Big Island Police Identify Man Killed in Police Shooting

The man who died Thursday afternoon following an officer-involved shooting has been identified as 36-year-old BJ Medeiros of Keaʻau.

An autopsy conducted Friday determined that he died from a gunshot wound to his torso.

In response to a 1:20 p.m. call Thursday reporting a man possibly armed with a weapon, Puna District officers combed the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision and located him on Beach Road off Kaloli Drive seated in a pickup truck.
Kaloli Beach
Two officers approached the vehicle. They made contact with the man and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, the man in the truck pointed a handgun at one of the officers. In response, that officer fired his duty weapon, fatally injuring the gunman.

The officer who fired his weapon has been with the Hawaiʻi Police Department for nine years. The other officer, who has five years’ experience, was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and then released.

No officers were injured by gunfire.

As is standard practice in any police-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the incident to contact Detective Tuckloy Aurello at 961-2385.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Fatally Shoot Man in Hawaiian Paradise Park

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an officer-involved shooting Thursday afternoon (July 21) in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.

Kaloli Beach

In response to a 1:20 p.m. call reporting a man possibly armed with a weapon, Puna District officers combed the subdivision and located him on Beach Road off Kaloli Drive seated in a pickup truck.

Two officers approached the vehicle. They made contact with the man and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, the man in the truck pointed a handgun at one of the officers. In response, that officer fired his duty weapon, fatally injuring the gunman. The man’s name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.

An autopsy will be ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The officer who fired his weapon has been with the Hawaiʻi Police Department for nine years. The other officer, who has five years’ experience, was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.

No officers were injured by gunfire.

As is standard practice in any police-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the incident to contact Detective Tuckloy Aurello at 961-2385.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Puna Man Arrested After Threatening to Shoot Everyone at Community Meeting

A Puna man was arrested Tuesday (July 19) after he reportedly called a community association employee’s home [corrected location], threatening to take a shotgun to a future meeting and shoot everyone present.

James Brent Jones

James Brent Jones

Approximately an hour after the incident was reported, officers successfully located the suspect after his vehicle was spotted parked off Highway 11 near the 20-mile marker. At 12:35 p.m. officer contacted and arrested the suspect, identified as 56-year old James Brent Jones of Glenwood.

Jones was charged later Tuesday with second-degree terroristic threatening. His bail was set at $2,000. After posting bail, Jones was released from custody pending his initial court appearance scheduled for August 25.

Supreme Court Reverses Connections School Employee’s Ethics Code Violations

This morning, the Hawaii State Supreme Court issued its decision reversing the Hawaii State Ethics Commission’s finding that Eric Boyd, from Connections Charter School in Hilo, violated the State Code of Ethics for purchases made in 2007.

Eric Boyd

Eric Boyd

In 2010, the State Ethics Commission charged Eric Boyd with twenty-six (26) counts of violating the State Ethics Code.  In 2012, the Ethics Commission amended the charge and reduced the charges to twenty (20).   After a two day hearing, the Ethics Commission found that Boyd violated the State Ethics Code and imposed the maximum fine of $10,000 and a recommended to the Governor that Mr. Boyd be terminated on February 8, 2013.

Boyd appealed the Commission’s decision to the Third Circuit Court which reduced the number of violations to nine and imposed a fine of $4,500, which Boyd paid.  Both Boyd and Ethics Commission appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.  On August 19, 2015, the Intermediate Court of Appeals denied Boyd’s appeal and reinstated all charges and penalties.

After six (6) years of defending himself, the Hawaii State Supreme agreed with Mr. Boyd and ordered the Commission to dismiss all charges against Boyd.  Boyd said that he is profoundly grateful the Supreme Court heard his case.  Boyd noted that although this case had a devastating effect on his personal and professional life, he had to prove to his children and family, that what he did and how he did it, was the proper way to do things.  “The lesson of my case is to fight for what you believe in and it is something I teach my kids everyday,”  Boyd said.  “I am also grateful that Ted Hong, my attorney, was always been at my side and believed in me.”

When asked for comment, Ted Hong, an attorney in Hilo, noted that the Commission under the former leadership of Mr. Leslie Kondo and Ms. Maria Sullivan, should have listened to their argument about jurisdiction from the beginning “instead of ruining Eric’s life and dragging his name through the mud for the past six (6) years.”  Mr. Hong also noted that no state agency, including its officers and board members are above the law.  “We are humbly grateful that the  Supreme Court took a careful look at the arguments that we made.”

