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Sunday, April 17, 2011
April 17, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:49 PM :: 6336 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Democrat Staffer, Obama voter heads Trump’s Birther Campaign

GET exemptions in peril: Lawmakers want to reap taxes by spreading GE Tax

When the Territorial Legislature created the general excise tax in 1935, lawmakers recognized that the broad-based tax should not be applied on every business transaction.

One of the first exemptions, according to territorial records and researchers at the state Department of Taxation, was for contractors. Contractors would be able to deduct the amount they paid to subcontractors when calculating their tax liability on construction projects.

The subcontractors’ deduction has survived in Hawaii’s tax code for more than 75 years, one of a host of exemptions that smooth out the pyramid effect of the general excise tax or function as an incentive for economic growth….

Suspending a sublease deduction could bring in the second highest amount of new revenue — $51.6 million in fiscal year 2012 and $53.2 million in fiscal year 2013.

Lawmakers granted the exemption in 1997 to correct what they described as a pervasive structural problem caused by the pyramid effect of the general excise tax. They thought it was unfair for businesses that lease property and then sublease to one or more other tenants to have to pay the full tax at each transaction.

Outrigger Enterprises Group has sought to preserve the exemption.

“We believe that this will hurt the small-business owners, because the small-business owners are the one who are your typical sub-lessee,” Max Sword, an Outrigger lobbyist, told the House Finance Committee in testimony. “Take a walk around Waikiki. That is very evident.”

Here are the latest projections on how much revenue the move would generate:
>> Fiscal year 2012: $173.2 million
>> Fiscal year 2013: $220.2 million

Here are the top targets:
>> Subcontractors’ deduction: $66.6 million in fiscal year 2012; $68.6 million in fiscal year 2013  (Higher housing costs and gov’t contract costs)
>> Sublease deduction: $51.6 million in fiscal year 2012; $53.2 million in fiscal year 2013 (Higher rents)
>> Sale of liquor, tobacco and other products to the federal government: $34.2 million in fiscal year 2012; $35.2 million in fiscal year 2013 (Higher consumer costs for military personnel.)
>> Gross receipts from rental or leasing of aircraft or aircraft engines used for interstate transport: $19.4 million in fiscal year 2012; $20 million in fiscal year 2013 (Higher airline ticket prices.)
>> Amounts received for aircraft service and maintenance: $8 million in fiscal year 2012; $8.2 million in fiscal year 2013 (Higher airline ticket prices.)

KGI: State should collect sales tax from online retailers

REALITY: How They Voted: Senate Ways and Means votes to hike GE Tax by eliminating exemptions, Abercrombie, Legislators scheme to divert capital improvement money to General Fund

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Star-Advertiser: Taxes must be raised to pay for Tattoo Parlor Inspections

Cuts to government services mean public swimming pools, mortuaries and tattoo parlors are no longer routinely inspected….  (THIS is the Biiiig argument for hiking taxes???)

Gov. Neil Abercrombie characterized the level of state services as “right at the bone.”

(This entire article is Abercrombie/HGEA propaganda designed to pressure the Legislative Conference committee into raising taxes.)

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SA: Cutbacks cripple many government functions (Propaganda)

This is more propaganda designed to influence the Conference Committee which is meeting in secret to determine who pays to balance the budget.

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SA: Unions not resisting Pension restrictions for new hires (Propaganda)

Labor costs account for about 70 percent of Hawaii’s state government spending, putting unionized workers in the middle of a political struggle as lawmakers try to balance a budget with a projected $1.3 billion deficit over the next two years.

The most serious legislation shrinking union rights would have made public worker health premium costs nonnegotiable, permanently setting them at a 50-50 split between the employee and the government. That bill didn’t advance, and the tentative agreement with HGEA calls for evenly divided health contributions anyway.

What remains are proposals aimed at getting long-term labor costs under control by raising the retirement age, mandating higher contributions to pension plans, eliminating overtime pay from being used in pension calculations, increasing the vesting period and ending state reimbursements for Medicare Part B payments. These initiatives, projected to raise more than $440 million over the next five years, would affect only future hires.

Unions aren’t strongly opposing these measures intended to address a $7 billion unfunded retirement liability, a stark shift from just two years ago, when more than 200 government workers packed a hearing to combat similar proposals.

