He Does It… The Governor Sends Notice of Intent to Veto 23 Measures

Media Release:

Governor Neil Abercrombie today notified the State Legislature of his intent to veto measures in which he finds either policy disagreement, issues with the details of the legislation, and/or unfunded mandates.

“With the input from many concerned citizens, I have put forward a list of bills that I am considering vetoing,” Governor Abercrombie said. “Some of these measures will not work as they are written, despite their good intentions. Many others create additional work for our departments without any funding sources to carry them through. In these austere times, state agencies simply do not have the capacity to implement unfunded mandates that are not high priorities of our Administration.”

The following measures on the notice of “intent to veto” are:

House Bill 56 allows the family court to award reasonable visitation rights to grandparents if the denial of visitation would cause significant harm to the child. This bill would make it more difficult for grandparents to visit their grandchildren.

House Bill 318 establishes an interagency task force on vog to discuss the impact of vog on the people of Hawai’i and find ways to address these issues. The establishment of an interagency task force at the county level is redundant with a statewide task force already in place to address the effects and impact of sulfur dioxide hazards in various counties and communities.  It also places a mandate onto the counties and does not appropriate funds for the task force.

House Bill 545 requires electronic voter registration on the Office of Elections website by January 1, 2014.  The Governor objects because the estimated cost is $2.5 million, but no appropriation is provided.

House Bill 667 creates the food safety and security program within the Department of Agriculture.  Although the Governor believes food safety is important, this bill does not provide any funding to implement the specified mandates, nor does it provide any authority to establish administrative rules.

House Bill 680 repeals the requirement that the Hawaii Community Development Authority consider recommendations by the Kakaako Makai Community Planning Advisory Council in developing, accepting, and implementing any plans for the Kakaako makai area.

House Bill 1134 repeals Part V of the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act and Act 99, Session Laws of Hawaii 1994, relating to the future termination of the prepaid health care law.  Further investigation is needed on whether approval of this bill would have unintended consequences to Hawaii’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) waiver.

House Bill 1155 specifies class A and B felonies that require mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute. It also reinstates, adds, and deletes certain class C felonies that require the mandatory minimum prison terms under the repeat offender statute.  This bill will significantly change the current policy on how the criminal justice system addresses the problem of repeat offenders that was originally enacted since 1976.  This bill would make the repeat offender law inapplicable to all felony drug offenses, ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition by persons convicted of certain crimes, and insurance fraud felony convictions.

House Bill 1164 authorizes the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to consider the sale or exchange of Sand Island parcels to leaseholders.  DLNR has repeatedly stated that the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) is not interested in selling or exchanging the lands under the Sand Island master lease into a hundred small lot transfers with a hundred separate land transactions that could result in the Department owning several non-contiguous lots.

Senate Bill 1230 exempts nonresidential structures used for agricultural or aquaculture operations from county building permit requirements. This bill address a problem that needs to be resolved, however, there are ambiguities in the bill on the implementation process.  The Governor plans to sign another bill that establishes a task force to look at impediments for the permitting processes.

House Bill 1405 requires the Office of Planning to establish a statewide system of greenways and trails.  In developing this system, the Office is required to meet with various state departments and the counties and review systems of greenways and trails.  The Office currently has a staff of six people that focus almost exclusively on meeting federal mandates.  Effective implementation of this measure requires resources and funding that the Office does not currently have.

House Bill 1505 establishes the State Facility Renovation Partnership Program, which would allow the sale of certain state facilities to private investors who would improve the facility and lease it back to the state.  The Governor is opposed to the sale of state facilities to private entities. Additionally, there are potential debt service issues with the sale of public buildings previously financed with general obligation bonds that may currently be outstanding.

House Bill 1520 directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to investigate an On-Bill Financing Program for residential electric utility customers to finance purchases of energy efficient or renewable energy devices and systems through their regular electric utility bills.

House Bill 1654 terminates a conditional use permit issued by a county agency to facilities intended for group living facilities or group homes that do not use the permits or cease operations for one year. There is a technical flaw in this bill.

Senate Bill 23 establishes within DLNR, the aha kiole advisory council, which may advise the Office of the Chairperson of the BLNR and the Legislature on issues related to land and natural resource management through the aha moku system.  The Council is self-selected, is not confirmed, has no terms of service, cannot be removed for cause and would select its own Executive Director and staff.  This is essentially a private entity that would receive annual taxpayer funds with no oversight.