Hawaii Senate Looking to Override Governor’s Veto, May Amend Bill

Hawaii Senators are looking at overriding a bill that Governor Ige had previously vetoed.

Today, Hawaii State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz sent a letter to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting an opinion as to whether at this point in time during special session the Senate may override the governors veto as you indicated we may amend a bill

Chin RequestFrom what it appears to me there appears to be a small war going on between the Governor, Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) and the Legislature.

A list of the bills vetoed and the governors rationale can be found here:  http://damontucker.com/2016/07/13/hawaii-governors-veto-list-and-rationale-summary/

I’m not sure what bill in particular the Senate is looking at overriding so this should be interesting to see what the Attorney Generals opinion is in the next 24 hours per rule 86 of the Senate Rules: Questions to State Officers.

Federal Settlement to Reduce Air Pollution at Hawaii Refinery

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced a settlement with Par Hawaii Refining for alleged Clean Air Act violations at its Kapolei Refinery, in Kapolei, Hawaii, as part of a larger $425 million settlement covering six refineries.

Click to read

Click to read

Par Hawaii will spend an estimated $47 million to install and operate pollution control equipment at the Kapolei Refinery, formerly owned by the Tesoro Corp.

“EPA remains committed to ensuring companies take responsibility for protecting public health and the environment,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With this agreement, Par Hawaii will not only reduce harmful emissions from refinery leaks and flares, but will also reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by nearly 240 tons per year from the Kapolei refinery heaters and boilers.”

Under the settlement, Par Hawaii and subsidiaries of Tesoro Corp. will spend about $403 million to install and operate pollution control equipment at refineries in Alaska, California, Hawaii, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington State. Tesoro will also pay a civil penalty of $10.45 million, of which the United States will receive $8.05 million. Co-plaintiffs Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington State’s Northwest Clean Air Agency will split the remainder, receiving $1.3 million, $850,000, and $250,000, respectively. Tesoro will also spend about $12.2 million to fund projects that will improve public health in local communities previously impacted by pollution.

Once implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement will reduce annual emissions at the six refineries by an estimated 773 tons of sulfur dioxide, 407 tons of nitrogen oxides, 1,140 tons of volatile organic compounds, 27 tons of hazardous air pollutants, 20 tons of hydrogen sulfide and the equivalent of 47,034 tons of carbon dioxide.

Tesoro Corp., is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas and its subsidiaries, Tesoro Alaska Company LLC, Tesoro Logistics L.P., and Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC operate five of the refineries covered by this settlement. Par Pacific Holdings, Inc., formerly known as Par Petroleum Corp. and a parent corporation of Par Hawaii Refining, purchased the Kapolei, Hawaii refinery from Tesoro in 2013.

The penalty is due 30 days after the consent decree is entered by the court. There will be a 30 day public comment period on the consent decree lodged today. Information on how to comment on the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice’s website.

For more information on the settlement or to read the consent decree, go to https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/tesoro-and-par-clean-air-act-settlement

Good Outdoor Ethics Encouraged as “POKEMON GO” Craze Impacts Hawaii

A DLNR Division of State Parks employee reports that two people searching for virtual reality Pokemon Go figures wandered into a sensitive heiau on Kauai where a cultural protocol was underway.

Pokemon Hawaii

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Unfortunately, we are quickly seeing unintended consequences of this new application by Google, in the outdoor issues that the hunt for Pokemon characters via digital devices can create, for both cultural and natural resources here in Hawai’i and elsewhere.”

In the first week since the release of Pokemon Go, the media has reported on two men walking off a cliff in California while using the app.  This increases the potential of increasing public safety and unauthorized access problems for local people and visitors venturing into our state parks, onto our trails and onto beaches, when paying attention to electronics rather than trails and signs.

This phenomenon provides a good opportunity to remind people to practice good outdoor ethics.  Curt Cottrell, DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator reminds folks heading into the outdoors:

  • Be safe.  Use electronic devices responsibly and in emergencies to call for help. Distracted hiking, like distracted driving, can lead to accidents.
  • Stay on designated trails.  Follow all signs and closures.  Do not trespass, or enter natural or cultural areas where access is prohibited.
  • Carry out what you carry in.  Leave no trace.

