Just in...AG reports

The Library has received four reports to the 2006 Hawaii State Legislature from the Dept. of the Attorney General:

Annual Report of the Tobacco Enforcement Unit for Fiscal Year 2004-2005. This is an accounting of the Tobacco Enforcement Special Fund by the Tobacco Enforcement Unit which enforces the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the Tobacco Liability Act, and the cigarette and tobacco tax law. (HD9137 H3 H36 2004-05) (Also available in PDF, 316K, 14p.)

Report of the Investigations Division, Cold Case Squad, for Fiscal Year 2004-2005. The Cold Case Squad is dedicated exclusively to the resolution of cold homicide cases, where "all viable leads (have) been exhausted." (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-5) (Also available in PDF, 68K, 6p.)

Report of the Drug Nuisance Abatement Unit. The Drug Nuisance Abatement Unit enforces the nuisance abatement laws relating to offenses involving the distribution or manufacture of drugs. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-6) (Also available in PDF, 132K, 17p.)

Report Concerning Special, Trust, and Revolving Funds for Fiscal Year 2004-2005. An overview of the Department's special, trust and revolving accounts, which includes legal authority, purpose of account, financial summary, and revenues and expenditures. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-7) (Also available in PDF, 316K, 46p.)

All PDFs from AG


Energy Newsletter from NCSL

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) issued its quarterly Energy Newsletter (PDF, 60KB), focusing on "the energy-related effects of the recent hurricanes." The lead article reports on states' reactions to rising gasoline prices and includes Hawaii's gas cap. Other articles cover price gouging, distributed generation, effects on oil and natural gas markets, and voluntary transportation initiatives.


Just in...Developing Kalaeloa

Kalaeloa Master Plan; draft. The Hawaii Community Development Authority prepared this Master Plan to redevelop the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Ewa, Oahu. The Master Plan is intended to amend the existing Kalaeloa Community Redevelopment Plan, prepared as part of the Navy's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Consists of 2 volumes: v.1 - Report. v.2 - Technical appendices. (HD266 H3 B44 2005)


State work environments ranked

An AP story yesterday reported on a study by the University of Massachussetts Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) that ranked states on a "work environment index" for job opportunities, job quality, and workplace fairness. Based on 2004 data, states were compared on such factors as average pay, employee benefits, percentage of low-income workers, and ability to unionize. The top five states were Delaware, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, and Iowa. Massachusetts and Hawaii tied at 18-19. The study's authors said their findings were based on states' treatment of workers rather than their business climates.

Decent Work in America
    Full report (PDF, 2.2MB, 15p.)
    Summary (HTML)
    Both from PERI



Denver mayor jumps out of plane over the state's falling economic fortunes...Mayor John Hickenlooper was actually wearing a parachute at the time, but a point was to be made. AP reports on Colorado's upcoming vote on relaxing the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), the constitutional amendment which limits tax and spending increases by linking them to inflation and population. Since Colorado's economy hit a recession in 2001, lawmakers deeply carved into the state's health and education spending for much of the mandated $1.1 billion in cuts over three years. This prompted proposals easing the tax caps. Polls report a pretty even split among voters, with the 'undecided' becoming the drop zone for the fierce and sometimes theatrical campaigners.

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Hawaii Administrative Rules Table of Statutory Sections Implemented

This edition of the Hawaii Administrative Rules Table of Statutory Sections Implemented and Directory includes all of the rules of Hawaii state government agencies filed with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in the Hawaii Administrative Rules format prior to May 1, 2005. All prior versions of the Table are superseded. This publication also contains a partial directory of the State's administrative rules listing all of the chapters organized under each of the titles of the Hawaii Administrative Rules. The purpose of this table is to enable users to tell at a glance whether state agencies have adopted rules that purport to implement or interpret statutory sections.

