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Monday, February 6, 2023
February 6, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:32 PM :: 1149 Views

Kauai: F-22s Scramble to Intercept China Spy Balloon

Senate Agenda: Abortion and Suicide

Two Gun Control Bills Set for Hearings

CNHA News: Danner Scores Gig on Indian Corporation, Sends Herself $4M

Many Tax Hikes on Legislative Agenda

CB: … So far, we have seen bills proposing carbon offsets for Hawaii air travel, micromanagement of coffee production, more restrictions on short-term rentals and the possibility of wealth asset taxes, just to name a few.

read … Danny De Gracia: The Legislature Needs To Cool It On New Taxes And Regulations

Legislators Figuring out how to Kill Affordable Housing without leaving Fingerprints

CB: … Sen. Stanley Chang, chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, agrees 201H-38 could be improved.

“The fundamental provisions of 201H can inherently be a source of public concern,” said Chang.

He has proposed a measure to change the law to ensure the housing is sold to Hawaii residents who do not own other real property and remains in local hands in perpetuity (201H-38 becomes toothless and worthless)….

Other bills take the opposite approach, expanding the power of developers to sidestep zoning laws.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Dru Kanuha, for example, would remove the requirement that a county council approve proposals, saying simply that the county must do so. Wong said this means a county bureaucrat in a planning department could grant approval without the public ever having a chance to comment. Kanuha was not available for comment….

Two recent projects illustrate the tensions created by projects being developed under 201H.

A proposed affordable rental project for older adults called Manoa Banyan Court would replace undeveloped land zoned for preservation next to a historic cemetery with four, three-story buildings with 288 one-bedroom apartment units. They would be rented to people who are at least 55 years old for between $708 and $1,412 per month.

Another project called Kuilei Place will redevelop more than a dozen parcels containing low-rise walk-up apartment buildings into a mixed-use project consisting of a 12-story mid-rise tower, a 43-story high-rise tower and a 13-story parking structure on 3.2 acres on Kapiolani Boulevard in Moiliili….

read … Hawaii’s Affordable Housing Law Sparks Battles At The Capitol

Tackling teacher shortages: Bill aims to ease licensing process for out-of-state educators

HTH: … Hawaii is taking part in a multistate effort to address ongoing teacher shortages.

The proposal, addressed in House Bill 846, would create a “teacher mobility compact” and committee that would streamline the licensing process for those with out-of-state qualifications.

“Licensure can be a burdensome process, and we have a responsibility to do what we can to remove barriers to solving our teacher shortage problem,” said Hilo Rep. Chris Todd, a Democrat who co-introduced the bill. “This bill is an attempt to streamline the process.”

As of June 2022, the state Department of Education reported Hawaii County was short 196 classroom teachers, with 41 vacancies in the Hilo-Waiakea complex, 50 in the Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa complex, and 105 in the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena complex.

According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the number of teachers leaving Hawaii has increased by more than 70% since 2012.

Regarding the measure, HSTA on Friday declined to comment…..

(Translation: HSTA opposed.)

For the new compact to take effect, 10 states throughout the U.S. would need to approve it.

So far, Colorado, in addition to Hawaii, have voted to send the legislation forward in a hearing.

Additional statehouses considering the compact include Washington, Kansas, Georgia and Mississippi….

The idea was initially proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense as a way to support military spouses that travel and teach in various states….

During Thursday’s hearing, Oahu Rep. Amy Perruso noted that active-duty military members and their spouses are exempt from paying income tax if they are a state or county employee, adding the bill did not address whether or not these qualifying individuals could opt out as well….

(Translation: Socialist Perruso opposed, introduces red herring.)

read …  Tackling teacher shortages: Bill aims to ease licensing process for out-of-state educators

OHA’s Totally Futile Effort to Up Zone Kakaako Makai

SA: … Rep. Daniel Holt, who introduced one of the four pending bills to pare back the ban, said OHA deserves a boost in the value of its Kakaako Makai asset given the state’s historical and continued practice of shortchanging the agency on ceded-land revenue.

“It’s our job to correct this historical wrong,” he said. “Their debt has definitely not been paid.”

Holt (D, Sand Island- Iwilei-Chinatown) is the only sponsor of House Bill 270, which is backed by OHA and proposes to allow residential use on all nine OHA parcels and to increase height and density limits on three parcels.

Another bill, HB 1228, proposes to end the residential ban on five of OHA’s parcels and raise the height limit on two. This measure was introduced by three first-term lawmakers, Reps. Kanani Souza (R, Kapolei-Makakilo), Elle Cochran (D, Waihee- Lahaina-Lahainaluna) and Elijah Pierick (R, Royal Kunia-Waipahu-Honouliuli).

Two companion bills — SB 248 and SB 736 — also are pending in the Senate, where lawmakers have been much more supportive of OHA’s objective.

Holt’s perception is that considerable resistance to repealing at least some of the ban remains in the House, though he would like to see House debate on a bill.

So far, only SB 736 has been scheduled for a hearing, on Wednesday.

House Speaker Scott Saiki (D, Ala Moana-Kakaako- Downtown) previously has been a powerful opponent of changing the ban, and proclaimed in 2014 and 2021 that pending bills at the time to let OHA develop some housing would not pass….

