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Sunday, April 23, 2017
April 23, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:09 PM :: 2974 Views

IRS: Hawaii Legislature Voted to Destroy Employee Retirement System

HSTA Contract Agreement: 13.6% Raise, ‘Streamlined Evaluations’

Best Small Cities to Start a Business? Kaneohe Ranks 1176th

HECO Touts Green Energy Progress on Earth Day

Democrats Blocking: Fukumoto ‘Akin to Our Most Regressive Corporatists’

Shapiro: …Democrats aren’t exactly laying the welcome mat.

State Chairman Tim Vandeveer wrote to Fukumoto outlining extensive hoops she must jump through to gain membership, including a grilling on her gay marriage and abortion views.

Fukumoto is already caucusing with House Democrats, but couldn’t run for re-election in her Mililani district as a Democrat unless party leaders approve her membership.

It portends a possible spectacle of a moderate legislator effectively run out of one party for being too liberal and shunned by the other party for being too conservative.

Former Democratic Govs. John Waihee and Ben Cayetano are ripping party leadership for imposing “litmus tests” and abandoning the “big tent” ethic that built the local party.

Fukumoto expects a contentious and close vote, but said, “I’ve never shied away from tough conversations. … I’m happy to talk through how I align with the Democratic Party platform.”

Her harshest doubters are hard-line progressives; one typical social media critic called her “akin to our most regressive DINO (Democrats in name only) corporatists.”….

If there’s no place for Fukumoto in either major party, it explains why a large swath of Hawaii’s nonvoting electorate feels so majorly disenfranchised….

Related: Conservative Rankings of Hawaii Legislators—2016 Session

read … Democrats keen to grill Fukumoto on her views

Reelection? Ige Has Very Little Money in Campaign Account

Borreca: …Abercrombie had an almost pathological tendency to insult and pick fights with the core constituencies of the Hawaii Democratic Party. Teachers, retired state workers, environmentalists, Native Hawaiian activists all came away smarting from Abercrombie brawls.

On Election Day, Ige was the mouse who roared as he crushed Abercrombie, by 36 percentage points. It was the largest primary loss by any sitting governor in U.S. history, according to the Center for Politics.

Still an unknown, voters just cared that he was a solid Democrat not named “Abercrombie.”

Now Ige is preparing for a second statewide campaign.

It appears to be as low-key as his first attempts at state leadership.

So far, Ige’s time in office has been marked by quietude and missteps — while not fatal, they reveal a tendency to stumble.

Early on, Ige enraged supporters from the environmental wing of the party by picking Castle &Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources….

So far the Ige administration is still marked by its own face plants, not stunning victories….

Ige proposed a $100 million campaign to air condition 1,000 classrooms. So far the money and administrative interest have produced middling results.

The Department of Education reports that as of March, 1,152 classroom AC units are out to bid, 804 classroom AC units ordered and just 209 classroom AC units have been installed.

Perhaps a bigger fumble was Ige’s ham-handed attempts to deliver Darrel Galera as the new superintendent of education.

While Ige has dismissed questions about his involvement, he named Galera to the Board of Education and Galera was soon heading a committee on replacing superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. Galera, who worked with Amano-Ige while they were both in the DOE, then resigned his board post to become a candidate for superintendent — only to be greeted with such hoots of disbelief at the arranged appearance of the job search that he stepped out of the race.

The race for governor is another question.

So far, Ige has attracted no public challengers for his job and has just $321,150 in the campaign treasury. This summer’s announcements, or lack, of candidates may give Ige four more years in office….

read … Ige’s administration lacks needed victories

SB505: Urine Test for Opioid Prescriptions

SA: Senate Bill 505 would require prescribers to counsel patients about the risks of becoming addicted to and overdosing on opioids, the risks of taking the pills if pregnant, and alternative treatment options for pain, in addition to other requirements, for initial prescriptions. Patients would also have to consent to periodic urine drug screenings, according to the latest version of the bill.

A treatment agreement including these risks would also have to be provided in writing and signed by the prescriber and patient.

The measure also limits initial prescriptions of both opioids and benzodiazepines, except under certain circumstances, to seven days. Commonly prescribed opioids include such painkillers as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Benzodiazepines include tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.….

Senate Bill 505 has received pushback from groups such as The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the CHOW Project (the Community Health Outreach Work to Prevent AIDS Project), which assists people with (develop) drug problems….

