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Saturday, April 27, 2019
April 27, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:14 PM :: 3473 Views

Let’s End ‘Gut and Replace’ at Legislature

SB1353: Industrial Hemp Heading to Governor's Desk

Legislators Send Three Anti-Gun Bills to Governor

A Jones Act conversation with Rick Hamada and Mike Hansen

OHA Releases Aina Summit Report

City Releases 2019 Annual Sustainability Report

Victory: Changes would make it easier to force homeless with severe mental illnesses to get treatment

HNN: … It may soon be easier for mental health professionals and the court to force chronically homeless people with severe mental illnesses into treatment.

Within hours of a deadline that would have killed the proposal, lawmakers voted unanimously Friday to pass changes to the the state’s Assisted Community Treatment Law.

They agreed that people don’t have to be dangerous to get treatment ordered by a court.

Mental health advocates say the way the ACT law is worded currently has kept hundreds of homeless people suffering from mental illness trapped on the streets.

“The previous law made it too hard for us to intervene," said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. "Now heath professionals can intervene more efficiently when people are really mentally ill and stuck on the street.”

Under current law, someone diagnosed with a mental illness can only be forced to take psychiatric medication if they’re suicidal or threatening to hurt someone else.

It’s a threshold the majority of homeless people suffering from severe mental illness don’t reach….

The proposal is expected to come to final vote Tuesday….

read … Changes would make it easier to force homeless with severe mental illnesses to get treatment

Bill to raise minimum wage appears dead for this year

SA: … House Labor and Public Employment Chairman Aaron Johanson had agreed to increase the minimum from the current $10.10 per hour on a series of steps that would have topped out at $15 an hour in 2024, but said he was unable to get approval for that idea from House leadership.

House lawmakers had proposed in House Bill 1191 to authorize a lower minimum wage of $12.50 an hour for employers who offer health coverage to their workers, but Johanson dropped that idea today after the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations raised concerns about that idea.

“I don’t have money approval on my side, and I’m not sure it’s going to come given the substantive change (in the bill) that has come at this late hour,” said Johanson.

Senate Labor Committee Chairman Brian Taniguchi said that “we’re disappointed by it, but we understand. We struggled to provide some help to employers, but I guess at this point we should move to defer.”

Johanson replied that “this is in much better shape for next year, but unfortunately, I concur.” ….

read … Bill to raise minimum wage appears dead for this year

REIT Tax Passes Legislature

CB: … Senate Bill 301, which would impose Hawaii’s 6.2% corporate income tax on real estate investment trusts, was approved unanimously by conferees in the remaining minutes before time ran out on negotiations at 6 p.m.

If the bill passes both houses and is signed by Gov. David Ige, Hawaii would become the first state in 50 years to impose taxes on real estate investment trusts.

But another major tax bill regulating short-term vacation rentals, Senate Bill 1292, went down in a narrow defeat in a late-evening floor session.

It would have required operators of short-term rentals to pay transient accommodation and general excise taxes, with hosting platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway acting as tax collectors on behalf of the state….

After brief but earnest debate, senators voted 12 to 12 to kill SB 1292. Thirteen votes were needed to pass the bill on to Ige for his consideration, but Sen. Kurt Fevella — who indicated yesterday evening his strong opposition to the bill — was absent.

The vote was welcomed by members of Unite Here Local 5, which represents hotel workers. The union lobbied senators and were hopeful they had the votes to kill SB 1292. They did….

read … Screw A&B

Hawaii tax broker bill for Airbnb, vacation rental platforms fails on final vote

PBN: … It was the fourth time the Legislature had tried, in an attempt to rein in the proliferation of Hawaii’s illegal transient rentals, to pass legislation that would get platforms such as Airbnb and Expedia to collect and remit the taxes….

read … Hawaii tax broker bill for Airbnb, vacation rental platforms fails on final vote

Happy News: Climate Change Bills Died in Conference Committee

IM: … HB765 HD1 SD2 Requires incorporation of sea level rise projections in all new plans and updates to existing state plans generated under the Hawaii State Planning Act and the plans of the Public Utilities Commission.

