BY SAM SLOM – HMSA Seeks 12.8% Small Biz Med Boost. Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA), Hawaii’s largest health care insurance provider, asked the State Insurance Commissioner for the ability to raise health premiums 12.8% (on average) on the state’s small businesses. HMSA blames the need for the massive increase on Obamacare. These are just “average” increases; individual business could see even higher increases. The cancellations, and higher premiums, are just starting. Hawaii needs protection from Obamacare and the ACA now.

Hawaii Health Connector on Grill. Last Thursday, the US House Oversight Committee held hearings on Hawaii’s troubled state health exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Hawaii Health Connector Interim Executive Director Tom Matsuda presented a 94-page testimony. The Connector seeks more federal and state tax support even though more residents have had their previous health plans cancelled or premiums increased. The Connector has done little to alleviate the uninsured in Hawaii while punishing the rest of us.

Legislative Double Cross. Yesterday was the 47th day of the 60 day 27th Legislative Session, which ends May 1. The Senate dispatched nearly 100 bills in record time-about one hour. The Budget passed several days earlier so there was no debate on the $23.7 billion, 2-year supplemental budget. The Senate passed a 100-bill Consent Calendar in one vote then raced through the Ordinary Calendar. There was little or no debate on all bills even though they represent hundreds of millions of dollars of spending, new regulations and more government. Most votes were 24-1 with the Senate Minority voting NO on 33 bills, more than anyone else.
 
Governor Confiscates Your Toilet Paper? There was a controversial House Bill to transform Civil Defense into “Emergency Management.” Few legislators actually read the entire nasty thick bill, which confers to the Governor powers to search your home for hoarding and other excesses. That means the government could come for your six cases of water and 5 giant toilet paper packs in an “emergency.” Yikes. Conjures up the “King Ben” bill debated but not passed after 9/11.

Hawaii Finance Data More Timely. The national fiscal watchdog organization, Truth in Accounting, recognized Michigan, Hawaii, Tennessee, Illinois and Ohio as having the most improved timely release of end of the year financial reports. The credit goes to Hawaii’s Budget Director Kalbert Young who ensured Hawaii issued its end of the year report in 200 days instead of 400 days as it had been under the previous governor. Michigan stands out; the state’s report arrived just 82 days after year-end.

Lehua, Get Your Gun! The Department of the Attorney General released its annual report detailing statewide and county firearm registration statistics for calendar year 2013. A record total of 22,765 personal firearm permit applications were processed statewide during 2013, marking a 4.6% increase over the 21,864 applications processed in 2012. The 21,544 permits issued statewide in 2013 cover a total of 60,757 firearms registered in the State, a major, 20.6% increase from the previous record of 50,394 firearms registered in 2012. Just over half (30,802, or 50.7%) of the firearms registered during 2013 were imported from out-of-state, with the remainder (29,955, or 49.3%) accounted for by transfers of firearms that were previously registered in Hawaii.

Firearm registration activity increased in 2013, continuing a pattern that has been recorded over the course of the 14 years for which these data have been compiled and reported. While there has been an increase in firearm registration activity in Hawaii since 2000, the number of firearm-related violent crimes and the proportion of violent crimes involving firearms relative to other weapon types remained low and stable through 2007 and subsequently decreased.

Coco Da Winnah! The beloved Coconut Palm Tree in Hawaii Kai, “Coco,” was declared the winner as the Nation’s Best Tree. In the championship round of American Forests’ Big Tree Madness contest, “Coco” a towering coconut palm at the Hawea Heiau Complex in Hawaii Kai, beat out Missouri’s “Big Sassy Basswood.” Voting on April 4 on the American Forests’ Facebook page resulted in “Coco” receiving 64% of the votes to “Big Sassy Basswood’s” 36%.  Thousands of people from Hawaii and around the country voted for their favorite big trees.

“Coco” may not the biggest tree in overall girth, but to think at 112 feet high it’s withstood winds and storms and remains so stately and upright, makes it a remarkable tree,” said William Aila, Jr., chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Livable Hawaii Kai Hui hosted the competition. Coco starred in the beauty and talent competition. Coco will not be going on tour, but you can visit her anytime.

Mad Hatter Saturday.  Bring your wild hat and join the fun and entertainment to celebrate Livable Hawaii Kai Hui and the Wetlands they rescued, this Saturday, from 4:30-8:30 at the corner of Keahole and Hawaii Kai Drive. Purchase your ticket by April 9 and get a free wetland t-shirt and 1-yr. membership (while supplies last-mention Promo code: Mariliz) https://www.facebook.com/livablehawaiikaihui See you there.

