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Wednesday, January 31, 2024
January 31, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:13 PM :: 2015 Views

Murder of Ariel Sellers: Motion to Unseal Kalua Family Court Records

Eco-Lawyers to Sue Hawaiian Electric Because Birds Hit Power Lines?

House Democrats Introduce 2024 Legislative Package 

Five Straight Months of Tourism Decline Since Lahaina Fire

HB1357: New State Property Tax on the Move in Legislature

SA: … HB1357, a measure that would have Hawaii voters decide on whether residential investment property valued at $3 million or more should be subject to a surcharge in order to increase funding for local public education, passed out of the state House Education Committee on Tuesday.

… A similar measure was passed by the Legislature in 2018 but later invalidated by the Hawaii Supreme Court. At that time the question printed on ballots was, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?” Ruling in favor of Hawaii’s four counties, the court unanimously found that the wording of the question wasn’t sufficiently clear.

The new proposal, introduced by nine state representatives, would add to the ballot, “Shall the legislature increase funding for public education for all of Hawaii’s children and adults by establishing, as provided by law, a surcharge on residential investment property valued at $3,000,000 or greater, excluding a homeowner’s primary residence?”

The affected properties would be those “that are dedicated for residential use and that do not serve as the owner’s primary residence; provided that the surcharge shall not apply to any affordable housing development that is subject to a regulatory agreement with the state or a county,” the bill said…. 

Big Q: Should there be a surcharge on residential investment properties worth $3M or more?

read … ‘Real estate speculation’ surcharge proposed to benefit public education

Armed Robber with Purple Hair Gets no respect in Legislature: Lahaina Rep Elle Cochran Not Consulted on Lahaina Bills

KHON: … There is a host of bills this legislative session tied to the wildfire that tore through Lahaina -- and one state lawmaker who represents the area is frustrated because she said she was not consulted over the details of the proposals.

"No one’s kept me in the know, of anything, of anything," Rep. Elle Cochran insisted.

"You’d think I would be because I’m the state representative of the district, lived there for 59 years and was a council member for eight of it, but yeah, not so much.”

Although Cochran is angry because she felt left out of the measures authored in response to the blaze, she does back some of the bills….

Oct 2023: Rep Elle Cochran Accused of Stealing Lahaina Fire Donations?

2018: Former Armed Robber Elle Cochran Running for Maui Mayor

read … Lahaina lawmaker upset over bills related to August wildfire

Hawaii Green Energy Initiative is 100% Fake--Hawaii Electricity Still 80% Oil-Fired

C&M: … An April report commissioned by the islands’ largest utility, Hawaiian Electric, warned that reaching an interim target of slashing fossil-fuel emissions in half across the state by 2030 will be challenging because gas-powered vehicles and machinery won’t suddenly disappear. Long-term investments will take years to pay off, allowing older equipment to keep polluting. And despite ongoing research on how to best electrify air travel, its infrastructure is all but certain to be based on petroleum products for the foreseeable future. …

Despite Hawaii’s progress, petroleum still accounts for 80% of all energy consumed by the state’s 1.4 million residents — largely split three ways between electricity, gasoline for vehicles, and jet fuel….

“We’ve made progress on the electric side, but we are not making progress overall,” added Earthjustice’s Moriwake of Hawaii’s transition. “We are not going to get to our overall decarbonization goals unless we confront the transportation sector head on.”…

Moriwake and Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit public interest law firm, filed a lawsuit in 2022 on behalf of 14 children and teenagers against the state, claiming its transportation department prioritizes highway construction that fuels oil consumption and increases pollution that warms the planet. The case, among several youth-led climate lawsuits pending across North America, is scheduled for trial this summer. …

(Translation: After fake Green Energy Initiative, Eco-Kiddies are demanding more phony stuff.)

Hawaii’s greenhouse gas emissions are indeed headed in the wrong direction, with per capita amounts higher than those of 85% of countries on Earth, attorneys wrote in the 2022 complaint. The state’s energy sector — which includes electricity production and transportation  — accounted for about 88% of these emissions. …

Jet fuel makes up a larger share of the state’s consumption — about two-fifths of all petroleum products — than of any other except Alaska, federal statistics show. …

Electricity costs for Hawaii, the Earth’s most geographically isolated population center, with access to few traditional energy resources, have long been three times higher than the U.S. mainland average. Policy makers hoped that lower-cost production from wind and solar would bend that curve — a theory that has yet to become reality. In fact, costs have come down markedly for those who can afford solar panels, but they remain stubbornly high for the much larger number of residents without their own clean energy options. …

(The rest of this article is about how solar panel installers are profiteering on this scam.)

read … The Promise — and the Perils — of Hawaii’s Renewable Energy Revolution (capitalandmain.com)

Some Maui residents fear programs aimed to house fire survivors could make other families homeless

HNN: … Some West Maui families say government programs designed to house fire evacuees are having unintended consequences.

