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Wednesday, December 4, 2019
December 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:18 PM :: 2071 Views

Yet Another Campaign for HSTA Pay Hikes

It’s Way Past Time For Independent Analysis Of The Cost Of Legislation

CB: … Nearly 30 years ago Hawaii passed legislation to create an independent legislative fiscal office, but it’s been ignoring the law….

A Hawaii court recently struck a blow for that transparency when it upheld the state Office of Information Practices, which had ruled that the Department of Taxation has no right to withhold its underlying assumptions and methodologies when it estimates how much a bill would potentially cost the public.

The department, which typically provides its estimates in testimony regarding legislation, had argued that if it had to be more forthcoming about how it did its calculations, it would be more difficult to do such work in a nonpolitical, impartial manner.

Which brings us to a bigger problem: The department is part of the executive branch and sometimes goes beyond calculating costs to also advocate for the legislative initiatives of the governor. So even though it will now have to share more information with the public, it isn’t nonpartisan.

The Legislature seemingly fixed this problem way back in 1990 when it passed a bill to establish an office of the legislative analyst to operate independently of the executive branch.

Almost three decades later, the office still doesn’t exist….

Nov 27, 2019: Judge: State Can’t Keep Data Behind Its Budget Estimates Secret

OIP: Formal Opinion F19-05

read … It’s Way Past Time For Independent Analysis Of The Cost Of Legislation

Living with decision made 5 decades earlier

WHT: … If you have paid any attention to anything besides impeachment, TMT, or climate change recently, you would have found out that Hawaii still ranks in the bottom nationally on practically all measurements of prosperity. Included are business climate, unfunded liabilities ($25 billion), doctor shortages, homelessness, traffic gridlock, taxes, unaffordable housing, cost of living, etc.

Truth in Accounting. (tia.com) calls Hawaii a “sinkhole” state. The problems of today started arguably in 1962. Then President John F. Kennedy by executive order allowed for civil service to unionize, shortly thereafter politicians in Hawaii joined in the noble cause. Little did anyone know or could have predicted what all that would mean 50 years later.

That’s where we are now, living with decisions made five decades earlier….

read … Living with decision made 5 decades earlier

Hawaii County Council Members Pretend to Question $10M State Reimbursement of Mauna Kea Costs

WHT: Despite deep misgivings from some members, a County Council committee on Tuesday recommended the passage of a resolution that would grant the county $10 million in state funds to pay for police enforcement on Maunakea.

The resolution authorizes Mayor Harry Kim to enter an agreement with the state to receive $10 million to reimburse the county for law enforcement costs incurred as a result of heightened police presence around Maunakea Access Road, where opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope have camped in protest since July….

The resolution — and a companion bill appropriating the $10 million to the proper account — was strongly opposed (LOL!) during Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting by Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, who grilled county Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela on the nature of the agreement.

Despite having discussed the county being reimbursed for Maunakea-related law enforcement costs for months, none of the council members have ever actually seen the agreement between the county and the state, Kanealii-Kleinfelder said.

Kamelamela said the council members never actually asked to see the agreement, although several members scoffed at that claim. Kanealii-Kleinfelder said the committee has repeatedly asked about the terms of the agreement for months.

“Today, we’re being asked for the first time to agree to this magical unicorn of an agreement,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said, arguing that the lack of transparency regarding the agreement was in violation of Hawaii Revised Statute 46-7, a statute that requires such agreements to be made “with the consent of the council.”

Having not seen the agreement, Kanealii-Kleinfelder said the committee has no way of knowing whether the money comes with any strings attached. The county has actually only spent about $4.5 million in police costs as of Nov. 1, said Finance Director Deanna Sako, leaving an open question about on what the remaining $6.5 million will be spent.

Sako said the $10 million number was arrived at arbitrarily because it was sufficiently high to cover the increasing police expenses as the agreement was being developed. However, Kamelamela said the remaining $6.5 million is expected to pay for continued enforcement at the access road.