REALITY: HGEA Negotiators: Hide furlough days, recoup losses after Legislature adjourns, Abercrombie’s $100M omission: HGEA settlement tied to other secret labor agreements

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After six months of Abercrombie, and a lifetime of HGEA:  Government Employees’ Morale is low, thousands retiring June 30 (Propaganda backfires)

City and state managers are bracing for an onslaught of retirements at the end of the fiscal year in June, which will only increase the workload for the employees they leave behind — and exacerbate delays for taxpayers trying to access government services.

Morale is low among government employees who remain on the job after a devastating three years of increased demands for everything from unemployment benefits to welfare payments, according to city, state and union officials. 

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii’s largest public workers union, normally sees 1,500 to 1,600 retirements each year, said Randy Perreira, HGEA’s executive director. Last year, there were 2,700 HGEA retirements and this June 30 “we’ll see another decent chunk retiring.”

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: 2011 Legislative Agenda: ERS benefits to be slashed, “all eligible members to retire”

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HECO, Big Wind, Big Solar continue to obstruct rooftop installations

"There is a tension today between utilities that are monopoly service providers and distributed energy generators," Browning said. "It's between those who would like to go further and faster with renewable energy production and those who believe it would eat into their business." 

(Not exactly.  It is a tension between the Big Wind projects HECO profits from and the rooftop installations which HECo does not profit from.  “Decoupling” gives HECO an incentive to favor large projects it invests in and oppose smaller projects it does not invest in.)

"From the electric company's standpoint, our role is going to be to make sure that we can accommodate that distributed power generation, maintain the power reliability and maintain the safety," said Scott Seu, HECO's vice president for energy resources.

"It's going to be a mixture. It can't just be distributed generation. It's going to be a combination of DG plus solar farms, plus wind farms, plus biofuel plants and smart grid to better control and communicate with all of these different resources," Seu said.

"We're pretty comfortable in the role of supporting distributed generation. We're pretty comfortable in the role of supporting the big, larger wind farms. We're very comfortable, obviously, in running the firm generation (traditional oil-fired power plants)."

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Crisis: Maui Nonprofit banks $374K from County Grants

Wailuku Main Street, which has a mission that includes supporting and preserving small towns, will receive $218,700 from the county this year and has applied for a $243,000 grant in 2012.

In addition to the accumulation of funds, critics question why Wailuku Main Street was apparently not required by the county to provide receipts and other documentation to verify its expenses, unlike other grant recipients.

County records also show that the organization has fought past efforts by officials to require more accountability or impose tougher requirements.

The Maui County Council is expected to review the county's budget for all grant recipients, including Wailuku Main Street, in a meeting to start at 9 a.m. Thursday in Council Chambers on the eighth floor of the Kalana O Maui building.

According to Wailuku Main Street's reports, its surplus funds have been deposited into a First Hawaiian Bank checking account that grew from $229,622 in 2005 to $374,453 by the end of 2008.

In an interview Thursday, association officials said the account was an emergency reserve, and that the annual surplus was "earned income."

"Over the years, we've earned it," said Board Chairman Tom Cannon, adding, "We provided services. We got paid. We shouldn't be penalized for being frugal."

He said the surplus was not profit, because the money was returned to the organization, not used by any individual.

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Hawaii Reapportionment Commission starts work

A panel tasked with redrawing Hawaii election district lines has started its work and will come up with a draft plan by late July.

The 2011 Reapportionment Commission held its first meeting this week.

Districts are reshaped once a decade to reflect population shifts determined by the U.S. Census.

Government accountability group Common Cause reports that Hawaii Republican Party Executive Director Dylan Nonaka was elected temporary chair of the commission while it searches for a permanent head.

Half of the eight-member commission was appointed by Democrats, and the other half by Republicans, and they will together vote on choosing their leader.

A final reapportionment plan must be completed by mid-September, according to Common Cause.

Reapportionment: http://hawaii.gov/elections/reapportionment/

REALITY: Hawaii 2011 Reapportionment Commission includes Jeff Stone's Wife, Hannemann Staffer married to Rail Contractor

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Naturopathic “Physician” presides over death at Childbirth

A baby died from complications during natural childbirth in a Salt Lake home yesterday morning while under the care of a naturopathic physician (sic), police said.

The baby had complications after birth and paramedics were called around 11:15 a.m., police said.

