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Tourist from France Dies on Mauna Kea Access Road

An unidentified woman died following a one-vehicle crash Sunday night (March 12) on Mauna Kea Access Road.

Her name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of her family.

Responding to the 7:30 p.m. traffic crash, Hilo Patrol Officer’s determined that a 2001 Nissan sports-utility vehicle was traveling down Mauna Kea Access Road approximately 1.2 miles below the Visitor’s Center when the vehicle ran off the roadway and overturned several times.

The operator of the Nissan, the unidentified woman, was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead on March 13 at 12:29 a.m.

The front seat passenger, a 35-year old female of Lyon, France was also transported to the Hilo Medical Center in stable condition and later medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu for treatment to her injuries.

Police have initiated a Coroner’s Inquest investigation and an autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police believe that speed was a factor in this investigation.

This is the fifth traffic fatality this year compared with five at this time last year.

According to Doug Arnott of Arnott’s Lodge:

OMG…an associate just called and the two girls involved in the Mauna Kea crash were our guests at Arnotts…they had rented a camper truck with a structure on top that folds out. Tragically one was killed in the accident and one is in Queens…They asked about activities to do and I had suggested the Volcano Park and asked them if the truck had 4 wheel drive…they were from Lyon in France and had planned to visit Kauai after the Big Island…

Apparently police were on scene for a previous accident when this one happened literally in front of their eyes…previous reports of one accident above VIS and one below were wrong…both were at the sweeping right turn at the bottom of the very steep paved section immediately below the VIS.

Applicants Sought to Serve on Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court

The Nominating Committee of the Hawaii Supreme Court is seeking qualified applicants to serve on the Hawaii Supreme Court Disciplinary Board.  Four attorney and two non-attorney board positions are expected to be available.  Applicants from all islands are invited to apply.
The term of each position is three years, beginning July 1, 2017.  These positions are not compensated; however, expenses to attend board meetings are reimbursed.

The Hawaii Supreme Court Disciplinary Board oversees the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates allegations of attorney misconduct and incapacity, and recommends appropriate action to the Hawaii Supreme Court to effectuate the purposes of its Disciplinary Rules.

The application deadline is April 14, 2017.  Those interested in serving should submit a resume and letter of interest to:

Gayle J. Lau, Chair
Nominating Committee
Supreme Court of Hawaii
P.O. Box 26436,
Honolulu, Hawaii  96825

Out-of-State Owner Contribute Up to One Third of Hawaii’s Property Taxes

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) today released a report titled, “An Analysis of Real Property Tax in Hawaii.”  The report estimates that 32.3 percent of Hawaii’s real property tax was paid by out-of-state owners in fiscal year 2016.

Click to read the report

The analysis is based on the real property tax records obtained from all four counties in the state. DBEDT conducted the analysis at the request of the Hawaii State Legislature.

“The report provides detailed information about property ownership and the contributions of real property tax by type of property and by residency of owners”, said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.  “This study examines the correlation between real property tax and the other sectors in the economy such as government, finance, real estate investment, construction, housing demand, and tourism.“

Chief State Economist Dr. Eugene Tian explained, “It is a challenge to determine the location of residence for property owners, since this is not included in property tax records.  Therefore, the analysis used tax notice mailing addresses as a proxy for the resident location of the property owner. However, mailing addresses provide an estimate rather than an exact measure because, in addition to including property owners, the mailing address may also include management companies, attorneys, accountants, or even friends and relatives.  As a continuation of the study, DBEDT is planning to conduct a survey to identify the nature of the mailing addresses.”

The following is a brief summary of the analysis:

  • Hawaii is one of 14 states in the United States where property taxes are not levied at the state level, but at county level only.
  • Nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of the property taxes were contributed by property owners residing out-of-state.
  • Growth of Hawaii’s real property tax base (valuations) has been following economic conditions; the growth of the property tax base slowed when unemployment rates were high and vice versa.
  • Of the total number of properties (TMKs) in the state, the report estimated that 75.1 percent are Residential and Related; 15.8 percent are Agriculture, Conservation, and Preservation; 5.6 percent are Hotel/Resort and Tourism Related; and 3.5 percent are Commercial/Industrial and Public Service.
  • The estimates for property tax collection in the state showed that 53.2 percent of total property tax are collected from Residential and Related; 23.2 percent from Commercial/Industrial and Public Service; 18.2 percent from Hotel/Resort and Tourism Related; and 5.4 percent from Agriculture, Conservation, and Preservation.
  • For the state overall, it was estimated that 87.5 percent of the Residential & Related properties were owned or managed by Hawaii residents or entities; 10.8 percent were owned or managed by U.S. mainland residents; 1.1 percent were owned or managed by foreign residents or entities; and 0.6 percent of the residential properties were jointly owned by Hawaii and out-of-state residents.
  • For the Hotel/Resort and Tourism Related category, it was estimated that 59.1 percent were owned or managed by U.S. mainlanders; 31.8 percent by Hawaii residents; 7.9 percent by foreign residents; and 1.2 percent were jointly owned between Hawaii and non-Hawaii residents.
  • For the Commercial/Industrial and Public Service category, it was estimated that 84.8 percent were owned or managed by Hawaii residents; 12.3 percent by mainlanders; 0.3 percent by foreigners; and 2.6 percent were jointly owned by Hawaii and out-of-state residents.
  • For the Agriculture, Conservation, and Preservation category, it was estimated that 59.8 percent were owned by Hawaii residents or entities; 35.2 percent by mainlanders; 2.6 by foreigners; and 2.3 percent were jointly owned between Hawaii and out-of-state residents.
  • Including all tax classes, it was estimated that Hawaii residents contributed 67.8 percent of the total real property taxes collected; U.S. mainlanders contributed 29.9 percent; and foreigners contributed 2.4 percent of property tax collections.
  • For the Residential and Related category, Hawaii residents contributed the majority at 76.5 percent of total real property tax collected; U.S. mainlanders contributed 21.1 percent; and foreigners 2.3 percent of property tax collections.
  • For the Hotel/Resort & Tourism Related category, U.S. mainlanders contributed over half of real property taxes paid at 52.0 percent; Hawaii in-state contributed 42.8 percent; and foreigners contributed 5.3 percent of real property taxes paid.
  • For the Commercial/Industrial and Public Service category, Hawaii residents contributed 68 percent; mainlanders contributed 31.9 percent; and foreigners contributed 0.2 percent of real property taxes paid.
  • For the Agriculture, Conservation, and Preservation category, Hawaii residents contributed 64.3 percent; mainlanders contributed 33.3 percent; and foreigners contributed 2.4 percent of total property taxes paid.
  • The average effective rates for in-state-owners were 0.43 percent for the state overall; 0.38 percent for Honolulu County; 0.9 percent for Hawaii County; 0.56 percent for Maui County; and 0.49 percent for Kauai County.
  • The average effective rates for out-of-state-owners were 0.83 percent for the state overall; 0.46 percent for Honolulu County; 2.22 percent for Hawaii County; 1.05 percent for Maui County; and 1.01 percent for Kauai County.