Senate Bill 40 establishes a tracking system for the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. In conference committee, the Legislature added “ephedrine” to also be tracked and reported. There is a technical flaw in this bill because the title of the bill is “relating to pseudoephedrine.”

Senate Bill 44 requires the Department of Public Safety to establish performance indicators for inmate reentry system; and requires reports, using key performance indicators, to be provided to the legislature.  It creates the corrections and program report as a consolidated report of other annual reports. This bill does not allow enough time or resources for PSD to accomplish the intended outcomes of the bill.

Senate Bill 49 requires the Director of Public Safety to report to the Governor, and the Governor to report to the legislature any death of an inmate or correctional facility employee within 48 hours. DPS currently does this and there is another statute that covers this procedure.

Senate Bill 217 eliminates the statute of limitations for civil actions brought by victims of sexual offenses as a minor against the person who committed the act(s) and authorizes suits against a legal entity in certain circumstances. This bill appears to allow an employer, including the state, to be sued for the criminal acts of its employees.  This is contrary to well-established tort and agency law and is in direct contravention of the State Tort Liability Act (STLA), Chapter 662 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

Under the STLA, the State cannot be sued for the criminal or intentional acts of its employees.  The elimination of a statute of limitations for a civil claim also raises grave constitutional and fairness concerns.  If a claim can be brought after an unlimited passage of time, it is likely that documents will be lost or destroyed and witnesses will die or move away.  The accused, even those falsely accused, will not be able to defend himself, herself, or itself and true justice will not be achieved.

Senate Bill 590 extends the sunset date of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Commission by six months. The Governor already signed House Bill 383 into law as Act 26 that does the same thing.

Senate Bill 1417 establishes the minimum number of members necessary to constitute a quorum for the State Rehabilitation Council to ten; and establishes the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the Council to at least a majority of quorum. The Governor believes that rather than reduce quorum, we should get people to serve on the Council who will participate and attend meetings. Reducing the number of votes necessary to validate any action of the council to 6 out of a 21 member council is not a fair representation of the Council.

Senate Bill 1493 requires all new and replacement lights to be fully shielded.  This is a noteworthy goal given the effects of night lighting on our native wildlife, astronomy and night viewing activities.  However, the funding implications of this mandate are potentially enormous given federal lighting standards for our highways.

Senate Bill 1511 increases the maximum lease terms for aquaculture operations from 35 to 65 years and defines “aquaculture” under Section 171-59(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The Governor believes oceans are always changing and providing 65-year leases is not prudent.  In addition, the definition of aquaculture is too broad.

Senate Bill 1559 establishes incentives for important agricultural lands.  However, this measure does not provide penalties or resolution for failure to comply, does not identify the agency responsible for monitoring compliance and does not address how the monitoring agency will be able to distinguish Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) and non-IAL source products.  In addition, incentives should be targeted toward certain agricultural goals and not the general category of important agricultural lands.

Governor Abercrombie continues to review legislative bills that he must either veto or sign into law by July 12, 2011.

Mayor Billy Kenoi Reflects on the Mayors’ Institute on City Design

Mayor Kenoi attended the Mayors’s Institute on City Design last year and the next one is coming up in September of this year.  Here is a clip of him talking about last years conference.

Mayors Institute on City Design

Hilo Mayor Billy Kenoi reflects on his experience with the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/m_KXNL2bfjk]

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors.

Water Tanker Flips at Kona Airport Killing Driver

Media Release:

A 36-year-old Hōnaunau man was killed Monday (June 27) from injuries he sustained in a one-vehicle crash at Keahole International Airport in Kailua-Kona.

The victim was identified as Newton K. Leslie of a Honaunau address.

Responding to an 11:35 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that the victim was operating a 2001 Sterling water tanker and traveling north on Perimeter Road when he lost control on a curve in the roadway and overturned.

The driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt was partially ejected from the passenger door window and was pinned under the vehicle.

The tanker had a full load of water and belonged to a local construction company that is doing work at the airport.

The victim was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:01 p.m.

Police believe that speed was a factor in the crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Being that this death occurred within Keahole International Airport on a road not open to the public, it is not counted toward the official traffic fatality count.

