SB 232 Civil Unions to be voted in House Friday
38.9%: Hawaii has most deviant Legislative Districts in Nation
Hawaii 2010 Election: Democrats outraised Republicans $13M to $3M
UPDATE: Freedomnomics Author John Lott to Speak in Honolulu
Transparency: Regents Candidate Advisory Council Names Finalists for UH Board of Regents
ACT 221 Scammers rejoice: Bill Clinton tells Hawaii legislators to fork over your tax dollars to his Movie Studios
Hawaii has always been an attractive location when it comes to movie and TV shoots, paradise for locals and tourists, but a shortage of tax credits has made it financially more appealing to shoot elsewhere. (A SHORTAGE????)
Two major entertainment companies, Relativity Media LLC and Shangri-La Industries, are trying to change that. And now they have a powerful political ally: Former President Bill Clinton, who added testimony to a bill that would drastically increase tax incentives for those choosing to shoot there.
Clinton, who is on Shangri-La's advisory board, wrote, "The Shangri-La/Relativity commitment to build the most environmentally friendly stages in existence, coupled with the economic benefits of this bill and Hawaii's timeless appeal, will make Hawaii the most attractive place in the world to shoot a film."
Shangri-La founder Steve Bing and the former president have known each other since at least 2002, and it's an understatement to say that they share common interests. Bing donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, an organization interested in climate change, among other initiatives.
(CONGRATULATIONS! This is where your pension tax money is going—to Bill Clinton and his billionaire cronies. Aren’t you proud?)
City Schedules Feb. 22 Groundbreaking for Rail Transit Project
The City and County of Honolulu is moving ahead with plans for its $5.5 billion rail transit system with the scheduling a groundbreaking ceremony later this month.
City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said she received an invitation from Mayor Peter Carlisle to the ceremonial groundbreaking and blessing on Feb. 22 in off of the Kualakai Parkway (North-South Road) in Kapolei….
“First of all there are two lawsuits and we had all these questions for (city Director of Transportation Services) Wayne Yoshioka that are still unanswered, especially about financials,” Kobayashi said.
“Let’s get the financials first. That affects all of us.”
Rail: Is Mica Really good for $1.85B?
On Tuesday House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla. said this: “Rather than focusing on the Northeast Corridor, the most congested corridor in the nation and the only corridor owned by the federal government, the Administration continues to squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects.” Source: http://transportation.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1065
(Is MufiRail “marginal?”)
Deferred, but not dead: Illegal, Unconstitutional Bill seeks seizure of special funds
Several portions, if implemented, might violate federal law or even be held unconstitutional, said Deputy Attorney General Randall Nishiyama.
"Fees and assessments imposed by an administrative agency can only be used for the purpose of providing services to the persons or entities paying such fees," Nishiyama said.
He cited a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling that found transferring special-fund money derived from specific administrative fees to the state's general fund was deemed an illegal and unconstitutional tax.
"Any other use of those fees would constitute a tax, which can only be imposed by the Legislature," said Nishiyama. "The source of the money comprising the special fund is important."
Nishiyama said moving money from certain special funds appropriated through federal law could open up the state to litigation if moved to the state's general fund.
Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City) acknowledged that many parts of the proposal would have to be removed if it had any chance of making it out of committee.
"There are lots of areas that are obviously not good ideas," Ige said. "There are many provisions that are unconstitutional; there are many provisions that may violate federal law or would jeopardize receipt of other funds.
"Clearly we're going to be going through the testimony and removing those things that are problematic and at least try to identify the universe of special funds that may be candidates for repeal."
CB: UH Could Be Hit Hard By Special Funds Repeal
Brewbaker: Hawaii budget problems would be solved if State could just stop growing budget
Paul Brewbaker, chairman of the Hawaii Council on Revenues, says its projections expect a 6 percent rate of growth in tax collections, which should translate into about $300 million in new tax collections.
"What is needed is a couple of years with steady spending," Brewbaker says.
Steady spending means no new spending, which means no increases in the state payroll, which means no public worker pay raises.
Brewbaker also sees demand for houses going up, meaning more construction.
"You could work your way out of it," Brewbaker says, but cautions that in reality, the state budget isn't flexible enough to hold spending at a steady rate.
