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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
February 8, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:01 PM :: 3774 Views

Hawaii medical excise tax affecting patient care, physicians say 

House Sends Four Campaign Finance Reform Bills to Senate

Eco Lawyers Head to Court to Block Kauai Hydro Project

A Trio of Bills in Hawaii Would Legalize Marijuana Despite Federal Cannabis Prohibition

Federal Grant-Matching Requirement to be waived for Territories

HB1146: Statewide Carbon Tax Designed to Support Big Island Hu Honua Scam?

IM: … The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection is hearing HB1146 that would impose a new carbon tax.

Hawai`i has two existing carbon taxes. One is a gas tax paid every time someone buys gas at a gas station. The other is the barrel tax established in 1993.

Most of the money collected for the barrel tax is siphoned off to support non energy related issues.

The Hawai‘i Tax Review Commission filed a report in 2021. “The environmental response tax rate on each barrel of petroleum product was $1.05... Revenues from the environmental response tax were distributed as follows in FY 2020... the remainder (seventy cents) went to the General Fund.”

HB1146 would increase the barrel tax …

A carbon tax would increase the disadvantage of locally produced goods including food as compared to imported goods. Imported goods would not pay a new carbon tax on fuel used in production and shipping.

The right to pollute is not explicitly in the carbon tax bill. But it is inferred. 

There are many laws that establish fees under which you may participate in an activity if you paid the fee. Because the government has established a fee for an activity, it has endorsed the activity. When governments want to stop an activity they phase it out or impose a fine.

Carbon taxes are supported by American Petroleum Institute, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips….

Many countries that have imposed a carbon tax have also politically defined tree-based electricity to be carbon neutral, and many of these places have replaced coal-based electricity with tree-based electricity.

Burning trees produces higher greenhouse gas emissions per megawatt-hour than burning any fossil fuel but countries “claim” they are solving the problem. Emissions continue to rise.

The proposed Hu Honua tree-burning power plant has higher projected greenhouse gas  emissions than any existing or historic Hawaii fossil fuel power plant.

The UHERO carbon tax study released in 2021 sidesteps biofuel emissions: “Biofuel-specific issues should likely be addressed in policies and programs that would be complementary to the carbon tax.”…

2022: PUC rejects Hu Honua bid to saddle users with Overpriced Electricity

Energy 808: Hu Honua Before the Court; If it Pleases the Hawaii Supremes

read … Carbon Taxes Are Controversial

Senators find DCCA Office Empty, Lights Out--Afraid to Make HGEA  Members Show Up for Work

CB: … In the fall of 2021 a group of state senators dropped in unannounced during business hours to visit the state Consumer Advocate’s office and found the lights out — literally. All but one member of the staff was working from home, senators were told.

That surprise visit along with complaints from the public and some state workers have led to sharp exchanges in the Senate Ways and Means Committee this year about telework, with senators demanding data on exactly who is working from home and why.

The issue has prompted pushback from the state’s largest public employees union. Members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association recently ratified a new telework policy that the union negotiated with the state, and more workers are now expected to ask to work from home….

But that has raised some concerns in the Senate. In one pointed exchange last month, state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz quizzed Department of Human Resources Development Director Brenna Hashimoto about how teleworking employees are monitored.

“How do you know there’s work being done if there’s no deliverables?” Dela Cruz demanded. “You know what, you guys, this is taxpayer dollars. Residents are expecting services. You have got to ensure that.”…

Dela Cruz continued: “We get calls, no one picking up in the office. They went to the office, nobody’s there. We visited DCCA (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs), nobody in the office. This is serious.”…

This year the Senate budget committee gathered detailed data from state departments on who is working from home, and Dela Cruz said those reports raised more questions about how employee performance is being monitored.

"The only ones who actually had some type of accountability record was the Attorney General's Office," Dela Cruz said, adding that office kept records of billable hours for its attorneys, but the other departments had no comparable data….

Randy Perreira, executive director of the HGEA, criticized what he called “unspecified allegations” about abuses of work-from-home arrangements.

