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Friday, February 10, 2023
February 10, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:56 PM :: 1403 Views

Remember Syria? Syriously -- Tulsi Gabbard Tells Congress She is not a Russian Bot

Miske Witness Guilty --Threatened to 'Behead' Governor, Mayor

DLNR, Agriculture Department to Settle on Pasture Management?

Hawaii: Third Highest Proportion of Unsheltered Homeless

After Bribery Arrests, A few Ethics Bills Advance--But Most Don’t

SA: … The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1543. It proposes that candidates who generate individual donations of $5 or less could qualify for increased public contributions ranging from $20,000 for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, up to $50,000 for House candidates, $100,000 for Senate candidates, $1.2 million for races for lieutenant governor and $2.5 million for gubernatorial candidates.

The following House bills are advancing, having passed a third reading.

>> HB 99 and its companion, SB 204, limit the total amount of cash a candidate, candidate committee or noncandidate committee may accept from a single person during an election period to $100.

Donors are now limited to a $6,000 contribution to candidates seeking a four-year statewide office; $4,000 to candidates seeking a four-year, non-statewide office; and $2,000 to candidates seeking a two-year office, according to the state Campaign Spending Commission.

>> HB 89 and companion SB 194 prohibit elected officials from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session.

>> HB 90 and companion SB 195 require candidate committees and noncandidate committees to file fundraiser notices regardless of the price or suggested contribution.

>> HB 93 and companion SB 198 require the state Campaign Spending Commission to publish on its website the names of candidates or organizers of noncandidate committees who fail to file an organizational report or a corrected organizational report with the commission.

Among other House bills (not advancing):

>> HB 706 requires all members of the Legislature to share certain relationships with lobbyists or lobbying organizations in their financial disclosures.

>> HB 712 and companion SB 1426 encourage state boards to maintain electronic audio and visual recordings of board meetings on their websites, and require boards to provide the state archives with the recordings before removing them from their websites.

>> HB 719 imposes a cap on charges for the reproduction of certain government records beginning July 1, 2024; waives the cost of duplication of government records provided to requesters in an electronic format; imposes a cap on charges for searching for, reviewing and segregating records; and provides a waiver of fees when the public interest is served by a record’s disclosure.

>> HB 463 lowers the threshold for disclosure of campaign expenditures for noncandidate committees to $100. The bill states that Hawaii’s current campaign finance laws “fail to reveal the source of campaign expenditures for non-candidate committees when the expenditures are under $1,000.”

>> HB 626, HB 831, HB 796 and companion SB 1424 propose term limits. HB 626 proposes a state constitutional amendment to limit legislators to a maximum of 12 years in the House and Senate, with exemptions for legislators who have already served 12 years.

>> HB 831 proposes a constitutional amendment limiting state lawmaker terms to a maximum of 16 years.

>> HB 796, which calls for a constitutional amendment prohibiting legislators from serving more than 16 years during their lifetimes, has been deferred. Its companion, SB 1424, is still alive and contains similar provisions.

Among the Senate bills (not advancing):

>> SB 613 and companion HB 1222 require the House and Senate to use remote testimony at committee hearings.

>> SB 699 requires the lieutenant governor to administer a state Capitol tours program.

>> SB 188 and companion HB 141 require every state legislator to disclose the names of lobbyists with whom have a financial interest.

>> SB 149 requires the Legislature to meet year-round, creates a two-year deadline for bills to be submitted and standardizes the number of days that the governor must approve or veto bills.

>> SB 997 requires identification of top donors who contribute to noncandidate committees and requires noncandidate committees that spend over $10,000 to maintain transfer records and provide notice to donors.

>> SB 1422 and companion HB 710 establish a Class C felony for using or making false statements within the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state and counties. Anyone convicted would be barred from public office for 10 years.

>> SB 1421 and companion HB 711 establish the offense of fraud as a Class B felony and disqualify anyone convicted from holding public office for 10 years….