You’ve Got the Power Premieres This Saturday. A new half hour television show, You’ve Got the Power, produced by Malia Zimmerman, Irma Baptiste and Shaunna Touchi of Luminescent Productions, will air on Saturday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. on KGMB TV and Saturday, April 19 at 6 p.m. on KHNL. See a 30-second clip of the show, click here>

The half hour show, which focuses on people who have overcome great odds to be successful and then help many other people, features Skylar Soares, Delorese Gregoire and Mo Maurer in the first episode.

Soares, 12, is the SBH Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013. She founded with the help of Make a Wish Foundation and Hawaii Pacific University, the HiSky retail business.

Gregoire is the founder of Winners Camp and has helped 15,000 teenagers discover their leadership skills and talents.

Maurer, a Maui resident, founded Assistance Dogs of Hawaii and has helped thousands of people in need find they joy and independence they deserve.

Sponsors include HMAA, King Windward Nissan, InControl Diabetes Center, Pharmacare, Revolusun, Hawaii Homestay and Ted Hong – attorney at law.

Tori Richard on the Move. Tori Richard Ltd. has moved its Ala Moana Shopping Center location within the mall, celebrating the opening of a new retail store in the Nordstrom Wing, Mall Level at 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. The store presents a dramatic new look for Tori Richard’s retail presence-a look first unveiled at its Kalakaua Ave. location, which opened in October 2013. The design will be reflected in all of Tori Richard’s new and renovated stores throughout the islands, as well as in concept stores on the mainland.

Piano Competition. Winnie Chan reminds us that the upcoming international accredited music exams will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center this coming Aug 7 -15, 2014. The entry deadline: Tue Apr 15, 2014. Contact Winnie at: Winnie Chan Piano Studio, 1441 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 807, Honolulu, HI 96814. Call/Text: 808-596-9268 Email: winnie@winniechanpianostudio.com

2014 Election Draw. The Office of Elections announced the order of the political parties that will appear on voters’ primary election ballot, Saturday, August 9. The positions of the state’s five political party ballots – and a sixth nonpartisan ballot – will appear as follows on the 2014 primary ballot: Libertarian, Independent, Republican, Green, Nonpartisan, and Democratic. The order in which the parties appear on the ballot is determined by random drawing.Now if we can only get elections officials to print and distribute the ballots on time!

COFA Bucks to Continue. Attorney General David M. Louie announced yesterday that the State of Hawaii will continue to provide benefits to the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) residents until a full and final resolution of the issues in Korab v. McManaman is reached.

In early April 2014, the Ninth Circuit ruled that when Congress enacted the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 and eliminated all federal funding for health benefits for COFA residents, the State of Hawaii could not be mandated to fund the federal government’s portion of the benefits. The Ninth Circuit’s decision confirms that the federal government cannot impose a duty on States to perform a function for which it does not provide funds. This ruling was a preliminary finding by the appellate court; there are still other proceedings that may occur. COFA costs Hawaii taxpayers more than $130 million annually.

Hawaii Receives a “C” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending. Hawaii received a C when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. That grade is a huge improvement. After receiving an F in last year’s report, Hawaii showed significant improvement this year with a score of 71. Of the 50 states, Hawaii’s was the 2nd most improved score.

2014 Maui Matsuri Business Award. Nominations are being sought for the 2014 Maui Matsuri Business Award. Nominees will be considered on the basis of their participation and support of the mission of the Maui Matsuri, which is to preserve and perpetuate the Japanese culture on Maui.The nomination for is at www.mauimatsuri.com or by calling committee chair Jennifer Sumida at 346-3002. The deadline is April 25.

Go Pago Pago. Hawaiian Airlines yesterday announced that it will increase service to American Samoa this summer in response to increased demand for travel between Pago Pago and Honolulu. Beginning June 18, a third weekly flight will be added on Wednesdays and will run for four weeks until July 16.

Sushi & Sake With Neil. Governor Neil Abercrombie is having a fundraiser-yes, yet another fundraiser to boost his $2.5 million war chest-tomorrow night at the Japanese Cultural Center. For $75 you can eat and drink; for $85 you can drink “premium” sake. Sake it to me. Kanpai!

SUNRISE Networking Breakfast. There will be a special keynote speaker at the next monthly SBH Sunrise Networking Breakfast speaker, Thursday, April 24, 7 – 8:30 am in the Pineapple Room of Macy’s Ala Moana Center. Public is invited. Reservations required. Full breakfast and free parking. Call SBH for reservations at 396-1724.

