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Wednesday, March 08, 2017
March 8, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:27 PM :: 1344 Views

Crossover--Complete List: Senate Sends 384 Bills to House

Crossover--Complete List: House Sends 365 Bills to Senate

Senate Approves Assisted Suicide and Mandatory Abortion Promotion—How They Voted

Appeals court to hear arguments on whether Sen. Brickwood Galuteria lived in his district prior to his election

541 Running for Honolulu Neighborhood Board

Thousands Petition for End to Hawaii Vehicle Safety Inspections

Well Being: Honolulu Scores #4 in USA

Unanimous: Senate Rejects Liar Caldwell--No GE Tax Hike

SA: The state Senate passed a proposal to deal with Oahu’s troubled transit project Tuesday, but not before several members vented about the city’s handling of rail and called for more accountability.

In its current form, Senate Bill 1183 would end the state’s controversial 10 percent “skim” of the general excise tax surcharge funding rail. However, it would not provide any extension of the rail surcharge, which city leaders still hope to get. The measure now goes to the House, where it’s likely to morph further.

All 25 members of the Senate voted to advance SB 1183. Its current austere language appeals to the members who are more critical of the project and don’t want to approve a rail tax extension. At the same time, the bill remains for rail advocates the only vehicle alive in the Legislature that could help rescue the project from its latest, daunting budget shortfall of some $3 billion.

A similar rail bill in the House failed to advance and move to the Senate.

“I, like many of you, are angry and very unhappy at the overruns of the rail, and it is certainly an issue that we need to look at now into the future,” Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) said Tuesday on the Senate floor prior to the vote. “But … this is about how we’re going to move around people, goods and services on Oahu and continue to create a strong, vibrant economy.”

Ending the state skim would send the city an additional $300 million or so over the next decade to fund rail construction, officials estimate, but the bill would also leave the city to cover an additional $500 million or so in actual project costs plus more than $1 billion in contingency for unforeseen costs.

Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kailua-Kaneohe) has suggested that the city could cobble together a plan with its annual revenue gains to cover rail’s shortfall if it’s a big enough priority….

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua- Halawa) took issue with that Tuesday.

“The mayor made it seem as though we are obligated to support this, and if we don’t (then) shame on us and they’re going to raise the property taxes and it’s going to be all our fault,” she said during remarks on the Senate floor. “But if you recall correctly, when the city decided to pass rail, they didn’t come to us and ask if we agreed. They passed rail on their own. … Why should we feel that we are responsible for whatever shortfalls that they have now?”

Mercado Kim added that the current rail debate isn’t over whether someone supports or opposes the project — “it’s about how we’re going to fund rail and whether the Legislature is obligated to fund rail.”….

Now the city faces an April 30 deadline to tell the Federal Transit Administration how it plans to deal with the problem…..

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu) has already started requesting information from rail leaders. Records show that she and House Majority Leader Scott Saiki (D, Downtown-Kakaako-McCully) recently asked HART for ridership details and how those numbers would differ between the city’s Plan B versus building the full system to Ala Moana Center.

In July Luke said she “would not entertain” another rail tax extension during this session.

“At this point in time it has become such a credibility issue. How do you know what they’re saying now is true? We cannot just give them a blank check,” Luke said last summer. SB 1183 is expected to go before the House Finance Committee she chairs in the coming weeks….

read … No New Taxes

Legislators Pass In Vitro Fertilization for Gays and Mandatory Abortion Promotion for Heterosexuals—Plus Assisted Suicide and State Obamacare

AP: SAVING OBAMACARE: On the same day that federal lawmakers introduced plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's signature health care law, Hawaii senators passed a bill to ensure parts of the Affordable Care Act remain in state law. The bill preserves the mandate that individuals buy health insurance and keeps tax credits for people with low to moderate incomes while preserving a host of benefits insurance plans must cover.

FERTILITY TREATMENT PARITY: Married heterosexual couples in Hawaii have long enjoyed a law that requires insurers to cover in vitro fertilization under certain conditions. But same-sex couples and single women are excluded from the law. A bill passed by the Senate seeks to extend that benefit beyond heterosexual married couples.

PRESIDENTIAL TAX RETURNS: The House and Senate both passed separate bills to require presidential candidates to release copies of federal tax returns after President Donald Trump refused to release his. But some in the House cautioned that the state should carefully choose its battles with Trump.  Legislative Candidates don’t have to show their tax returns….

