Wednesday, March 11, 2009


NO, PASSOVER IS NEXT MONTH: It’s halftime at the Stupidbowl- aka the hurry-up-and-wait 2008 Hawai`i legislative session. when bills "crossover" from one body to the other

Today, after going over the list of all bills that passed, we’ve put together a list of bills that passed the house and senate that either we’ve written about or are of concern to Kaua`i or are otherwise remarkable- in the “able to be remarked upon” sense of the word.

Click on the links for the complete status and click on the bill number when you get there for the text.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and we may have misinterpreted some measures- if so we’d appreciate clarification.

Remarks are below each in bold.

HB128 HD1 RELATING TO ELECTIONS.Elections; Nomination PapersRequires office of elections to create and make available a standard withdrawal and declaration of candidacy form. Requires office of elections to make nomination papers available only until the Friday preceding the filing deadline. Establishes required availability and filing deadlines for nomination papers in the event that no candidates have validly filed nomination papers for an elective office by the original filing deadline. (HB128 HD1)

This is an attempt to fix the broken filing system that exploded in everyone’s faces at the deadline last year. It should help matters.

HB214 HD1 AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS AND MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR WAILUA EMERGENCY BYPASS ROAD REPAIR AND RESURFACING, AND WAIMEA WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT UPGRADES FOR THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I.General Obligation Bonds; Kaua‘i Capital Improvement ProjectsAppropriates $ in general obligation bonds to the county of Kaua‘i for improvements to the Wailua emergency bypass road and the Waimea wastewater treatment plant. (HB2381 HD1)

We may actually get to use the old cane road from Wailua to Hanama`ulu now although all this does is loan us the money to fix it up.

HB444 HD1 RELATING TO CIVIL UNIONS.Civil UnionsExtends the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union. (HB444 HD1)

At least it passed the House so is still alive even though the apparently the gutless wonders in the Senate refused to pull it out of committee.

HB861 HD1 RELATING TO ELECTIONS.Office of Elections; ProcurementExempts the office of elections from procurement code requirements relating to cost or pricing data. Effective 07/01/2020. (HB861 HD1)

Watch out for this one- this is the issue people are suing over in Maui and this actually appears to legitimize an illegitimate process.

HB991 HD2 RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII.UH; Loan RepaymentsEstablishes the Hawaii Medical Doctor Loan Repayment Program for University of Hawaii medical school graduates and medical school graduates with training from Hawaii based medical program working in rural areas of the state. (HB991 HD2)

This, not tort reform, is what is really needed to get attract more doctors on Kaua`i neighbor islands and rural O`ahu . It has failed in past sessions.

HB1008 HD1 RELATING TO LAND USE.Land Use; Agricultural Land; SubdivisionProtects and promotes the proper use of Hawaii's best agricultural lands by requiring conditions of approval for subdivisions of agricultural land into smaller lots and farm dwellings, thereby ensuring meaningful agricultural use. (HB1008 HD1)

The amazing part is that they don’t have to do this now.

HB1148 HD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC AGENCY MEETINGS.Sunshine Law; Meeting; Notice; State Calendar; Lieutenant GovernorWith respect to notice requirements for a public agency hearing, requires state boards to electronically file meeting notices on the state calendar rather than in the Lt. Governor's office. (HB1148 HD1)

Finally all agendas for meetings of all boards and commissions will all be available on line if this passes the senate- the Lt. Governor notification requirement has been a joke- an artifact of pre-information age legislation.

HB1212 HD1 RELATING TO INFORMATION PRACTICES.Public Documents; PrivacyDeletes the exception of a record of complaints with respect to government information relating to an individual's fitness for a license, when balancing an unwarranted invasion of a person's privacy against the public disclosure of the record. Effective January 1, 2046. (HB1212 HD1)

Maybe now we’ll actually be able to see complaints- now they go into as black hole making them useless to the general public.

