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Hawaii Good Government Groups Announce 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have identified HB 15, CD 1 (Act 173, Session Laws of Hawaii 2015) “Relating to Elections” as their 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” winner.  The “Rusty Scalpel” recognizes enactment of a bill whose subject has been substantially amended without opportunity for public input and legislative review as required by the Hawaii Constitution.

Click to view bill

Click to view bill

The Hawaii Constitution sets procedures for enactment of new laws.  The purpose of these procedures is to facilitate public participation and to discourage “fraud” and “logrolling”.  Article III, Section 14 provides “Each law shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed in its title.”

In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill which addresses 2 or more unrelated subjects.  Article III, Section 15 provides that “No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.”  In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill whose subject has not had three separate readings in the State House and three separate readings in the State Senate.

During the 2015 session, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii identified more than 20 bills which did not comply with Article III, Section 14 and/or Article III, Section 15.  The 2015 Legislature actually passed seven bills whose subjects did not receive 3 readings in both the House and Senate. (These are Acts 104, 118, 126, 142, 173, 186 and HB 540, CD 1 which was vetoed.) From these seven “candidates”, the League and Common Cause Hawaii have selected Act 173, Session Laws of Hawaii 2015, for our 2015 “Rusty Scalpel” award because:

  1. Act 173 addresses three unrelated subjects (absentee ballot procedures, terms of Election Commission Chair, evaluation of Chief Elections Officer).
  2. One subject of Act 173 (terms of Election Commission) did not have either 3 readings or      a public hearing in the House.
  3. Another subject of Act 173 (evaluation of Chief Elections Officer) did not have 3 readings or a public hearing in either the House or the Senate.

Last year the League and Common Cause chose Act 81, SLH 2014, for our 2014 “Rusty Scalpel” award.  The subject of Act 81 (which authorized the Hawaii Tourism Authority to acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay using revenue bonds amortized with hotel tax revenues) did not have 3 readings or a public hearing in either the House or the Senate.  This year the League and Common Cause are pleased to report that the Legislature followed appropriate procedures, and held numerous public hearings, before passing legislation to clarify, replace, and “fix” Act 81.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Propose New Electronic Vehicle Charging Rates

The Hawaiian Electric Companies have asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve discount electric vehicle charging rates in a new time-of-use program.

The new rates aim to promote plug-in electric vehicle use by offering simpler terms and sign-up procedures compared to the existing EV discount charging pilot and to foster more use of excess electricity generated by rooftop solar systems during the middle of the day.

Hawaiian Electric is recommending that customers enrolled in the present EV time-of-use pilot program have the option to continue at their existing rates when the current pilot expires at the end of September, 2015.

“EV numbers continue to increase and automakers are bringing more advanced plug-in electric vehicles to market. And with over 70,000 customers statewide who have or will soon have rooftop solar, we see increasing amounts of excess solar electricity available at mid-day,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

“The proposed new rates will help make greater use of that solar electricity and accelerate EV adoption in Hawaii,” Alberts said.

In addition to upgraded discount charging rates, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are installing up to 25 DC fast chargers across Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island to alleviate EV drivers’ “range anxiety” and working with stakeholders on other endeavors as new ideas and technologies enter the market.

The proposed rates will have only two time-of-use schedules over 24 hours instead of three. Charging an EV at home using electricity from the grid will be most expensive during peak electricity demand from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. All other hours will be at the less expensive off-peak rate. EV owners may still choose to add a separate meter just for EV charging or keep a single meter for all household and charging use.

Signing up for EV rates will also be simpler. Customers need only certify ownership of a plug-in electric vehicle. As with the discount charging pilot in place for the last five years, customers on Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Oahu would be eligible to participate, upon PUC approval.

For commercial customers, the proposed new EV rates will waive “demand charges” during off-peak periods and eliminate demand charge minimums. This will make it less expensive for commercial customers who wish to provide charging for EV fleets or their customers with EVs.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are asking the PUC to approve this proposal by the end of September when the present pilot ends. The companies suggest the new program last until June 30, 2020, when all EV rates would be re-considered for the future.

The new rate is designed to provide more off-peak hours for home EV charging with a 6.1¢ per kWh savings for a typical residential customer on Oahu. By charging off-peak, that driver is estimated to save half the cost to “fuel” an electric vehicle (compared to a mid-sized gasoline-fueled sedan) by buying no gasoline but paying a slightly higher monthly electric bill. The proposed per kWh savings for off-peak EV charging for a typical residential customer on Hawaii Island is 9.2¢; on Maui is 7.3¢; on Lanai is 7.1¢; and on Molokai is 9.4¢.

