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Wednesday, March 31, 2021
March 31, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:57 PM :: 2666 Views

Feds Bust Six in DPP Bribery Scheme

HB169: Outlaw 'Conduct with Intent to Convey False or Misleading Information'

Public hearing set on Honolulu short-term rental draft rules

Is Bitcoin illegal in Hawaii?

Ige Names Three to Board of Regents

VIDEO: Sen Stanley Chang Annoyed by 'Dark Skinned' Security Guard

Hawaii moving forward using coronavirus vaccine passport for travel

KHON: …State officials are moving toward issuing some type of vaccination passport to travel in and out of Hawaii as thousands of Hawaii residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 every day.

The passport could come in the form of an app or be as simple as the vaccination card people receive after being vaccinated.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the state can have travelers use the vaccination card as proof while waiting for an app to be ready. Officials at the airport can check them to see if they are authentic.

“You would have a company that would do spot checking and certainly, you can check the card itself and make sure that it looks legitimate and so on,” said Green.

He says not many people would be willing to fake a vaccination card while knowing they could be fined up to $5,000 and spend one year in prison.

“I think if people are gonna show their card for a trip, it’s gonna be very rare that someone goes to that length and put themselves kind of in jeopardy to just have a vacation,” said Green.

He says the state is ultimately looking to work with a local company called First Vitals to create an app that shows proof of vaccination.

“They would be able to verify the health record, they would then encrypt it so people can’t steal someone’s health record. Although really, all it is is whether you got vaccinated or not and your name and the date it occurred,” said Green.

Those who are fully vaccinated will get a QR code on the app if the record shows that it has been at least two weeks since their last shot. Tourism officials say it will not only bring in more visitors but boost inter-island travel among residents.

“That’s what we see, families that haven’t seen each other for a while that live in Kauai, Maui, Hawaii Island, Oahu. And this will allow that kind of travel to take place without the additional cost of being tested,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Green says Hawaii is administering up to 10,000 doses of the vaccine every day, so it is safe to move forward with this proposal.

“I would love to pilot it in mid-April with the cards at least for inter-island travel. I think that makes a lot of sense. It would immediately empower probably about half of our travelers inside the islands to travel safely,” he said.

It would ultimately be up to the governor with input from the mayors…. 

read … Hawaii moving forward using coronavirus vaccine passport for travel

Keeping Vacant Positions Funded and Secret--State officials won’t release unemployment office budget

SA: … As state House leaders finalized their version of the biennial budget last week, they announced they had appropriated $105 million to Hawaii’s labor department to tackle a massive problem: thousands of unpaid unemployment claims and a call center so overwhelmed that some residents have tried for months to get through to an agent without success.

It’s a major appropriation at a time when state lawmakers are having to make hard funding decisions as the coronavirus pandemic continues to depress state revenues. But when it comes to how the House came up with the $105 million figure and how the money would be specifically allocated, top law­makers, as well as the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, won’t say, other than to provide a broad outline of funding areas.

The labor department has refused to provide the Honolulu Star-Advertiser with the budget proposal that was sent to Gov. David Ige and provided to state lawmakers. Lawmakers have also refused to provide the newspaper with those documents, claiming it wouldn’t serve the public interest since the budget is a work in progress (insert excuse here).

Any information that executive agencies provide to the Legislature when seeking to use taxpayer money is public record, said Brian Black, executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center, which advocates for government transparency. The state Office of Information Practices “made that clear in a decision more than 10 years ago, which it reaffirmed more recently,” he said by email. “And when the City and County of Honolulu attempted to withhold internal budget memoranda because the budget decisions were not final, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected that argument nearly three years ago. DLIR cannot withhold budget memoranda simply because the budget is not final.”

Former state Sen. Gary Hooser, who closely tracks the Legislature, said he was stunned to hear that the labor department and lawmakers wouldn’t provide the budget information. “‘Flabbergasted’ is too gentle a word,” he said.

“I was under the impression the budget-making process was supposed to be a public process. Isn’t this why they have hearings and make public various drafts and worksheets?” he said….

March 30, 2021: State executives plead with lawmakers to save hundreds of vacant 'positions' at risk of being cut

read … State officials won’t release unemployment office budget

Hawaii Senate Committee Mulls Inheritance And Conveyance Tax Increases

CB: … Despite an unprecedented $1.6 billion federal bailout of state government earlier this month, the state Senate is again eying a substantial package of tax increases designed to squeeze Hawaii’s wealthiest residents to help pay the state’s bills.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee gave unanimous approval Tuesday to proposed amendments to House Bill 58 to wring more revenue out of both the state inheritance tax and the state conveyance tax. The bill would also suspend a variety of state excise tax exemptions.

