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Friday, February 8, 2013
February 8, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 5469 Views

North Korea Prepares to Launch Mobile Missile Able to Reach Hawaii

S&P Downgrade Causes HART-Burn: "Less Confident" Buyer will be Found for Ansaldo

HB497: Extends Solar Tax Credit Giveaway for a Few More Years

Keeping involved with Hawaii law-making

Legislators Study Mandatory Long Term Care Insurance Plan

SB639: Big Pharma Opposes Control of Meth Precursor

UHERO: Bag Tax and Conveyance Tax Have Downside

Hanabusa Left out as Maui County Gets Federal 'Smart Growth' Funding

OHA Gravy Train: 148 Non-profits Seek $36M Grant Money

PEW: Hawaii Elections Performance Index Ranks 44th

Governor Appoints Max Otani Deputy Director of Corrections

EPA Releases State Enforcement Performance Information and Comparative Maps

Abercrombie Kicking Democrats Out of Office to Re-launch Gubernatorial campaign

SA: Dante Carpenter, state Democratic Party chairman, speculated that while Abercrombie right now is sagging in the polls, "he has a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Democrats."

Abercrombie had turned over his spacious Ward Warehouse campaign space to the Democratic Party after winning election, but now is asking for it back, so the Democrats will have to find another location — showing both that Abercrombie is gearing up for a re-election campaign and more important, the close embrace between Abercrombie and the party regulars.

With the passing of senior U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Abercrombie becomes the undisputed "titular head" of the Democratic Party.

"That could impress some and depress others," Carpenter said.

read … Campaign

Molokai Big Wind Deal Falls Apart, Ritte Upset

CB: Clay Rumbaoa, CEO of Molokai Properties Ltd., commonly known as Molokai Ranch, said in a statement to Civil Beat that the company has broken off negotiations with Molokai Renewables, the wind farm developer, and is focusing on its ranching operations instead.

“After much consideration and discussions with Molokai Renewables, we made the decision not to renew the agreement for the proposed wind farm project on Molokai Ranch lands at this time,” wrote Rumbaoa. “ Our focus is currently on ensuring the success of our newly re-launched ranching operations and our efforts to re-open existing facilities, such as the Maunaloa Lodge, in an effort to create opportunities for the island."….

Walter Ritte, a long-time community activist on the island, said that there could be a lot of upcoming battles in store for Molokai residents.

"The ranch now is going to have to find another way to make their money on Molokai," he said. "I think the landowners felt that the windmills were going to devalue their land, so I hope they are not thinking about following Lanai’s lead and start developing golf courses and hotels."

He said he would prefer the windmills.

"If I had to choose between windmills and hotels, I guess I would go with something that is not as bad as hotels and golf courses," he said. "But neither of them really has support on Molokai right now."

Read the full statements from Molokai Ranch and Molokai Renewables

Sept 2008: Molokai activists seek control of ranch

May 2008: Molokai Ranch: Protesters to Cash in with Takeover Plan?

read … Bye-Bye

Sovereignty Group Tied to Child Torture Tries to Take Over State Archives, Iolani Palace (Again)

HNN: Officials from the Hawaii Sheriff's Department and the Department of Land and Natural Resources surrounded the State Archives building Thursday morning after a group that calls itself, 'The Hawaiian Kingdom Government,' said it would "re-assume" control of the building.

"We are here every week," said Mahealani Kahau, leader of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government.  "We've been here for five years already. We were at that tree, then that tree, this tree and now it's time to go in there."

The building was shut down for the day because of concerns from palace employees.

"Their staff indicated that they were intimidated," said William Aila, DLNR Chair. "Also afraid of the possibility of this group coming in and, in their words, 'reassuming' control of the building, damaging some of the important documents that they keep in there."

This isn't the kingdom's first brush with law. Back in November 2011, several members-including Kahau- were arrested for trespassing.

Reality: Sovereignty activist 'tortures' children

read … Protesters force closure of State Archives building

HHSC Privatization Bills Proceed over HGEA Objections

WHT: Two bills that would allow the transition of Hawaii’s public health facilities to private status — and open the door for a potential takeover of multiple facilities by mainland nonprofit Banner Health Systems Inc. — are working their way through the Legislature.

On Wednesday, House Bills 1483 and 1484 passed through hearings by the state House of Representatives committees on Health, and Labor and Public Employment….

A companion to the House bills, Senate Bill 1306, which also seeks to permit HHSC’s transition to nonpublic status, passed its first reading on Jan. 28, but did not appear to have any committee hearings scheduled as of Thursday afternoon….