Supreme Court Rules Against Part of Arizona’s Fair Elections Law – Advocates for Hawaii’s Law Call on Legislators to Pass HB 1575

Statement from Common Cause Hawaii on today’s U.S. Supreme Court Ruling:

The controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruled today — in McComish v. Bennett — that one part of Arizona’s Fair Elections law is unconstitutional, but left the concept of publicly funded elections in tact. This is mixed news for advocates of Big Island’s Fair Elections pilot program.

Hawaii originally created a public funding option for elections during the 1978 Constitutional Convention, and are testing an alternative to that outdated program on the Big Island. The Big Island Fair Elections pilot was modeled after Arizona’s successful program.

The Roberts-lead Supreme Court shocked the legal community in 2010 by allowing unlimited private expenditures in election campaigns, and that decision paved the way for today’s ruling on the Arizona law.

Advocates for Hawaii’s Fair Elections pilot program anticipated this ruling, and in this 2011 legislative session tried to pass HB 1575, which would have preemptively modified Hawaii’s law to fit within the Supreme Court’s ruling. House Bill 1575 did not pass in 2011, but can still be voted on in the 2012 legislative session.

Candidates who are able to qualify for public funds under Hawaii’s pilot program receive money through a base allotment which is immediately given once a candidate gathers enough signatures and small contributions. If the publicly funded candidate is outspent by a privately funded opponent, matching funds are given to the publicly funded candidate. It’s the matching funds mechanism against which the Supreme Court ruled.

“When we saw that the Roberts-lead Supreme Court took on this case, we thought it was clear what their intent was,” said Kory Payne, executive director for Voter Owned Hawaii. “That’s why we called on legislators to pass HB 1575 during this past session, and why we’re counting on them to pass it in 2012” he said.

“The Supreme Court has once again sided with big-moneyed interests in this case, but the foundation of public campaign finance programs remains strong, and it’s more important than ever that we preserve and extend them,” said Nikki Love, executive director for Common Cause, Hawaii.

Hawaii has a long tradition of leading the way for a public funding option for elections. In 1978 during the Constitutional Convention, we created the current partial public funding program.

That program is managed by the Campaign Spending Commission, and funded by a three dollar check off on state income tax forms. Since 1978, however, the program has seen a reduction in usage, and citizen groups called for the creation of the Big Island’s pilot program.

“It’s more important than ever that Hawaii continues to pave the way for a public funding option for elections so that the voting public can take back control of an elections system that is largely being controlled by a wealthy elite” said Payne.

How Todays McComish Decision Affects Hawaii’s Publicly Funded Election

The Supreme Court made it’s decision today on the McComish hearings that are related to Arizona Citizens Clean Election Act and it does have a small ramification on how Hawaii’s Pilot project will go on.

From Voter Owned Hawaii:

Background

Hawaii is one of numerous jurisdictions with a “clean elections” or “fair elections” program to provide public funding for election campaigns. Hawaii’s pilot program for publicly-funded elections on the Big Island was first implemented in 2010. –The Hawaii program has a similar structure to Arizona’s and is therefore affected by today’s decision in McComish. The McComish decision only affects the “matching” funds, the second of two parts described below.

1. Base amount of public funding — The base amount is the initial allotment of money a candidate receives once they’ve passed the qualification or vetting process to receive public funds. The amount of money a candidate receives for their base amount depends upon how much the winning candidates (in that specific district) spent over the last two election cycles. This part is not affected by the McComish decision.

2. Matching Funds or Trigger Funds – “Matching” or “trigger” funds is the second way a publicly funded candidate can receive money in their race. In McComish, this is the specific mechanism the Supreme Court ruled against.

Matching funds come into play when a publicly funded candidate is running against a privately funded opponent who has spent more money than the base amount of their publicly funded opponent. Matching funds give the publicly funded candidate a dollar-for-dollar match when the privately funded candidate spends more money than the base amount of the publicly funded candidate. This allows the publicly funded candidate to remain competitive. The publicly funded candidate can receive a maximum of up to two times their base allotment in matching funds.

What this means for Hawaii’s pilot program

The McComish decision affects only one piece of Hawaii’s law, and we should adjust Act 244 accordingly. Voter Owned Hawaii and other organizations supported legislation in the 2011 legislative session (HB1575) that would have preemptively changed the matching funds mechanism (in the expectation of a negative decision from the Supreme Court).

We will continue to work in 2012 to pass legislation to address the decision in McComish.

Why it’s important for Hawaii to continue to lead the way for Fair and Clean Elections and a public funding option.

