Fontaine Factor – Agriculture in Hawaii

Host: Representative George Fontaine
Guest 1: Dean Okimoto — President of HI Farm Bureau Federation
Guest 2: Brian Miyamoto — COO Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation

or Dean Dean Okimoto at
Brian Miyamoto at

Bye, Bye Miss American Liberty: Rep. Barbara Marumoto

BY STATE SEN. SAM SLOM – The news today that Hawaii State Rep. Barbara Marumoto, (R-Kahala, Kaimuki) is retiring from office this year was a surprise to all who know Barbara. She is one of a kind – and will be missed – but not forgotten.

Marumoto will leave a real vacuum in the State House after 34 years of outspoken leadership and integrity.

After serving in the 1978 State Constitutional Convention (the last Con Con held in Hawaii)—the session that put then young John Waihee on the political map and later Governor of Hawaii—Marumoto ran for the State House and was elected the same year. She has been re-elected every two years since, representing the Waialae Kahala and East Honolulu area with distinction. She currently serves as Minority Policy Leader in the 8-member Republican House Minority.

Marumoto has proposed numerous positive bills for Hawaii’s taxpayers and families. Many have been enacted—under a Majority Democrat’s name. A usual practice. Marumoto has always smiled and gets along with everyone. But Marumoto’s legislative imprint is clear.

During the 2011 Legislative Session, new Governor Neil Abercrombie gave a budget briefing in the packed Capitol Auditorium. His message was full of harmful new and expanded tax proposals.

Marumoto questioned him, politely, on his plan to tax pensions and further burden fixed income senior citizens. The aggressive Abercombie, lashed out at Marumoto, attacked her personally, and stated she was wrong in her conclusions of the impact of the new tax.

Marumoto respectfully stood her ground and didn’t quit. Later, the Administration was forced to admit publicly that the Governor had misspoken and Rep. Marumoto had been correct.

Rep. Barbara Marumoto and Sen. Sam Slom

Marumoto is a steadfast and loyal Republican in the bluest of blue Democrat states. Years ago, when two high profile women Republican lawmakers, Donna Ikeda and Ann Kobayashi, were convinced to switch parties and gain leadership positions, Marumoto remained with the Republicans.

The University of Hawaii grad (BA Sociology), also attended UC Berkeley, UCLA and San Francisco State University. She has always been an advocate for better education in Hawaii.

Marumoto, a long time member of Smart Business Hawaii (SBH), championed many causes but was probably best known for her support of small business issues, safety for children (especially those riding in the back of trucks), patriotism, health concerns, tax reduction and fiscal reforms.

PAYCHECKS HAWAII, the non-partisan, independent, political action affiliate of SBH, has ranked each of the 76 state legislators annually on business climate support and improvement. The top ranking is “1.” Marumoto has racked up more top spots—including the 2012 Session completed May 3—than any other lawmaker.

Marumoto is known for her community support and participation. It is amazing how many meetings and events she attends. She is a member of many organizations including: Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce; AARP; Oahu YWCA; SBH; The Outdoor Circle; Kaimuki Lions; Junior League of Honolulu; Historic Hawaii Foundation; UH College of Arts & Sciences (Board), and State Director, Women in Government.

She has won numerous leadership awards including: Presidential Leadership Award; Hawaii Women Lawyers President’s Award; Legislator of the Year—National Republican Legislators Association; Legislator of the Year, Hawaii Medical Association; Certificate for Patriotic Civilian Service (US Army);, and OWLS Outstanding Women Leaders.

Marumoto is married to Richard Coons and has five children, two stepsons and eight grandchildren.

A signature Marumoto identity for nearly two decades has been her donning a full Statue of Liberty costume, which she has worn  in the Kailua 4th of July and other parades, civic events and educational programs. She originally rented the costume, but it proved so popular—especially among kids who called her, “Miss Liberty,” and “Miss America,”— that she bought the costume. She sure got her money’s worth and along the way made all of us very appreciative.

Bye, bye Miss Liberty. All the best for what you have given Hawaii.

