Tax Conference 2017: Hawaii’s Taxes, from the Outside Looking In
Brian Schatz wants to put you on Medicaid
Karma: Supreme Court Aquarium Ruling may apply to Dive Tour Operators
Should Surfrider be Licensed to Pass Out Property Tax Exemptions?
Audit: City Loses $36.5M by Not Recycling Paper and Plastic into Electricity
State’s Hyperbaric Treatment Center to remain closed through November
Walter Ritte Launches Yet Another Campaign to Seize Control of Molokai Ranch
HNN: …Molokai Ranch sits on 55,575 acres….
The $260 million sale includes 20 miles of coastline with two hotel properties two golf courses, residential, agricultural and conservation land.
The listing agent, Carvill Sotheby's International Realty, says it's looking for someone to manage the property and not develop it….
A petition is also circulating that will be sent to Prospective Buyers of Molokai Ranch Lands….
On Saturday, about 200 community members marched from Mahana to Maunaloa wearing green shirts that read "We Are Molokai Pule O'o" and "Keep Molokai Molokai."….
"We felt that in order for the right buyers to be here, we needed a voice," said another resident Walter Ritte. …
read … With 55K acres up for sale
HPD Needs a Butt-Kicker, not a ‘Healer’
Cataluna: …One of the first quotes in praise of Ballard came from a commission member calling her a “healer,” which seems precariously close to the whole mother/aunty/nurturer role that women are still expected to fulfill despite tactical abilities and strategic leadership skills and the ability to kick butt. If a butt needs kicking, it needs kicking, and not necessarily healing or nurturing or “everything is gonna be OK” consolation after it gets kicked. Healing is great, but mothering is not what the Police Department needs. It needs leadership. Leadership is not defined by gender….
Shapiro: Choice of new police chief turns fumble to touchdown
read … Kick Butt
Chin treating national security as political football
TH: …The president — with the implicit support of the American people via his win in the Electoral College—is able to make highly informed decisions on complex problems of national importance.
By virtue of State of Hawaii v. Trump, District Judge Derrick Watson is now de facto empowered and deemed better suited to make those decisions over the president. A political appointee with no apparent background in national security matters and no comparable expertise to advise him, Judge Watson has superseded the authority of the president and is essentially rewriting American immigration and national security laws. It would be hard to argue that this is the government the Framers had in mind.
There are more than a few examples of why the lower courts are ill-suited to rule on such cases considering the stakes involved. From the original ruling, Judge Watson endorsed the argument that the travel ban would harm the University of Hawaii by not allowing students from the countries specified in the ban to attend. Think about that for a moment. The president is trying to prevent terrorists from entering the United States from countries identified — by the Obama administration, no less — as security threats. That is considered by the court to be a lesser threat than a lack of cultural diversity at the University of Hawaii….
read … treating national security as political football
Borreca: LG Race is Boring
SA: …Tokuda said what voters want is “a sense of urgency” from their leaders.
The former Senate Ways and Means chairwoman, who has been a critic of the city’s rail transit plans, admitted that she and Gov. David Ige, who is running against U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the primary race for governor, have not been close.
At the same time, she has already won the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. Tokuda served as Hirono’s executive assistant when Hirono was LG.
But like the Green and Carvalho campaigns, none of that so far is going to light a match.
If there will be no firefight, it is likely to be a campaign of good thoughts and little difference….
read … Boring
Isle lawmakers search for way to collect taxes from Airbnb
SA: …House and Senate leaders will convene an informal working group of lawmakers in the weeks ahead to try to finally develop a viable system for collecting hotel room taxes from Airbnb Inc. and other companies that market transient vacation units across the islands.
Gov. David Ige last year vetoed a bill that would have authorized Airbnb Inc. to collect taxes on behalf of the state from vacation rental owners that market their units on the Airbnb platform. Lawmakers have been trying ever since to fashion a law that is both acceptable to the governor and will allow the state to collect taxes on the vacation rentals….
read … Taxes
Maui: 69% Property tax Hike for TVRs
MN: …A Maui Vacation Rental Association official fears that two bills on property tax classifications recommended for approval by a Maui County Council committee could lead to higher property taxes for at least 2,900 property owners in Maui County….
Last week the budget committee recommended a bill to the full council that establishes a new property tax category for short-term rentals. Currently, short-term rental permit holders fall in the commercial classification.
Others facing reclassification to the new category include short-term rentals in hotel-zoned areas and condominium units where short-term rentals are allowed. Those owners currently fall in the hotel and resort classification.
Another bill recommended for approval would classify condominium units at their “highest and best use,” which is usually reflected in the property’s zoning, said Scott Teruya, Maui County’s real property tax administrator. This proposed change could affect units being placed into the proposed short-term rental classification because many condominium units are built on properties zoned hotel, are grandfathered in for short-term rental purposes or have received conditional permits to operate short-term rentals.
Those who use their units as their primary residence can claim the homeowners exemption and would not be affected by these bills, Teruya said.
The two bills will be up for first reading Friday at the council’s 9 a.m. meeting in Council Chambers.
Although the budget committee did not set property tax rates in its proposed bills, Tom Croly of the Maui Vacation Rental Association says that, more than likely, taxes would go up for those affected by the changes.
“I can guarantee you that rate (for the short-term rental tax category) is not going to be lower than the current rate of the hotel class,” he said. “It is really obvious right now that rate is going to be at least as high as the hotel classification.”
Under current tax rates, short-term rental permit holders could see an increase of 29 percent in their property taxes, he said. Croly based his calculations on the current commercial rate, which is $7.28 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation, and an estimate of the short-term rental rate near the hotel rate, currently at $9.37 per $1,000.
