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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
April 8, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:08 PM :: 4574 Views

Djou: $100,000 in 100 Hours

Djou Running and Winning in Hawaii

Second Crossover: Complete List of House and Senate Bills

Alliance Defending Freedom asks court to dismiss renewed attack on Hawaii churches

Survey: 4,280 Hawaii Teachers Reveal Attitude towards Evaluation System

Maui Doctors Speak up on Obamacare

Honolulu 15th Most Expensive Long Term Care

Why Infrastructure Projects Cost Way More Than They Should

Video: Grassroot Institute Think Tank Talk

PEW: Hawaii Voter Participation Drops Below 45%--Worst in USA

Census: Hawaii Tax Revenue Jump 3rd Highest in Nation

Obamacare Responsible for HMSA 12.8% rate hike application

SA: The Hawaii Medical Service Association said costs related to Obama­care are responsible for the bulk of a 12.8 percent proposed rate hike for most of the 77,000 small-business workers covered by the insurer.

If approved by the state, health insurance premiums are set to rise for roughly 8,100 employers renewing health plans July 1.

The rate increase request is the largest in at least five years for HMSA's dominant Preferred Provider Plan members, with Affordable Care Act fees accounting for 60 percent of the hike and higher medical and drug costs the remainder, the company said.

This is the first full year that HMSA factored in costs related to the ACA, including a 2 percent fee to pay for the Hawaii Health Connector....

read ... HMSA pursues 12.8% rate hike for small businesses

Obamacare Reimbursement Cuts Cost HHSC $4.6M

WHT: Senate Bill 2866, which is expected to be taken up in conference committee sometime next week, requests a total of $18.2 million in emergency appropriations from the state Legislature for facilities across Hawaii.

In a Tuesday phone interview, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Alice M. Hall explained that a large part of the HHSC regions’ shortfalls will be as a result of the most recent collective bargaining decision approving raises for hospital workers.

“Unfunded raises totaled $11.2 million this year,” she said.

Meanwhile, declining Medicare reimbursements and the federal sequestration cuts that went into effect this fiscal year have also taken their toll.

“Physicians and hospitals are being paid less money as a result of Obamacare, so we’ve had reimbursement reductions and the federal sequestration to deal with, totaling $4.6 million for (fiscal year) 2014,” Hall said.

EBONY: Newly "insured" by Obamacare: "doctorless" after 96 "soul crushing rejections."

read ... About the Difference Between Coverage and Care 

Don't play games with Housing First

SA: ...the message to the City Council is to stop playing politics with funding for this program.

The Council's Budget Committee cut more than $5 million from Mayor Kirk Caldwell's $22 million budget proposal for Housing First, and threatened to take even more unless the mayor provides exact details now about where the future housing units will be located. Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland pleaded with the committee members to reconsider, noting that every $25,000 cut from the budget proposal will keep one homeless individual or family from getting permanent housing.

The Caldwell administration has the order right on this contentious issue, which has moved along in fits and starts so many times before: Nail down the funding, do the community outreach to build support for Housing First units throughout the city, then finalize the lease agreements on specific properties.

In tandem, we as a community need to galvanize a commitment to enforcement that will firmly prod the chronically homeless into such housing by making the streets much less of an option.

But to even begin, in order for Housing First to live up to its promise, the Council and the mayor must join in a long-term commitment to this philosophy, which is aimed at the most recalcitrant segment of a difficult population. Anything less than a unified front seems doomed to fail.

Caldwell's Housing First funding proposals are contained in the operating and capital improvement budgets, which the full Council will take up at a public hearing before returning the measures to the budget committee for further refinements.

We hope the Council will recognize the urgency of restoring full funding to Caldwell's modest Housing First plan. No less than the future of Honolulu is at stake....

Reality: Occupy, Union Activists Organizing Homeless Tent Cities in Honolulu?

read ... Don't play games with Housing First

HB1866: Only Surviving HCDA Reform Bill

SA: The state agency regulating development in Kaka­ako would be directed by fewer representatives of the governor under the lone surviving bill aimed at reforming the Hawaii Community Development Authority this year.

Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 1866 last week 13-0. If House leaders agree, the bill could be voted upon by the full House and Senate, and if approved would put Gov. Neil Abercrombie in an interesting position.

Abercrombie, before he became governor, had been an opponent of HCDA for more than 30 years and criticized the agency as an organ of the governor. However, as the state's chief executive, he has endorsed the agency and its mission fostering dense high-rise development in an area Abercrombie views as becoming Oahu's "third city."

Besides board composition, HB 1866 would make several changes to the agency in the area of public hearing notices and procedures, and freeze Kaka­ako's height limit at its existing roughly 400-foot level.

Abercrombie and HCDA have proposed building towers as high as 650 feet....

read ... HCDA bill blunts governor's impact

Tax burden heavy on low income earners

KITV: Many Hawaii residents may dislike seeing a sizeable amount of their paychecks going to taxes, but for those earning the least the tax burden just may be the biggest.

"People in the lowest 40 percent of income are paying about 13 cents per dollar. People in the top 20 percent are paying about 8 cents per dollar," said Hawaii Appleseed Center attorney Victor Geminiani.

Hawaii's general excise tax may be partly to blame, as every good or service is taxed....

What else could be done to cut the tax liability of low wage earners?  Other states have tax credits for low wage earners or a local form of the federal earned income tax credit.

That would cost Hawaii millions in revenue, but Geminiani says it could end up saving the state more, because raising their buying power could reduce the need for expensive state services.

"Why are you spending all that money at the same time taxing them deeper into poverty when the goal is to get them out of poverty?" asks Geminiani.

There are a number of bills still alive in the legislature that would boost current tax credits and add additional benefits for Hawaii's lowest wage earners.

read ... Tax burden heavy on low income earners

Counties poised for boost in hotel room tax revenue

SA: Chances are good that state lawmakers will OK a bill allowing counties to collect a larger share of Hawaii's hotel room tax, although uncertainty remains.

The mayors and Councils of all four counties are pushing hard for House Bill 1671, which eliminates a cap of $93 million on Transient Accommodations Tax revenues that counties divide among themselves. The ceiling has been in place since 2011.

Exactly how much more the counties would get remains in question and is likely to be hashed out when House and Senate leaders meet in conference committee in the coming weeks. The House version of the bill calls for returning to a pre-2011 formula that would give counties a 44.8 percent share of all TAT collected.

Maui County Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa estimated that would give counties about $72 million more, or about 77 percent more than they are currently receiving with the cap.

State Budget Director Kalbert Young estimated that distributing 44.8 percent to the counties would cost the state $81 million in revenues in 2015, and more in subsequent years.

read ... Counties poised for boost in hotel room tax revenue

HSTA Gets Legislators to cut Teach for America Hawaii funding

SA: Teach for America in Hawaii says losing about $1 million in state funding will drastically hamper efforts to train and support teachers in struggling schools that need them the most....  (HSTA is behind this.)

state funding was cut in half in the House version of the budget and in full by the Senate's $12 billion budget passed last week  (no fingerprints)

Hawaii has long relied on recruiting teachers from the mainland to work in schools that are difficult to staff.

Teach for America anticipates having to cut in half the number of teachers who come to Hawaii this year.

read ... Teach for America in Hawaii could lose funding

Gallup: 57% Trust Hawaii State Government

Borreca: A Gallup poll released this month has us in the middle of the pack when it comes to trust in government (http://goo.gl/OH12RA).

North Dakota is the leader in trust in government. The state that trusts government the least is Illinois, which is understandable because it has put more of its governors in jail than even Louisiana.

Twenty-eight percent of Illinois residents trust their state government "a great deal" or "a fair amount."

In contrast, at least 75 percent of North Dakota, Wyoming and Utah residents trust their state governments, Gallup reports.

