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Sunday, February 28, 2021
February 28, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:49 PM :: 3129 Views

More Taxes for Movies and TV

Hawaii Most Unionized State

Maui Nurses Tentative Contract

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Tax Hike Plan: Hawaii Carbon Pricing Study Released

Hawaii Among States Taxing Forgiven PPP Loans

VIDEO: Second Amendment Bills on the Move in Hawaii Legislature

Seven Tax Hike Bills on the Move

ALOHA Homes: Unintended Consequences

Union Bosses: Thanks for the Vax, Now we want a Raise

SA Column written by heads of HGEA, HSTA, UPW, etc:

…It may seem counterintuitive, but this is the time to invest in services that support the community to accelerate economic recovery….

(Translation: June 30 is coming and we expect raises.)

It’s easy to forget that throughout the pandemic, dedicated people in the public sector — members of the… Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii State Teachers Association, …, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and United Public Workers — have been providing critical services to keep our state functioning.

(Critical Service: Getting themselves inoculated and paid -- while continuing to refuse to show up for work)

These same people will be key to our state’s economic recovery. It would be a grievous misstep to furlough or lay off the very people who provide the services that will lift us out of economic despair.

(Translation: June 30 is coming and we expect raises.)

Unfortunately, some may hold negative views of the public sector. Their argument is simplistic: “The state has a budget shortfall of $1.4 billion. The solution is to cut government jobs and eliminate programs.”

(Actually nobody is promoting furloughs any more.  Furloughs were kited by Ige to give HGEA etal a straw man argument.  It worked.)

Sadly, government employees have been portrayed as entitled. Fortunately, there are legislators who have not bought the artificial demarcations between private-sector and public- sector employees and are looking at the greater good.

(Meanwhile we are getting vax while being paid for not working and you are working without a vax but not getting your overdue unemployment payments from when you were laid off last year because we are not working.  But thanks for the vax.)

This false, perverse notion of shared suffering will not make things better. Clearly, self-centered, crabs-in-the-bucket thinking will not move Hawaii toward economic recovery. Government spending, jobs and the services provided have historically pulled our country and states out of the worst recessions and depressions.

(Translation: We are leaving you in the bucket,  Don’t pull us down as we depart.)

In the absence of strong, visionary leadership, the public-sector unions have been at the forefront of advocating for a better future. We have an opportunity to define Hawaii’s future. How we invest — or don’t invest — will determine the future we create for ourselves and future generations. It’s time to stop tearing each other down, own our future, and begin to work together.

(Translation: June 30 is coming and we expect raises.  That’s ‘visionary’ -- so stop tearing us down as we tear into your wallet.)

read … Column Written by a Bunch of Union Bosses

Who in Hawaii should get Johnson & Johnson vaccine? (Clue: Anybody except age 65+)

KHON: … State health officials anticipate receiving about 10,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson within the week….

Green said, the one-shot vaccine could be beneficial for (drumroll please) younger people or those who can not easily get a second shot three to four weeks later (clash cymbals) and people who are considered low-risk for catching severe COVID-19 symptoms (ta-dah!).


Hawaii continues vaccinating the 1B group, including frontline essential workers and kupuna 75-years-old and older.

The state hopes to begin vaccinating people 70 and older by the time more Johnson & Johnson shipments arrive, which could happen by Monday, March 15.

“If given a choice, right now, and this is just me, 65 and older I think should stick with the Pfizer or Moderna just because the numbers were a little bit better,” Green said. “And I think that Johnson & Johnson is going to be super popular and effective with people on the younger side that have even lower risk than others.”

He said, people 70 and younger could certainly get Johnson & Johnson if they are healthy and have no underlying health issues.

He said, large pods like Pier 2 and Blaisdell will likely have different vaccine options available once more is produced and said, it could be readily available at pharmacies in the near future too because Johnson & Johnson can be stored in regular refrigerators….

WSJ: Nearly Half of U.S. Population 65 and Older Has Received a First Covid-19 Vaccine Dose

KONA: Some 563 people, including approximately 360 educators, were inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine during Thursday’s closed COVID-19 vaccination POD

read … Lt. Gov. discusses who in Hawaii should get Johnson & Johnson vaccine

HGEA Jumps Vaccination Line – Still Refusing to Work (but getting paid)

Shapiro: … Despite staffers being vaccinated, the state is still refusing to open unemployment offices to thousands of laid-off workers who can’t get through online or by phone. To compromise, the Labor Department offered a supplemental phone line: 1-800-AINOKEA….