The full report is available at: dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic.

Rewards for Information on Monk Seal Killings Tops $50,000

Local and national non-profit and non-governmental organizations are offering $50,000 for information about the killings of five Hawaiian seals, with the February suspicious death of seal R4DP near ‘Ele‘ele on Kaua‘i making the matter even more urgent. Since 2011, these groups have offered $10,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in the killing of Hawaiian monk seals.

These deaths are among 11 reported monk seal killings since 2009 that remain open and unsolved. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We are deeply indebted to The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and the Center for Biological Diversity, which once again have stepped forward to try and help solve the senseless and outrageous killings of one of Hawai‘i’s iconic, naturally and culturally important marine mammals.”

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) continue to seek witnesses and information on the suspicious death of the 15-year-old female seal, tagged as R4DP.  Angela Amlin, the Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator for NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office commented, “We are still waiting for final lab results but everything indicates that R4DP was in good health and did not have any diseases.” DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell commented, “These may be serious crimes with significant fines and jail time punishable under both federal and state laws. DOCARE officers on Kaua‘i are working closely with NOAA/OLE agents to gather information and we hope anyone who has information about the death of R4DP or any of the other outstanding cases will come forward.” (Confidential tip line information is below).

Keith Dane, Hawai‘i policy advisor for The Humane Society of the United States, said “The magnitude of the reward for information about these suspicious deaths of defenseless monk seals reflects how much our community values these critically endangered animals and demands justice for those who would seek to harm them.”

Ben Callison, president of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust said, “If someone intentionally killed this defenseless endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal as she lay resting on the beach they did so with complete disregard for regulations and the reasons behind them.

This is an egregious crime against wildlife, and is particularly reprehensible when it involves an endangered species struggling to make a comeback. We must work together to ensure any and all who were involved are held fully accountable”

“We are deeply saddened by the cruel and senseless killings of precious monk seals,” said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawai’i (CCH). “For our own sake and the good of the planet, we must learn to coexist with other species that share our island home.  If you know anything about any of these killings, please speak up.” CCH is a membership non-profit dedicated to protecting native Hawaiian plants, animals, and ecosystems.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization. Dr. Loyal Mehrhoff is the organization’s Honolulu-based endangered species recovery director. “Monk seals are still highly endangered and a very special species,” Mehrhoff said. “It is important to protect our seals from malicious acts.”

Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawai‘i – a native species found nowhere else in the world. The species is critically endangered with an estimated 1,400 remaining in the wild.

Anyone with information about these deaths should call the NOAA OLE hotline at

1-800-853-1964 or the statewide DOCARE hotline at 1-855-DLNR-TIP or 643-DLNR (3567).

Nation’s First Judicial Outreach Week Comes to Hawaii

Commemorating America’s first National Judicial Outreach Week (March 5 – 11, 2017), Hawaii state judges are meeting with student and community groups to promote public understanding of the rule of law.  Judges will share their insights on how the courts apply this important concept in maintaining open and transparent government, ensuring fairness in our system of justice, and protecting the fundamental legal rights of all citizens.

Oahu Judge William Domingo shows a sketch of Lady Justice to 8th grade students who visited his courtroom at the First Circuit Court Building on March 7, 2017. Judge Domingo used the sketch to explain the Judiciary’s role in applying the rule of law equally for all people.

National Judicial Outreach Week is a new initiative of the American Bar Association Judicial Division, set to take place each year in the first full week of March.  During this week, judges and lawyers will host a variety of community engagements to discuss the rule of law – the legal principle that every citizen is subject to the law, including a country’s lawmakers, leaders, and judges.

“We are a nation where all people are equal under the law,” said Judge William Domingo.  “Our courts are the institutions charged with safeguarding this fundamental principle, so it is important for the public to have a firm understanding of the court and its legal processes.  This promotes trust in the fairness and impartiality of our system of justice.”

During the month of March, the Judiciary invites people to contact their local courthouse to inquire about having a judge speak to their school or community group on the rule of law, our system of justice, and the resources and public services available through the courts.

On Oahu (First Circuit) call the Judiciary History Center at (808) 539-4999.

On Maui, Molokai, and Lanai (Second Circuit) call the chambers of the Chief Judge at (808) 244-2860.

On Hawaii Island (Third Circuit) call the Program Services Branch at (808) 322-8726.

On Kauai (Fifth Circuit) call the Office of the Deputy Chief Court Administrator at (808) 482-2347.

Statement of Attorney General Doug Chin Regarding Activity Today in Hawaii vs. Trump

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin confirmed today that the State of Hawaii intends to pursue legal action regarding President Trump’s new travel ban, which was issued yesterday. The State, together with the Department of Justice, asked Judge Derrick K. Watson for an expedited briefing schedule on a motion for temporary restraining order. If Judge Watson agrees, this schedule will allow the court to hear the State’s motion before the new travel ban goes into effect on March 16, 2017.

A copy of today’s filing is attached. The State anticipates filing a second amended complaint and a motion for temporary restraining order in the near future. Those documents will be available to the public after they have been filed in court.

Tour Group Caught in Closed Area in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A tour guide based in France and a tour group of 13 people were caught early Monday morning sneaking into the closed area at Halema‘uma‘u, the erupting summit crater of Kīlauea volcano.

Visitors observing the summit eruption of Kīlauea from the observation deck at Jaggar Museum, one mile away from Halema‘uma‘u Crater. NPS Photo

National Park Service law enforcement officers spotted the group just after midnight, and issued citations for violating the terms of the closure to all 14 people. The tour guide was issued additional citations for operating a non-permitted business in the park and creating a hazardous condition. All 14 were escorted out of the park.

The 44-year-old male tour guide, affiliated with the French tour company Adventure et Volcans, must make a mandatory court appearance and faces a maximum penalty of $5,000 and six months in jail. His name is being withheld as the investigation continues. The violation of closure citations are $100 each, with a $30 processing fee.

