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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
February 10, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:26 PM :: 7001 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Bill Would Hike Oil Tax 2100%: Measure Aims To Create slush fund to subsidize enviro pipe dreams

HONOLULU -- State lawmakers have advanced a bill that will hike the tax of every barrel of oil shipped into the state from 5 cents to $1.05 to start a special fund to promote energy independence and locally grown foods.

Supporters said it will raise the cost of living for Hawaii families by at least $100 a year. Opponents say it will cost more.

The state Tax Department said that the 2,100 percent hike is a huge increase.

Even though the tax is on oil, it would be passed on to drivers at the pump and on their electricity bills. That would trickle through businesses charging higher prices for goods and services.

"The cost of everything will go up," Tax Foundation Executive Director Lowell Kalapa said. "It's very sneaky. It's very underhanded, its not being honest with the taxpayer and that's what we always should do. 'This is what you are paying for. This is what we are charging you for it. Do you agree with us.'"

…The oil barrel tax hike goes next to the House Finance Committee.

AS EXPLAINED HERE>>>> Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires

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Hawaii gambling bills advance in House

House Bill 2759 authorizes the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to allow gaming casinos on Hawaiian Homes parcels as it deems necessary. That bill moved out of the Judiciary Committee yesterday after lengthy testimony.

Another measure, House Bill 2251, would allow for creation of a gaming commission that would issue a single five-year license to a casino operator on O'ahu. That bill received the second of three votes in the House yesterday, although a sizeable number of representatives voted no.

Originally, the bill attempted to bar Hawai'i residents from playing in the one casino.  (Just like Communist Cuba—special store for foreigners only!)  But that provision was taken out after some House members questioned its constitutionality.

RELATED: Pono Chong now wants to repeal his gambling tax bill

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School-days bill may hit snag: State's Constitution gives unions rights that may trump legislation

Several bills that would mandate a set number of instructional days or hours a year for public schools could be hindered by the provisions in the state Constitution that give public employees the right to collectively bargain labor contracts.

The state Senate's Committee on Education and Housing is expected to take up a bill today that would mandate a total of 190 days of instruction for public schools — Senate Bill 2336. But the committee was told Monday that any effort by lawmakers to require a set number of days or hours of instruction could be trumped by contract negotiations with employee unions.

"It doesn't change the fact that we still have a constitutional duty to negotiate with the unions. ... If you mandate it and we aren't able to negotiate it, I don't know what would happen," said James Halvorson, deputy attorney general with the Department of the Attorney General's Employment Law Division.

Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the state House's Committee on Education, said he doesn't believe that contract negotiations would be able to trump the law. His committee this week passed House Bill 2486, which would mandate a minimum of instructional minutes.

"The perspective I would have is, we have made changes by law on items such as School Community Councils, and National Board Certified Teacher bonuses that were previously decided by contract. That's the law," said Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City, Momilani, Pacific Palisades). "I don't think this is any different. If the Legislature determines we will have a certain number of instructional hours, when they sit down again at the table for the next contract negotiations, that would be the starting point."

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Shapiro: Toguchi “out of his league"

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi is living proof of the argument by former Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano that the elected BOE needs to be replaced by an appointed one because it's mired in politics and hopelessly ineffective.

(Notice how Governor Lingle’s proposal has bee written out of the political lexicon?)

Toguchi has spent several weeks stoking a pointless war of words with Gov. Linda Lingle over his dead-in-the-water plan to end a few furlough Fridays, while making zero progress in coming up with a real solution to resolve this state embarrassment he helped engineer.

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ADV: Leave governor's budgetary powers alone (saving the corporatist state from its Legislature)

The governor wears many hats, and one of them is as CEO of Hawai'i. The state Constitution makes it so, requiring the governor to balance the budget, thus establishing a clear line of accountability.

That's why Senate Bill 2007 is a disastrous idea. It would effectively tie the governor's hands and leave no one accountable for state finances. The buck wouldn't stop with anyone.

