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Monday, February 28, 2022
February 28, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:08 PM :: 1831 Views

Lawmaker asks Ige to drop Hawaii's mask mandate

Hawaii 2nd-Lowest COVID Deaths Per Capita

Navy Secretary Visits Red Hill Again

Tourist Spending Down 19% from Pre-Pandemic Numbers

The Perpetual Covid ‘Emergency’--Will Legislators Trade Democracy for Food Stamps?

WSJ: … Too many governors won’t give up their new power despite the ebbing health threat….Democratic governors across the country, and a few Republicans as well, are maintaining emergency declarations that grant them sweeping power to suspend state laws and limit liberty if they deem it necessary to protect public health.

Emergency declarations serve some useful purposes, which is one reason nearly half of states, including GOP-led Texas, still have them in effect. They allow governors to waive onerous laws that prevent out-of-state healthcare workers from providing services (including online) and unduly restrict the “scope of practice” for nurses and pharmacists. Yet many Republican governors have ended states of emergency, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis last June and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds in February….

now that Covid is endemic, why don’t legislatures permanently repeal or relax laws that restrict their citizens’ access to medical care? Mostly because powerful interest groups, including lobbies representing in-state healthcare professionals, oppose doing so. Republican governors may be as susceptible to these political pressures as Democrats.

Governors have another incentive to extend states of emergency: The Family First Coronavirus Act, enacted in March 2020, increased food-stamp benefits subject to states of emergency at the state and federal levels. This is one reason average food benefits nationwide have doubled during the pandemic. Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut last month extended the state emergency declaration through June, citing the need to preserve access to an additional $30 million each month in federal food-stamp funds….

Related: Alone in USA, Hawaii Gov. David Ige still firm on keeping indoor mask mandate

read … The Perpetual Covid ‘Emergency’

$128M Giveaway to HSTA

CB: … Senate Bill 2819 proposes a one-time appropriation to bump up pay for 8,700 senior teachers to a salary in keeping with their years of service in Hawaii. A report from the Senate Education committee late last week estimated the cost of the adjustment at $94 million.

Senate Bill 2820 proposes a one-time $34 million expenditure to continue yearly salary boosts ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 for hard-to-fill teaching roles. The pay increases, which began in January 2020, have proven effective at reducing teacher vacancies and attracting more people to these positions, according to recent DOE data.

read … Senior Hawaii Teachers Inch Closer To Receiving Pay Raises

Insiders Say a Rule Change Would Persuade More Cronies to Volunteer

HB: … A broad spectrum of companies, nonprofits, unions, associations and individuals support legislation that would change a rule that dissuades some people from serving on important state boards. A host of advocacy groups and individuals oppose the rule change.

Under a state law that took effect in 2014, volunteer members of state boards and commissions must file financial statements with the state Ethics Commission. These statements, which cover the volunteer and spouse, must list sources and amounts of income, debt amounts and who they are owed to, and the value of ownership in companies and property like real estate.

Most disclosures are kept confidential, but the Ethics Commissions publishes the disclosures online of the volunteer members of 17 important boards and commissions, including the Board of Land and Natural Resources, UH Board of Regents and state Board of Education. (See full list below.)

A bill in the state Senate and another in the House would change that law: Published information would still list the board members’ sources of income, who they owe money to and what they own but not the amounts or value. Supporters say that if the rule is changed, many more highly qualified people (influence peddlers) would be willing to volunteer, and at a time when Hawai‘i needs them.…

read … Many Say a Rule Change Would Persuade More People to Volunteer

Releases From Hawaii Prisons Slowed During Pandemic Despite Supreme Court Orders

CB: … Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that even as Covid-19 surged among inmates and staff in Hawaii’s crowded prisons and jails in 2020, the state correctional system actually reduced the number of inmates who were released from Hawaii prisons during that first year of the pandemic.

That new federal data is particularly striking because the Hawaii Supreme Court issued orders in April and August of 2020 to expedite releases of lower-risk inmates in an urgent effort to reduce overcrowding and control the spread of the virus inside.

Those court orders primarily applied to jail inmates, meaning prisoners who were awaiting trial or were low-level detainees serving short term sentences. Prison inmates who were convicted and serving terms of more than a year did not qualify for expedited release under those court orders….

The number of inmates released from state prisons sank from 1,623 in 2019 to only 1,126 in 2020, a decline of nearly 31%, according to the federal data.

read … Releases From Hawaii Prisons Slowed During Pandemic Despite Supreme Court Orders

Two virtual currency bills pass final committee hearings

HTH: … A pair of bills that would provide state regulatory support for “virtual currencies” successfully passed their final committee hearings in their respective chambers last week.

A joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Commerce and Consumer Protection on Thursday discussed Senate Bill 2695, which would, if passed, establish a “Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Task Force” to review data and potential legislation regarding cryptocurrency and related technologies in order to submit recommendations for the 2023 legislative session.

At the same time, House Bill 2108 passed the House Finance Committee. That bill would establish a pilot program for licensing and oversight of cryptocurrency companies in Hawaii….

read … Two virtual currency bills pass final committee hearings

Rental car crunch hits Hawaii (again)

KHON: … It has been especially difficult to pick up a rental car on Kauai. Honolulu resident Jeffrey Kimoto said he has not been able to get a rental in three weeks….

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) said they haven’t seen shortages on Oahu or Maui, which they say actually does more rentals than Honolulu….

So what can save people money when they’re taking a trip this spring? Agrusa recommends using person-to-person rental car services like Toro….

read … Rental car crunch hits Hawaii

The Latest Failed Shenanigans by Hu Honua

IM: … The Public Utilities Commission Evidentiary Hearing for the HELCO-Hu Honua Amended and Restated Power Purchase Agreement will start tomorrow with a cross-examination of HECO`s Rebecca "Becca" Dayhuff Matsushima….. 

CB: Three days of Hu Honua evidentiary hearings began Tuesday

read … The Latest Failed Shenanigans by Hu Honua

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