Hawaii Administrative Rules Table of Statutory Sections Implemented
Published annually by the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB)
(available in PDF, 308KB)


Electronic voting

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released, on Oct. 21, a study on government efforts to improve electronic voting. In 2002 Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which authorized funding for state and local governments to improve election administration, including increased use of electronic voting systems. HAVA also established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to support election improvements.

GAO did this study because concerns have been raised about the security and reliability of electronic voting. GAO recommends that EAC collaborate with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to improve voting system standards and continually update voting system software, establish time frames for a national voting system certification program, and improve management support to state and local election officials for sharing information on problems and vulnerabilities of voting systems.

ELECTIONS: Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed

     Full Report (PDF, 1.2MB, 107p.)
     Highlights (PDF, 44KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (HTML)
     All from GAO

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) (PL 107-252)
     (PDF, 212KB, 66p., from GPO)

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Real ID and reality

Govtech.net alerted readers today to Virginia Governor Warner's news release announcing the creation of the Task Force on the Real ID Act. The Real ID Act of 2005 prohibits Federal agencies from accepting State issued driver's licenses or identification cards unless such documents are determined by the Secretary to meet minimum security requirements. Minimum requirements include: verification of identity and lawful residency; the incorporation of specified data; a common machine-readable technology; and certain anti-fraud security features. The Act became law, P.L. 109-13 (HTML or PDF), on 5/11/2005. Warner's news release states, "Cost estimates to implement the program nationally range from $700 million to $1 billion. Congress has proposed approximately $100 million in funding to be distributed among the states."

Some of the task force responsibilities include reviewing the Real ID Act and its potential impact on Virginia, including but not limited to the potential increased cost; identifying a timeline for implementation; and recommending strategies to minimize impact of underfunded federal mandates.

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Just in...Protecting Hawaii's coasts

Hawaii Coastal Hazard Mitigation Guidebook. Author Dennis J. Hwang states that the book's purpose is "to reduce risk to coastal development by planning for natural hazards such as erosion, flooding, tsunamis, and hurricanes." While the manual includes concepts in FEMA's Construction Manual, it emphasizes proper siting, without which "even the best construction methods cannot prevent damage." Topics include: Relationship of erosion with other coastal hazards; Determining the erosion, wave, flood and inland zone in the hazard assessment; Infrastructure improvements; and Erosion/hazard noticed - remedial options evaluated. The report was funded by a grant sponsored by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, SOEST. (GB458.35 H47 2005)

NH Supreme Court Webcasts

The New Hampshire Supreme Court now broadcasts its public sessions live on the Internet, Govtech.net reports Oct. 21. After the live broadcast, both video and audio are available on the judicial branch's website for replay. Confidential proceedings will not be accessible. The New Hampshire judiciary joins 20 other states that Webcast oral arguments.

Take the car...but next week

Local Hawaii press has been industriously reporting 'gas cap' news for months: the anticipated prices, the political squarings off and exchanges, and the cap's recent implementation (see iClips, September and October local business stories). Zach Patton in Governing.com's blog, 13th Floor, offers a view from the mainland and notes an interesting spin to the adjusted price caps. In his Thursday Oct 20 post, Gas Pumponomics, Mr. Patton finds it "rare for an entire population to know exactly when and by exactly how much the price of something is going to change." From stranded cars during the highs to dry gas pumps during the lows, seems the not quite fortuitous per gallon fluctuations make odd the traffic patterns of human drivers. Of course, the caps are ceilings and do not force wholesalers to charge up to the maximum allowed, everyone just figures they will, and plans accordingly.


E-Rate program mismanaged

An Associated Press (AP) article Oct. 19 reported on congressional findings of mismanagement in the E-rate program which funds Internet connections in schools and libraries, especially in rural and low-income areas. Administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the $2.25 billion program is financed by telephone companies through the universal service charge on consumers' phone bills. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a press release Oct. 18 on the report of its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee which found the E-Rate program "a well-intentioned program that nonetheless is extremely vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse, is poorly managed by the FCC, and completely lacks tangible measures of either effectiveness or impact."