The bill, sponsored by Senate leadership, seems to be on a fast track. It has passed the only committee review needed before the full Senate votes on it.

The bill would deny the governor the power to eliminate any program the Legislature has authorized, or to cut its funds "to the extent that the program cannot adequately execute its intended purpose."

But the term "adequately execute" is meaningless, so this bill essentially opens for challenge any of the budget restrictions the governor makes without prior approval by the Legislature.

(Awwwww. Go ahead.  Let the squabbling children wreck the corporatist state.)

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$50M clean energy bond program touted

LIHU‘E — Arguing that financial limitations stand in the way of a green energy future, state leaders are proposing a bond program that would loan home- and business-owners up to $50 million to cover up-front costs of solar hot water heaters, small wind systems and other energy-efficiency improvements.

Maui News: Aiona touring state to push bond fund for clean energy

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TAX POLICY CONTRADICTS STATE ENERGY INITIATIVE  (subsidy pig squeals -- “Don’t tax me bro!”)

In recent years, 221 was used most often for energy projects - appreciated or not, it was a friend of Linda Lingle’s Clean Energy Policy. Now, the indigenous tax incentives of 221 are gone, leaving federal tax benefits to incentivize energy investment, but the Lingle Administration is attacking them too.

According to a memo circulated this week by accountant Alan Schlissel of KMH LLP, the State Tax Office is taxing the federal tax incentives. Although it doesn’t have the power to affect the federal benefits directly, it’s moving to make them smaller by imposing state tax on them.

(Yup, after raking in $700M plus from ACT 215/221 they are complaining about state taxes on their remaining federal incentives.)

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DBEDT director disputes state auditor's findings

But Kim said more inquiry was warranted into how much state general fund money is being used to fund the China office and said she would seek further clarification on what the State Procurement Office was told about private funding for a 2005 trade mission.

She also said she may call for an ethics investigation into whether special treatment was requested as the state booked a lū'au for a visiting Chinese official.

(Wow!  A luau investigation!  Big stuff here.)

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A&B affiliate only bidder for raceway: Upcoming hearing a chance to outbid group's $11M offer

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. is angling to own or profit from the former Hawaii Raceway Park property in Kapolei.

An affiliate of the local company was the high bidder at a foreclosure auction yesterday for the 66-acre parcel that has been vacant since Hawaii Raceway Park closed in April 2006.

The A&B affiliate, Kapolei Raceway LLC, had bought the mortgage on the property for an undisclosed price in recent months from lender iStar FM Loans LLC.

Hawaii Raceway Park had been in operation for 42 years, and it was O'ahu's only facility for a variety of automotive racing that included drag races, drifting, motorcycle road races and demolition derbies. Several efforts in recent years to restore the facility, including a proposal for the city to acquire the property through condemnation, were not realized.

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(Another) Sexual Video Sparks (another) Criminal Investigation at Kamehameha Schools

Sources tell KHON2 several students were expelled over the conduct.

The school said "Where warranted, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action."

The schools president says they notified police; police confirm the matter is under investigation.

ADV: Students punished for sex video

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Medical Cannabis User Discusses Benefits: Opponents Say Bill To Legalize Premature

HONOLULU -- Teri Heede inhales vaporized medical marijuana at least eight times a day. Without it, she would not be able to move. Heede has multiple sclerosis.

"Twenty years ago, I fell down and I could not get back up," Heede said.

(Marijuana makes people into liberals)

Doctors put her on a strict diet of medication. She took 14 pills a day and had frequent massage and hot water therapy.

"I did everything they were telling me to do and I'm getting worse and worse," Heede said.

Out of sheer desperation, Heede said she tried consuming marijuana and inhaling its vapors.

(KITV peddles this doper dog and pony show unquestioned-- as if it were accepted truth instead of the unverified ramblings of a doper.)

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Maui “medical”marijuana dispensary was front for drug dealers (duh!)