Some fear even more people may end up homeless.

Born and raised West Maui resident Manu Akana said he is on edge because his lease is up in June. He said he is hearing more stories about landlords not renewing their tenants’ leases because they can get more money from the government housing fire survivors.

“Every other landlord wants a piece of that. I mean I would want a piece of that,” Akana, a Mahinahina resident, said.

Akana is talking about FEMA’s Direct Lease program that pays landlords up to 175-percent of Fair Market Rent to house a fire survivor. That means they could get almost twice as much as they are getting now.

Carl Hu owns a short-term rental in West Maui and is renting it out to fire survivors. He said the program is flawed.

“It incentivizes the wrong people. Primarily incentivizes landlords who can make twice as much money by renting to a fire survivor, given them not renewing the lease with a non-fire survivor,” said Hu.

“The displaced is getting into places now, and the people who weren’t displaced are going to get displaced. So, you’re not really fixing anything,” Akana said….

(CLUE: One or the other is moving to Las Vegas.  So the program is achieving its unstated goal.)

read … Some Maui residents fear programs aimed to house fire survivors could make other families homeless

After Doing Everything they can to Force Lahaina Fire Victims to move to the Mainland, Maui Finally Accepts a few FEMA Trailers

CB: … A 63-acre parcel of privately owned land in West Maui could become the site of a temporary group housing project with 214 modular units for displaced survivors of the Aug. 8 fires….

The group housing project won’t be necessary if FEMA can secure enough direct leases for all eligible households. But the agency is moving forward with the review to get it rolling just in case.

“This is the absolute last resort,” FEMA spokesman Victor Inge said Tuesday. “But when we go into a community where there’s been devastation, all the options are on the table.”…

(CLUE: Normally, FEMA trailers are the first  resort.  They are delivered by the trainload to a disaster area within days.)

State Sen. Angus McKelvey, who represents West Maui, said he hopes the temporary group housing project does move forward, but with “dignified” modular homes — not “the next generation of trailers.”

(CLUE: Meaningless rhetoric.)

Out of 25 evaluated properties around the island, the Kaanapali location along Kakaalaneo Drive was the top choice of FEMA, which “worked closely with state and county officials.”

It is about 3 miles from Lahaina. There is the ability to tie into utility connections being established for the new West Maui Hospital and Medical Center. And owner Kaanapali Land Management Corp. is willing to lease the property to FEMA….

Of the other evaluated properties, 22 were dismissed as not feasible. Two are still under review: the Leialii Group Site in Lahaina and the Waikapu Country Town Group Site in Wailuku….

(CLUE: 2 other locations available for trailer parks.)

. As of Tuesday, with the contracted assistance of three out-of-state property management companies, 1,360 direct lease units were under contract.

But to date, only 128 families have signed leases and are ready to move in….

Background: FEMA to Build Hawaii's First Mobile Home Park

F: Maui Senator Says Rebuilding Lahaina Will Take 10 To 20 Years (forbes.com)  (CLUE: Move to Vegas now.)

SA: FEMA plans to build homes in Kaanapali

read … FEMA Is Developing A 'Last Resort' Plan To House Maui Fire Survivors In Kaanapali - Honolulu Civil Beat

Maui Businesses Are Supposed To Have Priority For Wildfire Cleanup Jobs. Do They?

CB: … The California-based principal contractor working on Lahaina wildfire debris removal is refusing to share information on which subcontractors it is hiring for the job….

Since the fire, the Corps has awarded $106.2 million in contracts to two Native Hawaiian Organizations under the federal 8(a) program, and $18.7 million for cultural monitoring services to the Honolulu architectural firm AEPAC.

Dawson Solutions LLC, based in Honolulu was awarded a $52.5 million contract for hazardous site assessments and bulk asbestos removal in Lahaina, Kula and Olinda on Oct. 16, and completed the contract Jan. 14…

Dawson’s general manager Derek Mar said via email that the company was not involved in the second phase of Lahaina debris removal. Mar said that all the partners involved in the Phase One hazardous site assessment were identified on the Ho’ola Maui Hui website….