Here are comparative sample driving costs under the proposed rates based on Oahu electricity and gasoline costs:

energy costs

Statement of Support on Senator Harimoto

State Senator Breene Harimoto, 61, (16th Senatorial District – Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, Aiea, Royal Summit, Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor) has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Senator Breene Harimoto

Senator Breene Harimoto

Under the advice and care of his physicians, Senator Harimoto will soon be undergoing treatment. 

“Senator Harimoto is a valued member of our Senate body and a friend to all of us here at the Legislature.  Our thoughts are with Senator Harimoto and his family, and we wish him a speedy recovery” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi.

Senator Harimoto has expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of Aloha, and asks for privacy and prayers for himself as well as for his family in the coming weeks. 

Hemp Harvested Legally in Hawaii for First Time

The first stalk of legal hemp in Hawaii was harvested today.
Hemp in HawaiiHawaii Representative Chris Lee tweeted, “Harvesting the very first stalk of hemp in Hawaii. Uses less water, 100% organic, tremendous economic commodity

Seven Hawaii Schools to Offer Free Meals to All Students

This school year, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will implement a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program this school year at seven public schools, which will allow all students at those schools to receive free meal service.

Free Lunch

The program, called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to everyone even if they do not qualify for the free or reduced lunch reimbursement.

The CEP program has been adopted by jurisdictions around the country. “One major factor in the future of the program is the high cost of a meal in Hawaii compared with the much lower rates around the country,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to participate in this pilot to benefit families in need.”

The schools participating in the pilot program are:

To qualify for CEP, a district, grouping or school must have a minimum of 40 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program.

Currently HIDOE pays an average of $5.50 a meal (including food costs, labor, utilities, etc.). The USDA reimburses the state $3.85 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.40 for those paying for a meal. HIDOE charges $2.50 for elementary school lunch for a total of $2.90 in recouped cost for the state.​

Under the program, all students in a CEP school would qualify for the higher $3.85 reimbursement. While the seven pilot schools will no longer be collecting meal monies and ensuring accounts have sufficient funds, families will be required to provide information for data collection.

“The schools were chosen so that the Department can analyze how families and students in a single island community such as Molokai, respond to the program while also giving officials the chance to study the impact of individual schools in separate and distinct districts on Oahu and Hawaii Island,” Office of School Facilities and Support Services Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said.

For more information about CEP visit: http://bit.ly/HawaiiCEP

 

Department of Education Updates Income Qualifications for Free and Reduced Lunch

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is announcing its policy update for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs for the 2015-16 school year. Copies of the policy are available at public schools. Children from households with income at or below the following levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals: 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out one application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. Applications for the current school year (2015-16) are now being accepted. The application information will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

For DOE officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child’s name, date of birth, grade, school code and their SNAP or TANF case number and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list: 1) the names of everyone in the household; 2) the amount of income received by each person, how often the income is received and the source of the income; 3) the name and social security number of either parent/guardian who is the primary wage earner or the adult household member who signs the form or the word “none” if neither adult household member has a social security number; and 4) the signature of an adult household member.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. View our program page here​.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the DOE will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request for a hearing on the decision in writing to:

Glenna Owens, SFA Director, 1106 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone Number: (808) 733-8414 or toll-free 1-800-441-4845.

In certain cases foster children are also eligible for school meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for them, the household should contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus Commends Governor for New Laws to Protect Women and Families

Measures signed into law provide security, protection against

Governor Ige today signed a package of bills into law which are measures that were introduced or advocated for by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus at the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Session.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications  (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications (L to R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Linda Ichiyama, Gov. David Ige, Rep. Dee Morikawa, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Cynthia Thielen)

A total of six measures were enacted and two resolutions adopted by the Legislature this session that provide protection for victims of domestic violence, improve reporting and enforcement of domestic violence and sexual assaults, and makes an effort to reduce violence and sexual assaults on college campuses and restore public trust of Hawai‘i’s law enforcement community.

“The Women’s Legislative Caucus is pleased with the bills enacted this session. Having the Governor’s recognition and support for these measures is critically important as we strive to empower survivors of domestic violence and work towards improving the lives of women and families across the state,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Mānoa).

“We appreciate the support from the Governor on these sound legislative policies we believe will improve the health and well-being of women, children and families throughout our State,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock). “The efforts of the Caucus this past session show how together we can create stronger communities.”

The bills signed into law are:

HB538 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 219)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires wireless telecommunications service providers to release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon request and with documentation.  Authorizes the family court to order wireless providers to transfer billing authority for or release domestic violence victims from shared service plans upon petition by a victim.

HB858 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Act 220)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Permits the termination of residential rental agreements in cases of domestic violence.  Specifies additional procedures under the residential landlord-tenant code for instances of domestic violence.

SB226 SD2 HD1 (Act 221)

RELATING TO ABUSE OF FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER.

