HONOLULU – Governor Neil Abercrombie today ordered that all national and Hawai’i flags at all State offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow, July 31, 2012, as a mark of respect for the memory of former State Representative John Justin Medeiros.
Former Representative Medeiros served the Kailua district in the State House of Representatives from 1971 to 1988. He served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1968 and chairman of the O’ahu Advisory Council from 1969 to 1970. He also served as a member of the Hawai’i State Boxing Commission.
“John devoted himself to serving his community and he set an example of courage and perseverance,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill requiring drivers to move over when they’re passing an emergency vehicle on a highway.
The governor signed the legislation during a ceremony Tuesday. He also signed four other traffic and safety measures.
The Legislature passed the “move over” bill after two Honolulu police officers were killed on the side of the road during the past year.
In January, Garret Davis was killed on the H-1 freeway when his squad car was struck from behind. Davis had pulled over to help a stalled vehicle.
In September, officer Eric Fontes was killed while assisting another officer with a traffic stop on Farrington Highway.
Hawaii is the only state that doesn’t have a “move over” law to protect people responding to emergencies.
While too late to make a difference this year a new laws about to take effect house Bill 2113 the schedule be signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie Tuesday this week July 10 in Honolulu. If signed into law the bill would take effect immediately in banning sky lanterns and aerial luminaries.
WHAT: Governor Abercrombie is scheduled to sign HB2113 bill into law. HB2113 imposes a total ban on aerial luminaries, including the ignition, possession, sale or use. State Representative Ryan Yamane, introducer of House Bill 2113, will bring a sky lantern to the bill signing to show the public what the device looks like before it is lit. Upon signing, the ban takes effect immediately.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Governor’s Office, Executive Chamber, State Capitol, 5th floor
WHY: Over the past year, fire departments noticed an increased usage of sky lanterns, which are paper lanterns with an open flame, small candle that heats the air inside the lantern causing the lantern to rise for several hundred feet and remain airborne until heat expires.
According to tests conducted by the Hawaii Fire Department:
“This new law will save lives, property and protect our aina,” said Rep. Yamane. “I applaud the governor enacting this law and all the firefighters throughout our state for their commitment to the health and safety of our community. Even though these lanterns look beautiful in the sky, they pose a serious and dangerous threat of fire.”
“The State Fire Council believes the uncontrolled release of aerial luminaries, or sky lanterns pose a potential danger to life and property,” said Fire Chief Ken Silva, Honolulu Fire Department. “These devices are paper lanterns containing a small candle or other fuel source that heats air inside the lantern, thus causing the lantern to rise several hundred feet and remain airborne until the heat source diminishes, at which time the lantern descends. This uncontrolled, open-flame device can land on combustible vegetation, buildings, or power lines and interfere with aircraft flight patterns.”
HONOLULU – Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law bills that are aimed to move Hawai’i forward in reducing its dependence on imported oil. Two of the measures enacted today are Senate Bills 2785 and 2787, which were among the Governor’s priority bills this past session.
“I want to thank the Legislature for recognizing the commitment that is needed to act now to move ahead with renewable energy projects that will benefit the State of Hawai’i,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “These measures are critical in addressing our sustainability. We must view our islands as interdependent and remain open to all renewable projects. My Administration is seeking long-term infrastructure investments that ensure our electric grids are stable, reliable and modern enough to integrate all available alternative and renewable energy technologies.”
Senate Bill 2787 authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to develop, adopt and enforce reliability standards and interconnection requirements, as well as contract for the performance of related duties with a party that will serve as the Hawai’i electricity reliability administrator.
Senate Bill 2785 establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high-voltage electric transmission cable system and for the construction of on-island transmission infrastructure.
In January, Governor Abercrombie announced the State will look at every option while being respectful to its approach to our island environment. The Governor assigned Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to coordinate and support the State’s energy priorities and to ensure that the state stays the course.
“These two new laws push us forward with the Governor’s plan for clean energy,” said Lt. Governor Schatz. “We are now leading the nation in this area, and although there’s lots of work ahead, we are on the path to reducing our dependence on imported oil.”
The Governor also signed into law SB 2150 and SB 2746. SB 2150 allows renewable energy systems on land designated for agriculture when the energy is used for the agricultural activity of that parcel. This will help further our clean energy goals while helping farmers implement more sustainable operations. SB 2746 authorizes the Department of Transportation to adopt rules for the issuance of license plates for electric vehicles and clarifies the conditions under which electric vehicles are exempt from parking fees.