(They also passed mandatory abortion promotion for pro-life pregnancy centers.)

read … Die While the Superior Beings Breed

Transsexual Agenda Being Implemented in Hawaii Public Schools

CB: …In modern times, as more and more transgender and gender nonconforming students (underage victims of adult child molesters) have begun to express their authentic selves (Stockholm Syndrome), the Hawaii State Department of Education, with an occasional push from local communities, has developed its own guidelines aimed at creating a learning environment where every child can feel supported and integrated into the school community (and the molesters are not seen as criminals).

These guidelines, which were announced last June and are now posted on the DOE website, are straightforward: schools should recognize a student’s sincerely held gender identity, address them by their preferred names and pronouns, and give them access to the activities and facilities that align with their identity. And yes, that includes restrooms, with the reasonable proviso that if any student feels uncomfortable or wants additional privacy they should be provided with an alternative.

The DOE also suggests ways that schools can educate and raise awareness about the need for such guidelines among students, teachers, staff, parents and the general community. Trainings have already begun in many areas, including schools across Kauai, and seasoned advocates such as Jo Chang are including presentations about them in their work with youth-serving agencies, including Hawaii’s juvenile justice system.

The guidelines have already had positive effects. Wendy, the mother of a second grade transgender girl whose elementary school made news headlines (attention seeker) when it was revealed that administrators were not properly prepared to support her or her child, reports that “the school has stepped it WAY up this year, beyond expectations,” and that teachers and the entire staff now show that they “truly care” by implementing a safety plan that works for everyone.

Things have also improved at Kahuku High School, where the principal responsible for denying a transgender student’s right to walk in her graduation (a non-event which did not occur) has been replaced (Trannies claim a pelt? – Fear the trannies!), and implementation of the new guidelines has helped to significantly improve school climate….

read … Transsexual Agenda

HB1471 TVR Tax Collection System -- $100M defacto tax hike

SA:  …Despite declining shares of Hawaii’s tourism pie, hoteliers on the whole say they are not opposed to the growth of alternate accommodations statewide. However, they would like to see the market similarly regulated.

Several hoteliers supported HB 1470, which would have required detailed reporting of operator information by hosting platforms acting as tax collectors. The bill has not been scheduled for a required finance committee hearing.

Airbnb, the vacation rental website, supports another bill, HB 1471, which passed out of the House and was sent to the Senate.

Blane Yokota, Outrigger Enterprise Group associate general counsel, said he is concerned that HB 1471 would impede transparency, virtually nullifying a host requirement to post transient accommodation tax numbers on advertisements. It’s similar to a bill Gov. David Ige vetoed last year, he said.

Airbnb says the new bill is significantly different.

HB 1471 will add as much as $100 million annually in tax revenue and address Ige’s concerns, said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb public policy manager…

read …  $100 million annually in tax revenue

HECO Proposed Rate Hike 8.1% Plus Additional Charges

IM: …Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) is seeking approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC), for a general increase in revenue of $106 million (6.9%) over revenues at current rates, and an additional $18M per year, starting in the quarter when the Schofield Generating Station is placed into service, for a total rate hike $125 million (8.1%).

HECO also requests approval of certain rate design and other proposals, including an increase to its customer charge, demand charges, and minimum charge to increase the fixed and reduce the variable components of its rate structure and the adoption of new Performance Incentives Mechanism Adjustment tariff (PIM) for rooftop solar interconnections as a component of a new Performance Based Regulation (PBR) framework….

BWS delivers 145 million gallons of potable water a day, to roughly one million customers, on Oahu. BWS has 194 active potable water sources, 171 potable water reservoirs, and 2,100 miles of pipeline.

Water could be pumped from lower reservoirs to higher reservoirs during the solar peak, and dropped to produce energy during the evening demand peak. Internal turbines on existing pipes would avoid much regulation….

The BWS has never before filed a motion to intervene in a PUC proceeding.

“To reduce electricity costs, BWS has already made sizable investments to conserve energy and recently entered into a comprehensive 20-year $33.1 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (`ESPC`). The ESPC will save $60 million over the contract period in Phase I and provide additional savings from HECO’s future Demand Response program." ….

read … Rate Hikes

BoE Promises ‘Transparency’ Before Picking ‘Ultimate Insider’ Galera for Sup’t

KHON:Patricia Bergin, a search committee member, released a statement that said:

“… the Board’s Search Committee wants to assure the public that the Board is going to continue conducting a search for candidates. The Board has not yet started collecting applications or evaluating candidates. While we are encouraged that a candidate like Mr. Galera, with his wealth of experience, would be interested in applying for the Superintendent position, we know that there are many qualified candidates out there, and we hope that they are encouraged to consider applying. Mr. Galera will have to go through the same screening process as all other applicants, and every applicant will be considered on an equal playing field.