For Hawaii, a total of 57 percent say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in government.

Vermont, Wisconsin and Alabama also reported trust rates of 57 percent.

Twelve percent of Hawaii residents say they have no trust at all in government to handle state problems....

The new Gallup poll is the first to measure government trust on a state-by-state basis.

On a local level, we are more middle-of-the-roaders than happy campers or bomb throwers, which should be a comforting trend for politicians hoping to remain in office.

read ... Locals' comfy levels of trust, happiness, shield politicians

Kim Releases Internal Poll Showing Lead

PR: Senate President Donna Mercado Kim: 35%
Rep. K. Mark Takai: 11%
Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang: 10%
Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson: 9%
Sen. Will Espero: 4%
Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan: 2%
Undecided: 29%

read ... Dem Primary Race

New and familiar faces in mix as candidates line up for election

WHT:  The filing deadline to run for public office is still two months away, but that hasn’t stopped 23 candidates from pulling nomination papers or filing for County Council seats.

The nine County Council seats, which are nonpartisan, come up every two years for election. Two council members are term-limited this year, and six are freshmen who will likely seek a second term.

That leaves just one old hand likely to remain on the council, Hilo District 3 Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, who, if he wins re-election, will be in his fourth and final term. The filing deadline is June 3.

read ...  New and familiar faces in mix as candidates line up for election

Kauai Council Boosts Omidyar's Shoreline Development Scheme

KE: The Kauai County Council is preparing to give coastal landowners a big gift — an exemption from shoreline rules and regulations.

Bill2461, which was inexplicably passed out of Committee and goes to the full Council on Wednesday, grants a waiver to some 671 coastal properties. The so-called “bright line” exemptions encompass most of the lands still undeveloped along the coast.

Just take a gander at these maps, which show you exactly how extensive these exemptions are. They pave the way for projects like Pierre Omidyar's Hanalei Ridge and other blufftop and cliffside developments. (The link will give you higher quality graphics.)

Under the proposed new law, coastal landowners can get an exemption from shoreline rules, including possibly even shoreline certifications, so long as they are 20 feet above sea level, out of the FEMA flood zone and adjacent to a rocky shoreline.

They will be allowed to build their houses just 40 feet from the shoreline....

Background: Pierre Omidyar: The Secret Empire of a Resort Developer

read ... Handout to Developers

Not Certified Yet: 11,000 Signatures for Referendum to Shut Down Farms on Maui?

KITV: Through a series of pre-recorded clips and an unusually aggressive PR campaign, leading bio-tech company Monsanto employees laid out their case for Genetically Modified Crops in Hawaii and around the world.

"We don't discriminate and I don't think anybody else should either," said Monsanto Hawaii Land & Resources manager Dan Clegg.

Top Monsanto employees say they dropped off stacks research, showing their work is safe, but on Monday, came a stack of petitions, more than 10,000 in all, to put Monsanto's work on Maui to a vote.

"It's telling me that people are gravely concerned," said luxury realtor Mark Sheehan about the signatures collected.

He's part of the group Shaka Movement that is collecting enough votes to put an initiative on the ballot this fall that would put a moratorium on GMO crops, until he said, Biotech companies prove genetically modified crops are safe.  (He wants to sell Eden to rich eco-idiots from California.  They'll pay double for anything labeled holistic, sustainable, and organic.  LOL!)

Background: High-End Realtors Behind Anti-GMO Push

VIDEO: Monsanto Employees Rally on Maui, Molokai, Deliver Report to Mayor

read ... Over 11,000 signatures gathered for moratorium on GMO companies

Kauai anti-GMO Nuts Push Ballot Initiative

KE: Kauai Rising has launched a petition drive, trying to get a charter amendment on the ballot that will establish an administrator of public health to protect us from "the hazards of GMO agriculture, testing and toxins".

