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Tuesday, March 9, 2021
March 9, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:02 PM :: 1592 Views

15 Years After Ka Loko: Another Hawaii Dam Floods--Houses, Roads Wiped Out

CoreLogic: Hawaii Mortgage Delinquency Jumps 4.1%

Hawaii lawmakers consider nation’s highest income tax—16% Income Tax Rate

AP: … Hawaii is considering overtaking California as the state with the highest income tax rate in the nation, under legislation slated for a vote this week.

The Hawaii Senate was expected to vote Tuesday on legislation that would impose a 16% tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, which would beat out California’s 13.3% on those earning more than $1 million.

Hawaii’s proposed new rate would also outstrip the largest combined local and state tax rate in the nation, paid by the highest income earners in New York City, which is currently 12.7%.

The state’s top income tax bracket is currently taxed 11%, where it has been since 2018. The 16% rate would expire after 2027 under the legislation.….

Jared Walczak, the vice president for state projects at the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy nonprofit, said 95% of businesses around the country file taxes in this category and not in the corporate tax category.

They’re called “pass-through” businesses because their income flows through to the income tax returns of their owners. Such businesses — for example partnerships, sole proprietorships and limited liability companies — employ 40% of the nation’s workers, Walczak said…..

Hawaii businesses already have to pay an unusual levy called a general excise tax. It’s similar to a sales tax in that it’s imposed at the point of retail sale, but is also much broader — it taxes all business activity including wholesale and manufacturing.

The highest income tax rate in the nation, combined with this general excise tax, would be a “significant double blow” for Hawaii businesses, Walczak said.

“Hawaii leans heavily on the fact that it’s Hawaii: people want to live in Hawaii, they want to vacation in Hawaii. You can get away with higher taxes because of that. It’s not unlimited, however. And some individuals and businesses will really struggle under rising taxes cutting very much into their margins,” he said….

Background: The Enola Gay Has Left the Hangar 

UPDATE: Hawaii Senate approves nation’s highest income tax

SB56: Text, Status

read … Hawaii lawmakers consider nation’s highest income tax

Stadium redevelopment aims to bring Waikiki tourism to Aiea

ILind: … The redevelopment of the Aloha Stadium relies on a vision of extending tourism from Waikiki to a new visitor playground on the site of the old Aloha Stadium, according to the project’s draft environmental impact statement. The EIS makes clear the “entertainment district” concept is driven by the perceived opportunity to extend Waikiki’s brand of tourism out to Aiea.

At the same time, the lengthy pause in tourism imposed by the pandemic offered the rest of us a vivid lesson in the negatives impacts of mass tourism, and has generated lots of talk about the need to control and limit tourism in the future. None of that discussion and debate appears to have informed the EIS in any way.

Instead, the EIS discloses that the stadium redevelopment plan continues to define the expansion of Waikiki tourism to this new part of the island as wholly positive and justified….

read … Stadium redevelopment aims to bring Waikiki tourism to Aiea

Feds Examining Honolulu Police CARES Spending On ATVs, Robot Dog

CB: … The Honolulu Police Department is facing questions from the federal government about its spending of millions of dollars of pandemic relief funds on ATVs, pickup trucks and a robot dog.

The U.S. Treasury is auditing the city and asking questions about the HPD spending, according to an email obtained by Civil Beat. The email was sent from the city’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services to HPD officials on Friday….

According to the email, federal officials want the department to justify why it spent $118,000 on a “training simulator for force scenarios,” $150,000 on a robot dog, over $755,000 on thermal imaging equipment and more than $3.6 million on over 100 vehicles, including 40 ATVs and numerous pickup and box trucks….

The feds also want to know the total amount of CARES funds spent on payroll and why it was justified. According to the latest CARES spending breakdown released by the city, HPD’s spending on overtime exceeds $18.8 million from March 2020 through Jan. 20 of this year….

read … Feds Examining Honolulu Police CARES Spending On ATVs, Robot Dog

Hawai‘i Convention Center charges state millions for unemployment call center

SA: … Hawaii lawmakers are looking to expand the governor’s powers to assume control over any state facility during an emergency and not have to worry about paying rent to the agency that controls it. Members of the House of Representatives say the proposed legislation is in response to millions that the state has paid to the Hawai‘i Convention Center to host a call center for unemployment insurance claims, as well as frustrating negotiations over setting up coronavirus vaccination sites.