“We want and encourage people to enjoy all of the outstanding natural and cultural resources  Hawai’i has to offer.  Given the release of Pokemon Go, this is an opportune time to remind everyone that these resources can and should be enjoyed in a pono way,” Case concluded.

Gov. Ige Supports Foster Youth and Resource Caregivers with Bill Signing

During the 2016 legislative session, Department of Human Services (DHS) advocated alongside the community for two bills that expand the opportunities for young people to discover who they are through education and experiences, supported by people who care for them. On June 29, Governor David Ige signed into law these two pieces of legislation.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

Gov. Ige stands beside young people, legislators, community members, DHS staff and other state employees after signing HB2350 and SB2878 into law.

In a bill signing ceremony, Gov. Ige first signed House Bill 2350 into law as Act 133. This law supports resource caregivers, giving them more discretion to allow youth to participate in activities that will help them grow, learn, and thrive. Additionally, Gov. Ige signed Senate Bill 2878 into law as Act 134. This law extends the application period for former foster youth to access higher education benefits to age 26 and supports Imua Kākou, helping ease the transition for foster youth to adulthood.

The two laws brought together the community, DHS, and the very young people whose lives are impacted by the bills to work with legislators and stress the importance of these supports. The legislature’s passage and governor’s signing of these laws demonstrate the power of these young people and our government’s commitment to supporting them. The two laws represent shared commitment across the community and the three State of Hawai‘i branches of government, which was displayed in each branch’s presence at the bill signing ceremony.

Hawaii Attorney General Opinion Supports Governors Appointment of New PUC Commisioner

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin opined today that the Hawaii Constitution authorized Governor David Ige to appoint Tom Gorak on an interim basis to the Public Utilities Commission after Commissioner Mike Champley’s term expired on June 30, 2016. Commissioner Gorak’s appointment lasts only until the full Senate considers it when the Legislature is back in session.

Tom Gormack

Tom Gorack

The opinion was prompted by a letter last week from Senate President Ronald Kouchi asking the attorney general to answer several questions regarding the Governor’s interim appointments authority, how it interacts with applicable state statutes, and whether previous attorney general opinions on related but distinct issues were still valid.

Senator Kouchi’s questions expanded on advice that was previously provided by the attorney general to Governor Ige on June 27, 2016 and to Senator Rosalyn Baker on June 30, 2016.

As noted in the opinion, the governor may fill vacancies in certain public offices under the interim appointments provision in article V, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution. That provision provides that “when the senate is not in session and a vacancy occurs in any office, appointment to which requires the confirmation of the senate, the governor may fill the office by granting a commission which shall expire, unless such appointment is confirmed, at the end of the next session of the senate.”

Today’s opinion only addresses interim appointments, not the Senate’s “advice and consent” role for appointments when the Senate is in session. Previous attorney general opinions in 1973 and 1980 addressed different issues from those raised regarding the PUC commissioner. Both of these have been superseded, at least in part, by intervening changes in the law.

By statute the attorney general provides opinions upon questions of law submitted by the governor, the state legislature or its members, or a state agency head.

State of Hawaii Sues “Dog the Bounty Hunter”

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that his office has filed petitions to enforce judgments against Da Kine Bail Bonds, Inc. (Da Kine) and Safety National Casualty Corporation (Safety) for forfeited bail bonds those companies failed to pay to the State of Hawaii (State).

Click to read legal filing

Click to read legal filing

Da Kine owes the State thirty-five thousand five hundred dollars ($35,500) from 21 separate criminal cases. Duane “Dog” Chapman is the president and director of Da Kine.

Safety is the surety that is obligated to pay if Da Kine defaults. Attorney General Doug Chin said “Bail bond companies promise to pay us when their clients skip court. Simply put, if they don’t pay we have to hunt down that money.”

Bail is a financial arrangement that a bail bonding agency makes on behalf of a criminal defendant. A bail bonding agency works with the court to have a defendant released from jail pending trial in exchange for money or collateral. This collateral can be in the form of cash, assets, or a bond. The bail agency is then responsible for ensuring that the defendant arrives in court on the day of trial. If the defendant does not appear in court, the court may forfeit the bond and the entire bail amount must be paid to the court by the bail bonding agency.

