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Monday, February 4, 2013
February 4, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:30 AM :: 19079 Views

Watershed Plan: Abercrombie Executive Order Allows Logging of Dead Trees

Hawaii Mayors Back Gun Ban

CB: The mayors of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties all signed an open letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors formally backing President Barack Obama's plan to strengthen background checks, track ammunition sales and increase penalties for straw purchases of guns. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell did not attend the mayor's conference last month but said he would also sign it. The letter also supports U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to ban assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines.

read … Gun Ban Letter

Abercrombie’s TAT Head Fake Wins Acceptance of Proposal to make 9.25% Rate Permanent

SA: Hawaii established the transient accommodations tax in 1986, beginning at 5 percent, on top of the general excise tax. After the economy suffered in recent years, legislators increased the hotel tax considerably, from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent in 2009 and temporarily to 9.25 percent in 2010, with that higher rate intended to expire by July 2015.

Conventional wisdom points to the unlikelihood of the 9.25 percent hotel room tax ever coming down, especially since our tourism market has weathered the bump-up well. And with Hawaii tourist numbers at record levels and forecasts predicting continued robust activity, it's mighty tempting for the state to squeeze the cash cow.

But Abercrombie's feeler bill to increase the tax to 11.25 percent in July seems an overreach

read … There’s a sucker born every minute

Legislature rules for public notice already getting sidestepped

ILind: The legislative session isn’t three weeks old yet and already it looks like rules are starting to be bent to meet internal deadlines.

Email alerts from the legislative information system at 6:42 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. Friday alerted the public of bills added to the agendas for Monday morning hearings before the House Agriculture and Housing committees.

The housing committee added HB1117 to its 8:45 a.m. agenda, while the agriculture committee added two bills and deleted two other bills from its 11:30 a.m. agenda.

House rules seem to require public notice of Monday or Tuesday agendas before 4:30 p.m. “on the last work day” of the prior week.

read … Sidestepped

Put Adult Care Home Records Online?

CB: Hawaii’s 51 nursing homes post their inspection reports — which show if there’s a history of violations and what corrective action has been taken — on the Internet because they are federally regulated….

…legislators to try to pass a law this session that would also require Adult Care Homes inspection reports to be posted online starting Jan. 1, 2015.  It’s not the first time such a bill has been introduced.

As expected, the adult care home industry is out in force trying to get it shelved again. The people who run these facilities say it’s an invasion of privacy and would cost the state a lot of money….

“Hawaii’s senior and disabled populations are rapidly increasing while our nursing home bed capacity has remained approximately the same,” he said in his testimony. “When there are no nursing home beds available, people have to consider community-based options — but there is currently no quick or easy way for the public to attain information on the quality of care of these facilities.”

Last week the bill cleared the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Josh Green, after a couple amendments were made. …

The companion legislation in the House isn’t faring as well.

SA: Measure would put facilities' critiques on Web

read … And they supply votes

IAL: Grove Farms Threatens to Expel Ranchers in Favor of Biofuel and Property Development

SA: Owner calls iffy acreage farmland--A private firm wants a state designation that brings tax credits and other benefits

Kauai's second-largest private landholder wants the state to designate about 11,000 acres it owns as "important agricultural land" under a 2005 state law, but advising agencies are divided on whether the entire area deserves the special status.

Grove Farm Co. and an affiliate recently petitioned the state Land Use Commission to qualify two big tracts of land near Lihue and Koloa under a state law intended to protect farmland in perpetuity.

But much of the land — about 4,000 acres — isn't used for agriculture and includes ravines and gulches. Most of the land — about 6,000 acres — is rated as having "very poor"soil under University of Hawaii criteria.

Grove Farm said the property it seeks to designate is suitable for growing biofuel crops, and that it intends to lease about 10,000 acres of the area to a partnership that includes Grove Farm, Kamehameha Schools and Maui Land &Pineapple for growing eucalyptus and bana grass to burn and generate electricity for Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu within the next five years.

Presently, Grove Farm leases close to 5,000 acres of the area to ranchers raising cattle….

…one other benefit to landowners that voluntarily seek IAL designation is not having county government officials select land for protection.

Under the law, counties are required to select appropriate lands, including privately owned property, for IAL designation. But they can't impose the protection on more than half of any private landowners' holdings. So if a landowner voluntarily designates half his land as IAL, the other half in effect becomes protected from such designation.

read … The more rules, the more hustles

Don't be surprised if both refineries close, experts say

HNN: "The total refining capacity of both facilities," says the UH Economic Research Organization in a research report, "has exceeded Hawaii's demand for refined products for quite some time, and Hawaii's demand for oil is actually expected to shrink further."

They also face diminishing demand in a state that subsidizes solar power and electric cars. "What did you expect?" says economist Paul Brewbaker. "These refineries have been operating in a market where the government is actively trying to reduce their business."

"It is clear that the closure of at least one of Hawaii's refineries was expected, and barring some significant improvement in the local refining industry Chevron may very well follow Tesoro's conversion to an import facility," says UHERO.

UHERO predicts there will be little if any change in fuel prices when the Tesoro refinery closes and sees the same effect on any subsequent closure of the Chevron refinery because of the ready availability of already-refined gasoline and diesel on the West Coast, but notes that the picture might be different for Hawaiian Electric, which needs a less widely available high grade of fuel for its power plants to meet EPA pollution standards.

