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Thursday, January 25, 2018
January 25, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:19 PM :: 5809 Views

HB2253: Driverless Cars for Hawaii

Screening for Health Barriers to Learning--Hawaii Schools Receive Mixed Scores

New bills could make life difficult for Hawaii vapers

Robotics: 19 Hawaii Teams Heading for World Championship

VIDEO: Homelessness and Affordable Housing Solutions with Rep Gene Ward

House Speaker? Tokioka Two Votes Short of Ousting Saiki 

SA: Longtime state Rep. Ken Ito was removed as chairman of the House committee that deals with veterans and military affairs on Wednesday in fallout from an aborted attempt to reorganize the power structure of the state House.

A group of dissidents led by state Rep. James Tokioka has been trying to gather enough votes in recent weeks to replace House Speaker Scott Saiki, and Ito said he admitted to Saiki on Tuesday that he supported Saiki’s ouster….

(NOTE: Saiki supports Hanabusa for Governor.)

(UPDATE:  Tsutsui Resigns as Lt Gov--Kouchi Rejects Position--Will House Leadership now Change?)

House members on Wednesday approved a resolution removing Ito as chairman of the Veterans, Military &International Affairs &Culture and the Arts committee, and replacing him with Rep. Matt LoPresti (D, Ewa Villages-Ocean Pointe-Ewa Beach).

That resolution was opposed by other members of the dissident group during a testy floor session Wednesday.

State Rep. Isaac Choy told Saiki that “Your reign of terror is continuing and some day it must stop.”…

“The nature of the current political environment in the House is one that operates in the dark, and with retribution for taking a stance that may not be popular to House leadership,” Ito said in his statement. “I believe we are a democracy, and all sides should be heard.”

Saiki said the faction opposing him is primarily made up of the seven House members who stood up on the floor Wednesday to announce they were voting against Ito’s removal. If correct, that would be far fewer than the number of lawmakers needed to reorganize the 51-member House.

Tokioka said his faction in the House actually had enough verbal commitments to reorganize the leadership, but Saiki and his supporters peeled off two votes at the last minute, which was enough to block the insurgency.

“There are a lot of people who are not comfortable with how the leadership in the House is being run. They have concerns about fear of retaliation, and so that’s why a good amount of people came to ask me to step up,” including former Speakers Calvin Say and Joe Souki, Tokioka said.

“We’ll let the process take its course, and if I continue to get support, then we’ll continue to move,” said Tokioka, (D, Wailua-Hana­maulu-Lihue)….

read … Coup?

Feds: Hawaii Missile Alert Employee Not Cooperating In Probe

AP: The Hawaii state employee who mistakenly sent an alert warning of a ballistic missile attack earlier this month is refusing to cooperate with federal and state investigators.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau told a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday the FCC is pleased with the cooperation it’s received so far from Hawaii Emergency Management Agency leadership.

But Lisa Fowlkes says the commission is disappointed that the employee who transmitted the false alert is refusing to cooperate. She says she hopes the person will reconsider.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza says his agency has encouraged all employees to cooperate with all investigations. But he says this employee also has refused to cooperate with the agency’s internal investigations.  (And he is just ‘reassigned’ not fired.) 

VIDEO: Employee Who Sent False Alert Refusing To Cooperate, FCC Says

read … Hawaii Government Employee Cover-up

Hanabusa, Gabbard Against Missile Defense for Hawaii

CB: …One option that appears to be off the table — at least for now — is “operationalizing” the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on Kauai.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility, commonly referred to as PMRF, is not in the business of shooting down incoming enemy missiles. It’s a research and development facility that conducts training and tests of new technology.

The facility is home to the Aegis Ashore ground-based missile system that’s currently being used for test purposes. As the North Korea missile threat grows, some have calledfor the system to be used in defense.

But adding PMRF to the missile defense arsenal hasn’t been a palatable option for members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, who often refer to the facility as a “national treasure.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, was blunt in her assessment of prepping the Kauai facility for missile defense.

