Supreme Court Strikes Down HSTA Property Tax Amendment
by Andrew Walden
The State Supreme Court today ruled in favor of the four-county lawsuit against the HSTA’s tax hike constitutional amendment.
The SB2922 poison pill tactic employed by legislators against the HSTA power grab has worked. (see graphic)
HSTA members should note that their leadership has been played for the fools that they are.
Here is the order:
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING (CIVIL NO. 18-1-1326-08)
The court has considered petitioners’ petition for extraordinary writ seeking pre-election relief, filed on September 26, 2018, respondents’ answer to the petition for extraordinary writ seeking pre-election relief, filed on October 11, 2018, petitioners’ reply memorandum, filed on October 16, 2018, the respective supporting documents, and the record, and has heard this matter by oral argument on October 18, 2018. During the 2018 legislative session, the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed Senate Bill 2922, S.D. 1, H.D. 1, which proposed amendments to articles VIII and X of the Hawai‘i Constitution and set forth the ballot question to be submitted to the electorate in order for the amendments to be approved or rejected. Petitioners challenge the ballot question as unclear and misleading in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 11-118.5 (2011), which provides in relevant part, “The language and meaning of a constitutional amendment shall be clear and it shall be neither misleading nor deceptive.” The ballot question is as follows:
Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?
The proposed constitutional amendments to article VIII, section 3 and article X, section 1 of the Hawai‘i Constitution would provide that the exclusive authority of the counties1 over functions, powers and duties relating to the taxation of real property be amended to also authorize the state legislature to impose a “surcharge on investment real property” to support public education. The ballot question as written does not comply with the requirements of HRS § 11-118.5 that the language and meaning of the ballot question be clear and not misleading. Accordingly,
“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the ballot question is declared invalid. The Chief Election Officer shall issue a public proclamation stating that the ballot question is invalid and that any votes for or against the measure will not be counted and will have no impact. A written opinion will follow.”
DATED: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, October 19, 2018.
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PDF: ORDER REGARDING PETITION FOR EXTRAORDINARY WRIT SEEKING PRE-ELECTION RELIEF
Office of Elections: "Any votes for or against the measure will not be counted and will have no impact."
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Hawaii's high court strikes down tax proposal
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii agrees the ballot measure was vague and misleading
News Release from Grassroot Institute
HONOLULU, Oct. 19, 2018 >> The Hawaii Supreme Court today struck down the proposed constitutional ballot question on whether the state should be allowed to tax real property to help fund public education.
Keli'i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said, "The fact that the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the proposed amendment is good news for all Hawaii citizens who value clarity in law and responsibility in government."
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii was a party to an amicus brief filed in support of Hawaii's four counties, who were the plaintiffs in the legal challenge.
"We joined the amicus brief because we felt the language of the proposed amendment was vague and deceptive," Akina said. "We hope the Legislature will take this opportunity to look at other, more sustainable ways to fund education without raising taxes."
To read a copy of the decision, go here.
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News Release from Gov Ige: “The Court’s ruling on the Legislature’s amendment means we must keep searching for a way to support the dedicated teachers and staff who make a difference every day in classrooms around the state. I am committed to doing just that.” –Governor David Ige
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State Supreme Court invalidates Con Am proposal; HSTA continues fight to improve schools
News Release from HSTA, October 19, 2018
Link: Video Announcement
The Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday invalidated a question on general election ballots asking voters if they want to amend the Hawaii Constitution to allow the state to tax property in support of public education.
Ruling in favor of Hawaii’s four counties, the court found that the wording of the question wasn’t sufficiently clear. Hawaii law requires that the language of a constitutional amendment be “neither misleading or deceptive.”
“The Chief Election Officer shall issue a public proclamation stating that the ballot question is invalid and that any votes for or against the measure will not be counted and will have no impact,” according to the order from the Supreme Court issued Friday afternoon. A written opinion is forthcoming.
"We are disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling and extremely grateful to thousands of teachers, parents and public school supporters who worked so hard to campaign for the Con Am. This has been a multi-year fight to fund our schools and get the constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. "While we are sad about the ruling, there is still an urgent need that students have a qualified teacher and sufficient school funding to provide our keiki with the learning environment they deserve. The fight for our schools does not end with the Supreme Court ruling; all of Hawaii must ask that our elected leaders work to ensure that our schools are properly funded."
"The current situation is unacceptable. We have more than 1,000 classrooms that lack a qualified teacher, crumbling facilities, and too many of our students are denied learning opportunities based on their special needs," Rosenlee added. "We have heard throughout this campaign the loud voice of the community to improve our schools. While there might have been disagreements on the amendment itself, there is still the strong desire from our community to invest in education. As a community, we must strive to give our keiki the schools they deserve."
Gov. David Ige released a statement late Friday that said, "The Court’s ruling on the Legislature’s amendment means we must keep searching for a way to support the dedicated teachers and staff who make a difference every day in classrooms around the state. I am committed to doing just that."