Today’s action against Da Kine and Safety resulted from a joint effort by the State Judiciary and the Department of the Attorney General to sue various bail bond companies in Hawaii for non-payment of forfeiture of bail bonds. Other bail bond companies are also being reviewed. Of the bail bond companies that the Judiciary and Attorney General have looked into, seven paid the Judiciary approximately seven-hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) upon receiving notice. Those companies are not subject to today’s action.

A hearing date of August 17, 2016 has been set by the Circuit Court. Hearing dates for the Family Court and District Court have not yet been determined.

Sen. Schatz Urges FTC to Investigate Commercial Use of Short-Term Lodging Rental Services

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the commercial use of the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market.
airbnb
The letter, which was also signed by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), urges the FTC to study the commercial manner in which individuals or firms are using online services such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey to profit from short-term rentals, taking housing inventory off the market and driving up the cost of rent.

“We are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law,” the senators wrote.  “In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.”

The letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez also raised concerns about recent data which revealed that commercial users in New York made up an outsized share of the revenue from short-term rentals and a vast majority of units violated state and local laws.  The subpoenaed data along with recent housing disputes with these companies in cities like Honolulu and San Francisco underscore the immediate need for further study of this issue.

The full text of the letter is below and is available for download in PDF format by clicking here.

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez,

We write today to urge the Federal Trade Commission to study and quantify the degree to which the rapidly expanding short-term lodging rental market consists of persons or firms acting in a commercial manner by renting out entire residences or multiple residences simultaneously.

This distinction is critical to Congress and state and local lawmakers as we seek to assess the wide-ranging impact of the short-term rental industry on the communities in which they operate.  In recent years, we have seen the emergence and rapid growth of companies like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and Flipkey.  On one hand, these firms have sparked innovation, increased competition, and have provided new means by which our constituents can earn extra income.  On the other hand, we are concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities.  We have also read troubling reports of racial discrimination on some short-term rental platforms. Furthermore, we are concerned that communities and consumers may be put at risk through violations of sensible health, safety, and zoning regulations under state and local law.

For example, in a report based on data gathered from Airbnb pursuant to a subpoena, the New York Attorney General found that commercial users (those with 3 or more unique units) accounted for a disproportionate share of the revenue generated from short-term rentals.  The commercial users accounted for only 6% of the hosts in New York City, yet generated 37% of the revenue.  Furthermore, the report indicated that 72% of unique units rented in New York City appeared to violate state and local law.

At the FTC’s June 9, 2015, workshop entitled “The ‘Sharing’ Economy:  Issues Facing Platforms, Participants and Regulators” there was widespread agreement that more information and data was needed to properly assess the impacts of the short-term rental industry on communities.  Unfortunately, the platform companies, which are the best positioned to provide this type of information, seem reluctant to do so.  And even if platform companies do share their data, concerns have been raised about the reliability of this data.

We are also troubled by efforts of platform companies to negotiate agreements with state and local governments to collect and provide aggregate tax payments on rentals processed through their systems without providing more detailed information that would help officials to determine the legality of those rentals.  In other cases, online platforms appear to be complying with state and local tax laws inconsistently, collecting taxes in some jurisdictions and not others.

In order to assess of the use and impact of the short-term rental market, we need reliable data on the commercial use of online platforms.  We believe the FTC is best positioned to address this data gap in an unbiased manner and we urge the Commission to conduct a review of commercial operators on short-term rental platforms.  We hope the FTC would be able to release the results of such an investigation on a standalone basis or as part of any report issued on the “sharing economy.”

Hawaii Governor’s Veto List and Rationale Summary

Gov. David Ige announced the vetoes of seven bills that were on his Intent to Veto list submitted to the State Legislature on June 27.

Governor Ige Profile

The governor notified legislative leaders of the vetoes on Monday, July 11, a day before the July 12 deadline.

The following bills have been vetoed:

SB 2077 Relating to Separation Benefits: This bill would have offered benefits to Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) employees who are facing the abolishment of their positions or workforce restructuring at Maui Region hospitals due to the transition from a state operation to a private operation.

RATIONALE:  There are three primary reasons for this veto.

