Archive for April, 2012

Rep. Marumoto address SCR 97 – Uninsured Motorists

April 27, 2012

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1819-12 S.C.R. No. 97, S.D. 1

REQUESTING THE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER TO CONVENE A WORKING GROUP TO EXPLORE THE CREATION OF A WEB SERVICES-BASED DATABASE PROGRAM TO TRACK UNINSURED MOTORISTS.  FOR ADOPTION

Contact: repmarumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov  Excerpt from Capitol TV

Marumoto says Early Release bill “kapakahi”

April 27, 2012

Marumoto says the Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative – SB 2776, the early release bill, is ‘kapakahi”.  The plan is to bring mainland prisoners back and also save money by releasing, according to Department of Public Safety answers in the House Finance Committee, 1100 prisoners in the first three years of the program.

“The program is ill-designed,” according to Marumoto.  “Will programs to help the prisoners adjust be in place the first year when most of the prisoners are let out?  410 will be released the first year, 384 in the 2nd year, 257 in the 3rd year, 111 in the 4th year, 29 in the 5th year, and 4 in the 6th year for a total release of 1,195 prisoners over 6 years.

“Why not start out with a small number of prisoners – low-risk prisoners – and increase it every year to ensure that the programs are ready?  By the time the kinks are worked out, the number of prisoners will have declined to a manageable number.”

“There will be many people who will be hired in the Judiciary, Parole Board and in Probation to carry out this program, but the number of releases decline sharply by Year 6.  There is definitely a need to relieve the overburdened probation officers, but why hire so many others for what looks like a “temporary” release program?”

Rep. Marumoto urges that the conferees “go slow” in designing this early release program.  Earlier she had criticized the Justice Reinvestment Act for not specifying that the program start out with low-risk, Class C felons to reduce the risk to public safety.

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Why SB 755 is Terrible Policy

April 27, 2012

Thursday,

April 26th, 2012 |

BY REP. GIL RIVIERE, R-NORTH SHORE  Senate Bill 755 SD2 HD2 is terrible policy for the State of Hawaii.  This omnibus bill includes several bad ideas that personify an unprecedented assault on Hawaii’s environmental protection laws by the 2012 Hawaii State Legislature.

SB755 exempts airports and other state lands from SMA permits and shoreline setbacks, exempts harbors from any permit and site plan review, and allows the Governor to exempt state projects from Hawaii’s environmental review process.  Many variations of these measures passed out of the House, only to die in the Senate.

Proponents of this bill claim that billions of dollars in construction projects are held up because of cumbersome environmental laws, but specifics on where projects are held up, i.e., planning, design or construction phases, have not been forthcoming.  Proponents of this bill have referred to Kahului Airport as an example, but they offer no specifics on what is the hold up.  I did some research.

Taking from six to nine months to complete, four Special Management Area (SMA) Permits were approved for Kahului Airport in 2009.  Exemptions from Environmental Assessments were granted.  The value of the work is approximately $34 million and nothing has been built.

The SMA process for a fuel storage tank revealed that it was going to be built in the Tsunami Inundation Zone, so the permit requires the tank to be built outside of this zone and appropriate spill mitigation measures to be installed to keep fuel out of the storm drains and ocean.

In other words, environmental laws are not holding up any current projects at Kahului Airport and the SMA Permit process improved the design of the fuel storage facility.  Yet, three years later, nothing has been built.

Proponents of this bill argue that the Governor could only exempt projects that are not likely to have significant environmental impacts.  However, SB755 would allow him to do so without approval of the Environmental Council, compliance with the Council’s procedures or rules of the Office of Environmental Quality Control, and exempt from any legal challenge afforded in the Hawaii Administrative Procedures.  Why the Governor would be better at making these decisions than the experts, and why his decisions should be beyond appeal, remains a mystery.

Special Management Area Permits and environmental reviews allow public participation.  Early community involvement is essential to successful implementation.  Who understands impacts and design elements better, the residents in the affected area, or government employees in downtown Honolulu?