“We should not operationalize PMRF,” she said.

Hanabusa would rather focus on developing the new discriminating radar on the islands to increase the amount of time the military would have to react to a missile threat, as well as make a response more precise.

She also doesn’t believe Hawaii would be a primary U.S. target of a North Korean attack. Recents tests have shown North Korea has the capabilities to hit anywhere on the mainland.

“When we talk about North Korea — and we’ve always known this — diplomacy is the way to go,” Hanabusa said. “Our military, which is still the greatest in the world, need not react in a knee-jerk reaction.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hanabusa’s colleague on the House Armed Services Committee, is similarly cautious about transforming the Kauai testing facility into part of the missile defense system.

During a campaign event at the Hawaii Capitol on Wednesday in which Gabbard endorsed Hanabusa for governor, Civil Beat asked Gabbard about the potential missile threat from North Korea and how best to protect the state.

Although the congresswoman did not provide specifics, she said the current ground-based missile defense system that’s in place is sufficient….

As Explained: Hanabusa Blocks Missile Defense for Hawaii

read … Against Missile Defense

Judiciary Drops arrest warrant over refusal to speak English

KITV: …Fifty-one-year-old defendant Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo identified he was present in court, speaking Hawaiian instead of English. When presiding Judge Blaine Kobayashi told Kaeo he couldn't understand him, Kaeo continued to speak in his native tongue. The judge refused to recognize Kaeo's presence in court and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

On Thursday, the Hawaii State Judiciary dropped the arrest warrant.  Judge Kobayashi issued an order recalling the bench warrant.  Also, a hearing has been scheduled regarding the use of a Hawaiian language interpreter.  The Judiciary will be reviewing its policies regarding the provision of Hawaiian language interpreters.

According to court records, Kaeo was granted a Hawaiian language translator more than a dozen times for past petty misdemeanor proceedings. Kaeo is able to speak English, and in this case, the judge ordered the trial to be held in English and did not provide a translator.….

read … arrest warrant over refusal to speak English

HART board defers decision to give HECO $20M for Trucks

SA: The board in charge of the city’s $8 billion-plus rail project decided Wednesday night to hold off approving $20.3 million in change orders for Hawaiian Electric Co. to purchase 15 specialized vehicles to deal with ongoing utility-line clearance issues.

While the truck purchases are part of a plan approved in February 2017 to deal with multiple utility-line clearance problems resulting from the rail line’s elevated guideway, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation members said they want more proof that the agency is getting the best deal.

The HART board initially voted 7-1 to OK the change orders but eight votes are needed for decision-making because the board has 14 members. After HART member John Henry Felix, the lone “no” vote, said he considered the explanation for the arrangement “very murky,” the board held a closed-door session with its attorneys. When they emerged about 15 minutes later, they voted unanimously to “reconsider” its initial decision, and then took a third vote to defer a decision until next month…..

Kathy Yonamine, HECO Project Management Division director, said the specialized trucks, cranes and other equipment are urgently needed for its crews to be able to safely clear and work on overhead power lines running along the route’s first 11 miles from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium….

Even with the approval, it would take HECO about one year to receive the trucks.

Board member Wes Frysztacki said some HART members feel they are being asked to approve the purchase of trucks for HECO that the utility could also use for non-rail purposes, a benefit for which HART should receive some compensation….

In order to avoid the need for HART to spend an estimated $200 million for relocating electrical lines underground, HART and HECO signed an agreement last year that would allow for most of the overhead power lines along the first 11 miles of the route stay in place, with the city instead spending $68.5 million for trucks and other equipment for the trucks and other equipment necessary to deal with the situation.

Prior to reaching the agreement last year, the two parties had wrangled over the issue for about four years.

Both Yonamine and Frank Kosich, HART’s director of design and construction, warned it would take another year to negotiate a new agreement….