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Concerns With the E-Rate Program
(PDF, 372KB, 51p., from the Committee on Energy & Commerce)



Massachusetts medical costs online

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced in a press release Oct. 18 that consumers can now access information on the cost and quality of medical procedures in the state online. Massachusetts annually collects data about its healthcare services but that information has remained in its state agencies. While a few states already provide information on the quality of health services, Massachusetts is the first to provide cost data. The website will eventually include information on nursing homes, physicians, and pharmacies. "Working towards greater transparency benefits consumers and helps to strengthen our entire healthcare system," said Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Tim Murphy.

Visit the website, Health Care Quality and Cost Information



Losing government managers

Government agencies are losing their baby-boomer managers to retirement, and there is no "leadership pipeline" to groom their successors, the Sacramento Bee reported Oct. 17, citing a study conducted by CPS Human Resource Services. Not only is there a need for management replacements, the author of the study commented, but the need for government services will increase as the overall population ages (see related post).

The Hawaii Leadership Academy is one of five state government case studies in the report. The Hawaii program is unique among the government organizations interviewed, the report noted, because it hired the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to create the eight-month program. (The other state case studies are Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, and Michigan.)

Building the Leadership Pipeline in Local, State, and Federal Government
(available in PDF, 1.6MB, 104p., from CPS Human Resource Services)


A model of college-level learning for the states

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education this month published its Measuring Up,
a model for evaluating and comparing college-level learning on a state-by-state basis, including assessing educational capital. As well as releasing the results for five participating states, the National Forum also explores the implications of its project findings in terms of performance gaps by race/ethnicity and educating future teachers.
The National Center is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting "public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities to pursue and achieve high-quality education and training beyond high school...(and) prepares action-oriented analyses of pressing policy issues facing the states and the nation regarding opportunity and achievement in higher education."

Measuring Up on College-Level Learning - October 13, 2005
(available in PDF, 311KB, from The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education)



Federal funding for STEM programs

A study issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today reports that the federal government spent $2.8 billion in FY2004 for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Long a world leader in science and technology, the U.S. seeks to maintain its competitive advantage by increasing students and improving educational programs in these fields. This study reports on (1) the number of such federal programs funded in FY2004 and their effectiveness, (2) how students, graduates, and employees in STEM fields have changed over the years, and (3) factors affecting students' deciding to pursue STEM degrees and occupations, and ways to encourage more participation.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs and Related Trends
    Full report (PDF, 928K, 112p.)
    Highlights (PDF, 40K, 1p.)
    Abstract (HTML)
    All from GAO

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Just in...5 titles

Public Funds Disbursed, 1980-2004. The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission's report on public funds disbursed to candidates (1) by election year, 1980 through 2004, and (2) by office. (JK1991.5 H3 H34 no. 1) (Also available in PDF, 1.58MB, 34p., from the Commission)

State of Hawaii Executive Branch Workforce Profile. Profile of the executive branch workforce as of June 30, 2004, by the Dept. of Human Resources Development (DHRD). Provides data (1) on the entire executive branch workforce, both civil service and exempt; (2) separately on the four personnel systems that comprise the executive branch workforce: DHRD, Board of Education, University of Hawaii, and Hawaii Health Systems Corporation; and (3) on projected retirements through June 30, 2009. (JK9355 H35 2005) (Also available in PDF, 776KB, 97p., from DHRD)

2005-2008 DOE Strategic Plan. The strategic plan of the Hawaii Dept. of Education targets 3 student priorities: academic achievement, safety and well being, and civic responsibility, and has 3 goals: improve student achievement through standards-based education, provide comprehensive support for all students, and continuously improve performance and quality. (LA263.2 H27 2005) (Also available in PDF, 320KB, 28p., from DOE)

