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Sunday, March 1, 2020
March 1, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:19 PM :: 2745 Views

HB1990: $1.5B GE Tax Hike

CoronaVirus: 7.3% Drop in International Arrivals for February

168 Candidates File for Election

Hawaii Five Anti-Gun Bills on the Move

House Sends More Than 150 Bills to Senate

Hawaii Towns Ranked by Money Management Ability

Tourist Count up 5% for January

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge from Kahuku wind farm opponents

KITV: … Could a small bat derail some big plans for an Oahu wind farm? It's the latest challenge to the controversial Na Pua Makani wind project in Kahuku.

The endangered Hawaiian hoary bat or 'ope'ape'a calls that area home, and some people are saying the wind farm developers - AES US Generation- don't have a permit to move the bats.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge against AES's habitat conservation plan and Incidental Take License.

The group, Keep the North Shore Country, is contesting the plan that was approved in 2018 by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources….

Other legal challenges against the project include Keep the North Shore Country's contested case regarding the setback distance of two turbines, and Life of the Land's challenge of the power purchase agreement now under review at the Public Utilities Commission….

Bat Killing Windfarms:

read … Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge from Kahuku wind farm opponents

SB2636: 50% Transsexuals on Hawaii corporate boards

SA: … Senate Bill 2636 would require that each publicly held corporation that has its “principal executive office” in Hawaii have at least one female director on its board by the end of this year.

SB2636: Text, Status  “’Female’ means an individual who self-identifies her gender as a woman, without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth.”

(Translation: The dudes on the Board of Directors just have to declare themselves to be ‘gender fluid’ or something and they can keep control.)

The bill would then expand the requirement that the boards diversify by gender by the end of 2022. After that date, each board with six or more members would need to have at least three women directors, and boards with five directors would be required to have a minimum of two women directors….

the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs would have authority under the new law to impose fines of $100,000 on companies that fail to comply with the new requirement. The fine would be $500,000 for repeat offenders, according to the bill….

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which was founded by Libertarian activist Dick Rowland, mocked the bill in a newsletter circulated last month as an example of lawmakers’ “urge to regulate every element of our lives.”

The bill uses gender equity as justification for “imposing a quota” of female directors on the boards, wrote Grassroot President Kelii Akina, adding: “I’ll let you be the judge of whether this law would be more likely to achieve gender equality or chase executive offices out of the state.”…

Staff for state Attorney General Clare Connors warned that requiring corporations to have minimum numbers of women on their boards creates “an explicit gender-based classification” and may run afoul of the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Hawaii constitutions.

California is now being sued after the state passed a similar law…

read … Bill mandates more women on Hawaii corporate boards

High-profile trouble casts Realistic light on Kauai

Cataluna: …When Lori Vallow Daybell washed up on Kauai, people started to wonder why a lady who was running from questions came running to their island….

…Keith Morrison keeps showing up. Morrison, the reporter for NBC’s “Dateline,” travels to back-road American towns to tell stories about bizarre murder mysteries and twisted crimes. On Kauai, Morrison tracked the story of Sandy Galas, a murder victim whose father led an agonizing 12-year campaign for justice before Sandy’s estranged husband was finally arrested (though he ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge in connection with the murder.)

Morrison came back again for the Daybell case. It’s not good when Keith Morrison keeps coming back to do stories in your town.

But then Daybell was arrested last week. That was the first sign, like when an iwa bird is circling in a milky sky. Something’s coming.

Then, on Friday morning, Kenji Price stormed into Lihue and blew down some doors….

Not Just Kauai -- 2013: Anti-GMO “Leaders”– Is There a Middle Ground?

read … High-profile trouble casts harsh light on Kauai

Spirit of pessimism is woven through Hawaii discussion about the future

Borreca: …According to the 2019 Honolulu Community Livability Report, Honolulu is sinking fast in public perception as a place to live, work and raise kids….

“Out of 433 communities that were asked the quality- of-life question, Honolulu ranked 391st, which is in the 10th percentile,” the survey reported.

Another survey released in the beginning of 2019 was taken by Pacific Resource Partnership, comprising the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and 240 contractors, advocates for development issues.

That survey asked if residents thought a number of issues had gotten better or worse over the past couple of years. More than 50% said concerns about homelessness, housing that your family can afford, crime and violence were worse.

PRP summed up its poll by essentially saying that a spirit of pessimism is woven through the entire Hawaii discussion about the future….

PRP’s most troublesome stat shows two-thirds of those surveyed have or are thinking about leaving Hawaii.

“The biggest issue pushing people out is the cost of living. Two related issues, insufficient job opportunities and the expense of housing, contribute as well,” said the report….

read … Surveys revealing Hawaii residents’ quality-of-life dissatisfaction should worry politicians

HB2207: HDoT Tries to Parlay Global Warming into $15B

SA: … Sniffen said current trends in sea level rise mean that 20% of Hawaii’s roads will be inundated by the end of the century, which means those roads will either have to be relocated or elevated if continuity is to be maintained. The estimated cost for all of that is $15 billion, he said.

(If you believe this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.)

“Even if we had the $15 billion, we don’t know if we should put all of our resources into moving things right away because it all depends on where people are going to live and work in the future,” he said.

The Statewide Coastal Highway Program Report, prepared by University of Hawaii engineers for DOT in 2018 and updated in August, noted that five of the top 10 most critical road priorities are sections of the Kamehameha Highway on the Koolauloa coast.

