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Monday, March 12, 2018
March 12, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:26 PM :: 3061 Views

Gun Control Rallies: How Today’s students have been Brainwashed to prepare for this moment their whole lives

The last time Congress created a new state

Hawaii refuses to release internal records on missile alert

AP: Hawaii officials have repeatedly pointed to a low-level state employee and a breakdown in his agency's leadership as the main cause for a January missile alert that left hundreds of thousands of islanders thinking they might die in a nuclear blast. But efforts to find out more about what other top officials did that day have been stymied at the highest levels of state government.

Hawaii law says opening the government to public scrutiny "is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest."

But for nearly two months, Gov. David Ige's office has refused to provide information requested by The Associated Press that could show how he and other officials handled the crisis.

Citing open records law exemptions, Ige's office has declined to release phone logs, text messages, instant messages and calendars related to the missile alert, even as the state moves forward with recommendations to implement a new missile alert system ….

State lawmakers' first opportunity to ask Ige about his role in the mistake was Jan. 19, when he appeared at a hearing . The governor answered some questions then left early.

At the time, Ige spokeswoman Cindy McMillian said only that the governor had other duties to attend to.

Responding to an AP request for Ige's calendar and phone records from that day, his office wrote : "The governor's personal calendar will be withheld because it is not maintained as a government record."

The office pointed to Ige's public calendar , which had no official business listed on the day of the hearing….

AP: Opportunist Mafia Candidate Hanabusa Calls for Missile Alert Transparency

read … Hawaii refuses to release internal records on missile alert

Lawmakers Ignore Tourism Industry, Pass New Taxes Targeting Visitors

CB: …The biggest potential revenue-generating measures are Senate Bill 2489 to increase the taxes paid by timeshare owners and Senate Bill 2699 to capture tax revenue from resort fees and online platforms such as Expedia that book rentals through their websites….

The tax department expects $19.4 million from SB 2699 and $20.2 million from SB 2489 for fiscal year 2019, which starts July 1.

Blake Oshiro, executive director of the American Resort Development Association, said in his testimony on SB 2489 that increases to the tax rate will “send a potentially negative message to visitors, and especially timeshare owners, that they are being targeted to bear the burden of the increases.”…

Both measures passed unanimously last week.

The additional revenue could help offset $33 million that won’t be coming in from Senate Bill 2963, the so-called Airbnb bill that the Senate unanimously passed. That’s because the online rental company says it won’t help the state collect the taxes under the current language in the bill. It was expected to raise $67 million a year going forward….

Here’s a look at the measures the Senate passed that are expected to generate revenue if they go on to become law, as compiled by the Ways and Means Committee.

SB508 promotes tax compliance. A Senate release says it has become difficult and costly for the state to collect unpaid taxes from nonresident sellers of Hawaii real estate. This measure would allow the state to recover taxes from nonresident sellers by increasing the percentage to 9 percent from 5 percent that is withheld on the amount realized by nonresidents from the disposition of Hawaii real property. The Department of Taxation projects this measure would generate $14.4 million for the state’s general fund for fiscal 2019.

SB2415 raises the conveyance tax rates for residential “investment” properties with a value of at least $2 million. The tax department expects $8.6 million in revenue next year from the bill.

SB2484 helps the state capture some of the money that certain residents will no longer be required to pay to the federal government and redirect that money to the state. A Senate release says the additional estate tax revenues could be used to pay for priorities that the federal government will no longer be able to support due to the significant reduction in estate tax revenues. The tax department estimates $900,000 for fiscal 2019.

SB2489 The tax formula on timeshares has not been updated since its establishment in 1998. This measure updates the formula for the amount of transient accommodations taxes to be collected from timeshares and is projected by the tax department to generate $20.2 million for fiscal 2019.

SB2699 Transactions regarding vacation rentals are increasingly conducted over the internet, which has resulted in the state not collecting the full amount of transient accommodations taxes, a Senate release says. This measure establishes a process for online platforms such as Expedia to pay the transient accommodations tax on accommodations booked through their websites and imposes the transient accommodations tax on resort fees. The tax department expects $19.4 million for fiscal 2019.

SB2821 This measure is the annual conformity measure submitted by the Department of Taxation. In light of sweeping federal tax law changes, the bill maintained current state law in numerous key areas, such as individual itemized deductions, but it carved out exceptions in other areas, such as estate taxes, deductions for business income and mortgage interest. The tax department anticipates $9.2 million for fiscal 2019.

All the Senate bills that were passed last week cross over to the House for its consideration.

read … Lawmakers Ignore Tourism Industry, Pass New Taxes Targeting Visitors

HB2113: Just Another Cash Giveaway to HGEA Members

SA: State Rep. Chris Lee said a bill to give college tuition grants to state employees in exchange for a 5- to 10-year commitment to keep working for the state would help government agencies compete against the higher salaries of the private sector (“Bill would pay tuition for state workers,” Star-Advertiser, March 5).

This claim is dubious.

Local government workers on average make $72,002 a year, compared with $55,432 for local private-sector workers, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Wages, thus, should not be a justification to give college tuition grants to retain government employees, especially since private sector workers on average make less.

To read more about public and private sector wages in Hawaii, please see our report at….

