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Monday, April 29, 2024
April 29, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:06 PM :: 960 Views

‘Spontaneous order’ hailed as best way for societies to thrive

OHA Back to Arguing it is Above the Law

CB: … Rowena Akana, a former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, violated the state code of ethics for accepting $21,000 in illegal gifts and for inappropriate use of her spending allowance.

Akana used OHA money to pay for internet and cable TV service and food for herself and others. She was fined $23,106.

But Akana then took her case to the Hawaii Supreme Court, hoping to get a sympathetic audience for her novel contention that the Hawaii State Ethics Commission does not have jurisdiction over OHA. And now OHA itself is considering joining her cause.

In a preliminary filing with the high court last week, attorneys for OHA led by former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Robert Klein questioned whether the Ethics Commission actually has authority to shape how OHA trustees use proceeds from ceded lands, which help fund the agency….

The outcome of Akana’s appeal, Klein and other attorneys argued, would go well beyond her case and could hinder OHA and its trustees from doing their jobs.

The Ethics Commission wants the court to dismiss the case. On Friday the high court denied OHA’s motion but said it could file it again should the court agree to accept Akana’s appeal….

UPDATE: OHA Above the Law? One Trustee Says 'No'

read … Mitsunaga Ends Up In The Slammer And Other Legal Thrillers

First Red Hill Lawsuit Trial Begins Today

AP: … A trial for a mass environmental injury case begins in Hawaii on Monday, more than two years after a U.S. military fuel tank facility under ground poisoned thousands of people when it leaked jet fuel into Pearl Harbor's drinking water.

Instead of a jury, a judge in U.S. District Court in Honolulu will hear about a lawsuit against the United States by 17 “bellwether” plaintiffs: a cross-selection of relatives of military members representing more than 7,500 others, including service members, in three federal lawsuits.

According to court documents, the U.S. government has admitted the Nov. 20, 2021, spill at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility caused a nuisance for the plaintiffs, that the United States “breached its duty of care” and that the plaintiffs suffered compensable injuries.

But they dispute whether the residents were exposed to jet fuel at levels high enough to cause their alleged health effects, ranging from vomiting to rashes….

CBS: The Justice Department admitted a Navy jet fuel leak in Hawaii caused thousands to suffer injuries. A trial for victims starts today.

read … More than a dozen military families in Hawaii spark trial over 2021 jet fuel leak that tainted water

Deferred HECO bill worries IBEW about bankruptcy

KHON: … Heading into the final week of the legislative session, Governor Josh Green and IBEW 1260 business manager Leroy Chincio Jr. are asking lawmakers to reconsider the bill which would allow HECO to issue rate-payer backed bonds also known as securitization for wildfire mitigation efforts….

 “We’re concerned if HECO went into bankruptcy, the uncertainty would be crazy,” he said. “We have jobs, benefits, retirement at stake.”

IBEW 1260 represents about 1,200 electrical employees under Hawaiian Electric Industries.

Following Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole’s deferral on Thursday, Governor Josh Green asked if lawmakers could discuss options through the weekend and come back to the table on Monday, April 29….

… lawmakers seem to be holding steady on their decision and have seen what other utility companies have done following devastating fires….

“PG&E just enjoyed its most profitable year ever and electrical rates in California are at their highest point in history,” said Sen. Keohokalole regarding PG&E and the deadly Camp Fire in 2018…

In February, PG&E announced record profits in 2023 bringing in $2.2 billion, following a series of rate hikes…

Last week, lawmakers asked HECO to provide a fire mitigation plan, which lawmakers said they failed to do.

HECO says it has provided legislators with an interim wildfire mitigation plan, which was submitted to the PUC in February and is posted here. HECO adds it has provided lawmakers with more detailed plans and dollar estimates for work going forward. 

PDF:  Interim Wildfire Safety Measures (hawaiianelectric.com)

RELATED: After Wildfire Lawsuits, Soaring PG&E power rates approach Hawaii

read … Deferred HECO bill worries some about bankruptcy (khon2.com)

SB3183: Mileage-based Road Tax for Corrupt Transportation Department

CB: … This session, we came within mere inches of another tax on EVs at the Legislature, this time empowering the counties to impose identical mileage-based road usage charges of their own. Senate Bill 3183, a governor’s package bill, used language similar to Act 222 in crafting a way to stack on top of the state taxes new county taxes. The bill died in conference committee, but the fact that it got this far says a lot ….

REALITY:  Naming Names: Airports Division Ran Late-Night Parties Where Hawaii Politicians Raked In Money

read … Don’t Punish Electric Vehicle Owners For Doing The Smart Thing

SB3234: Conveyance Tax Hike Dying in Conference?

HTH: …Senate Bill 3234 would use land conveyance taxes to create a fund to subsidize insurers statewide and, hopefully, either keep them from leaving the market or entice them to return.

Puna Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, who co-introduced the measure, said insurance is becoming more expensive statewide, which she attributed to the unusual amount of federally declared disasters in Hawaii over the last few years — which she, in turn, attributed to climate change.