RELATED: 8,200 new jobs forecast for '11
Hawaii offshore gambling approved by committee
Gambling would be allowed on large ships traveling between Hawaii's islands under a measure approved by its first committee….
Committee Chairman Angus McKelvey said his committee is amending the bill to require a minimum of 1,000 passengers on no more than two eligible ships.
(They finally found a way to bring the Superferry back)
Key Akaka Tribe Opponent will not seek reelection in 2012 (Who will save Hawaii from the Akaka Tribe in 2013?)
Kyl made his announcement in Phoenix, explaining that he originally thought he'd only serve two terms but ran for a third in 2006 in order to keep the Arizona seat in GOP hands.
"There is no other reason than the fact it is time," Kyl said. "It is time for me to do something else and time to give someone else a chance."…
Kyl, 68, is the Senate minority whip, the second-ranking leadership post behind GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. During his remarks at a conservative gathering, McConnell praised his "friend and right hand" Kyl and said his retirement is a "big loss for the country."
(And now Akaka, age 86, says, “It’s time in 2013.”)
From his leadership post, Kyl has been one of the Senate GOP's fiercest critics of President Obama. Last year, he tried to block Senate ratification of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. He also has criticized Obama's nominees to the Supreme Court, from his spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (And nobody has done more to save Hawaii from the Akaka Tribe.)
Inouye requests Indian Affairs Hearing to attack media coverage of Native Hawaiian federal contracting preferences
Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii want a hearing on the federal contacting preferences granted to Native and Indian firms under the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program.
The hearing would come before the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, and would address the participation of Alaska Natives, Indians and indigenous Hawaiians in the program.
Their letter said a Washington Post series on the preferences created a "misleading and deceptive" perception.
AP Scores: Hawaii DoE keep state way below average
Some 1,001 seniors in Hawaii public schools scored high enough on Advanced Placement exams last school year to get college credit, up 60 percent from 2001.
But Hawaii still ranks well below other states in the percentage of public school seniors earning college credit via AP courses, according to a report released yesterday from the College Board, the nonprofit that administers AP tests.
In 2010, 9.4 percent of Hawaii public school seniors earned college credit through rigorous AP courses.
Maryland topped the nation at 26.4 percent, followed by New York and Virginia.
Mississippi came in last, at 4.4 percent, with Louisiana and North Dakota rounding out the bottom three.
The national average was 16.9 percent.
Panel grills school's board: Myron B. Thompson Academy officials pledge to fix past errors
Pressed by a state panel that could sanction their school, Myron B. Thompson Academy officials said yesterday they are investigating whether Principal Diana Oshiro's relatives were hired fairly and are doing their jobs at the charter school.
"We're not done yet," Myron K. Thompson, co-chairman of Thompson's school board, told the Charter School Review Panel. "This takes work. We'll get to the bottom of all of this, for sure."
He and co-chairwoman Malia Chow answered questions about staffing decisions at the online school, which has four of the principal's relatives on staff.
The panel has begun the process of putting the campus on probation due to concerns about its governance and operations. It set a deadline of March 7 for the school to submit a written report detailing how it is addressing the situation.
Physicians Seek Legislative Rx for Torts, Growing Doctor Shortage
Physicians and supporters crowded a Senate hearing room yesterday in another attempt to sway legislators for so-called tort reform and other laws they say will improve the overall health of the Hawaii’s healthcare industry….
“The crisis is huge,” said Dr. Linda Rasmussen, a longtime advocate for adjustments to tort laws, recounting the story of a Big Island visitor who nearly died when an orthopedic surgeon couldn’t be found. He had to fly to Honolulu to receive treatment.
“Our current system doesn’t work.”
There were similar stories and comments during the presentation, which noted the state is 669 physicians short of what it should have, with the worst shortages occurring on the Neighbor Islands. Dr. Malcolm Ing talked about how he couldn’t save the vision of a two-year-old boy flown who wasn’t able to receive specialized care in Hilo after an accident.
The boy’s mother flew him to Honolulu and 12 hours after the accident, Ing worked to reconstruct his eye during five hours of surgery, but wasn’t able to preserve his sight….
The researchers found there were 2,858 full-time equivalent physicians in the state. That compares to the 3,527 that would be found in a comparably sized community on the Mainland.
Hawaii House approves moratorium on foreclosures
The Hawaii House of Representative has passed a measure that would prohibit non-judicial home foreclosures for five months.