Governor Abercrombie also enacted the following bills related to economic development:
SB 490 increases the maximum allocation of transient accommodations tax revenue to the tourism special fund from $69 million to $71 million until June 30, 2015; it also requires $2 million to be expended until June 30, 2015, for initiatives for international tourism.
SB 2281 authorizes an agency or an applicant to bypass the preparation of an environmental assessment and proceed directly with an environmental impact statement for proposed actions that are determined to require an environmental impact statement.
HB 2319 establishes a venture accelerator funding program under the Hawai’i Strategic Development Corporation to assist the State’s technology businesses to compete for investment capital.
HB 2265 makes permanent the amendments made by Act 175, Session Laws of Hawai’i 2009. It requires performance and payment bonds for procurements for construction greater than $50,000 and raises the ceiling for small purchase procurement for construction from $100,000 to $250,000.
HB 2873 transfers the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) from the University of Hawaiꞌi to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Office of Aerospace Development, and establishes a PISCES board of directors and appropriates funds.
“The economic vitality of our State requires out-of-the-box approaches,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “These measures related to economic development allow for greater opportunities for Hawai’i as a prime business location.”
Richard Lim, director of the Department of Business of Economic Development and Tourism, said, “These laws demonstrate the Abercrombie Administration’s commitment to positioning Hawai’i as an international leader in renewable energy and business development.”
Governor Abercrombie has enacted more than 160 bills. Tomorrow the Governor will be signing into law a measure that will establish the Early Learning Advisory Board, another priority bill. For a list of the bills signed into law so far, visit capitol.hawaii.gov.
HONOLULU – In support of increasing the sustainability of Hawai’i’s long-term care system, Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law Senate Bill 2466. The measure establishes a nursing facility sustainability fee. Fees collected will go towards a Nursing Facility Sustainability Program special fund. These funds will result in matching federal dollars.
“This bill is the result of a collaborative effort by long-term care providers and the State,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “The signing of this measure will enable the Department of Human Services to continue to maintain and provide long-term care assistance to all who need it.”
The Department of Human Services (DHS) will charge and collect a provider fee on health care items or services provided by nursing facilities.
“Hawai’i’s long term care facilities provide compassionate, needed care for our most vulnerable residents,” stated DHS Director Patricia McManaman. “The enhanced revenue from this measure will offset the unreimbursed Medicaid and uninsured costs incurred by long-term care facilities.”
The Nursing Facility Sustainability Program special fund is expected to generate $11.5 million. Twelve percent of the revenue shall be used by the DHS to restore funding for the 3 percent reduction in reimbursements to nursing facilities. In addition, this measure provides that Med-Quest will be able to draw down $9.5 million in federal matching funds and pay the nursing facilities $21 million to cover their uncompensated care losses.
There are 47 other states and the District of Columbia that have a provider fee as a means of drawing down federal funds to sustain their Medicaid programs.
“The provider fee will help preserve access to health care for the Medicaid population and sustain the State’s health care system,” said Governor Abercrombie. “This bill adequately strikes a balance.”
Governor Abercrombie continues to review and sign measures into law. Tomorrow the Governor will be enacting several energy-related bills. He has until July 10 to either veto or sign measures into law, or allow them to become law without his signature.
HONOLULU – After reviewing more than 340 measures, Governor Neil Abercrombie today notified the State Legislature of his intent to veto 19 of those bills. While he has provided this notice of intent as required by the Hawai’i State Constitution, the measures are still under consideration.
“It is clear that the 2012 Legislative Session was productive and filled with meaningful legislation,” stated Governor Abercrombie. “Some of these measures, however, may be difficult to implement as they are currently written, and there are other measures that must be given further consideration.”
The following measures are on notice of “intent to veto.”
House Bill 46 prohibits smoking in and around housing projects under the jurisdiction of the Hawai’i Public Housing Authority (HPHA), with an exception for designated smoking areas; and allows for eviction upon a third violation of the smoking prohibition. This bill would be difficult to implement because of the effective date and inflexible distance limitations. HPHA currently has plans to gradually institute a smoking ban in public housing project.
House Bill 246 appropriates funds to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu. Recently signed Justice Reinvestment Initiative measures provide for statewide appropriations and resources for the Prosecuting Attorney.
House Bill 280 removes the requirement that all Hawai’i-grown green coffee beans shall be inspected and certified by the Department of Agriculture. The implications of this measure are problematic. Further discussion is needed to ensure that the Hawai’i brand will not be undermined.
House Bill 283 would appropriate $196,000 from the agricultural loan revolving fund to a program to control and eradicate the coffee berry borer. Rather than use funds meant to help farmers who have trouble obtaining financing, the Department of Agriculture plans to use $200,000 of barrel tax funds in its commitment to eradicate the coffee berry borer and in order to meet the intent of this bill.