SA Editorial: DLIR, Gov. Ige leave jobless to struggle

Borreca: Hawaii’s inability and bungling on unemployment insurance exacerbate human suffering

read … Gov. David Ige slow-walks recovery; Hawaii legislators dig us in deeper

5,000 UH Employees Get Vaccination

UH News: … 5,000 UH employees have either received or been offered their first dose of the vaccine and about 2,000 of those have received their second dose ….

read … Vaccination update for UH employees

Hawaii’s acting state epidemiologist calls for reopening public schools

SA: … Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist, says Hawaii’s public schools should resume in-person classes as soon as possible because children can come back safely and are missing out on too much.

“As we have learned more about COVID-19 and schools, we have also learned that schools are not, as initially anticipated, amplifiers of COVID-19 transmission,” Kemble wrote in a letter Friday to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and the Hawaii Department of Education. “Rather schools are one of the safest environments for children when it comes to COVID-19.”

Kemble highlighted the multiple benefits children receive attending school in person, including education, health, social, emotional and physical support. And she said universal mask use, hygiene and keeping kids in cohorts can minimize the transmission risk of coronavirus — even when 6-foot distancing is not always possible.

“Schools that have implemented mitigation measures are able to control COVID-19 transmission better than many community settings, where children may interact in less structured ways or attend gatherings with their families,” she wrote….

Altogether, 26% of public students statewide have opted for online learning from home this year by parent choice, and they may continue in that mode regardless of broader reopening plans.

Elementary schools had the most students attending daily, at 12% in December, compared to just 5% of middle schoolers and 2% of high school students….

read … Hawaii’s acting state epidemiologist calls for reopening public schools

HSTA Tries to Stop Kauai Council from passing School Reopening Resolution

TGI: … “I’m all for putting kids back to school,” said DeCosta, a teacher. “I don’t want us to be a governing body that puts this idea out there and we have no protocols, procedures or guidelines to support these principals who have to make things happen.”

DeCosta expressed that the council passing something like this gives the community false hope since it neglects consideration of whether or not Kaua‘i schools could easily implement mitigation efforts.

“Do (schools) need funding for shields? Do they need people on the playground to supervise the kids?” DeCosta asked….

in written testimony submitted to the council, Hawai‘i State Teacher Association Kaua‘i Chapter members explained that there are formal processes that must be followed. HSTA has a contracted memorandum of understanding with the state DOE that outlines safety protocols.

“We ask that all parties adhere to the integrity of labor bargaining by correctly going through the process of updating this MOU through a conversation with HSTA,” the members wrote. “This MOU is a contract that all parties must ahere to until amended formally.”

HSTA members thanked the council for the sentiment, but reiterated that these discussions are suited elsewhere.

“You raised many valid points, and now is an excellent time to discuss how we can move forward,” they wrote. “We simply ask that the process be through a formal conversation between HSTA and the DOE.”

Cowden and DeCosta also expressed a desire for more community input to be heard, including voices from all three unions: HSTA, Hawai‘i Government Employees Association and United Public Workers.

Councilmember Bernard Carvalho Jr., whose daughter is a school teacher, said he understands both sides of the debate.

One reason why Cowden suggested a deferral was so that the council could consider input for a HSTA board of directors meeting that was held Saturday.

However, the timing of the resolution, Chock said, is to signify to the state Legislature where community priorities lie as the state considers legislation that would implement a unified Safe Travels program. By presenting a unified, unanimous statement to the state focused on reopening schools and allowing other activities to resume, it sends a message to the state, Chock reiterated….

DeCosta did acknowledge some hypocrisy in this resolution early on. “Kids eat lunch in the cafeteria … We don’t even sit at the table (that) close.”

Council chambers are currently closed to the public, and have been since last March, pursuant to Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation related to COVID-19, which suspends sunshine laws and allows the meetings to be closed to the public, consistent with social distancing.

The council has not introduced any resolutions urging the state to reestablish sunshine (open-meeting) laws and reopen these meetings to allow in-person attendance….

read … Council passes debated school-reopening resolution

No data for maps: Redistricting commission meets Monday

HTH: … A commission that redraws County Council district boundary lines every 10 years plans an initial meeting Monday, but the numbers it needs to make its decisions have been delayed.

The county charter requires the Redistricting Commission to be formed by July 1 of the year of the decennial census, which are years ending in zero. The Redistricting Commission must file a redistricting plan by Dec. 31 of the following year to be used in the next year’s elections….

But delays in getting data from the U.S. Census Bureau means population numbers aren’t likely to be received until Sept. 30, rather than the March 31 deadline originally anticipated. That leaves the commission just a few months to get the maps ready before candidates begin pulling nomination papers Feb. 1.

“Due to the COVID situation, it looks like they’re not going to arrive until the end of September,” state Office of Elections spokeswoman Nedielyn Bueno said Thursday.

