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Sunday, February 21, 2016
February 21, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:17 PM :: 3053 Views

General Excise Tax at 6%?

Who’s Running: Candidates Pulling Papers as of Feb 19, 2016

Carson and Rubio on Ballot for Hawaii Republican Caucus

HB2632: Many Excuses to Take Your Guns

Big Island Rolling Blackouts Caused by Lack of Wind

Hawaii Gasoline Prices #1 in USA—$0.24 Higher Than California

Long Term Solutions for Coastal Highway Erosion

HB1013: Hawaii’s Right to Try Bill

Hawaii Ag Land Use Baseline Report

List of Bills Still Alive After First Lateral

OHA Cronies: Scalia Death Opens Door to Fake Indian Tribe

SA: …the high court in November put a stay on completing an election for a Native Hawaiian self-governance convention — the ‘aha that is now underway, with unelected delegates.

That whole episode underscores the potential effect of a single vote, said Avi Soifer, dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii.

It took four votes of the high court to put a stay on the election, Soifer said, in what he called “a highly unusual move.” A new justice could change the outcome of such maneuvers.

Most observers believe a Democratic appointee would be more sympathetic to Native Hawaiian interests, Bennett said, but even that is not a prediction one can take to the bank. The Hawaii landmark case Rice v. Cayetano illustrates that point. In that ruling, opening the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees elections to non-Hawaiian voters, Justice Breyer took the plaintiff’s side instead of the state’s, he added ….

read … Door to Tribe

State Awash in Unspent Highway Funds, But Wants to Hike Your Fuel Taxes by $45.1M

HTH: …The move, as proposed to the state Legislature earlier this session, would bump fuel prices by 3 cents per gallon as transportation officials seek more revenue to improve Hawaii’s highways.

But perhaps the largest sticker shock would come when motorists renew their vehicle registration.

Under the proposal submitted by Gov. David Ige, registration fees would increase by $15, in addition to an extra penny per pound vehicle weight tax.

Combined, that works out to an extra $32.40 in registration costs for the owner of a Toyota Camry….

DOT officials say the fuel tax and fee hikes would raise an extra $45.1 million a year, revenue they say claim is needed for road maintenance and widening projects, (and they hope that you won’t remember that the Feds recently threatened to cut off Hawaii’s transportation funding because the State DoT wasn’t spending the money they had already been given.)

The measure faced swift criticism from those who say the state is overreaching.

In testimony submitted to the Senate’s Transportation and Energy Committee, the Tax Foundation of Hawaii noted the state still has a backlog of more than $650 million in federal highway funds.

“It’s apparent that the Department of Transportation needs to implement more efficient spending practices … prior to squeezing the taxpayers for more and more funding,” the organization wrote.

Additionally, the proposal increases the tax for diesel oil and aviation fuel from 1 cent to 2 cents per gallon….

In 2014, the state increased vehicle safety inspection fees by $4.49 to pay for a new electronic inspection system.

That followed the County Council approving registration fee increases in 2013 that saw its share go from $5 to $12.

It also raised weight taxes from 0.75 cents per pound to 1.25 cents per pound.

For a Camry owner, those changes resulted in an annual fee increase of $24.70.

That year, bus fares in Hawaii County doubled from $1 to $2.

read … Insult to intelligence

Kauai: $50M GE Tax Hike for 3% Bus Ridership?

KE: The most heavily traveled areas on Kauai are from the Kukui Grove Shopping Center to the Lihue Airport, and from Wailua to Kapaa.

Yup, Kauai County spent good money digging up that closely guarded secret, evident only to those who actually creep through that tangled traffic.

There's more:

The study found that there are too many cars on the road.

Ya don't say?

And still more:

The goal by 2035, when it comes to transit, is to increase transit trips from today’s 1 percent of travel to 4 percent, and to update fare collection technology and structures.

So the county wants to impose a ½ percent GET surcharge, which would generate $5 million annually for the bus system over the next 10 years, with the lofty goal of a 3 percent increase in ridership. Wow.  ($5M x 10 years = $50M out of your pocket)

KGI: Pushes Bus Plan for Tax Hike

read … Musings: There's More

DLNR Revocable Permits: Will Legislature Save Agriculture from OHA, Enviros?

SA: Hawaii’s goal of food security is at risk and farmers across the state need help.

Two bills introduced at the state Legislature, House Bill 2501 (double re-referred on sheet 17 -- 2-17-16) and Senate Bill 3001 (deferred 2-17-16), brought to light a practice that is and has long been common with the state Board of Land and Natural Resources: that of issuing month-to-month revocable permits a year at a time.

Legislative and media attention has focused on water permits held by Alexander &Baldwin, Inc., that have been in litigation for 15 years.

There are, however, numerous other farmers who depend on revocable water permits that have been renewed from year to year.

These bills are necessary because in January, a Circuit Court ruled that the month-to-month revocable permits issued by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources are supposed to be held on a temporary basis.

