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Sunday, June 02, 2019
June 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:38 PM :: 1677 Views

Shining Light on Revenue Estimates

Earth Is Nearly 520 Percent More Abundant Now Than in 1980

Unable to Make 2% in Polls, Gabbard to be Thrown out of Democrat debates?

Borreca: …  Cracks are forming in the dam that Hawaii’s U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard built to keep out the reality of her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

Real-world politics is breaking through and the Gabbard campaign is floundering.…

Now there are new threats, roiling both her presidential campaign and her own political future.

The first challenge is a new hurdle by her own Democratic Party. Concerned that there are just too many Democratic candidates for president, Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman, last week announced that after the summer national debates, the qualifications needed to appear in future debates have been tightened.

Instead of needing to register 1 percent in a national poll, candidates will need to register 2% in several polls. Candidates who needed to show 65,000 unique donors for the first rounds of debates, will need 130,000 individual donors to show grassroots support in order to proceed. Gabbard was just barely able to meet the threshold the first time around; the second may be a barrier too high….

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, in a weekly political analysis, noted that Gabbard could be in trouble.

“A couple of long-shot presidential candidates who have been a thorn in the side of House leadership, Reps. Seth Moulton (D, MA-6) and Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-2), may need to tend to the home fires before too long lest they find themselves in primary trouble.”

Gabbard has neither been home campaigning, nor in Washington; she has been running for president and her local political brand and legislative duties have suffered.

According to the D.C.-based web page Gov Track, from “Jan 2013 to May 2019, Gabbard missed 166 of 3,970 roll call votes, which is 4.2%. This is worse than the median of 2.1% among the lifetime records of representa- tives currently serving. During April-May of 2019, Gabbard missed 26.3% of the votes.”

Already, state Sen. Kai Kahele has announced a run for her seat and former Govs. John Waihee, Ben Cayetano and Neil Abercrombie have endorsed him….

read … Flame Out

Money may determine fate of vacation rental measure

SA: In the arm twisting in the closing days of the legislative session this spring, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz warned his colleagues that appropriations for everything from research into rapid ohia death to housing vouchers for the poor might die if SB 1292 failed to pass.

Without that extra tax money from vacation rentals, plans for voting by mail might fail, he said. So would burial grants for Filipino war veterans, funding for a state plan for industrial hemp farming, funding for suicide prevention, funding for “Ohana zones” for the homeless, and extra funding for University of Hawaii athletic programs.

The Senate finally approved the vacation rental bill in an extremely rare 13-12 vote, and it now sits on Gov. David Ige’s desk. But while Ige has been mulling whether he should sign or veto the measure, the money picture has shifted.

Lawmakers didn’t know it when they were voting, but state tax collections accelerated significantly in April and are now on track to deposit about $180 million more in the state treasury this fiscal year than anyone expected.

To the passionate opponents of SB 1292, that new and cheery tax collection data is a game changer.

“We were told at the end of session we had to pass that bill because the budget depended on it, and obviously now it no longer does,” said state Sen. Laura Thielen…

read … Money may determine fate of vacation rental measure

Caldwell: Raise Taxes on Hotels

SA: … On June 5, this Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council will consider the fiscal year 2020 budget for a final vote….

One revenue measure is a proposed $1 increase per $1,000 in assessed value, in the real property tax rate for hotel and resort properties. This $1 increase is being met with strong opposition by the hotel industry (skip Caldwell’s usual straw man argument always deployed when pushing a tax hike) …

(Better idea: Cut spending.)

the thriving hotel industry that can do what other premier visitor locations do, and that is to pass additional tax burdens to the millions of visitors…

(Translation:  Tourists will give Caldwell more money and local businesses less money.)

read … Increase tax on hotels, not residences

Maui County Homeless Program Based on Disastrous Seattle Model

MN: … Launched May 1, the program deploys trained police officers, along with mental health and social workers, into vulnerable Kahului communities with the aim of diverting low-level offenders into voluntary treatment and services instead of jail.

LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is modeled after the Seattle Police Department’s ‘successful’ program, developed in 2011, that eventually spread to 33 states.

(Anyone who thinks Seattle has a homelessness solution is nuts.)

“We try to coach them along and say, ‘You can do this; let’s try this,’ ” said Maui police Sgt. Jan Pontanilla, who is spearheading the local program. “We are not forcing them to participate, but it’s something to help them go through the process. Maybe they need medication, maybe they need insurance . . . we are here to help them along.”

