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Tuesday, March 8, 2022
March 8, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:55 PM :: 1759 Views

DoD to Permanently Close Red Hill

What does it take to convince four chronic homeless to get off streets?

Outdoor masking to be optional at HIDOE schools and offices

Bill pays $100,000 to Take Name Off DHHL wait list

HTH: … In both bills, the establishment of a Hawaiian Homelands Special Fund was stricken, and the $600 million would be deposited into the Native Hawaiian Rehabilitation Fund.

As Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the Ways and Means chairman, went through a lengthy list of projects to be financed by the $600 million, Sen. Kurt Fevella of Leeward Oahu, the Senate’s lone Republican, dropped a bombshell regarding the wait list for DHHL lots.

Fevella said he’d heard about a DHHL survey asking those on a wait list for a lot “if they’re willing to get off the list for $100,000.”

“Yes, that’s the appropriation of $112 million,” Dela Cruz replied. “It allows those on the list to wait for one of the lots that we mentioned or a future lot after that, or it allows a beneficiary on the waiting list to either get $100,000 for down payment assistance or mortgage assistance. And then, they would take themselves off the list.”

The $100,000 would be for down payments or mortgage assistance on non-DHHL properties.

“This down payment assistance and mortgage payment assistance would fall within the authority allowed through NHRF,” DHHL spokesman Cedric Duarte told the Tribune-Herald Monday.

The $112 million, part of the bill’s $600 million appropriation, could take up to 1,123 beneficiaries off the list — which numbers 28,700 statewide and 10,651 on Hawaii Island — including some who have been waiting for decades.

The Senate amendments also include $487.6 million “for the preparation, planning and development of new lots.” The money would develop 2,910 lots on Hawaiian Homes lands statewide…. 

($167,560 per lot)

read … Bill could pay $100,000 to some on DHHL wait list

Honolulu Mayor’s Budget Proposal Includes No Tax Rate Or Fee Hikes

CB: … Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Monday that he plans to focus this year’s city spending on tackling homelessness, affordable housing and rail with a budget that, according to his office, keeps city tax rates and fees steady.

The administration proposed increasing the city’s operating budget by 14% to $3.35 billion while reducing the capital improvement budget by 43% to $801.6 million. …

The mayor’s proposal was based on a projected increase in real property tax revenue thanks to an approximately 9.3% increase in property valuations. The city is also gaining a revenue stream with a new 3% county transient accommodations tax that was established last year. The city’s TAT is expected to bring in $85.8 million, nearly double the TAT amount the state used to provide to the city, according to the city’s proposal….

Budget hearings will continue throughout this week. The mayor will speak more about his vision for the next year at his State of the City address, which is scheduled for March 15, he said. …

read … Honolulu Mayor’s Budget Proposal Includes No Tax Rate Or Fee Hikes

Capital Gains Tax Increase And A New Carbon Tax May Not Make The Cut

CB: … Tax increase proposals have become pretty scarce at the State Capitol by the midpoint of this election-year session, and even the tax bills that made it this far may be endangered.

The reasons for that are partly political — every member of the state House and Senate must stand for reelection this year if they want to remain in office — and partly because the state is sitting on a mammoth cash surplus that makes it pretty tough to justify any kind of tax increase right now.

The two major tax bills that are still moving would increase the maximum state capital gains tax rate, and impose a new “carbon tax” on consumption of fossil fuels including gasoline and jet fuel. Lawmakers say they are keeping those bills moving to allow further discussion, but acknowledge this is an awkward time to boost taxes.

State residents already pay some of the highest combined state and local taxes in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation, with Hawaii ranking third behind New York and Connecticut….

read … Capital Gains Tax Increase And A New Carbon Tax May Not Make The Cut

No More ‘Released Pending Investigation’? -- But Only for Assaults on Police

SA: … Reversing a policy in place for decades, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm is amending criteria tied to imposing charges so that anyone who allegedly assaults a law enforcement officer will be charged quickly.

The move comes in the wake of a fatal assault on Kapolei Police Station grounds in February that some argue could have been prevented had the suspect not been released after allegedly punching a police officer the night before.