Introduced by state Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-Makiki, Tantalus, Manoa, HB 1483 serves to permit Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and its facilities, including Hawaii Island’s Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital, Kona Community Hospital, Kohala Hospital and Hale Hoola Hamakua, to make the transition to nonpublic status. Among those helping to co-sponsor the bill is state Rep. Faye Hanohano, D-Puna.

Meanwhile, HB 1484, also introduced by Belatti, would alter the governance structure of HHSC, making regional chief executive officers, including East Hawaii CEO Howard Ainsley, nonvoting members of regional boards. It would also establish a new personnel and retirement system, and create new employee collective bargaining units….

“I believe HB 1483 lays the foundation for HHSC to carry out the recommendations of the Stroudwater Report,” said Patrick Saka, Chief Administrative Officer of HHSC’s Maui region, in testimony presented to legislators….

Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira said Wednesday the bills would serve to fragment Hawaii’s health care system “both financially and in the types of and mix of services available to local communities.”

Further, he said, “the effort to divest our state’s involvement in our health care, and put that responsibility on an Arizona-based provider is short-sighted and not in the best interest of our communities. It is unthinkable that our state will be better off with health care decisions for neighbor islanders being made out of state.”

Also speaking in opposition to the bill as presented were representatives of the United Public Workers union, and the state’s Department of Budget and Finance, and Employee Retirement System.

read … Banner year?

Radcliffe: Prisoners Don’t Want to leave Arizona Prison

Q: Gov. Abercrombie wants to bring inmates back to Hawaii from Arizona facilities run by one of your clients, Corrections Corp. of America. What arguments do you have to make on its behalf?

A: First of all, it is much more cost-effective. It costs $63 a day to house a prisoner; that's $22,990 or thereabouts a year. That's what it costs to house one prisoner. It's a state-of-the-art prison that was made for Hawaii's prisoners, only Hawaii prisoners in that institution, and it practices all Hawaiian activities as well as others, all kinds of educational activities and training activities that you will find that inmates who are there actually like it there and want to stay ... some of them don't want to be in prison at all. It is cheaper there and actually the outcomes are excellent.

What I find interesting is that so few people have actually visited that prison. ... As far as you know, it's a hole in the desert. You have no idea what you're looking at, so any amount of fantasy can come to mind.

read … veteran lobbyist relies on honesty as his best way to win hearts and minds

Richard Kelley: State wants to raise tax on visitors — what would George Mason say?

PBN: Over the years, week after week I watched PBN present the case for the business community and the visitor industry in a state in which, unfortunately, many feel the government has erected barriers to business success and, more often than not, viewed the visitor industry as a goose that will lay golden eggs in perpetuity – even if plucked and deprived of the conditions that allow it to thrive.

Despite the laudable efforts of George Mason and his successors at PBN to enlighten the powers that be, there has been no significant change in our business climate, which remains ranked among the nation’s most challenging.

If he were alive today, George Mason would shout from the rooftops, “The state has proposed a whopping 22 percent hike in the hotel room tax!”

When presented as a mere 2 percentage-point increase, it sounds modest, but if it is enacted and added to our insidious general excise tax, it’s going to tack nearly 16 percent onto the price of a hotel room.

Because Hawaii has one of the nation’s highest costs of doing business, hotel rooms here are more expensive than almost anywhere in the country. So that 16 percent, applied to Hawaii’s average daily room rate of almost $205, would add nearly $33 to the bill for every night of a visitor’s stay.”

Will our lawmakers resist the siren call to do things that superficially appear beneficial, but in reality – as so often in the past – severely damage our economy? I hope so and I encourage everyone to join me in fiercely resisting any increase in the taxes on hotel rooms or anything that would make it more expensive to visit Hawaii.

read … What would George Mason say?

Army grids for $175M in isle cuts

SA: The Army laid out a worst-case budget scenario Thursday that includes the potential need to make about $175 million in cuts in Hawaii this fiscal year by reducing training, maintenance and base support — even as two brigades prepare for deployment to Af­ghani­stan.

That doesn't even include the further cost of furloughing more than 1,400 civilian employees for up to 22 days, which could be required under sequestration.

The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Schofield Barracks, which is expected to head to Af­ghani­stan later this year, would have its more than $8 million budget to operate and maintain its armored vehicles cut back to $3 million, the Army said.

The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, which just got back from Af­ghani­stan with its Black Hawk, Chinook and Kiowa helicopters, would see its flight training time reduced.