“We’re not aware of the abuses. We certainly don’t condone people who are just goofing off and not earning their keep,” he said.

(Translation: At home we don’t have to pretend to work.  We can sleep, watch the food channel and do yoga--and you idiots pay us for this.)

“If there are reasons that some senators would have that working remotely doesn’t work, I think they should share that information with the state, and it (should) be factored in by the state as they determine who can and should be eligible for any amount of remote work,” Perreira said….

(Translation: We will primary you.)

Hashimoto told lawmakers that "telework is really intended for high-functioning, high-performing employees who need little supervision, who are self-starters, who can execute their jobs without being present. It's not conducive to all situations and all employees."

(Translation: This isn’t suitable for any Hawaii state employees, ever.)

read … Should Hawaii Tighten Its Work-From-Home Policies For State Employees?

SB720: Hawaii Senators Move To Keep Public Records Secret

CB: … Some of the records in question included consultants’ reports, revenue estimates for proposed legislation, evaluations of an agency’s overall performance, forecasts of general fund tax revenues and even audit recommendations.

OIP for years had opined that state and county agencies had a “deliberative process privilege” that allowed them to withhold pre-decisional records from the public. OIP said those records could be withheld if releasing them to the public would “frustrate a legitimate government function.”

But the state Supreme Court overruled OIP in the 2018 decision, declaring there was no mention of any “deliberative process privilege” in Hawaii’s open records law, which is officially known as the Uniform Information Practices Act.

In response to the court’s decision, OIP last year supported a bill that would have inserted the deliberative process privilege into the state open records law after the fact.

That bill failed, but lawmakers instead created a seven-member working group to recommend changes to the open records law in the wake of the court decision. That working group produced what became Senate Bill 720, which again proposes to add the deliberative process privilege into the state open records law.

Under the proposed new law, “deliberative” and pre-decisional records could be withheld by agencies for a time but would have to be released after a final decision is made on the issues the records address. However, some redactions would be allowed to conceal the identities of some government officials involved.

That bill was tentatively approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee on Tuesday. Committee Chairman Angus McKelvey said the bill is “a consensus measure among many different competing interests. We’d like to keep it moving forward.”

read … Hawaii Senators Move To Keep Public Records Secret

Kaneshiro Lawyers -- Our Client Should Get Away with Frame-up Due to Statute of Limitations

SA: … Attorneys representing Dennis Mitsunaga, former Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and four Mitsu­naga & Associates executives indicted for allegedly conspiring to charge a former Mitsunaga employee with felony theft are trying to dismiss some of the charges based on their statute of limitations….

… The allegations made by federal prosecutors are connected to Mitsunaga & Associates’ treatment of Laurel Mau, who sued the company after she was let go in November 2011 after they accused her of working side jobs. Mi­tsunaga and his employees allegedly tried to block Mau’s applications for unemployment benefits, which she was later deemed eligible to receive. In an August 2012 lawsuit, Mau accused MAI of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

On Oct. 4, 2012, Mitsu­naga, Kaneshiro, Tanaka and Kaneshiro’s assistant allegedly met to try and get Kaneshiro to prosecute Mau. Mitsunaga, Otani, Fujii, McDonald, Tanaka and other Mitsunaga family members and employees donated about $45,000 to Kaneshiro’s campaign following the meeting….

The government objects to Marino’s motion, in part because the “challenged words, phrases, and paragraphs are relevant to providing notice of the charges against the defendants and the United States’ theory underlying the charges,” according to a Jan. 23 memo in opposition authored by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J.M. Orabona.

In a memo opposing the motion to dismiss authored by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Y. Chiang and filed Thursday, the government argues the charges are timely and that Mau “was still actively being prosecuted and in peril within the limitations period for the counts charged” in the first superseding indictment since the prosecution did not end until Oct. 15, 2017….

read … Some Kaneshiro case charges late, lawyers argue

Settlement reached for 4 injured in high-speed police chase-- Police ‘Thinking like criminals’

HNN: … The city and lawyers for four passengers injured in a 2021 near-fatal police chase in Makaha have reached a tentative multi-million dollar settlement.