HTH: ‘Clean elections’ bill gains support

read … Hawaii lawmakers weigh bills for stepped-up transparency

Hawaii Is Short Medical Workers. Interstate Compacts are part of the Solution

CB: … if a physician licensed to practice in New Jersey decides they want to practice in Hawaii, the current setup can take months for them to receive approval from the Hawaii Medical Board.

Under a proposal that would add Hawaii to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, Senate Bill 674 and House Bill 666, physicians could be approved in just a few days, according to written testimony by the Hawaii Medical Service Association.

Other medical professions grapple with this dynamic too. 

Jackie Barry, associate director for the Hawaii chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, said that physical therapists who move states – like military spouses often do, for example – have had to wait months to get their new licenses to practice. 

“Employers don’t always want to wait that long,” she said. 

When Washington state joined the Physical Therapy Compact in 2017, it and nine other states suddenly had access to their collective supply of physical therapists, allowing practitioners to more fluidly move between states without worrying about the bureaucratic delays that would come with having to be relicensed, along with expanding telehealth options. 

On Friday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to consider a string of bills that would make it easier for out-of-state medical workers to practice in Hawaii

Some of these compacts already contain dozens of states, while Hawaii is notable for its lack of participation in compacts even outside the medical field….

read … Hawaii Is Short Medical Workers. Are Interstate Compacts The Solution?

Catch-n-Release: Various criminal acts would be subject to fines instead of arrests

HTH: … House Bill 1336, introduced by Oahu Democrat Sonny Ganaden, requires police to issue citations instead of arresting people for certain offenses, mandates the prosecution to prove a defendant’s release would be inappropriate, and requires that bail be set in an amount the defendant can afford.

The measure also would prohibit the denial of pretrial release for defendants, or revocation of probation or parole, based solely upon a positive drug test….

(Translation: HB1336 will get drug-addicted criminals back out on the streets quicker than ever.)

The community correctional centers in three of Hawaii’s four counties — all but Kauai — are overcrowded, according to the Department of Public Safety’s latest population report released Feb 6. Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo reported 298 inmates, 131% percent of the jail’s operational capacity of 206 inmates. Of those, 148 are pretrial detainees facing felony charges, and 19 are pretrial defendants charged with misdemeanors.

Hawaii County Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen was among those testifying Feb. 3 before the House Committee on Corrections, Military and Veterans in opposition to the bill, which passed with amendments.

Waltjen, called the measure “well-intended,” but added that “the consequences of this bill’s overbreadth are concerning.”

Waltjen’s written testimony provided a laundry list of charges for which an issuance of a “citation without arrest” would be mandated under the bill, including, in part: auto theft, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, second-degree burglary, unlawful imprisonment, promoting pornography to minors, violating an injunction for harassment, resisting arrest, impersonating a police officer, and interfering with the report of an emergency or crime.

“Jeopardizing public safety concerns simply on the account of overcrowding and correctional facility conditions is misplaced and misguided. Perhaps, prioritizing facility construction and repair would be a better use of time and resources,” Waltjen told the lawmakers. “… Community members have made it very clear that they no longer feel safe in their homes and communities. Let’s address that.”…

(The soft-on-crime crowd has been addressing overcrowding for years--by blocking new jail construction.)

read … Various criminal acts would be subject to fines instead of arrests

HB111: Give counties authority to raise their minimum wage

KITV: …  The bill was included in the Maui County Council Legislative Package.

Councilmember Gabe Johnson wrote what's become House Bill 111 in the State House and Senate Bill 230 in the State Senate. The idea is that it costs more to live in some counties, so the county government should have the autonomy to give their constituents more….

View HB111 and its status here.

View SB230 and its status here.

read … Hawaii bill would give counties authority to raise their minimum wage

Bill to tax gambling travel from Hawaii passes committee

HNN: … The bill introduced by state Sen. Stanley Chang, a Democrat from Hawaii Kai, would originally have banned all advertising of gambling-related tours to Las Vegas and imposed a 30% excise tax on gambling travel from Hawaii….