“This is a serious violation,” said Chief Ranger John Broward. “Areas surrounding Halema‘uma‘u Crater are closed because of extremely hazardous volcanic conditions that include high concentrations of toxic gases and particulates, ongoing volcanic explosions and frequent collapses of the crater walls,” he said.

Explosions from Halema‘uma‘u can occur anytime, without warning. Last August, a summit explosion hurled a layer of volcanic rock, lava bombs and molten spatter nearly 300 feet beyond the crater rim, and covered an area about 720 feet wide along the rim. It destroyed the power system of a U.S. Geological Survey instrument that was used for scientific research and monitoring volcanic activity. Last October, two explosions blasted lava spatter, rock and glassy particulates a quarter mile from the crater to the closed portion of Crater Rim Drive. In November, spatter from another lava lake explosion damaged the cable on a USGS webcam located on the rim of the crater.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, a 4.7-mile section of Crater Rim Drive, and sections of the Halema‘uma‘u and Crater Rim trails, have been closed since the most recent summit eruption began in 2008.

“Visitors need to be aware that, while much of the attention lately has been on the hazards of the 61g ocean entry at Kamokuna, the park staff remains very concerned about the ongoing hazards in the vicinity of Halema‘uma‘u,” Chief Ranger Broward said. “Rangers will continue to monitor and take appropriate action to reduce the occurrence of risky behavior in both areas.”

Since July 2016, rangers have issued 35 citations for closure violations at Halema‘uma‘u, and nearly 100 citations at Kamokuna.

Hawaii Senate Forwards 384 Bills Pass on Third Reading

Hawai‘i State Senators today approved 318 bills on third reading. Sixty-six bills were approved earlier on third reading for a total of 384 measures that have been transmitted to the House for consideration.

The bills align with the 2017 Senate Legislative Program the Senate Majority recognized as priorities ahead of session convening.

“Before the start of the legislative session, Senators worked collaboratively to set out and establish the top concerns for each of our districts and for the State.  The Legislative Program provides a directive of how to move forward to achieve our initiatives that will improve the quality of life in our communities and our state,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “Many of these principals are embedded in the bills being transmitted to the House.”

The following are a few of the measures to pass on third reading:

Ola Lehulehu (People and Communities)

Affordability

S.B. No. 964, S.D. 1 Establishes that emergency shelters may provide partitioned space for homeless persons or families based upon guidelines determined by the department of human services. Extends the effective date for Act 234, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2016, by one year.

S.B. No. 1244, S.D. 2  Authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable units developed with government assistance when a government entity waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit. Authorizes counties to waive a first right of refusal to repurchase a privately-developed affordable housing unit built pursuant to a unilateral agreement or similar instrument.

S.B. No. 912, S.D. 2 Expands the Down Payment Loan Program to provide greater assistance for eligible borrowers to become first-time homebuyers.

S.B. No. 2, S.D. 2 Requires the auditor to conduct a study to assess the impact of using medicaid funds to provide coverage for the treatment for homelessness. Requires the auditor to submit a report to the legislature.

Education

S.B. No. 683, S.D. 2 Proposes amendments to the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i to advance the State’s goal of providing a public education for the children of Hawai‘i by authorizing the legislature to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations.

S.B. No. 686, S.D. 2  Establishes an education surcharge on residential investment properties and visitor accommodations for the purpose of funding public education.

S.B. No. 500, S.D. 2 Establishes the R.E.A.C.H (resources for enrichment, athletics, culture, and health) program in the Department of Education’s community engagement office to provide a standardized framework and funding for after-school programs in public middle and intermediate schools. Requires the community engagement office to report to the legislature. Establishes that the R.E.A.C.H. program will be run by a program specialist to be appointed by the governor. Establishes a special fund to receive fees and other moneys to supplement the costs of administering and operating the R.E.A.C.H. program.

Social Services

S.B. No. 534, S.D. 2  Requires the executive office on aging to establish the kupuna caregivers program to assist community members in obtaining care for elders while remaining in the workforce. Makes establishment of the kupuna care program mandatory rather than discretionary. Clarifies the kupuna service and support options provided by area agencies on aging within the kupuna care program. Appropriates funds for establishing and implementing the kupuna caregivers program.

Health Care

S.B. No. 1129, S.D. 2 Establishes a medical aid in dying act that establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may obtain a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

S.B. No. 384, S.D. 2 Authorizes and establishes procedures and criteria for prescriptive authority for clinical psychologists who meet specific education, training, and registration requirements, including requiring prescribing psychologists to adhere to all applicable statutory regulations. Requires the board of psychology to report to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2021.

S.B. No. 347, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for establishing, staffing, and operating two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

S.B. No. 1312, S.D. 2  Establishes the board of midwifery to regulate the practice of midwifery by certified midwives and certified professional midwives. Requires licensing of certified midwives and certified professional midwives to commence beginning on July 1, 2020. Requires the department of commerce and consumer affairs to convene a working group of interested stakeholders and submit a report to the legislature.

S.B. No. 380 Permits licensed dental hygienists in the State to operate under general, rather than direct, supervision of a licensed dentist.

S.B. No. 510, S.D. 2  Formally establishes the Hawai‘i keiki healthy and ready to learn program within the Department of Education. Establishes a special fund and appropriates moneys to expand and sustain the program and for an evidence-based vision screening tool. Appropriates funds to establish school health service coordinator positions in DOH and DHS.

Food Security

S.B. No. 624, SD2  Requires the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the office of the Governor, to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and exports by 2020. Requires the Department of Agriculture to submit the strategic plan to the legislature prior to the regular session of 2018 in order to codify the strategic plan and benchmarks. Makes an appropriation.

Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu (Preparedness)

Community Development

S.B. No. 640, S.D. 2  Establishes a model project at a location selected by DLNR to designate areas for planting and growing coconut trees for Hawaiian traditional and customary gathering practices. Appropriates funds for the model project.

S.B. No. 1200, S.D. 2  Appropriates funds to the department of accounting and general services to create a master plan and environmental impact statement for the construction of a new Aloha Stadium.

S.B. No. 1148, S.D. 2  Appropriates moneys for the executive director of the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority to conduct a feasibility study regarding: (1) the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority assuming the role of planning, developing, and redeveloping all state-owned lands, except lands administered by the Hawai‘i public housing authority, within one mile of the Honolulu rail transit system; and (2) creating a new community development district along the Honolulu rail corridor. Requires report to legislature.

