil would be between $352 million and $3.5 billion over a 20-year period.

Hawaii Gas, the state’s only regulated gas utility, has separate plans to ship LNG to the Islands, which would begin in 2019….

read … Hawaiian Electric won't pursue LNG

Energy Plan?  UH Fails Miserably after Decade

CB: About a decade ago, the University of Hawaii Manoa set an aggressive goal to cut its energy consumption in half by 2015.

It failed. Miserably.

Instead, it achieved a 2.5 percent reduction — something akin to the energy savings you’d get by changing one or two regular incandescent light bulbs in your house to fluorescent….

Under Act 99, which was signed into law last year, UH needs to reach a net-zero status 2035 — producing as much energy it uses….

Plans are underway for a utility-scale, 100-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility — the UH West Oahu Mauka Lands project….

At one point, Meder said, UH was supposed to offer a sustainability degree, but that fell through….

administrative turbulence has been a hindrance.

“Every time an administrator changed, it seemed like the wheel had to be reset,” he said.

Meder credited former interim Chancellor Denise Konan for starting many energy efficiency and climate change initiatives at UH. But when she left that position — she’s now a dean of the College of Social Sciences — the energy reduction goals outlined in a policy she created seemed to have gone with her.

Former Chancellor Tom Apple was poised to start sustainability curriculum at UH, but after he was fired, efforts waned….

read … Decade of Failure

Three Clean Energy Projects Collapse in One Week

HTH: …Hu Honua has asserted that it requires $125 million to complete construction of the plant, according to HELCO, and submitted a letter from a potential financing partner saying that it would commit those funds provided HELCO extend the hydrostatic test deadline to April 30, 2017, and the commercial operation deadline to Aug. 30, 2017.

On Jan. 14, a Hu Honua representative reportedly offered “a significant reduction” in the pricing of future power purchases if HELCO did not pull out, but a day later the utility issued a notice of its intention to terminate the agreement….

“The situation with the utility in Hawaii now is incredibly tumultuous. There are very different forces in play, so it’s not a surprise that the utility finds itself pursuing actions based upon its perspective,” he said.

In a statement issued Thursday, HELCO President Jay Ignacio argued the utility had gone above and beyond to make the agreement with Hu Honua work.

“We have been working hard to increase and diversify the renewable energy mix on Hawaii Island,” he said. “We supported the Hu Honua project, which would have added 21.5 (megawatts) of base-load renewable energy to our grid. Multiple project delays, failure to meet critical construction milestones including passing a boiler hydro test, and failure to meet contract guarantees caused us great concern about the likelihood this project could be completed.

“Even though we had the right to terminate our contract with Hu Honua last November, we tried to work with them and provided them additional time to meet its contract obligations if they would offer revised contract terms that would benefit our customers, but they have not done so. We have provided them additional time until March 1 to address the concerns we’ve raised.”

HELCO’s announcement this week marked another in a string of recent setbacks for renewable energy projects in the state — all coming as the Hawaiian Electric companies enter the home stretch in their push for the PUC’s approval of their $4.3 billion acquisition by NextEra Energy Inc.

PUC Chairman Randall Iwase issued a statement on Thursday airing his disappointment over the status of Hawaii’s renewable energy projects. In addition to the planned dissolution of the Hu Honua agreement, he pointed to HELCO’s announcement last week that negotiations with Ormat Nevada Inc. to provide geothermal energy had collapsed, HECO’s decisions to terminate power-purchase agreements for three solar projects on Oahu, and HECO’s continuing slow progress to approve rooftop solar for customers across the state….

IM: HECO nixes Three SunEdison Solar Projects as Company Nears Bankruptcy

read … Because the whole thing is a scam

SB2535: Bill limiting county oversight of Geothermal advances

HTH: Lawmakers have advanced a bill curbing the ability of counties to pass their own laws regulating geothermal power plants.

Three Senate committees voted late Wednesday afternoon in favor of an amended version of SB 2535, which gives the state exclusive authority to regulate “geothermal resources development and geothermal resources exploration,” unless it delegates that power to the counties.

It will next be sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, the bill’s main sponsor, said she thinks the state is the proper authority to regulate drilling and other geothermal activities, though she acknowledged Puna Geothermal Venture — the state’s only geothermal power plant operator — requested that she introduce the legislation….

The measure was prompted by Hawaii County’s ban on nighttime geothermal drilling, adopted in 2012 following complaints from neighbors of PGV.

The power plant operator is currently facing a lawsuit for ignoring the law while drilling another well last year, a point emphasized by Sen. Russell Ruderman, whose district includes PGV, while speaking against the bill during committee hearings Tuesday….

read … Check on Luddites

Low teacher salaries mean high turnover, second jobs

HNN: Salaries for teachers in Hawaii fall in the middle of national rankings for average pay. But once those salaries are adjusted for the cost of living, Hawaii has the lowest-paid teachers in the nation.

"In other states, teachers are respected, teachers are valued and they want to make sure that every kid has a good teacher," said Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. "In Hawaii, this problem has been going on for too long."

The teachers union says about half of all new Hawaii teachers quit teaching public school in the islands within their first five years on the job. Many blame the high cost of living.

"Hawaii has one of the highest, if not the highest, teacher turnover rate in the nation. The reality is that every year nearly half of all of our

new teachers are emergency hires," Rosenlee said.

Department of Education officials say new teacher turnover is actually on the decline -- from a peak of 50 peak in 2004 down to 37 percent in 2012.

read … 37%

Ige Nominates Two to UH BoR 

CB: The Economic Development, Environment and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Glenn Wakai, will consider the nominations first and make a recommendation as to whether the full Senate should confirm them.

In December, Ige was working to fill 350 vacancies on state boards and commissions. There are more than 170 boards and commissions in Hawaii, with almost 1,700 seats in all. At the time, 20 percent of the positions were empty.

The boards and commissions are considered an essential part of governance and a way to get citizens involved in the process. But only 12 boards are paid, although there is compensation for travel on others.

Ige has nominated Jan Sullivan and Wayne Higaki to serve on the UH Board of Regents, with terms set to end June 30, 2021….

Among the most notable though are the seven people that Ige has tapped to serve on the Environmental Council...

He’s picked Kuuipo Kumukahi to fill a vacant seat on the HTA Board of Directors.

View the full list here.

read … Nominees

Leadership: Rep Andria Tupola Wins Nanakuli Contraflow Lane

HNN: Drivers stuck in traffic along the Waianae Coast may be getting some relief.  An afternoon contraflow lane in Nanakuli could be in operation in the next month or two, said state Rep. Andria Tupola, (R) Nanakuli….

Tupola said she's been asking the state for a contraflow lane for more than a year. She said it took the state and city that long to work out the planning details.

read … Leadership

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