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Monday, February 1, 2021
February 1, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:31 PM :: 2728 Views

Hawaii Republican Chair Resigns in Wake of Trump’s Failed Coup d’Etat

Jones Act closed loophole that could have helped Hawaii

$2.56 per Gallon Soda Tax to ‘Fund Programs’

CB: … The bill to add a 2-cent-per-ounce fee on sugary drinks….the fee will raise revenue (estimated at $65.8 million)….The sugary drinks revenue could be used to fund programs…. 

(Do the Math: 128 oz x 0.02 = $2.56 per gallon)

read … Tax Would be $2.56 per gallon of soda

Drunk with Power: Lawmakers consider $12.80 per gallon alcohol tax

KHON: … As the measure currently reads, the surcharge would be applied to either a glass of wine at a restaurant or if you were going to buy a bottle at the store. While details still need to be ironed out, House of Representative Vice Speaker John Mizuno says lawmakers have looked at an increase of about $0.10 per drink.

(128 shots per gallon = $12.80 per gallon tax hike.)

“We looked at examples and models, and it showed that if you were to hypothetically tax liquor drinks at 10-cents, it would raise about $63-million for the state,” said Vice Speaker Mizuno….

“It will end up with a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in your retail liquor purchase. And that is not something that Hawaii manufactures can afford at this time. And I don’t believe it’s something that Hawaii retailers can afford at this time either,” he said.

Under the proposal, the surcharge would end after 3 years and revert back to the 1998 tax. 

(IQ Test: Do you believe the tax will revert?)

UPDATE: Hawaii Lawmakers Advance New Tax On Alcoholic Drinks

HB771: Text, Status

read … Lawmakers consider increasing alcohol tax

Who’s Leading The Hawaii House GOP? Nobody Knows

CB: … It’s been almost three months since the 2020 election, but Republicans in the Hawaii House of Representatives can’t decide on a caucus leader.

Contrast that to the 47 Democrats in the 51-member chamber, who settled on their leadership shortly after Nov. 3.

The GOP is split with Reps. Val Okimoto and Lauren Matsumoto disagreeing with Reps. Gene Ward and Bob McDermott. The impasse means there is no minority leader to direct caucus action on the House floor and no package of bills to emphasize GOP priorities.

(Translation: Useless knife fight in phone booth.)

And, in a development that happened over the weekend, Shirlene Ostrov, the chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, resigned her post in the wake of official tweets appearing to offer praise to QAnon and a Holocaust denier.

More on that in a moment.

If the four House Republicans cannot reach an agreement, House Speaker Scott Saiki, a Democrat, will probably have to break the tie — something he says he’d rather not do. But the entire House needs to vote on leadership positions as a pro forma matter.

“The GOP caucus knows that I am perfectly willing to go in and cast a deciding vote for them, but what I have told them is that I want them to make this decision on their own,” Saiki told me Friday, adding that he decided to let the Republicans serve on committees and informational briefings in spite of the organizational deadlock.

Ward, who was the minority leader during the last few sessions, clashed with House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti over the organizational standoff during the Jan. 22 floor session. Some members were confused by a Community Voice authored by Ward that ran in Civil Beat that same morning outlining GOP priorities.

Asked about the leadership draw, Ward told me, “We are still negotiating a fair and mutually acceptable agreement and still need a few more days of privacy before we go public.”

For her part, Okimoto says that she has the “greatest respect” for Ward, calling him a “fixture in the building” and a mentor. But she also feels that it is time for a change.

“The status quo has not been working for some time,” she said, pointing to lopsided election results for her party. “It’s an opportunity for other voices for Hawaii. I feel this is the right thing to do and the right time.”…

read … Who’s Leading The Hawaii House GOP? Nobody Knows

Shot Count: 106K in Shoulder, 65K in Fridge, 32K Coming

WHT: … According to Kemble, the state has been allocated about 203,600 doses of the vaccine, has received nearly 171,000 of those, and administered more than 106,600 shots. ….

WHT: How to register to be vaccinated

SA: How and when to get vaccinated in Hawaii

read … Four-pronged rollout of vaccines in the works

A needlessly ruined Hawaii vacation, thanks to state’s rules

SA: … As most know, on Oct. 15, Ige finally put in place a provision for visitors to avoid his quarantine by providing COVID-negative test results within 72 hours of departure for the islands. So we followed that process for an October visit, filled out online forms, uploaded our test results and received a “QR” code indicating that our results had been accepted. We enjoyed that visit, so planned another for mid-January.

The same process, same online form, same tests by the same facility resulted in emailed “Safe Travels QR” codes from travel@hawaii.gov indicating (we thought) that we were good to go, just as in October. After a long day of travel, we arrived at the Honolulu airport looking forward to our stay and celebrating my birthday the next day.