KITV: Sharp rise in gas prices hitting residents hard

read … Don’t be surprised

Record tourism numbers, but not in all respects

HNN: The 7.9 million visitors who flew to Hawaii in 2012 did indeed represent a record number, and 4.1 percent above the previous record of 2006. But UHERO, the UH Economic Research Organization, points out that arrivals from the mainland, 4.9 million, fell short of the record 5.2 million that came to the islands in 2006. Canadian visitors, reaching 500,000 in 2012, have doubled since 2005, UHERO said in an online analysis.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority itself noted that while visiting spending was also a record, it falls short of that if one accounts for inflation. Since the last comparable years for visitor spending, Hawaii hotels have seen significant increases in their labor costs and electric bills.

Another change since 2006 has been the still greater popularity of booking one's own travel and lodging using online portals that make side-by-side price comparisons possible. The communization of travel, spreading from air fares to hotel room prices, has led to more price competition….

SA: Don't increase hotel room tax

read … Record

House Ag Committee considers GMO, taro legislation

HTH: The committee is moving its meeting to the state Capitol Auditorium to accommodate what’s expected to be a large turnout on legislation that its chair is calling a “turning point in the future of agriculture in Hawaii.”

On genetically modified organisms, the committee will consider legislation that would require or authorize labeling of products as either genetically modified or non-GMO. Other bills would set up a permitting process for GMO food and eliminate tax incentives for GMO research and development within state enterprise zones….

Onishi said he supports allowing farmers to label their products as non-GMO rather than requiring genetically modified food to be labeled.

Requiring labeling could prove difficult to enforce, he said.

read … GMO, taro legislation

SB768 Internet Gaming Bill

PNR: SB 768 was introduced last month by Senators Gilbert Kahele, Malama Solomon and Donovan M. Dela Cruz that would allow an “internet-only lottery and gaming corporation” to offer lotteries, casino games and poker. The bill cites the fact that thousands of residents of the Aloha State are known to gamble online with proceeds going to offshore sites with no safeguards in place for consumer protection.

The Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation would be created to oversee and regulate Internet gambling throughout the Hawaiian islands. The bill calls for that state-operated agency to seek the “assistance of a private Internet gaming provider” to work in tandem and facilitate the online operations. SB 768 allows Hawaii to enter into interstate compacts and combine player pools with other online gambling legalized states, provided that such agreements are “consistent with state and federal law”.

In seeking a service provider that will work in conjunction with Hawaii’s newly formed gaming corporation, that provider will be excluded from consideration if Internet wagers had been accepted from players in the U.S. prior to September 20, 2011, the date on which the U.S. DoJ found the Wire Act to be applicable only to sports betting. However, the DoJ did not actually release that order until December. SB 768 prohibits betting on sports….

read … Poker News Report

Bill would raise waste surcharges in Hawaii

WRN: Hawaii: House Bill 901 would increase the solid waste management surcharge to $1.25 per ton of solid waste disposed in landfills or shipped out of state. The bill would increase the solid waste management surcharge to 60 cents per ton for solid waste disposed at waste-to-energy facilities that accept 150,000 tons or more of solid waste annually. There is no surcharge for waste sent to WTE facilities that accept less than 150,000 tons of solid waste annually. Introduced Jan. 22.

read … Waste Recycling News

Annual St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser for the Paniolo Preservation Society

It's that time of the year again to think green, be green and dance the Irish jig. Our annual St. Patrick’s party.  Held on Sat. March 16th at 6pm. Pukalani Stables in Kamuela. We have Irish food, Irish beer and other beverages. Tony Selvage on the fiddle, Chris Cusick (Cristean Mac Ioso'g), a real Irishman singing Irish pub songs and playing guitar, Irish dancers. Irish dance & dress contest. We will have Irish bingo and more entertainment. Save the date. March 16th Saturday at Pukalani Stable in Kamuela from 6-10. Tickets are available at Kamuela Liquor Store and Parker Ranch Store.  Corn beef and cabbage dinner available at party. Real Irish beer provided by Big Island Brewhaus, wine from Kamuela Liquor store. Non-alcoholic drinks available too. Bring the whole family.  Tickets at Parker Ranch Store and Kamuela Liquor store. We are looking for more talent. Can you dance, juggle, or sing we want to hear from you. Gail Rice gailierice@gmail.com

How to Honor Choombama

CB: Marijuana will probably be legalized pretty soon. We could call a strain of potent bud "Choombama," after the Choom Gang that Obama toked with in high school. Backup suggestion: "Barry Wowie."

Have the Hawaii Legislature pass the Barack Obama Act, modeled after the Steven Tyler Act. The president is said to loathe most media. What better honor than a state law allowing him to sue people who try to take his photograph?

read … Choombama

QUICK HITS:

Hull: Building the campus at Palamanui

Helene Hale, 1918-2013

Helene Hale: A trailblazer 'full of energy'

Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants Reach Tentative Agreement On New Aircraft Contract Terms

Civil Beat Pitches Carbon Credits for Forestry Company   (Short Version:  The tree huggers are now giving money to tree cutters.)

Feeding feral species poses risk to all creatures in Hawaii

New 300kw solar array goes online near Lawa‘i

 


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