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said the high costs have thwarted the labor department’s ability to hire more staff to handle unemployment claims even as the center remains woefully overtaxed….

The Hawai‘i Convention Center, which is overseen by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, charged the labor department $1 million to rent a ballroom and several meeting rooms between mid-April and the end of December, and another $1.67 million in “event fees.” The costs equate to about $314,000 a month. The state has extended the contract through the end of June, and if those costs remain the same, the labor department will have paid out a total of $4.5 million.

By comparison, the Hawai‘i Convention Center brought in a total of $5.57 million in rental and events income in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit.

The convention center charged the labor department another $575,000 for food and beverage service from April through August, according to Marisa Yamane, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Yamane said the labor department is being charged a reduced rate that covers only the costs of basic operations. She said the tourism authority wasn’t in a position to allow the labor department to work out of the convention center for free since Gov. David Ige has suspended its share of the transient accommodations tax….

SA: Unemployment aid coalition targets Hawai‘i Convention Center

read … Hawai‘i Convention Center charges state millions for unemployment call center

HSTA Gets Vaccination: Ige Still Wants them to get paid for not working

SA: … It was good to see close to 500 Department of Education employees getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine last week, on two fronts. One is that the vaccine, a game-changer, is being embraced, further encouraging its use.

And it should ease the path back to more face-to-face learning for students, sooner. However, Gov. David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” on Monday that it’s safety first, wanting to “discourage people setting an arbitrary deadline,” maybe dampening expectations.

read  … Still Making Excuses

State begins vaccinations for those 70 and older

KHON: … Lt. Gov. Josh Green predicts Young-Matsui and others between the ages of 65 and 69 will be allowed to get the vaccine by next month. During a virtual press conference Monday morning, acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah kemble said plans to expand vaccinations to the next age group depends on how quickly the state can vaccinate those 70 and older. …

According to the Department of Health website, more than 124,000 people under the age of 59 have already received at least one dose. …

read … State begins vaccinations for those 70 and older

Hawaii Proposes Tax Penalty Relief For Small Biz Amid Virus

L360: … S.C.R. 64 and S.R. 46, which Sen. Laura Acasio, D-Hilo, introduced Friday, would waive interest and penalties on late tax payments from small businesses that can show they have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic. It would be up to the state's Director of Taxation to approve requests for relief….

read … Hawaii Proposes Tax Penalty Relief For Small Biz Amid Virus

House Speaker Seeks Hawaiian Nominees For Mauna Kea Group

CB: … The 15-member working group has until December to come up with a new management structure for Mauna Kea ….

The House is asking interested parties to complete nomination forms available on the Legislature’s website. The applications should be sent to….

The group has until Dec. 31 to produce a report and proposed legislation for next session….

read … House Speaker Seeks Hawaiian Nominees For Mauna Kea Group

Chevron, Others Struggle To Keep Climate Suit In Fed. Court

L360: … they have until March 15 to convince the 9th circuit to hear Judge Watson’s ruling that the suit belongs in State Courts ….

read … Window of Time

Mother in Hilo child starvation case is free, pending sentencing

HTH: … A Hilo woman who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for her role in starving her 9-year-old daughter to death in 2016 was freed from custody without bail Monday, pending sentencing.

Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto granted supervised release to 37-year-old Tiffany Stone, the mother of Shaelynn Lehano-Stone. Stone’s sentencing on the manslaughter charge — which carries a potential 20-year prison sentence upon conviction — was re-scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 22.

There have been delays filing a pre-sentencing investigation report by the Probation Office because of the volume of documents to be reviewed. As of Monday, online court records don’t indicate the filing of the report, which isn’t a public document.

Deputy Prosecutor Suzanna Tiapula said the court-supervised release without bail was granted despite the objection of the state….

read … Soft on Crime

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