SA: Give HECO deal closer scrutiny

CB: HART Board Hits A Snag In Deal Saving Taxpayers $130 Million

HNN: One 'no' vote temporarily derails HART deal with HECO over power lines

read … HART board defers decision to give HECO $20M

After Republican Tax Cuts, Young Brothers draws opposition to shipping rate hike

SA: The state consumer advocate is opposing an application by Young Brothers Ltd. to raise interisland shipping rates 13.3 percent after less than a year ago the state Public Utilities Commission rejected a 4.4 percent increase.

Young Brothers filed its application Dec. 20 and said it needs to boost interisland revenue by $9.5 million….

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted Dec. 22, decreases the federal corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Nishina, in a Jan. 10 letter to the PUC, said the tax benefits should be reflected in the company’s business projections….

read … Young Brothers draws opposition to shipping rate hike

Governor's Proposal to Transfer Sheriff Deputies Opposed by HGEA

HPR: Governor David Ige is proposing legislation to transfer 59 state sheriff deputies from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Transportation Airports Division.  He says the deputies would keep their badges and uniforms.

“We do believe that this solution of transferring the sheriffs to the Department of Transportation allows them to be directly managed and it would allow us to exercise the managerial control that’s necessary to assure the safety at our airports, balancing the federal requirements of TSA, at the same time, defining the responsibilities for law enforcement officials that are state employees.”

The governor says, if legislation is approved, sheriff deputies at DOT would retain their memberships in the public employee labor union … the Hawai’i Government Employees Association -- HGEA.  But, the union’s executive director, Randy Perreira, says the HGEA does not support the transfer to DOT and favors another option.

“We’re gonna be supporting legislation that we understand will be introduced that will consolidate law enforcement under the Attorney General’s Office. …

read … HGEA

HB2726: 17 Years to Destroy all Non-Electric Cars in Hawaii 

IM: A clean transportation initiative would be established by HB 2728. The goal would be to eliminate the use of fossil fuel in ground transportation by 2035….

read … Rep Chris Lee Proposes to Overhaul State Energy Office

HB2720: No Floating Wind Farms Within State Waters

IM: …Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP) has introduced four bills to overhaul the DBEDT Energy Office.

The bills would establish advisory groups and task forces to provide input to DBEDT and the State Energy Office.

HB 2719 would establish the Hawaii clean economy initiative advisory board. The board would advise DBEDT on the transition to a clean energy economy.

An offshore renewable energy task force would be created. A broad group of members would serve until 2019. HB 2720 would forbid a floating, grid-connected, renewable energy project within 12 miles of the coast.

The task force would “encourage and explore the potential for offshore renewable energy projects that will stabilize and lower long-term energy costs, create permanent local jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and be placed appropriately in the State and coastal communities around the State.”

A third bill would overhaul the state energy office. HB 2724 would establish energy office policies. “The state energy office is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing one-eighth of Hawaii's economy, which impacts every business and household, the state energy office lacks an enabling statute, a mission, formal guidance, and reporting accountability.

The bill would elevate the director of the state energy officer by requiring that the director go through the standard senate confirmation process required for most agency heads.

The office would be renamed the DBEDT Office of Clean Energy. The office would “engage the general public and consider feedback as appropriate.”

A clean transportation initiative would be established by HB 2728. The goal would be to eliminate the use of fossil fuel in ground transportation by 2035….

read … Rep Chris Lee Proposes to Overhaul State Energy Office

SB2341: Employers Must Advertise Abortion Services

CB: Senate Bill 2341 (forces employers to promote abortion if they opt-out of abortion coverage due to conscientious objection)

SB 2341 is a follow-up of sorts to Senate Bill 501, a controversial measure that was signed into law last year. It requires that all limited-service pregnancy centers disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services….

Anti-abortion groups sued the state over SB 501, arguing that the law now known as Act 200 violates clinics’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion….