But the Attorney General’s Office told the Senate Consumer Protection Committee Thursday that because gambling in Vegas is legal, banning ads would violate the industry’s freedom of speech.

Hawaii’s biggest Vegas tour operator, Vacations Hawaii, asked that the bill be deferred — killed — ”because of the negative economic ramifications to local businesses and jobs, as well as various constitutional concerns,” the company said in written testimony.

Chang’s bill would tax any accommodations — including cruise ships — where casinos are involved. The revenue would go to address the impact of problem gaming (HGEA’s desire for more money) …..

LVRJ: Hawaii Senate committee advances bill on casino ads, not just from Nevada

read … Bill to tax gambling travel from Hawaii passes committee

New Maui High School May Sit for Years After DOE Finally Agrees To Build Overpass 10 Years Late

CB: … Skepticism was high after years of delays during which the education department resisted a 2013 order by the state zoning authority to build a crossing — either an overpass or an underpass — that would allow students to cross Piilani Highway.

The $200 million campus, which will be the fist public high school in the area, sits on the mauka side of the busy thoroughfare, the opposite side of most neighborhoods.

Instead of complying with the order, the DOE for years continued to debate whether a crossing was actually needed, commissioned a number of studies on the issue, then spent $16 million on a four-lane roundabout with flashing lights in front of the school.

Department officials had hoped the roundabout and an offer to bus students to campus would be enough to persuade state and county regulators to open the campus and announced tentative plans to start classes last month.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

But Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen held firm. Dan Giovanni, the chair of the Land Use Commission, also reaffirmed Thursday that the school shouldn’t open until the DOE meets the condition set out in the 2013 order geared toward keeping students safe.

“If you want to get the damn thing done, get it done,” Giovanni said….

Last year, state education and transportation officials had warned that the regulators’ requirement that the school must have a crossing could delay the opening another three to five years….

MN: Roundabout stupidity challenges departmental legitimacy

MN: DOE apologizes, says it was never the intention to violate crossing condition

MN: Kihei roundabout to partially open to drivers today

read … New Maui High School: Opening Date Uncertain After DOE Agrees To Build Overpass

Textbooks for the Blind: Another DoE Fail

CB: … Emerie Mitchell-Butler went five months without a textbook for her Advanced Placement biology class even though the rest of her classmates received theirs on the first day of school. 

That would be rough for any student, but Mitchell-Butler is blind and depends on braille and tactile graphics to understand complicated diagrams, charts, and graphs through her fingertips. 

Although the state Department of Education provided her with an online version, Mitchell-Butler said the pictures and diagrams can’t be interpreted by the screen reader that usually converts text to sound.

“It’s incredibly unhelpful,” she said. “It has absolutely no information. It might have the title of the graphic but nothing else.”

Mitchell-Butler said she got her hardcopy braille textbook in January. Now she only has four months to prepare for her AP exam scheduled for May, while her sighted peers have had the whole school year to prepare. ..

Hawaii passed a law about 20 years ago requiring textbook publishers to provide an electronic file to the school system so the textbooks can be produced. But advocates say the current state law is outdated and doesn’t reflect a 2004 federal law that requires publishers to provide recent electronic files to the American Printing House for the Blind, that produces the resources. 

The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard that underpins federal law is intended to ensure blind and visually impaired students have access to textbooks and other educational materials promptly.

Although the Hawaii Department of Education says it adopted the federal standard, it’s not memorialized in state law. 

House Bill 388, which passed out of the House Education Committee and awaits a hearing from the House Finance Committee, would adopt the federal standard and bind the department to provide timely instructional materials for eligible students….

read … Why Blind Students Struggle To Get Braille Textbooks On Time

Hawaii preschool at center of contentious dispute with state closes its doors

HNN: … Staff at Kalamapii Playschool are moving out after the facility’s lease was terminated.

The closure comes despite tremendous support from parents. There was even a push from the judge overseeing the case to get children back in the classroom….