Groups such as the Hawaii Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Hawaii have raised concerns that physicians could be charged with felonies for noncompliance with the measure, or if they make a mistake. They’ve asked that the measure be amended to ensure this isn’t the case.

read … Lawmakers tussle with bill to fight painkiller addiction

Child Abuse Bills Before Legislature

SA: Hawaii’s state lawmakers have been weighing abuse-related bills that stress abuse prevention and beneficial intervention in crisis cases as well as alignment with federal legislation pertaining to sex trafficking.

>> Senate Bill 711 would initiate state funding for Family-Child Interaction Learning (FCIL) programs, such as Tutu and Me and Keiki Steps, which are currently funded with federal dollars and private donations….

>> Senate Bill 469 designates funding for the state’s judiciary. The nonprofit HCAN is asking legislators to fold in money for continuation of a family court program that handles hearings and conferences for selected cases involving children from birth to age 3. “Zero to 3 Court” strives for safety and stability in homes with frequent monitoring of the child’s well-being and linking families to the early intervention….

>> House Bill 930 would create and allot funding for an “Erin’s Law” task force to review policies and curricula for educating public schoolchildren about sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention. Twenty-six states have passed a version of Erin’s Law, which was named after an Illinois girl — a childhood sexual assault survivor and activist….

>> House Bill 1099 would bring the state into compliance with the federal Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (2015) and the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (2010) by amending a definition of “child abuse or neglect” to include sex trafficking. It would also clarify that child abuse and neglect reports expunged in the state’s central registry may be retained by the Human Services Department for future “risk and safety” assessment….

read … Facing child abuse: Changes 20 years after Kema case

Hawaii Co Budget worries fueled by firefighter raise, hotel tax in limbo

WHT: Hawaii County’s 2017-18 spending plan was hit with a double whammy Thursday, when a legislative conference committee deadlocked on the county share of the hotel tax and firefighters were awarded a more than 2 percent pay increase.

The budget woes came even as property values inched up, bringing revenues up slightly even without any tax increases.

“We’re trying to cost it out, but we’re going to have to raise taxes,” county Managing Director Wil Okabe said Friday. “We’re looking at all the options, but we have to cut costs, and we have to raise revenues.”

Among the tax and fee options are property taxes, gas taxes, permit fees and a one-half cent general excise tax surcharge. Property taxes have been raised three times in the past five years.

The firefighters’ increase of 2 percent this year, 2.25 percent next year and a step increase over the two years of the contract is likely to set the tone for all the other employee unions up for collective bargaining this year, even more so because it was set by an arbitrator.

The firefighters’ raises alone will add $1.1 million in salary and fringe benefits to the new budget, Deputy Finance Director Deanna Sako said Friday.

Each one percent increase for all of the unions would add $2.5 million to $3 million annually to the county’s $474 million budget…..

read … Budget worries fueled by firefighter raise, hotel tax in limbo

Hawaii County Bus System in State of Collapse

HTH: The county bus system is struggling to provide service with 25 of its fleet of 55 buses out of commission because they need major repairs. In the meantime, the system is running on a patchwork of county buses and rental vehicles from Polynesian Adventure Tours, with which the county also has a contract for drivers.

The system, called “absolutely deplorable” by a former driver, is so bad, in fact, that a County Council member is recommending an audit. Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said the cash-handling system gives her “heartburn,” and she had other concerns as well.

One problem with using the tour company’s buses, Kona bus riders are quickly learning, is the tour company needs the buses on Wednesdays, when the weekly Norwegian Cruise Lines ship comes to town. The county has canceled the intra-Kona bus route on Wednesdays because of the shortage….

The City and County of Honolulu will soon be sending five of its retired buses to the county, and five engines ordered for some of the current fleet have recently arrived, she said. The county tries to buy one new bus, priced from $525,000 to $600,000, a year.

There are five mechanics, but Mass Transit has also tapped into expertise from the Department of Pubic Works, and even students at Hawaii Community College are helping, she said.

That didn’t satisfy council members looking at the agency’s $13.8 million budget, which is projected to rise 6 percent next year. Federal grants account for just $1.2 million of the budget, and with fares accounting for $960,000, the county pays an average $11.77 per rider. Riders pay $1-$2 fares, depending on their age and whether they have disabilities….

read … No Maintenance under Kenoi Admin

In Spite of Anti-GMO Activists’ Boycott, 1000s ‘March for Science’

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