SB 2341, along with its companion House Bill 2127, calls for care providers to cover a range of services. They include counseling and screening for sexually transmitted disease, abortion, contraceptives and voluntary sterilization for women….

Other measures in the 2018 package include House Bill 2131 and its companion, Senate Bill 2345. The measures call for the creation of a Hawaii Sexual Assault Team to ensure that rape evidence collection kits are processed and tracked….

One measure introduced this year failed to make the cut last year.

Senate Bill 2347 and its companion House Bill 2133 make clear that a complaint against a police officer alleging domestic abuse against a family or household member “on the part of the police officer” would not require notarization or a sworn written statement.

Sen. Laura Thielen, a co-author of SB 2347, said the point of the legislation is to protect the identity of victims to avoid retaliation….

PDF: Caucus Package

read … Easy Abortions

Lawmakers want to give sex abuse victims from decades past the chance to file suit

HNN: …Bills introduced in both the House and Senate failed last session, but a national movement to expose abusers and the high profile case against Kamehameha Schools could add momentum for the legislation.

Representative Linda Ichiyama and Senator Maile Shimabukuro introduced companion bills which would extend the window for lawsuits despite the statute of limitations….

Attorney General Doug Chin testified about similar bills last session warning lawmakers that reopening the window could be costly for his office to defend if the state is sued, but Chin says he does support the new proposals. "Legislators pointed out there weren't that many cases that were brought against the state even when the window was open."

Another bill introduced would make it a felony for teachers and doctors, so called 'mandatory reporters' who don't take action if they have knowledge of sex assault.  That bill, H.B. 2429….

Meanwhile: Sex Harassment: Hawaii Legislators Admit Covering up Four Cases

read … Lawmakers want to give sex abuse victims from decades past the chance to file suit

State lawmakers introduce bills dealing with helmets, passengers in pickup truck beds

HTH: A trio of bills recently introduced in the state Legislature aim to improve the safety of Hawaii’s streets.

House Bill 1749, introduced Monday, proposes a change in state law to require all operators and passengers of motorcycles and bicycles to wear helmets.

Meanwhile, Senate bills 2229 and 2691 will, if passed, respectively prohibit anyone from driving a pickup truck with any passenger in the bed unless in mitigating circumstances and would allow counties to place stricter limitations on passengers in pickup beds….

read … Helmets

Soft on Crime: 10 Felonies Gets 5 Years

MN: …Steven Mata Jr., 26, had pleaded no contest to the offenses in 10 cases occurring from November 2016 to last July.

In following a plea agreement to sentence Mata, 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill referred to the defendant’s “troubled” life, which included being described as “incorrigible” since age 3.

Mata stopped going to school in the 7th grade, the judge noted.

“Your past behaviors would cause everyone to be concerned that you’re potentially dangerous and have been dangerous in the past,” Cahill told Mata. “I wish I could change this for you.

“Until we come up with a better solution to our problem, we got to protect ourselves.”

Mata had pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, two counts of second-degree assault, first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, four counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, second-degree theft, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, two counts of first-degree bail jumping, resisting arrest and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Mata was charged with terroristic threatening after he pointed a handgun in the direction of a man who was in a vehicle with his girlfriend after a traffic incident on Waiehu Beach Road at about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 7, police reported.

In other cases, he was charged with assaulting a police officer June 9 and assaulting an adult corrections officer July 6….

SA: Usual Suspect with Plan to Let Lots of Criminals out of Prison

read … Soft on Crime

Auditor Recommends Tiered Regulation of Dental Assistants

From Hawaii State Auditor, January 24, 2018

We found that several tasks routinely performed by dental assistants in Hawaii pose a reasonable risk of injury to patients and therefore should be regulated. However, a number of tasks that dental assistants are allowed to perform do not appear to pose a threat to patient health and safety; for that reason, we recommend that the State consider a tiered regulatory framework.

