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Wednesday, June 27, 2018
June 27, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:40 PM :: 4131 Views

Supreme Court Rules Government Unions Cannot Force Workers to Pay Dues

False Missile Alert: HGEA Members Sleeping on the Job

Misunderstanding Economics: Interview with Paul Brewbaker

Maui Planning Department Finalizes Short-Term Occupancy List

HUD: $93,000 now considered 'low income' on Oahu

HNN:  An Oahu family of four bringing in $93,300 or less this year is considered "low income" under newly-released U.S. Housing and Urban Development guidelines. These guidelines are used to determine who can qualify for affordable and subsidized housing programs.

The new threshold is up $9,600 from 2017, underscoring just how quickly housing costs are rising on the island.

Last year, an Oahu family of four earning up to $83,700 was considered low-income. In 2016, it was $80,450.

Meanwhile, the guidelines consider a single person earning $65,350 a year low income compared to $58,300 in 2017.

And a single person bringing in $40,850 or less is considered "very low income."….

A national report released last month found that the average renter in Hawaii earns about $16 an hour, but renters actually need to earn $20 more an hour — $36.13 to be exact — to afford a two-bedroom, modest rental in the state.

In 2018, the median family income on Oahu is $96,000….

read … HUD: $93,000 now considered 'low income' on Oahu 

No guarantees for renter in property tax proposal

SA:  Question: I am a renter. I mail my rent check to a local property management company. I think the property owner lives out of state, although I am not certain. I went to public schools and support public education, but I do have questions about the constitutional amendment. When we vote, will we know what level of investment property they’re taxing, and how much that tax will be? My landlord is an “investor,” technically. I honestly can’t afford for my rent to go up.

Answer: No. The ballot question that will be put to Hawaii voters Nov. 6 is, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

As you can see, the proposed constitutional amendment does not define investment real property, the size of the surcharge or exactly how the money will be spent, other than generally in support of public education. We mention that last point because another reader asked whether it mandates school-level spending; the answer to that also is no….

read … Kokua Line

New Dialysis Clinic Sits Empty for Three Years Waiting for HGEA Inspection

CB: …A Moiliili dialysis clinic held its grand opening ceremony Tuesday after sitting virtually unused for three years, the victim of a slow state inspection process.

The U.S. Renal Care Beretania Dialysis Clinic needed an initial inspection in order to admit patients insured by Medicare or Medicaid, two government-run programs. About 85 percent of Hawaii patients rely on those programs, so state inspectors must confirm the facility meets federal standards before operators can be reimbursed.

The 17-chair center could only serve a couple of patients with commercial, or private, insurance while it was stalled in the state’s lagging certification and inspection process.

A 24-chair Mililani clinic run by Liberty Dialysis faced a similar predicament, but has also recently begun admitting Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Another 13 clinics are up for recertification this year, but the state has identified a contractor to help with recertification inspections while new employees await the specialized training necessary to survey a dialysis clinic….

read … HGEA at Work

HNN to host Republican debate featuring gubernatorial candidates

HNN: …The event will feature state. Rep. Andria Tupola and former state Sen. John Carroll, and touch on a host of issues facing the islands.

The two are hoping to win over Republican voters ahead of August's primary election in Hawaii….

The Republican debate kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday on KHNL. It will also be livestream on HNN's website and app, and our Facebook page…. 

read … HNN to host Republican debate featuring gubernatorial candidates

HART moving toward public-private partnership

SA:  The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is inching closer toward finding a private partner to help complete the $8.165 billion rail project despite lingering reservations by some HART board members.

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee is slated to take up Resolution 18-139, which throws the Council’s support behind the idea, at its 9 a.m. meeting today.

HART consultant Ernst &Young Infrastructure Advisors released a study last month that concluded it would be beneficial for the agency to finish the last 4.1 miles of the guideway and eight stations with a private partner under a design- build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM), or P3, model.

The work also would include construction of the Pearl Highlands Garage and Transit Center as well as long-term operations and maintenance once the line is up and running….

After several months of discussion, the HART board is now expected to decide on giving HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins the OK to solicit proposals for the P3 plan at its next meeting on July 19.

Under a proposed HART staff timeline, contractors would be solicited in August with a list of qualifying prospective partners selected in October. A formal request for proposals would then be issued in late November with an award issued about a year from then.

Proponents of a P3 model argue that such an arrangement would cap the city’s share for the project at $8.165 billion and transfer the risk of additional costs to a private partner….

SA: Council voices support for private rail partner

read … HART moving toward public-private partnership

10 questions about rail that have had very little discussion

CB: After 11 years of paying the additional rail GET, how much has each person and family on Oahu paid?….

read … 10 questions about rail that have had very little discussion

Hawaii is #1 state for nurse burnout, according to study

HNN: …Hawaii's population continues to age and continues to need more care. But according to a new study by Medicare Health Plans, we have a nursing shortage that's contributing to burnout and fatigue..

There are 1.9 nurses per 1,000 people in Hawaii, according the study. Hawaii's consistently ranked as one of the top states for well-being but finding nurses is a struggle. Dinah Yanza, a nurse recruiter at staffing agency Kahu Malama Nurses says the agency reaches as far away as Canada for nurses, even offering them major perks.

