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Saturday, March 23, 2019
March 23, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:06 PM :: 2741 Views

WSJ: How a Train Through Paradise Turned Into a $9 Billion Debacle

High medical costs another threat to Hawaii taxpayers

Hawaii GOP Speaker Cleared of Hatch Act Violation

Lawmakers pass $8 billion budget – Will Focus on Tax Hikes

KITV: … The move comes a month earlier than in previous years.

"As far as we understand it has never passed this early but this will allow a lot more thorough vetting of all the other bills," Finance Committee Chairperson Representative Sylvia Luke said.

According to lawmakers, they'll now be able to focus on figuring out ways to fund other bills asking for money to address kupuna care, homeless, a new stadium and preschool education….

According to lawmakers, if they're going to fund any more bills, they'll need to find ways to generate more money elsewhere.

A pair of bills Senate Bill 1292 and Senate Bill 714 being pushed to do that would tax hotel's resort fees and short term vacation rentals like Airbnb.

If both bills pass the state estimates it could bring in an extra $60 million.…

Because it's already passed, every bill voted out of the legislature following it will have a better chance of becoming law because lawmakers will have time left in session to override any of Governor David Ige's vetoes. …

read … Lawmakers pass a nearly $8 billion budget for the coming fiscal year starting July

Kauai Drivers Say ‘No’ to DoT Road Mileage Tax Scheme

KGI: … Sonja Kass made it clear she’s not a fan of the state’s proposal to fund the upkeep of roads and bridges with a road usage charge.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” the Kauai woman said Friday night. “It’s disincentivizing clean transportation. They tried to do it in California and, in the end, they stuck with the gas tax increase.” …

Kass also brought up privacy as one of the things that will go out the window with the new system.

“Who wants to really report all the numbers to the government?” Kass said. “The gas tax works. It’s so easy to collect. Why change it?”…

Some residents in attendance didn’t share optimism about the possibility of going to a usage-based tax system. One compared it to toll roads on the mainland.

“They’re just trying to figure out different ways to get money,” said the resident, who declined to give her name. “It doesn’t get used for what it was collected for in the first part.”…

read … State outlines road usage plan

Bus ridership slide points to ‘Fraud’ in Rail Ridership Estimates  

KHON: … Anyone riding a crowded bus route might find it hard to believe but bus ridership has hit a long rough patch. Just over four years ago The Bus had peaks above 6 million rides a month. Today, it's seen dips down into the 4.8 million range.

"This is not a local trend, this is a national trend that is happening in many places on the mainland," said Roger Morton, Oahu Transit Services.

The head of The Bus tells me low gas prices have more people able to afford driving on their own. Bikihas taken about 4,500 riders a day onto two wheels instead of 4. Privately operated tour trolleys are growing, and there's ridesharing.

"I'm told there are about 3,000 Uber Lyft drivers on Oahu and obviously that didn't exist 5 years ago,"said Morton. …

"I think the FTA is complicit in the problems. What we have in Hawaii is, if not fraud, is borderline fraud. The whole thing is based on a foundation of deception," said Roth….

read … Bus ridership slide continues

Lyon Bribery Could be Next Major Corruption Scandal in Hawaii

SA Editorial: …as a federal probe continues into government contracting linked to Frank James Lyon, president of Lyon Associates Inc., concerns are mounting that the scope could widen….

…In the aftermath of Lyon pleading guilty in federal court, in January, to bribing government officials in Hawaii and Micronesia to obtain more than $10 million in contracts over the past decade, state and city agencies have been canceling or suspending the firm’s roster of about one contracts, which ranged from tarmac work at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to flood mitigation work….

… Some observers maintain that Lyon’s plea deal could touch off the second major government corruption scandal to hit the islands in recent years. The first being the years-long criminal investigation conducted by federal law enforcement officials into former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine. Miasma, indeed….

read … Cleaning up Lyon mess

Anti-Geothermals Go to Enviro Court to Block Re-Start of Plant

IM: … Ormat Technologies subsidiary Puna Geothermal Venture applied for a new five-year air permit from the Hawai`i Department of Health on October 6, 2014.

A public hearing was held on September 15, 2015. DOH Hearing Officer Steven Jacobson issued an order granting several parties a contested case proceeding on September 29, 2017. No procedural steps have occurred.

Ormat held an Earnings Call with Investors on February 27, 2019, asserting the plant would be online by the end of 2019. The next day, the DOH hearing officer reversed his position, vacating the order for a contested case proceeding.

Malama O Puna, Robert Petricci, Dave Kisor, Sara Steiner and Shana Ritsema, represented by attorney Gary Zamber, filed an appeal to the Environmental Court of the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Hilo) on March 22, 2019…. 

HTH: PGV ‘pioneer road’ could be open by April 1 for residents of lava-locked kipuka

read … Puna Geothermal Community Meeting and Legal Appeal

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