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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
April 1, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:18 PM :: 8546 Views

HCDA ‘Small Business’ Reps: Kobayashi & Mitsunaga

Hawaii’s troubled health-care exchange draws congressional attention

Legislative Playbook: Whack-a-Mole With Bad Bills

Pentagon Overhauls Effort to Identify its Missing

Auditor Releases National Citizen Survey of Honolulu residents

Full Text: Honolulu Service Efforts and Accomplishments Report

Hawaii Educational Results Broken Down by Ethnic Background

Arne Duncan: Hawaii DoE Can be Model for Nation

OHA Touts Pacific Business News Support for Kakaako Development Scheme

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 31, 2014

UH first state department to adopt electronic payroll statements

The Crazy Intense Hawaii Senate Primary Race

NJ: ...mosey on over to Hawaii (via, um, plane?) and you'll see a political knock-down, drag out fight among Democrats over the Senate seat once occupied by Hawaii's revered Sen. Daniel Inouye.

The two candidates don't even have one nice thing to say about each other!

The primary contest between incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz—who was appointed to fill the seat after Inouye died in 2012—and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa kicked up a notch Monday with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both officially endorsing Schatz....

The race is emblematic of a number of the complex politics of Hawaii, including generational, ethnic and political divides. Schatz is the first white senator to represent Hawaii—a racially and ethnically diverse state—since the 1960s.

Borreca: Voters in Hawaii who keep score will know that Obama is also keeping score.

read ... Crazy

Senate Cuts $214M from Abercrombie's Bloated Budget

AP: The senators reduced the governor's proposed budget for 2013-14 by $46.1 million, and reduced the budget for 2014-15 by $167.9 million. Most of the reductions were made to proposed capital improvement projects. Retaining funding for early education and school athletics was a priority, Ige said.

Most senators voted Monday to advance the bill (HB 1700). But Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican, voted against the budget proposal. He said the revised revenue projections should have been a wakeup call and the Senate should cut further to prevent future shortfalls.

read ... Not Enough Cuts

Miserable Failure: Obamacare Signs Up only 7% of Goal in Hawaii 

AP: On Monday, about 7,000 people were enrolled in health insurance plans, up from about 5,700 a week ago, said Eric Alborg, deputy executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector.

That’s well below the target of 9,000 enrollees set by the federal government in September, which set state-by-state goals to keep the nation on track to enroll 7 million people. Lawmakers have said the Connector’s goal was to sign up about 100,000 people, the approximate number of uninsured people in Hawaii.

SA: Data on tax-credit eligibility wasn't collected, which hurt sign-ups, an official says

Read ... Failed Miserably

Connector is an Embarrassment

HNN: Senator Sam Slom was a bit more frank in his opinion.  "I think this Connector is an embarrassment, and it's a fiscal disaster which can only get worse"....

Said Slom; "I don't know what some of my colleagues want to do.  You want to bail this out? You want to take it over? You want to use more taxpayer funds for somebody that makes up their business plan as they go along?"

Questions he'll attempt to have answered when the bill, which was deferred, is heard again Thursday.

read ... Disaster

Desperate Hawaii Health Connector Now Blames Dep't of Human Services for Failure 

SA: Hawaii Health Connector, the nonprofit that received $204.3 million to match qualified individuals with subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act, said it hopes to add to the nearly 8,000 currently enrolled by reaching out to those who began applications but did not complete them.

The Connector said it had 22,000 apply as of March 22. Those who applied but did not finish the process have the opportunity to complete their applications even though the deadline has passed.

Connector officials said part of the reason so many applicants did not finish the process was because of a failure on the part of the state Department of Human Services.

Anjali Kataria, the Connector's chief information officer, said DHS had agreed to collect information needed to determine whether individuals were eligible for tax credits to help pay for their health insurance. DHS didn't collect the information, and that caused a bottleneck in enrollments on the exchange, she said.

Consumers seeking to lower the cost of insurance can apply for tax credits only on the Connector but must first be deemed ineligible for Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor, by DHS.

"One hundred percent of the applicants who applied for Medicaid and were denied were sent back to us from DHS with missing required information," Kata­ria said. "We had an agreement with DHS. The reality is we really didn't know until a few weeks ago that these files were actually incomplete, (Quick IQ Test: Do you buy this?) and that's why they weren't processing."

Kataria said there are more than 11,000 Connector applicants being held up because of the problem with DHS.

read ... They didn't notice 11,000 until a few weeks ago?

Hawaii Foster Child Returned to Abusive Parent, Dead at Age 4

OL: Before Dutro moved to Oregon, Zachary and his older sister lived in Hawaii foster care for more than a year.