Adds the definition of “business day” to the offense of abuse of a family or household member.  Repeals the 48-hour no contact provision and specifies that the period of separation a police officer orders for the person whom the police officer reasonably believes to have inflicted the abuse of a family or household member commences when the order is issued and expires at 6:00 p.m. on the second business day following the day the order was issued.

SB387 SD2 HD3 CD1 (Act 222)

RELATING TO AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT.

Establishes an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

SB388 HD1 (Act 30)

RELATING TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS

Requires each county police department to post its policies relating to domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, and standards of conduct on its official website.

HB448 (Act 203)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Requires the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct reviews of domestic violence fatalities, near-deaths, and suicides.  Authorizes DOH to enter into memoranda of understanding to obtain information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

HR19 and SR9 are resolutions introduced by the Women’s Legislative Caucus which received bi-partisan support and were adopted at the end of the 2015 Legislative Session.

HR19

Requests the State Department of Defense to establish and fund a Veteran Women Services Coordinator position with the Office of Veterans’ Services

SR9

Requests the Honolulu Police Department to establish a family violence unit staffed with officers specifically trained to handle all complaints of family violence.

Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus

The Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus consists of female members from both the state Senate and House. Senators Rosalyn Baker and Suzanne Chun Oakland and Representatives Della Au Belatti and Cynthia Thielen serve as co-chairs of the Caucus. This year’s package of bills introduced by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus was dedicated to the Women’s Coalition in recognition of their commitment and advocacy for women and girls.

Innovative Wave Power Device Starts Producing Clean Power in Hawaii

With support from the Energy Department and the U.S. Navy, a prototype wave energy device has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing.

The device, called Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.

The project supports the Energy Department’s mission to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from clean energy resources, including water. Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical.

With further progress towards commercialization, MHK technologies could make substantial contributions to our nation’s electricity needs. To accelerate commercialization of wave energy devices, the Energy Department funds research and development—from laboratory and field-testing of individual components, up to demonstration and deployment of complete utility-scale systems.

The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype—at the same scale as the new deployment—in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those successful tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.

To further advance Azura towards commercialization, NWEI recently launched its grid-connected 20-kilowatt demonstration project at WETS. The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deepwater, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology.

NWEI, with $5 million in additional funding from the Energy Department, will apply lessons learned from this current phase of development to modify the device design in order to improve its efficiency and reliability. NWEI plans to then test the improved design with a full-scale device rated between 500 kilowatts and one megawatt at WETS at even deeper test berths of 60 meters to 80 meters over the next several years, further supporting efforts to build a robust and competitive MHK industry in the United States.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative approaches that reduce both the risk and costs of bringing MHK technologies online. Watch our Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy video, and learn more about the Department’s efforts to support MHK research and development.

Hawaii Farm Bureau Launches Publication

The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation (HFBF) announces the launch of a new four-color, glossy magazine, Hawai‘i Farm & Food. The print and online publication is a media partnership between the statewide Farm Bureau and Pacific Basin Communications-the renowned publisher of Hawai‘i’s largest magazine group, whose portfolio includes Hawaii Business, HONOLULU Magazine and HAWAII Magazine.

Catherine Toth Fox will serve as the editor

Catherine Toth Fox will serve as the editor

“Hawai‘i Farm & Food will delve into issues facing Hawai‘i’s agricultural industries, unique specialty crops and commodity groups”, says HFBF president Chris Manfredi of Ka’u Farm and Ranch on the Big Island. “This new magazine will bring the challenges of Hawai‘i’s farmers, ranchers and aquaculturists to the forefront to help people better understand how food is produced and brought to store shelves. Think of it as a farm tour you can hold in your hand. We’re particularly excited that the publication’s app will be available for free on iTunes – and we’re thrilled to be working with the professionals at Pacific Basin Communications,” notes Manfredi.

Hawai‘i Farm and Food will feature farmers and their stories from across the state, updates on legislative issues, chef highlights of Hawai‘i-grown products, recipes and events supporting local agriculture.

Freelance journalist and blogger Catherine Toth Fox of O‘ahu will serve as Editor. The inaugural issue will premiere with a circulation of 5,000 printed copies and unlimited digital access for the mainstream audience.

The magazine will be direct-mailed to all HFBF members, available for free pick-up at the Farm Bureau Farmers’ Markets and various other outlets, and digital download on iTunes. Visit hfbf.org for a current listing. For advertising and sponsorship opportunities please contact Sharon Spear, publisher at 808-534-7528 or sharons@pacificbasin.net.

The Hawaii Farm Bureau is comprised of nearly 2,000 member families in 11 county chapters located across the state: East O’ahu, Hamakua, Hilo, Ka‘u, Kaua’i, Kohala, Kona, Maui, Moloka‘i, South O‘ahu and West O‘ahu. HFB serves as Hawai‘i’s “Voice of Agriculture,” to protect, advocate and advance the social, economic and educational interest of the state’s diverse agricultural community. To learn more, visit www.hfbf.org or phone 808-848-2074.