HB1226 HD1 RELATING TO GENETICALLY MODIFIED PLANT ORGANISMS.Genetically Modified Organisms; Preemption; ExceptionsProhibits state administrative regulatory actions and county regulatory actions from banning or otherwise regulating activities related to genetically modified plant organisms, with certain exceptions (HB1226 HD1)

This is the worst bill in the legislature that would ban counties and even the state from regulating GMOs except for the current taro bill on the Big Island.

HB1271 HD3 RELATING TO GOVERNMENT.Food and Energy Security Program Establishment; Ethanol Content RepealEstablishes the Hawaii economic development task force to address Hawaii's energy and food security needs. Increases the tax collected on each barrel of petroleum product sold by a distributor. Allocates portions of the taxes collected to various funds, including the general fund. Suspends for 36 months the requirement that gasoline sold in the State for use in motor vehicles contain 10% ethanol by volume. (HB1271 HD3)

Some good stuff here although another tasks force may be too little too late. The tax on petroleum products to support it is good and the ethanol in gas bill that would be suspended is and always was a bad joke.

HB1273 HD1 RELATING TO ENERGY.Solar Energy; ClotheslinesAllows the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single-family residential dwelling or townhouse. (HD1)

We thought this no-brainer measure introduced by Senator Hooser passed last year but apparently not- there is a senate version that passed too (see below).

HB1422 HD1 RELATING TO ABANDONED VEHICLES.Abandoned Vehicles; Private Roads; CountiesAllows counties to remove abandoned motor vehicles from private roads; requires owners of private roads to request removal in writing before vehicle is considered abandoned; requires private road owner to pay for removal and indemnify county for claims arising from removal and disposal. (HB1422 HD1)

Can’t hurt- the county always refuses to do it now and we have a lot of “private” roads that the county won’t “accept” because they were made too narrow long ago and can’t be widened easily.

HB1436 HD1 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.Agricultural District; Permitted UsesAmends the permitted uses of land within the agricultural district with soil classifications of A or B to include educational facilities and agricultural appurtenances. (HB1436 HD1)

We’re not quite sure what “appurtenances” are but watch out for this one- it sets up commercial uses on prime ag lands and knowing the vacation rental lobby could enable them on ag land.

HB1495 HD1 RELATING TO STATE INCOME TAX.Hawaii State Income Tax; Repeal Wagering Loss DeductionRepeals the deduction of wagering losses for Hawaii state income tax purposes. (HB1495 HD1)

Another “and this is now legal???” bill

HB1611 HD2 RELATING TO LABELING OF MEAT AND FISH PRODUCTS.Fish; Meat; LabelingRequires gas-treated meat and fish to be labeled as such. (HB1611 HD2)

This would make sure you know that the bright red beautiful ahi and other fish in the supermarket is red because it’s fresh, not because it was gassed with all sorts of crap so it looks that way forever. There is a senate version (below). Quite remarkable in this “don’t ask don’t tell” era of food labeling

HB1663 HD1 RELATING TO TARO SECURITY.Genetically Modified Taro; ProhibitionProhibits the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically modified Hawaiian taro in the state. Prohibits certain activities related to genetically modified non-Hawaiian taro. (HB1663 HD1)

This is the bad version of the GMO taro ban that only pertains to Hawaiian taro, not other varieties. Apparently the senate version (see below) pertains to all varieties.

HB1763 HD2 RELATING TO THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY.HTA Repeal; Department of Tourism EstablishmentRepeals the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Establishes the Department of Tourism. Transfers the Convention Center Enterprise Special Fund, Tourism Special Fund, and Tourism Emergency Trust Fund to the Department of Tourism. Renames the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to the Department of Business and Economic Development. (HB1763 HD2)

The HTA is and always was a joke but then again is using our tax money to promote tourism. Seem the right wing nut pols are all for free enterprise and market self-reliance except when it comes to throwing money at they big campaign contributors

SB93 SD1 RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCING.Campaign Contributions; Preliminary ReportsEstablishes a grace period during which a candidate or candidate's committee may return or refund contributions. Changes 20% contributions cap to an unspecified amount. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD1)

Speaking of Incumbency Preservation Acts, here’s another courtesy of Senator Hamabusa. This would allow pols to use illegal contributions as a slush fund loan until long(er) after they’ve been re-elected when they can collect more money as re-elected incumbents.