The county Redistricting Commission is charged with creating maps to balance each council district in light of population growth. The goal is to create districts of approximately the same size, so everyone gets equal representation in government. Ideal districts follow permanent and easily recognized features like rivers and roads, are compact and contiguous and don’t split neighborhoods of similar interest.

A separate nine-member commission on the state level is charged with creating district boundaries for the state Legislature and the state’s two congressional districts. That body’s process in 2011 ended with the Big Island being granted a fourth seat in the state Senate.

“We are acutely aware of the difficulties that this delayed delivery of the redistricting data will cause some states,” James Whitehorne, chief of the Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office for the census, said in a Feb. 12 blog post. “Some states have statutory or even state constitutional deadlines and processes that they will have to address due to this delay.”

The state commission hasn’t been formed yet. The state constitution gives legislative leaders until May 1 to appoint members, who are required to finish their work in 150 days.

While the commissions’ work at times may seem tedious, their results are important, and they’re closely followed by those running for office, their supporters and lobbyists. State-level drama in 2011 included a lawsuit over whether military members who don’t call Hawaii home should be included in the counts.

Two of the commissioners, Valerie Poindexter and Dru Kanuha, subsequently ran successfully for election to the council, resulting in a charter amendment passed by 74 percent of voters prohibiting redistricting commissioners from seeking election in those districts in the election immediately following redistricting….

read … No data for maps: Redistricting commission meets Monday

Sand Island business group seeks to force sale of public land

ILind: … The motto of the Sand Island Business Association (SIBA) should be something like “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

In the early 1990s, the group used its political connections to win both a very favorable lease for about 70 acres of state land on Sand Island for an industrial park, and then to obtain a very unusual grant of administrative control over the subleases to individual businesses. For most of the years since, SIBA has been pushing for the transfer of these public lands to SIBA in fee.

Over the past year, SIBA has been advocating on behalf of a special interest bill at the Honolulu City Council that would reduce real property tax payments by businesses with SIBA subleases, while simultaneously challenging its tax bills in state tax court.

This time around they’re at the legislature pushing SB176, which would authorize the Board of Land and Natural Resources to sell parcels of the state-owned land within the Sand Island Industrial Park to lessees. The bill does not provide any public purpose for allowing the sell-off of these publicly-owned industrial lands beyond the general decline in state revenue caused by the current pandemic.

The bill has been scheduled for a public hearing in the senate next Thursday, March 4, before the Senate Ways and Means Committee chaired by Sen. Donovan Del Cruz. The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Due to Covid, the capitol is closed to the public, and all hearings are being conducted by Zoom, and written testimony, as well as remote testimony via Zoom, are being accepted.

SIBA has tried this gambit several times over the years. Back in 2009, for example, a similar bill requiring the state to offer the Sand Island parcels to the lessees passed the Senate and one house committee before bogging down in House Finance….

Related: Sand Island Disclosure After BRAT Threatens Blangiardi with ‘Citizens Arrest’

Related: Bill 31: Former Meth-head Helps Sand Island Lobby for Property Tax Cap

read … Sand Island business group seeks to force sale of public land

‘Sham Transactions’ Trigger States to Crack Down on Tax Havens

BB: … Lawmakers in a half-dozen states are considering measures that would tighten their statutes for taxing large multistate corporations and crack down on tax avoidance strategies involving intercompany transactions.

Proposed legislation in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia would bring mandatory unitary combined reporting into their corporate income tax codes. The change would ensure multistate businesses file a single return featuring the income and expenses of parents and their affiliates, regardless of location. Legislation pending in Hawaii and New Hampshire would take an additional step, moving to worldwide combined reporting….

Some states are eyeing global revenue, trying to repeal features of their combined reporting systems that permit multinational corporations to exclude profits generated beyond the “water’s edge.” Such worldwide reporting rules would require corporate taxpayers to account for profits earned in the state, but shifted to international subsidiaries. Several states including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Montana currently permit worldwide reporting, but none require it.

Some lawmakers in Hawaii want worldwide reporting to become a hard requirement under H.B. 441 and S.B. 1302, which would transition the state beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The preamble of the legislation points to a 2019 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that found offshore tax havens cost Hawaii $38 million annually.

New Hampshire, which stands to collect $177 million according to ITEP, is taking the same approach under H.B. 102. The bill states “the water’s edge method promotes tax havens like Bermuda and Luxembourg and encourages the shifting of profits.”

The Council on State Taxation recently submitted letters to lawmakers in both Hawaii and New Hampshire opposing the bills, writing the two states would become tax policy outliers.