New Law Helps Children Born With Facial Abnormalities

The measure signed into law today by Governor Ige dramatically impacts the lives of several dozen Hawaii families that include children born with cleft palates or other facial abnormalities.

Anya Maga with Governor Ige and Reps. Gregg Takayama (bill introducer), Della Au Belatti, and Henry Aquino.

Anya Maga with Governor Ige and Reps. Gregg Takayama (bill introducer), Della Au Belatti, and Henry Aquino.

In Hawaii, approximately one in every 500 babies is born with what is called an “orofacial anomaly.”  For example, between 2007 and 2012, 61 babies were born with a cleft lip or palate and 83 were born with other craniofacial defects at the Kapiolani Medical Center.

Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee Chair, said it’s crucial to correct these defects, not just for visual appearance, but because this condition affects basic functions such as eating, chewing, speech and breathing.  The complicated treatment to correct these kinds of birth defects usually requires multiple surgeries ranging from about $5,700 to $20,000 or more.

House Bill 174, introduced by Rep. Gregg Takayama (D-Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades), requires health insurers to cover such orthodontic treatment, as do 16 other states.

“For families whose children have a cleft lip and palate, the range of medical, dental and other services can exceed $100,000 from birth until late adolescence,” testified Eileen Matsumoto, a registered nurse for more than 35 years.

The cost of reconstructive surgery is covered by medical insurance but not the full cost of the medically necessary orthodontic procedures required to prepare for these surgeries, which usually amount to more than $10,000 over a child’s lifetime.

These treatment costs are already fully covered by Med-QUEST for poor families but not by private health insurers for Hawaii’s working families.

The State Legislative Auditor reports the cost to all policyholders would be minimal – probably increasing premiums by two cents to four cents per member per month, based on the experiences of California and Massachusetts.

The measure has been called “Anya’s Law” after one of its active supporters, 6-year-old Anya Maga, who testified for the measure along with her parents, who are residents of East Honolulu.

Bill Mandating Native Hawaiian Rights Training Signed Into Law

Will require members of certain state councils, boards and commissions to attend course

Governor Ige this morning signed into law HB207 which will require certain state councils, boards, and commissions to attend a course administered by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) on native Hawaiian customs and rights.

Will require members of certain state councils, boards and commissions to attend course

The new law will require members of certain state councils, boards and commissions to attend course

The course will be administered by OHA and shall apply to members of the Land Use Commission, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Commission on Water Resource Management, Environmental Council, the Agribusiness Development Corporation, Board of Agriculture, Legacy Land Conservation Commission, Natural Area Reserve Systems Commission, Hawaii Historic Places Review Board, and the Board of Health.

“Harmony among a diverse population and a strong respect for our host culture is what gives Hawaii its reputation of a place of Aloha. Some recent controversies have called into question our state’s commitment to Native Hawaiian issues,” said Representative Kaniela Ing, Chairperson of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs.

“This measure takes basic steps to ensure that the next generation of public servants will be more knowledgeable of the historical and cultural context of the place for which they are tasked to make decisions.  After all, Native Hawaiian issues are everyone’s issues, and everyone’s issues are Native Hawaiian issues.”

The law will take effect on July 1, 2015

Hawaii State Judiciary Launches New Environmental Court

On July 1st, Hawaii will take the historic step of establishing the second statewide Environmental Court in the United States.  Hawaii’s new Environmental Court will have broad jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases affecting the environment.

JudiciaryAccording to Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, “The goal of the Environmental Court is to ensure the fair, consistent, and effective resolution of cases involving the environment.  We are excited to be part of this new initiative.”

In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the creation of environmental courts and tribunals around the world.  To date, 350 environmental courts of some kind are operating in 41 countries.  The Vermont State Legislature founded America’s first environmental court in 1990.  No other statewide environmental courts were formed in the United States until former Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law Act 218, Session Laws of Hawaii 2014.

Pursuant to Act 218, Chief Justice Recktenwald appointed Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson to serve as Chair of the Environmental Court Working Group, an assembly of court personnel from across the state, to manage the implementation of the new specialty court.  The Working Group has been preparing for the July 1, 2015 launch, starting with a report to the 2015 Legislature describing plans to implement the Hawaii Environmental Court.  Since then, environmental court judges for the district and circuit courts have been assigned, Circuit Court Rules were amended, case management systems were updated, and adjustments were made to some court schedules to accommodate environmental court calendars.

“With the Environmental Court, Hawaii will be better positioned to safeguard one of the most treasured environments in the world,” said Justice Wilson.  “By organizing the technical and legal environmental issues under the Environmental Court, the State Legislature’s intention of promoting and protecting Hawaii’s natural environment will be realized through informed, efficient and consistent application of Hawaii’s environmental laws.”