The judge found instead, that many of the revocable permits have been renewed annually for many years.

However, it is not for lack of trying that many farmers and ranchers do not have long-term leases. Despite their best efforts, they have been unable to get from DLNR this most basic security.

The media has recently noted that hundreds of revocable permits for state lands have long been issued by the BLNR, and drew attention to a few revocable permits which, when taken out of context, could be perceived as sweetheart deals for the permit holders. But the greater number of revocable permits are held by small farmers and ranchers working hard to stay economically viable.

HB 2501 and SB 3001 address only water permits, and do not address revocable permits for state lands.

However, the Circuit Court’s ruling does not distinguish between water and land revocable permits Based on the court’s reasoning and interpretation, all revocable permits — for both land and water — could be deemed invalid….

while the Legislature and the DLNR are working to fix the process, don’t penalize farmers and ranchers by leaving us in the legal limbo created by the recent court ruling.

Provide us with the means to validate our revocable permits that have been renewed again and again.

Support local farming by supporting these two measures which will allow us to continue to farm while the process is being fixed….

read … Bye-Bye Agriculture

Medical Marijuana: Star-Adv Suddenly Remembers that Senator J Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English pleaded guilty to drug felony

SA:  State Sen. J. Kalani English’s guilty plea to a felony cocaine possession charge in 1988 is raising questions about his participation in a company that has applied for a state license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary.

State Department of Health interim rules governing the dispensaries dictate that each member of a company applying for a state license shall “not have any felony convictions or any other disqualifying background history in accordance with this chapter.”

Janice Okubo, communications director for the Health Department, declined to say whether English’s 1988 guilty plea for promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree disqualifies the company, Hawaii Medicinal Options LLC, from obtaining a license.

“It is inappropriate for the department to comment on individual applicants during the selection process,” she said in an emailed response to questions.

State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs records list English as a member of Hana, Maui-based Hawaii Medicinal Options along with Patricia McIntyre of Hana, Alan Texeira of Kaneohe and WinWright Corp. of Anaheim, Calif….

Meanwhile, another lawmaker with a potential conflict of interest related to the marijuana dispensary issue has made arrangements to abstain from voting on the issue.

State House Rep. Derek Kawakami said he is uncomfortable voting on the issue because his father, Charles Kawakami, has applied for one of the dispensary licenses.

Kawakami (D, Hanalei-Princeville-Kapaa) on Friday took the rare step of obtaining permission from House Speaker Joseph Souki to be excused from voting on dispensary issues for the 2016 session….

Feb 14: Former Cocaine Dealer seeks Marijuana License

read … Star-Advertiser Plays Catch-up to Hawai'i Free Press

HECO Cancellation of Bankrupt Solar Farms is latest Excuse to Kill NextEra Deal

Borreca: “Every passing year that HECO doesn’t change its business model and move to cheaper renewable energy is another year we end up paying for more expensive fossil fuels,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the Kailua Democrat who heads the Energy Committee.

More blunt was Randy Iwase, PUC chairman, who described himself as “extremely disappointed.”

In an interview with Honolulu Star-Advertiser energy reporter Kathryn Mykleseth, Iwase said HECO is turning its back on 100 megawatts of renewable energy that would be produced at an extremely cheap 14 cents a kilowatt- hour.

“Hawaiian Electric: No more talk. You come up with something concrete. Tell us how you are going to get 100 megawatts of renewable energy only, ready to go, at less than 14 cents a kilowatt-hour by December 2016,” Iwase said.

At issue was HECO’s announcement that it was terminating a contract with three solar farms on Oahu. The contractor, SunEdison Inc., has already asked the PUC to block the termination. HECO has said it had concerns about SunEdison’s financial situation and failure to meet project deadlines, causing it to cancel the deal.

SunEdison had sunk $42 million into the three solar projects, with one of them already sprouting 1,240 solar panels in Waiawa.

In a formal statement, Iwase said HECO’s cancellation of both the solar projects and a Hawaii island biomass project, plus the delays with a new geothermal energy project, are adding to HECO’s credibility problems regarding renewable energy….

read … Long Dreary March to the Inevitable

Shapiro: Left becoming as absolutist as far right

Shapiro: I was having coffee with a friendly acquaintance on the political left who started getting worked up about a Democratic lawmaker who strayed from strict progressive dogma.

I mildly observed that some on the left are becoming as absolutist as their adversaries on the far right.

He flew into what can only be described as a rage, accusing me of “false equivalence” and labeling me a “corporate media tool.”

I’m used to being yelled at about politics; it comes with the job. What surprised me was so virulent an attack in an amicable social setting.

I feared the Facebook age has brought us to a point where friendly personal relations are increasingly difficult without total agreement on politics, religion and the other belief systems that polarize us.

I found hope, however, in stories after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia about his unusual friendship with fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg….

read … Ginsburg, Scalia friendship serves as a lesson for us all

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