This search process has been conducted with the intent of being sensitive to the desires of the public and needs of our students.  The search committee is committed to continuing to move forward with an open and transparent process.  Our keiki deserve no less.  We encourage all interested individuals to apply and have directed the search firm to actively recruit for this position.”….

The advertisement for the superintendent position is scheduled to be posted on Friday, March 10. Click here for more information….

SA: Talk about the ultimate insider.

read … Transparent

Ige Admin: Chief Negotiator will Meet with HSTA After March 13

KHON: The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) Bargaining Unit 5 is one of 14 units whose contracts expire on June 30.

The Board of Education, schools superintendent and the state’s chief negotiator have always been represented at the bargaining table. The chief negotiator will become more involved in discussions with the HSTA once the Council on Revenues makes its revenue forecast on March 13.

SA: State slows effort to hold talks, teachers union says

read … March 13

Councilman Pushes $0.10 Per Bag Tax

KITV: A proposal to ban paper and plastic bags completely died last year, but Councilman Brandon Elefante says a small fee for each bag is the compromise.

If the bill becomes law, it would cost customers 10 cents per bag, paper or plastic.

read … City council considers fee for all bags, paper and plastic

Council Considers Hike in Golf Fees and Waikiki Parking Rates

KHON: …There’s a measure moving through the City Council, Bill036, that would increase fees to help offset the cost of operating municipal golf courses.

It currently costs a person without a golf ID card $55 to play at a city course on the weekend.

If the measure passes, that fee will increase $5 to $60.

The one exception would be the Kahuku Golf Course where the increase would go up from $33 to $38….

read … Golf Fees

Auditor Discovers 22% of Hawaii County Baseyard Inventory Missing—Councilmembers Attack Auditor

HTH: …The county Department of Public Works is instituting new procedures — such as requiring tools to be checked in and out each day — in response to an audit that found too much inventory unaccounted for.

Several County Council members, meanwhile, defended the man in charge of the division that was audited. Legislative Auditor Bonnie Nims was grilled Tuesday about her choice of area to audit, why she didn’t audit other divisions and whether she compared the time period of the latest audit with prior conditions.

Auditors concluded in a Feb. 2 report that 78 percent of the DPW Highway Maintenance Division’s inventory was properly accounted for using an inventory system. However, control of at least 179 items, worth $175,500, did not follow county inventory policy and procedures.

Best practices in inventory control sets a standard of 95 percent of inventory accounted for, Nims said. She defended the audit, which studied inventories at all seven Public Works baseyards between July 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2015.

“Every which way you can test it, we tried to test it,” Nims said.

Of the 414 items reviewed, auditors could not physically locate 24, including seven mobile radios, five chainsaws, three string trimmers and one generator, mower, pole pruner, vacuum, digital camera, printer, calculator, backpack blower and sprayer.

In addition, the audit identified 19 items that were not timely discovered or reported as lost, missing or stolen, supported by police reports and timely taken off the inventory record system. These included five chainsaws, four string trimmers, three mobile radios, two pole pruners, two backpack blowers and one mower, hand trolley and generator.

The highways division was chosen for investigation because auditors identified large quantities of small and attractive inventory items considered sensitive, portable and prone to theft in comparison to other Public Works divisions, the audit stated….

Link: Audit Report

read … Hawaii County Council Owned by the UPW

Ethics: Campaign Contributions Do Not Create Conflict of Interest

ILind: The city’s Ethics Commission rightfully concluded that City Council members can legally take a lot of money from special interest groups….

In Advisory Opinion 2017-1, the commission ruled that support from a super PAC does not create a conflict of interest under the law….

In Advisory Opinion 2017-2, the commission found the conflict of interest provisions of the Honolulu City Charter do not apply to campaign contributions. This was an easy decision….

read … There’s No Stopping The Big Money In Honolulu Politics

Two Years, 130 Homeless in Tent City: 8 Leave—2 Killed, 6 Accept Shelter

HNN: …Lizares says she's not one to get involved in politics, but an experience in January changed her outlook: her daughter was nearly kidnapped by a homeless woman.

"She ran straight to the car and reached in and tried to take my daughter out," said Lizares. "Luckily, there were two men there. They physically had to push her back with their bodies."