Kaleikini was among seven Maui men arrested last November as part of "Operation Weedkiller." The arrests followed a two-year police investigation that included the seizure of marijuana plants and clones, a vehicle, cash and drug paraphernalia.

Murphy, 53, of Haiku, was identified as head of the criminal operation, which police said exploited state medical marijuana laws to sell the drug to hundreds of people.

Murphy ran the medical marijuana advocacy group Patients Without Time, which had an office in Paia.

In court Tuesday, Kaleikini said he met Murphy after being referred to the group by the doctor he saw to obtain a state card allowing him to use marijuana to relieve pain from a back injury.

Kaleikini also said he saw Murphy explaining how to grow marijuana for medical purposes on a program aired on Akaku: Maui Community Television.

"When I go to the office for pick up, guys leaving, guys coming. It didn't dawn on me he was illegal," Kaleikini said. "I thought he was a legal man doing things for patients."

Court records show that on Dec. 1, 2007, Kaleikini called Murphy, who reported that 3 pounds of marijuana valued at $15,000 was stolen from his residence in a robbery….

In a phone call to Murphy later the same day, Kaleikini said he had people on the lookout for the stolen marijuana, according to court records.

Tate said Kaleikini was trying to help Murphy get the drugs back and facilitated the contact between Armitage and Murphy so they could "handle this in a strong-arm manner on the street."

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Police chief against relaxing marijuana laws

"Ironically, it appears that both Senator English and law enforcement, such as the Maui Police Department, use California's 'lead' to exemplify our opposing views of legalized medical-marijuana dispensaries," Yabuta said. "Senator English's impression is that these dispensaries are selling marijuana exclusively to medical-marijuana patients. However, our police colleagues in California share a much different view.

"In California, what may be perceived to be a medical-marijuana dispensary is probably no more than a storefront for marijuana, with or without a prescription," said Yabuta, who consulted with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. "In my opinion, the decree of treating only those patients requiring prescribed marijuana for medical benefit does not exist in California's medical-marijuana dispensaries, and the damage that these dispensaries have imposed on surrounding neighborhoods are evident. Rural and tranquil communities, very much like Maui, have been erased from what once was, and are now plagued with a marijuana-driven culture that has manifested violence."

Yabuta pointed out he has not seen California's budget woes solved by relaxed marijuana laws.

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Brothers who beat officer take plea deal

Most of Becraft's assailants fled when hearing police sirens, but Leonard Sauceda Jr. reportedly remained, using a bat to smash the headlights of a parked truck, which belonged to Becraft's friend.

According to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Leonard Sauceda's record includes six convictions, one for abuse and five for contempt of court.

Steven Sauceda has 18 convictions. In 1999, he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term after being convicted for second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia.

He also has convictions for drunken driving, driving without a license, first-degree criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment.

The state has not asked that Steven Sauceda, who has a felony record, serve a mandatory minimum term in the case.

(Good. That way he can be out quick to do it all over again.  We’ve got to keep our criminals on the street.  Otherwise there’ll be a shortage.)

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Snobs: Hawaii bill to ban fireworks amended to let counties opt out

The Senate Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee moved a bill that would ban consumer fireworks, except for permitted religious or cultural events. But senators, concerned about "home rule" for counties, amended the bill to give counties the discretion to continue to allow fireworks.

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Green Police: State To Enforce Kayak Limits At Kealakekua Bay

In two weeks, the state will begin restricting the number of boaters who try to land at Kaawaloa, where the Captain Cook monument is located.

(Should’ve thought of that in 1779.)

The new rules and stricter enforcement are aimed at curbing what the state calls a carnival-like atmosphere. The new restrictions are effective Feb. 23.

"How much access is adequate to meet public demand, but how much is too much, where the thing we are protecting is at risk? And clearly at Kealakekua and Kaawaloa Flats, we have reached capacity and we have to bring it down," State Parks spokesman Curt Cottrell said.

The state plans to issue permits to limit the number of landings to 10 a day.

WHT: Kaawaloa permit system coming

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