Energy Markets: Gasoline Price Trends. Testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on how gasoline prices are determined and what factors will likely influence future gasoline prices. (HJ9802 U42 (05-1)) (Also available in PDF, 336KB, 24p., from GAO)

Social Security Numbers: Federal and State Laws Restricet Use of SSNs, yet Gaps Remain. SSNs have become key information in identity theft. This testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) focuses on describing (1) public use of SSNs, (2) private sector use of SSNs, and (3) laws regulating the use of SSNs and ID theft. (HJ9802 U42 (05-2)) (Also available in PDF, 324KB, 36p., from GAO)

Edison Schools' report card

Both the Honolulu Star Bulletin (Only Average) and the Honolulu Advertiser (With Time) ran stories today, Oct 13, on the RAND evaluation of the Edison Schools, the nation's largest education management organization. As stated in the Bulletin, Edison Schools Inc. is working with seven Hawaii schools under two-year school reform contracts for a total of $3.9 million a year (see also previous post). The RAND evaluation of Edison questioned:
  • What are Edison's strategies for promoting student achievement in the schools it manages?
  • How are Edison's strategies implemented in the schools it manages?
  • How does Edison's management of schools affect student achievement?
  • What factors explain differences in achievement trends among Edison schools?
Inspiration, Perspiration, and Time - Operations and Achievement in Edison Schools
   Full report, in PDF, 1.2 MB
   Summary, in PDF, .4 MB
   Research Brief, in HTML



Medicaid: Long-term care partnership

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released correspondence on a public-private partnership between states and private insurers to reduce Medicaid expenditures for long-term care. Persons who buy insurance policies designated by a state as partnership policies first use those benefits to pay for their long-term care before accessing Medicaid. To encourage the purchase of partnership insurance, policyholders may protect their assets from Medicaid spend-down requirements, but they must still meet income requirements. Currently four states offer Long-Term Care Partnership Programs - California, Connecticut, Indiana, and New York.

Overview of the Long-Term Care Partnership Program
      Full Briefing (PDF, 364K, 37p., from GAO)
      Abstract (HTML)

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Capitol blogs

Washington Post (WP) offers a look (Oct 11; Page A15) at the growing popularity of blogging from the Hill. Though the federal foray into blogging is more sedate and restrained than the customary bluntness of the known blogosphere, the paper writes that many feel the public can only benefit, "the sites can give constituents glimpses into their representatives' personalities, opinions and day-to-day responsibilities." Finding many lawmakers have launched blogs or blog-like pages on their official web sites, such as Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), WP reports more than a dozen regularly contribute to established popular blogs like The Huffington Post, The Blog and Daily Kos. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who not only blogs on his official web site, but cross posts to the Daily Kos and publishes a podcast page, is reported to have said in an interview, "If you take these blogs seriously, they'll take you seriously."


Health care lower rate increase no relief

Hewitt Associates issued a press release Oct 10 of their survey finding that "U.S. companies continue to face significant health care cost increases, but 2005’s is the lowest rate increase in six years." However, the survey continues, "Employees’ contributions for health care have steadily increased, nearly doubling since 2002." Furthermore, health care is growing almost three times faster than wages, adding to rising out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.

Employers and Employees Struggle With Health Care Costs; Rate Hikes Continue to Outpace Inflation and Salary Increases

(available in HTML and PDF, 164K, from Hewitt)



Aging boomers - impact on states

 Stateline.org today reports on the challenges facing state policymakers arising from an unprecedented demographic shift. From 2011, every state will see its 65+ population increasing faster than its total population. States will have to consider the impact of the growing number of elderly in such areas as: long-term care, state worker shortage, pensions, transportation, protective services, and generational conflicts.

The article notes how two states have dealt with their large senior populations. Florida established a Cabinet-level Department of Elder Affairs in 1992. Pennsylvania has the nation's only lottery which benefits its elder programs exclusively. Retirees' revenues have contributed significantly to their economies.