HB1487 HD1 SD2 Establishes the Honolulu shoreline climate protection pilot project to develop a plan to protect urban Honolulu from the impacts of sea level rise, floodwater, storms, and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate….

read  … Happy Day

Hawaii Legislature Botches Energy Legislation

IM: … Simultaneous Carrots and Sticks for Electric Vehicles -- HB 1585 HB1 SD2 CD1 requires the public utilities commission to administer a rebate program that incentivizes the installation or upgrade of an electric vehicle charging systems, while  SB 409 SD2 HD1 CD1 requires owners of electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles to pay an annual registration fee of $50….

HB 852 HB1 SD1 CD1 removes the State Energy Office from being part of DBEDT and instead makes the office administratively attached to DBEDT. …

According to Hawaii's utilities, successfully achieving one hundred per cent renewable electricity by 2045 is expected to save nearly $6,000,000,000.

It is hard to believe that the State Legislature is unaware that the 100 percent by 2045 does not pertain to electricity but to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) metric.

In response to a Life of the Land inquiry, HECO asserted that if the grid sales come from 35% renewable and 65% fossil and there is an equivalent 80% in rooftop solar, then the total renewables are 115 (80+35) while the grid sales are 100 (35+65) and the RPS is 115% (115/100). Thus the grid can be mostly fossil fuel based while the RPS exceeds 100% RPS by 2045….

The carbon tax study bill (HB 1487) made it to the conference committee where the bill died. The bill proposed a public carbon tax study. … HB 852 incorporated the carbon tax study but removed the pesky public….

HB452 is one of those bills that hide its purpose. It allows the public utilities commission to establish preferential rates for farmers if the crop is fruits or vegetables but not marijuana, is for distribution (as opposed to what?), with a partially or fully controlled microclimate, and on-site renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

The bill was supported by Ulupono Initiative….

HB 556 Requires the department of business, economic development, and tourism to adopt minimum appliance efficiency standards for certain products sold or installed in the State that are substantially equivalent to existing appliance efficiency standards established in California and by the federal government. This bill was strongly pushed by the Blue Planet Foundation….

HB 1261 Gov. Makes permanent the requirement that decisions in contested case hearings of the Commission on Water Resource Management, Land Use Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Hawaii Community Development Authority, and those involving conservation districts be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, with certain exceptions….The Legislature created the Environmental Court a few years ago to consolidate all environmental appeals, and then quickly changed the process to send agency appeals directly to the Supreme Court, while threatening pay and benefit for judges and proposing that the Senate should be able to block re-appointment of judges….

read … Hawai`i Legislature Botches Energy Legislation

Hawaii lawmakers poised to approve proposal to reform state’s criminal justice system

HNN: … The state House and Senate gave preliminary approval today to a bill aimed at ushering in reforms to the criminal justice system, including creating a commission that would oversee the state’s correctional system.

The Hawaii Correctional Oversight Commission would be tasked with overseeing the state’s Department of Public Safety and transitioning the state’s jails and prisons away from a punitive model to one focused more on rehabilitation.

The commission would include five members appointed by the governor, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court and chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The commission would be overseen by a full-time, paid oversight coordinator selected by the governor from a list of three nominees submitted by the commission….

House Bill 1552 would also expedite bail hearings, ensure that bail can be posted seven days a week and require correctional facilities to continually review pretrial detainees to see if they should be eligible for pretrial release.

The bill would also establish a criminal justice institute within the office of the Chief Justice to conduct research on national best practices when it comes to criminal justice policy.

The bill, as well as Senate Bill 192 which advanced yesterday, implements a number of the recommendations of two task forces created by the state Legislature to improve the criminal justice system…

read … Hawaii lawmakers poised to approve proposal to reform state’s criminal justice system

Poorest in Honolulu see greatest increase in housing costs, report says

PBN: … The poorest quarter of households in Honolulu earn 74 percent less than those at the top of the scale, but their housing costs are 18 percent higher, and housing costs are growing more quickly for those at the bottom half of the nation’s income distribution than those at the top, according to a report by Apartment List….

The report notes that while incomes have grown fastest at the higher end of the scale, housing costs have done the opposite, with Americans in the bottom 10 percent of income distribution experiencing the highest growth in housing costs over the past 10 years….

