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Saturday, December 9, 2017
December 9, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:00 PM :: 3740 Views

Officials Announce First DoD-Wide Audit

Airports Division spreads the red tape

ACS Hawaii 5-Year Report: Growth Data for Your Community

Kauai Council OKs $25M GE tax hike—Uses Jammed Traffic as Excuse (again)

KGI:Kauai people will be getting a tax increase that will pay for public transportation improvements salary hikes.

On Wednesday, the county council approved Bill 2670 to establish a general excise and use tax surcharge.

“Traditionally the Board of Realtors opposes the GET tax because of its regressive nature,” said Chad Deal, government affairs director for the board, who provided public testimony at the meeting.

“However, (I have been fooled, so) we can support the intent of this tax provided that it is earmarked specifically for the use of transportation and the highway infrastructure that we so badly need.” 

(If anything is left over after the salary hikes, it will be used to add positions.  No roads will be built.  Scorpion and frog.)

Statewide, the GET tax rate is 4 percent, so it will increase to 4.5 percent on Kauai with the council’s action. People will pay the tax on pretty much everything they buy.

The half percent tax increase will take effect Jan. 1, 2019 and is projected to generate nearly an additional $25 million annually. It will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2030….

Longtime residents who spoke at the meeting, like Glen Mickens and Joe Rosa, were concerned that designated funds generated from previous tax increases were used for unrelated purposes (Some people remember!) …. 

read … Council OKs tax hike

Maui County Council urged to approve GET increase

MN: Maui County again has to decide whether it wants to increase the state’s general excise tax by 0.5 percent to pay for transportation projects, and the body that oversees federal funding for those projects thinks the county should do so.

The Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization is calling on the Maui County Council to adopt the surcharge, which it believes would help kick-start a long list of transportation projects that state and federal funds can’t cover.

“We knew that there’s not enough funding from our traditional sources to do some of these major improvements, such as the work along Honoapiilani Highway,” MPO Policy Board Chairman David Goode said Thursday. “We saw this as an opportunity to increase the funding to get some of these additional capacity roadways completed.”

But, to some council members, that’s not the county’s job, and it’s uncertain whether the issue will come up for debate on the floor.

“These are state highway projects, so they should take it out of their funds,”council Chairman Mike White said. “There are sources of funds available at the state that they’re not sharing with the counties.”…

read … Tax Hike

Delay sought in TMT sublease contested case

HTH: Attorneys for the University of Hawaii and TMT International Observatory are asking that a contested case for the telescope’s sublease not proceed at this time.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, who has since retired, ruled in December 2016 that a contested case hearing should have been granted to petitioner Kalani Flores for TIO’s sublease with UH.

That ruling is under appeal to the state Supreme Court.

A second lengthy contested case ended this year for the project’s construction permit, which resulted in the Land Board approving it. Opponents appealed that decision to the high court.

Flores was a participant in that process….

News Release: From Hawaii Attorney General

read … Delay 

Consultant to Explore Partnerships for Rail’s Final Stretch

SA: …HART said it selected Ernst &Young Infrastructure Advisors from among eight proposals. The company, a division of the global EY firm, will be conducting a “market sounding/feasibility study,” according to a news release. It will be paid $325,000 for its services, a HART spokesman said….

(This has already been done. LINK)

Ernst &Young will be evaluating the work to build the final 4.3 miles of guideway and stations from Middle Street to Ala Moana Center. HART in August canceled procurement for the construction of that stretch, dubbed the “City Center” section, after the solicitation sat idle for nearly two years.

The consultant is expected to recommend what type of public-private partnership delivery model, if any, would work best for the remaining design and construction of the project, for implementing transit-oriented development and for operations and maintenance….

He added that Andrew Robbins, who started as HART’s executive director and CEO in September and has previous experience with public-private partnerships for transit projects, viewed the cancellation of the City Center solicitation as an opportunity to consider alternatives to the design-build contracts HART has issued for the work done so far….

read … Consultant to explore partnerships for rail’s final stretch

14 Years Later BLNR Gives KIUC Right to Generate Hydropower

HNN: …In a controversial decision Friday, the state Land Board voted 4-to-3 to allow the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative to continue diverting stream water from Mount Waialeale to feed two hydropower plants.

The board approved a revocable permit for KIUC to continue overseeing the Blue Hole diversion -- a dam that was built in the 1920s to supply power and water to the Lihue sugar plantation.

KIUC took over the diversion in 2003 and says it has been trying to get a long-term lease with the state for years.

"It's been about a decade or more since we first started down the process of obtaining the lease. There's been numerous environmental studies done, cultural studies done," said David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC….

read … 14 years Later

Medicated Marijuana Users Didn’t Know HPD Had Access to Blue Card Files

KITV: …A medical marijuana patient wanting to conceal his identity told Island News he feels the privacy of patients are being invaded.

The Honolulu Police Department made its policy clear to Medical Marijuana patients last month, if you're in the program, you can't register for any new guns.

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii says many patients were unaware that HPD had any involvement with the program and are now wondering what else they can be denied of.

Some patients told Island News, they will not renew their cards once it expires. Others are looking at ways to un-register altogether….

Dec 1, 2017: Gun Surrender: AG report lists cannabis patients under "Mental incompetence/impairment"

read … Medical marijuana industry experts say valid users might be saying bye to getting high legally

Hawaii State Rep Is Drafting Bill Barring Minors From Buying Games With Loot Boxes

K: Imagine a 17-year-old gamer tossing a copy of the Teen-rated Star Wars Battlefront 2 onto his local GameStop’s checkout counter, only to be asked: “Sir, may I see your ID?”

A Hawaii in which games with microtransactions are illegal for minors to purchase is one that state legislator Chris Lee is now hoping to realize. He says that prohibiting the sale of games with loot boxes is a “no-brainer,” and along with a dozen other politicians, he says, he’s thinking of how to put legal controls around video game microtransactions.

Lee, a member of the state House of Representatives who has also authored bills around climate change and gun control, says he downloaded Clash of Clans two years ago to pass time between meetings. In 2014, the freemium strategy mobile game generated a reported $650,000 per day.

“At one point,” Lee told me over the phone, “I started buying crystals. I ended up spending a few hundred dollars over the course of a few months.”….

read … Hawaii State Rep Is Drafting Bill Barring Minors From Buying Games With Loot Boxes

The lawsuits against Trump's travel ban have finally run out of steam

TH:As appeals of Travel Ban 3.0 proceed apace — on Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit heard argument in Seattle in the case out of Hawaii, and today it’s the Fourth Circuit’s turn in Richmond in the case out of Maryland — it’s striking how the stage has shifted….

read … Steam

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