Hawaii Legislature is responsible: QUACK: Naturopathic doctors get enabling legislation

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Animal Liberation Nuts flood Leg with Opposition to State-Owned Slaughterhouse

The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council support SB 249, which has been amended and now heads to conference committee.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, Healthy Hawaii Coalition, Leilani Farm Sanctuary, Animal Rights Hawaii, Organic Rawsome, Down to Earth and "numerous concerned individuals," according to testimony, oppose the measure.

So does People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — PETA — which, on April 7, urged opponents to contact legislators and object strenuously to the bill's passage.

Fascinating Read: http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

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Bill mandates 'fixing' of cats, dogs before sale

House Bill 243: The bill is just one version of animal cruelty legislation that is heading to a conference committee to work out differences between House and Senate versions.

State laws mandating the spaying or neutering of dogs or cats appear to be rare. At least one state, Rhode Island, mandates it if the animals are released from a shelter. Some counties on the mainland, however, completely ban the sale of cats or dogs, while a Los Angeles ordinance from 2008 requires pet owners to sterilize their dogs or cats by the age of 4 months.

Brent Chung, manager of Kalihi Pet Center, said some customers may not mind if the bill becomes law, but pet stores may require breeders to have dogs fixed before selling them to the retailer, reducing the supply of dogs in stores. He said some veterinarians are backlogged and the dogs may be months old by the time an animal can be sterilized, frustrating customers that want dogs as young as 6 weeks old that are easier to train. He suspected the bill could also boost sales of unsterilized dogs outside of stores. "They'll beat the system, no matter what," he said.

Fascinating Read: http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

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SA: Homeowners need shield from lenders' mistreatment

….systemic reforms are what is needed.

That is what state legislation would do, implementing recommendations by a state foreclosure task force created by last year's Legislature, headed by Stephen H. Levins, commerce and consumer affairs director in the Lingle administration, and comprised of a broad makeup of players.

At the heart of its proposal is that more nonjudicial foreclosure cases be allowed to transfer to the state court system; and that homeowners be allowed face-to-face dispute resolution with their mortage lenders, overseen by a professional mediator, before foreclosure is completed.

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Scammer Steals from Homeowners facing Foreclosure

For Hawaiian Paradise Park resident and single father Kalama "Skip" Hiapo, 50, Friday's protest was another in a long line of attempts to get someone, anyone, to listen to his plight.

A former sewage pumper for Kona Lua Inc., Hiapo lost his job in February 2009. Since then, he has tried to find work to support himself and his three children, Saysha, Sage and Renny. He's also struggled to find a way to continue paying the mortgage on his home near 19th Avenue and Makuu Drive, which he shares with his friend and fellow Koa Puna motorcycle club member, Louis Rego, 58.

Last year, Hiapo said, he paid a man recommended to him $1,400 to help him file for a renegotiation with his lender. Instead, the man took off with his money. He was served with eviction papers earlier this year, and anticipates being thrown out of his home in June. Unable to find work, he currently volunteers his time at the Makuu Market in Pahoa.

Community organizers like K.R. "Winddancer" Hunt and Charles W. Brooks -- who have dealt with their own foreclosures while also counseling dozens of others -- also came to the State Office Building in Hilo to lead the protest at a doorstep auction of foreclosed properties being held there….

Also on hand were members of Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE, an interfaith organization dedicated to supporting activism in Hawaii.

According to FACE representative Bev Harbin, her organization is expanding to the Big Isle, and Friday's protest seemed like a good time to get involved locally.

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Enviro-Religion sees opportunity in High Oil Prices

From Pierre Omidyar’s pet Kanu Hawaii group: But an unseen tsunami has already come ashore, an economic wave punishing our islands from two directions: from Japan, where disaster is driving down Hawaii-bound tourism, and the Middle East, where conflict is driving up the price of oil.

Fewer tourists mean less money in the local economy. Rising oil prices mean everything costs more, since we import goods on oil-burning barges and planes.

This moment has us awash in uncertainty. It is a challenge, both a time of difficulty and a call to action.

Kanu Hawaii demanded barrel tax to drive price of oil up to $100/barrel: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”

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Fireworks storage called wrong place to start disposal

Workers killed by an explosion of fireworks at an underground storage facility in Waikele on April 8 should not have been working on them in that bunker, according to a mainland-based fireworks expert who often serves as a consultant for fireworks firms.

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