"We are planning, under the current budget constraints and guidance, that in the early part of the fourth quarter (starting in July), we will run out of flying hours," said Col. Mike Donnelly, a spokes­man for U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter.

read … Life Without Dan

Gay Marriage Debate Headed to Honolulu Hale

CB: There are now two bills before state lawmakers, SB 1369 and HB 1109, that would eliminate that distinction and clear the way for same sex couples to marry.

Chang’s resolution supporting those bills is expected to be discussed at the Intergovernmental Affairs and Human Services Committee meeting on Feb. 14.

read … Gay Marriage Debate Headed to Honolulu Hale

Honolulu Rail Authority: Archeological Survey Mandated by Court is Done Ahead of Schedule

HR: Over the last several months, Kaleikini and her family members have literally stood watch as archeologists for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) sped up their trench work to complete the Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS), but that concerned Kaleikini because she said archeologists were not digging below the water table where many ancient burial sites are found, rather were keeping their inspection to the surface.

On February 4, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials announced they've completed the fieldwork ahead of schedule and plan to resume construction on the rail later this year.

HART said the archeologists excavated more than 400 trenches along the 20-mile rail route that runs from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. That included "92 trenches in Kapolei and Waipahu, 34 trenches in the Pearl City/Aiea area, 47 in the Pearl Harbor and Airport areas, and 260 in the CityCenter section between Middle Street and Ala Moana."

The city agency said human remains were found at seven sites in the City Center section, and the state, Oahu Island Burial Council and other stakeholders will have to determine whether to leave the remains in place, reroute the rail or relocate the remains.

SA: Search ends for iwi on rail line

read … Rail

SB484: Motorcycle helmet Law

State lawmakers have steered a new course in dealing with a perennial issue of requiring motorcycle and motor scooter riders to wear helmets. This year bills would encourage but not mandate helmet use by offering lower motor vehicle registration rates to riders who choose to wear them….

The state Department of Health says that when Hawaii had a mandatory helmet use law on the books between 1968 and 1976, motorcycle deaths dropped substantially.

The department's data show that an average of 11 people per year died in motorcycle-related accidents between 1962 and 1967, six people per year perished while the helmet law was in place and that the average increased to 23 deaths per year for the 1992-1998 and 1999-2005 periods and 31 people from 2006 to 2011.

The original form of SB 484 sought to make the registration weight tax rate for motorcycles and motor scooters the same as that of passenger vehicles — except that motorcycle and motor scooter drivers who indicate on their license applications that they will not wear a helmet at all times would pay double.

Punishments in the bill for riders who elect to wear a helmet and are found riding without one include a fine between $100 and $1,000, 30 days in jail, a one-year driver's license suspension, or a combination of those, for each violation.

Bikers said the bill could discourage future riders from applying for a motorcycle or motor scooter license and called the proposal a tax grab, mean-spirited and prejudicial toward motorcycle riders.

"There's positive and negative incentives, and we consider this bill as negative- oriented with negative incentives," testified Bruce Paige, legislative adviser for the Street Bikers United Hawaii. …

A similar bill was introduced in the House, House Bill 1105, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.

read … Helmet

Lines spur call for licensing office audit

SA: Chang's resolution, expected to be heard Feb. 26 by the Council Parks Committee, calls on city Auditor Edwin Young to look into the reasons for the long lines and for possible ways to shorten them.

Resolution 13-27 notes that the city's 2013 operating budget includes about $223,000 for nine new positions to help cover the cost of issuing state IDs. It also notes that the state is supposed to reimburse the city for the extra responsibility.

The Caldwell administration has maintained that the main reason for the lines has been, and continues to be, confusion about the complex series of documents needed to qualify for both state IDs and driver's licenses. Many people told the Star-Advertiser they stood in line for several hours only to be told they needed to return with additional documents such as a birth certificate or pay stub.

Drivers licensing sites became more crowded last summer when the city began cracking down on the necessary documents that are needed to comply with the federal Legal Presence Act that was implemented as a national security measure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.

read … Real ID

Tesoro isn’t Even Closed Yet, But Gas Prices Already Rising

HNN: The Hawaii state average for regular unleaded increased to $4.18 per gallon, which was seven cents more than last week, 18 cents more than last month and a penny more on this day last year.

Honolulu's average price had a seven-cent bump up from last week to $4.13 a gallon for regular unleaded – up 19 cents from last month and up 10 cents from a year ago.

In Hilo, the average gas price is $4.20 per gallon, seven cents more than last week, 19 cents more than last month and 15 cents less than this time a year ago.

