Schatz deletes tweet suggesting ‘chemical weapons’ used at US-Mexico border
Tax Credits: Proposed Biofuel Plant Faces $100M Deadline
CB: … The company building a controversial wood-burning power plant north of Hilo may get a sizable Christmas bonus courtesy of American taxpayers – provided it starts supplying renewable energy by year’s end.
Dec. 31 is the deadline for Hu Honua Bioenergy to qualify for a federal tax credit of “upwards of $100 million,” company President Warren Lee said.
That windfall would underwrite a big portion of the $260 million cost estimate Hu Honuagave before legal disputes and flooding delayed an expected 2017 completion. The project is opposed by some community and environmental organizations….
read … Proposed Biofuel Plant Faces $100M Deadline
GET blocks ability to survive on 1 job
SA: …The “one job” hotel union strikers are striking the wrong entity.
The reason why “one job” is not enough in Hawaii is because of high taxes and the cost of living. National polls often reported by the Star-Advertiser confirm that Hawaii is one of the highest cost-of-living states in the nation. This is a direct result of Hawaii being ranked one of the highest- taxing states.
Years ago, the Tax Foundation reported that because it is charged on all transactions, the general excise tax alone adds 13 percent to the cost of goods and services in Hawaii. The excise tax hurts the poor the most.
The union should be picketing and voting against the one-party monopoly that is responsible for the “one job is not enough” dilemma….
read … GET blocks ability to survive on 1 job
Legislative Agenda: State lawmakers pander, knowing Committee Chairs will Kill Minimum Wage Hike
SA: … Nate Hix, who founded an advocacy group Living Wage Hawaii, is hoping that a significant hike in the minimum wage during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January, will help alleviate the struggles of many Hawaii residents, and he believes the political momentum is there.
In recent years, Hix said, the push has been for $15 an hour. But Living Wage Hawaii is advocating for it to be gradually raised to $17….
it rests with the Legislature to make any changes to the minimum wage. Both chambers are dominated by Democrats, and 27 out of the 51 members of the House of Representatives and 17 out of 25 members of the Senate, as well as Ige, have signaled their support for the Democratic Party resolution, according to surveys conducted this year by Living Wage Hawaii and the Hawaii Democratic Party.
Still, that doesn’t mean it will be an easy sell when the legislative session reconvenes. Many of the top leaders in both the House and Senate didn’t indicate their support for the resolution, which doesn’t necessarily mean they oppose it. But a more troubling sign for advocates is the Legislature’s poor record of taking up bills that increase the minimum wage or tie it to inflation. Seven bills introduced during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions never even made it out of their respective chamber.
For instance, Senate Bill 107, which would have increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour, passed the Judiciary and Labor Committee last year but died after the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee never scheduled it for a hearing….
House Speaker Scott Saiki said he didn’t have a position at this point on whether he would support an increase in the minimum wage. But he said he was particularly concerned about state projections on the rise of health care premiums. The state estimates that premiums for individuals enrolled in small group plans could nearly double in 10 years, he noted. “The projected costs of Prepaid Health Care is very sobering,” said Saiki.
Saiki said that the Legislature has also been resistant to increase the minimum wage in recent years because in 2014 lawmakers passed a measure that gradually increased it from $7.25 per hour in 2014 to $10.10 in 2018.
Senate President Ron Kouchi, who is not listed as a supporter of the Democratic Party’s resolution on a living wage, didn’t respond to a request to comment….
Big Q: Should Hawaii’s minimum wage be increased to $15 per hour?
read … State lawmakers noncommittal on raising minimum wage
Fee to fish?: RPL Public Meetings Set
HTH: … Almost two years after Conservation International Hawaii and the Western Pacific Fishery Council released a feasibility study on a regulatory system for noncommercial fishing in Hawaii, contributors are touring the state to discuss it with the public….
Public meetings meant to break down the controversial issue of a regulatory system for recreational fishing in Hawaii, which will carry with it annual fees for local fishermen, are set for both Kailua-Kona and Hilo.