KITV: Auditor: Dental assistants should be regulated

read … Summary or Full Report

Snorkeling In Hawaii Is A Leading Cause Of Tourist Deaths

CB: ...Breathing through a tube is uniquely challenging. And it can turn deadly for those who have health issues but don’t recognize the risk….

Snorkel Bob’s, the largest snorkeling outfit in the state, teaches visitors how to adjust a snorkel and mask. The company also gives out a safety pamphlet to each customer.

Robert Wintner, the owner of Snorkel Bob’s, said having durable and well-fitting snorkeling equipment is paramount to preventing accidents in the water.

“If your mask leaks, it will really exacerbate the feeling of panic,” he said. “If you’re short on breath and you add a couple of teaspoons of salt water in the mask, it’s a bad situation.”

Wintner said most people get in trouble because they panic, which can easily happen when they breath in water from their snorkel. He said it’s also common that his customers have never snorkeled before.

“I’ve been amazed personally that a number of people that snorkel here have never seen the ocean,” Wintner said.

Josh Guerra, a lifeguard at Hanauma Bay and a personal watercraft rescuer for Honolulu’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division, said all of this leads to problems at the state’s busiest snorkeling destination — Hanauma Bay.

“I’ve heard people tell me that the tour operators are telling them, ‘Oh, you don’t have to know how to swim or snorkel,’” he said. “You actually need to be a pretty strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water to use a mask and snorkel because your breathing is limited.”

Guerra rescues two to six visitors a day, often in 2 to 3 feet of water….

“We’ve got the folks who run the preserves saying don’t stand on the reef because it’s going to hurt the reef environmentally, but we’ve got the lifeguards saying if you’re in trouble, stand up so you don’t die,” Howe said….

HNN: 2 recent drownings spur new concern over full-face snorkeling masks

HNN: Over the course of 11 days, 6 people drowned off Maui

Related: Increase in Snorkel deaths in Hawaii needs to be addressed by the state of Hawaii Legislature

read … Snorkel

Federal Subsidies Pay for Only 225 Affordable Units per Year

CB: …Hawaii only receives enough funds (federal tax credits) to do about 150 to 225 units per year and without them there is no feasible way to build housing at this AMI level. Additionally, the state also subsidizes these units with tax credits, grants and loans.

Projects that do not take direct subsidies but may benefit from indirect subsidies from additional density should have their affordable units restricted under a defined period. Deed-restricted periods for these projects have in the past been anywhere between 10 to 30 years.

We need state subsidies to build rental housing for our essential workers and a new housing program with deed restrictions….

read … More Subsidies?

Fire safety bill allows high-rises to waive sprinkler installation

SA: Owners of older high-rise residential buildings would be able to opt out of installing sprinklers under a draft fire safety bill approved by a Honolulu City Council committee Tuesday.

Related measures offering financial incentives for high-rise owners who do install sprinklers, meanwhile, moved out of a separate Council committee Wednesday.

All the measures were introduced following July’s massive fire at the Marco Polo condominium complex that led to four residents’ deaths….

The Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, however, on Tuesday gave initial approval to a new draft of Bill 69 (2017) that will incorporate language proposed by Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga requiring high-rise residential buildings without automatic sprinkler systems only to undergo formal building fire and safety evaluations….

The Council Budget Committee, meanwhile, advanced on Wednesday three measures aimed at providing relief to condo associations and owners installing sprinklers after people testified in November that such a requirement would force fixed-income and cash-strapped owners to sell their units.

Bill 101 (2017) would provide an as-yet unspecified tax credit to property owners retrofitting with sprinklers, Bill 102 (2017) would give those property owners waivers from plan review or building permit fees and Bill 103 (2017) would create a loan program and fund for those required by the city to install sprinklers. They will be scheduled for the second of three votes next Wednesday.

Resolution 17-316, urging the semi-autonomous Honolulu Board of Water Supply to waive fees for the installation of water meters for those retrofitting with automatic fire sprinklers, was deferred….

read … Fire

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