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Sunday, March 20, 2022
March 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:23 PM :: 2496 Views

The last time Congress created a new state

Earned Income Tax Credit: Great, but Where Is It?

OHA Completes only 28% of Audit Recommendations

Hawaii's leading newspaper supports Jones Act waiver

Five myths that pervade the minimum-wage debate

HB1837 HD1 a good vehicle for identifying Hawaii housing barriers

Ethics: State Employees Can't Self-License, but they can Self-Deal

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Federal Investigation to Target HART?

Borreca: … HART promised the feds it would construct a transit line that went to Ala Moana, not the improbably named “Civic Center” that no one has ever heard of.

The deal with the Federal Transit Administration was for 20 miles of rail, 21 stations, and 20 four-car trains traveling from East Kapolei through downtown Honolulu to Ala Moana Center. If the plan now is for 18.75 miles and perhaps 19 stations, there may be a few federal questions about the competence or truthfulness of the folks running things in Honolulu.

Those questions are not accompanied with millions of federal dollars. They come with federal investigations….

read … Talking about a terminus: Mayor Rick Blangiardi seeks to stop rail at Kakaako, at least for now

Shorter Honolulu rail route could avert Kakaako dispute

SA: … A new plan to stop rail construction two stations short of Ala Moana Center would eliminate the need to build a 20th station on less than 2 acres of disputed land in Kakaako projected to cost taxpayers as much as $200 million to acquire.

By October, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation already had spent $23.28 million in legal fees to two law firms in its eminent domain dispute with Texas-based Howard Hughes Corp. over the planned Kakaako Station….

read … Shorter Honolulu rail route could avert Kakaako dispute

Overtime Slush Fund: 5,000 Ghost Positions and Legislators Want to Add More

CB: … During his State of the City speech on Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi laid out an opportunity and challenge for Honolulu. The city government has more than 3,000 job openings, the mayor said. And that doesn’t count 80 new positions he’s planning to add to the Department of Planning and Permitting….

Honolulu isn’t alone. Hawaii’s state executive agencies have about 2,000 vacancies, said Ryker Wada, director of the Department of Human Resources Development. That doesn’t count departments outside DHRD’s purview, including the University of Hawaii system and the 22,000-employee Department of Education, which is perennially short of teachers….

read … The City And State Have Thousands Of Jobs Open. But Can They Find Enough Workers?

Alleged Tantalus Shooter is Son of Two HPD Officers

SA: … A Honolulu Police Department sergeant helped facilitate the peaceful surrender of her 19-year-old son after he allegedly shot and killed an 18-year-old man during the botched robbery of a rival on Round Top Drive on Friday….

Honolulu police put out a Crime Stoppers news release at 3:15 p.m. Friday saying that Nainoa M.K. Damon was “armed and dangerous.” Once his mother and step­father, an HPD corporal, learned that Damon was wanted in connection with the killing, she reached out to him, according to sources, and urged him to give himself up.

Damon’s mom and step­father have not spoken with detectives investigating Friday’s murder….

Damon was booked at 2:10 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of murder in the second degree, after he walked into the Wahiawa police station with Honolulu defense attorney R. Patrick McPherson.

Damon’s mom, the HPD sergeant, is currently assigned to the Wahiawa station. A former Mrs. Hawaii America, she was awarded HPD’s Bronze Medal Of Valor in 2017 after she stopped a drunk, distraught man from jumping off a bridge….

According to the Hawaii Judiciary Information Management System, Damon has 16 prior citations and arrests for traffic violations since October 2020.

On Jan. 13, 2021, Damon was arrested for reckless driving and racing, and cited for speeding in excess of 81 miles per hour. The charges were eventually dismissed with prejudice, meaning prosecutors could not refile them. On Mar. 2, 2021, he was cited for driving without a valid license and not having car insurance. Both citations were dismissed with prejudice.

On Oct. 13, he was stopped for exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 miles per hour and driving more than 81 miles per hour. Both citations were also dismissed with prejudice…. 

SA: Nainoa Damon, 19, charged in fatal Round Top Drive shooting

read … Honolulu police sergeant helps facilitate surrender of son wanted for murder

Bills Mandating Count of Every Person for Apportionment die in House

HTH: … The House Committee on Government Reform on Wednesday deferred Senate Bills 3244 and 3254, which strive to change how population is counted for allocating the number of senators and representatives per island and drawing legislative boundary maps. The reapportionment process is undertaken every 10 years following updated population figures from the U.S. Census….

Common Cause of Hawaii supported both new measures. Executive Director Sandy Ma said Hawaii is the only state to remove the nonresidents from its count.

“We don’t want a process where certain people are not counted in reapportionment and redistricting, where other people such as temporary and part-time residents may be counted,” Ma said. “We do understand the plight of neighbor islands. We want to have a fair balance but Hawaii is actually the only state that extracts military and students, that has an extraction process, and so there is a concern as to having a good process in place.”

The U.S. Census counts all people who live at a specific address on a specific day, in the latest case, April 1, 2020….

Since most nonresident military and students are on Oahu, the ultimate result of counting them would be more legislative seats there. The Big Island most recently added Senate seat and House seat came about after the nonresidents were extracted, in 2011 and 2021, respectively….

All four of Hawaii Island’s senators voted against the bills when it was in that chamber before crossing over to the House on votes of 19-6 and 21-4.

The bills fared worse in the first House committee, which has Maui Democrats as both chairman and vice chairwoman.

