Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Reversal

April 22nd, 2014
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The Democratic Party of Hawaii on Tuesday reversed course and agreed to allow state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, to speak at the party’s state convention in May.

Ige – like Abercrombie and seven other top elected officials – will be given five minutes to discuss progress toward the party’s platform in front of delegates at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Ige’s campaign advisers complained to the party last week after learning that he and other candidates would not be able to address delegates from the convention podium. Candidates will be given a separate opportunity to appear at a meet-and-greet event at the Royal Hawaiian.

Ige blamed the snub on Abercrombie, since an aide to the governor’s deputy chief of staff is planning the convention, but party officials have insisted that shortening the convention to two days from two and-a-half days makes it impossible to allow all candidates to speak.

The party’s executive committee, however, met privately Tuesday evening at party headquarters in Kakaako and decided to grant Ige’s request for speaking time.

Yield

April 22nd, 2014
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the Democratic Party of Hawaii on Tuesday that he would be willing to yield some of his time at the state convention in May so other candidates for governor could address the delegates.

In a letter to Dante Carpenter, the party's chairman, the governor said it was "in the finest traditions of our party" to allow equal opportunity for others to speak.

State Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Abercrombie in the primary, complained last week that he was being denied an opportunity to address delegates from the convention podium. Ige asked the party too allow all candidates in major races to speak. Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who is running for Congress, joined in Ige's request over the weekend.

Eight elected officials -- including Abercrombie -- have each been given five-minute slots to discuss progress toward the party's platform at the convention at the Sheraton Waikiki. Candidates have been given a separate opportunity to appear at a meet-and-greet at the Royal Hawaiian.

Party leaders are considering Ige's request.

From Abercrombie:

In my role as governor, I was asked to address delegates at the Hawaii Democratic Party Convention. Some statewide candidates, however, have made requests to similarly address delegates. While the Democratic Party makes the final decisions on convention matters, I have offered to yield a portion of my time to all of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates running for office. In doing so, I hope that convention delegates will able to hear the many diverse voices of the Democratic Party.

*Updated: From Ige:

I am pleased that the governor agreed with my call for fairness and that all statewide democratic candidates be given the opportunity to speak from the floor of the state Democratic convention and not break from traditions of previous years. This election is about hearing everyone's voices, positions and issues, and moving the party and the state forward.

`Plagued'

April 22nd, 2014
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Pat Saiki, the state GOP chairwoman, has asked a California congressman to urge the Government Accountability Office to include Hawaii among the states being investigated on health care exchanges.

Republicans have sought to make the troubled rollout of the federal health care reform law a campaign issue in this year's election. President Barack Obama has hailed the law's initial enrollment success, but several states -- including Hawaii, which received $204 million in federal grant money to create an exchange -- have had problems.

Saiki wrote U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a fierce critic of Obama and health care reform, after state Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom received contradictory responses from the GAO last week about whether Hawaii would be included in the probe.

From Saiki:

Governor Abercrombie’s plagued health connector has missed deadlines, been fraught with problems, and cost taxpayers over $204 million dollars – roughly $26 thousand per enrollee. This kind of reckless spending of our hard-earned tax dollars is simply unacceptable. Since Senator Slom’s efforts to hold our government accountable continue to be hampered by political brinkmanship, I hope Oversight Chairman Issa will provide guidance to the GAO.

HB 1700 -- Day 3

April 21st, 2014
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State House and Senate negotiators knocked down dozens of items on Monday afternoon as they move closer to a final draft of the state budget.

The next conference committee meeting is on Wednesday morning. Action on other bills with financial implications is on hold as lawmakers wait for the budget to close. Lawmakers have until midnight Friday to finish work on bills before final votes next week, when the session adjourns.

Budget negotiators on Monday agreed to spend $5 million in state money and $2.9 million in federal funds to increase monthly foster care payments. The $529 monthly payments have not been increased since 1990.

"I think this is something that was important for both the Senate and the House members -- to increase the board rates for hard-working foster parents," said Rep. Sylvia Luke, the lead House negotiator.

"Absolutely," said Sen. David Ige, the lead Senate negotiator. "It's something that is long overdue."

House and Senate negotiators are still working on a state construction budget that could potentially include $40 million to help acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay Resort.

Neither the House nor Senate drafts of the budget include the Turtle Bay money, however.

Luke and Ige said they had not seen any details on what for now is a handshake agreement between the state, the county, conservationists and the resort's developer.

"It's kind of hard to fund $40 million on a handshake," Ige said.

$10.10 by 2017

April 21st, 2014
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State Sen. Clayton Hee floated a conference draft of the minimum wage bill to House conferees Monday morning that has Hawaii's minimum wage increasing to $10.10 in three years.

House negotiators last week proposed a draft that would have postponed a minimum wage increase for small businesses of 100 employees or less until 2019.

The most recent Senate draft does not include a small business exemption.

"This one is a step forward and not a step backward," Hee, the lead Senate negotiator, told House conferees after he handed over the draft.

The House and Senate have not been able to agree whether minimum wage should ultimately increase to $10 or $10.10.

Hee's draft also keeps the  tip credit — the amount employers are allowed to deduct from tipped employees' hourly wage — at the current 25 cents.

Previous drafts have proposed a tip credit of 75 cents. The House draft that returned to the Senate before conference committee negotiations began permitted employees to take out a 75-cent tip credit only from workers who earn $7 more an hour than the minimum wage.

— Sarah Zoellick