S.B. No. 1183, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that 10% of revenues from the county surcharge on state tax be withheld to reimburse the State for administrative costs. Sunsets if an ordinance that allows the capital costs of a rapid transportation system to be paid from county funds is not enacted before December 31, 2017. Requires the mayor of the county to submit certain plans with respect to the rapid transportation system.

S.B. No. 767, S.D. 2  Establishes the high-growth grant program and special fund to provide grants to qualified businesses for certain business development activities. Makes appropriations.

Government Services

S.B. No. 334, S.D. 2 Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020. Establishes a limited number of voter service centers that would remain open from the tenth business day preceding an election through the day of the election to receive personal delivery of mail-in ballots, accommodate voters with special needs, offer same day registration and voting, and provide other election services. Allows for additional places of deposit for personal delivery of mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

S.B. No. 655, S.D. 2  Allows the news media, under certain conditions, to access areas that are closed pursuant to emergency management powers of the governor and mayor. Limits the liability of the State and counties. Specifies that the State, counties, and emergency management authority are not responsible for providing logistical support to media accessing emergency areas.

S.B. No. 511, S.D. 2  Requires DHS to publish reports of child care facility inspections beginning on 1/1/2018, and complaint investigations on DHS’s website. Creates an oversight committee for implementation of and compliance with publication requirements. Requires annual reporting to the Legislature. Makes an appropriation.

S.B. No. 21, S.D. 2  Increases monetary penalties for violating the laws relating to child care facilities. Authorizes the Department of Human Services to refer to the attorney general or respective county prosecutor any intentional, knowing, or reckless violation of the laws relating to child care facilities or certain criminal offenses.

S.B. No. 522, S.D. 1 Strengthens the safe sleep policy for child care facilities for children less than one year of age, including requiring placement of children on their backs for sleeping and establishing notice and annual training requirements; requires such facilities to report death of a child, employee, or household member, within one day of occurrence, to DHS.

Financial Analysis

S.B. No. 1290, S.D. 2  Repeals the requirement that a certain amount of the allocation of transient accommodations tax revenues to the tourism special fund be used for the development and implementation of initiatives to take advantage of expanded visa programs and increased travel opportunities for international visitors to Hawai‘i. Increases the allocation to the counties from $93,000,000 to $108,000,000 for fiscal years beginning after 6/30/2017.

S.B. No. 382, S.D. 2 Makes various updates to the structure and operations of the public utilities commission to increase efficiency and effectiveness, including: establishing guiding principles; establishing docket review and decision-making processes; permitting teleconference and videoconference abilities; specifying senior staff members who must file public financial disclosures; beginning 01/01/18, increasing the number of commissioners to five; updating the composition of the commission; specifying training requirements; clarifying commissioners’ ability to appoint and employ staff; clarifying the roles of the executive officer and chief counsel; permitting neighbor island members to receive per diem compensation and compensation for travel expenses; requiring the commission to report to the legislature regarding certain staff duties; and requiring a management audit of the commission.

Aloha Honua (Climate Change and Energy)

Environment

S.B. No. 1150, S.D. 2 Prohibits the use or application of sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic containing oxybenzone while on a beach or in the ocean unless the sunscreen, sunblock, or cosmetic is a prescription drug.

S.B. No. 700, S.D. 1 Amends the offense of cruelty to animals in the first degree to include indigenous birds.

S.B. No. 1239, S.D. 1 Appropriates funds for research on prevention and mitigation of Rapid Ohia Death.

Sustainability

S.B. No. 352, S.D. 1 Appropriates moneys to and from the agricultural loan revolving fund.

S.B. No. 803, S.D. 2 Establishes an income tax credit to assist farmers with expenses associated with compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Establishes the Food Safety Modernization Act special fund.

S.B. No. 612, S.D. 2 Repeals language requiring documentation of animal feed development costs to be effective for feed development costs incurred after July 1, 2016. Appropriates unspecified funds to the Department of Agriculture for the feed developer grant program and reimbursements to qualified producers for feed costs.

S.B. No. 559, S.D. 1 Enacts relevant provisions of the Paris Agreement as Hawai‘i state law. Requires annual reports. Makes an appropriation.

Pono Kaulike (Transforming Justice)

Rehabilitation

S.B. No. 1039, S.D. 2  Requires PSD to work with the Social Security Administration to enter into an agreement to obtain replacement social security cards for inmates. Requires PSD, in conjunction with DOH, DOT, and the examiner of drivers of each county, to provide Hawaii-born inmates with copies of birth certificates and driver’s licenses or civil ID cards free of charge. Requires PSD to assist inmates born outside of Hawai‘i to obtain birth certificates and photo IDs. Requires PSD to initiate the process of obtaining social security cards, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and civil ID cards at least ninety days prior to release for inmates released to work furlough, extended furlough, or community placement programs.

Public safety

S.B. No. 221, S.D. 2 Establishes the photo red light imaging detector systems program. Authorizes counties to administer the program. Requires proceeds of fines to be expended in the county from which they were collected for operation of the program. Makes an appropriation. Establishes Red Light Running Committee.

S.B. No. 518, S.D. 2 Requires barber, beauty operator, and instructor licensees under the board of barbering and cosmetology to complete a one-time, three-hour training program on intimate partner violence awareness and education.

S.B. No. 664 Increases fines for persons who commit the offense of driving a motor vehicle at an excessive speed.

S.B. No. 421, S.D. 2  Establishes requirements for body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers. Establishes policy guidelines for the use and discontinuance of use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Establishes certain restrictions on the use of body-worn cameras by on-duty law enforcement officers. Adds retention and deletion requirements for body-worn camera footage. Prohibits certain uses of body-worn camera video footage. Establishes violations of recording and retention requirements. Appropriates funds as a grant-in-aid to each county for the purchase of body-worn video cameras; provided that no funds appropriated to a county shall be expended unless matched dollar-for-dollar by the county. Requires the county police departments to report costs of implementing and maintaining the body-worn camera program to the legislature.

S.B. No. 424, S.D. 1 Requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s discharge or second suspension in a five-year period. Requires disclosure of certain information under the Uniform Information Practices Act after a police officer’s second suspension in a five-year period.

S.B. No. 261, S.D. 1  Prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle in which a person under the age of eighteen is present. Requires the Department of Health to report on the enforceability of this Act and coordination of related data collection activities of the respective law enforcement agencies.

S.B. No. 494, S.D. 2  Requires persons charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant to be fitted with a continuous alcohol monitoring device if the person: (1) has a prior conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant within the past five years; or (2) is currently pending criminal investigation or prosecution for one or more prior charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. Establishes a process for certain persons to receive financial relief for the cost of the monitoring devices.