(CLUE: If Saiki let these bills thru, Kim Coco Iwamoto would win the next HD25 Dem Primary.  Conversely, electing Kim Coco would guarantee OHA the up-zone it wants.  That’s why Kim Coco is in the running   They are the ‘perfect servants.’) 

read … Battle over Kakaako housing continues on Oahu

Rep. Natalia Hussey-Burdick: How To Reform Government Without Even Passing New Laws

CB: … There’s a lot of really awesome resources that are available to the people who work in the building. And really, it’s not like private information. They’re just compiling the public information in a way that makes it a lot easier to use, but those tools are not currently made available to the public.

One of the easiest examples are C sheets (comparison sheets) that highlight the differences between the latest House and Senate versions of a bill. Without those, you basically have to go through the documents line by line, pull them up two at a time, to see where the differences are.

What we actually do is one of our legislative staff creates a document that summarizes all the differences and then publishes that information only to the conference committee members. So it really should just be, I mean, it’s public information. I don’t understand why it’s not posted on a legislative website.

And there’s a lot of other examples of that, like, the public has access to bill-tracking software that isn’t quite as good as the bill-tracking software that the workers have access to. Just simple things. We already have them and could just make them public….

read … Rep. Natalia Hussey-Burdick: How To Reform Government Without Even Passing New Laws

Affordable Housing; Who needs another useless plan?

SA: … Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters is frustrated: For two years he’s asked, waited and asked again for Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration to divulge a previously promised housing plan as well as a strategy on dealing with a growing homeless population on the island.

“Affordable housing is of utmost importance to me, and it is also a top priority of this Council,” Waters told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser via email. “Since 2021, and in numerous Council meetings, there have been requests from different Council members for a housing plan. At one point, we were told the plan was being worked on. After that, we were told the plan was on the managing director’s desk. Then, we were told there was a need to revise said plan. No such plan has been presented to the Council since.”

But Blangiardi said in an interview that his administration has achieved successes in the fight to offer Honolulu — a city where the cost of a single-family homes soars above $1 million — more affordable housing options, as well as dealing with the ongoing issue of homelessness here.

“Our approach right now is really focused on execution,” Blangiardi said. “I can tell you fundamentally, understanding the problems and coming up with the right solutions is a bunch of work in progress.”

And Blangiardi asserted that a housing plan — written or not — should not be a measure of success toward fixing affordability. “You know, there’s been affordable issues in this city for over 50 years. Where were all the plans? Where was the execution? What got done that they suddenly need a plan?”

Mayor since 2021, Blangiardi’s stated priorities in his run for office included “stronger action to help the homeless” and “fast-tracking housing projects locals can afford.”….

read …Council growing impatient waiting for Honolulu housing plan

Mentally Ill Person Dies Homeless Due to Lack of Mental Health care on Big Island

CB: … Deborah Ann Cohn-Hoomalu of Hilo grew up in a California family of doctors. Her mother was a psychiatrist, her father was a cardiologist and her two brothers are also physicians….

Cohn-Hoomalu struggled with bipolar disorder, according to her stepmother Bonnie Mercer Cohn.

“She was estranged from her family,” she said. “She had dropped contact with us quite a few years ago.”

Court filings show a judge ordered Cohn-Hoomalu to undergo a mental fitness and capacity exam in 2019. She had some minor run-ins with law enforcement. They included traffic violations, a minor theft charge, violation of a protection order, and a terroristic threatening charge in the second degree.

Cohn-Hoomalu was known to patrol officers who canvass the area along Banyan Drive, a popular spot for people without housing.

Kristen Alice, director of community relations at HOPE Services in Hilo, said it’s incredibly difficult to access mental health resources on the Big Island. There’s no residential facility for psychiatric services on the island, and outpatient providers are hard to come by, even if a person is housed.

“We don’t know the circumstances that led to her death. I don’t want to speculate what kind of challenges she was facing but one thing we know is we really, really need mental health care here and this is something we’ve been talking about for years at the state Legislature or whenever we get the chance,” Alice said.

Mercer Cohn said her stepdaughter’s untreated emotional and mental health challenges “got in the way of the nice, normal life that she should have had.”

read … The Tragic Life And Death Of A Hilo Homeless Woman

State Employees Close Octopus center in Kona so they will stop being annoyed by Animal Liberation Nuts

SA: … The operation has come under harsh criticism in recent months from those who say the business is not only violating the law but exploiting wildlife while conducting questionable research.

(Translation: The animal liberation nuts were annoying State employees.)

In addition, a recent story in the Los Angeles Times quoted critics who questioned whether it was cruel to keep highly intelligent octopuses in relatively small tanks for food farming.

Animal activists have gone on a social media offensive in the last few weeks, urging the state to close Kanaloa Octopus permanently.

“Please shut down the Kanaloa Octopus Farm,” said Lisa Ann Kelly on Twitter. “Those cephalopods do not deserve to be imprisoned, used as research ‘tools’ or for entertainment purposes. Thank you for doing the right thing. Mahalo.”

(Translation: The State employees took the line of least resistance and shut down the octopus farm so the phone calls would stop.)

Conroy, a former worker at DAR’s sea urchin hatchery on Oahu, said his operation is not just a tourist attraction but conducts legitimate research with a serious mission….

Jan 23, 2022: State Regulators Gratuitously Orders Shut Down of Octopus Farm

read …Octopus center in Kona remains closed

Legislative Agenda:

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