HB2113: Text, Status

read … Tuition bill based on false premise

SB2939: Green Energy Scammers Latest Trick to Profit from Rate Hikes

IM:  The Senate passed the (mis-named) Hawaii Ratepayer Protection Act, SB 2939 that proposes the Public Utilities Commission speed-up the process of converting utility revenue from a cost plus system to a performance based system, whereby the utility is rewarded for speeding up the integration of renewable energy.

Utilities' incentives now need to enable new innovations and customer choices, such as more efficient or cost-effective options, including distributed energy resources owned by customers and projects implemented by independent third parties.” (Distractions crossed out to enhance accuracy.)

The House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2018. SB 2939 is the first bill on the agenda.

The Consumer Advocate testified that “performance incentive mechanisms are the subject of multiple ongoing dockets before the Commission.”

The Public Utilities Commission agreed, citing seven (7) dockets where performance-based regulation is being utilized….

Blue Planet Foundation “supports Senate Bill (SB) 2939, setting a deadline to implement performance-based ratemaking for electric utilities.” The Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) and the Sierra Club also support the bill….

(Translation: More money out of ratepayers pockets into our pockets.)

read … Should Utilities Get Bonuses for Ending Fossil Fuel Use

Oft-delayed project sues state for $38M After Legislators Refuse $1M Settlement

WHT: …Trial gets underway this week in the case of a South Kohala developer seeking tens of millions of dollars from the state for damages it says were incurred as the result of a 2011 Land Use Commission decision that was ultimately overturned.

The federal takings case is headed for jury trial on Tuesday after a settlement payout agreement between the state and developer Bridge Aina Lea fell through last year. (Jury Trial = Developer doomed.)

The developer and state had agreed to the state paying $1 million to settle the case rather than go to trial; however, legislators cut out the money in the final 2017 appropriations bill that was signed by Gov. David Ige….

In addition to the multimillion-dollar figure named in the court filing, Bridge Aina Lea also wants four additional orders: a temporary restraining order preventing the commission from taking additional action regarding the land, a permanent injunction from reclassifying the land, an order declaring the commission’s decision to reclassify the land was “egregious, illegal, invalid, unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious” and an order stopping the commission from interfering with “Bridge’s rights to develop the property.”

The takings case dates back to January 2011 when the Land Use Commission (LUC) ordered the 1,060 acres reverted to its original classification, agricultural district, after determining Bridge Aina Lea hadn’t met conditions of a zoning change, including that by November 2010, 385 affordable units be complete, among other. By that time, just 16 units were finished on the otherwise empty land in South Kohala.

That same year, a 3rd Circuit Court judge reversed the commission’s order, ruling it didn’t have the authority to impose the strict construction timeline conditions and to reclassify the land as agricultural. The judge determined the action violated the developer’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection when it reverted the land.

A subsequent review of the ruling by the state Supreme Court in 2014 affirmed the lower court’s ruling, noting the land owners had “substantially” commenced use of the land, having spent more than $20 million by 2010.

The court disagreed, however, with the lower court’s ruling that the LUC violated the developer’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection when it reverted the land, a finding that could have an impact on the current trial….

read … Oft-delayed project sues state for $38M

Mental Health: Will Gun Buyback be Next Distraction from Real Problem?

SA: …Law enforcement experts recommend a statewide gun amnesty buyback program that they think would help decrease gun violence in Hawaii.

Gun buyback programs allow residents to trade in firearms for cash or gift cards with a “no questions asked” policy. The idea is to help people dispose of firearms in a safe way without interfering with anyone’s constitutional rights, according to a study by the state Attorney General’s Office….

Harvey Gerwig, president and director of the Hawaii Rifle Association, described buyback efforts as “a total waste of time,” adding, “It’s a total waste of money.”

“There is no place that has definitive evidence that this works,” he said. Funding for a gun buyback program would be better spent on fixing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a crime reporting database maintained by the FBI.

“When you start looking at the school shootings, there are so many failures there — people who should not have been able to buy a gun. But they were able to buy it through normal channels because the NICS system didn’t work,” said Gerwig….

read … Buyback effort proposed to get guns off streets

Caldwell, UPW Scheme to Make Bulky Pickup an Even Bigger Failure – and Tax it

SA: …A scathing city auditor’s report, released in August, revealed that the bulky-item program, operated by the Department of Environmental Services’ Refuse Collection division, is rife with problems. Among them: excessive sick leave, staffing shortages, and union-forged agreements that have resulted in untimely collections and excessive overtime. Of some $10.5 million Environmental Services spent on overtime in fiscal 2016, nearly three-quarters was for the Refuse Collection branch.

Weighing possible solutions, Caldwell (in an effort to divert attention from the UPW problem) has correctly pointed out (slyly claimed) that some residents share blame for the curbside uglification by parking bulky refuse there, in violation of city ordinance, several days and weeks ahead of scheduled pickups. “We increased the fines, we have crews that go out and enforce (creating more positions), and yet people abuse it every single day,” he said.

Further, Caldwell asked: “Do we just do away with the program altogether and let people just take their bulky-item stuff to the transfer stations?  (Misdirect #1) Do we let the private sector do it? (Great idea, but raised only to scare UPW into adherence to the plan) Do we continue to do it the way we’ve been doing it, or do we do something else differently?  (Like create an even worse system which will require even more positions)”

read … Designed to Fail

Mother Jones: Is Russia Using the GMO Debate to Troll Americans?

MJ: Surprising new findings about the media sites accused of meddling in the US election…..

Related: Research Shows Russians Firmly Behind anti-GMO Activism

read … Mother Jones

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