S.B. No. 898, S.D. 2  Allows law enforcement to seize and retain firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by a person who poses a serious risk of violence or harm to public safety, pursuant to court order.

A complete list of bills passed by the Senate to date is available at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 26-Year-Old Keaau Woman

UPDATE: McKenzie Louie located and in good health.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 26 year-old Kea`au woman who was reported missing.
McKenzie Louie, was last seen on Saturday (March 3) in Hilo. She is described as being Filipino/Caucasian/Chinese, 5-foot-3, 98 pounds with long brown and blonde hair and hazel eyes. She also has numerous tattoos.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Big Island Police Searching for 17-Year-Old Girl Missing AGAIN

3/20/17 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 17-year-old Summer Steenolsen of Kona, who was reported missing.

She was found unharmed in Kona on Friday afternoon (March 17).

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 17-year-old Kona girl who was reported missing… AGAIN.

Summer Steenolsen was last seen in Hilo on 12-11-2016.

She is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-7, 135 pounds with reddish blonde shoulder-length hair and green eyes.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential

Hawaii House Sends 159 More Bills to Senate

As the Thursday deadline to crossover bills to the Senate approaches, the House passed bills to alleviate prison crowding, support affordable housing initiatives, protect kupuna from physical and financial exploitation, and fighting invasive species.

The House voted to pass on to the Senate today another 159 bills including measures addressing the state’s goals on cyber security, crime, homeless support and tax relief.  These measures reflect the focus of the House majority on improving the lives of the people in Hawaii.

“Among the many needs that we are addressing this session is helping our low- and middle-income families ease their financial burden and increase rental and affordable housing support for them,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki. “We have passed bills to expand the renters income and food tax credit for low-income households, authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing and mixed use affordable rental housing, updated the loan program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers, and established a loan fund for developers to finance infrastructure costs of affordable rentals and fee simple housing developments.”

The House now stands in recess and will reconvene to take action on any remaining final measures for third reading on Thursday, March 19 at noon. To date, the House has approved more than 360 bills this session.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Prison Crowding

HB1246 HD2 authorizes electronic monitoring and surveillance of offenders in programs that offer alternatives to incarceration.

HB462 HD2 requires the Department of Public Safety to solicit proposals for a new correctional facility.

Housing Support

HB488 HD2 authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for rental housing, mixed-use affordable rental housing, a multi-use juvenile services and shelter center, and public housing. Appropriates funds for public housing security improvements, renovation, and repairs.

HB207 HD2 expands the low-income household renters’ income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status.

HB530 HD2 updates and expands the Downpayment Loan Program under the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and establishes the Downpayment Loan Loss Reserve Program to assist low- and moderate-income households to become first-time homebuyers.

HB660 HD2 establishes the Infrastructure Development Loan Revolving Fund to make loans to developers to finance the costs of the infrastructure of affordable rental and fee simple housing developments, and appropriates funds for this purpose.

Kupuna Protection

HB199 HD2  authorizes the Department of Human Services to investigate allegations of the physical isolation of vulnerable adults and take corrective action including obtaining judicial relief.

HB432 HD2 makes financial exploitation of an elder by a caregiver a felony.

Invasive Species

HB655 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to assist the National Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the negative impacts of the rose-ringed parakeet on Kauai and develop and implement a control plan to reduce the negative impacts.

HB1006 HD1 appropriates funds to the Hawaii ant lab for personnel and equipment to support mitigation of the little fire ant.

HB1301 HD2 provides that a person or entity that is determined by the Hawaii Invasive Species Council to have introduced an invasive species into the state may be strictly liable for all or part of the expenses to eradicate the invasive species from the state.

HB606 HD2 authorizes the counties to enter private property to control or eradicate invasive species and pests.

Other important bills passing the House today and moving to the Senate include:

Homeless Support

HB1240 HD2 appropriates funds to the Department of Human Services for the coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative to prevent homelessness and rehouse individuals in the State.

Taxes

HB209 HD1 HB209 HD1 expands the low-income household renters income tax credit based on adjusted gross income and filing status. Establishes a state earned income tax credit.  Restores the tax rates for high income brackets that were repealed in 2015.  Removes the sunset date for the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB932 HD1 Gradually increases the credit amounts and amends the income brackets of the refundable food/excise tax credit.

HB1012 HD2  temporarily disallows the deduction for dividends paid by real estate investment trusts for a period of 15 years, but with an exception for dividends generated from trust-owned housing that is affordable to households with incomes at or below 140 percent of the median family income as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HB1471 HD3 requires transient accommodations to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services. Ensures that the subject property is in compliance with applicable land use laws. Allocates $1 million of TAT revenues to each county for FY 2017-2018 to comply and enforce county ordinances regulating transient vacation rentals. Creates a surcharge tax on transient accommodations brokers.

HB263 HD2 amends provisions related to licensed medical marijuana dispensaries by imposing general excise tax on a percentage of dispensaries’ gross proceeds or gross income and allocating a portion of GET revenues received from dispensaries to the Medical Marijuana Registry and Regulation Special Fund.

Agriculture

HB961 HD2 excludes for income tax purposes a portion of income earned by farmers who grow or raise food or value–added food products within the state and whose annual gross income does not exceed a certain amount.

HB2 HD2 authorizes tiny homes of less than 500 square feet for farm workers in agricultural districts in a county with a population of more than 180,000 but less than 250,000.

Veterans

HB168 HD1 appropriates funds for the planning and design of a memorial to honor service members of the recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the various theaters of the Global War on Terrorism, to be located at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe and replicas to be located at state veterans cemeteries statewide.

Cyber Security

HB 598 HD2 authorizes and provides funding for the University of Hawaii to participate in and contribute funding for the development of a Hawaii cyber ecosystem and related aspects of cyber security.

HB814 HD2 adopts uniform laws on protecting the online accounts of employees and students from employers and educational institutions, respectively.

UH Promise Program

HB1591 HD2 establishes the Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at a University of Hawaii community college.

Crime

HB1501 HD2 reclassifies drug paraphernalia possession and delivery offenses from felonies to violations subject to a fine of $100.

HB1172 HD2 allows probable cause for fireworks offenses to be established from statements from witnesses and photographs, video, and other recordings authenticated by witnesses.

HB680 HD2 Requires licensees under the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to complete a one-time awareness education program on intimate partner violence awareness and education

Police disclosure

HB456 HD1 requires police departments to disclose to the Legislature the identity of an officer upon the officer’s second suspension in a five-year period or discharge, as well as certain employment misconduct related information upon an officer’s second suspension in a five year period.

