Law Aims to Help Landlords While Lowering Renters’ Utility Bills

Source: Dave Smith, “Law Aims to Help Landlords While Lowering Renters’ Utility Bills,” Big Island Now, 3 July 2013.

A bill signed into law today allows landlords to essentially serve as independent power companies while expanding the use of renewable energy.

Senate Bill 19, enacted by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as Act 261, removes landlords from state law’s definition of what constitutes a public utility.

The act allows them to install renewable energy systems on their property and then sell that electricity to their tenants or lessees.

It requires that the rate charged for the electricity must be lower than that charged by the utility, and must also be included as part of the lease.

Puna Sen. Russell Ruderman, one of three sponsors of the bill, said the process will provide benefits for both landlords and tenants.

While the most obvious is tenants’ access to lower-cost electricity, he said the landlord will be able to take advantage of tax credits as well as receive revenue from the sales.

It’s essentially the same incentives that homeowners have to install photovoltaic solar systems, Ruderman said.

“I think they will be able to make money off the system and eventually own it,” he said.

Ruderman noted that the process will also make rentals more attractive to tenants.

Sen. Mike Gabbard, another of the bill’s sponsors, said since renters make up 40% of the state’s population, the new http://bigislandnow.com/2013/07/03/law-aims-to-help-landlords-while-lowering-renters-utility-bills/law has the potential to lower utility bills for many Hawaii residents.

Gabbard, who represents parts of central and leeward Oahu, also sees opportunities for large-scale commercial ventures.

“It will also open up a great investment opportunity for places like Ala Moana Center that could put up a big PV system and then sell the electricity to the different stores in the mall,” he said.

The bill had the support of renewable energy advocates and several state agencies, including the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“We believe this bill will allow renters and lessees the ability to take advantage of lower-priced fixed-rate renewable energy, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy in Hawaii and helping the State meet its clean energy objectives,” DBEDT Director Richard C. Lim said in written testimony submitted to the Legislature.

However, the state’s consumer advocate, Jeffrey Ono, and Hermina Morita, head of the Public Utilities Commission, both testified that they believe the part of the bill exempting landlords from the definition of public utilities was unnecessary because state law already provides an exemption for such projects.

KITV.com: State government pushing transparency online

Source: KITV – 3 July 2013.

HONOLULU —Gov. Neil Abercrombie walked into his ceremonial room at the state Capitol holding a smartphone that was streaming his bill signing event live on the Internet.

Abercrombie was making the point that technology matters, and with greater technology comes the ability to more easily distribute information to the public.

“The very nature of our challenge right now is, can we get the hardware up to date that will allow us to do it?” said the governor.

Abercrombie signed two bills into law Wednesday that hope to enhance Hawaii’s broadband and cyber-security capabilities, while a third bill promises to provide more data on state government.

Known as the “open data” bill, HB 632 requires nearly all state departments and agencies to make electronic data sets available to the public online. State Sen. Glenn Waikai, the driving force behind the bill in the House, said a plethora of information would eventually be available to the public.

“We should be able to allow people to see everything from salaries, to how many people we have in various departments, to business registration, to court documents, to everything,” said Waikai. “If you’re going to have open government, it has to start with open data.”

Agencies have already begun placing data sets on a new dedicated website, http://www.data.hawaii.gov. Abercrombie said more information would be made available by early next year.

“By next legislative session, we’ll provide government data in a way the state had never (done) before,” said the governor. “Everyone in the state will be able to participate.”

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s chief information officer, said the state’s default position on the sharing of information would be, “Share first, and protect what you must.”

A description of the three bills signed into law Wednesday is as follows:

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HB632 (Relating to Open Data) requires state departments to make electronic data sets available to the public. The bill also requires the chief information officer (CIO) to develop policies and procedures to implement the Open Data Initiative, and appropriates $100,000 each fiscal year of the biennium to Office of Information Practices (OIP).

HB635 (Relating to Broadband) requires the state and counties to take action in advancing the Hawaii Broadband Initiative within 60 days (for conservation districts, the state must take action within 145 days). The initiative’s goal is to provide ultra high-speed Internet access by 2018, and this clear and decisive timeline will reduce uncertainty for broadband companies and serve as an incentive to invest in increased bandwidth.

SB1003 (Relating to Information Technology), another of the administration’s bills, authorizes the CIO to conduct security audits and direct remedial actions, as necessary, in the management of the state’s cyber security.

Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/hawaii/state-government-pushing-transparency-online/-/8905354/20836868/-/nyw3wx/-/index.html#ixzz2YU4Om9ta

HNN: New Law Helps Native Hawaiians Be Counted

Native Hawaiian Roll Commission

Native Hawaiian Roll Commission

Source: Tim Sakahara, Hawaii News Now, 4 July 2013.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – It is America’s Independence Day and it’s also a day to remind Native Hawaiian’s there is still work to be done to be recognized as a sovereign body.

Keeping track of who’s Native Hawaiian is about to get easier and cheaper as the state gets rid of some major paperwork hassles.

Ever heard of list fatigue? Kana’iolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission has.

“Just the other week I was talking to one of my good friends and she had mentioned to me, ‘I have list fatigue already.’ You ask a lot of Hawaiians and they’re either on the Kamehameha schools list or some are on the DHHL list for a land lease, many of them are on the OHA list and the list goes on,” said Na’alehu Anthony, Kana’iolowalu Commissioner.

There is a remedy to list fatigue. A new law that went into effect July 1 lets the Commission take the confirmation from other entities and apply it to the Native Hawaiian Roll. For example, if someone already has a verification letter from Kamehameha Schools, that’s enough.

“So we’ll take that letter as proof you are Native Hawaiian,” said Anthony.

That means people won’t have to go to the Department of Health, wait in line and spend $10 to get another birth certificate. The Commission also made a deal with the DOH to look up names in bulk.

“What we’ve done is we’ve simplified the process to be able to ask the Department of Health, given this person’s name and this person’s date of birth if they’re Hawaiian and it’s just a yes or no,” said Anthony.

So far there are fewer than 15,000 people on the Native Hawaiian Roll. They expect in the coming months that number to increase dramatically. Once on the list those Native Hawaiians will have a say in organizing a governing entity.

“Today is Independence Day for the United States but also I think it’s a great reminder that Native Hawaiians have these unrelinquished claims that need to be dealt with in a civil and calm way that allows us to move forward as everybody that lives in Hawaii,” said Anthony.

The year deadline to sign the roll was coming up this month, but it has been extended to January 2014.

For more information or to register for the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission click here.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Report to Waianae Neighborhood Board – July 2013

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