Coming Soon: Aina Haina Library Sale. The Friends of Aina Haina Public Library will hold their annual book sale fundraiser, Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located in the Aina Haina Shopping Center at 5246 Kalanianaole Hwy. A wide assortment of books, CDs, DVDs will be available for modest prices. All proceeds will benefit Aina Haina Public Library. For more information call 377-2456 or check out the library website at http://www.ainahainalibrary.org

Cougar Power. Last week, Kaiser High School Junior Stephanie Spear placed first at the Hawaiian State Science and Engineering Fair (sponsor/coordinator: Hawaiian Academy of Science). She took the top award: Grand 1st Place. She will compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, May 10 to May 16.Her teacher-advisor is Keith Huntington. He was recognized by the Academy as Grand 1st Place Teacher of the eventual winner.

The Honolulu District Fair Committee had raised enough money to send the maximum allotted 2 students to compete but did not anticipate that Stephanie would also win the entire State and have her teacher crowned as well.You can help Kaiser by donating money to send Mr. Huntington to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Kaiser is trying to raise $2,000 forair transportation, hotel and fees.Kaiser High School does not have a Foundation but donations can be made to:Hawaii Kai Educational Foundation (a non-profit 501(3) c or Niu Valley Middle School.
 
SBH Business & Investment Conference, May 13. The SBH 38th Annual Business Conference is set for Tuesday, May 13 at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom. Principal sponsors are HMAA and McDonald’s of Hawaii.

Featured speakers include: Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Tom Yamashita, Tax Foundation of Hawaii, Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Associated Builders & Contractors, Verizon Hawaii, Dale Evans, Charley’s Taxi, Bob Sigall, “The Companies We Keep,” Mark Storfer, Hilo Hattie, Naomi Hazelton-Giambrone, Pacific Edge Magazine, and others. You will be informed and entertained.

Best-selling author and motivational business success speaker, Patrick Snow, will be the SBH’s Keynote Luncheon Speaker. Current issue topics, networking, business exhibits and more will be included. Make reservations now by calling SBH at 808-396-1724.

Free Lunch! SBH member Talent HR Solutions, is inviting you to lunch at Dave and Busters in Honolulu, on Wednesday April 9 at 11:30 A.M. with a free lunch served at noon. Talent HR Solutions will give a presentation on the many advantages of utilizing a Human Resource Administration firm. Call the reservation line at 462-4589

New Facebook Link. The Hawaii Senate Minority has a new Facebook and a new look. Check it out here>
Please like us and invite your friends to like the group as well. If not, you are still able to view the page without creating an account.

Want More Business? JOIN SBH! Is YOUR business a member of SBH?  No? Lots of benefits. Strong networking organization. Call 396-1724 or go online to  smartbusinesshawaii.com.

Hawaii Reporter.com, Hawaii’s first electronic daily newspaper launched in 2002, has all the breaking news and unlike other publications in town, is still free. Award winning Hawaii Reporter and Malia Zimmerman report daily (M-F) on the Rick Hamada Show heard on KHVH radio on 830 AM at 7:05 am. Malia will share the news behind the news.

Tune in to Panos Prevedouros. SBH Director and UH Engineering Professor Dr. Panos Prevedouros is a weekly guest on Rick Hamada’s morning radio show every Tuesday from 7:05 a.m. to 8 am. Tune in!

Read SB NEWS.
Don’t forget to read your current (November) monthly SB NEWS by PDF attachment or link. More expanded news and views for the Hawaii business community. A limited number of printed copies are available for mailing if you call SBH (396-1724).

Advertise Here.
Some readers have inquired about placing an ad on the right margin of these weekly blasts, which reach more than 15,000 people. Interested? If you want your business ad posted, the cost is $50 for one placement or $150 per month (4-5 placements). Contact 396-1724.

Want more local business information? Please visit the several SBH websites at www.smartbusinesshawaii.com, www.educate808.com and www.sbhfoundation.org

Celebrating a business milestone? Your business press releases are welcome in the weekly SBH News & Views e-News, which reaches more than 15,000 business owners and government leaders in Hawaii.

What? Not receiving your copy? Send PR, additional requests and email address to  SBH@lava.net or call 396-1724.

As always, SBH appreciates your support, so please consider joining or sending a donation to help SBH continue to assist the private, independent businesses in our community.

Mahalo!

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