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Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review
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Lawmakers Must Stop New Tax Increases
CB: … Our population is seeing a downward trend for the third straight year as residents leave Hawaii in droves. Ranked as the third-highest taxed state and the most expensive state to live in, locals who stay in the islands are fighting a losing battle in the war to make ends meet.
And now, some Hawaii residents may notice in filing their taxes that their federal tax refunds are either significantly lower, or they may even owe additional taxes this year. The reason for this, in part, is because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 capped a number of key deductions that Hawaii residents traditionally benefitted from, such as the state and local tax deduction, which is now just $10,000.
Said another way: The more taxes you pay to Honolulu, the more taxes you’ll now pay to Washington, D.C….
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think tank, has been showcasing the stories and lives of locals who have left the islands for the mainland, either for more opportunities or relief from oppressive costs of living. Grassroot president Keli`i Akina, who is also an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, says that Hawaii’s taxes, and particularly the general excise tax, drive young people away….
March 23, 2019: Lawmakers pass $8 billion budget – Will Focus on Tax Hikes
read … Lawmakers Must Stop New Tax Increases
Bill to put solar farms on prime ag land elicits stiff opposition
SA: …Critics say the bill was introduced to benefit Ho‘ohana Solar, a company that is trying to build a 52-megawatt solar farm on a 352-acre site in Kunia. Part of the project is slated for prime farmland, but building it there is currently prohibited under state law.
“It is a slippery slope we are going down, taking our prime ag land,” said Henry Curtis, executive director of Life of the Land, an environmental and community action group, during a joint Senate hearing before the Water and Land Committee and the Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee earlier this month. “We need to revitalize agriculture. We need to bring it back as a full-force industry and we can’t do that by decimating our best lands.” ….
Currently, developers and landowners can put utility-scale solar farms that feed energy into the islands’ electric grid on agricultural land so long as the parcel’s productivity rating is below “B.” House Bill 593 would allow solar farms to be placed on ag lands rated “A,” which the state has deemed as the best for growing crops.
The measure is opposed by the state Department of Agriculture, the state Office of Planning, the Hawaii Farm Bureau and the Hawaii Sierra Club. However, it has attracted the support of Richard Ha and Dean Okimoto, well-known farmers who in recent years shut down their crop operations.
Both Ha and Okimoto said the state needs to start melding farming with renewable-energy projects to boost the financial sustainability of agriculture…. (Translation: They want to make money on this scheme.)…
read … Bill to put solar farms on prime ag land elicits stiff opposition
Permits for Thirty Meter Telescope Canary Islands Location proceed amid Mauna Kea obstacles
SA: … TMT officials said they expect a permit allowing construction at the backup site on the island of La Palma to be granted shortly despite new reports of a delay.
According to a media report in the Canary Islands, the permit was delayed a couple of weeks at the request of the Spanish government while technical modifications are made to the construction agreement. ….
read … Permits for Thirty Meter Telescope backup location proceed amid Mauna Kea obstacles
Hearing Set for possible Final Draft of Hawaii County Vacation rental rules
HTH: … After taking community input during two public hearings last month, the county Planning Department last Wednesday published what may become its final draft of rules regulating short-term vacation rentals….
The department has scheduled a final public hearing for 6 p.m. April 2 at Aupuni Center in Hilo to air the changes before approving the draft, located at www.hiplanningdept.com/short-term-vacation-rentals.
Those suggesting further changes to the language should send or deliver them by Friday (March 29) so they can be considered in time to have a final draft complete before the meeting, Yee said.
Suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or delivered or mailed to Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi St., Suite 3, Hilo, HI 96720.
The most notable change is the removal of language that would have required the planning director to help restore the number of vacation rentals if a significant number of them are lost during a declared emergency. This was language added to the bill by former Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, who worried that vacation rental owners operating with a nonconforming use certificate wouldn’t be able to rebuild if their building was lost to lava or some other disaster….
read … Vacation rental rules updated
The Boat People Of The Ala Wai Fear They’re Getting Forced Out
CB: … Proposed legislation that would raise slip rental fees could have sweeping effects on the eccentric and eclectic community of boat owners — including those who live aboard their vessels full time — clustered at the Ala Wai Harbor, a decaying 11-acre parcel of docks, slips, vacant land and pockmarked parking lots….
Under a bill proposed by the governor and moving ahead in the Legislature, the cost of maintaining a boat in the Ala Wai is likely to substantially rise.
Senate Bill 1257 would change the rent amount that boat owners pay for their slips at harbors around Hawaii, including the two state-owned marinas on Oahu where people are permitted to live aboard their boats. Instead of a set, stable price, the fees charged would rise, perhaps substantially. The exact rates are still under negotiation in the legislature….
The largest is Ala Wai, where monthly rental fees would rise from $9 to $13 per linear foot if the bill passes in the form he expects, the governor signs it and two regulatory boards affirm the action, said DOBOR administrator Ed Underwood….
SA: Sailing club faces an uncertain future as their lease is set to expire in April
read … The Boat People Of The Ala Wai Fear They’re Getting Forced Out