The House voted 50-1 Thursday to approve the bill, sending it to the Senate for additional consideration.
Foreclosures that are reviewed by the courts could proceed during the moratorium.
Republican Rep. Gil Riviere opposed the bill because he said it would hurt a mortgage lending industry that's already having a hard time clearing home loans.
(In 5 months, a glut of foreclosures will occur, driving prices down.)
UH Cancer Center: Stimulus funds help trial lawyers win Mesothelioma Cases
But at least by early 2013, Carbone and his staff can finally realize a dream of a full-scale facility that will allow them to leave behind the University of Hawaii-Manoa center's scattered labs and offices at its rented Lauhala Street building, Gold Bond Building and UH School of Medicine.
Before taking the helm in September 2009, Carbone's focus was on research into mesothelioma, the kind of cancer linked to asbestos. Now he's building new partnerships with Honolulu cancer specialists and luring new experts on cancers known to afflict people here in particular, helped in part by a grant issued under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as stimulus funds.
Tweet in Hawaii and Be Sued
At a time when social media — Facebook and Twitter — are driving revolution in Egypt and other Arab nations, the Hawaii Legislature wants to hold "authors and publishers of visitor guide websites and visitor guide publications liable to individuals who suffer injury or death as a result of being enticed to trespass."
I've written about HB 548 before, pointing out that the Legislature appears to be taking a step that would trample on the First Amendment.
But given the House's determination to proceed — a committee voted unanimously to approve the bill this week — I thought it would be worth pointing out that it's a misnomer to refer to this bill, and its companion in the Senate, Senate Bill 1207 as publishers liability bills.
Text and Be leaked
Abercrombie rearranges gubernatorial portraits so Lingle is literally “out of the picture” at news conferences. Lenny Klompus texts Donalyn DelaCruz about it. DelaCruz and Star-Advertiser reporter BJ Reyes conspire to make Klompus look stupid. Your government and its propaganda organ at work with your tax dollars.
Hawaii needs nonpartisan budget office to estimate how much new laws would cost us
…as it turns out, Hawaii's Legislature is the only one in the nation that fails to analyze the cost of proposed legislation and make that information available to the public. This sends only one message to the taxpayers: You work hard to budget so the Legislature doesn't have to.
It is time to increase transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility by implementing fiscal notes -- or price tags -- that show Hawaii families where and how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent by legislators.
A fiscal note provides an estimate of the costs, revenue or savings associated with a proposed measure. Instead of writing a blank check with taxpayer money, a fiscal note forecasts revenue changes so legislators know the fiscal consequences of a bill before making a decision on it.
Alaska Looks into Hawaii’s Future: “Time to grow up”
I remember in 2002, during a legislative meeting of the Fiscal Policy Caucus, asking the Director of Management and Budget what would happen when Senator Ted Stevens was no longer in D.C. and the federal spigot of funds started to dry up. Her response was, “We try and not think about it.”
That was nine years ago. We’ve known this day was coming but have done little to prepare our communities for it. We have continued to live in a subsidized world, where one of the biggest issues so far this legislative session has been a debate over suspending Alaska’s measly gas tax.
Lets face it, in November Joe Miller garnered 91,000 votes by warning about the federal debt and Alaska’s need to be less of a burden on federal purse strings. It’s a sign that some Alaskans agree we need to be more self-sufficient.
This past week, Alaska Senator Mark Begich, in response to the announced ban on earmarks stated, “I have said many times before, Alaska is a young state with many needs, and we deserve our fair share of federal funding to develop our resources and our infrastructure.”
While I would absolutely agree that federal policies have restricted Alaska’s ability to develop its vast resources, the “young state” argument has been used for decades to justify growing demands on the federal budget for things like the Denali Commission and earmarks for controversial bridges.
This year Alaska turns 52, so arguably we’re not kids anymore.
Is it time for us to grow up?
Rep. Mazie Hirono Appointed to Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today announced her latest subcommittee assignment which will elevate her ability to respond to the needs of the people of Hawaii. The Congresswoman has been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
Lawyer: Nader v Hawaii Case will rewrite First Amendment Election Law
Barnes said he thinks it's now a 50-50 shot that the Supreme Court will take the case, and he believes the justices have been looking for the right opportunity to "rewrite the doctrine on election laws."