  • The Employees Retirement System (ERS) believes this bill jeopardizes its tax-qualified status because it allows the affected employees to choose between a lump-sum cash payment that is taxable as wages, and a special employer subsidized early retirement benefit.

Under the IRS code, sections governing the state’s ERS plan, this is not permitted and therefore it threatens the plan’s tax-exempt status.

  • Affected employees were given a lump-sum cash payment upon separation from state service. However, the bill does not appropriate funds for this purpose. Nor does it provide authority to Hawai‘i Health Systems to make the payments.
  • Finally – the bill adds an additional unfunded liability of about $17.2 million to the ERS and $18.4 million to the Employer Union Benefits Trust fund (EUTF) to cover Maui employees separated from state service.

This undermines the state’s moratorium on enhanced benefits and puts the state’s long-term financial plan in jeopardy because the state’s long-term financial position is judged by bond rating agencies based upon the state’s outstanding unfunded liabilities.

Adding to the unfunded liabilities raises concerns for these agencies, about the state’s commitment to financial sustainability.

“This transition to a new system of care has never been done before. It is complex, and there are multiple stakeholders and issues at play. I have exercised my Constitutional duty to veto the bill and submit a remedy so the transition can move forward. My proposed cure remedies legal, technical and fiscal issues while respecting public employees and the collective bargaining process as the employees separate from state service. It is a path forward,” said Gov. Ige.

Proposed Amended Bill:

Governor David Ige submitted a proposed amended bill to the legislature that balances the needs of the various stakeholders and constituents on Maui. The proposal addresses the three primary concerns and are summarized as follows:

  • The state of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation as the employer – will negotiate with the exclusive representatives — for separation benefits for affected employees who separate from state service.
  • Affected employees would be authorized to purchase retirement credits for the amount of time they would have received if they had remained in state service up to June 30, 2017.
  • An appropriation of $25 million in general funds for allocation by the Director of Finance to HHSC – for the payment of the separation benefits and related fringe costs.

HB 1850 Relating to Taxation: This bill would have allowed transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents with the state.

RATIONALE: Looking at this bill from the single lens of taxes owed to the state, this measure did provide a mechanism to achieve that goal.

However– the use of an intermediary system — such as “tax accommodations brokers” as tax collection agents also provided a shield for owners who do NOT currently comply with county laws.

This could have also encouraged owner-occupants to choose “transient accommodation renters” at a time when affordable rental housing in our state is severely stressed and homelessness remains a critical concern statewide.

HB 1739 Relating to Employment: Would have prohibited employers from accessing or obtaining employees’ social media accounts and passwords by coercion or other means.

RATIONALE:  It remains unclear the extent to which this is occurring in workplaces at a level that requires state intervention at this time.

While the intent of this bill is commendable, it contains no provisions for enforcement or due process. The measure states that “an employer found in violation…  shall be subject to a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $100, to be collected by the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.”

However, DLIR does not currently have the staff, resources or expertise to administer the measure, which would include taking complaints, determining violations, education of rights, determination and collection of fines and administrative review.

HB 1747 Relating to Motor Vehicles: Would have authorized police officers to request towing of motor vehicles if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence.

RATIONALE:  This measure would have authorized police to tow vehicles only for the offense of driving under the influence. This severely limits this bill, particularly for repeat offenders. The original intent of this bill was to allow police to tow for VARIOUS traffic offenses, including driving without a license, habitually driving under the influence and operating a vehicle while a license has been revoked.

This bill would have also undermined a law that permits towing of a vehicle when an operator has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, without a valid driver’s license or with fraudulent license plates or registration emblems.

HB 2016 Relating to Public Employees: This measure would have required the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to transfer contributions by retirees and beneficiaries to the Hawai‘i Employer Union Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) for health insurance payments.

After January 1, 2017, the EUTF would have been required to authorize automatic electronic payments to EUTF in lieu of withholdings.

RATIONALE: This bill would have required “information system” modifications. The process development procedures will take longer to implement than the January 1, 2017 deadline will allow. Also – the ERS Board of Directors expressed concerns about the lack of authorization to expend funds from the ERS Trust Fund, to make the necessary modifications that would have been required to implement this bill.