SB133 SD2 RELATING TO UTILITIES.Utilities; Lifeline Electricity Rates; PUCRequires the public utilities commission to implement a program to achieve lifeline electricity rates for qualified residential electricity customers. (SD2)

For the working poor this would be a god send to keep the lights on- something really needed on Kaua`i with out highest in the world rates... which are scheduled to increase soon.

SB153 SD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC ACCESS.Public AccessRequires state and county agencies to ensure that a public right-of-way is available prior to the approval of any development project, subdivision, or zoning change. (SD1)

Even though the county has a provision like this (although some are still under the impression we don’t) they don’t always enforce it. Maybe another law at the state level will help.. yeah, right.

SB350 SD1 RELATING TO USE OF FORCE.Self-Defense; Deadly Force; Duty to RetreatPermits the use of deadly force by the resident of a dwelling against a person not lawfully in the dwelling who uses force against the resident. Expands the exemption from the duty to retreat from the home and workplace to any place where the actor may lawfully be present. Effective July 1, 2050. (SD1)

We’ve all heard the story on Kaua`i about how the cops used to tell people if you shoot someone in your yard you’d better drag him into your house if you don’t want to go to jail. Now you won’t have to.

SB468 SD1 RELATING TO COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT.Shoreline SetbackRequires affected agencies to account for sea level rise and minimize risks from coastal hazards such as erosion, storm inundation, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Preserves public access and public shoreline access. Extends shoreline setback to not less than forty feet from shoreline and requires counties to account for annual erosion rates. (SD1)

Sounds good. Any help we can get in prodding the council to pass a decent setback law can’t hurt.

SB474 SD1 PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE V, SECTION 6, OF THE HAWAII CONSTITUTION, TO CLARIFY THE GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTMENT PROCESS.Department Heads; Boards and Commissions; AppointmentsAmends article V, section 6, of the state constitution to clarify the appointment process for department heads and members of boards and commissions by requiring the Governor to nominate successors within the time limits required by law. (SD1)

This would codify the recent supreme court ruling although it’s unclear how long they’ll hold their breath and turn blue if the gov doesn’t do it.

SB635 SD1 RELATING TO STATE PARKS.Office of Hawaiian Affairs; State Parks; Kahana ValleyTransfers jurisdiction and management of Kahana valley from the department of land and natural resources, parks division, to the office of Hawaiian affairs. (SD1)

Bad DLNR- no jurisdiction for you after trying to kick the Kahana family out of Kahana valley.

SB643 SD2 RELATING TO PUBLIC LANDS.DLNR; DHHL; Transfer of Management; Kahana Valley State ParkTransfers management of Kahana valley state park from the department of land and natural resources to the department of Hawaiian home lands. (SD2)

Or management if that’s not covered under jurisdiction.

SB638 SD2 RELATING TO PUBLIC LANDS.Kahana Valley State Park; Eviction MoratoriumEstablishes a two year moratorium on evictions of residents from Kahana valley state park; establishes the planning council to create and implement a living park master plan for Kahana valley state park. (SD2)

And don’t try to evict them before the jurisdiction transfers- we’ve seen Laura Thielen’s handiwork.

SB639 SD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC LANDS.State Parks; Residential Leases; Planning CouncilAuthorizes the department of land and natural resources to issue residential leases in state parks; establishes a planning council to monitor compliance with the leases. (SD1)

This would takes away DLNR’s excuse for not renewing the Koke`e leases.