Presenters scheduled the first from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority Gateway Center in Kailua-Kona. The meeting in Hilo is 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center.
Meetings are also being convened on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.
The report “took no collective position” as to whether the state should implement a mandatory noncommercial fishing registry, permit or license (RPL) system.
However, it did note “that there are no legal or constitutional barriers in Hawaii that would prohibit the implementation of a new RPL system,” adding it’s possible to design one without violating Native Hawaiian gathering rights protected under state law….
read … Fee to fish?: Group sets public meetings to break down report on non-commercial fishing regulation
Program prevents former inmates from becoming homeless
SA: … A former Oahu Community Correctional Center prisoner named Isaac — he asked that his last name not be used — had been living in the entrenched homeless encampment at Waimanalo Beach Park for five years when he was arrested for burglary, followed by a seven-month term at OCCC.
While he was convicted of burglary, Isaac, 44, said, “The money was for drugs” — specifically methamphetamine.
When he was released on probation Aug. 13, Isaac said he would have gone back to being homeless in Waimanalo, with no job and little optimism.
“I nevah had nothing,” he said during an interview Wednesday with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in Dudoit-Tagupa’s office at Waikiki Health.
Instead, after attending OCCC classes led by Waikiki Health’s Cheryl Moreno, Isaac used his new one-year bus pass to head straight to Waikiki Health after he was released.
Waikiki Health then placed him in its Next Step Shelter in Kakaako and got him a job as a janitor cleaning Kewalo Basin and at Kakaako Waterfront Park next door.
He’s gotten his government IDs back, received a $40 gift card to buy clothes at Goodwill Hawaii and is enrolled in substance abuse treatment that helps him stay clean and sober.
“Hundred-something days now,” Isaac said of his newfound sobriety….
Out of the 970 prisoners, 94 — or fewer than 10 percent — have gone back to jail or prison. Those 94 went back for violations of their terms of parole or probation….
SA Editorial: Helping former inmates adjust
read … Program prevents former inmates from becoming homeless
Opioid Prescriptions Down—So Are Overdose Deaths
SA: … Opioid prescriptions in Hawaii have decreased significantly in recent years. There were roughly 717,000 prescriptions in 2014, compared with 646,000 in 2015, a decrease of about 71,000, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile the state reported 49 opioid-related deaths due to overdoses in 2017, down from 74 in 2016, state Health Department statistics show, following new guidelines by the CDC that placed limitations on prescription opioids. ….
read … Crackdown on opioids takes toll on isle patients
Big Island Bus System Still a Mess
WHT: … The surprise cash audit, conducted in January, found $30,000 in bus cash receipts, some from the previous July, piled on a break-room table and stuffed into an unlocked safe. The audit listed 30 recommendations.
Not all of the recommendations have been completed, but Carreira has closed the ticket office in the Hilo county building and moved that staff to the agency’s baseyard to tackle some of the issues. Video cameras were installed in areas where cash is kept and numbered bus tickets and receipts are in the works. An accounting clerk was hired to keep track of the cash….
Currently, only 13 county buses are running in a system with 29 routes. The rest are being handled with day rentals of private-sector buses, school buses and county vans. The county buses themselves sport a variety of colors and designs, depending which other county donated them.
The result is a mishmash of vehicles pulling up to bus stops, leading Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter, of Hamakua, to ask how parents can be sure the bus at the stop is an actual county Hele-On bus.
Reliability remains an issue, according to Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, who said he’s talked with Kohala Coast hotel management and they can cut only so much slack to employees who are late because the bus is late….
One bus that won’t be showing up for stops is the ill-fated double-decker bus, a $900,000 vehicle that has seen little use since it was bought in 2009. Used for the Hilo-to-Kohala run primarily to ferry workers to and from the West Hawaii resorts, the bus has broken down again….
read … Mass Transit recovery ongoing