Hawaii taxpayers about to get railroaded?
Wind Power Is ‘Neither Clean Nor Green’
Largest US Solar Panel Maker Files for Bankruptcy After Receiving $206 Million in Subsidies
Hawaii Politicians Steering a Course for Economic Decline like Bankrupt Puerto Rico
Caldwell appointments Ember Shinn to HART Board of Directors
Grassroot Institute video goes viral
McDermott for Governor, 2018
HNN: The 2018 elections are still more than a year away, but outspoken Republican lawmaker Bob McDermott is already announcing plans to challenge Governor David Ige for the job.
The 53-year old state House representative, who serves the Ewa Beach area, knows he's a heavy underdog. Still, he hopes he can convince voters that he has something Governor Ige lacks -- leadership.
"If we can get in front of enough people, with the two of us together, they will see leadership and then they will see warmed over mush, pablum, nothing -- and hopefully they'll be able to make a choice on that," McDermott said.
He says the recent rail funding debate fiasco played a major role in his decision to run for the office. He says it's embarassing state lawmakers couldn't reach a deal and shameful for Governor Ige to sit on the sidelines.
"It's the largest public works project in the state. How can you walk away or allow these people to walk away without finishing this business," he added.
As a former Marine, realtor, and father of eight, McDermott served in the State House for 10 years, where he is known for making blunt statements….
McDermott also supports President Donald Trump and opposed same sex marriage and the Pono Choices sex education program….
If elected, McDermott says one of his first priorities would be to change how the state allocates education funding. He wants to reduce overcrowding in schools, especially in Leeward Oahu. …
HNN: McDermott touts leadership, officially enters 2018 race for governor
read … McDermott for Gov
Dela Cruz Takes Over Ways And Means
CB: The shake-up in state Senate leadership that began at the end of the legislative session with the ouster of Sen. Jill Tokuda as chair of the Ways and Means Committee continued Friday with the announcement of some new committee chairmanships.
Senate President Ron Kouchi issued a statement saying that, as expected, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz will replace Tokuda as chair of the money committee, with Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran serving as vice chair….
Kouchi also announced Friday that the Committee on Judiciary and Labor will be split into two committees, with Tokuda chairing Labor and Sen. Brian Taniguchi chairing Judiciary.
Kouchi also announced that Sen.Kaiali‘i Kahele will be the new majority whip….
read … Dela Cruz
Kauai Council Rejects Property Tax Hike, Cuts Spending Instead
KGI: ….In March, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., announced a proposed operating budget of $204 million for FY 2017-2018.
The operating budget also proposed a 19-cent increase in real property taxes for road repair and maintenance projects.
Because the property tax increase would have raised $3.6 million, councilmembers were trying to find that money within the budget.
They came up about $1.5 million short.
On Friday, Mel Rapozo, council chair, proposed removing the property tax hike.
“We all said from the very beginning we don’t want to raise property taxes,” Rapozo said. “This should leave a balance of about $1.5 million. To me, that would be the cleanest way — cut the property tax increase and transfer $1.5 million from the reserve.”
The proposal passed 4-3, with Councilmembers Arthur Brun, Ross Kagawa, Derek Kawakami and Rapozo approving the measure.
Kaneshiro, along with Councilmembers Mason Chock and JoAnn Yukimura, voted against it.….
read … No New Taxes
Maui Council Votes to Jack up Property Taxes
MN: …The Maui County Council narrowly approved a property tax rate resolution on Friday for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1.
The tax hikes affect all tax categories, with time-share owners getting the highest increase and homeowners the lowest.
The rates for time shares go from $14.31 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation to $15.43, or a $1.12 hike, and homeowners will see an increase from $2.70 to $2.86, for a 16-cent hike.
The new rates are expected to generate nearly $303.2 million for fiscal 2018.
Council members voting in support of the higher rates were Council Chairman Mike White, Vice Chairman Bob Carroll and members Stacy Crivello, Riki Hokama, Kelly King and Yuki Lei Sugimura.
Those opposed were Elle Cochran, Alika Atay and Don Guzman.