SB646 SD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY.Public Accountability; Executive Decisions; TransparencyAmends the governor's power to unilaterally limit appropriations that were previously approved by the legislature to require the governor to explain in writing any decisions to reduce, withhold, or otherwise limit appropriations approved by the legislature. (SD1)

Another “or we’ll hold our breath until we turn blue” measure. How putting it in writing will help is anyone’s guess but it would take a constitutional amendment to take away this uniquely Hawai`i method of funding distribution where the governor gets two bites of the apple the second to which there is no check or balance.

SB654 RELATING TO VOTING.Voter Registration; Election Day RegistrationAllows election-day voter registration.

It’s about time- lots of other states have same day registration why can’t we. Oh, yeah-we forget about that Incumbency Preservation Act.

SB667 SD2 RELATING TO WHISTLEBLOWERS' PROTECTION.Employment Practices; Whistleblowers' Protection Provides additional protection to public employees who report violations of the law, and other improper activities such as waste, gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency. Expands the DLNR's responsibilities regarding whistleblowers. (SD2)

Anything that helps encourage county employees to expose the every day corruption they encounter will help.

SB709 SD2 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.Genetically Engineered Organisms; TaroProhibits the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically engineered taro in the State of Hawaii. Effective 7/1/50. (SD2)

This is the good one- it seemingly refers to all taro not just the Hawaiian variety.

SB786 SD1 RELATING TO HISTORIC PLACES.Historic Places; Trespass; Property DamageMakes the entering or remaining unlawfully on property listed in the Hawaii register of historic places after warning or request to leave, an offense of criminal trespass in the first degree. Makes the intentional or knowing damage to property on the Hawaii register of historic places an offense of criminal property damage in the first degree. (SD1)

This is to keep Hawaiian sovereignty groups off `Iolani Palace grounds- another nail in the genocide coffin.

SB906 RELATING TO PUBLIC MEETINGS.Sunshine Law; Testimony; Quorum; MeetingsExpands ability of a board or commission to facilitate public meetings through available interactive conferencing technology.

Any sunshine law amendment sends up a red flag. But actually this is a good bill- it would allow councilmembers, for instance, who are away on county junkets to attend and officially participate in meetings via teleconference so they don’t have the “I wasn’t there” excuse and bills don’t spend forever in committee waiting for all the members to be there.

SB1058 SD2 RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES.Controlled Substances; Diversion; TreatmentDirects the attorney general to coordinate a review of the impact of diverting marijuana and low-level felony drug offenders out of the criminal justice system into treatment. (SD2)

This unfortunately seems to be the only bill from the cannabis reform package to survive. Not that we think the Attorney General is at all competent to do a fair job.

SB1083 SD1 RELATING TO BURIAL SITES.Burial SitesIncludes additional native Hawaiian organizations for the DLNR to consult with to determine whether a burial site should be preserved in place or relocated and to develop a list of candidates for the burial councils. (SD1)

It’s not the bill that’s really needed because it doesn’t empower the burial councils as everyone, including Judge Wantanbe seems to want. But it can’t hurt to have more groups to participate in the “advisory” process.

SB1085 SD2 RELATING TO CEDED LANDS.Ceded Lands; Public Land Trust; ManagementProhibits the sale or transfer of ceded lands until the unrelinquished claims of the native Hawaiian people are resolved, reconciliation between the State and the native Hawaiian people is no longer supported, or until December 31, 2014, whichever occurs first; establishes a process for the sale or transfer of ceded lands, to be implemented only when one of the foregoing conditions occurs. Effective 7/1/50. (SD2)

Great bill- exactly what’s needed to overturn any US Supreme Court ruling...except for that little detail of a “defective effective date” of 2050.

SB1088 SD2 RELATING TO PUBLIC ACCESS.Public Property; Beach and Shoreline AccessAmends definition of obstruction for access to public property. Creates a private right of action for a person to enforce the prohibition of obstruction. (SD2)

Wow- allowing private action to enforce obstruction of public access. This sounds too good to actually pass.