House Bill 1617 authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to extend commercial, hotel, resort and industrial leases for up to another 55 years when the lessee makes qualifying substantial improvements to the leased land. This would enable lessees to have exclusive control of a public property for up to 120 years. The impact of this needs to be closely examined and weighed against putting the public land out to bid to give others an opportunity to lease the land.
House Bill 1671 amends the procurement process by imposing time limits on rendering administrative and judicial review decisions, limiting protests to those that are a minimum percentage of the contract value, and requires posting of a protest bond. Time and resource considerations make this measure extremely difficult to implement. Moreover, there is another measure passed this session making procurement reform.
House Bill 1879 extends an exemption for pest control operators’ activities from notification and marking requirements of the One Call Center Program for another three years. The Public Utilities Commission is moving to expeditiously finish its risk level analysis for pest control operators and a three-year exemption will obviate any finding of the Commission.
House Bill 1984 requires that all letterheads, documents, symbols and emblems of the State and other political subdivisions include accurate and appropriate Hawaiian names and language. This bill has unintended consequences and is not implementable by the deadline as other statutory changes are necessary. While the aspiration is laudable, an earnest effort is necessary to identify how best to make this transition.
House Bill 2275 establishes a hospital sustainability fee and the hospital sustainability program special fund to receive moneys from the hospital sustainability fee. There are concerns about the effect and equitableness of this measure.
House Bill 2436 establishes the chief information officer or that officer’s designee as the chair of the Information Privacy and Security Council. This measure is duplicative of Act 71.
Senate Bill 2158 requires law enforcement agencies to accept cash bail, certified copies of pre-filed bail bonds, and original bail bonds when the court is closed, including nights, weekends and holidays. Practical realities render this bill impossible to implement as it is presently drafted.
Senate Bill 2214 allows an arbitration panel, rather than the State Legislature, to have the final decision on contributions to the Hawai’i employer-union health benefits trust fund by the State and counties for a health benefits plan and group life insurance benefits for active public employees. As different arbitration panels produce their findings for different bargaining units, the distribution of EUTF ratios may be unequal, which has serious consequences for financial planning and implementation. Moreover, the State is committed to dealing with its unfunded liabilities.
Senate Bill 2341 authorizes, within an agricultural district, agricultural tourism activities, including overnight accommodations of 21 days or less. This bill would allow vacation rentals on agricultural land without sufficient definition of what constitutes minimal agricultural activity required for true agricultural tourism.
Senate Bill 2424 adds various requirements for the registration and regulation of professional employer organizations (PEOs) and authorizes penalties for noncompliance. This bill is overly broad and will impose restrictions too difficult for all PEOs to comply with. In addition, the measure does not address licensing procedures.
Senate Bill 2536 establishes a temporary clean and sober home and halfway house task force that shall, among other things, establish a pilot clean and sober home and halfway house. There is a title problem with this bill which may violate the Hawai’i Constitution. This bill also requires the task force to establish clean and sober living facilities, which task forces do not have the ability to do. The intent of this measure can be accomplished through our Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Moreover, the Department of Health has the ability to establish a task force.
Senate Bill 2640 allows counties to permit the use of an otherwise authorized individual wastewater treatment system, except cesspools in a special management area, under certain circumstances. This measure presents public health concerns and does not move toward resolution of this issue.
Senate Bill 2742 amends the composition of the Hawai’i Community Development Authority (HCDA) board to include nine voting members for each established district. There are concerns about the restructuring of HCDA into three boards and the practical implications of such a division.
Senate Bill 2946 extends until June 30, 2016, the increase in the rental motor vehicle surcharge tax to $7.50 per day. This measure does not achieve its original intent and will end up having a cost for residents who rent cars.
Senate Bill 3017 clarifies that the daily $10 tax on transient accommodations furnished on a complimentary or gratuitous basis includes transient accommodations furnished as part of a travel package, but does not include transient accommodations furnished as part of a tourism industry promotional or marketing activity. This is duplicative of current practice in guidance issued by the Department of Taxation, TIR 2011-5. Also, enacting this bill may have adverse consequences to the other exemptions listed in the TIR (and not listed in the bill) if challenged in court.
To date, Governor Abercrombie has signed more than 150 measures into law. Governor Abercrombie continues to review legislative bills that he must either veto or sign into law by July 10, 2012, or allow them to become law without his signature.
“We will be reviewing the notification list over the next few days, says House Speaker Calvin Say. There is a majority caucus scheduled for Thursday to discuss the potential vetoes. We will have more information later in the week.”
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