Alm told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that a list of criteria for immediate lock-up cases involving the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Screening and Intake Division will be amended to include all assaults on law enforcement officers. The change, effective immediately, came after Alm met Monday with the leadership of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Describing the matter as a “longstanding concern” at the Honolulu Police Department, Alm said in a statement that his department is seeking additional city funding to hire more deputy prosecutors, “which will allow us to do more immediate charging of felony suspects.”

He added, “I intend to expand that division by several deputies by the end of the year. This will allow more cases to be immediately charged and allow a faster turnaround in other cases.” ….

read … Assaults on police to result in swift charges

Will traveler information in Safe Travels be deleted?

SA: … eventually. “All of the information stored in the Hawaii Safe Travels digital platform is subject to the state’s records retention schedule, which is three years after the end of the program. When the Safe Travels platform goes off-line on March 26, the existing data will be secured, encrypted and stored off-line in a safe manner. After three years, the data will be destroyed. We are planning to make a version of the information, with all personal information removed, available for research purposes,” Doug Murdock, the state’s chief information officer, said Friday in an email.

We followed up with the state’s Office of Enterprise Technology Services asking about the potential research but did not hear back by deadline.

More than 11 million arriving passengers — visitors and returning Hawaii residents — have registered with Safe Travels since the COVID-19 screening program began.

All domestic airline passengers ages 18 and older arriving through March 25 must register with Safe Travels and provide their email address, name, date of birth, phone number, address, government ID, preferred language, whether they are a resident or visitor, as well as details about their flight and where they are staying in Hawaii. If they are seeking an exception to quarantine, they must also upload their vaccine card, negative test result or proof of COVID-19 recovery, depending on the exception sought. Safe Travels also asks optional questions about the traveler’s gender, race, country of citizenship and occupation….

read … Will traveler information in Safe Travels be deleted?

Hawaii Senator Takes Aim at Tenure

IHE: … Changes to tenure could be coming soon at the University of Hawai‘i.

A State Senate bill designed to fundamentally alter tenure is headed to a third and final reading. If it passes, it will go to the House. The bill’s sponsor claims the legislation will lower costs and prevent students from taking on too much debt; critics argue it is a blatant power grab by lawmakers that undermines collective bargaining agreements.

And unlike tenure challenges in other states, this bill comes not from Republicans but from a powerful Democratic senator in the deep-blue Aloha State.

The bill—SB 3269—was introduced by Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Hawaii Senate Higher Education Committee. And that’s not the only way she wants to reshape UH; she’s also proposed legislation this session that would give regents more power over athletics and that would change how regents themselves are selected. Kim has a long and contentious history with UH that includes grilling school officials over money lost on a bungled Stevie Wonder benefit concert and a minor controversy over her son’s application—or lack thereof—to the University of Hawai‘i law school.….

SB3269: Text, Status

read … Hawaii Senator Takes Aim at Tenure

Reapportionment Commission preps to defend against lawsuit

HTH: … The state Reapportionment Commission on Monday created a special committee to help the attorney general defend it from a lawsuit filed by a citizen coalition challenging maps featuring new political boundaries for the state Legislature and U.S. House….

the permitted interaction group, was created again on Monday on a 8-1 vote, with Commissioner Robin Kennedy dissenting. The subcommittee was formed after the commission emerged from a 20-minute closed door session.

”The members of the permitted interaction will assist the Attorney General’s Office with defending against the challenge to the final reapportionment plan such as discussing the commission’s position with the Attorney General’s Office and working with the Attorney General’s Office in preparing declarations and other documents to be included in the commission’s answer to the petition,” said commission Chairman Mark Mugiishi.

The court gave the state until Friday to submit a response….

“This litigation was completely avoidable,” (former HGEA President) Ralph Boyea of Puna, one of six Hawaii Island residents in the lawsuit, told the commission in testimony. “We did not just complain about your plan. We presented a viable alternative that covers the entire island of Hawaii, a viable alternative that meets all of the constitutional criteria, a viable alternative that would have avoided forcing community members from having to finance a totally avoidable lawsuit in order to protect our right to have representation from within our communities.”….

read … Reapportionment Commission preps to defend against lawsuit

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