The deal was approved Tuesday by the Honolulu City Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, but must still go to the full Council later this month for a vote.

“This is one of the most clear-cut cases there is of liability on the part of the officers violating policy and violating criminal law,” said former Honolulu Police Department Deputy Chief John McCarthy….

Experts said the officers violated HPD policy by not turning on their blue lights during the chase, failing to render aid, and driving away from the accident — only to return after an ambulance arrived.,,,

“They never thought they were going to get caught,” said McCarthy.

“They’re thinking like criminals. Criminals commit crimes not thinking they’re going to get caught.”

The settlement does not apply to the driver of the car, who suffered permanent brain injuries.

Nor does it apply to the teen who was paralyzed in the crash.

Those two have filed separate lawsuits, which are still pending.

read … Settlement reached for 4 injured in high-speed police chase

SB350 Crime Wave Coming: Will Green Sign Cash Bail Bill Vetoes by Ige?

TGI: … A bill to eliminate cash bail for certain low-level, nonviolent offenses — with a long list of exceptions — passed both chambers of the Legislature last session.

But it triggered a wave of backlash from the police union, prosecutors and mayors, including Kaua‘i Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, and was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. David Ige.

Community Alliance on Prisons Coordinator Kat Brady is optimistic that bail reform and other progressive criminal justice measures will get more traction with Gov. Josh Green taking Ige’s place in the governor’s office.

“It often felt like what we were saying was bouncing off the administration,” said Brady. “Josh’s (State of the State address) was the polar opposite of the last eight years. He thinks about people, while the last eight years were very clinical.”

This session, Brady will advocate for Senate Bill 350, which is almost identical to the bill Ige vetoed last year. It would eliminate the use of monetary bail and require defendants to be released on their own recognizance for traffic offenses, nonviolent misdemeanors and nonviolent class C felonies.

The bill also includes a range of exceptions, including for repeat offenders and those charged with breaking and entering or making threats. Because of these exceptions, it would affect a relatively small percentage of the pretrial population.

Introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads, the bill passed first reading last week and has been referred to the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, as well as the Judiciary Committee.

Though he did not specify whether he would sign a bail reform measure, Green has signaled interest in pursuing criminal justice reform.

“It goes without saying that we need justice reform,” said Green in a statement to The Garden Island. “I am open to hearing more about the multiple approaches that will be discussed during this legislative session. Fundamentally, we should not incarcerate people for minor drug offenses, especially related to their own addiction. We should get them treatment instead of putting them in prison.”…

(CLUE: the only way these addicts will ever get treatment is if they are forced--ie in prison.)

SB350: Text, Status

read … Advocates take another shot at bail reform with new Gov. Josh Green

Her child care business was a labor of love ― until she couldn’t make a living with it

HNN: … Kodani isn’t doing what she loves anymore ― because she couldn’t afford to keep her preschool open.

The case offers new perspective on the significant child care shortage in Hawaii at a time when the Green Administration has pledged an ambitious push to bolster preschool options for working families.

For Kodani, the economics simply didn’t work.

Before shuttering her business, which was state-licensed, she was making less than $3 an hour per child.

“I was allowed six children,” she said.

And with childcare in such high demand she says it was always a full house…..

Each family paid $675 per month to enroll their child in the program.

“I couldn’t make enough for myself,” she said….

Right now, there are several bills before lawmakers aimed at doing just that, including companion measures in the state House and Senate to create a child care worker subsidy pilot program.

read … Her child care business was a labor of love ― until she couldn’t make a living with it

Pandering to Ignorance Deemed Unconstitutional: Bills Blaming ‘Outsiders’ for High Cost of Housing -- Dead

HNN: … Senate Bill 34 was deferred and deemed unconstitutional on Tuesday.

“Today was a rough one, because oh, man, tell you what, yeah, it’s kind of emotional, a lot of work. And this is something that people really want. We just got to find a way,” said Sen. Brenton Awa, (R) Kāne’ohe, Kahalu’u thru Lā'ie, Kahuku to Mokulē'ia, Schofield Barracks, Kunia Camp.

