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Friday, April 14, 2023
April 14, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:56 PM :: 1767 Views

Lawmakers continue to hammer out details on public firearms ban

HECO Smart Meters Wipe Out Garage Door Openers

HB1255: Crunch Time for West Maui Hospital

The Real Legislature meets in Secret Starting April 17

CB: … The senators were late, and we were getting nervous. We only had a couple more hours to negotiate our committee’s final bills for the legislative session. The staff shook their heads apologetically when we looked over. There was no word on when they’d arrive.

It was my second term as a state representative, so I knew what was happening just as well as every other House member in the room. The Senate stood us up.

It was a common tactic in the final weeks of the session, which always turned the State Capitol into a chaotic game of hide and seek. I once saw a Senate chair stop negotiations on a contentious bill to go to the bathroom. It was such a clear attempt to buy more time that the House chair nearly followed him.

The Legislature’s conference period, the catalyst for the above-referenced melee, is the last opportunity for both chambers to resolve their policy differences and draft compromises on bills they passed in different versions. It sounds good on paper, but it’s pure mayhem in practice. Negotiations on hundreds of bills are crammed into two weeks when legislators, advocates and watchdogs are tired and emotional. 

The process is opaque and frustrating. It’s also consequential. Last year, over 400 bills were considered during conference committees, and 60% of them became law. In other words, anyone looking to influence legislation must be able to navigate the mechanics, pitfalls and opportunities of the conference period, which starts next week….

CB: At least 31 sunshine bills survived Thursday’s second-crossover deadline and are now headed for that black hole of the Hawaii legislative session known as conference committee.

read … The Messy Process Of Conference Committee Is About To Begin

DHS Stealing Money from Handicapped Foster Kids--Lies to Legislature, Then Demands $500K

HNN: … Dozens of children in Hawaii’s foster system are being stripped of money they may not even know is theirs as part of a controversial practice that’s attracting new criticism.

Under the policy, which HNN Investigates exposed about a year ago, the state pockets Social Security benefits intended for disabled and orphaned youth.

The state Department of Human Services recently said it stopped taking the money, but HNN confirmed that claim wasn’t true. Now, there’s a renewed push to change the policy ― like other states already have.

DHS confirms its currently taking money from 55 kids and using it to pay their foster parents.

It’s a little-known practice that advocates for foster youth say is extremely unfair.

“DHS is claiming that if they don’t take this money from kids, the state would have to assume the full cost of paying for their foster care,” said Children’s Advocacy Institute National Policy Director Amy Harfeld.

“Well, that’s exactly the responsibility they have when they take a child into care.”

Over the past couple years, the issue has prompted lawmakers to propose multiple resolutions asking DHS to stop taking children’s benefits. Then in March, DHS filed testimony with the state claiming changes had been made.

In a two-page document dated March 16, officials said: “DHS immediately ceased intercepting Social Security payments” last year following the introduction of a similar resolution. It went on to ask lawmakers for a half-million dollars to make up for the money it’s losing from no longer taking children’s money.

But HNN confirmed those statements were not accurate.

(CLUE: ‘Unsworn falsification’ is a crime.  Jail is the solution.)

The false information is still posted on the state Legislature’s website.

Harfeld questions how the erroneous information was made public.

“Could they explain making a statement like this,” Harfeld asked.

DHS officials said “the testimony submitted was the incorrect version and the error was not caught until after.”

The mistake was brought to the attention of lawmakers at a hearing on March 17…..

On Thursday morning, the Legislature’s latest resolution calling for DHS to stop taking the Social Security benefits cleared its latest hurdle passing through the Human Services committee.

Youth advocates say Social Security benefits should be put into an account so those children will have some savings to potentially go to school, buy a car and pay rent once they age out of the foster system….

read … State wants to stop collecting foster kids’ benefits, but says funding needed to fill gap

Taxpayers Will Pay For Indicted Officials’ Defense

CB: … The City and County of Honolulu is set to cover the legal expenses for at least two former officials who are accused of committing federal crimes in the course of their duties.

Former managing director Roy Amemiya and former Honolulu Police Commission chair Max Sword have both requested the local government cover the cost of their defense. The men are charged alongside former Honolulu attorney Donna Leong of conspiring to improperly grant former police chief Louis Kealoha a $250,000 severance….

Two resolutions would allow expenditures of $100,000 each for Amemiya and Sword‘s legal teams with the possibility of additional legal expenses in the future….

read … Taxpayers Will Pay For Indicted Officials’ Defense

Embezzlement: Former Mililani athletic director negotiating plea deal

CB: … The former athletic director Opens in a new tab accused of stealing more than $360,000 from the Mili­lani High School athletic booster club is in plea agreement negotiations with prosecutors.

According to a memorandum of pretrial conference filed Tuesday in Circuit Court, Glenn S. Nitta’s chances of changing his plea to guilty as part of an arrangement with prosecutors is “highly probable.”