The subcontractor list for Dawson includes at least seven Native Hawaiian Organizations and a dozen other Hawaii providers or businesses with Hawaii offices.

For the construction of the temporary school to replace the Kamehameha III Elementary in Lahaina a base contract for $53.7 million was awarded on Nov. 4 to another Native Hawaiian Organization, Pono Aina Management of Waianae, according to the Corps’ contracting website.

Honolulu firm AEPAC’s contract for cultural monitoring of FEMA missions assigned to the Corps includes subcontracting Na’Aikane o Maui, A’ina Archaeology, Brandis Sarich Art + Architecture and cultural practitioners from the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, according to AEPAC’s website….

read … Maui Businesses Are Supposed To Have Priority For Wildfire Cleanup Jobs. Do They?

Money-Grubbing Dopers in Legislature Argue over how to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

MM: … A marijuana legalization measure unveiled in draft form last year by Hawaii’s attorney general has now been formally introduced in the legislature, with companion bills filed in both House and Senate. Advocates, however, say the latest version needs major changes to shift the plan’s focus away from law enforcement and allow for the clearing of past cannabis convictions to provide relief to those most harmed by prohibition.

Led by Rep. David Tarnas (D) in the House and Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (D) in the Senate, the bill is largely the product of Attorney General Anne Lopez (D) and her staff. During a confirmation hearing last April, she committed to leading an administrative task force “between now and next legislative legislative session to develop a complete regulatory and law enforcement legislative package that you can attach to any bill if you’re planning to legalize marijuana”—a commitment that led to the new bills: HB 2600 and SB 3335.

Momentum to legalize cannabis has been building for years in Hawaii, and earlier this month, the Senate’s majority Democratic leadership listed the reform as one of its top legislative priorities for the current session. The chamber passed marijuana legalization bills in 2021 and 2023 that later stalled in the House of Representatives….

Remember the MJ Dispensary Scrum???

read … Hawaii AG's Marijuana Legalization Bill Formally Lands In State Legislature, But Advocates Urge Major Revisions - Marijuana Moment

Legislators Again Pushing State-Run Retirement Savings Scam--Auto Enroll?

ASPPA: … Employees would no longer be required to opt in to participate in the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program but rather would be automatically enrolled under legislation now before the Hawaii House and Senate.

Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D-Waikiki) introduced SB2553 on Jan. 19, 2024; Rep. Andrew Garrett (D-Manoa) introduced the House of Representatives version, HB2197, five days later on Jan. 24, 2024….

When the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program began, one of the features that distinguished it from its state counterparts was that employees would not be automatically enrolled; rather, they would have to opt in to participate and be covered by the program.

But the legislation now before the Hawaii legislature would bring enrollment in the Hawaii program in line with that of the programs put in place by its sister states. The bills would change the way employees are enrolled and instead require automatic enrollment, with employees able to opt out.

The bills also would redefine what a “covered employer” is for purposes of the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program. It would change the definition so that the term would mean any person who is in business in the state and has one or more individuals in employment....

HB2197 was referred to the House Finance Committee and the House Labor & Government Operations Committee; the latter is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on Feb. 1. SB2553 is before two Senate committees: Labor and Technology, and Ways and Means….

BACKGROUND: Policy experts: Hawaii does not need to be in the retirement fund business

2022: SB3289: Advocates will be back for ‘Opt-out’ Again and Again until They Get it

read … Opt in Out, Auto Enroll in for Hawaii Program? | AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PENSION PROFESSIONALS & ACTUARIES (asppa-net.org)

DOE: 11 schools with inoperable fire alarms

KHON: … The report showed 14 schools’ fire alarms are in critical condition with 13 of them needing a complete replacement ….

The DOE added, there are 11 schools using a fire watch plan for their campus due to inoperable systems. Konawaena Elementary teachers said, the fire alarms have not worked in nearly four years….

For more details, check out the DOE’s 2024 report….

read … DOE: 11 schools with inoperable fire alarms, dozens with faulty systems

Miske’s ‘right-hand man’ testifies for prosecution, but could prove gift for defense

HNN: … Wayne Miller said he was a phony employee of Miske’s termite company while living a life of crime. He presents a double-edged sword for prosecutors.

While he admits to committing many crimes for Miske, he was also a one-man crime wave on his own — even while cooperating with the FBI….

read … Miske’s ‘right-hand man’ testifies for prosecution, but could prove gift for defense

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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