Awa’s idea was to go after the Hawaii Real Property Tax Act. That means 7.25% of any profit made by nonresidents on Hawaii real estate must go to the state. Awa wanted 75% of the profit to go to the state instead.

However, the Director of Taxation said Tuesday it ultimately wouldn’t work.

“It does call into question some legal issues. Any time treating local residents differently than nonresidents,” said Gary Suganuma.

“I hate to be the one to say this because I’m over here pushing for locals and I don’t care who’s telling me it’s unconstitutional, you can’t do this. But we’re pushing, pushing, pushing, and what do we find out? Well, shoot, that’s actually the rules that we live under,” Awa said.

Before the decision to defer, a lot of testifiers came out in support of the measure….

read … Measure to help Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis fails

UH to Bulldoze Charter School, Build Condos

SA: … A letter sent by “ULS Administration” to parents on Jan. 27 said that UH officials at a Jan. 12 legislative briefing “announced” a “recent development proposal” to revamp the 15-acre UH Manoa parcel bordered by University Avenue, Dole and Metcalf streets, and property lines of residences on Hoonanea Street.

“Redeveloping the property into a mixed residential/commercial area will have a profound 24/7 impact on the community with significantly greater population density, increased vehicular and foot traffic, a change to the look of the neighborhood, safety and security of residents, and the possible displacement of ULS,” the letter said….

read … Uproar over possible charter school move premature, UH officials say

HB1366: Should State take over HTLA program to fly bums back to Mainland?

HNN: … State Rep. John Mizuno is calling it the “return to home” pilot program. The bill requires the State Department of Human Services to create a three year pilot program to help out-of-state houseless individuals return to their home state….

Since 2014, the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Authority has provided funds for a similar project with its non-profit partners. HTLA said, the proof is in the numbers.

(CLUE: Making this into a State program will destroy it.)

“There was a total of 744 and only 16 people returned which is less than two percent,” said Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO. “That’s less than two percent that came back.”…

Service providers like the Institute for Human Services said they see a countless amount of houseless individuals from the mainland and a measure like this can help save local resources for local houseless individuals.

“They end up on our rolls for general assistance or for our healthcare, and I can’t tell you how many people come from the emergency room that just arrived from out of state to our shelters,” said Connie Mitchell, The Institute for Human Services Executive Director.

The bill passed Tuesday, Feb. 7 with amendments and will move to its next committee.

CB: Hawaii Would Pay To Fly Homeless People Back Home Under New Bill

read … ‘Return to Home’ bill aims to send out-of-state houseless individuals back home

Red Light Cams Issue 763 Tickets

SA: … the state Department of Transportation updates that information about once a month on its website, which shows that 763 citations for red-light running had been issued as of Monday at five Honolulu intersections where the automatic cameras operate. Four of the five intersections are along Vineyard Boulevard.

The intersections went live for citations at various dates. Here’s the tally so far, according to the DOT:

>> Vineyard Boulevard and Palama Street: 291 citations issued since Nov. 20.

>> Vineyard Boulevard and Liliha Street: 350 citations since Dec. 12, including 103 on the northwest approach and 247 on the southeast approach.

>> Vineyard Boulevard and Nuuanu Avenue: 45 citations since Jan. 6.

>> Vineyard Boulevard and Pali Highway: 51 citations since Jan. 26, including three on the northwest approach and 48 on the southeast approach.

>> Pali Highway and School Street: 26 citations since Jan. 28.

Camera systems at these intersections automatically generate tickets for mailing to the first-listed registered owner of a vehicle photographed entering the intersection on a red light and proceeding straight through. Citations are issued after review by the Honolulu Police Department.

Cameras are expected to be added to five more Honolulu intersections in a third phase of this pilot project. Those intersections are Likelike Highway and School Street, King Street and Ward Avenue, Kapiolani Boulevard and Kamakee Street, Beretania and Piikoi streets, and McCully and Algaroba streets, according to the DOT….

read … Kokua Line: How many tickets come from red-light cams?

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