Nitta, 75, pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Monday….

read … Former Mililani athletic director negotiating plea deal

Severe shortage of prenatal care options on Maui --HMSA flying Patients to Oahu

HNN: …Health insurer Hawaii Medical Service Association says it is aware of the OB shortage on Maui and is working with partners on a solution for ongoing care.

“We will provide reimbursement for our expecting moms or we can help arrange travel to Oahu for them. If members need help with benefits and coverage under their current health plan, we encourage them to call our Customer Relations line at (808) 948-6079,” said HMSA Assistant Vice President Lori Ann Davis….

read … Severe shortage of prenatal care options on Maui called ‘crisis’ amid growing push for legislative action

Honolulu still ‘seeks to’ reduce backlog of building permit applications

SA: … The city’s Department of Planning and Permitting would continue to use third-party reviewers, but licensed architects and engineers would have to attest that their submitted plans comply with applicable laws under a proposed bill.

With an ongoing wait time of nearly a year, DPP continues to seek ways to reduce its backlog of building permit applications.

City Council Chair Tommy Waters has introduced Bill 6, which would give the DPP director authority to continue the use of third-party reviewers who are overseen by DPP staff. But new to the process would be self- certifying licensed architects and engineers, who will have to attest that any plans, specifications, computations and other data they submit to the department are true and correct.

If passed, the self-certification provision under Bill 6 would be repealed — or sunset — seven years after it takes effect.

“The department supports this bill, which will allow us — as we fix our processes (and) bring our backlog down and function more efficiently — temporarily to get outside help in our permit review,” DPP Director Dawn Take­uchi Apuna told the Council’s Committee on Zoning last week.

In addition, Takeuchi Apuna requested that the draft measure impose penalties on outside contractors who issue “false statements” to the city, “to ensure that we don’t have rubber-stampers and there are consequences for people who aren’t 100% very careful about the work they do without having to go through our permitting process.” …

REALITY: Free Golf, Methamphetamines, and Building Permits

read … Honolulu seeks to reduce backlog of building permit applications

New rules as pistol and rifle ranges set to reopen at the Koko Head Shooting Complex

HNN: … The city has announced that the pistol and rifle ranges at the Koko Head Shooting Complex will reopen on April 29.

However, hours will be limited at Oahu’s only public shooting range.

“We’re going to be open on the weekends, initially. We’re still having a little bit of a staff shortage,” said city Parks and Recreation Director Laura Thielen, before announcing the reopening at Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s Town Hall at Kalani High School Thursday.

Thielen said the city is looking to hire two range masters to replace the two who retired since the complex shut down abruptly in September because of lead contamination.

The pistol and rifle ranges, which are open to the general public, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

There will also be an online reservation system because of the expected high demand.

read … New rules as pistol and rifle ranges set to reopen at the Koko Head Shooting Complex

HPD Is Considering Buying A Gun That’s Being Shelved By Other Police Departments Over Safety Concerns

CB: … HPD listed 2,400 Sig Sauer P320 RXP pistols for purchase in its fiscal year 2024 operating budget at a cost of $3.8 million, including training, ammunition and related equipment.

The department is planning for the replacement of its decade-old inventory of fourth generation Glock 17s but itemized the P320s under “priority items not included in the budget request.”

The P320 will be tested alongside the fifth generation Glock 17 this summer, HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu confirmed Thursday….

“HPD began researching different firearms models in 2021, primarily due to advances in design, including red dot sights and flashlight mounts,” Yu said. 

But more than 100 people have reported that their own P320 fired without someone pulling the trigger, wounding at least 80 of them, according to a recent investigation by The Washington Post and nonprofit news site The Trace.

The firearm has injured at least 33 law enforcement officers across 18 different agencies after it discharged unintentionally, and at least six agencies have stopped using it due to safety concerns, the investigation found.

At least 70 people have filed lawsuits against manufacturer Sig Sauer, saying the model it has aggressively marketed to police and civilians is defective….

read … HPD Is Considering Buying A Gun That’s Being Shelved By Other Police Departments Over Safety Concerns

Rail Design Changes Leave Kalihi Printing Business In Limbo

CB: … There was a "win-win" deal to keep Service Printers Hawaii in place. HART's redrawn utility plans have scuttled it….

SA: Eminent domain of property in Kalihi sought to finish rail

read … Rail Design Changes Leave Kalihi Printing Business In Limbo

SB868: Pay Rent When Bums Retire from Homelessness

CB: … Senate Bill 898 SD2 HD1, would expand the Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s Rent Supplement Program, which subsidizes monthly rent for poor families.

The new part of this program, said Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, would temporarily extend this funding to people who are 62 or older and are “homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.”

For about $1.2 million a year, Moriwaki said, around 200 older adults can be kept from homelessness. 

“If a kupuna can’t afford their rent and will be evicted,” Moriwaki said, “they can receive up to $500 a month to sustain themselves in their own home.” The total support would be capped at $6,000 per year, per person….

read … Lawmakers are considering a bill that would extend rental assistance to people who are at least 62. 

Legislative Agenda:

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