SB1122 SD2 RELATING TO PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT.Public Employment; Exempt Civil ServiceAmends various sections of the HRS to comply with Act 253, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000, which places restrictions on the creation of civil service exempt positions and requires an annual review of exempt positions to determine whether they should be converted to civil service positions. (SD2)

Less civil service exemptions equals less opportunity for Kaua`i style patronage system corruption

SB1215 PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE HAWAII CONSTITUTION RELATED TO RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE.Elections; Candidates; Residency RequirementsAmends the state constitution to require candidates for the state senate or house of representatives to be a resident of the legislative district from which the person is a candidate for not less than twelve consecutive months prior to the general election.

Another Incumbent Preservation Act- at least we get to vote it down in November although a lot of knee jerk ditto heads will probably vote for it.

SB1265 SD1 RELATING TO LABELING OF MEAT AND FISH PRODUCTS.Fish; Meat; LabelingRequires truthful labeling of meat and fish that has been gas‑treated. (SD1)

The companion to the house “red ahi” gassing bill cited above.

SB1318 SD1 RELATING TO PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.Coastal Zone Management; State Planning; RepealRepeals the chapters relating to coastal zone management and state planning, and transfers the authority and functions of the office of planning to DBEDT. (SD1)

Check that- THIS is the worst bill of the year- it would repeal Sect 205(A) and with it the shoreline management area rules.

SB1338 SD2 RELATING TO HOUSEHOLD ENERGY DEMAND.Solar Energy, Clotheslines, Household Energy DemandAllows for the use of clotheslines at any privately owned single-family residential dwelling or townhouse. Allows reasonable restrictions on the use of clotheslines for aesthetic purposes. (SD2)

Companion to the house bill cited above that we thought passed last year.

SB1621 SD2 RELATING TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.Collective BargainingProvides a union representation privilege to protect the functions of the union as an exclusive bargaining representative to allow the union to perform its role in negotiations and contract enforcement; allows certification of union representatives through a card-check authorization; requires collective bargaining to begin upon union certification; sets certain deadlines for initial collective bargaining agreement procedures and conciliation of disputes; sets civil penalty for unfair labor practices; extends certain authorities to labor organizations representing employees for collective bargaining; allows labor disputes to be defenses against prosecution for certain violations of law. (SD2)

This is the good “card check” bill allowing unions to form with enough signatures. Now it’s up to the house.

SB1645 SD1 RELATING TO STATE BUILDING CODE.State Building Code; BambooDirects the state building code council to review studies and structural tests of bamboo as a construction material, and to recommend standards and criteria for the use of bamboo as an accepted construction material. (SD1)

Bamboo is the natural strongest building material in the world and is legally used almost everywhere- except Hawai`i. People have been trying to get this passed for years- maybe this is the one. but don’t count on it with the lumber lobby desperate to keep their tree murdering business alive.

SB1661 SD1 RELATING TO PUBLIC AGENCY MEETINGS.Public Agency Meetings; Board MembersClarifies permissible attendance and procedures for board members to attend meetings of other boards, departments, agencies, and hearings of the legislature. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD1)

This again is a Sunshine law revision but a good one. It clarifies that members of councils for instance can attend other meetings as long they don’t participate and report it. It will again take away a common excuse to try to change the law in a more fundamental manner as the councils want to do.

SB1675 SD2 RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY.Net Energy Metering; Renewable Energy; Electricity; Public Utilities CommissionPermits existing net metered customers to remain with net metering program once alternative credits or compensation mechanisms are created. Prohibits electric utility from unreasonably denying, burdening, or delaying net energy metering contracts. (SD2)

The utilities- KIUC included- have been intent on throwing up obstacles to individuals generating and selling excess alternative electricity back to the company. This seems to tell them to cut the crap. Thank you Mina.

SB1677 SD1 RELATING TO LANDS CONTROLLED BY THE STATE.Ceded Lands; Public Lands; SaleRequires two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to adopt a concurrent resolution to sell or exchange certain public lands. (SD1)

Oh you bad governor, trying to sell the Hawaiian’s land. Only WE can do that.

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