Over the past several weeks, the owner of Technics Jiu-Jitsu in Kalihi has gathered nearly 600 names, all in support of a proposed expansion to the city's the sit-lie ban. If the measure passes, it would become illegal to camp on sidewalks in the business districts of Iwilei and Kapalama.

Lizares says she shared her story with members of the Honolulu City Council. Others who attended had their own stories about how volatile the encampments have become.    

"In the past two months there have been two deaths. One shooting, one stabbing," said one man, who has leased a building at the corner of Kuwili Street and Iwilei Road for 19-years. "Daily fights in the street."

"It's overwhelming, what's happening in the neighborhood," testified another area employee.

Outreach workers from the Institute for Human Services estimate there are about 130 people living in encampments in the area.

The population, though, doesn't want anything to do with their services. Despite hundreds of visits from outreach workers, only about a half-dozen people living there have tried to get off the street over the past two years.

When asked, a spokesperson for Honolulu police said the department didn't have statistics readily available, but they did confirm that they receive plenty of calls for vandalism, drugs and prostitution…. 

SA: Council panel advances ‘sit-lie’ zone expansion

read … 1-3 ratio

Surfers Protest Against Wind Farms

PBN: …The surfers claim that changes in wind conditions at Sunset Beach surfing spots are caused by the existing 30-megawatt Kahuku wind farm, nearly four miles away, and that these conditions will be exacerbated by the construction of California-based Champlin/GEI Wind Holding LLC’s 25-megwawatt Na Pua Makani Wind project near Kahuku.

The issue was raised last month by the community group at a Hawaii Public Utilities Commission hearing regarding the project.

The group said it reached this conclusion when they observed a decrease in winds after the Kahuku wind farm came online in 2011. To confirm their thesis that the wind farm had affected surfing conditions, the organization conducted a study of weather station data from 2012 to today.

Surfers 4 Solar said the problem is that the Kahuku wind farm has interfered with the northeast trade winds that contribute to favorable surfing conditions and that the Na Pua Makani project, located a mile further east from the Kahuku wind farm, will only worsen the issue….

read … No More Windfarms

The ABCs of Anti-Agriculture Activism

KE: A friend and I were talking about Hawaii's anti-ag/anti-GMO movement. As in, why? What motivates them to lie, fear-monger and otherwise sow misery and create havoc in the lives of everyday farmers?

Well, there's “a,” the Realtor theory: If you proclaim that ag land is poisoned, then it can be sold cheaply. Which makes sense, considering that ag land is pretty much the only land left to sell, develop and speculate on in Hawaii….

Then there's “b,” the Rescue Game theory: Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, Hawaii SEED, HAPA, etc., must identify and demonize a Persecutor (seed companies, big ag, GMOs, industrial ag) that is supposedly harming a Victim so that they can play the lucrative role of Rescuer. There's one main rule: the game must go on forever.

This explains a lot. Like why Earthjustice and CFS wrote crummy laws that were easily overturned by the courts, thus establishing state pre-emption and giving them another day and place — the Lege, this year – to fly their Rescue banner. All the while raking in grants and donations from the suckers who fall for the ploy and the philanthropists who enjoy the tax breaks.

And then there's “c,” the ideology as religion theory: These folks actually believe they are the chosen few, the Enlightened and Awakened “protectors” and “aloha aina warriors” who will lead a sorely misled, “industrialized” society back to the Garden of Eden, where it's all G, and never is heard a discouraging word (save from the Rescuers looking for Victims and Persecuters….

I think it's actually “d,” as in all of the above, with opportunists and messiahs latching on and crossing over wherever they can gain a self-aggrandizing foothold…..

read … Musings: Pop Quiz

HB407 Health Savings Accounts

SA: …Across the United States, millions of people are enjoying the benefits of health savings accounts (HSAs), including quality health insurance coverage, the ability to save money by following a healthy lifestyle, and tax advantages.

A measure now being considered by the Legislature (House Bill 407) proposes creating a Hawaii HSA that would enable local employees to open a tax-exempt account funded by employer contributions, which can be used to pay medical expenses.

The tax advantages can be significant. No income tax is paid on the portion of the employee’s income deposited to an HSA. And when the funds in the HSA are withdrawn to pay for medical expenses, they are not taxed. Funds in an HSA can also be invested, just like those in a 401(k), and the interest earned on HSA investments is also tax-free….

HB407: Text, Status

read … HB407

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