Bipartisan support in addressing SB 2424 – Bond Requirements

Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 156-12 S.B. No. 2424, S.D. 2, H.D. 2, C.D. 1
(Professional Employer Organizations; Fees and Expenses; Bond Requirements; Appropriation) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING.
The purpose of this bill is to strengthen existing professional employer organization (PEO) law. The bill adds 10 new sections to the HRS chapter on PEOs (§§373L-A through 373L-J). It also creates some NEW FEES. Some highlights of the bill:
• Adds powers and duties to the director of labor and industrial relations regarding the registration and regulation of professional employer organizations.
• Establishes new unspecified fees of (application fee, tiered biennial renewal fee, restoration fee). The director is authorized to establish other fees, and amend any existing fees, via administrative rulemaking (i.e. no legislative oversight required).
• Repeals HRS chapter 373K relating to PEOs, but moves the general excise tax exemption provisions to chapter 373L, HRS.
• Establishes the PEO special fund, composed of fees and fines collected under new sections created by this bill.
• Requires a PEO to report sanctions and judgments against the PEO to the DLIR within 30 days and to inform DLIR of its address information; authorizes various penalties for noncompliance.
• Allows DLIR’s director to deny, suspend, revoke, or deny renewal of registration of any PEO under certain circumstances; allows for hearings when DLIR’s director refuses to issue or renew a PEO registration.
• States that the agreement between a PEO and its client company shall state that the PEO shall be deemed the employer for purposes of unemployment insurance, workers’ comp, TDI, and prepaid health care coverage.
• Provides for a minimum $1000 fine if a PEO fails to comply with any provision in chapter 373L or any rule or final order of the director.
• Provides for judicial review of the director’s final decision and order in a contested case.
• Provides for a payroll cost exemption (exempts payments from a client for wages, salaries, payroll taxes, insurance premiums, etc. from the GET, with some exceptions).
The bill also makes some housekeeping and other changes to current law, such as:
• States that failure to renew registration is a forfeiture of registration.
• Requires the director to accept electronic filings, to the extent practicable.
• Amends definitions and bond level requirements (e.g., bond of at least $500,000 is required for PEOs with 100 or more employees).
The bill also appropriates funds to DLIR (amount left blank).
The bill passed out of FIN unamended.
The current HD2 draft adopts numerous amendments recommended by DLIR, many of which deal with bonding requirements and DLIR bringing actions on the bonds to recover damages caused by a PEO’s noncompliance. It also changes the defective date to July 1, 3000.
The previous SD2 draft essentially accomplished the same purpose, but had different fee amounts, was in need of technical amendments, and a July 1, 2050 effective date.

Contact Excerpt from Capitol TV

Rep. Thielen addresses HB 2424 – Bond Requirements

Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 156-12 S.B. No. 2424, S.D. 2, H.D. 2, C.D. 1
(Professional Employer Organizations; Fees and Expenses; Bond Requirements; Appropriation) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING.
The bill creates new fees and allows the director of DLIR to create additional fees and raise existing fees by administrative rule.
The bill creates a special fund, which BUF generally opposes. In testimony on the SD2 draft, the Tax Foundation of Hawaii remarked that “DLIR special funds that earmark general fund revenues cannot be justified as they restrict budget flexibility, create inefficiencies, and lessen accountability.”
Per ProService Hawaii, a PEO servicing over 1000 small businesses in Hawaii, the bill’s language in §373L-F is problematic. It states that the PEO “shall be deemed the employer for purposes of unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, temporary disability insurance, and prepaid health care coverage.” It appears to allow companies to contract out their liabilities and responsibilities as an employer for the above purposes. The PEO cannot assume the sole responsibilities for such items unless the client company has remitted all of its hours and wages to the PEO, along with the associated payroll taxes, premiums, and other funds. The statute does not match the way other state and federal agencies treat the co-employment relationship: holding the client or worksite employer responsible for conduct at the workplace, and limiting the PEOs responsibility to the scope of services provided by contract to the client. Thus, it is bad public policy.

Contact: Excerpt from Capitol TV

Reps. Riviere and Thielen addresses SB 2873 – Environmental Impact Statements

S.B. No. 2873, S.D. 1, H.D. 3, C.D. 2 RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS.(Environmental Impact Statements; Exemption) (FA #8) AS AMENDED, PASS FINAL READING
Per Sierra Club: DOT projects are one of largest causes of invasive species; DOT should be held to higher environmental standard, not lower.
The bill is not necessary.
OEQC, while supporting the bill’s intent, “Encourages all agencies whenever possible to utilize the existing process which involves review and concurrence by the Environmental Council (EC).
There is currently no backlog in the process and EC presently reaching out to all agencies and offering support and assistance in updating exemption lists.”

Contact: Excerpt from Capitol TV


Hawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) submitted a memo today to Mayor Peter Carlisle stating that the Ameron Hawaii Quarry in Kailua should be not be on the City & County of Honolulu’s new landfill site list. The memo is a legal analysis which outlines five reasons why the Ameron Hawaii Quarry should be removed from the landfill list, citing Federal law and the impact on area residents and the construction industry.

“Installing a new Oahu municipal solid waste landfill site at Ameron Hawaii Quarry in Kailua would negatively impact the water quality in Kailua’s watershed and marsh lands, interfere with the U.S. Endangered Species Act’s purpose, threaten the health and safety of Kailua residents, and irreparably damage the construction industry,” stated Thielen.