They were taken from Dutro after she was convicted of assaulting her mother’s foster son in 2008. As part of her sentence, Dutro completed parenting and anger management classes in Hawaii....

Dutro later regained custody of her children and moved to Oregon. By 2012, she had two more children.

While the family was living in a Tigard homeless shelter, Zachary became gravely ill. He was taken to a Portland hospital, where he died from abuse-related injuries Aug. 16, 2012, a few days after his fourth birthday.

Dutro is charged with murder in her son’s death. She is also accused of abusing two of his three siblings – his older sister, who was 7 when he died, and a younger brother, then 3.

Her trial continues Tuesday.

read ... Child Abuse

Tax collector compiling vacation rental list

HNN: The state's tax collectors are putting together a list of condo and residential owners who rent their units for fewer than 180 days at a time. They want to make sure those owners pay the transient accommodations tax, also known as the TAT.

"This will help everybody at the end of the day to make sure people who are renting short-term rentals are paying their fair share of the taxes," State Department of Taxation spokesperson Mallory Fujitani said.

Condo and home owner associations sent notices and forms to owners.  If they're renting their properties as short term rentals it needs to be documented. Associations will forward the information to the tax department.

Attorney Christian Porter and his law firm represents 300 associations. "The way we look at it is that the state is asking for associations to help in the reporting requirements, and associations only have to report what's reported to them," he said.

Owners who haven't paid their TATs could be fined up to $25,000 and face a year in jail. The tax department has a voluntary compliance program.

read ... They are coming for you

Voyager School Foundation files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy

PBN: “The charter school is operating and not in bankruptcy,” said the foundation’s attorney Jerrold Guben, partner of O`Connor Playdon & Guben. “The major problem (for the foundation) was cash flow.”

The foundation’s assets are between $500,001 and $1 million with estimated liabilities between $100,001 and $500,000, according to the bankruptcy filing, and it owes more than $312,900 combined to its top 20 creditors.

Guben said the foundation lost a source of income from the school, which used to pay rent to the foundation at 547 Halekauwila St., which is managed by Sofos Realty Corp. The foundation had acquired a long-term lease for the location on Halekauwila Street as part of major plans to build a permanent campus, but the school has since moved into a new site at 2428 Wilder Ave.,  the former Our Redeemer Lutheran School campus.

read ... Bankruptcy

Potheads Pleased with Amendments to SB2574

BIVN: The new SB 2574 was heard and passed by the Senate Committees on Judiciary and Consumer Protection and Commerce on Friday.

Pam Lichty of the Drug Policy Action Group testified in support of the measure.

The changes also pleased Puna resident (and convicted drug dealer) Robert Petricci, who told the senate committee about his own healing experience with cannabis. Petricci has undergone a noticeable change in recent months.  (Yup.  Its called 'asset forfeiture.')

read ... More Dope for Dopes

Don't Worry HPD You Can Still Rent Hoes from Us

KITV: "That's not terminology that's acceptable in schools. That's not terminology around the dinner table so why is that acceptable for a business to use?" said Coffield.

The company doesn’t think it has anything to apologize for and released this statement:

"Hawaiian Rent All carries lawn and garden equipment. Tools that are available for rent include garden hoes, concrete hoes, mortar hoes and back hoes. Hawaiian Rent All is unaware of any other meanings or uses for these tools."

The company does not plan to take the message down until Thursday when it is scheduled to be changed.

Best Comment: "People will remember a company that didn't flip over to the cries from the PC crowd. Good for them."

HR: IMUAlliance Calls for Hawaiian Rent-All Apology Over "Hoes" Sign

read ... Political Correctness Loses

Atheist Advertiser: Keep Charities out of Schools

SA: A broadly worded bill in the Legislature would let public schools take fundraising to a whole new level. Senate Bill 2423, SD2 would allow schools, or an individual class, to participate in fundraising or charitable activities with just about any of the thousands of nonprofit organizations registered in Hawaii.

The language of SB 2423 is too sweeping: "Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, nothing shall prohibit a school or class from participating in fundraising or charitable activities" with the organizations.

The most obvious "law to the contrary" is the State Ethics Code, which plainly forbids state employees from "using state time, equipment or other facilities for private business purposes."

In written testimony opposing SB 2423, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission pointed out that the bill "will allow schools to decide whether to dedicate class time, school facilities, and other resources to fundraise for or to otherwise support a private, nonprofit organization."

Background: Atheist Ethics vs Santa: Teachers, Students Cannot 'Believe', 'Make a Wish'

read ... No Faith, Hope or Charity

Atheist Reporter Seeks Angle to Expel Christians from Capitol

CB: I went to the March 24 luncheon because I was curious about the use of state buildings for religious purposes, and whether such luncheons violate rules prohibiting political activity.