Commentary – Poor Job Handling TMT Protestors

Governor Ige’s administration, and to a lesser extent, the County of Hawaii, are doing a poor job handling the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Mauna Kea. The governor’s proposed changes to the stewardship of Mauna Kea offended both the protesters and the individuals who’ve helped preserve this sensitive area.

TMT laserThe protesters  were mainly unhappy the governor reaffirmed the TMT’s legal right to begin construction, but there were other aspects of the revised stewardship plan the protesters were not pleased about. They were also unhappy the removal of ¼ of all the existing telescopes and imposing access restrictions to the summit area, among other issues

The governor’s stewardship changes also offended the individuals who’ve helped preserve Mauna Kea. It was  like a slap to the face when the governor stated the University of Hawaii and Department of Land and Natural Resources have been poor stewards of  Mauna Kea. There were issues with the stewardship of Mauna Kea in the past. However, there has been immeasurable improvements over the past 15 years. The execution of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan in 2010 was one of the highlights of these recent improvements.

Governor Ige’s administration also dropped the ball as far as dealing with these ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests. His administration has allowed these protesters to illegally encamp at Hale Pohaku for the past three months and obstruct access to the summit area. Yes, these protesters have a constitutionally protected right to protest, but they shouldn’t break the law in the process.

The elephant the room is the ongoing Hawaii sovereignty debate. The latter has Trojan horsed itself into the current debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope. The State and County of Hawaii are playing softball with these groups as a result. For example, the Hawaii County prosecutor is considering dropping criminal trespass charges against the first wave of 21 protesters in lieu of initiating  ho’oponopono with these individuals. This will entail holding discussions with the governor, the University of Hawaii, Thirty Meter Telescope, DLNR, etc.

The Thirty Meter Telescope has undergone a seven year public vetting process. These individuals had  ample opportunity express their concerns about this project during this time. In short, this is simply another stalling tactic that is being employed by the opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

As it stands now, the Thirty Meter Telescope has the legal right to initiate construction until the appellate courts say otherwise. I hope Governor Ige gets a backbone and  stops pandering to the interests of these protesters.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Two Million Provided for Hawaii Bikeshare Program Seed Funding

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Hawaii State Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler, M.D. today signed a contract providing matching funds for Bikeshare Hawai‘i.

Bike ShareUnder the agreement, the City and State will each provide $1 million in seed funding to assist the nonprofit Bikeshare Hawaii in building its large-scale bicycling infrastructure system, which is set to launch next year.

“We’re proud to support this important transportation public-private partnership between the City, State, and Bikeshare Hawaii,” said Mayor Caldwell. “This expansion of Honolulu’s bicycling infrastructure will be a game-changer in giving residents and visitors options to avoid traffic, help the environment, and have fun.”

bike share signing

“The Department of Health is thrilled to partner with the City and County on this important initiative that puts bikeshare within the reach of Hawaii’s residents and visitors,” said Director Pressler. “Having access to active transportation modes like bikeshare makes it easier for us to meet out daily physical activity needs, ultimately helping to reduce obesity and chronic disease to improve the health and well-being of our community.”

Bikeshare Hawaii will be a low-cost, flexible public transportation system that provides on-demand access to a network of publically-rentable bicycles at strategic locations. Approximately 1,700 bikes will be available at stations throughout urban Honolulu during the initial rollout. Upon completion of Honolulu’s rail project, bikeshare stations will provide first/last mile connectivity to rail and TheBus stations, facilitating the use of public transportation. Bikeshare will eventually expand the system statewide as demand increases.

Bikeshare systems have been proven to expand mobility options, create new bicyclists, and reduce automobile use. Bikeshare systems also promote healthier cities, active lifestyles, reduced vehicle emissions, and reliance on imported fossil fuel.

More information: http://www.bikesharehawaii.org/
https://www.facebook.com/bikesharehawaii

State Commissioner of Securities Orders Concert Promoters to Cease and Desist

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Commissioner of Securities, Ty Nohara, issued a preliminary order to cease and desist and notice of right to hearing against concert promoters Ferdinand C. Jacobe, Gina T. Carlos, and P.B.C. Productions, LLC for violating state securities laws.

Click to read suit

Click to read suit

The order asserts that, between January 2012 and June 2013, Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions solicited investors among the local Filipino community to fund three concerts in Hawaii, guaranteeing returns of 10 to 40 percent within days of each concert.  The order asserts that P.B.C. Productions enlisted the assistance of an agent, Carlos, to solicit investors for the first two concerts.  As a result, more than 30 Hawaii residents invested a combined total of $666,000 into the concerts. Nearly two years have passed since the last concert took place, and many investors remain unpaid.

Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions are accused of failing to disclose to investors that they were substantially in debt to numerous past investors, and the proceeds of a future concert, as well as a portion of new investors’ funds, were needed to repay past investors, and investors’ funds would not be returned by the guaranteed deadline.

Jacobe, Carlos, and P.B.C. Productions also failed to inform the investors who were solicited by Carlos that Carlos would be receiving a 5 to 15 percent commission on the funds she collected from them.

State securities laws include anti-fraud provisions, requiring both securities and persons soliciting or transacting securities to be registered with DCCA’s Securities Compliance Branch.  The order asserts that Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions violated these anti-fraud provisions by employing deceptive schemes and devices to perpetuate fraud.  It further alleges that neither Jacobe nor Carlos was registered to transact securities in Hawaii, and the securities they sold to investors were also unregistered.

The order seeks total penalties of $200,000 in addition to a permanent injunction against Jacobe and Carlos for transacting securities in the state, disgorgement of commissions received, and rescission of the sales of the securities.

Anyone who has been solicited by Jacobe, P.B.C. Productions, or Carlos to invest in a concert or who may otherwise have information regarding this matter is urged to contact the DCCA’s Securities Enforcement Branch (SEB) at 808-586-2740 or toll free 1-877- HI-SCAMS.

SEB receives and investigates complaints regarding potential violations of Hawaii securities laws and prosecutes securities fraud as well as other securities law violations.

Navy Teams with State of Hawaii to Combat Mosquitoes

The Navy in Hawaii is partnering with the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health (HDOH) in surveillance and prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito Bite
During an interview on local TV June 11, entomologists Lt. Ryan Larson, of Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 6, and Dr. Jeomhee Hasty, of HDOH, showed specimens of mosquitoes and explained the importance of working together to prevent the spread of diseases.

The partnership with HDOH was strengthened when the Navy began to recognize the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases throughout the Pacific last summer.

“Fences don’t stop mosquitos,” Larson told KHON2’s Wake Up 2day audience. “We realized we need to be prepared to respond in case this disease arrived in Hawaii.”

There have been cases of mosquito-borne diseases chikungunya and dengue fever in recent years, according to the HDOH.

“Travelers infected overseas can bring the disease back home where local mosquitos can ‘bite’…and start local transmission of the disease in Hawaii,” said Hasty.

Mosquito surveillance conducted by HDOH since 2010 at Honolulu International Airport supports Hasty’s concern. The mosquito species Aedes aegypti was detected near the airport several times since 2012. This group is more efficient at spreading dengue fever, said Hasty.

The HDOH Navy partnership allows combatting invasive species to move beyond the airport to cover more of the state.

Ryan demonstrated how two different traps are being used in the joint effort. A light trap sucks nocturnal mosquitos in after attracting them with visual cues and carbon dioxide, which mimics human respiration.

He also showed a sentinel trap, which is used for catching day-feeding mosquitos like the ones that carry dengue and chikungunya. Baited with a chemical lure that smells like “the worst pair of smelly socks you can imagine,” this device targets ankle-biting mosquitos, said Ryan.

As for residents of Hawaii, Hasty says using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants can help prevent exposure to harmful mosquito bites. She also recommends eliminating standing water on and around one’s property, which reduces mosquito reproduction.

Hawaiian Electric Industries Shareholders Approve Merger with NextEra Energy

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (NYSE: HE) (HEI) today announced that HEI shareholders have approved the merger agreement with NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) announced Dec. 3, 2014.

Helco new Logo 2“We’re extremely pleased that our shareholders, many of whom are Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light customers, have shown their strong support for this historic partnership by approving the proposed merger,” said Jeff Watanabe, HEI’s chairman of the board. “The approval marks another significant milestone in our efforts to accelerate Hawaii’s clean energy transformation by bringing the expertise and resources of NextEra Energy to our state to achieve even higher levels of renewables and lower energy costs for our customers.”

Of the shares voted, approximately 90 percent were in favor of the merger. Achieving this level of shareholder support is a significant accomplishment because, while publicly held companies commonly may proceed with a merger with the affirmative vote of a majority of their outstanding shares, HEI is required under Hawaii law to obtain supermajority approval from 75 percent of its outstanding shares. Hawaii is the only state with such a high approval requirement for a merger.

The merger will bring together two industry leaders in clean and renewable energy. Hawaiian Electric has put Hawaii on the leading edge of clean energy nationally, successfully integrating rooftop solar with 12 percent of its residential customers and helping meet 21 percent of customer electricity needs from renewable energy resources. NextEra Energy has developed, built and operates one of the nation’s most modern grid networks and is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun. NextEra Energy supports and will help accelerate Hawaiian Electric’s plans to lower electric bills, triple distributed solar – including rooftop solar – and achieve a 65 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2030. This week Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law that set a goal of 70 percent RPS by 2040 and 100 percent RPS by 2045 for the state—goals which Hawaiian Electric and NextEra Energy have each stated they fully support.