Cochran, a former armed robber and drug dealer turned politician, said she voted against the rates because she had wanted a $1 more of an increase to the hotel and resort category, which would go from the council proposed $9.37 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation to $10.37. Currently, the rate is $8.71…..
read … Tax Hike
Star-Adv: Legislators Did not give away Enough Free Stuff to green Energy Scammers
SA: Died in conference….
>> House Bill 1580, which would have set a 2045 target achieving 100 percent renewable ground transportation, such as electric vehicles. That goal, involving neither money nor punitive mandate, was an aspirational one that sought to align transportation planning goals with the existing green energy law.
>> HB 1253 and SB 155, which would have set targets for renewable gas by 2045 so that natural gas would be included in the state’s trek to 100 percent renewable.
>> SB 1121, which would have closed the gas loophole in Hawaii’s solar water heater requirement….
Inouye killed two renewable-energy bills — HB 1580 and Senate Bill 909, which offered a plan to ensure energy in emergencies — because House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke refused to release funds for HB 665. That bill would have reduced the solar energy tax credit amount, but was worthy for allowing energy storage — emerging battery technology — to qualify for the tax credit.
“Unless you make a miracle happen with (HB) 665, you can say goodbye to (HB) 1580,” Inouye told Rep. Chris Lee in the final conference committee on April 28….
only a trio of minor energy-climate bills emerged this session: HB 1578 forms a climate-change task force to find opportunities for carbon sequestration via farming; SB 559 creates a Hawaii climate-change commission; and HB 794 creates a revolving fund, but no money, for University of Hawaii green energy programs.
read … Clean energy short-circuited by legislators
Ige: A Billion Dollars Later, Act 221 Was a Good Law
VB: …Hawaii did offer startups tax breaks for doing business in the state some years back, through a law called Act 221. But it was not renewed due to concerns about whether it was really effective. Governor Ige voted in favor of Act 221 when he was a legislator and has previously stated that he believes it was a good law that needed a few tweaks:
“Act 221 could be executed better. When we passed the law, we provided tremendous flexibility to the executive. We had a very broad definition, and we enabled the executive to implement. I believe that part of the challenges and the controversy truly was a result of poor decision-making on execution,” he explained….
…In 2016, a Maui-based technology fund for early-stage startups, called Mbloom, was shuttered amid allegations that one of the investors engaged in securities fraud and that the fund’s initial investments were rife with conflicts of interest. The other major investment party to this was the state….
REALITY: Audit: State Gave Away $1B Act 221 Tax Credits Without Verification of Eligibility
read … Thy Never Learn
Marijuana is Racist, So Says the Legislature
HFP: …Supporters of Senate Bill 786, introduced by state Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Oahu, say the word cannabis is most appropriate and accurate. Bill language says the word marijuana “carries prejudicial implications rooted in racial stereotypes” from the early 20th century, when the drug first was criminalized in the United States.
The bill garnered support from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Community Alliance on Prisons and other groups.
If Ige signs SB 786, or allows it to pass without his signature, the DOH has until December 2019 to make the switch. Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said in an email that duty will fall on existing staff and “no additional funds will be used to make the change.” ….
Lau Ola, a company led by former banana farmer Richard Ha, and Hawaiian Ethos, led by venture capitalist Bill Richardson, were selected to open Hawaii Island’s first dispensaries. Neither has requested approval to begin growing, Okubo said.
“As I understand, they are still working on setting up their production sites,” she said.
Despite none of the dispensaries being up and operating, each had to pay a $50,000 license renewal fee in April.
Last year, each paid $75,000 to obtain their license. That followed a nonrefundable $5,000 fee to apply and a requirement to show proof of having at least $1 million in the bank, plus an additional $100,000 in reserves for each desired retail location.
HB 1488, if approved by Ige, also would:
• Expand the list of conditions to qualify as a medical marijuana patient to include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
• Increase the number of plants a patient and caregiver can jointly possess from seven to 10.
• Allow patients and caregivers access to state-certified labs in order to get marijuana tested.
• Extend various deadlines, including extending the caregiver program to cease by 2023 instead of 2018, as it was previously set to end. Amendments also establish that after 2023, a single marijuana-growing location can only be used by a maximum of five patients.
