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Sunday, March 08, 2020
March 8, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:33 PM :: 2295 Views

ICA Vacancy: JSC Extends Deadline for Applicants

EB-5 Scandals Finally Reach Hawaii

Just a Technical Change

Fallen Honolulu police officer Kaulike Kalama remembered during services

SA: … Fallen Honolulu police officer Kaulike Kalama was remembered today during funeral services that paid homage to his love of family, community and protecting the public no matter the cost.

Kalama, 34, is remembered “as a local boy who loved Hawaii and serving his community as a police officer,” said Ohana Baptist Church Pastor Wayne Surface, who spoke on behalf of the family and estimated more than 1,000 people came to the service at the Bishop Memorial Chapel at Kamehameha Schools.

Surface described Kalama as a “quiet hero” and “rock” whose strength supported those around him. His family knew him as a devoted husband to his wife, Kaohi, and father to his teenage son, Kaumana. The McKinley High School graduate was an HPD officer for nine years.

>> Click here for photos from roll call ceremony

KHON: Thousands gather for the final salute to fallen HPD officer Kaulike Kalama

read … Fallen Honolulu police officer Kaulike Kalama remembered during services

Hawaii lawmakers consider raising income taxes, GE Tax—Carbon tax to hit Fuel, Electricity and Airline Tickets

SA: … Tax Foundation of Hawaii President Tom Yamachika, who has years of experience tracking bills through the state Capitol, said bills to boost taxes usually originate in the Senate and are killed in the House, whose members must stand for re-election every two years.

This year, some of the major tax bills originated in the House, “which is a little bit concerning,” Yamachika said.

A prime example is the proposed income tax increase for Hawaii residents with the highest incomes.  House Bill 2385, introduced by Saiki, would increase the top state income tax rates from 11% today to 12% or 13% for the highest earners (ie small business owners, MDs and other productive people)….

The bill was approved by the state House last week, with Reps. Lynn DeCoite, Sharon Har, Sam Kong, Lauren Matsumoto, Bob McDermott, Val Okimoto, Calvin Say, Cynthia Thielen, James Tokioka and Gene Ward voting against it, and Rep. Richard Creagan absent.

The Tax Foundation warned that a higher income tax burden would encourage residents to leave Hawaii. “To what lengths will we go to chase people out of our state?” he said in written testimony….

Other proposals that have been quietly moving through the Legislature include House Bill 1990, which would add another half-percent surcharge to the state’s general excise tax. Oahu residents are already paying a half-percent excise tax surcharge that generates about $280 million a year to finance construction of the Honolulu rail project.

The proposed new “state improvement” surcharge would be used to fund construction of highways and educational facilities, and also to pre-pay retirement health care costs for public workers and tuck more money away in the state’s hurricane reserve trust fund.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 27 with Reps. Stacelynn Eli, Cedrick Gates, Troy Hashimoto, Daniel Holt, Lisa Kitagawa, Nicole Lowen, Matsumoto, McDermott, Sean Quinlan, Thielen, Chris Todd and Ward voting against it.

“I think if people figure out it’s a (general excise) tax hike, they’re gonna scream, because that’s what it is — it’s a G.E. tax hike, and I don’t believe it’s going to be temporary,” Yamachika said…..

Another measure that may prove controversial is Senate Bill 3150, a proposed carbon tax. Carbon taxes are primarily designed to discourage the use of fossil fuels to slow the pace of climate change, and the bill warns that “climate change is the most critical issue confronting the state of Hawaii.”

The measure would increase the state barrel tax on oil to effectively set a price of $40 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in 2021, and then incrementally increase the tax rate over time until the rate would be equivalent to $80 per metric ton of carbon in 2030….

But the bill received a chilly reception during a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 27. State Sen. Lorraine Inouye cited estimates that the carbon tax would add 25% to the cost of jet fuel next year and would also jack up the price of gasoline and the fuel oil used to produce electricity.

“In Hawaii, we’re already struggling with some of the highest kilowatt-per-hour pricing in the world,” she said. “Raising the price for electricity certainly would further increase the cost of living for Hawaii’s working families.”

The measure passed the full Senate on Monday with only Inouye and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim voting against it. It now goes to the House for further consideration….

HPR: Could Hawaii Pass The Country's First Tax On Carbon Emissions?