Seconds later, Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz asked the committee to reconsider that action to allow more time to finalize some technical details in the bill. The committee then walked back its vote, which is now scheduled for Thursday morning.

On Monday the same committee approved House Bill 133, which would increase the state capital gains tax on profits from sales of capital assets such as houses, stocks, bonds or jewelry. That measure would initially raise an extra $57 million a year for the state….

CB: Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Could Bring Billions To Hawaii

read … Hawaii Senate Committee Mulls Inheritance And Conveyance Tax Increases

Hawaii Already Has A Job-Creation Program. It's Called Rail

Cataluna: … Interim CEO Lori Kahikina has tried to change the game since being hired in January, with the rail authority laying off dozens of staffers and contract workers at its downtown offices. The reaction from staff and their union was disbelief. How dare she! Nobody gets laid off from rail! That’s not how this thing works!

All those cliches that used to be espoused at management seminars hold true for HART, but in a cynical way:

It’s not the product, it’s the process.

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

The job isn’t over until it’s perfect, so it is never over.

If only construction of the rail could be sustained indefinitely. That sure seems to be the goal sometimes. The number of complications that have arisen sometimes seem to be part of a ploy to keep the party going as long as possible. If construction is never finished and service is never launched, the whole endeavor would not be a total loss….

read … Hawaii Already Has A Job-Creation Program. It's Called Rail

Judicial directive aimed at curtailing COVID in jails causing problems in streets, hospitals   

HNN: … While most people grew accustomed to lock-up and restrictions in the pandemic, many petty criminals have actually been given more freedom. Even after committing violent crimes.

Now, many neighborhoods and hospitals are suffering the consequences.

Noon mass is a daily ritual at Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. A time for parishioners to take pause cloaked in a sense of comfort and calm.

But outside there’s chaos and lawlessness.

On Wednesday, a half dozen police cars lined the perimeter of the church as paramedics whisked a man into the back of an ambulance.

“There’s a lot of fights. Knife fights,” said a woman who wanted to remain anonymous.

Witnesses told Hawaii News Now the violence stemmed from a drug deal gone bad.

“One had a knife in his hand swinging it around,” said the woman. “That’s when he got punched. He just went down basically.”….

HNN: Violent crimes are happening around Oahu, yet HPD is failing to provide crucial info

read … Judicial directive aimed at curtailing COVID in jails causing problems in streets, hospitals

Keep Tourists off the Beaches so we can use them as a Gigantic Festering Homeless Tent City

CB: … Designated shelter-in-place camps, monitored (LOL!) by the Kauai County Health Department (this is what they were doing during COVID?) live in their 1cars and 2tents openly, without having to hide in the bushes or move constantly to dodge the authorities. Bringing them all together would have made it easier for health regulators to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak, although there never was one.

Many homeless campers have created elaborate, semi-permanent living quarters over the last year, complete with 3furniture, a 4communal trampoline for the kids, 5kayaks, 6electric stoves and 7solar panels.

(Wow.  These bums sure stole a lot of stuff from you all.  They have a lot of time for kayaking and trampolines.)

“For each homeless individual in the park who would really love to stay there, there’s a phone call to the mayor’s office from an irate citizen who would like the park returned to its normal use and is upset that the bathrooms are trashed and that there are abandoned vehicles all over the park and that it’s unclean,” said Kauai County Housing Director Adam Roversi….

Now, hundreds of homeless campers face an abrupt end to their newfound sense of stability. As the county prepares to reopen beach parks to leisure camping, government officials are shutting down the homeless camps so residents and tourists can reclaim these spaces for recreation. …

(Lesson: Letting the homeless live in ‘their’ tents does not end homelessness. It just relocates it. The homeless must be FORCED to live in hard-walled shelters.)

Kauai police received 286 calls for service to Anini Beach Park from March 2020 to February 2021, according to KPD spokeswoman Coco Zickos. The top three reasons for the calls were domestic disputes, welfare checks and COVID-19 violations.

(IDEA: Move them to the beach fronting Kahala so Pierre Omidyar can meet them.)

Multiple campers said a young woman recently gave birth at the beach park. On Monday, firefighters picked up a camper who was blocking traffic by laying in the middle of the road.  ….  (Great ‘supervision’ from Health department, LOL!)