Pontanilla explained at a Police Commission meeting May 22 that the diversion program works to build trust with homeless and mentally ill individuals who are often skeptical about assistance….

read … Not a Success

Hawaii Council seeks to tweak polystyrene law

HTH: … When is recyclable not recyclable?

A bill coming up aims to redefine recyclable in the context of the upcoming July 1 ban on polystyrene food containers. The restrictions on polystyrene, popularly called “Styrofoam,” are unchanged under the new bill, but the 2017 bill as written had some unintended consequences, county officials said.

Bill 74, sponsored by Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, will be heard at 2 p.m. Monday in the Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management, a committee he chairs….

The 2017 law allowed both compostable or recyclable plastic containers as substitutes to polystyrene. But the county Dec. 1 stopped accepting plastic “clamshell” containers for recycling because there is no longer a market to recycle them.

Bill 74 removes the requirement that alternative containers to polystyrene must be recyclable under the county’s recycling program. Instead, the new law will simply require them to be recyclable….

Richards said Mayor Harry Kim had asked him to meet with a group of business owners who came to the mayor to describe problems they were having complying with the new law. Among those were Big Island Candy Co., Meadow Gold Dairies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm.

This led to another proposed change to the 2017 law. A provision will exempt “pre-packaged or pre-sealed items such as breads, cookies, milk, juice, snacks, candy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, or other items typically sold in a grocery store or a food manufacturer’ s retail location,” as well as eggs.

Council Chairman Aaron Chung said the original bill was “flawed.” Items shipped into the state are covered by interstate commerce laws and thus are not easy to regulate. Food packaged outside the county is exempt from the ban.

“It’s an anti-Big Island measure,” Chung said. “As long as something was packaged on Oahu or the mainland or anywhere else in the world, it was OK, but if packaged on Hawaii Island, it’s not OK.”…

read … Council seeks to tweak polystyrene law

HB1163: How Freakonomics Inspired Hawaii Legislator to Revamp Savings Laws

DB: … Hawaiians who want to turn their savings accounts into potential lottery-winning jackpots can thank a fan of the hit podcast Freakonomics for making it happen.

Earlier this year, the state’s legislature passed a bill paving the way for state banks and credit unions to establish prize-linked savings accounts, which encourage individuals to save their money in banks by automatically entering those who do in lotteries to win cash prizes.

What was interesting about this particular bill, however, was not the incentive structure it created but how it originated legislatively. The bill was partially inspired by Casey Nakamura—then a Boston University undergraduate student—who told her mom, a state representative, about prize-linked savings after learning about them on an episode of Freakonomics.

“I was walking back from Trader Joes, and I was listening to the podcast. As soon as I got home, I looked into it, and I called my mom and said ‘You’ve got to do this,’” she told The Daily Beast….

She immediately called her mother, Hawaii Democratic state Rep. Nadine Nakamura, and suggested she look into whether allowing prize-linked savings would be a good idea for Hawaii. The younger Nakamura  hadn’t been involved in advocating for specific state legislation in the past, so she drafted up a memo with several links about the benefits of prize-linked savings, and sent it to her mother, who started working with staff to research the impacts of prize-linked savings.

When the bill passed this year, she, like Gaudini, reached out to the show.

“I convinced my mom (Rep. N.) that this was a bill she needed to introduce and helped her pitch it to the various committees and private entities whose support we needed to get it through,” she said in an email to the show producers….

HB1163: Text, Status

read … How Freakonomics Inspired Two States to Revamp Their Savings Laws

Physicians need not help patients die

SA: … Many organizations, including the American Medical Association, oppose physician-assisted suicide and have expressed concern that it has no place in an ethical practice of medicine.

“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks” (AMA Principles of Medical Ethics I, IV). …

The supposed “safeguards” in the Hawaii law are not enough to prevent serious abuse to elderly and vulnerable patients. For example, the required mental health evaluation is limited to a single counseling session for the purpose of determining if the patient is “capable” and not suffering from an undertreatment of depression; it may even be provided by a social worker via telehealth. The law further requires that the lethal prescription not be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate, which seems fraudulent.

Fortunately, you do have the right to OPT OUT of assisting patients in committing suicide. There is a conscience clause in the statute that states:

“No health care provider or health care facility shall be under any duty, whether by contract, statute, or any other legal requirement, to participate in the provision to a qualified patient of a prescription or of a medication to end the qualified patient’s life pursuant to this chapter.”

So we say all of the following to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, health care and social workers: If you refuse to participate in assisted suicide, no professional organization or association, health-care provider or facility, is allowed to penalize you.

There is also no requirement for you to find another provider for the patient if they are requesting assisted suicide….

read … Physicians need not help patients die

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