“If the council’s going to say no to $10 million, that’s fine,” Kamelamela said (without snickering)….

read … Some council members want more info before approving state funds for reimbursing police costs on Maunakea

State AG to prosecute Meth-Head Kauai Councilman

TGI: … The Hawaii Attorney General’s office will be taking over for county prosecutors in the case against a Kauai County Councilmember charged with hitting a police officer with his car while fleeing the scene of a traffic stop a month ago.

The Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has handled Councilman Arthur Brun’s case up to this point, charging him with two felony counts — first-degree assault against a law enforcement officer and resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle — both of which carry up to five years in jail.

But according to the minutes of a Nov. 26 court hearing, when Brun pleaded not guilty to the charges, the prosecutor representing the county informed Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe that Brun’s case was being referred to the Hawaii Attorney General’s office, “due to a conflict of interest.”

Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said via text message Tuesday that he decided to turn Brun’s case over, “Because he’s apparently not stepping down from the council, and the council has budgetary authority over our office.” ….

2002-4: Brun Convicted of meth-related crimes

read … State AG to prosecute Brun

Environmentalist Alchemy: Turn Broken Concrete into Jet Fuel

IM: … Hawaiian Electric Company held a meeting of the Microgrid Services Tariff Working Group yesterday.

The meeting was held while the Hawaii Aviation and Climate Action Summit was being held at the State Capitol, just a few blocks away.

Except for this author, environmentalists show up at neither meeting….

The Hawaii Aviation and Climate Action Summit focused on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Nicole Lowen, Chair of the Hawai`i House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, gave a strong opening speech on the need to address transportation fuels.

Joelle Simonpietri was the organizing force behind the Aviation Summit.

Carl Campagna, Executive Director of the Hawaii Bioeconomy Trade Organization, emceed the event.

A lunchtime speaker was Mark Nakashima, Vice Speaker at the Hawaii House of Representatives. Nakashima stated that his renewable energy of choice was geothermal-generated hydrogen….

Construction and Demolition (C&D) debris cannot be burned at the H-POWER municipal incinerator nor disposed of at the Waimanalo Gulch landfill.

The PVT Land Company in Waianae is the only facility in the state that is licensed to handle contaminated wood.

Simonpietri suggested using C&D to create Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This effort will require funding to further evaluate the technology….

(More realistic idea: Flap your wings and fly to the moon.)

Overall, the summit was a smashing success. It brought together industry, regulators, legislators, legislative aides, and consultants. Although the public was invited to the free summit with free breakfast and lunch, the public did not attend…. 

HPR: Simonpietri’s research has convinced her that O‘ahu could produce ten million gallons of jet fuel a year by converting construction and demolition debris.

IM: Hawai`i Energy Policy Forum Drives Transportation Transformation

IM: TUESDAY -- Hawai`i Aviation and Climate Action Summit

read … Environmentalists Avoid Hawai`i Microgrid Meeting and Climate Aviation Summit

Lawmaker Wants Hawaii To Cap Prescription Drug Prices

CB: … Rep. John Mizuno wants to clamp down on expensive prescription drug costs, and he’s taking his cue from recent legislation passed in Maryland.

Beginning in 2022, Maryland’s new Prescription Drug Affordability board will be able to limit what county and state governments pay for prescription drugs offered by government employee insurance plans.

The measure was the first of its kind in the nation, and initially applied to all insurance plans in the state but was later revised to apply only to drugs purchased by health plans that cover Maryland county and state government employees….

read … Lawmaker Wants Hawaii To Cap Prescription Drug Prices

New Hawaii County permit system delayed until March

HTH: … Officials earlier this year estimated an end-of-year “go live.”

“This has been promised to us, and I use that term loosely, for a year and some change and people in my district are anxious for this to get up and running,” said Kohala Councilman Tim Richards.

The $2.3 million program will integrate data from property records, zoning, critical habitat, infrastructure such as sewer, contractor licenses, building and parcel designs and details and much more into a single system that will allow inspectors from multiple departments to work on a permit application simultaneously rather than shuffling paper from one desk to another.

But since its inception in 2016, the program has run into a number of hurdles, causing additional delays and expenses for new servers with the capacity to handle the powerful system to additional staff to process old records and new applications and get them into the system to new geographic information system software licenses after the old software wouldn’t interface with the Energov system. …

read … New permit system delayed until March

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