• Delay the date DOH can begin awarding more dispensary licenses to October 2018 rather than October 2017 as previously stated. Under new amendments, the DOH is directed to take into consideration whether a prospective new licensee applicant is capable of serving and supplying marijuana to patients in a rural or underserved area.
• Give the DOH discretion to allow a licensee to grow up to 5,000 marijuana plants at a single production center. Currently, licensees are allowed to grow up to 3,000 plants per grow center.
• Give the DOH discretion to allow a licensee to open up to three retail store locations. Currently, each licensee is allowed two retail stores and two grow centers. Whether a licensee is allowed more would be contingent on their capability to serve rural or underserved areas.
• Allow for a temporary backup system for tracking and monitoring dispensary sales data if the state’s current computer software tracking system is not functioning properly…..
read … Racist Weed
Squatters Occupy Coco Palms Until Paid
KGI: …Kamuela Kapule O Kamehameha, who said he is a descendant of Queen Deborah Kapule, said the notice gave the group 24 hours to vacate.
Police, however, didn’t show up Friday afternoon.
Joseph Kekauliki Kamai was surprised when police gave out notices around midday Thursday.
“We’re not rich (YET) like the guy who has the hotel. These guys can pay for whatever they need. (SO THEY CAN PAY US!) They should understand that the land rightfully belong to our families. (Until we are paid.) We are the heirs to the throne,” he said. “We have the right to claim what belongs to our families. They’re going to push the issue to get everybody out. We’ve invested our blood and our sweat to this land to help and clean and take care of our iwi kupuna.” (But not while Coco Palms sat derelict, only now that there is some money flowing.)
Other recent trespass complaints at Coco Palms were reported to KPD on Feb. 11 and March 11, Blane said.
State officials said the state land is leased to Coco Palms.
Tyler Greene, co-owner of Coco Palms Hui, said the county recognizes Coco Palms Hui as the owners of the land. He did not respond to requests for comment Friday. He previously told The Garden Island there were trespassers at Coco Palms and he was working with the county prosecutor’s office on the matter.
Kapule O Kamehameha said he and his ohana have a royal patent called Palapala Sila Nui, which they say gives their family the rights to the land in perpetuity.
read … Greenmail
Free-meals plan is sign of disparity in the state
Cataluna: Our economy is pumping, construction jobs are cranking, unemployment is low, we live in a land of gleaming high-rise condos and sparkling marble-floored boutiques … so why are so many communities hurting? …
To realize that 52 of the 255 public schools in Hawaii are in communities where at least 40 percent of the student body comes from families that are economically disadvantaged is shocking. Or it should be. Nobody should be OK with the knowledge that certain pockets of the state struggle so pervasively and, in many cases, perpetually.
read … Shocking
Bill Allows Community Groups to Sponsor Park Improvements
KITV: A piece of city land off of Royal Hawaiian Avenue and Aloha Drive in Waikiki could soon be a park.
Paid for by people who want it.
"Sometimes we make government too hard for the people," Kymberly Pine, City Council member said.
Not anymore, in some cases.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill into law allowing the public to raise their own money and pay for their own park improvement ideas to come to life.
"We are going to get rid of all the red tape that says you can't do this and you can't do that you cant be part of giving to the city and taxpayers who've had enough of giving from themselves," Pine said.
Centennial Park appears to be one of the first in store for a facelift.
The Rotary Club of Honolulu raised more than $30,000 in a single day when their plan to create a park hit the newspaper.
The club now has $140,000 banked and hopes to break ground in June.
"This island is going to change because of this. Non profits are going to be inspired to do a lot more than they thought they could ever do," Linda Coble, Rotary Club of Honolulu said.
According to the city, another group is raising money to sponsor a state of the art playground on the Diamond Head side of Ala Moana Park.
Nanakuli resident Demont Conner says he knows people who'd like to sponsor Kalaniana'ole Beach Park and the Wai'anae Gym.
"This bill is going a long way to allow us to take stewardship of our land," Conner said.
read … Mayor signed a bill allowing public to raise their own money to make their park improvement ideas come to life