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Monday, April 30, 2018
April 30, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:44 PM :: 3155 Views

For OHA Insider Cash Bonanza Comes with Poi Mill

Con-Con: The People v. Hawaii Supreme Court

HB2748: No GE Tax on Rent

CB: …the Legislature is on the brink of approving a $30 million annual general excise tax exemption for new or refurbished rentals to the tune of $360 million over 12 years.  It’s part of a package to tackle Hawaii’s housing crisis that also includes a $200 million infusion of subsidies for new or refurbished rentals….

UPDATE: Enrolled to Governor

read … No GE Tax on Rent

Campaign Spending Comm has been Investigating Kaniela Ing for One Year

HNN: The commission's Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao and its attorney Gary Kam told Hawaii News Now that the state agency began looking into the Maui Representative's campaign records after finding irregularities. They didn't provide details.

Hawaii News Now reported on Wednesday that corporate and grassroots Political Action Committees disclosed that they donated more than $18,000 to Ing's state campaign since 2012 but that none of those donations were reported by Ing's campaign.

"It's not one or two checks. It's not a few hundred dollars. In the past the Commission has taken this kind of failure to disclose very seriously," said Ian Lind, board member of the political watchdog group, Common Cause Hawaii.

Ing told Hawaii News Now that he had been working with the commission for "the last year or so," answering questions about contributions to his campaign account. In a statement today, he promised to cooperate with the commission….

"Many of the so-called discrepancies come from checks that were given to me that I decided not to deposit," Ing said in a video he posted on his Facebook page.

If a PAC's campaign donation is not deposited within six months, the PAC is required to report that the contribution was returned.

None of the PAC donations cited in Hawaii News Now's report were reported returned by the corporations. In fact, several PACs we spoke with said their checks were deposited by Ing's campaign….

If the Campaign Spending Commission finds that Ing intentionally or recklessly failed to report contributions intentionally, it could fine him or could ask prosecutors to conduct criminal investigation….

2012: CSC: New Campaign Spending Violations by Kaniela Ing (We did warn you it would end up this way.)

read … Spending Commission to review congressional candidate's state campaigns

Ballard Promises Aggressive Recruitment To Fix Cop Shortage

CB: …she’s also willing to look for officers with nontradtional backgrounds, she told members of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii on Sunday during the organization’s annual meeting at the East-West Center’s Jefferson Hall.

Ballard said she also wants to reach out to young people graduating with degrees in fields like social work.

“That’s basically what our job is now, is social work,” she said, but with better pay and benefits. Starting base pay for an officer with a high school diploma is $64,000. Including overtime, a low-level officer makes about $80,000 annually, she said….

The HPD has taken over administering applications from the City and County of Honolulu, she said. And that’s helped cut the time to bring new recruits on board from a year to six months, she said….

The department is also shortening academy training time for people with prior skills and knowledge, like recent college graduates with criminal justice degrees and officers from other departments. Ballard said she’s tired of losing potential new hires to police forces on the mainland and neighbor islands….

Ballard described her hiring techniques as part of a push to address what she called top priorities for policing: drugs and homeless people. She said drugs, especially methamphetamine, are the root cause of many offenses.

“Violent crimes, property crimes: the key to that is crystal meth and other types of drugs,” she said….

read … Ballard Promises Aggressive Recruitment To Fix Cop Shortage

Relief for overcrowding at Hawaii UPW-Controlled correctional facilities years away

HNN: …The state says the Hawaii Community Correctional Center was built 43 years ago with only 22 beds. Over the years, they've installed up to 200 more beds, but that's still not enough to handle the roughly 425 inmates that it's housing.

HCCC is more than 85 percent over capacity. There has been an 11 percent jump in the inmate population in just the last four months since January, and officials say it keeps steadily increasing.

"The jails over there have been sometimes up to two, three people, maybe four people in a room," said Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety. …

On Kauai, inmates are being forced to stay in structures that were once used as temporary shelters during Hurricane Iniki.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Kauai Community Correctional Center in Lihue is 48 percent over capacity. Since last week, the inmate population has actually gone down, but only slightly.

There are about 200 inmates and only 128 beds.

Maui's jail is nearly 60 percent over capacity. The state says they only have 301 beds for approximately 470 inmates.

The state's largest jail on Oahu is actually the least overcrowded, but it is still housing way more inmates than it was originally intended to hold with a little more than 11,000 inmates for its 954 beds.

So far this year, officials say OCCC has been running about 25 percent over capacity….

The state Legislature has released $37.5 million to address overcrowding of the correctional centers on the neighbor islands. Some $15 million a piece is headed to Hawaii Island and Kauai, with $7.5 million earmarked for Maui.