What I learned was that the meetings themselves are legal and part of civic engagement, but what people say in the meetings — especially state legislators and candidates for office — could violate the section of the State Ethics Code that prohibits campaign activities in state offices.

Garret Hashimoto, state chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition and the organizer of such luncheons, said pastors are allowed use of a Capitol conference room as long as there is no campaigning involved.

"We have a right to be here, too," Hashimoto told me.

SA: Sex change doc: I correct 'God's mistakes'

read ... Atheism is the Only Allowable Religion

Atheists: Hirono is Perfect Senator

TE: A coalition of atheist activist groups on Monday gave Congress an "F" on issues they pushed in 2013.

The coalition rated members of the U.S. Senate on five issues, including support for the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2013, and opposition to expansion of the religious exemption in the Employment Discrimination Act, FEMA funding for churches, the Freedom to Pray Act and school board prayer.

The group gave perfect scores to senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

read ... Serving the Atheist agenda

Changes to sex assault bill set new limits on victims' recourse

SA: House Bill 2034, which was introduced by Rep. Mele Carroll (D, Lanai-Molo­kai-Paia-Hana), sought to remove both the criminal and civil statutes of limitation on first- and second-degree sexual assault and the continuous sexual assault against minors under 14.

While the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor kept Carroll's bill moving, it imposed the following limits:

» The current two-year window to file civil claims for decades-old misconduct cases would be extended by five more years.

» For civil claims against a legal entity who employed or had some degree of control over the perpetrator, the legal standard for reviewing liability will be changed from "gross negligence" to "negligence."

» For criminal claims arising from first- or second-degree sexual assaults against a minor, or the continuous sexual assault of a minor under 14, the five-year statute of limitations would begin to run when the claimant turns 25.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 2687, is also moving through the Legislature. That bill, which the House deferred for decision-making until Tuesday, seeks to expand the window to allow victims to bring civil claims for child sexual abuse.

PR: House Committee Will Allow Claims against State, Counties.

Background:

read ... Limits

Horizon Lines shows the creakiness in That Jones Act

MP: One of the three top dogs in intra-US container shipping, Horizon, continues to lose money, although at a slower rate than last year. For the full year to the end of December, 2013 the Jones Act carrier brought in just over $1 billion in operating revenue --- virtually the same as the previous year – and $31 million in  operating income after taking expenses into account.

This was a distinct improvement over 2012, when operating income was only $4 million. But this improvement was wiped out by finance charges, mostly interest expenses on all those borrowings, which led to a $35 million overall loss.

For 2014, the carrier expects container volumes to increase over 2013. “This projected volume growth takes into consideration the estimated impacts of a new competitor that entered the Puerto Rico Gulf service during 2013 for a full year in 2014, “says Horizon, “as well as a second vessel being added by a competitor in our Hawaii service during 2014, partially offset by the full - year impact of adding a bi-weekly Jacksonville sailing to our southbound service between Houston, Texas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.”

So far so good. Then comes the kicker. “Overall, revenue container rates are expected to range from flat to a marginal improvement in 2014. We expect the new vessel capacity added in Puerto Rico during 2013 and being added in Hawaii in 2014, as well as a challenging economic environment in Puerto Rico, to impact rates in 2014.” In other words, more of the same as previously.

Meanwhile, the people in its biggest market – Hawaii – are getting a mite fed up. Seven legislators in the state are asking Congress to exempt the islands from the Jones Act, saying that the law increases the costs of goods and services by about 35 percent....

The economics of the Jones Act continue to weigh on the minds of politicians.

read ... Jones Act

Prepare for West Coast port disruption

AS: Exporters and importers should be developing options to prepare for a possible disruption at West Coast ports this year as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association prepare to negotiate a new contract for one that expires July 1, said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC).

read ... ILWU Strike July 1?

Cheaper elections not always better, council says

HTH: The election proceedings became a hot political issue when former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi fired Nakamoto and three other elections staff after alleging the former warehouse manager used the site to conduct his own sign-making and screen-printing business, and stored alcohol and held post-election drinking parties there.

That escalated into union grievance procedures reinstating the workers and defamation lawsuits against Kawauchi and former Council Chairman Dominic Yagong. The lawsuits were dismissed by a 3rd Circuit Court judge, but the case has been appealed.

The audit was requested by Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi, who had wanted an audit of just the 2012 election because he was concerned that Kawauchi’s use of Council Services Division staff would lead to overtime charges.

read ... Hawaii County Elections Circus

Legislative Motion:

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