Electronic voting in California

Govtech.net reports that California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has imposed "stringent new conditions on voting systems being considered for use in California elections, outlining ten critical requirements for any vendor applying for certification of voting equipment" in California. The Secretary also announced the creation of the Office of Voting System Technology Assessment in the Secretary of State's Office, described as "a permanent, professional and fully staffed voting system technology and testing unit and a one-stop-shop for voting system certification."

Secretary McPherson Announces Statewide Electronic Voting System Requirements and New Office of Voting System Technology
(available in PDF, 64KB, California Secretary of State news release)

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All Kids health in Illinois

In an Associated Press story Oct 6, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is reported "proposing to make Illinois the first state to offer health insurance coverage for all children, including 250,000 who now lack any such benefits." To pay for the program, the governor plans to revamp state health programs to cut expenses. It is believed that 125,000 more children would become eligible for Illinois' current care program for children, KidCare, and another 125,000 who already qualify would enroll from the program's publicity.

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No Internet for 65 million Americans

PEW Internet & American Life Project released a new study on the digital divisions: Americans with broadband, dial-up or no access to the Internet. The survey findings reported:
Sixty-eight percent of American adults, or about 137 million people, use the internet, up from 63% one year ago. Thirty-two percent of American adults, or about 65 million people, do not go online, and it is not always by choice...At the other end of the spectrum, 53% of home internet users have high-speed access, creating a new divide among internet users.
Digital Divisions
(available in PDF, 264KB, from PEW)



Counties go wireless

Government Technology Digital Communities, reports on the growth of wireless broadband networks of U.S. municipalities. At the September Muniwireless conference, a published study found that U.S. cities, towns and counties "will spend nearly $700 million over the next three years to build municipal-owned wireless networks." Washington Post (WP) reported Wednesday that Philadelphia plans to build such a network offering the service to low income households for as low as $10 per month. An Associated Press (AP) story reported Sunday that Google recently filed an application to build a free wireless network for the city of San Francisco. Free Press, "a nonpartisan organization working to involve the public in media policymaking and to craft policies for more democratic media," believes cities view municipal wireless as a means "to spur economic growth: on the one hand to put tools in the hands of the underprivileged and give them a leg up, and on the other to provide incentives to small businesses to locate in these cities and to expand their operations."



Medicaid asset transfers

In 2004, Medicaid spent about $93 billion for long-term care. To qualify for Medicaid assistance, individuals' assets must be below certain levels. Those who pay for long-term care on their own may deplete their assets and become eligible for Medicaid. Some may transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report today on this subject, reviewing (1) level of assets held and tranferred by the elderly, (2) asset transfers that may result in penalties, (3) how states determine financial eligibility, and (4) guidance provided to states by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on asset transfers.

Hawaii was one of nine states selected for detailed review of Medicaid eligibility determination practices. The other states were Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

MEDICAID: Transfers of Assets by Elderly Individuals to Obtain Long-Term Care Coverage
      Full Report (PDF, 804KB, 52p.)
      Highlights (PDF, 72KB, 1p.)
      Abstract (HTML)
      All from GAO

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Deciding on a right to die

On October 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gonzales v. Oregon, involving the conflict with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and the U.S. attorney general's interpretation of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), forbidding the dispensing of lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients. With a history that includes two Oregon voter approved referendums and several reversals of federal interpretations of "legitimate medical purpose" under CSA, Gonzales v. Oregon arises out of the current controversies surrounding end-of-life decision-making.

The PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life publishes a legal backgrounder (September 2005) and a transcript of a forum they held in May, 2005, discussing the social implications of the right to die:

Supreme Court Considers Challenge to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act: Gonzales v. Oregon and the Right to Die (a legal backgrounder)
(available in PDF, 208KB, from PEW)

Right to Die? Legal, Ethical and Public Policy Implications (event transcript )
(available in HTML from PEW)

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