MN: Homeless dude gets 10 days in jail for violating emergency rules

read … Kauai Wants To Reopen Beaches To Tourists. That Could Put Homeless Back On The Streets

House Investigation Into Sharon Har Postponed Until Criminal Case Concludes

CB: … Hawaii House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti on Tuesday agreed to delay an investigation considering formal complaints against a state representative.

Belatti agreed to the request from Howard Luke, the attorney for Sharon Har, who was arrested last month on a drunken driving charge.

Luke asked that the investigation be postponed until Har’s criminal case concludes. She is scheduled to appear in District Court in late April….

Feb 27, 2021: Rep Har DUI Arrest: Smelled of Alcohol, Yelled 'Black Lives Matter'

SA: House panel suspends state Rep. Sharon Har DUI inquiry

read … House Investigation Into Sharon Har Postponed Until Criminal Case Concludes

13 Affordable Housing Bills Still Alive

PBN: … As of this week, with about a month left in the session, there are 13 bills that are progressing through the process, including two that are scheduled for decision making on Thursday before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means — one that would exempt public lands used for affordable housing from management by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and another that would authorize bond financing for the Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s senior affordable housing project on School Street.

Three Senate bills that crossed over to the House are still waiting to be scheduled for their first hearing, including the “Aloha Homes” proposal….

read … Working thru red tape

SB132: Expanded Sunscreen ban dead

CB: … Senate Bill 132 passed the Hawaii Senate and one House Committee unanimously. Unanimously.  (It helps if you repeat it.)

Now, shockingly, (shockingly) a second House committee has killed the bill by not allowing it to go forward to a hearing. This committee, Consumer Protection and Commerce, chose to ignore the overwhelming (overwhelming) evidence (hype and hysteria) against the safety and effectiveness of these chemicals (chemicals!)….

Reality Chemical Company Behind Anti-Sunscreen Campaign

read … Hawaii Shouldn’t Wait To Ban Harmful Chemical Sunscreens

90% of visitors abide to mask mandate, survey shows

KITV: …A total of 19,491 people arrived Monday in Hawaii from out of state. A total 13,612 people indicated they came to Hawaii for vacation. The trans-Pacific passenger arrival data is derived from data provided by the Safe Travels digital system….

read … 90% of visitors abide to mask mandate, survey shows

Bill that would provide rent relief to businesses advances in state Legislature

HNN: … If House Bill 1324 is passed, it would create a grant program for landowners to provide relief to their commercial tenants.

Using federal money, the state would allow eligible business tenants to qualify for the lesser of 3% of 2019 taxable rent or three months of full rent.

Despite the second round of PPP and other new federal programs, Ryan Tanaka of Island Business Management said some businesses have accumulated up to an entire year of back rent.

“We saw the greatest drop in GDP among all 50 states in 2020, next to Nevada, which explains why these custom rules-based programs provide a way to expedite a local economic recovery as a strong support,” Tanaka said.

Some businesses who have thought about closing their doors for good welcome the assistance.

“When the Stay at Home Order took place and no one would actually come here, our sales dropped like 90%,” said Yuka Nawano, president and CEO of Eggs N’ Things. “But most of us, we have to still, you know, be obligated to the same rent and there’s just no way that we can survive without this rent relief program.”

read … Bill that would provide rent relief to businesses advances in state Legislature

Rooftop Solar Increases Inequality

SA: … Before COVID-19 struck, a homeowner in Honolulu told me that he felt guilty. He had been an early adopter of solar panels and as a result of the generous state tax write-off, the net energy metering system (NEM) enabled him to pay for the system years ago; he now paid only a small amount for more electricity than he could use.

He and his friends, who also had the income and the means to sign up for the NEM program, represent nearly 70,000 people, 15% of Hawaiian Electric’s total, mostly living in Hawaii’s most affluent areas. Many of them have added big-screen TVs and other amenities because electricity costs them virtually nothing. All have increased the value of their properties by $35,000 just by having solar.

Since then, many other programs have taken place beyond NEM and the number of solar panels now reaches nearly 33% of the residential homes in Honolulu. Unfortunately, the many millions of dollars in state subsidies spent to make Hawaii fossil-free in the effort to meet the climate change goals has made more evident preexisting problems of energy poverty. Because Hawaii has the highest price of electricity in the U.S., many on fixed incomes can barely afford access to electricity and hot water to bathe and wash clothes.

According to the latest state of Hawaii data, a typical homeowner with solar panels pays 2% of their income on energy. A low-income family can pay between 15% and 25% on electricity, leaving little for food and other expenses….

read … Column: Social equity fund for renewable energy

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