Because of Hawaii becoming an increasingly risky place to insure, insurance providers’ reinsurance rates — which one insurance company buys from another to insulate itself from high claims — have gone up. Consequently, providers in Hawaii have had to raise their own rates or leave the market.

However, the bill does not specifically provide relief for Lava Zones 1 and 2, and includes provisions for the formation of another fund using money generated by transient accommodation taxes that would be used expressly for properties located outside of those lava zones.

At the same time, San Buenaventura said SB 3234 may not survive either. The omnibus bill has become complex and unwieldy over several revisions, and has been referred to a conference committee hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

With a legislative solution seeming less and less likely, residents are trying to take matters into their own hands to head off disaster.

“This will ruin our communities,” said Andrea Rosanoff, chair of the Puna Citizens for Affordable and Sustainable Property Insurance. “We’re talking about people going homeless, people having to sell their homes because they can’t afford the coverage. And who’s going to buy those homes?

“I’m worried Puna is not going to be affordable for people to live in anymore.”

Rosanoff’s solution, which she is pursuing with a handful of other homeowners, is the possibility of a member-owned insurance cooperative — called the Mutual Members Insurance Cooperative — that homeowners could buy into in order to afford the HPIA rates. While the project is only barely beyond the conceptual phase, Rosanoff said she hopes it can get off the ground before August, when many homeowners’ insurance policies expire….

read … A solution for insurance crisis? Some Puna residents pursue member-owned insurance cooperative

Hawaii lawmakers reduce financial grants

SA: … State lawmakers this year dialed back financial grants awarded to private projects and programs with public purposes but kept the level of giving on par with other recent years.

Hawaii’s Legislature approved $30 million in grants this year to around 150 applicants amid a challenging budgetary picture that included the need to appropriate roughly $1 billion for Maui wildfire response and recovery work.

The $30 million allocated was down from about $40 million in 2023 and $49 million in 2022, when the state was flush with big budget surpluses largely from federal coronavirus recovery funding.

However, this year’s grant total is at about the same level as it was during several years prior to 2020 and 2021, when grants were suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a reeling local economy….

The Legislature received 322 grant applications this year. …

read … Hawaii lawmakers reduce financial grants | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawai’i Legislature May Pass More Resolutions Than Bills

IM: … The Legislature introduced numerous bills this year and acted on a few bills from last year. This totaled 2,935 bills. The total number of bills that have passed the Legislature or have been decked for final reading is 264, or 9%. The percentage of bills heard but this year but are now dead is 91% ....

The House and Senate introduced 883 resolutions. The Legislature adopted 288 resolutions, or one third of all resolutions introduced….

read … Hawai`i Legislature May Pass More Resolutions Than Bills | Ililani Media

Maui News: This is the Future

CB: … The Maui News announced plans to slash its daily print edition to once a week, shifting the island’s 124-year-old newspaper of record to a digital-first model as its owner continues to search for a buyer.

Chris Minford, the paper’s publisher and circulation manager, notified readers of the move to Thursday-only home delivery, which begins June 6, and outlined plans for a digital future in an open letter to readers. He described the change as an “entrepreneurial decision.”

“This is the future of local news — and moving there now will allow us to continue serving you in the most effective manner,” Minford said in the letter published on the front page of the newspaper’s Thursday edition. …

read … Maui Newspaper Cutback The Latest Sign Of Financial Distress In Hawaii News Industry - Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaii child abuse cases decrease, according to 2023 statistics

HNN: … The Children’s Justice Center of Hawaii, which tracks the number of child abuse cases reported each year, released its latest finding Sunday.

Last year, 1,800 total cases were reported — a decrease of over 300 reported the year before.

“Those are the reports of children that are reported primarily to child welfare, that meet our criteria so sex abuse, serious disabilities, children who witnessed violence, domestic violence, particularly sex trafficking, and other more serious forms of maltreatment,” Jasmine Mau-Mukai of the Children’s Justice Center of Hawaii said.

Of those 1,800 cases, around 900 children physically came into one of their centers to speak with a professional….

read … Hawaii child abuse cases decrease, according to 2023 statistics (hawaiinewsnow.com)

Emergency involving homeless draws multiple crews to Thomas Square

KITV: … Multiple crews including HPD and Emergency Medical Services rushed to Thomas Square Park in Honolulu Sunday morning for an emergency involving two men.

EMS treated both individuals and transported them to a nearby hospital in critical condition….

Some in the vicinity reportedly thought it was already a fatality situation….

Some believe drugs likely played a role in what happened Sunday.

"I'm alarmed I guess about the recreational drug use around here, it's getting dangerous - like everything has fentanyl in it, it's killing people off the wide, I think that's what happened to them - if anybody's doing recreational drugs, I just suggest they have some Narcan on them", said Kane.

Thomas Square often attracts many homeless people. …

read … Emergency involving homeless draws multiple crews to Thomas Square

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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