Honolulu’s gap ratio has been fairly steady over the past 10 years — in 2008 the 90-10 ration was 10.6, meaning the income of people at the top end was 10.6 times the income of those at the bottom.

But while those at the high end of the scale in Honolulu have seen their housing costs increase by 12 percent, housing costs for the poorer households have increased by 18 percent, according to Apartment List….

Related: Hawaii Land Use Laws Violate Fair Housing Act

read … Poorest in Honolulu see greatest increase in housing costs, report says

Roadside panhandling and fundraising could be outlawed

KHON: … A proposal by City Council Chair Emeritus Ron Menor -- with the title "Relating to Pedestrian Safety," would forbid panhandling, fundraising, or any commerce along the busiest city streets.

"So for example the bill would prohibit a pedestrian from entering or remaining upon a median or an island, unless in the process of legally crossing the roadway. Again we're talking about a high-speed, high-traffic roadway."

A similar proposal was enacted into law in Springfield Missouri a few years ago.

Menor cited Meheula Parkway in Mililani, which is part of his district, as well as Kaneohe Bay Drive in Windward Oahu, and several main streets through Downtown and Urban Honolulu as examples of roadways where such activity would be prohibited.

A vendor selling newspapers alongside a state highway in Kailua was hit by a truck and critically injured in 2011. He recovered and can be seen in his usual spot -- but now sells papers from his wheelchair.

"The purpose or intent behind these restrictions is to limit the exposure of pedestrians and motorists to potentially hazardous situations."… 

SA: If passed, a specified period to cross the road will be enforced, and violators would be fined $100

read … Roadside panhandling and fundraising could be outlawed

Trash and tally: Numbers from recent state, county homeless cleanup initiatives

WHT: … State and county crews spent a considerable amount of time and effort over the last two weeks dismantling established homeless encampments across Kailua Village.

Most notably, state Department of Transportation personnel teamed up with the Hawaii Police Department and a private contractor to remove about 10 people and 10 truckloads of trash from thick brush near the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway, which is state land….

Tim Sakahara, DOT spokesperson, said four truckloads carrying roughly 15 cubic yards of rubbish were pulled from a culvert running underneath the highway near Henry Street. That area is known locally as the Tunnels.

Only one homeless person was on site at the Tunnels the day of the removal, Sakahara continued, while two were offered notification the week prior that a cleanup was coming. Huxley Reeves, a homeless man who lives on the streets in Kailua-Kona, guessed between six and eight individuals had been residing in the culvert.

Reeves and two other individuals were moved off Alahou Street, which connects to Henry Street behind the Aloha Island Mart. A couple tents and a small pile of personal belongings were removed from the roadside.

At least three other homeless people were made to vacate a culvert off Hualalai Road that runs adjacent to the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union. Trash from that site filled six small passenger crew cabs and one large dump truck, said Barbara Kossow, Hawaii County deputy managing director.

HPD also conducted park sweeps, which Community Policing Sgt. Joseph Stender said happens three or four times monthly. Two trash cleanups have been conducted at Old Kona Airport Park recently, one in March and one on April 18, though amounts of rubbish collected on those dates was not available….

Google: “Meth Hoarding

read … Trash and tally: Numbers from recent state, county homeless cleanup initiatives

5 former Hawaii scouts among victims in growing Boy Scout sex abuse scandal

HNN: …  Five former Hawaii Boy Scouts are among the thousands of victims in the growing Boy Scout sex abuse scandal.

New court documents indicate that more than 7,800 scout leaders nationwide have been removed for the organization over the past seven decades and that there are more than 12,000 victims.

The alleged abusers include Robert Ward, who was a scout master for the Boy Scouts and Hickam Air Force Base during the early 1970s.

“He would go out hiking with the individuals, go out camping ... or go bird watching with the individuals and then take those opportunities to sexually abuse the kids," said attorney Mark Gallagher, who represents three of his victims. Two of them sued the Boy Scouts.

“This was full on sexual contact, fondling and sexual acts of oral nature and anal.”

Ward was not criminally charged and didn’t contest the lawsuit, which were filed decades after the alleged incidents occurred.

The suit was settled out of court and the terms are confidential….

read … 5 former Hawaii scouts among victims in growing Boy Scout sex abuse scandal

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