Croly estimates taxes could increase by 48 percent for condo unit owners not in the short-term rental business but who own units in complexes where short-term rentals are allowed by zoning.
Those properties may be in the apartment classification, where the current tax rate is $6.32 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation, he said. He applied his $9.37 per $1,000 calculation for the proposed short-term rental category.
These changes also could affect newly permitted short-term rental permit holders in residential districts, he said. The residential rate is $5.54 per $1,000, compared to the estimated short-term rental rate of $9.37, a 69 percent increase.
Croly explained that the short-term rental rate would need to be at least as high as the current hotel rate because the 10,769 condo owners currently in the hotel class who would move to the short-term rental class generate 80 percent of the tax revenue from the classification….
Croly also noted that the proposed short-term rental category throws together 225 properties granted short-term rental permits, which allow the use of single-family homes, with 10,769 condo owners who are allowed to do short-term rentals under zoning…..
read … Tax Hike
Waikiki: Crazy Out of Control Homeless Screaming at Top of Lungs Pain Tourism Industry
SA: …Problems caused by the mentally ill homeless individuals and street youth in Waikiki are among the top complaints of the district’s tourism security sector, said Jerry Dolak, Hawaii Hotel and Visitor Industry Security Association president.
“We’ve got crazy, out-of-control homeless people. You can hear them screaming at the top of their lungs,” Dolak said. “They’ll walk into a convenience store without any fear and grab things right off the shelf. We’ve got them half-dressed on the streets, losing their minds. It doesn’t seem kind to leave them there.”
State Rep. Tom Brower, who was beaten in 2015 by teens living in a large Kakaako encampment, said illegal campers and those who disobey Waikiki’s sit-lie laws must be removed through enforcement and outreach.
“When laws are routinely broken in a neighborhood, it sends a message that crime and lawlessness are welcome,” he said.
Homeless minors, who can’t get admitted into shelters without permission from a parent or guardian and don’t qualify for supplemental aid, are another major Waikiki concern, said Kimo Carvalho, IHS community relations director. “Some of the kids do drugs at night to stay awake because they are afraid to sleep. Some go crazy and commit crimes,” he said. “We aren’t surprised by the crimes that people have been seeing.”….
read … Delay in state funds to aid homeless pains tourism industry
Marijuana – Cannabis Word Game Part of Dispensaries' Money-Making Scheme
SA: “We want to differentiate from the recreational space,” explained Richard Ha, a Hawaii farmer who received a dispensary license and plans to do business as Lau Ola on Hawaii island. “We’re in the medical marijuana — or medical cannabis — space.”
At the Noa Botanicals dispensary, which opened earlier this month in Honolulu, CEO Brian Goldstein has a mission statement painted on the wall that reads: “Redefining cannabis as a natural choice for our community — free from stigma.”
Goldstein is particular when talking with customers, and even his own family, about work.
“I have teenage daughters,” he said. “They know what business I’m in. I’m very firm. It’s not marijuana. It’s not dope or weed, or even cannabis. It’s medical cannabis. Words have power. How we use words have an impact on their meaning and how they’re perceived.”
Still, the whole medical cannabis vs. marijuana discourse can be hazy.
That’s because some Hawaii dispensaries, along with numerous parts of the industry in 27 other states that legalized the drug for medicinal purposes, use the term “marijuana” in part because that word is more recognized.
In the Oxford American Dictionary, the definition of “marijuana” is cannabis. And the word “cannabis” is described as a plant with specific traits and also referred to as Indian hemp or marijuana.
Among local dispensaries using the term “marijuana” are Aloha Green and Pono Life Maui.
Further complicating things is that Hawaii dispensaries use the colorful names such as Purple Dream, Holy Grail Kush, Chocolope and Strawberry Tahoe given to different varieties, or strains, of the herb established by breeders in the illegal market.
Goldstein said he struggled with the variety name issue. His conclusion was that many patients are familiar with these names and their associations with relieving specific ailments. He said inventing new, perhaps more clinical, names would require a lot of translating.
So, patients can find Blue Dream and GG #4 (Gorilla Glue #4) on the Noa Botanicals menu.
“Not that I like the names,” Goldstein said. “In fact, some of them are quite bizarre. But people are familiar with them. They may say, ‘I’ve used Blue Dream because it helps me sleep,’ or ‘Gorilla Glue helps me with my pain.’”
AP: California kicks off recreational marijuana sales on Jan. 1.
read … Profiteering
UH Needs More Rape Hysteria
SA: Increased awareness of sex harassment on college campuses is good (By two people whose jobs depend on this stuff, Michelle Rocca, senior adviser and Jennifer Rose, director of the University of Hawaii Office of Institutional Equity. Do the math.)
SA: Sexual harassment: Is there a problem in Hawaii? (By Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara, a Honolulu civil rights attorney and an expert in sexual harassment cases. Do the math.)
NYT: Weinstein Victim Hunkers Down in Kona
BIVN: As #MeToo Multiplies, Hilo Walks A Mile In Her Shoes
Compact migrants to be counted
GPDN: A new count of Compact of Free Association migrants living in U.S. territories and Hawaii will begin next year.
The results will determine how $30 million in annual federal funding will be distributed to reimburse jurisdictions for the costs associated with the migrants.
Federal treaties called compacts of free association allow citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to live and work in the United States.
Guam hosts the most compact migrants out of the territories, with the latest count in 2013 by the U.S. Census Bureau showing 17,170 regional migrants living here.
The Federal Register announced the proposed survey of COFA migrants Wednesday.
read … Count