"It would be the biggest victory for small parties and independent candidates in Supreme Court and judicial history," he siad.
He said he believes the justices want a case that allows them to frame the controversial Bush v. Gore decision in a different light — as not politically motivated but legally principled.
"This is opportunity for the Supreme Court to rewrite what is permissible," Barnes told Civil Beat in a phone interview Wednesday from California. "The nature of the ruling could be that it ... would rewrite First Amendment election law throughout the entire country."
Puna Geothermal Venture to sell Additional 8MW of Dispatchable Geothermal Power without tying to price of oil
Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO) and Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ORA) today announced the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to add more renewable energy, with pricing independent of oil prices, to the Hawaii Island grid.
As part of the contract, Ormat Technologies' wholly-owned Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) agrees to provide an additional eight megawatts (MW) of dispatchable geothermal power at fixed prices for over 20 years, providing a valuable hedge against fluctuating oil prices that benefits Hawaii Island electric customers. PGV, located in the lower Puna district of Hawaii Island, currently provides approximately 30 MW under two contracts.
(Amazing. Alternative energy that doesn’t need a subsidy.)
Green Energy Cult keeps poor freezing at Mayor Wright
“Of the buildings at Mayor Wright Homes, some have solar panels/tanks that are working, but on cloudy days the electrical back-up does not work,” HPHA said.
“On other buildings, the solar systems have prematurely reached the end of their useful life and the solar tanks are leaking.”
A state inspector has threatened to shut down water tanks on several of the buildings.
The tankless instant hot water systems could be supplied and installed by the Gas Company at a cost of $14,000 per system. The total cost would be $798,000 for 57 systems, according to HPHA.
Henry Curtis: Proposed Big Wind Monopoly in Hawaii Should Be Opposed
The State goal is to replace petroleum imports with local renewable energy production. The State first assumed that Oahu lacked its own resources, and also assumed that wind was the silver bullet. The State solution: huge wind farms on Moloka`i and Lana`i and an undersea high voltage electric transmission line to bring the power to O`ahu.
The proposed project would require modernization (upgrading) of harbors on Lana`i and Moloka`i and turning their country roads into highways in order to bring the wind components to the windfarm site.
Public hearings were held on Lana`i and Moloka`i: “Lanai residents turned out Saturday to express strong opposition to bringing “big wind” to their island” (Maui News, Feb 6, 2011).
“If the community members attending last night’s public scoping meeting have anything to say about it, undersea transmission cables will never carry wind-generated electricity from Molokai to Oahu. Those offering public comment at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center gave a resounding “no” to the proposal known as the Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program (HIREP). With the unanimous rejection of this project” (Molokai News, Feb 4, 2011)
US Energy Dep’t Proposes Offshore Wind Farms for Hawaii
Under the National Offshore Wind Strategy, the Department of Energy is pursuing a scenario that includes deployment of deploying 10 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030. Those scenarios include development in both federal and state offshore areas, including along Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts as well as in Great Lakes and Hawaiian waters. Those levels of development would produce enough energy to power 2.8 million and 15.2 million average American homes, respectively. (That is, they could if the wind blew perfectly 24/7/365 and the turbines never break down in the middle of the ocean.)
Hawaii "Invasive" Species List Could Grow to Include Any Inconvenient Animal
The department wants to re-define an "invasive species" as "any plant, plant pest, noxious weed, microorganism, biological control organism, or animal that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to the environment or to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, animal or public health, native species, natural resources, irrigation, or navigation."
What's even worse is that under the proposed rules, anyone wanting to poison, chainsaw, or release biocontrol agents against any species that they believe qualifies as "invasive" can do so without a permit or even letting the DLNR know. Ah, the smell of napalm in the morning.
So if you thought some community cats, dogs, sheep, goats, or donkeys were a threat to the environment, you could poison them and no one would bat an eye.
IS TAXING OUR VETERANS THE BEST WAY TO HONOR THEM?
Governor Abercrombie says he supports the men and women in uniform who defend our country. But his proposal to tax pensions would hurt thousands of retired military personnel who have served our country and reside in Hawaii. Many of them were in the armed forces for over 20 years before they were eligible to get a military pension, and now live on a fixed income. How can you say you support those who defend our freedoms and then turn around and tax them for having served our country? Makes you want to go hmmmmm...
*Abercrombie's pension tax idea is misguided and just plain wrong