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Tuesday, April 30, 2019
April 30, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:44 PM :: 3444 Views

Contract Reopener: HSTA Gets Another $45.6M

DoE Changes Teacher Evaluations: De-Emphasizes Student Performance

EPA Imposes $425K fine for Waimanalo Gulch Spill

Legislators Vote to Spend Millions More on Electric Vehicles

Trump, the Jones Act and LNG

Video: Akina and Roth Talk Rail

Hawaii 2nd Worst State for Nurses

Donovan Dela Cruz Plays Hardball With Foes Of The Airbnb Tax—and it works

CB: … A list of endangered bills that once appeared assured of passage is circulating around the Hawaii Legislature — essentially a hit list of bills backed by senators who voted last week against taxing the revenues from short-term vacation rentals.

UPDATE: Hawaii Senators voted 13 to 12 in favor of SB1292

A legislative maneuver could force senators to vote again on the so-called Airbnb bill Tuesday, even though it was killed in dramatic fashion Friday night. This time, the fate of 15 other measures, which cover issues ranging from creating new oversight for the Department of Public Safety to burial grants for Filipino American World War II veterans, hangs in the balance.

The bills singled out for review have been passed by their respective committees and are awaiting a final vote Tuesday. Most are either authored by or important to senators who voted against Senate Bill 1292 known as the Airbnb bill.….

The top item on the list circulating around the Legislature is SB 1417, which would provide burial funding for Filipino-American World War II veterans. Its primary sponsor in the Senate is Kim, who is part Filipino, and who voted against the Airbnb bill.

Among the bills on the list of at-risk measures were some  items championed by senators who voted against the AirBnb tax bill Friday night:

House Bill 1068, which provides money to create a long-range plan for Heeia State Park, a measure sought on the Senate side by Riviere, Fevella and Kim, who all expressed opposition to the Airbnb bill.

Senate Bill 1314, which would provide a high-tech tax credit, and had been sought Keohoakole, who voted against the bill.

House Bill 1552, a bill that would create new oversight of the state’s troubled Department of Public Safety, strongly supported by Nishihara, who voted against the Airbnb bill. On Friday afternoon, Nishihara was so confident of the bill’s passage that he posed for pictures with Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald celebrating it.

Popular housing-related bills on the list include House Bill 257 and Senate Bill 471, which both provide money for homeless programs and Senate Bill 9, which provides money for fixing damaged low-income rental units. SB 9 had been sponsored by Chang, Harimoto, Kanuha, Kidani, Nishihara, Fevella, Moriwaki and Shimabukuro, five of whom had voted no on SB 1292.

Other bills on the list whose funding is reportedly at risk is Senate Bill 33, which raises the tax credit for movie production from $35 million to $50 million, House Bill 843, which adds three new technical education positions at Hawaii Community College; House Bill 654, which appropriates money for study of liver and bile duct cancer at the Hawaii Cancer Center; House Bill 1547, which appropriates money for student athletes at the University of Hawaii, House Bill 942, which appropriates money for claims against the state and House Bill 1548, which addresses rapid ohia death.

In the interview on Sunday, Dela Cruz indicated he was less than enthusiastic about the Airbnb bill himself but that he believes the money is needed by the state. He said the vote came up so late in the session that there are few options remaining to cut expenditures.

“This is not easy, balancing the budget,” he said. “Revenues are down and collective bargaining needs to be paid and members have different priorities.”

SA: Final push to tax REITs, TVU rentals

read … Donovan Dela Cruz Plays Hardball With Foes Of The Airbnb Tax

Honolulu City Council committee passes 2 vacation rental bills

SA: …The City Council Planning Committee voted today to advance two bills to deal with the island’s perplexing vacation rental issue.

One bill would allow for up to about 1,715 newly permitted vacation rentals on the island, while the other would crack down on the thousands of illegal units on the island.

What’s more, the permitted rentals would be required to be operated by an owner-occupant of a home so “whole home” vacation rentals would be out. An effort to include whole home rentals, a plan pushed by major vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb and Expedia, failed to garner enough support to move out of the committee.

Final full Council votes on bills 85 (2018) and 89 (2018) are now slated to be heard May 8….

read … Honolulu City Council committee passes 2 vacation rental bills

Special Purpose Revenue Bonds: More Millions for Navatek Front Company

CB: … the dock would be built and owned by one private company, an affiliate of Pacific Shipyards International, a major player in Hawaii’s maritime industry known for receiving sweetheart deals from lawmakers in the past.

One of the measures would provide tax credits to the developer; the other measure calls for the state to issue special state bonds to Pacific Shipyards’ affiliated company Pearl Harbor Floating Drydock LLC to help finance the project.

The bonds total $60 million. The tax credits would be up to 35% of the cost of designing and building the dry dock, which could be as much as $21 million.

Local competitors are crying foul, saying the project represents yet another inside deal for a well-connected firm.

“They’re saying the entire industry is on board, but we’re not,” Ian Caliedo, president of maritime contractor C & S Services Inc., said in an interview. Caliedo said the bills benefit one company – Pacific Shipyards – at the expense of his and others.