But in the end, the preschool’s closure wasn’t decided by the state or the court. The owner says she simply couldn’t afford to continue to pursue a license….

The school’s owner, Kim Pierce, says she spent nearly a year working with the state to get a license.

But last September, when it was time to open, she still didn’t have it. She made the decision to bring children on campus anyway. It’s something parents said they knew from the start.

A month later, the court granted an injunction to close the preschool based on state arguments that its teachers were not qualified and kids were being exposed to lead.

Those are claims Pierce disputes.

Over the next four months, the state Department of Human Services and Kalamapii were in court about a half dozen times. “What I want to do is have the parties try to work out something to see how the state can help you get qualified,” said Judge Peter Kubota, during one of the first hearings.

He ordered both sides to work together. He even appointed a mediator to help.

But that license was never issued.

In the end, Pierce says the school’s closure came down to money.

Without kids on campus, she says she was unable to pay for rent.

That’s not the only cost she had to cover.

When asked how much Pierce paid for lead testing she responded, “Approximately $40,000.”

The state said it wanted more information and requested additional testing. Those added costs, Pierce said, would have been up to $50,000.

Even if Pierce spent that money, there was still no guarantee the state would approve the school’s license.

“We understand there is a need for childcare statewide. However, we can’t cut corners,” said Department of Human Services Childcare Regulation Program Administrator Dayna Luka.

“Every applicant, every licensed provider has to meet the same health and safety rules.”….

(CLUE: DHS just admitted that its expensive and bureaucratic licensing process is a big part of why Hawaii is short on child care facilities.)

read … Hawaii preschool at center of contentious dispute with state closes its doors

50 Years Later, Waiahole Residents May be forced to pay rent

SA: … A rural Windward Oahu community where physical standoffs occurred five decades ago between a private landlord and tenants is once again the scene of intense discord over rent, though this time the landlord is the state.

About 100 households, including some farmers, who live on land leased from the state in Waiahole Valley are mired in an effort to reset “ground lease” rents, which are at below-market rates subsidized by taxpayers and haven’t increased in the past 15 years.

Many tenants argue that their ground rent, which for a median-size 0.55-acre residential lot is $98 a month, should stay low as a form of state-supported affordable housing, and that a proposed roughly sixfold increase is outrageous.

The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., a state agency that owns the land but primarily exists to help private developers finance new affordable-housing projects, claims that its proposed higher rent is 50% below market and is needed to reduce financial losses from maintaining the community’s infrastructure….

“We’ve been subsidizing the operation for literally decades, and we’ve offered rents that are approximately 50% below market,” he told the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

Woodard said HHFDC’s proposed rent represents a balance that would cut the agency’s $1.1 million annual Waiahole management deficit roughly in half while keeping rents far below market…

The two bills proposing a five-year rent freeze, House Bill 465 and Senate Bill 1195, have not been scheduled for a hearing….

read … Waiahole Valley residents on Oahu fear mass eviction

S. Africa rugby player killed by Hawaii police had acute CTE

AP: … former professional rugby player from South Africa shot by police months after moving to Hawaii suffered from a degenerative brain disease often found in American football players and other athletes subjected to repeated head trauma, autopsy results show.

The finding could help explain Lindani Myeni’s bizarre behavior before the deadly 2021 confrontation with Honolulu officers….

An addendum to Myeni’s autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press shows his brain tissue was sent to the Boston University CTE Center, which found the 29-year-old father of two suffered from stage three chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Commonly known as CTE, the disease can only be diagnosed posthumously.

Stage four is the most severe level and experts say it’s alarming for someone as young as Myeni to have such a critical case of CTE….

The youngest case of stage three CTE diagnosed in medical literature was Aaron Hernandez, 27, making Myeni “an example of pretty severe CTE for someone that age,” said Dr. Daniel Daneshvar, an expert on the condition and a Harvard Medical School assistant professor.

Hernandez, a former New England Patriots football star, killed himself in 2017 in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder….

read … S. Africa rugby player killed by Hawaii police had acute CTE

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