Wailuku's average is $4.16 a gallon, eight cents more than last week, 15 cents more than last month and 45 cents lower than last year.

read … Just Wait til Tesoro Closes

HB1363: Solar Scammers Blow Chance at Condos

The measure (HB 1363) would also allow participants to receive credit for any excess power they produce, similar to what owners of residential PV systems do under Hawaiian Electric's Net Energy Metering program. The electric utility would serve as an accountant, determining the amount of the renewable energy credited to participating customers' accounts.

Committee Chairman Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Wai­ma­nalo) deferred the bill Thursday for further study.

One of the strongest local advocates of community-based renewable energy is the Blue Planet Foundation, which said the "innovative solution" is already being put in place in a variety of places on the mainland, including California, Colo­rado, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and Maine.

"There is no reason Hawaii shouldn't enable its residents to do the same thing," Blue Planet Program Director Richard Wallsgrove said in prepared testimony. "For wealthy homeowners with large roofs, solar energy is a no-brainer. But for most residents, solar power is simply out of reach. The policy proposed in HB 1363 brings some social equality to our clean energy policy. Everyone should be able to participate in Hawaii's clean energy future," he said.

Rep. Denny Coffman, (D, Holualoa-Kailua-Kona-Hono­ko­hau), said he was concerned the proposal would further erode HECO's rate base and reduce the amount of revenue the electric utility is able to collect to cover its fixed costs, such as power generation and distribution. Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries estimated the surge in PV installations means they won't be able to collect $12.1 million in 2013 that would have otherwise gone to pay for their fixed costs.

read … HB1363

Preventative Medicine? DoH Drags heels on Supervision of Meth Precursors

WHT: A bill requiring a prescription to purchase anything containing psuedoephedrine will likely not advance beyond a Monday committee hearing, Sen. Josh Green says.

Green, a Kona Democrat, introduced SB 639, in part, to “light a fire” under the state Department of Health to keep moving on a program that tracks the purchase of cold medicines containing psuedoephedrine, a key ingredient for making illegal methamphetamine. The tracking program, passed into law by legislators last year, finally began in January, Green said.

He said he expects he will defer the bill, which drew criticism from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the Hawaii Food Industry Association and Legislative Information Services of Hawaii.

“Consider this: Both HMSA and Kaiser now have a $20 copay for a doctor visit,” wrote Richard Botti, president of Legislative Information Services of Hawaii, which represents 1,500 people in a group health plan. “Add another $10 in gasoline costs to get to the doctor. Add the $5 (prescription) fee, and you have $35, not counting the time lost in time to visit the doctor to get the prescription which can now be obtained with minimum inconvenience.”

Related: SB639: Big Pharma Opposes Control of Meth Precursor

read … Serious about Stopping meth?

Hawaii Health Connector Reports to Legislature

(Honolulu, HI - February 6, 2013) -- In pursuant to Act 205 Session Laws of Hawaiʻi 2011, the Hawaiʻi Health Connector submitted their annual report to the Twenty-Seventh Hawaiʻi State Legislature 2013. In alignment with the Governor's New Day plan for health care, the report highlights what has been accomplished, as well as what is in store for 2013.

Full Text: Hawaiʻi State Legislative Report

Hawaii Teachers Union Asks Legislature To Force Labor Board’s Hand

CB:  The teachers union’s frustration over the Hawaii Labor Relations Board taking forever to decide on its case has materialized in a bill that the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee will hear Friday morning….

The Attorney General, Department of Education, HGEA, HPD and others blasted the bill in their testimony this month. They say it’s unconstitutional because it violates due process rights, and also substantively flawed because it doesn’t say when the shot clock starts for the 30-day requirement.

There were some proposed amendments to the bill from (HSTA connected) IMUAlliance, particularly the one that says the board should just have 30 days to decide on a case from the time the last hearing is held.

Follow Senate Bill 1248 by clicking here.

read … Hawaii Teachers Union Asks Legislature To Force Labor Board’s Hand

Legislators Hijack anti-GMO Bill as Protectionist Move

AP: The committee approved the bill Thursday but amended it so it only applies to produce imported from outside Hawaii….House agriculture committee Chairwoman Jessica Wooley says because the bill only affects produce brought in from outside Hawaii, it benefits local farms and won't cause food prices to rise. (BS!)

Reality: Must Read: Leading Activist Apologizes For Starting Anti-GMO Movement

read … Protectionism

Alleged ‘Stars’, B-List Has-Beens, Demand Censorship

TE: Diamond (who?), Britney Spears, and Lavigne (who?), as well as Ozzy Osbourne and his family, have all submitted written statements supporting the Steven Tyler Act.

