Watching and reporting about Hawaii politics and government.

5:38 p.m. Task Forces, Lobbying and Ethics

Civil Beat has reported on the dispute between the Legislature and the Ethics Commission regarding members of task forces lobbying on issues related to task force matters.

On Aug. 30, Shan Tsutsui and Calvin Say asked AG David Louie for an opinion on whether task force members are state employees and thus subject to the state Ethics Code — something the Ethics Commission believes to be the case.

Some lawmakers disagree with the commission’s view and argue that it will inhibit their ability to appoint qualified people to task forces, and to obtain expert advice from those task forces.

Here is the letter from Tsutsui and Say.

And here are the attached documents that include a bill on mortgage foreclosures that called for a task force, Les Kondo‘s opinion on task force members and lobbying and a contrary opinion from the Senate Majority Research Office requested by Roz Baker.

1:10 p.m. Champley Named to PUC

Utility expert Mike Champley is expected to be appointed by the governor to the Public Utilities Commission.

Champley, a consultant for Blue Planet Foundation, will be an interim appointee. He replaces Carlito Caliboso, a Linda Lingle appointee who resigned earlier this year to practice law.

Should the governor wish Champley to serve a full term beginning in 2012, he would have to submit his name to the state Senate next session for confirmation.

The PUC has three members. Chair Mina Morita was appointed by the governor during the 2011 legislative session. The other member is John Cole, another Lingle appointee.

Caliboso and Cole are among the 28 board and commission appointees that Neil Abercrombie asked to resign so that he could appoint his own people. The request has largely been ignored.

12:22 p.m. $4.7M for UH First-Responder Programs

Dan, Dan, Mazie and Colleen say that the University of Hawaii will receive $4.7 million “to develop and continue training programs designed to prepare Hawaii’s first responders for manmade or natural disasters.”

The funds, according to a press release, come via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
 

11:04 a.m. Kaauwai Hails Mainland GOP Wins

Jonah Kaauwai has penned a column that says Republican wins in New York and Nevada U.S. House races send “a clear message to Washington.”

Excerpt:

Less than a week after the President presented his jobs plan, Americans voted to send two new Republicans to Washington — an overwhelming rebuke of the Obama Administration and its policies!

As Hawaii Republicans, we have an enormous opportunity in 2012 with Charles Djou already running for the Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District and an open U.S. Senate seat for Hawaii. We can help Hawaii be a part of the movement to change the course of our great nation.

10:28 a.m. Recommendations Coming from Foreclosure Task Force

Members of the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force expect to have a draft of proposed changes and amendments to Act 48 by their Oct. 5 meeting.

The law, which went into effect May 5, is seen by many as the nation’s strongest foreclosure law because it, in part, will require lenders to have face-to-face mediation with a neutral party. It also placed a moratorium on non-judicial foreclosures — a move meant to help prevent families from being evicted.

At a meeting Wednesday, the task force, formed by statute in 2010, said it plans to have a bill in draft form with recommended changes and proposed amendments to the law by its next meeting.

The task force formed working groups to make recommendations in three areas:

  • Overall technical changes (they’ve already identified things like typos)
  • Ways to minimize the law’s impact on condominium and homeowner associations
  • Recommendations on the dispute resolution aspect, and the part of the law that states that violators will have committed an “unfair or deceptive act or practice,” opening them up to lawsuits.

The group is working toward a Nov. 1 deadline to produce a final report. It will dissolve June 30, 2012.

The task force also got an update from the Judiciary on the law’s effect on the courts so far.

Nanea Kalani

10:20 p.m. They’ll Always Have Paris

Neil Abercrombie and Nancie Caraway leave for Paris — as in France — tonight to celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss.

Brian Schatz is in charge until the governor returns on Sept. 26.

10:12 a.m. Reading DC808

There are many good reasons to read Adrienne LaFrance‘s blog from Washington, including the peeks at daily planners of our congressional delegation.

Case in point: Dan Akaka‘s schedule today notes that he has Bible study scheduled for noon.

Remediation Proclamation

The Abercrombie administration is now saying it was an “oversight” not to inform the public about the emergency declaration for U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ ordnance removal on lands used by the military.

As detailed in the eight-page proclamation, approved by AG David Louie and issued in June, the suspension of 23 state environmental statutes is set to expire June 30, 2016. That would fall midway through a second term of office for Neil Abercrombie, should he seek and win re-election in 2014.

The administration believes public safety warranted the emergency action. Excerpt:

When munitions, explosives or hazardous substances that pose an imminent threat to human health and safety are found on or under the State of Hawaii or county lands, including, for example, public beach areas, removal actions should be undertaken as expeditiously as possible to minimize the risk of injury or death to members of the public caused by contact with the dangerous items and substances.

The proclamation states that “lack of advance knowledge” about the ordnance did not allow state, city and county government “adequate time to comply with Hawaii’s environmental laws.

The ordnance proclamation, by the way, is not the first time Abercrombie has evoked his executive authority on emergency matters. He suspended portions of state law in response to the March 11 Japanese tsunami that damaged Hawaii’s shores.

PBS ‘Insights’: Early Childhood Education

Dan Boylan welcomes Terry Lock, Jonathan Gillentine, Jill Tokuda and Robert Peters tonight to discuss “efforts to improve the quality of Hawaii’s grade school readiness.”

A show notification reads, “We’ll examine how access to early childhood education can be improved and the barriers that parents, organizations and the state have been facing.”

Fourth Big Isle State Senate Seat Still Possible

Check out the latest in Neighbor Island government news:

Man who was nude, in monkey mask, fined on Maui

Kauai’s fight to eradicate little fire ants lasting more than 12 years

Fourth Big Isle senate seat still possible

Big Isle: 39 drunken driving arrests for week

ML&P puts in request for entitlements to Pulelehua

Long-delayed Hawaii County park sprouting

Kauai homes use loophole in solar-heater law

Hawaii post offices off potential closure list

Hawaii honey: Hive counts recover, production down

Largest photo-voltaic system on Maui dedicated at Honokowai


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