Marumoto says Early Release bill “kapakahi”

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

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

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

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)

Legislation endangering our communities, environment

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.