Officials say 20 percent of the budget has already been spent on the design and planning phase, and construction could begin as soon as 2020….

read … Relief for overcrowding at Hawaii correctional facilities years away

HTA budget cuts head to floor vote in Senate

SA: …State lawmakers agreed last week to trim the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s funding but lessened the impact by agreeing to forgive its debt on the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

HTA, the state agency responsible for marketing Hawaii to the world, receives $108.5 million in transient accommodations taxes from the Legislature each year with $26.5 million of it earmarked for the convention center.

The agency stood to lose 44 percent of its budget when House and Senate conferees met Thursday to work out differences on a Senate version of House Bill 2010, which reduced HTA’s convention center fund to $6 million and its tourism fund to $60.3 million.

Instead, conferees agreed to trim HTA’s $82 million tourism special fund to $79 million. The new version of the bill also reduces HTA’s convention center appropriation to $16.5 million from $26.5 million.

However, lawmakers inserted a provision to provide a new $1 million appropriation to HTA to address homeless issues in the tourism areas. The money would be matched by the Hawaii Lodging &Tourism Association.

They also agreed to forgive HTA’s $190 million debt obligation on the convention center. HTA had been required to reimburse the state $26.4 million annually for debt service payments on the general obligation bonds issued to pay for the facility’s $350 million construction costs. The debt has been a source of controversy for years, especially during the last two fiscal years, when HTA started keeping $6.4 million back from its reimbursements.

The amended bill now goes to a floor vote….

read … HTA budget cuts head to floor vote in Senate

National hotel group points to Debunked Study -- wants Hawaii to tax, regulate short-term rental sites like hotels

KITV: …Hawaii's hotel industry is one of the key cities a national hotel group is watching, to see how we navigate taxing and regulating vacation rental platforms like Airbnb. Kekoa McClellan is the Hawaii spokesman for The American Hotel and Lodging Association, or AHLA. He says, "There's a problem with illegal short term rentals. They hurt local families."

McClellan refers to a (DEBUNKED) report entitled “Hawaii Vacation Rentals: Impact on Housing & Hawaii’s Economy,” which explores the consequences of the proliferation of vacation rentals in Hawaii. The idea is that vacation rentals  pressure on Hawaii’s already-stressed housing market by reducing the shelter available for Hawai‘i residents and driving up rents., thereby contributing to homelessness in the Islands.

AHLA asks more local government leaders to collect taxes from Airbnb and its operators just like hotels. McClellan continues, "If you're operating an illegal short term rental like a hotel, you're not paying the same property tax as an operator."

“Airbnb has been making back-room deals and strong-arming state and local jurisdictions into ‘voluntary’ tax deals with no transparency, oversight or auditing capability to ensure the company pays its proper share of taxes,” stated Troy Flanagan, vice president of government affairs and industry relations at AHLA.  “It’s like putting an empty jar at the counter of a retail store and asking customers to voluntarily pay sales taxes. There’s no accountability.”    …

read … National hotel group wants Hawaii to tax, regulate short-term rental sites like hotels

In Effort to Save Skin Cancer from Extinction, Legislators to Vote on Sunscreen Ban

SA: Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to pass a law banning the sales of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals believed to harm coral reefs if Hawaii legislators vote to pass it on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2571, introduced by Sen. Mike Gabbard, prohibits the sale and distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The bill passed out of conference committee on Friday and is headed to floor votes by both the House and Senate on Tuesday. If it passes, it goes to Gov. David Ige for his signature….

The bill is supported by the Friends of Hanauma Bay, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and a number of other nonprofit environmental groups, as well as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Craig Downs, executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, which tested Hanauma Bay last year to measure the levels of oxybenzone in waters there, also testified in favor of the bill. It is opposed by the Hawaii Medical Association….

Two amendments were made to the final version of the bill. The date that the proposed law would go into effect was pushed from July 1, 2019 back to Jan. 1, 2021. In addition, sunscreens that fall under the category of cosmetics intended for use on the face are not included….

Best Comment: “Sadly, the Leg cares more for the radical environmentalists than the people of Hawaii. There really aren't any good alternatives to the banned ingredients and they cost more. Zinc is one of the "alternatives" that the radical environmentalists and the liberal press keeps referring to has just started to show that there are problems with it affecting the fauna and flora of the reef, so the radical environmentalists will soon be banning this ingredient in the future as well. The ultimate result is that people will get more Melanoma, suffering will increase, and the radical environmentalists will say too bad, the reefs are more important than you. Nice job Leg, as usual, we elected these fools.” 

MN: Senate bill would stop sale of reef stressing sunscreens

read … Bill to ban 2 sunscreen chemicals in Hawaii advances to floor vote

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