An environmental exemption process already exists and the Office of Environmental Quality Control has no backlog of exemption list requests.  Throughout this session, in numerous hearings, I have seen no detailed evidence of how particular state laws are tying up any projects or how many people might be put to work with this new law.  “Trust us, the state would do not harm” is not reassuring to me, nor to most everyone I know.

Public participation, early disclosure and review of potential impacts make projects better and avoid costly mistakes.  Somebody needs to take a look before any exemption is granted.  Giving the state automatic exemptions for SMA permits and the Governor exemption list authority through SB755 is terrible policy!

Representative Gil Riviere, R-House District 46, North Shore, Oahu

http://www.hawaiireporter.com/why-sb-755-is-terrible-policy/123

Reps. Marumoto and Thielen voice reservations on S.C.R. 111

April 26, 2012

Representatives Barbara Marumoto and Cynthia Thielen voice reservations on S.C.R. 111

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1808-12 S.C.R. No. 111, S.D. 1
URGING THE CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU TO PRESERVE EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND CREATE NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES, FAMILY-ORIENTED SUPPORT SERVICES, HEALTH CENTERS, COMMUNITY CENTERS, RETAIL SERVICES RELATED TO HEALTHY LIVING, AND COMMUNITY GARDENS WITHIN TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT ZONES ALONG THE HONOLULU RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT CORRIDOR. REFER TO HOUSING/WATER, LAND, & OCEAN RESOURCES

Contact: repmarumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV

Representative Ward Warns the City Against Placing a Landfill in Hawaii Kai

April 26, 2012

Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) wrote a letter to Mayor Carlisle and his Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection warning against placing a landfill in Hawaii Kai.

Hawaii Kai was included in a report as a possible place to relocate the city landfill currently located on the Leeward coast. The site was referred to as “Uplands Hawaii Kai,” which is an apparent reference to the Ka Iwi coast.

“If this is the case, and ‘Uplands Hawaii Kai’ means Ka Iwi, you will certainly have a battle on your hands,” Ward warned in his letter. “This is the area that our community has fought to keep free from development for over the past three decades…”

The Hawaii Kai community and Ward fought successfully to get Ka Iwi reclassified to conservation land from urban in 2010, working with the office of Governor Lingle. They also prevented cabins and a golf academy from being built.

A copy of the letter was included in Ward’s April newsletter, which can be downloaded from gene-ward.com/reports.

Letter_MayorANDCommission_LANDFILL(FINAL)

Representatives Fontaine and Ward discuss legislation for 2012

April 25, 2012

Representatives George  Fontaine and Minority Leader Gene Ward discuss legislation for 2012

Legislation endangering our communities, environment

April 25, 2012

April 24, 2012

by Representative Cynthia Thielen

Two of my grandchildren are growing up on Kaua‘i, including one just newly born. They are very fortunate to call such a beautiful place their home and to be raised in a community that values its quieter lifestyle and unique cultural and environmental resources, and has a long history of standing up for itself.

These qualities which make Kaua‘i so special are in grave danger from several bills pushing their way through the State Legislature this Session.

These measures, particularly SB755 and SB2927, seek blanket exemptions for state and county projects from Hawaii’s long-standing environmental review process and, equally disturbing, its County planning laws.

I recall how adamant Kaua‘i residents were a few years ago when the SuperFerry was proposed. Many of you fought very hard, and successfully, to keep the ferry from coming to Kaua‘i due to the negative impact you felt it would have on the quality of life, traffic congestion and natural and cultural resources (such as native species and marine access). SB755 and SB2927 would severely impact these aspects of Kaua‘i Island, and all our State’s islands, to an exponential degree.

These short-sighted bills cast aside over 30 years of wisdom by exempting government projects from the public environmental review process.

Chapter 205A, enacted in 1975, established our Special Management Area (SMA) permitting process to protect and conserve our shorelines and coastal resources. Chapter 343, enacted in 1979, further articulated our environmental protections by requiring environmental assessments (EA) or impact statements (EIS) as part of the review process for proposed projects and development affecting the public sector.

Now these protections are jeopardized by language in SB755, which removes State projects from environmental review and permitting and states that “consistency of a state project with a county general plan and zoning shall not be required”. This means that Kauai’s community-specific zoning can be completely disregarded.