State Rep. Sean Quinlan, a Democrat who represents Hauula and Kaaawa, submitted a bill this session calling on DOT to create a strategic plan by 2021, replenish the beaches next to the highway by 2022 and reinforce the highway by 2024.

“This has been an ongoing problem for the past dec­ade,” Quinlan wrote on his Facebook page in January. “It’s about time that long term solutions need to be created rather than emergency repairs at this point.”

State Sen. Gil Riviere (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua) agreed.

“I don’t think we should be paralyzed by analysis and future planning efforts. Rather than try to get consensus for a 50- or 100-year plan, maybe we should start talking about a 10- or 20-year plan to reduce the cost of emergency repairs and ensure continuing viability of the existing highway,” he said….

read … Money

Legislators Plan to Outlaw Gasoline, Diesel Vehicles—But First Some More Tax Credits for Elon Musk

SA: … Aligning with the state mandate to generate 100% of electricity sales from renewable resources within the next 25 years, Hawaii’s four counties have signed off on a commitment to transform public and private ground transportation to 100% renewable fuel sources within the same time frame.

The 2020 Legislature is sorting through dozens of transportation electrification bills that could spur progress, such as rebate and tax credit proposals as well as goals for state agencies to transition to clean transportation fleets….

House Bill 2462, which establishes an income tax credit of up to $2,500 per new electric vehicle that costs up to $50,000, starting in July and wrapping up at the end of 2028….

House Bill 1845 would appropriate additional funds for an electric- vehicle charging system rebate program enacted by state law last year. According to a recent study conducted by Hawaiian Electric, by 2030, some 3,600 public chargers will be needed…

Senate Bill 1000, which requires construction of new residential multifamily and commercial buildings with at least 10 and 20 parking stalls, respectively, to make a portion of the stalls EV-ready, with wiring and conduit for charging.  (Thus gutting housing affordability)….

Senate Bill 996 requires rental car lessors with at least 200 passenger vehicles to include zero-emission vehicles in their fleets. The bill’s current draft requires 10% of a fleet to consist of electric, hybrid or fuel cell vehicles by 2025; followed by 75% in 2040….

House Bill 2699 would task state agencies with converting their own light-weight vehicle fleets within the next 15 years; and with ushering in a 100% clean-energy requirement for all light-duty vehicles statewide by the end of 2045….

read … Gearing up to go green in Hawaii

Budget: GE Tax Hike Completely Consumed by HGEA and UPW Pay Increases

HTH: … Mayor Harry Kim on Friday released a $625.9 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a 6.9% increase over the current year.

The preliminary budget adds no new employees, but factors in increases in negotiated salaries and benefits, including $7.8 million more in retirement benefits mandated by the state Legislature. Retirement contributions have increased 64% for police and fire departments and 41% for general employees over the past four years, the mayor’s budget message says.

“This is a no-frills budget this year,” Finance Director Deanna Sako said.

The budget relies on an average 3.9% increase, or $12.8 million, in property values, meaning property owners are likely to see a bigger tax bite, but there are no hikes in taxes or fees contemplated at this point.

The general excise tax is expected to increase by $18 million, or 56%, as this is the first full year of the full 0.5% county surcharge. Another $2.5 million is expected from previously approved increases in sewer rates and landfill tipping fees…. 

WHT: County Council members will see their individual contingency accounts shrink from $100,000 to $20,000 each.

read … Kim asks for 6.9% increase in $625.9 million budget

Bond Rating: City Rail Finances OK Because of Willingness to Tax You

SA: … Fitch said “the City and County has used the current economic expansion to position itself well for the next downturn given the growth in unrestricted reserves since the last recession.”

Regarding rail, Moody’s goes on to say that the city’s direct support for rail “appears manageable,” as it is limited to $214 million out of the total $9.1 billion construction costs (including financing). Fitch somewhat follows Moody’s analysis citing the city’s “modest equity contribution funded by General Obligation bonds to be repaid from local real property tax revenues.”

Because of the dedicated funding source from the 0.05% county surcharge on the general excise tax, the $1.55 billion from the federal government and 1% increase in the transient accommodations tax all dedicated to rail construction, Fitch concludes that the city’s “exposure to cost overruns has thus far been manageable.”

This does not mean that the city should not be concerned regarding the anticipated construction costs of the last 4.16 miles of the 20-mile system or the full operating and maintenance subsidy in 2026. Until unknown costs become known, this concern will remain….

read … Tax Hikes

Increasing land taxes force Hawaiians off their ancestral lands

KWO: … Together the Chang-Kukahiko ‘ohana’s three remaining parcels of land are valued at millions of dollars and their annual tax burden is over $100,000 per year, despite most of the land still being zoned for agriculture….

read … Increasing land taxes force Hawaiians off their ancestral lands

Billionaire Cuts of North Shore Kauai Freeloaders

KGI: … Joan Porter, the co-founder of the Anaina Hou Community Park in Kilauea, has penned an open letter to the community warning that the multimillion-dollar philanthropy from her and her late husband, Bill Porter, which built the park in 2009 and has kept it open ever since, is coming to an end. She asks the community to respond financially to ensure the facility will survive.

Porter — who now lives in California — sent the letter just as Anaina Hou was putting on a Social Awareness Film Festival…

read … Cuts off

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