“We’re confident that this merger will help us more quickly achieve the affordable clean energy future we all want for Hawaii,” said Connie Lau, HEI’s president and chief executive officer and chairman of the boards of Hawaiian Electric and American Savings Bank. “We’re proud to support a measure recently passed by the legislature and signed by our governor making Hawaii the first state in the nation to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio standard. Partnering with NextEra Energy will strengthen and accelerate our ability to reach our state’s ambitious goals.”

The merger with NextEra Energy is expected to provide Hawaiian Electric with the added resources and access to expertise to accelerate Hawaii’s clean energy transformation, while delivering substantial customer benefits, including lower costs. Subject to approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the companies have committed to approximately $60 million in customer savings over four years and to not request an increase in the general base electricity rate for at least four years post-transaction close. Following completion of the transaction, Hawaiian Electric will continue to operate under its current name, be locally managed, and remain headquartered in Honolulu. HEI is one of Hawaii’s most charitable companies and NextEra Energy will continue HEI’s overall current level of corporate giving in Hawaii.

While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the proposed merger, the transaction remains subject to other regulatory approvals including approval by the PUC, other customary closing conditions and the spinoff of American Savings Bank, a subsidiary of HEI and one of Hawaii’s largest full-service financial institutions. Following the spinoff, American Savings Bank will remain based in Hawaii as an independent public company, and continue to provide a full range of financial products and services, including business and consumer banking, insurance and investments, corporate banking and commercial real estate lending.

“The spinoff of American Savings Bank as a condition to completing the merger enables shareholders to continue to own American Savings Bank and to participate in the bank’s upside potential as an independent public company,” said Connie Lau. “Our ability to spin off American Savings Bank reflects the strength of the bank’s business, its strong market position and its talented team of employees.”

Governor Signs Bill Setting 100% Renewable Energy Goal

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today joined others across Hawaii in applauding Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Legislature for setting the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country – 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

 Governor Ige signs bill setting 100 percent renewable energy goal in power sector

Governor Ige signs bill setting 100 percent renewable energy goal in power sector

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company fully support the goal of having 100 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources while ensuring that it’s achieved at a reasonable cost for electric customers and that safe, reliable electric service is maintained.

“Reducing our dependence on imported oil and increasing our use of renewable energy is critical to our state’s future. It’s the clean energy transformation we all want for Hawaii. Reaching this goal will require a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and strong, upgraded electric grids, and that’s exactly what we’re working toward,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO.

The proposed merger involving Hawaiian Electric and NextEra Energy would provide additional resources to help make these ambitious goals a reality. NextEra Energy has developed, built and operates one of the nation’s most modern grid networks and is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun.

“Reaching these goals will be a challenge that our entire state must work together to meet. And we’ll do that with strong collaboration among all stakeholders and our collective commitment to building a better energy future for Hawaii,” Oshima said.

Hawaii Governor’s office released the following:

Gov. David Ige today signed into law four energy bills, including one that strengthens Hawaii’s commitment to clean energy by directing the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.

The bold step taken by the Hawai‘i State Legislature in passing the landmark legislation (HB623) fulfills one of Ige’s policy objectives by making Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to set a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.

“As the most oil dependent state in the nation, Hawai‘i spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment and energy security,” Ige said. “I’d like to thank the senate and house energy committee chairs for championing HB623 and ensuring that Hawai‘i remains a national leader in clean energy.”

“Setting a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard will help drive investment in Hawai‘i’s growing clean energy sector,” said Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “Our commitment to clean energy has already attracted entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world, looking to develop, test and prove emerging technologies and strategies right here in Hawai‘i.”

“Raising the bar for renewable energy in Hawai‘i will also push the state to stay out in front on innovation,” said Mark Glick, administrator, State Energy Office. “We are finding ways to be innovative both with technical solutions and financing structures that will help us meet our ambitious renewable energy goals.”

“Renewable energy projects are already producing cheaper power than new fossil fuel projects in Hawai‘i, and it’s only going to get cheaper as renewable technology advances, unlike fossil fuels which will only grow more expensive as they become more difficult to extract from a shrinking supply,” added Rep. Chris Lee, Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. “The faster we move toward renewable energy the faster we can stop exporting billions from our local economy to import expensive fossil fuels.”

Another measure signed by Ige (SB1050) will help democratize renewable energy by creating a structure that will allow renters, condominium owners and others who have been largely shut out of Hawai‘i’s clean energy transformation, to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm.

The bill establishing a community-based renewable energy program will be particularly valuable on O‘ahu where there is a high concentration of high-rise condominiums that lack sufficient roof space to support on-site solar panels.  The law is also expected to provide relief to homeowners and businesses who are located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional PV installations.