SB2927 would exempt development projects in the vicinity of rail and bus transit stations from review and permitting requirements and circumvent County and community-specific planning.

This means that any height and density restrictions for new buildings in certain communities would no longer apply.

No environmental review would be needed. County zoning can be ignored. Coastal, conservation and agricultural lands would be opened to development. Legal recourse and public input would be limited. These bills are being shepherded by key Democratic leaders, including our Governor (whose legislative package included other exemption bills and who has testified in person at committee hearings on SB755) and certain State agencies. Only some Representatives from Maui, the Big Island, and O’ahu voted no on these bills; Kaua‘i legislators supported the bills.

Proponents of such legislation often make the erroneous argument that the environmental review process is responsible for significant project delays and point to exemptions from this review as the only way to move projects forward and provide more construction jobs. This is simply not true.

While environmental review does include a designated period for review and public input, this does not take years and it can ensure that other more costly and significant time delays from unforeseen complications are avoided.

That is part of the purpose of environmental review: to identify concerns and address them prior to a project’s implementation. Chapters 343 and 205A ensure the protection of our natural and cultural resources while vetting any potential speed bumps these projects might encounter.

So what is really slowing down projects? A lack of government agency follow-through after the environmental review has been completed or SMA permits approved.

Certain agencies, particularly the State Department of Transportation (DOT), have left projects in limbo for years by not moving projects forward once the environmental review and permitting has been approved. A concrete example of this? DOT improvements for Kahului Airport on Maui have been approved through the issuance of five SMA permits since 2007. While an SMA permit for the addition of a security perimeter was approved in 2007, DOT only completed work on the project about three years later.

Proponents of these bills also argue that federal laws will still provide environmental oversight of exempted projects.

This is false. If a project doesn’t involve federal funding or land, then the federal environmental laws don’t apply. In addition, these federal laws are much weaker than our State laws, particularly those that address cultural resources such as burial sites and traditional gathering practices.

As my grandchildren grow up on Kaua‘i, I hope they will see government officials protecting, not eliminating, the laws to protect our environment and support the well-being of Hawai‘i’s people. Kaua‘i County and its residents have worked hard to develop and protect its land use regulations.

Kaua‘i should speak out now to prevent the erosion of their environmental, cultural, and community safeguards.

• State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-50th District, represents Kailua and Kaneohe Bay on O‘ahu. Her grandchildren reside on Kaua‘i.

Read more: http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/legislation-endangering-our-communities-environment/article_201e93bc-8e82-11e1-8dcc-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz1t5HRUP00

Hawaii Prisoners Should Not Be Released Early as Proposed Under Justice Reinvestment Act

April 21, 2012

 

April 20, 2012

 

BY REP. BARBARA MARUMOTO, R-KAIMUKI, KAHALA

This state’s proposed Justice Reinvestment Act, now in the form of (SB 2776, SD2 /HD2, Relating to Public Safety), is an “early prisoner release bill” that amends current state law in a manner that can affect neighborhood security.

With 1,100 prison inmates released in the first three years of the program, there will be some recidivism, some crimes and many victims.  Why the need for this early release?  Is it cost-cutting?  If so, is public safety jeopardized?

Section 13 requires that the Authority parole an inmate no later than eighteen  months prior to the expiration of his/her court-imposed maximum sentence if the offense is a Class A felony.  The applicable time for Class B and Class C felons is no later than six months and twelve months, respectively.

This administration wishes to mandate early parole for potentially the most dangerous of these three classes of felons.  Although the early release is subject to the Hawaii Paroling Authority’s determination that the inmate has an acceptable parole plan, the Authority’s discretion regarding the timing of parole is significantly compromised.

Early release, as well as other components of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, is based on a so-called “evidence-based, data-driven approach”.  The proponents of Justice Reinvestment repeatedly point to the fact that they will seek out low risk candidates, and justify the use of broad, sweeping changes merely because they are based on empirical data.  Before we get caught up in the hype, let us stop for a moment and remember that “evidence-based practice” comes from ideas based on rational, optimal behavior in a planned and systematically organized environment.