PDF: How major bills fared

read … Hawaii lawmakers consider raising taxes on the rich

SB3104: Hawaii Senate’s promise of affordable housing morphs into Luxury Developer Giveaway

Shapiro: … Democrats in the Legislature are going seriously astray on their promise to help working families stay in Hawaii by stimulating construction of more affordable housing.

The main vehicle is Senate Bill 3104, which would invest $275 million in infrastructure on state lands near the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus and on the neighbor islands that would be made available for developers to build housing on 99-year leases.

The problem is the Senate draft passed last week and sent to the House wouldn’t guarantee the homes are priced for those who can’t afford market prices; it only expresses a “preference for projects that deliver the greatest amount of lower-priced units.” …

Look how that “preference” worked out in Kakaako, where the dream of workforce housing turned into mostly luxury condos owned by outside speculators with only a smattering of “affordable” units, some of which are embroiled in legal disputes.

The final Senate bill engineered by Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz deleted a provision from an earlier draft passed by the Housing and Water and Land committees that would have required all units to be affordable to those making 80% of the area median income, meaning prices of about $347,400 to $495,900….

SB3104: Text, Status

read … Hawaii Senate’s promise of affordable housing rings false

Zoning committee decision could restrict wind farms on Oahu

SA: … A proposal to prohibit energy-producing windmills from being installed within 5 miles of any neighboring properties won tentative approval from the City Council Zoning Committee last week despite a warning from city officials it would essentially eliminate future development of wind farms anywhere on Oahu.

Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced Resolution 19-305 in response to the outcry in the Kahuku community over the development of the Na Pua Makani wind-power project. AES Corp. has permits from the city for eight 568-feet, high-wind turbines that have already been installed and are expected to be operational by summer….

“Our preliminary work says the proposed 5-mile distance would essentially limit any property on the island” under DPP jurisdiction from hosting wind turbines, she said. Sokugawa noted it may allow wind farms on lands overseen by state agencies…..

The nonprofit Keep the North Shore Country filed a petition to stop the project through the Zoning Board of Appeals and was subsequently joined by the Kahuku Community Association. A hearing on AES’s motion to dismiss the complaint is scheduled for April 9….

read … Zoning committee decision could restrict wind farms on Oahu

Hawaii High School Athletic Association policy regarding transgender athletes challenged

SA: … Cynthia Monteleone, a Lahainaluna track and field coach, sent a complaint to the Department of Education office of civil rights last week questioning the rules regarding transgender athletes.

Monteleone’s complaint stems from the participation in a recent Maui Interscholastic League girls track meet by a Kamehameha-Maui athlete who was born male and who now identifies as a female. Earlier this school year, in the fall, the athlete played for the Warriors’ girls volleyball team. One volleyball season before that, the athlete was a member of the school’s boys program.

Monteleone told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Tuesday that she believes the HHSAA’s policy of transgender inclusion is a violation of Title IX, also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. In this case, Monteleone specifically believes that allowing athletes born male to participate in girls sports is discrimination against females….

Monteleone also sent a copy of her complaint to the HHSAA and MIL, as well as to other state officials and lawmakers….

read … Hawaii High School Athletic Association policy regarding transgender athletes challenged

Hawaii lawmakers show hubris over abortion funding

SA: … Senate Bill 2539, a bill making its way through the process, pits Hawaii against the federal government and the United States Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case prohibiting the government from forcing businesses to purchase objectionable health insurance coverage for employees.

In order to protect the abortion industry (a huge financial contributor to the Democratic Party and its politicians), the Legislature found in SB 2539 that it necessary to stop the federal government protections of civil rights related to the Hobby Lobby case by passing a new law specifically requiring all health insurance policies to explicitly cover abortion services and abortifacient medications.

That is evidence of the hubris of the Hawaii Senate and its 96%-solid Democrat senators.

The abuse of power by the Senate, at this point is focused on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate assigned SB 2539 for hearing before both the Consumer Protection and Judiciary committees. The Consumer Protection Committee scheduled the bill for hearing Feb. 4 and then deferred it to a future hearing date, Feb. 7. The committee heard the bill and proposed amendments. The Senate Judiciary Committee then scheduled the bill for a hearing on Feb. 25, but announced that the committee would not hear testimony in person at the hearing. The hearing was not a hearing at all. It was more like a meeting — er, a muting….

But there is an even more insidious reason the Senate Judiciary Committee did not want to hear about opposition to SB 2539. In addition to the mandated funding of abortion services through health insurance policies, SB 2539 also added five new sections to the statutes prohibiting discrimination in medical insurance statutes.