Fred Anawati, president of Marisco Marine and Industrial Service Co., agreed. He accused the legislation’s proponents of falsely stating it would benefit the entire industry when the legislation is aimed at just one company….

read … Why Plans For A New Navy Dry Dock Leave Ship Repair Industry Divided

Maui Council Approves $17.7M Property Tax Hike

MN: … Victorino’s tax proposal would generate $338.1 million in total revenues, roughly the same as what the county currently brings in for property taxes. The council committee’s proposed rates would bring in about $355.7 million, about $17.7 million, or 5 percent, higher than current revenues and the mayor’s proposal.

The net revenue under the council committee’s proposed rates would come out to $358 million, based on circuit breaker and minimum tax adjustments.

The rates must now undergo a public hearing, which is set for 10 a.m. May 10 in Council Chambers….

read … Council budget committee OKs across the board tax hike that nets $17.7M more than mayor’s budget

Hawaii County Charter Commission rejects ballot measure abolishing minimum property tax

WHT: … To illustrate his point, Hopkins used his own 8,000-square-foot Nanawale lot in a comparison to what he said was a randomly selected 1,412-acre Hamakua parcel. The Nanawale parcel, with a market value of $4,300, is charged the $200 minimum tax. The Hamakua parcel, with a market value of $1.38 million, is charged $965.86 in annual taxes.

In other words, the owner of the Nanawale property pays 5% of the property value in taxes, while the owner of the Hamakua parcel pays 0.07% of the property value in taxes.

“We’re basically looking at an issue of inequality in our tax system,” Hopkins told his fellow commissioners Thursday. “Are we trying to balance our budget on the backs of people who have the cheapest lots? We’re just saying, be fair about it.”

There are 46,000 parcels charged the minimum tax of $200, which was raised from $100 in 2017. The minimum tax brings in somewhere between $4 million and $5 million annually, said Property Tax Administrator Lisa Miura….

read … Charter Commission rejects ballot measure abolishing minimum property tax

Asset Forfeiture Reform Measure On Ige’s Desk

CB: … A bill to reform Hawaii’s law on civil asset forfeiture was sent to Gov. David Ige Friday for his consideration.

The Legislature is concerned that law enforcement is seizing the personal property of people who have not be charged or convinced of crime.

House Bill 748 would prohibit the practice….

read … Asset Forfeiture Reform Measure On Ige’s Desk

Rep Chris Lee Killed Sex-abuse bill

SA: … House Bill 18, which would have abolished the statute of limitations for civil claims arising from the sexual abuse of children, was killed in conference committee at the Legislature. How does a bill that no representative or senator voted against, fail to get to the governor’s desk?

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Chris Lee, inserted a nonsense effective date, over 60 years from now, into the bill to ensure it went to conference committee, where House leadership could have it killed without evidence of a negative vote.

House leaders such as Lee and Speaker Scott Saiki are entitled to oppose the rights of survivors of sexual abuse — but our system works best when decisions are made in the open, so voters know what their leaders stand for and can hold them accountable….

read … Sex-abuse bill killed without open process

Kaneshiro ‘top of the food chain’?  Katherine Kealoha says she was ‘ordered’ to tell officer to ‘stand down’ in Miske Case

HNN: … When police officer Jared Spiker wanted to arrest Hawaii businessman and convicted felon Mike Miske for fleeing a traffic stop, Miske warned him, “Listen, I going go to the top of the food chain. Trust me, Jared Spiker.”

Later, the officer received a call from Katherine Kealoha, who at the time was a high-ranking deputy city prosecutor.

Kealoha now admits she told Spiker to “stand down” in that phone call. But she says the directive wasn’t made because she was at the top of the “food chain.”

Rather, she claims her supervisor ordered her to make the call….

In her motion, Kealoha denies ever meeting Miske.

The emails include messages from Roger Lau, a longtime investigator in the office who Kealoha describes as her superior, asking Kealoha to call him. Kealoha later writes Lau: “As requested, I spoke with Jared this morning and he was really awesome and he will stand down at this time.”

Later, the office’s chief investigator, Wayne Wills, sent Kaneshiro a lengthy memo complaining about Lee. In it, he confirms that Miske had complained about Spiker coming to his bar looking for him.

The memo says Lau asked Kealoha to call Spiker to prevent Miske’s arrest, implying that the city Prosecutor’s Office owed him a favor.

“Roger (Lau) also mentioned that MM (Miske) had assisted PAT (Prosecutor’s Office), specifically with some stuff at the FJC,” Wills wrote. The FJC is likely the Family Justice Center, a project pushed by Kaneshiro to provide protection to domestic violence victims who planned to testify against abusers.

Hawaii News Now has reported that the facility is among the subjects of the federal investigation. The refurbished building in Makiki cost several million dollars and was barely used ― at least during its first two years.

Because of the potential conflict of interest in the Albert Lee case, the Kauai County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the prosecution.

The Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting Miske for a 2016 felony assault case tied to his role as manager and partial owner of M Nightclub at Restaurant Row, which has since closed down….

The assault case against Miske was being handled by Honolulu prosecutors until July of last year, when the attorney general took over without explanation. The emails between officials in the prosecutors office, which discussed Miske’s “assistance," were in May 2016 ― 14 months before the attorney general took over the case.

The city Prosecutor’s Office denies any special consideration for Miske. It says Miske’s company, Kamaaaina Plumbing, did emergency repairs on two units at the Prosecutor’s Safe House, formerly the Family Justice Center, in March 2015. Receipts provided by the office include two valve replacements for a total of about $208….

HPR: Confused By The Kealoha Cases? Here's A Catchup On Where Things Stand

read … In filings, Katherine Kealoha says she was ordered to tell officer to ‘stand down’

McCartney’s DBEDT nomination heading to Senate

SA: … State Sen. Glenn Wakai recommended that the full Senate not confirm Mike Mc­Cartney to lead Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism during a hearing Monday, accusing him of poor communication with the Senate, lacking a vision for DBEDT, being short on details when it comes to policy matters and not following through on commitments.

Wakai chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism, which is responsible for vetting McCartney’s nomination before it goes to a vote in the Senate.

“It’s evident that Mr. McCartney chooses not to interact with the Senate. He really has no clear game plan as to what the business opportunities are for the state of Hawaii,” said Wakai.

Wakai’s motion ultimately didn’t have the support of his committee, however. State Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Jarrett Keohokalole voted against Wakai’s recommendation, while state Sen. Kurt Fevella, the Senate’s only Republican, supported it. State Sen. Brian Taniguchi, who could have broken the tie, was absent.…

read … McCartney’s DBEDT nomination heading to Senate

Last-Ditch Effort to Save Cheap Electricity Source-- HECO Proposes New Way of Calculating Greenhouse Gas Limits

IM: … HECO is proposing that HECO and AES combine their greenhouse gas emissions. (Docket No. 2018-0090)

In other proceedings, outside of this docket, senior HECO staff have asserted that the AES plant may need to remain available past the 2022 HECO-AES contract expiration date to meet shortfalls in capacity.

Life of the Land, 350 Hawai`i, and Sierra Club were the only three organizations that met thedeadline to file motions to intervene in the PUC docket….

HECO filed its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) to the Department of Health on February 28, 2018.

The Department of Health anticipated completing the review in the summer/fall of 2018, issuing a public notice, and releasing a final decision by the end of 2018.

The complexity of the application pushed back the timeline.

The public notice occurred in April 2019. Public participation is guaranteed under HRS §342B-13. The deadline for comments is May 15, 2019.

The Greenhouse Gas Partnership Agreement involves the Hawaiian Electric Companies and three Independent Power Producers (IPPs): AES Hawaii, Kalaeloa Partners, andHamakua Energy. (Docket No.19-CA-PA-05).

The agreement covers three IPP cogeneration units and ten Hawaiian Electric CompanyGenerating Stations. Four are owned by HECO: Campbell Industrial Park, Kahe, Honolulu, and Waiau. Three are owned by HELCO: Kanoelehua-Hill, Keahole, and Puna. Three are owned by MECO:  Kahului, Maalaea, and Palaau (Moloka`i).

The Department of Health`s Administrative Rules and specifically the Air Pollution Control Administrative Rules govern the process….

"Emissions from HECO’s Shipman Generating Station which closed at the end of 2015 were included in the baseline emissions. …

read … HECO Proposes AES Coal Plant Exceed its Greenhouse Gas Limit

Monday’s crash is latest for Robinson model

SA: … It was the first fatal helicopter crash in the islands since Oct. 16, 2017, when a flight instructor and student pilot died northwest of Molokai.

Like that accident, Monday’s crash involved a Robinson R44, a model that has come under scrutiny for being in more than its share of accidents.

In Hawaii, five of the last 10 copter incidents involved a Robinson R44 — the world’s top-selling civilian helicopter, popular among sightseeing tours and flight schools.

One of those Robinson R44 accidents — operated by the same company in Monday’s crash, Novictor Helicopters — occurred Oct. 22 when a 57-year-old pilot lost consciousness during a scenic tour of Oahu, prompting one of the passengers to grab the aircraft’s controls to slow the descent before it crashed at the Kaneohe Bay sandbar….

Moore said the Federal Aviation Administration requires a more experienced aviator to fly the Robinson R44 because of its tricky rigid rotor system.

In addition, the model is not equipped with instruments that allow aviators to fly in stormy weather, he said. It was raining in Kailua at the time of the crash.

A November Los Angeles Times investigation found that Robinson R44s were involved in 42 fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2006 to 2016, more than any other civilian helicopter.

That translates to 1.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown — a rate nearly 50% higher than any other civilian model tracked by the FAA….

KHON: Lawmakers address long-time complaints about helicopters from residents

read … Monday’s crash is latest for Robinson model

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