The memo details the detrimental impact that a landfill would have on the Kawainui and Hamakua Marsh Complex, a designated Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention which recognized the Marsh as a core wetland habitat for endemic and endangered birds and containing significant cultural and environmental resources. Citing the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the high quantity of rainfall in the area, Representative Thielen points out the negative impact that runoff and leaching from a landfill would have on this significant wetland. Thielen also notes the proximity of five schools, a hospital, and numerous residences, all within one mile of the proposed landfill site.

“The best way to ensure that the environment and residential areas surrounding the Ameron Hawaii Quarry are protected from health and safety concerns is to avoid building a landfill at the Ameron site,” Thielen reiterated.

Representative Thielen observed that placing a landfill at the Ameron Hawaii Quarry site would have a significant impact on Hawaii’s construction industry. “Without Ameron Hawaii Quarry in Kailua we would not have enough Grade A rock to meet the local demand. This lack of material would have a significant impact on much-needed infrastructure upgrades and material costs.”

Currently, Ameron Hawaii Quarry is in the top 5 on the list of potential new landfill sites for Oahu. Thielen’s memo is a pointed, evidentiary statement that the quarry should not be on the list at all.

RepThielen Memo to Mayor re Landfill 5 7 12

Rep Ward addresses the state budget – May 3, 2012

Conf. Comm. Rep. No. 131-12 H.B. No. 2012, H.D. 1, S.D. 1, C.D. 1

Rep Ward addresses the state budget – May 3, 2012

Hawaii’s fiscal year begins July 1 and runs through June 30. This is different from the Federal Fiscal year with runs from October 1 and ends September 30.

The total operating budget for FY 2012 is $10.8 billion.

The Department of Budget and Finance outlines the State budget process as such:

“The Governor shall submit a six-year program and financial plan, budget, and program memoranda to the Legislature in each odd-number year. The six-year program and financial plan and the budget are usually combined in a single document.

The budgets of the judicial and the legislative branches are submitted by their respective leaders to the Legislature for its consideration.

In each regular session in an even-numbered year, the Governor may submit to the Legislature a bill to amend any appropriation for operating expenditures of the current fiscal biennium, to be known as the supplemental appropriations bill.

Contact: Excerpt from Capitol TV


I have been in opposition to this bill, and I still am opposed to this measure.  Although the Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Act contains some good features, I think this is primarily a cost-saving measure for this Administration and not true prison reform.  Let me just mention the parts that I like.

First, and long overdue, attention will be paid to increase restitution paid to victims of crimes.

Second, bringing back prisoners from the mainland to be closer to their families.

Third, released prisoners will be offered more programs to help them re-integrate back into society.

Fourth, releasing prisoners will save money.  Since housing them now costs $190 M, any savings would be appreciated.  And considering that we spend only $8,000 per public school student, we can prioritize the money into our educational system.

However, there are features in this bill that may be detrimental and even dangerous to public safety. This bill is based on recommendation of the justice reinvestment working group working with the Council of State Governments Justice Center.  It aims “to improve the criminal justice system, relying on the Department of Public Safety, Hawaii Paroling Authority, and Adult Probation Services to effectively implement changes to policies and practices”.

It will do this by reducing (and I quote Part I of the bill) “the current incarcerated population and generate savings of approximately 500 beds and $9 Million by the end of fiscal year 2013, 850 beds and $19 M in fy 2014 and  1,050 beds and $26 M in fy 2015.”  That means the first year of the program 500 prisoners will be released, year 2, 350 more prisoners, and 200 more in year 3!

In my humble and uneducated estimation, this is kapakahi!  I think we should start out small and enlarge the program gradually.  Why start the first year with 500 releases?  I also question whether we will have the necessary programs and personnel in place for Year 1.  Will drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, vocational training, or halfway houses be ready?  Will there be jobs for these people?  The plan outlines releasing 1 050 prisoners in the first three years of the program, and it will sunset in 2018 – 6 years.  2018 is when this Administration hopes to exit the scene, so that’s why I wonder whether this is prison reform or a cost-saving device.

The program, as described in the Working Group Plan and in earlier versions of this bill, called for the release of Class A felons 18 months before the end of a their terms.  Class B and C would not be released as soon.  Why is this?  I would release Class C felons sooner than Class A felons.  This may increase the danger to public safety.  Even with programs supporting released prisoners, the recidivism rate approaches 50%.

I share Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s skepticism.  We should “go slow” in releasing prisoners and have people and programs in place to better the chances of success.  This is critically important – for the sake of the released prisoners, their families and the community.  I believe my constructive criticisms this session will help shape a better program.  We should go back to the drawing board to re-examine the features of this release program.  Job 1 is to consider long-term reform and public safety – not short term cost savings.

Rep. Marumoto addresses SB 2776 – Public Safety; Parole Excerpt from Capitol TV