"We call them up and offer bonuses, stipends, assisted housing," said Yanza.

Amanda Heath, another staff member there says the burnout factor can be a major problem.

"They have 12 hour days, 16 hour days, you know 4,5, 6 days in a row," said Heath.  It could potentially cause disasters by being sleepy or the lack of attention to care for your patients." ….

read … Hawaii is #1 state for nurse burnout, according to study

Report ranks Hawaii one of the best states for LGBTQ ‘families’

HNN: …A new report says Hawaii is one of the best states in the nation for LGBTQ families to live in.

The report, written by, looked at laws, demographics and other circumstances that can affect LGBTQ families. The website used its findings to rank every state in the nation.

The Aloha State ranked behind California and Illinois. Connecticut and Maryland rounded out the top five in the report.

Hawaii's "equality-focused state laws and policies" boosted its ranking. These laws relate to hate crimes, anti-discrimination, and adoptions.

"Hawaii’s LGBTQ+ population density is also one of the highest on our list at 3.8 percent of the state’s population. This means there are currently 42,581 LGBT-identifying individuals throughout the islands," the report said.

About 3,200 same-sex couples live in Hawaii…..

LINK: Report

read … Other People’s Kids

New law requires Computer Science in public school curriculum

KHON: Lawmakers and educators want more students to learn about computer science, so they will be better equipped in the future. This also means teachers need to be trained in the field. …

"From kindergarten to fifth grade, pretty much they will have something. Then six to eighth, we'll have to decide, they could offer it to everyone in every grade or they may just offer it in seventh or they may just offer it in eighth," said Momilani Elementary School Teacher Shane Asselstine….

The law goes into effect July 1st. By the 2021-2022 school year, each public high school will need to offer at least one computer science course during each school year.

read … New law requires change to public school curriculum

Act 48: No Auction required for Derelict Vehicles

MN: …Maui County’s abandoned vehicles staff does not see many major problems with a new state law requiring counties to remove and dispose of abandoned vehicles along public roads within 10 business days of being declared abandoned.

Last week, Gov. David Ige signed Act 48 into law requiring the timely removal of abandoned vehicles from roads. The measure nixes the requirement that abandoned vehicles be sold at public auction and allows vehicles to be disposed of more quickly and efficiently, said a news release from Ige’s office.

The law also makes it easier to classify vehicles as “derelict” or inoperable, which eliminates the storage requirement, freeing up space at tow yards, and sends the vehicle directly for disposal….

That’s not to say, Maui doesn’t have its own abandoned vehicles problems, with the county towing about 1,700 vehicles for this fiscal year, which comes to an end Saturday. Fiscal 2017, from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, saw about the same number of towed vehicles at 1,724.

But in fiscal 2016, there were 1,130 tows, 799 towed cars for fiscal 2015 and 463 in fiscal 2014….

read … New abandoned car law not major issue for county

Civil forfeiture law needs reform

SA:  …for over three decades, Hawaii’s attorney general has failed to govern the forfeiture program reliably, leading to mismanagement of forfeiture cases and seized property. In one of the audit’s more shocking findings, the state AG’s Office consistently failed to comply with a state law requiring it to use 20 percent of its share of forfeiture proceeds for drug prevention programs. While the office should have allocated more than $2 million in forfeiture revenue to such programs over the past 13 years, the audit could identify no such spending.

Yet during that time, over $2.6 million in forfeiture revenue was spent on salaries. It shouldn’t take an audit and 13 years to learn that millions were funneled into executive branch salaries while legislators and the public are left in the dark.

The results are a wake-up call for lawmakers and the governor. It is time to overhaul civil forfeiture in Hawaii.

First, the state needs to strengthen safeguards for innocent property owners. Hawaii should follow the lead of Nebraska and New Mexico and abolish civil forfeiture outright and replace it with criminal forfeiture. In those states, property is forfeited as part of a criminal proceeding and only after a conviction or plea deal.

Short of abolition, lawmakers can make it easier for property owners to fight back. Hawaii is one of only three states that require owners to post a bond before they can challenge forfeiture of their own property in court.

As a 2016 investigation by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser showed, innocent property owners have little incentive to assert their rights when seized property is less than the cost of the bond, much less the cost of legal counsel. The audit found that 85 percent of forfeiture cases went uncontested. The state should repeal its obstructive bond requirement.

In addition, Hawaii should follow Arizona and Colorado and adopt robust transparency laws that hold agencies accountable for their forfeiture activity and spending. Currently, public oversight is minimal in Hawaii….

Background: Audit: State Asset Forfeiture Program -- 30 Years Without Rules

read … Civil forfeiture law needs reform

Snorkel Rentals Kill: Elderly woman dies while snorkeling in waters off Poipu

KHON: …An elderly woman died while snorkeling in waters off Poipu Monday morning.

Kauai police identified her as Alicia Snakard, 80, of Connecticut.

Police say she went snorkeling in shallow waters off Poipu Beach with the assistance of a woman who was part of her family’s group….

read … Elderly woman dies while snorkeling in waters off Poipu

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