Transportation

HB727 HD1 Allows motorcycles and motor scooters to pass between two same-bound lanes when traffic is stopped.

Civil Rights

HB1489 HD1 prohibits a state agency or program or activity receiving state financial assistance from excluding from participation, denying benefits to, or discriminating against a qualified individual by reason of disability, sex, including gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

Quiet Title

HB860 HD1  provides that: (1) actions for quiet title of kuleana lands shall be subject to mandatory mediation; (2) court cases by the same plaintiff that seeks quiet title for separate kuleana lands within the same court circuit shall be consolidated; (3) defendant’s access for cultural and traditional practices shall not be alienated or extinguished; and (4) plaintiff shall not recover costs, expenses, or attorney’s fees from the defendant.

Finley’s Law

HB561 HD2 called “Finley’s Law,” this bill requires dentists who administer general anesthesia, deep sedation, or moderate (conscious) sedation to post notice of contact information for verification of the dentist’s licensure and authorization or permit to administer anesthesia and perform sedation.

Sex Abuse Prevention

HB 930 creates and appropriates funds for Erin’s Law Task Force to review policies, programs, and curricula for educating public school students about sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention, and report recommendations for the establishment of a program to educate public school children on sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curricula.

Elections

HB1581 HD1 requires candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to disclose their federal income tax returns in order for their names to appear on a Hawaii ballot and prohibits Hawaii’s electoral college electors from voting for a candidate who has not disclosed this information.

Landlord-Tenant Code

HB223 HD2 allows a landlord or landlord’s agent to charge an application screening fee as part of the applicant screening process for renting residential property. Sets limits on the amount of the application screening fee and requires the landlord or agent to return any unauthorized fee amounts to the applicant.

Reef Fish Collecting

HB1457 HD2 Places a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new aquarium fish collecting permits until the Department of Land and Natural Resources has developed a comprehensive plan for the sustainable management of nearshore reef wildlife.

Drones

HB314 HD1 establishes prohibited uses of unmanned aerial vehicles for individuals, law enforcement agencies, and public agencies. Provides certain exceptions for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Makes certain uses of an unmanned aerial vehicle a petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor and Class C felony for a second of subsequent violations.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Deadline to Apply for State Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions Extended

The Judicial Council has extended the deadline to apply for vacancies on the Hawai`i State Ethics Commission and the Campaign Spending Commission.  The new application deadline is Friday, March 31, 2017. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, residents of the State of Hawai`i, and may not hold any other public office.

Applicants from all islands may apply.  Travel expenses incurred by neighbor island members to attend meetings on O`ahu will be reimbursed.

The Ethics Commission addresses ethical issues involving legislators, registered lobbyists, and state employees (with the exception of judges, who are governed by the Commission on Judicial Conduct).  The five commission members are responsible for investigating complaints, providing advisory opinions, and enforcing decisions issued by the Commission.  The Hawai`i State Constitution prohibits members of the Ethics Commission from taking an active part in political management or political campaigns.

The primary duty of the five members of the Campaign Spending Commission is to supervise campaign contributions and expenditures.  Campaign Spending Commissioners are prohibited from participating in political campaigns or contributing to candidates or political committees.

Interested persons should submit an application, a resume, and three letters of recommendation (attesting to the applicant’s character and integrity) postmarked by March 31, 2017 to:  Judicial Council, Hawai`i Supreme Court, 417 S. King Street, Second Floor, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813-2902.

An application form is available on the Judiciary website or can be obtained from the Communications and Community Relations Office, Room 212, Ali`iolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813 or by calling the Judicial Council at 539-4702.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement Against Trump’s Refugee Ban

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement of a newly revised travel ban:

“True to our history and values as a nation, we have served as a place of refuge to the most vulnerable in the world. We should not be putting in place a blanket ban of refugees, especially when we have actively been fueling the counterproductive regime change wars that have caused them to flee their homes. These people would much rather stay in their homes and live in peace. That’s why we must address the cause of this refugee crisis and end the destructive U.S. policy of counterproductive regime-change wars, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.”

Hawaii Senate Confirms DHS Director, Appeals Court and First Circuit Court Judges

The Hawai‘i State Senate today gave their consent on Governor Ige’s nominees to the Department of Human Services, Intermediate Court of Appeals Court, and three Judges to the First Circuit Court – O‘ahu.

In a unanimous decision, Senators confirmed Pankaj Bhanot as the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Bhanot received a BA in political science and a law degree from the University of Delhi.  He graduated in 1991 with an LL.M. degree from Cornell University, School of Law.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

His career in human and social services began in August 1998 as the Family Development Director with the Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity.  Bhanot went on the serve as a program specialist with the state DHS Employment and Child Care Program Office of the Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and the Employment and Child Care Program Administrator.  He most recently served as DHS Deputy Director before being appointed to lead the department.

The Senate also voted to consent to Derrick H.M. Chan as an Associate Judge to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Chan was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in August 2000.  Prior to this, he was the First Deputy Prosecutor for the County of Kaua‘i. He also served as an attorney for the Hawai‘i Carpenters Union, as Deputy Public Defender for the state, law clerk to Judge Wilfred Watanabe, and Deputy Attorney General for the state. Chan is a 1985 graduate of California Western School of Law. Chan will fill the vacancy created by the retirement in December 2016 of former Associate Judge Daniel R. Foley.

“Throughout his tenure, Judge Chan has cemented a reputation for diligence, hard work and integrity, as well as decisiveness, courage, and street smarts which allows him to “cut to the chase,’” said Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5- Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului), chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.  “With Judge Chan’s background, character, quiet passion, and even-keeled demeanor, he will be a very good addition to Hawai‘i’s appellate courts.”

Senators gave their unanimous consent to Catherine H. Remigio to the First Circuit Court.  Remigio most recently served as Family Court judge after being appointed in 2011.  Prior to that, she served in the Judiciary as a Per Diem District Court Judge and Circuit Court Grand Jury Counsel.  Remigio has also practiced law in several private firms, including as a partner at Bryant & Remigio, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

She served as a deputy public defender for the State of Hawai‘i and as a law clerk to Judges Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Jr. and Eden Elizabeth Hifo in the First Circuit Court.  Remigio is a Kamehameha Schools graduate and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and earned her juris doctorate at the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1992.  Remigio replaces former Circuit Judge Steven S. Alm who retired in August 2016.