HR: University of Hawaii Journalism Professor Gerald Kato said the legislation raises serious questions and concerns for the news media

KHON: Aerosmith singer expected to testify at Hawaii Capitol

read … Who are these people and why would anybody want a picture?

State says no smoking at public housing

KHON: Those living in public housing are being forced to choose: Light up and lose your lease.

"I think it's sad. They're taking away our rights," Kamehameha Housing resident Nora Santos said.

There's a new policy that bans anyone from smoking or holding a lit (tobacco) cigarette on public housing property effective immediately.

The smoking ban impacts all public housing except for the Towers at Kuhio Park, since they're under different management.

"I think a lot of people are going to break the rules now. Nobody is going to abide by that. Come on," Santos said.

It's up to each property manager to designate a smoking area.

"We got a lot of eerie people walking around at night, who like go out there at night," Santos said.

Residents like Santos say the state should butt out.

"I don't know how they are going to do this, but I feel we have rights," Santos said.

Even though the ban is effective immediately, there is a grace period until March 31.

(Meanwhile we are begging landlords to open their apartments to alcoholics and drug users who have been living on the streets.)

HR: Some Potheads Don't Want to Pay 15% State Tax

read … Ban Tobacco, Legalize Marijuana

Suicide Squad Pushes Agenda in Hawaii, Other States

AP: A push for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is under way in a half-dozen states….

Bills legalizing assisted suicide are being considered in Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Kansas and Hawaii — and in Massachusetts, where proponents decided to resume their efforts after (losing) the public vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislative trends. There are also bills related to the issue under consideration in New Hampshire, New York, Arizona and Montana.

Reality: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii

read … Insurers Cutting Costs

Rep. McDermott addresses HB901 - Relating to Solid Waste

Relating To Procurement:

Report Title:  Hawaii Public Procurement Code; Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses; Set Aside

Description:  Requires that at least three per cent of the twenty per cent set-aside for small businesses shall be awarded to veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Stipulates that this preference is in addition to any other preferences provided under the procurement code. Effective July 1, 2050. (HB166 HD1)

2/5/2013 H Passed Second Reading as amended in HD 1 and referred to the committee(s) on EDB with none voting aye with reservations; none voting no (0) and Representative(s) Carroll, Har, Oshiro, Takumi excused (4).

Watch … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2V1EftafbI

Representative Lauren Cheape Says Labeling of Imported GMO Whole Produce a Good Compromise to Help Both Consumers and Farmers -- Original bill draft overlooked practical challenges facing small farms

HONOLULU – Representative Lauren Kealohilani Cheape made the following statement today regarding the House Committee on Agriculture’s passage of House Bill 174 requiring labeling of genetically modified food in Hawaii:

"Having grown up on a farm and now representing a largely agricultural district, my first priority is providing local food for local people," said Rep. Cheape. "I believe that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, but for local agriculture to succeed long-term in Hawaii, the practical costs to Hawaii’s small farmers must also be considered.”

“I’m pleased with today’s amendments to require labeling on only imported genetically modified whole fruits and vegetables. The original bill would have placed a burden on local livestock farmers to determine the conditions under which animal feed and all other components produced prior to use by the local farmer were created. Assuring the absence of GMOs throughout the entire process would have cost time and resources that many farmers cannot afford,” she continued.

“There has been a loud cry from the community on this issue,” she said. “I feel it is our responsibility as lawmakers to listen and take a small step forward in providing Hawaii consumers the ability to receive more information about their food without hurting local farmers.”

Rep. Cheape's great-grandfather started Peterson's Upland Farm in 1910 that her family continues to own and operate. She represents District 45, which includes Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres and Mililani.

###

Hawaii to Host International VEX Tournament This Month

News Release from VEX Robotics 

Over 100 teams from Hawaii, China, Taiwan and the U.S. Mainland will be competing in the annual VEX Robotics Pan-Pacific Championships, Presented Oceanic Time Warner, February 22-24, 2013 at the Hawaii Convention Center.  

This amazing event will bring together teams from around the world and will also qualify top teams to compete in additional tournaments including the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championship in California,  April 17-21.

This year's game, SACK ATTACK, is played on a 12’x12’ square field.  The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Scoring Sacks and Bonus Sacks in your colored Floor Goals, Troughs and High Goal, and by having the most Robots of your color Parked at the end of the Match.

To learn more about the VEX Pan-Pacific Championships, click here.

---30---

Celebrating 40 Years As A Free Man

Jerry Coffee: Next Tuesday (Feb. 12) will mark a supremely happy occasion for me – the 40th anniversary of my release to freedom after seven years and nine days as a POW in communist North Vietnam.

read … Released POW

 

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