The danger in relying on assumptions made by the evidence-based approach is that human beings do not always act rationally or optimally.  This is demonstrated by the very fact that offenders ended up in prison because they failed to act rationally when committing the crime that got them incarcerated in the first place.

We have laws prohibiting certain kinds of behavior and prescribing certain punishments for violating the law.  Yet, the prospect of punishment did not lead any of these inmates to behave rationally or optimally – i.e. refrain from committing any crime in order to avoid punishment.

The sheer number of prisoners who will be released primarily on Oahu is frightening.   At what rate were inmates released from mainland prisons?  We should not assume that Justice Reinvestment will be as effective in Hawaii simply because of claims that it has been effective on the mainland.

This bill attempts to make drastic changes all at once.  Is this a case of too much too soon?  Before we put all our faith into this approach and enact wholesale change, please consider a more cautious and prudent approach by implementing a few of the ideas to see how they work out in Hawaii’s criminal justice system.  For example, should we not start early release with low-risk Class C felons – in other words,  lower-level felons?  We should spell out and limit early release only to Class C felons who committed property crimes as opposed to violent acts.  The Legislature can then come back to expand the program, after it has had time to observe the results, and determine the degree its implementation affects public safety.

Despite my feelings on the majority of the bill, I do believe that restitution reform is long overdue in our State.  I agree with the following suggestions proposed by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu.  These were stated in their letter dated March 21, 2012 to the House Judiciary Committee.  “We agree that additional measures are needed to facilitate payment of restitution to crime victims; however, Section 10 of this bill would do very little to improve things, as the vast majority of offenders owing restitution are not in prison, and other sections of this bill propose to release even more people from our prisons.  To effectively facilitate restitution payments, the Department suggests incorporating language from H.B. 2394.”

Rep. Thielen supports earth day – Hemp Technologies

April 21, 2012

Representative Cynthia Thielen supports earth day on the chamber floor

On Youtube segments  Rep. Thielen discusses Hemp Technologies with Greg Flavall and Jay Fidell

On YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5btreRx4PU  Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrZBAx6yQ34  Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAro3tClUVg  Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ethohOByo4E- Part 4

For more information visit the website http://www.hemtecusa.com or contact repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

excerpt from Capitol TV

Reps. Thielen and Ward address HB 425 – Public Utilities Commission; Electric Utility Rates

April 19, 2012

H.B. No. 425, H.D. 3, S.D. 2 RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES. (Public Utilities Commission; Electric Utility Rates)

PASS FINAL READING
The stated purpose of this bill is to direct PUC to: (1) Consider the need for a diverse portfolio of fossil fuel resources and (2) Mitigate supply disruptions and cost impacts on electricity ratepayers.
**The SD2 draft of this bill is exactly the same as the HD2 draft.**
The current (SD2) draft
• (1) Has a purpose paragraph that, in part anticipates: “[U]nless there are major technological breakthroughs, it is anticipated that in 2030, 60% of electricity generation will come from fossil fuels.”
• (2) Adds new subsection (c) to HRS 269-6 (General powers and duties of the PUC)
that states in full:
(c) In exercising its authority and duties under this chapter, the public utilities commission shall consider the costs and benefits of a diverse fossil fuel portfolio and of maximizing the efficiency of all electric utility assets to lower and stabilize the cost of electricity. Nothing in this section shall subvert the obligation of electric utilities to meet the renewable portfolio standards set forth in section 269-92.
Note: HRS 269-92 sets minimum standards for the amount an electricity utility company’s portfolio that must be renewable energy (as a percentage of net electricity sales).

This bill could distract PUC from concentrating on how to end Hawaii’s use of expensive, imported fossil fuels that do not contribute to clean energy innovation.
Sierra Club: Purpose section assumes we need to gel approximately 60% of our power from fossil fuels in 2030. New statutory language should say “diverse energy portfolio” instead of “diverse fuel portfolio”.
Blue Planet Foundation: “This policy amendment would distract the PUC from what we believe should be a primary focus: end the use of expensive, imported fossil fuel in Hawaii.

Contact: repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov excerpt from Capitol TV