HB 2277 Relating to the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission: This measure aimed to clarify the membership and mission of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

RATIONALE: The specific number of commission members was deleted from the bill. This created a problem in determining quorum. This problem can be resolved by either restoring the maximum membership number or providing a specific number of members required for quorum.

SB 3102 Relating to the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism: This measure would have required state agencies to implement inter-agency agreements without entering into a memorandum of agreement or memorandum of understanding.

The measure also aimed to diversify the economy by establishing the High-Growth Grant Program, and appropriate $1 million to the HGGP special fund to provide business grants.

RATIONALE: The concern is that this bill did not provide a clear rationale for requiring the implementation of inter-agency agreements without MOAs or MOUs. Also – the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) does not have the expertise and resources to develop inter-agency agreements for all programs statewide.

In addition – the purposes of the High-Growth Grant program were very broad. The program’s special fund would likely not have been self-sustaining without more clarity about the program’s purpose.

A complete list of vetoed and approved bills can be found here: http://governor.hawaii.gov/

Hawaii Governor Signs HB 2707 Pertaining to Marijuana Dispensaries

Governor Ige and other government officials had a bill signing ceremony this morning for HB 2707, which aims to clarify and amend statutes pertaining to the marijuana dispensary system, ensures the efficient and responsible operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and ensures access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients.

medical bill2Bill Signing Ceremony for the following: HB 2707 aims to clarify and amend statutes pertaining to the marijuana dispensary system, ensures the efficient and responsible operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and ensures access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients.

Medical bill

Active Shooter Presentation in Honoka’a

The Hawaiʻi Police Department will make an “active shooter” presentation in Honokaʻa on Tuesday, July 19.
Active Shooter
The presentation, which is open to the public, will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the large conference room at the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center, located at 45-539 Plumeria Street.

It is designed to help individuals increase their survivability should they encounter an active shooter or other type of active violent incident. Police will provide information on previous incidents of mass violence, recent events, best practices for those caught in such situations, law enforcement’s response, and how to work together as a community toward prevention. They will also provide additional resources for participants so they can continue their education on this topic, followed by a question-and answer segment.

Persons unable to attend may obtain “active shooter” information by viewing the “Active Shooter/Violence Awareness” page on the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s website (www.hawaiipolice.com) under the “Services” tab.

Big Island Police Identify Body Discovered Off Saddle Road in 2003

Hawaiʻi Island detectives have identified the body of a murder victim that was discovered off the Saddle Road in 2003.

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz

Bradley Elmer Bussewitz was identified using the most current biometric technology. The New Generation Identification system, developed by the FBI, was used to identify Bussewitz through his fingerprints.

On November 2, 2003, a hunter searching for a missing dog discovered the body in the vicinity of the 12-mile marker of Route 200, formerly known as the Saddle Road and now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section recovered the remains, which were in an advanced state of decomposition. An autopsy conducted on the remains determined that Bussewitz died from blunt force trauma and his death was ruled a homicide.

Detectives are still seeking witnesses or motorists who may have seen him hitchhiking either on Kaumana Drive or the Saddle Road on or about November 2, 2003. Bussewitz, who was 47 at the time of his death, was described as Caucasian, about 6-foot-1 with a slim build. He was wearing a green aloha print shirt and a pair of brown swim trunks with red pockets.

Bussewitz was known to be a resident of Hawaiʻi Island and is also believed to have previously lived on Maui. His primary modes of transportation were an early model Chevy Lumina van, color unknown, and a bicycle.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or derek.morimoto@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribed to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Live Snake Captured on Maui Coffee Farm

A live snake was captured by a worker on a Maui coffee farm on Friday afternoon, July 1, 2016. The snake was reported to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on Maui and a plant quarantine inspector picked up the snake, which was later identified as a non-venomous ball python.

Ball Python Found on Maui Coffee Farm

Ball Python Found on Maui Coffee Farm

The snake measured about three to four feet long and was euthanized on Maui due to its condition. It is not known how the snake got to the farm, which is located in Kaanapali.

Ball pythons are non-venomous and are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa and are related to boas, which are also constrictors that subdue its prey by coiling around and suffocating it. Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds. Ball pythons may grow up to six-feet long.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds. Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Individuals who see or know of illegal animals in Hawaii are encouraged to contact the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Darren Cho Recognized as “Officer of the Month”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Kona Patrol Officer Darren Cho as “Officer of the Month” for July in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (July 6) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Darren  Cho was honored for using his community contacts to help identify and locate suspects in a deliberately-set fire at Big Island Drug Court.