“Thoughtful, considerate, smart and well-prepared is how others have described Judge Remigio,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Judge Remigio’s strong background and character, steady demeanor, and determination promise that she will be a solid addition to the First Circuit Court,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The State Senate also unanimously approved the appointment of Keith K. Hiraoka to the First Circuit Court.  Hiraoka has practiced law for the last 34 years, focusing on insurance coverage and defense. He has tried cases before juries, judges and arbitrators, participated in many mediations and briefed and argued appeals before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

Hiraoka is a graduate of the University Hawai‘i at Mānoa and earned his juris doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1983.  Hiraoka fills the vacancy created by the retirement in June 2016 of former Circuit Judge Karen S.S. Ahn.

“Mr. Hiraoka’s background, character, professionalism, and demeanor promise that he will be a very good addition to the circuit court, the busiest circuit in Hawai‘i’s legal system,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The State Senate unanimously voted to consent to Todd Eddins joining the First Circuit Court. Eddins graduated from the College of William & Mary and the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawai‘i Law Review.  He served as a law clerk to Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. Eddins worked as a trial lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender for more than ten years. In private practice he has concentrated on complex civil, criminal, and appellate litigation. Eddins fills the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Richard K. Perkins in June 2016.

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

“Mr. Eddins brings to the bench nearly 25 years of experience from the criminal bar and as a trial lawyer, where he has distinguished himself as one of the top defense lawyers in our state,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Clearly, he has the background, character and demeanor to be a very good addition to the first Circuit Court.”

The term of office for the judgeships is for ten years.

Hawaii House Sends 137 Bills to Senate

The Hawaii House or Representatives today passed 137 bills including measures relating to helping homeless people, fighting invasive species, protecting health care and flood insurance coverage, and reducing the blood quantum requirement in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

HB83 HD1 Homelessness: Allows the Department of Human Services to establish puuhonua safe zones where homeless persons may reside.

HB453 HD1 Agriculture Grant: Requires the Department of Agriculture to provide grants to farmers to assist them in paying for the costs of compliance with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and state food safety laws.

HB527 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to purchase, staff, and operate two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population.

HB552 HD1 Health Insurance: Ensures that benefits of the Affordable Care Act are preserved under state law in the case of repeal of the ACA by Congress.

HB1418 Flood Insurance: Amends the county exemptions from building permit and building code requirements to ensure that Hawaii’s communities are not suspended from participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

HB1339 HD1 Invasive Species: Restructures the Hawaii Invasive Species Council as the Hawaii Invasive Species Authority to coordinate implementation of the Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan and related duties.

HB904 HD1 Invasive Species: Establishes the invasive species rapid response special fund within DLNR. Establishes procedures for emergency declarations and expenditures.

HB1300 HD1 Coral Reefs: Requires UH Environmental Center to conduct ongoing studies of the environmental impacts of sewage spills on affected coral reefs.

HB450 HD1 Coral Reefs: Requires UH to conduct a study on the effects of sunscreen on Hawaii’s coral reefs and report to the Legislature. Appropriates funds.

HB451 HD1 Blood Quantum: Reduces the minimum Hawaiian blood quantum requirement of certain successors to lessees of Hawaiian home lands from one-quarter to one thirty-second.

Other bills that passed third reading by the House today include measures that relate to identification for prisoners, heat abatement in our public schools, biosecurity in agriculture, vehicle tax, and pesticides.

HB386 HD1 Environment: Appropriates funds for the two-year extension of the Post-Bypass Beach Monitoring Program of the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor Sand Bypass Operation at Waimea, Kauai.

HB844 HD1 At-Risk Youth: Requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a two-year Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program in partnership with private organizations to coordinate a network that youth can access for safety and where youth can obtain advice, guidance, programs, and services.

HB845 HD2 Prisoner ID: Requires the Department of Public Safety in collaboration with county and state agencies and, upon request of the inmate, to issue civil identification cards to inmates and to assist inmate in obtaining the inmate’s birth certificate, social security card, and other relevant identification necessary for successful reentry into society.

HB848 HD2 Microgrids: Exempt microgrids that promote and serve public higher education institutions from regulation as a public utility by the Public Utilities Commission.

HB889 HD1 Pesticides: Increases the pesticide licensing fee and requires annual renewal of the license.

HB916 HD1 Loan Repayment: Makes an appropriation for the health care professionals loan repayment program administered through the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

HB957 HD1 Heat Abatement: Authorizes the Department of Education and Budget and Finance to borrow moneys from the Hawaii green infrastructure loan program for heat abatement measures at public schools.

HB1244 HD1 Cesspool Tax Credit: Amends the cesspool upgrade, conversion, or connection income tax credit to make it assignable and refundable, applicable to more cesspools, and applicable through 12/31/2022.

HB1325 HD1 Biosecurity: Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish parameters and construction requirements for biosecurity facilities that provide for and ensure the safety of agricultural and food commodities.

HB1378 HD1 Access Road: Requires the Department of Transportation to develop plans for the construction of secondary access roads for the Waianae district of leeward Oahu. Appropriates funds.

HB1587 HD1 Vehicle Tax: Replaces the state vehicle weight tax with a tax based on the assessed value of a vehicle.

Today marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate.  Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

Following next Thursday’s crossover deadline, the House will focus its attention on HB100 relating to the state budget, which must be passed out of the committee on Finance by March 13 and voted on by the full body by March 15.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at: http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Attorney General Chin Joins 39 Other State Attorneys General in Lawsuit Over Inflated Drug Prices

Attorney General Doug Chin today announced that Hawaii joined 39 states yesterday in a federal antitrust lawsuit over inflated drug prices. The lawsuit alleges that six generic drug-makers entered into illegal conspiracies to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two generic drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release (an antibiotic) and glyburide (a diabetes medication).

Yesterday’s federal court filing amends a lawsuit initially filed in December 2016. The December 2016 complaint alleged violations of federal antitrust law and included 19 plaintiff states. The amended complaint increases from 20 to 40 the number of plaintiff states in the lawsuit. It also alleges violations of state antitrust laws and state consumer protection laws. The defendants include Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

Connecticut is leading the multistate group of plaintiff states, consisting of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

In July 2014, Connecticut began to investigate the reasons behind suspicious price increases of certain generic pharmaceuticals. According to the complaint, the investigation, which is still ongoing as to a number of additional generic drugs, generic drug companies and key executives, uncovered evidence of a well-coordinated and long-running conspiracy to fix prices and allocate markets for doxycycline hyclate delayed release and glyburide.