Guess what? The protected groups include only: race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ag or disability.

Notice what’s missing? One of the original categories in every list of protected classes since the Founding Fathers has been excluded. Which category? Religion. Yes — the Senate wants to force you to pay for abortion services for other people, but won’t include religion as a basis to protect you from discrimination….

SB2539: Text, Status

Planned Parenthood: 50 years after Hawaii legalized abortion, legislators must keep political courage

read … Hawaii lawmakers show hubris over abortion funding

Economy: Corona Recession 1% of GDP?

Borreca: … “I’m guessing COVID-19 will be two or three times worse than SARS, in terms of forgone tourism because it combines international with domestic cancellations, and because it induces a (resident) consumption contraction in addition to the export contraction (tourist consumption),” Brewbaker said.

In simple terms, Brewbaker predicted Hawaii may be looking at a “consumption recession.”

“Include less travel, not eating out, not hanging out at the mall … I mean, we’re talking billions pretty quickly (in a $100 billion Gross Domestic Product Hawaii economy). So, you know, a recession of maybe a percentage point or few in real Hawaii GDP is not out of the realm of possibility anymore,” he said. …

read … Hawaii is counting on coronavirus plans to hold up

To Survive Recession, Kill Big Tax n Spend Projects

SA Editorial … State House Speaker Scott Saiki has announced that all of these matters would be tackled by a new select committee on the contingency plans made necessary by COVID-19.

Some of this planning must happen within the walls of the state Capitol itself: There are some big-ticket items on the docket that will require more consideration, now that fluctuations in the stock market signals likely economic uncertainty ahead. A difficult balancing act will be in store.

For instance, there were ambitious outlays in the works on affordable housing initiatives and expanding access to early-learning programs in public and private settings. These would be worth some investment. However, launching a new School Facilities Agency, a bad idea on its face, is an expansion of state bureaucracy that should be shelved.

Rough seas for the tourism industry also would add to the turbulence for all businesses, already likely to feel some stress from a proposed hike in the minimum wage….

SA: Rally urges lawmakers to expand Hawaii preschool programs

read … Build resilience to mitigate coronavirus hit to Hawaii’s health, economy

Will Diamond Head Attack Produce Change in Mental Health Approach?

KITV: … Police say right now, when they are dealing with someone who may be mentally ill, they call emergency mental health services to get the 'okay' to take the person to treatment.  This law would allow for crisis intervention officers to make that decision themselves. The bill is named "Tiffany and Kaulike's Law."

The call for mental health help also came from Honolulu's Police Chief Susan Ballard. She suggested ways to track people with restraining orders and other problems. Plus, the thought of embedding social service workers within her department. ..….

read … Diamond Head tragedies inspire change in Hawaii's highest offices

Caldwell’s Press Conferences catch up with him

Cataluna: … It’s hard to run for governor when your term as mayor ends two long years before the election.

It’s harder still when your poll numbers are in the tank, your list of accomplishments doesn’t match your list of promises, your nerves are frayed from constantly dodging the Kealoha fallout and deflecting the rail troubles, and even the potholes refuse to stay patched.

So what do you do to remake your image?

Apparently, you do a ton of press conferences.

If there’s anything to be said, announced, signed, opened, blessed, explained or proclaimed by the city, Mayor Kirk Caldwell is right there, ready to face the cameras….

(This only works if reporters are too cowardly to ask questions that are outside the subject of the news conference.)

… On Friday, Caldwell got on the unlucky side of the news cycle. There was coverage of yet another press conference, this time on a Chinatown street corner signing a bill that makes the photos citizens take of illegal dumping allowable as evidence to fine the responsible party. On the same day, on the same news webpages, was the story of an illegal dumper chasing down and shooting at a citizen witness.

Dang it. That’s the thing about chasing photo ops. When you have your face hanging out there all the time, the potential for bachi somehow increases. There must be a formula like: Desire for media attention PLUS unbridled ambition TIMES the number of instances when you get in the news EQUALS ooh, you going get bachi….

Ten more months of this variety show before the next mayor takes over and Caldwell will have to start paying for political ads….

read … Mayor Kirk Caldwell dodges many issues but never misses a photo op

Audit says water department needs clearer contingency plans

WHT: … A series of failures led to five of the region’s 13 wells going down at the same time. The situation became so dire that Mayor Harry Kim, in September 2017, signed an emergency proclamation suspending rules to allow the county to respond promptly….

read … Audit says water department needs clearer contingency plans

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