Officer Darren
Cho was honored for using his community contacts to help identify and locate suspects in a deliberately-set fire at Big Island Drug Court.

During his investigation, Cho obtained a tip about a male suspect’s identity and learned that a pickup truck the man had used during the incident might be near Hoʻokena Beach Park. Cho located the abandoned truck in a heavily overgrown pasture in the area and determined that it had been reported stolen. Further investigation led to the identities of a key witness and a female accomplice. Both suspects were arrested and charged with first-degree arson, first-degree conspiracy to commit arson and criminal property damage. The male suspect was also charged with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

Detective Walter Ah Mow, who nominated Cho for the honor, noted that the officer is a “seasoned veteran” with 11 years of service.

“Officer Cho’s experience as an officer and his relationship within the community he serves, combined with his own self-motivation and professionalism, have resulted in the apprehension of criminal offenders, recovery of stolen property and the continued safety of our communities,” Ah Mow wrote in nomination papers.

Cho was previously named “Officer of the Month” in December of 2011, May of 2012 and July of 2015. As “Officer of the Month” again, he is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Illegal Dirt Bike Racing Results in 46 Citations – 10 Impounds

46 criminal citations were written and 10 off-road motorcycles were impounded as evidence after officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) observed illegal dirt biking in Maui’s Kula Forest Reserve on Sunday, July 3, 2016.

DLNR

Officers cited one juvenile and nine adults and they each face multiple charges including prohibited motorized vehicle operation in a non-designated area; prohibited operation of non-four wheel drive vehicle; and several counts of vehicle and transportation prohibitions for unlicensed, untaxed and no plates. The dirt bikers allegedly accessed the forest reserve by trespassing through private property.

Acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla said, “Our Maui officers have been receiving on-going complaints from hikers, hunters, and mountain bikers about illegal motorcycle riding on trails designated for foot or mountain bike traffic only.  Hikers report having to jump off the trail due to a motorcyclist operating illegally.  Areas of cultural significance are being damaged and natural resources are being negatively impacted.” The Kula Forest Service on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala contains designated hunting areas, numerous recreational hiking and mountain bike trails, as well as Polipoli State Park.

Redulla commented, “Some social media postings are painting DOCARE’s actions in a negative light and the dirt bikers as victims.  Our officers are sworn to uphold the laws, rules and regulations, designed to protect public safety and the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii.  To suggest, their actions, based on public complaints, is somehow wrong, is quite simply, not accurate.” 

“Joel’s Law” to Become Law in Hawaii – Broadens Offense of Murder One

Tomorrow at a bill signing ceremony at the Hawaii State Capital, Governor Ige will sign into law HB 1726, otherwise known as “Joel’s Law”.

HB 1726 broadens the offense of murder in the first degree to include cases in which the victim was restrained as a shield, hostage or for ransom or reward.

Joel Botelho's sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual "Joel Bowl" football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Joel Botelho’s sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual “Joel Bowl” football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Joel Botelho, an all-star quarterback for Castle High School, was shot and killed outside his parent’s home in 2011. His mother, Nonohe Botelho, worked with Vice Speaker Mizuno in drafting the bill and shepherding it through the legislative process.

“Under Hawaii statute convictions for First Degree Murder are rare because the criteria that needs to be met is quite limited.” Says Vice Speaker Mizuno. “As a result murders that are committed in a particularly heinous manner are often convicted of the lesser charge of second degree murder. A mother’s love of her child is the greatest love and it was my honor to work with Nonohe in crafting this piece of legislation.”

Joel Botelho’s sons, Hayzn and Xaenon, look up at their father at the annual “Joel Bowl” football tournament held each year in Kaneohe to commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Women’s Health, Safety Gets Hawaii State Support with New Laws

Measures that toughen the laws on violence against women, increase healthcare access, and provide more help for female veterans are among the bills signed into law today by Governor David Ige.