  • The idea of a public funding option for elections was established during the 1978 Constitutional Convention and has a strong legacy in Hawaii. We need to continue to honor that promise with a public funding option for elections that gives candidates enough money to run a competitive race against privately funded candidates.

  • This narrow decision leaves the foundation for public financing systems intact. The court has only ruled that the trigger fund provision of some public financing systems is unconstitutional—not the foundation of public financing.

  • Campaign systems that use trigger funds can be adapted to comply with today’s ruling with new matching funds systems, like that offered in HB1575.

  • Because of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, private money flowing into elections has skyrocketed even more. No less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake when it comes to making sure the public’s voice is not drowned out by private money.

  • As the Supreme Court continues its hostility to common sense legislation aimed at raising the voice of everyday people, elected officials must act to ensure our elections are truly of, by, and for the people and not bought and paid for by special interests.

Resources

http://publicampaign.org/mccomishnews

 “ . . . if we think these tremendous sums being spent [on elections], these tremendous sums being contributed, are not sums for which we are going to ultimately pay because of poor government . . . and because of undue influence . . . we are fooling ourselves.”    – Delegate Naomi Campbell during the 1978 Constitutional Convention

University of Arizona Awarded Millions to Shape Maui’s Advanced Technology Solar Telescope

Everyone on the Big Island has been so worried about the Thirty Meter Telescope project on top of Mauna Kea… I think a lot of folks have forgotten about the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope that is going to be built on Haleakala over on Maui.

Proposed site for the ATST

When finished, the 4.2m mirror will be the largest telescope mirror ever pointed at the sun. Polished into a highly complex, asymmetric shape, it will be the centerpiece of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope in Hawaii, allowing researchers to study the sun in unprecedented detail.

The University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, or AURA, to polish the 4.2m primary mirror for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, or ATST.

When operational in Hawaii, the ATST will become the world’s largest solar telescope. This glass mirror will serve as the primary focusing element to create high-resolution images of the fine scale structure of the sun…

More here: UA Awarded Millions to Shape Telescope Mirror

Big Island Raises Hopes for Grass Fed Beef on Small and Large Ranches

Media Release:

Over 1 million acres of land, about 25% of the entire state of Hawaii, is cattle ranch land. There are ranches on all the main islands, and on the Big Island of Hawaii cattle ranches have been a key part of island life since Parker Ranch was founded in 1847. At over 130,000 acres, it’s one of the largest ranches in the U.S., but most of the 110 ranches in the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council are anywhere from a few hundred acres to a few thousand.

The Schutte Ranch, run by Guy Schutte and his wife Joeliene is one of the many smaller ranches in Kamuela’s cattle country. Guy is one of the first ranchers to use SweetPro supplement lick blocks in his cattle operation. He has helped to prove just how remarkably well suited SweetPro is to the grass fed cattle operations throughout Hawaii.

Without a significant source of grain or hay, Hawaii’s cattle depend completely on grass, but the consistent drought over the past ten years has caused many ranchers to reduce herd size or accept modest growth from their calves. While on the mainland, cattle ranchers have been using 25% less forage for their herds on SweetPro blocks, or handling 25% more cattle on the same pastures.

While researching a better approach, Guy decided to use SweetPro cattle supplement tubs and found they worked very well in combination with the native kikuyu Hawaiian grasses. Most Hawaii ranches are cow-calf operations that ship calves to the mainland for pasturing and grain finishing. With SweetPro, Guy found that his calves grew faster, developed better frames and stayed healthier during shipping to the mainland.

As a test, Guy raised two identical cow/calf pairs from the same genetic line, in identical side-by-side paddock grazing areas, using grass only. One pair had SweetPro FiberMate 18 tubs and one didn’t. At the weaning time of 8.5 months, the non-SweetPro calf was a respectable 450 pounds, but the SweetPro calf was 750 pounds. An amazing difference.

Rancher Schutte also raised one of his steers to maturity using only grass and SweetPro tubs, and remarked “It’s the best beef I’ve ever eaten”. So the future of grass fed beef in Hawaii looks promising, and thanks to innovators like Guy Schutte, SweetPro will play an important part.

SweetPro products are carried by Animal Health International/Lextron of Kamuela on the Big Island. The dealership is under the leadership of Rollin Olson, who along with his team have been serving the Big Island’s animal health needs for 30 years. Animal Health International is located at 64-5161 Mana Road, phone 808-885-8006.