But the woman at the desk checked her list of authorized COVID test “partners,” and our provider — Sparrow Hospital, the largest medical complex in mid-Michigan, which had done our previous tests that worked fine in October — somehow was not on it. What? We were clearly COVID-free with documents to prove it! Was there anyone who could review them and make a decision? Nope. Sparrow is not on Hawaii’s list. Quarantine in your room.

I’m normally slow to anger, but this idiotic, nonnegotiable verdict made me so mad that a security guard threatened to arrest me. Just go to your timeshare, he said, stay in your room (up to $5,000 fine and a year in jail if you don’t), then go home tomorrow or whenever you choose. But once you’re quarantined, you can’t rent a car to get anywhere. We booked a return flight that got us home, still seething with anger, the next evening, my birthday. Then booked a trip to Florida….

read … A needlessly ruined Hawaii vacation, thanks to state’s rules

‘Overpayment’ Reviews Causing Latest Delays To Hawaii Jobless Benefits

CB: … These days, the main holdup has to do with so-called “overpayment issues,” which typically involve discrepancies between the wages reported by claimants and their former employers….,

read … ‘Overpayment’ Reviews Causing Latest Delays To Hawaii Jobless Benefits

State seeks innovative ways to finance and build new OCCC

SA: … State officials are asking construction contractors, financiers and investors around the world to come up with innovative ways to pay for and build a new, cost-effective and efficient Oahu Community Correctional Center that would ideally provide a template for future state construction.

The relatively unusual “Request for Interest” issued Friday by the state Department of Accounting and General Services also offers new details about the footprint for a new OCCC jail in Halawa that would replace the outdated one in Kalihi, where OCCC’s physical and operational limits were exacerbated and highlighted by the spread of COVID-19 last year.

The document also asks for interest in coming up with plans and costs to build a new, streamlined state Animal Quarantine Station that would give up 40 acres of its underutilized Halawa land to accommodate a new OCCC on the eastern side of the property…. 

CB: State Seeks Someone To Build And Finance New Oahu Jail

DAGS: REQUEST FOR INTEREST FOR NEW OCCC RELEASED

read … State seeks innovative ways to finance and build new OCCC

OHA trustees launch new effort to develop Kakaako Makai property

SA: … The Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Thursday took the first step toward kick-starting the stalled development of its waterfront holdings in Kakaako, valued at $200 million.

The OHA board of trustees on Thursday formed a special subcommittee that aims to examine policies and development strategies related to its commercial land on Oahu.

When Maui trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey took over as chairwoman in December, she said getting the highest and best use of OHA’s Kakaako Makai properties would be a priority….

On Thursday the board established a Permitted Interaction Group, a subset of trustees who will examine further ways to develop not only the Kakaako Makai properties, but Na Lama Kukui, the Iwilei shopping center OHA acquired in 2012 as an investment aimed at generating income to support its programs. OHA ended up moving its headquarters to the center on Nimitz Highway.

Lindsey will chair the group with a membership that also includes Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, John Waihee IV and Kalei Akaka. OHA CEO Sylvia Hussey will serve as project manager.

Lindsey said the group will work independently and free of the meeting constraints of the full board, allowing its members to devote greater time and energy to the project….

Lindsey said she didn’t expect the group’s work to extend beyond three months. She added that it’s possible another panel will be convened to work on the project until it can be turned over to OHA’s administration for implementation….

read … OHA trustees launch new effort to develop Kakaako Makai property

More Homeless Mayhem: Library Meth Dealer Just can’t Stay Straight

MN: … Davis, 63, had been given a chance to keep a felony conviction for second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug off her record when she was placed on four years’ probation in January 2020.

The month before, she was arrested with 13 packets containing more than one-eighth ounce of methamphetamine during a police investigation of homeless drug-dealing activity near Kahului Public Library.

Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones said Davis had done poorly on probation and recommended she be sentenced to jail or prison.

Although an 18-month jail term had been suspended on the condition that she complete probation, “she did not,” Jones said.

“She reverted to drug use,” Jones said.

Davis said she did participate in outpatient drug treatment after a report filed by her probation officer that she wasn’t complying with requirements of her probation.

Defense attorney Damir Kouliev said Davis has “grave medical issues” that could be helped by sobriety. Incarcerating her would be a risk for her and a burden for the Department of Public Safety, Kouliev said….

(Too bad all those doo-gooders wouldn’t let us force this person into shelter for the last 50 years or so….)

read … Letting these people stay on the streets is expensive

Farmers Urge OK for $7 Million Kona Coffee Deception Settlements

BB: … Growers of Kona coffee urged a Washington federal court to preliminarily approve settlements with five companies, totaling $7 million, that resolve allegations they misrepresented ordinary coffee as highly desired Kona coffee, deceiving consumers and hurting the growers financially.

The settlement also provides valuable injunctive relief, requiring label changes for products described as containing coffee from the Kona region of Hawaii, the farmers said in a Jan. 29 filing to Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The plaintiffs allege suppliers and retailers violated the Lanham Act by misrepresenting the coffee’s origin. .…

read … Kona Deception

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