2016 Women's Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

2016 Women’s Legislative Caucus Members with Gov. Ige

A total of nine bills have been signed into law that were part of a package of bills submitted this session by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC).  Additionally, five resolutions were adopted by the Legislature. The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan organization comprised of women legislators in the House and Senate who support an agenda designed to improve the lives of women, children, and families in Hawai‘i. This year, the WLC expanded their membership to include women lawmakers at the City and County level.  The WLC co-conveners for 2016 are Senators Rosalyn H. Baker and Laura H. Thielen and Representatives Della Au Bellati and Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto.

“I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Caucus this year,” said Sen. Laura Thielen (Kailua, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai). “The bills we advocated for this session address serious concerns about violence against women and healthcare and will make a difference in the lives of women and children throughout the state.”

“I’m pleased that these important measures made it to the Governor’s desk and are now law,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (South and West Maui). “There’s much more work to be done to improve the lives of women and children here and I look forward to continuing these efforts with our colleagues in 2017. These new laws, however, demonstrate a strong commitment by our state to address health and safety concerns for women and families throughout Hawai’i.”

“By collaborating with our community partners and all of our colleagues in the Legislature, the Caucus has been successful in passing laws and policies that will improve the health and well-being of women and families throughout the State.  I am incredibly proud to be part of this bi-partisan Caucus that is committed to tackling complex and challenging problems, year after year, to find solutions that will benefit the people of Hawaii,” said Rep. Della Au Bellati (Makiki, Tantalus, McCully, Pawa‘a, Mānoa)

“The bills the Governor is signing today represents this Legislature’s continued commitment to women and addressing key issues such as sex trafficking, HIV/STD, jury duty and breastfeeding, and veterans issues statewide.  While there is still more work to be done, I am incredibly proud of the work our bi-partisan caucus has accomplished this year and I look forward to continuing our work in the next legislative session,” said Rep. Lauren Matsumoto (Schofield, Mokulē‘ia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipi‘o Acres, Mililani)

The House and Senate bills signed by the Governor today:

  • HB1902 CD1: Creates the offense of sex trafficking where a person advances prostitution by the use of force, threat, fraud, or intimidation or where a minor is prostituted.  Sex trafficking is classified as a violent crime and a class A felony.
  • HB1907 CD1: Requires all law enforcement agencies and departments charged with maintenance, storage, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits to conduct an inventory of all stored kits and report to the Attorney General.  Requires the Department of the Attorney General to report to the Legislature on the number of untested sexual assault evidence collection kits being stored, plans and procedures for the disposition of new and untested kits, and related information.
  • HB 1897 CD1: Ensures that all insurers in the State provide insurance coverage for sexually transmitted disease screenings, including HIV and AIDS.
  • SB2319 CD1: Requires health insurers in the State, including health benefits plans under the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and Medicaid managed care programs, to cover reimbursement for contraceptive supplies intended to last for up to a twelve-month period for an insured.
  • SB2317 CD1: Requires and appropriates funds for the Department of Health to conduct child death reviews, implement a program to perform maternal death reviews, and submit annual reports to the Legislature relating to child and maternal deaths and death reviews in the State.
  • HB2772 CD1: Adopts the preliminary recommendation of the affirmative consent task force including requiring the University of Hawaii to train employees and students on sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking policies.
  • HB2489 CD1: Appropriates funding for a veterans services counselor IV position within the Office of Veterans’ Services to address problems and needs of all veterans, with a primary focus on female veterans.

The following bills were signed into law earlier this session:

  • SB2315 HD2 (Act 46) which exempts from jury duty a woman who is breastfeeding for a period of two years from the birth of a child.
  • SB2310 (Act 4) provides further safeguards and protections for victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting the court from granting mutual protective orders unless separate petitions are filed and reasonable notice of the filing of a separate petition is provided.

The following resolutions were adopted by the Legislature:

  • HCR137 SD2: Requesting the Department of Education to convene a working group to review after-school programs in Hawai‘i’s public middle and intermediate schools.
  • HR89: Requesting the Department of Education to affirm its commitment to uphold the tenets of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972.
  • SCR85 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR56 SD1: Affirming support of Planned Parenthood, recognizing its vital role in providing health care, and denouncing violence towards abortion providers and their patients.
  • SR57 SD1: Requesting the convening of a paid Family Leave Task Force to examine the benefits and costs of a potential paid family leave program in Hawai‘i.