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Sunday, March 19, 2017
March 19, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:37 PM :: 3842 Views

Dissent: Five Ninth Circuit Judges Rebuke Court’s Immigration Ruling

A Constitutional Amendment for Education Wars, Part 2

Fox News Video: How your tax dollars are being wasted on a railway in Hawaii

Assisted Suicide Laws in Oregon and Washington: What Safeguards?

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Caldwell Fined for Sewage Spills

Election Results: KIUC Co-op Board

March 18, 1959: Eisenhower Signs Hawaii Statehood Bill

National Republicans Poised to Liberate Hawaii from HMSA-Kaiser Duopoly

WHT: A proposed plan allowing insurance to be sold across state lines could, depending on who you ask, increase competition and drive down premiums. Or, others say, it could create a “race to the bottom” and undermine local laws that regulate Hawaii’s market.

The proposal isn’t included in the recently introduced American Health Care Act, part of Congressional Republicans’ efforts to replace the current Affordable Care Act.

But erasing state lines when it comes to insurance sales is still very much in the cards.

On March 7, President Donald Trump tweeted that “getting rid of state lines, which will promote competition, will be in phase 2 &3 of healthcare rollout.” In a speech outlining the plan, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said interstate insurance purchases, along with all “the bills that we want to pass” that can’t go through reconciliation, is phase 3 of the plan.

Supporters of the recently introduced bill, or “phase 1,” want to pass that bill through reconciliation, a legislative process that can’t be filibustered.

Because the specifics of the policy haven’t been officially proposed in Congress, exactly what lawmakers’ idea of “getting rid of state lines” entails is uncertain.

read … Health care reform proposal could impact local regulations

Star-Advertiser Instructs Readers on How to Hate Trump

HB1471: Tax the TVRs Bill Still Alive

SA: …Supporters want to see legislation that maintains property rights while allowing individuals and the community to profit from expanded tourism and increased revenues. Meanwhile, critics who are concerned with rising housing prices and changing neighborhoods want to know that trade-offs are worth the cost.

Resolution has been a long time coming.

In 2015, Gov. David Ige signed into law Act 204, requiring transient-rental owners to post their tax identification numbers on advertisements. Proponents said the law would provide county officials with more enforcement teeth, but the state Department of Taxation has not implemented the new law. Several hosting platforms notified the state that the requirement violated the federal Communications Decency Act, said Mallory Fujitani, department spokeswoman.

Last year, state lawmakers touted a tax solution in House Bill 1850, which allowed online travel businesses like Airbnb to collect taxes from hosts and remit them to the state. Proponents said the bill would yield more taxes since some short-term-rental owners were ignoring zoning laws. The state Department of Taxation supported the intent of the bill, but Ige vetoed it, saying it provided a shield for owners who weren’t complying with county laws.

State lawmakers introduced three vacation-rental bills this session. The only one still moving is House Bill 1471, which is similar to HB 1850 and is slated to be heard Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. in Room 414 of the state Capitol….

read … Oahu TVR surge frustrates neighbors, government

HIDOT Continues to Blackmail Big Island

HTH: The state Department of Transportation’s response to Hawaii County’s request for release of $15 million appropriated for Puna roads could be summed up in two words — nice try.

In a blunt letter to county officials, DOT Deputy Director Ed Sniffen said the department will not release funds state lawmakers approved in 2015 and suggested that spending or giving the county the money could impact priority projects, such as improving Highway 130.

“As it is, HDOT’s funding is insufficient to support the current and future needs of the statewide highways system as it is,” he said in the March 8 email. “… If the county of Hawaii is seeking additional funding, they should not look to HDOT.”

The correspondence was sent ahead of the County Council voting on a resolution urging the funding to be distributed to the county prior to the appropriation’s expiration June 30….

read … HDOT to county: Need funds for Puna roads? Look elsewhere

HB775--Egg Inspection: Will legislature End 86 Years of Mindless Bureaucracy?

SA: You could call Howard Kamimoto a crack egg inspector.

Actually, he is one of three state food inspectors who devote a lot of their time checking to see if chicken eggs from the mainland are properly marked as to their origin.

There’s a problem, though. These required marks — “US” stamped in small type on the shells of individual eggs — are supposed to be checked by the state Department of Agriculture before imported eggs can be removed from a local shipping dock or other landing point and delivered to stores for retail sale.

That’s a lot of checks — about 150 every month to sample 400,000 cases containing about 30 dozen eggs each.