“As of March 2015, there are about 56,000 PV/Solar systems on rooftops.  These folks are saving tremendously on their electricity bills. That’s great, but what about the 44 percent of Hawai‘i residents who don’t own their homes? And those without roof space? SB 1050 allows people to form a hui, find a piece of land, and purchase or lease however many PV panels they want and then get a credit on their electricity bill for the energy they produce.  We spend $3-5 billion annually buying fossil fuels; this is an awesome concept that will help keep some of that money here to help our economy,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, who co-authored the bill while serving as chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.

In addition to the 100 percent RPS and community-based renewable energy bills, Ige signed into law a measure that sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawai‘i  System (HB1509) and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator (HB1296).

Hawaii Climate Change Adaptation Committee Begins Work

Hawaii Climate Adaptation

ICAC Video News Release 6-5-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

The Hawaii State Legislature identified climate change as one of the most urgent and long-term threats to the State’s economy, sustainability, security and way of life over the next century.  In 2014 it passed Act 83 in order to address the effects of climate change.  Act 83 also established the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee (ICAC), with representatives from more than a dozen state and county agencies. The ICAC is tasked with developing a statewide Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Report (SLR Report) to the legislature by the end of 2017. The committee held its first meeting this week on June 3.

Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the Hawaii House of Representatives Energy & Environment Committee was one of the lawmakers instrumental in the passage of Act 83.  He said, “Hawaii, as the only island state in the U.S., is among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, yet we were one of the few coastal states that had not adopted a statewide climate adaptation plan.  Act 83 and the ICAC changes this.”

The DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) will lead the development of the SLR Report in coordination with the ICAC.  Sam Lemmo, OCCL Administrator said, “ The SLR Report will serve as the framework to address other climate-related threats and climate change adaptation priorities, ultimately leading to a Climate Adaptation Plan for the State, which will be prepared by the State Office of Planning. Over the next two and a half years we will meet regularly, engage climate change experts, and keep the citizens of Hawaii informed of our progress and recommendations to combat the negative impacts of sea level rise and other climate change threats.”

One of the experts being engaged is Dr. Chip Fletcher of the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). Dr. Fletcher is a climate change scientist, who works on predictive models which visually depict the impacts of sea level rise along Hawaii coastlines.  He presented his latest findings at the first meeting of the ICAC.  Dr. Fletcher explained, “Rising sea levels, exacerbated by stronger storms, will increase coastal flooding and erosion.  It will damage coastal ecosystems and infrastructure and affect tourism, agriculture, military bases and other industries. This is on top of the impacts of higher sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.”

DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case co-chairs the ICAC with the director of the State Office of Planning.  She commented, “The work of the ICAC is among the highest priority work we will do over the next few years.  Beach erosion, drought, coral bleaching and rising ocean temperatures are already having measurable impacts on Hawaii and are expected to accelerate in coming years.  These threats include impacts to our host culture, including impacts to coastal artifacts and structures and reduced availability of traditional food sources and subsistence fisheries.”

Courts Order Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to Release Enrollment List

In a victory for transparent government, a state court has ordered the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to release its enrollment list. The suit was filed by Judicial Watch with the assistance of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii after an open records request for the Roll was repeatedly denied by the Commission.

Native Hawaiian Roll Commision

In a decision that emphasized the importance of open government, the Court rejected the Commission’s reasons for denying the request, requiring the Commission to produce the list and pay attorney’s fees in the case.

Said former Hawai`i Attorney General, Michael A. Lilly, who represented Judicial Watch in the case, “Today, in a victory for open government, Judicial Watch won a case seeking a roll of over 125,000 people allegedly registered with the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission.”

Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute stated, “With the release of the Roll, it will now be possible to answer concerns over the tens of thousands of names that have been placed on the list without the express permission of individuals. The fact stands that the vast majority of Hawaiians have chosen not to support the efforts of OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll to create a sovereign government. Their voices can now be heard. And, hopefully, OHA will stop wasting public money on its unconstitutional push for sovereignty and, instead, spend it on housing, education, employment, and health services for those in need.”

“The Commission was established by the State of Hawai`i to prepare a roll of native Hawaiians,” continued Michael Lilly. “After only a handful of Hawaiians had registered with the Commission, it artificially augmented its roll with three other lists held by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  The Commission refused to produce the roll in response to a freedom of information request by Judicial Watch. In granting Judicial Watch’s request for the roll, the Hawai`i Circuit Court held that the roll was a public record and thus ordered its disclosure. The Court pointed out that Hawai`i’s open records law was intended to ensure that the formation and conduct of public policy be conducted as openly as possible. The Court will assess against the Commission the reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred by Judicial Watch in having to seek judicial relief.”