The amended complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The complaint alleges that the anticompetitive conduct – including efforts to fix and maintain prices, allocate markets and otherwise thwart competition – continues to cause significant harm to the country’s healthcare system.

The lawsuit was filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. A redacted copy of the amended complaint is attached.

Go Hunt, Hawaii: Hawaii’s Official Hunting Resource

Since 1979, more than 68,000 students have received their certifications through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Hunter Education Program. Annually, more than 2,000 students register and attend Hunter Education classes across the state. This experience is now about to get just a little easier for the public.

On March 1, 2017, the Hunter Education Program launched a new website designed to improve the overall registration and certification experience for Hunter Education students and graduates — and for just about anyone interested in hunting in Hawaii.

On the new, user-friendly website, gohunthawaii.ehawaii.gov, hunters will be able to manage their hunting profile, view their class history, request and print replacement certifications, and link directly over to other apps to purchase a hunting license, apply for a lottery hunt, or apply for a letter of exemption.  Additional features include: mobile friendly, responsive web design, Hawaiian keyboard, and technical support (including live help chat) through ehawaii.gov.

Click to Go Hunt

“Working with ehawaii.gov, we created a website that puts the public in the driver seat of the operation,” said Andrew Choy, Hunter Education Program manager. “This collaborative work has been over a year in the making and began with foundational upgrades to our program’s administrative database.” Subsequent phases of this project, which are currently in development, will include online registration for classes. “The bottom line is that we want to improve the quality of our classes, increase accessibility, and streamline access to information,” Choy said.

In line with the Governor’s Initiative to promote government efficiency and transparency, “This project, like many others within the DLNR, increases access and transparency by moving government services online. This is a tremendous win for the public and the department,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson. “We are proud of the inter-division collaboration of our staff to move this project forward. The hunting community and public at large will be well-served by this application.”

For more information, please visit: gohunthawaii.ehawaii.gov or call the Hawaii Hunter Education Program at 1(866) 563-4868.

Hawaii House Passes Bills Supporting College Scholarships, Green Energy and Kupuna Care

Other measures include paid sick leave, honoring veterans and voting by mail

With the Legislature’s crossover deadline just one week away, the House today passed more than 60 bills, sending them to the Senate for its consideration.  Among the House bills passing third reading by the full House were measures that provide for paid sick leave for employees, create a green energy fund at the University of Hawaii and funding for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program for Hawaii’s kupuna. Representatives also passed bills on honoring veterans, voting by mail and the UH Promise Program to support students.

HB4 HD1 Paid sick leave: Requires employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to employees to be used to care for themselves or a family member who is ill or needs medical care.

HB615 HD1 Kupuna Care: Appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to further the program’s important role in improving the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna.

HB794 HD1 Green energy: Establishes the University of Hawaii Green Special Fund to fund energy conservation measures to reduce the University’s energy consumption and costs.

HB1401 HD1 Elections: Enacts voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections commencing in 2020.

HB1438 World War I Centennial: Appropriates moneys for the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of World War I.

HB1594 HD1 UH Promise Program: Establishes the University of Hawaii Promise Program to provide scholarships for the unmet direct cost needs of qualified students enrolled at any campus of the University of Hawaii system.

Other important bills passed today by the House include:

HB115 HD1  Road ownership: Requires each county with a population of 500,000 or more to take ownership and jurisdiction over all roads over which there is a dispute over ownership between the State or any of its political subdivisions and a private party.

HB646 HD1 Visually handicap parking: Allows individuals who are blind or visually handicapped to apply for and obtain a removable windshield placard to use a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities

HB942 HD1 Filipino veterans: Authorizes the State to commission an artist to design and build a monument to honor and commemorate Filipino veterans of World War II.

HB1195 HD1 Homelessness: Appropriates funds to the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, including the Office of Youth Services, to provide homeless outreach services.

HB1276 HD1 Student tax deduction: Provides an additional state income tax deduction for student loan interest paid on qualified education loans.

HB1281 HD1 Homelessness: Establishes a three-year Work-for-a-Day Pilot Program that provides homeless individuals with work opportunities and connects them with service providers

Tomorrow marks the first decking deadline in the legislative process, when all measures must pass out of its final committee to be considered for a vote by the full House or Senate. Each chamber has until next Thursday, March 9, to vote on all remaining measures that have made it out of their respective committees.

A complete list of bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at:

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&active=true&rpt_type=firstCross&measuretype=HB&title=House%20Bills%20Crossed%20Over%20to%20the%20Senate

Kona Patrol Officer Chandler Nacino as “Officer of the Month” for March

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Kona Patrol Officer Chandler Nacino as “Officer of the Month” for March in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (March 1) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Chandler Nacimo

Nacino, who has been with the police department since August 2013, was honored for his efforts that led to the arrest of an individual for several drug offenses and the discovery of evidence in numerous open financial crime investigations.

On August 20, Nacino was checking what he knew to be hangouts of a man who was wanted for abuse, when he spotted the suspect driving and stopped him for traffic infractions and then arrested him for the abuse. While investigating, he made what Sergeant Mekia Rose described as “crucial observations” that led Nacino to recover the vehicle, ultimately resulting in the recovery of numerous drugs and items of drug paraphernalia, as well as personal information belonging to victims of financial crimes.

In nomination papers, Sergeant Rose said it was “encouraging and inspirational” to see Nacino “performing police work at a level usually associated with seasoned veterans.”

Nacino was previously named “Officer of the Month” in June 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.

Hawaii Attorney General Questions President Trump in D.C. About Travel Ban

During a question and answer session at the White House today with President Donald Trump and state attorneys general from across the country, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin asked the President about the travel ban that prompted lawsuits across the country challenging the ban’s constitutionality, including one filed by Chin on behalf of the State of Hawaii on February 3, 2017.

Attorney General Chin told President Trump he understood a new executive order might be released this week relating to a ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. Chin asked the President to explain the President’s thinking behind the executive order and what the President wanted to accomplish.

Attorney General Chin stated, “President Trump asked if my state had sued him and I said, ‘we did.’  The President then answered my question by saying that his goal was to make America safe again and extreme vetting was part of achieving that goal.”

Attorney General Chin added, “The security and safety of our nation is a universal goal. I firmly believe you don’t have to target people based on national origin or religion to get there – in fact, doing so harms our nation’s security. Our Constitution does not allow such discrimination. The State of Hawaii will review future executive orders from the federal government with this in mind and will sue if we have to.”

After the question and answer session, which Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also attended, the Vice President spoke with Attorney General Chin and, according to Chin, told Chin that the administration cared about Hawaii’s concerns.