So the agency is seeking some relief from its duty by asking the Legislature to amend a law that dates to 1931 and was enacted to protect local egg producers from unscrupulous competitors who might try to package mainland eggs in cartons advertising Hawaii eggs that can sell for more than twice as much.

At the time the requirement was instituted, all eggs sold in Hawaii were locally produced. Now 80 percent are from the mainland, and the inspection protocol is unwarranted, said Jeri Kahana, quality assurance division administrator for the department.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “It’s too cumbersome.”

Kahana said her three food inspectors have more important duties that include checking food for health safety and quality. The law that mandates checking the origin of eggs before they are released for retail sale also requires issuing written certificates that take up the inspectors’ time, she said….

Kahana said that sometimes inspections are delayed, and that can have a negative impact on the perishable food….

The bill, which the House passed earlier this month, was advanced further by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment Wednesday and now awaits consideration by the Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee….

HB775: Text, Status

(86 x 3 = 258 man-years spent checking egg stamps)

read … Ag Department seeks relief from egg inspection mandate

Maui Waena’s new building — after 10 years — is finally open

MN: Maui Waena Intermediate School’s new classroom building — more than a decade in the making — is finally open.

Yes, it really is open. No more permits. No more inspections. No more delays….

“It was really exciting,” Suzuki said. “My 8th-graders have been waiting literally 2 1/2 years and they were afraid they were never going to be inside the building. They’re already planning a sleepover.”….

“It feels like it’s been a lifetime waiting for this bundling to open,” she said, noting she has been at the school since 2006. “The joke was that I told Mr. Yap, ‘Now that you leave, it opens.’….

(If a building lasts 50 years, then 20% of its total value is wasted by a 10 year delay.)

read … Mindless Bureaucracy 10 years

VA: Mindless Bureaucracy Makes a Mess out of Veterans Choice Program

SA: …Peacock said he missed the first of a series of chiropractic appointments in September because no one told him about it. When he went to his VA physician a month later to follow up on his back problem, the complete set of recommendations from the chiropractor was not relayed to his doctor. Peacock had to retrieve the full report later and deliver it himself.

“It was frustrating, it was disheartening,” said Peacock, co-founder of the advocacy group Hawaii Vet 2 Vet. “The program is good, but it’s not efficient.”

Other vets have come to the same conclusion.

“Overall, it has helped a lot of veterans,” said Army veteran Ray Welch, commander of the Disabled American Veterans in Hawaii. “It’s more positive than negative. But (the problems) need to be fixed.”

Veterans Choice, which was created in 2014 to address a national controversy over long wait times for VA appointments, still is marred by a convoluted bureaucracy — so much so that the department’s new secretary said a top priority is to simplify the system.

The problems have been magnified in Hawaii, partly because Veterans Choice is open to all veterans eligible for VA care. On the mainland, only veterans who have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility have the Choice option…. 

SA: Fix VA patients’ access to Choice

read … Mindless Bureaucracy

HB432: Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

KHON: …When our kupuna are duped out of their savings by their own caregivers, it’s called financial abuse.

The question is, should that be seen as a separate, heinous crime?

According to a study by the National Adult Protective Services Association, 90 percent of the abusers are family members or someone known to the victim. But the penalties for caregivers who abuse them could be getting tougher.

State lawmakers are looking over HB432 that defines a caregiver as any person who has temporary or permanent care, custody or supervision or who has legal duty to care for the health of an elder.

Lawmakers are still considering the total amount of money taken before the crime is considered a felony….

read … Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

H-Power: Third Boiler Reduces Waste Flow to

SA: …The most recent effort to winnow the landfilled trashpile further will start Monday when, the city announced last week, all combustible items will be directed to the HPOWER garbage-to-energy plant via the city’s convenience centers. Households may only deliver limited amounts of inert material — such as dirt, rock, sand, gravel and concrete — to Waimanalo Gulch.

The landfill still takes ash residue from HPOWER, but the rest of the municipal solid waste (MSW) load has plummeted. Where 277,000 tons of MSW was landfilled in 2011, in fiscal year 2016 that amount dropped to 62,000 tons, Kahikina said.

That’s because HPOWER’s third boiler was installed in 2015, one capable of incinerating sewage sludge mixed with bulky items — mattresses, furniture and other items that once went to the landfill.

The majority of what’s left is what’s called automotive shredder residue (ASR), the nonmetals that are left when cars are recycled….

read … New landfill site elusive, but HPOWER burning more waste

Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

TI: From MSNBC politics shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence….

read … Will Democrats be Destroyed by Media Manipulation of Their Own Base?

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