The proposal is rife with fantastical, undocumented statements that will never stand up in court, even if by a miracle it gets on the ballot and then passed by the voters. Why do folks waste time and energy on foolishness instead of engaging in actions that could actually result in positive, meaningful resolution to the myriad problems on this island?

read ... Mass Hysteria

One man inspires thousands

MN: More than 4,000 people gathered at War Memorial Gym on Sunday evening for a free motivational speech by California resident Nick Vujicic. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder that causes the person to be born without arms and legs.

read ... More than 4,000 people

Gay-Atheists Protest Senate Reappointment of Horner to BoE

CB: Horner’s reappointment, which is slated to go before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and then to the full Senate for formal confirmation after that, is causing a stir among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates and church-state separation activists. They are organizing a public protest to oppose his reappointment at the Wednesday hearing....It’s...being organized by a vocal group of activists — including well-known names such as Kathryn Xian and Mitch Kahle....

read ... Arrogant Totalitarians

'Actual Maggots' -- USO Members on Hunger Strike

HNN: Months after more than a dozen members of Hawaii's largest and most powerful prison gang were put behind bars they have started a hunger strike.

The inmates say just because they're locked up in a cage doesn't mean they're not human.

"Seeing is believing. These are the actual maggots," said Neil Kugiya, attorney for one of the USO Gang members....

read ... Actual maggots

Ousted judge sits in his office during final three weeks as sub judge handles cases

HNN: Oahu Circuit Judge Patrick Border has refused to preside over criminal cases in his courtroom in the three weeks since he found out he was not being re-appointed to a second ten-year term, so the state Judiciary brought in a substitute judge to handle his court calendar.

Defense and prosecution attorneys complained to the Judicial Selection Commission that Border was "erratic," "unpredictable" and even "bizarre" in the court room -- so he was not retained. 

Border abruptly canceled his court proceedings starting March 17, once he found out he wasn't getting re-appointed.  (Wilson got promoted for being "erratic," "unpredictable" and even "bizarre", but Border gets fired.  No wonder he is pissed.)

Judge Shirley Kawamura, who's usually paid at the annual rate of $175,032 a year as a District Court judge, has for the last couple of weeks been paid at the higher $185,736 a year rate as a substitute Circuit Court judge for Border.

All the while Border has also been collecting his salary, but court house sources said he's essentially been "on strike" for his final three weeks, staying in his chambers and refusing to oversee hearings, trials and other proceedings in his courtroom....

There will be two vacancies out of 24 Circuit Court judgeships on Oahu soon.  Judge Michael Wilson, who has been appointed to the State Supreme Court, will depart his Circuit Court judge position when he's sworn in to his high court post April 17.

Totally Unrelated: Accusers: Wilson A Drunk, Harasses Women—Defended by Crooked Lawyers

read ... On his way out

Local homeless programs receive $10.7M in federal funds

KHON:  U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Tuesday $10.7 million in grants to renew support for 38 local homeless housing and service programs in Hawaii.

The money, provided through HUD’s Continuum of Care grants, is awarded competitively to local projects to meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in their community. The 38 recipients, which include Eha Shelter Plus Care and Barbers Point Veterans In Progress, address street outreach, client assessment and direct housing assistance....

LINK: View the complete list of local homeless projects.

read ... Homelessness

University of Hawaii chancellor considers year-round school

KHON: University of Hawaii at Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple is thinking of ways to turn the school into a year-round college, so students could get their degrees on time and the school could possibly increase revenue.

Apple recently talked about the idea during one of his on-campus meetings with students. He says offering programs year-round has been a goal of his since he joined the university nearly two years ago. He says he’s been talking to various deans and directors about ways to offer more academic programs throughout the year, including the summer and winter months.

The union for the school’s faculty says it’s an idea that’s been discussed and supported by them, for years.

“It made a lot of sense for helping students complete their baccalaureate degrees and other degrees in a real timely fashion,” said J.N. Musto, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

The biggest hurdle is getting lawmakers to provide the general funds to do it.

read ... Year-round

Legislative Motion:

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