“I don’t like either of these bills. I think they are very bad for neighbor islands,” Vice Chairwoman Tina Wildberger said. “And we’re going to lose House and Senate seats if either of these two go forward.”

Chairman Angus McKelvey noted, “we have numerous testimonies from numerous individuals, all in opposition.”

SB 3254 proposes a constitutional amendment basing reapportionment and redistricting on the number of all residents, not just permanent residents, as is the current requirement. That means, if the bill had passed and voters subsequently approved it on the ballot, nonresident military and students would no longer be removed from the count before new legislative districts were created.

SB 3244 would repeal the definition of permanent resident.

The bills appear dead for the session….

read … Bills diminishing neighbor island political clout die in House

Hawaii unemployment fund needs more money after federal bailouts end

SA: … Hawaii’s capacity to pay unemployment benefits is forecast to drop this year after two years of federal bailouts, prompting legislation to use state taxpayer revenue to shore up the safety net typically supported by businesses.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations expects its unemployment insurance trust fund will fall 51% by the end of this year, to $58 million from an estimated $119 million at the end of last year with some claims pending.

A $58 million balance pales in comparison to the fund’s $601 million pre-pandemic balance, and would be the fourth-lowest level in over 30 years — there was a negative balance in 2010, a paltry $19 million in 2011 and a negative balance in 2020 that was reversed largely with federal aid.

To pump up the fund’s capacity, state lawmakers introduced several bills this year, including one that would create a back-up fund to the regular fund, and a few that would infuse the unemployment fund with taxpayer revenue. A couple of bills also aim to avert an impending spike in unemployment insurance tax rates for businesses.

One of the supplemental funding bills, introduced at the request of Gov. David Ige, would deposit an unspecified amount of state general fund revenue into the unemployment fund.

This measure, Senate Bill 3129, has so far drawn divergent views from a few large organizations representing employers and employees….

SB 3129 cleared the Senate in a 24-0 vote March 8 and unanimously passed an initial House committee hearing Thursday….

One other big change lawmakers are pursuing to alter the unemployment fund’s balance would extend a shield protecting businesses from an impending inordinate increase in unemployment insurance taxes.

Vehicles to do this, HB 2471 and SB 3128, would disarm an automatic spike in the tax contribution rate pegged in part to a peak one-year unemployment benefit expense in a 10-year period. Because of claim expenses in 2020, a statutory formula is set to boost tax rates so that the fund’s balance balloons to $1.77 billion next year, according to DLIR.

Lawmakers last year provided a similar adjustment to avoid the spike last year and this year. The two pending bills would extend the adjustment through 2030 so that tax rates would elevate the fund’s balance to $568 million next year, in line with a more normal high balance….

The House Labor and Tourism Committee unanimously passed SB 3128 Tuesday after the measure cleared the Senate on March 8 in a 24-0 vote. The companion measure, HB 2471, passed the House on March 3 in a 48-1 vote and on Wednesday cleared the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts with unanimous approval.

These two bills are now headed for additional committee hearings….

read … Hawaii unemployment fund needs more money after federal bailouts end

Grants-In-Aid Set for Monday

CB: … More than 300 organizations will have a chance to ask for state funds from lawmakers on Monday with the return of the state’s grants-in-aid program….

read … Legislative Speed-Dating: Hundreds Of Nonprofits Get 2 Minutes To Ask For Cash

When You're Cracking Down On Corruption, Don't Forget Lobbyists

CB: … Enhance Gift Reporting For Lobbyists And Officials … Require Ethics Training For Lobbyists … Create Visitor Logs And Make Them Public … Make Lobbyists Disclose Bills They Lobby On ….

read … When You're Cracking Down On Corruption, Don't Forget Lobbyists

Accused crime boss Mike Miske's trial date could be pushed back

KITV: … One of the defendant's lawyers is asking for the trial to be pushed back, while Miske's lawyer is asking the government again to share documents on the case. And one of the co-defendants in the case has turned government's witness.

Co-defendant Delia Fabro-Miske and US attorneys are headed back to court on March 24 to discuss her request to move the trial date…. It is currently set for September 6. Her lawyer, John Schum, blames the Government's late production of quote "voluminous discovery" - just a portion of which includes 700,000 pages of documents.

… lawyers for Michael Miske filed two motions to compel discovery concerning cooperating government witness Ashlin Akau. In the motion, Miske contends the Government is concealing information relevant to Akau's credibility, since prosecutors took evidence from her. The Court set a March 25 deadline for the government to produce the documents.

read … Accused crime boss Mike Miske's trial date could be pushed back

State To Pay $40,000 After UPW Members Facilitate USO Gang Attack At Oahu Jail

CB: … The state has tentatively agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit over an attack involving alleged gang members at the state’s largest jail after staff left doors and gates open in the facility, giving a group of inmates an opportunity to move between floors and use clubs and shanks to attack another prisoner.

According to court records, the attack left Faatalale Auelua “covered in blood from head to toe,” but he survived. Auelua was 41 at the time of the attack on May 17, 2015, and had been booked into Oahu Community Correctional Center to await trial for a misdemeanor assault charge and driving with a suspended license, records show.

According to Auelua’s lawyer, Michael Stern, the dispute between Auelua and members of a gang identified in court records as USO Family began when Auelua told gang members to stop stealing yogurt from an older prisoner ….

read … State To Pay $40,000 In Alleged Gang Attack At Oahu Jail

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