“Mandatory worldwide combined filing is contrary to the approach to taxing corporate profits currently employed by all other states and nations with corporate income taxes,” COST tax counsel Erica Kenney wrote. “Its adoption would place Hawaii at an almost insurmountable competitive disadvantage.”…

read … ‘Sham Transactions’ Trigger States to Crack Down on Tax Havens

Nonprofit questions why HECO’s profits jumped in 2020 as customers struggled to pay bills

HNN: … The Sierra Club of Hawaii said that the increase in revenues shows that HECO should do more to help customers who are still struggling financially from the pandemic.

“This just goes to show that Hawaiian Electric does not need to collect the unpaid bills from families that can hardly get by. Electricity is an essential service that Hawaiian Electric provides,” said Marti Townsend, Sierra Club of Hawaii director. “Clearly they are in a position to do more to meet the needs of its customers.”…

read … Nonprofit questions why HECO’s profits jumped in 2020 as customers struggled to pay bills

The One Mistake That is Never Forgotten

Cataluna: … You have to sing through all the others, too. And boy must Jon Riki Karamatsu, Ron Menor, Jon Yoshimura and the rest of the DUI club hate being reminded of the one time (OK, twice for Jon and Jon Riki) they torpedoed their own hopes for higher office.

There’s always lively debate about whose case was the most shameful. Is leaving the scene worse than having your kids in the car? Is admitting to driving without one contact lens a good excuse? So many ways to parse this out.

Contrast that with legendary Hawaii Board of Education member Chuck Norwood, who served from 1984 to 1993. Norwood served time in prison for murder after he was convicted of shooting a man in a Kona bar. He did his time, changed his life, got a bunch of college degrees and was elected to the school board over and over again. He’d go to site visits at elementary schools and teachers and students were excited to meet him and shake his hand.

So now we have state Rep. Sharon Har and her beer-with-cold-medicine excuse for driving the wrong way on Beretania Street, which is a stunning blunder in and of itself regardless of the substances that may have contributed to it….

read … The One Mistake That is Never Forgotten

Kenji Price: An Uncertain Future For A Republican In Deep Blue Hawaii

CB: … While the Kealoha case was spearheaded by a team of federal prosecutors based out of San Diego, Price’s office took on its own series of high profile investigations involving organized crime, public corruption and police misconduct.

Among those charged were a Kauai city councilman, who’s accused of running a drug ring with a Samoan prison gang, an alleged mobster whose vast criminal enterprise included kidnapping and murder for hire plots, and a politically connected defense contractor who, prosecutors say, bilked the federal government out of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief aid meant to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. 

The question now facing Price, a Republican appointee in deep blue Hawaii, is — what comes next?

Price isn’t saying too much about what he might do, beyond spending time with his family.

In terms of his next move, he told Civil Beat in an interview last week he’ll “plead the Fifth.”  

“For now, I’ll say I’m looking forward to continuing finding places where I can grow as a lawyer and grow as a leader and hopefully be in a position, whether on the public or private side, to use that leadership to affect the community,” he said.

Key Hawaii Republicans are hoping he can help lead the local GOP to more solid political footing in Hawaii, where it is struggling.

“I feel like his future should still be here in Hawaii because we need people like him who will fight for and uphold law and order here,” said Hawaii House Minority Leader Val Okimoto. “Hawaii has always struggled with crime and corruption and Kenji was pointing us in the right direction.”

Price didn’t discount a future run for office. Nor did he say whether he would remain in the islands.

“I’ll be silent on that issue for now,” he said. “But thank you for asking.”…. 

KITV: Outgoing Hawaii U.S. Attorney Kenji Price reflects on 3 years in office

read … Kenji Price: An Uncertain Future For A Republican In Deep Blue Hawaii

Federal Money Plus Tourism Recovery

CB: … but there’s a lot of money there for Hawaii. Enormous. So when you look at the the size of the two (previous federal aid) packages, the December bill, and then what’s likely to come through the House and Senate, hopefully by mid-March, it’s roughly the same size as the CARES Act.

So there’s a heck of a lot of money that makes a real difference in basically holding people up while we simultaneously see what we think will probably be an acceleration in the visitor recovery, mostly in the summer. But we’re already seeing it. The February numbers are actually really good. It’s much better than November.

President’s Day’s long weekend was bigger than Thanksgiving for Hawaii tourism. And we’ve got spring break coming. And as more and more people get vaccinated and the case counts plummet, there’s going to be a much greater willingness to travel. And there’s clearly pent up demand. So we’re anticipating a stronger recovery in tourism through and into the early part of fall.

And then right now we’re thinking that the winter, the fourth quarter, is likely going to be slowing down a fair amount because our international markets aren’t vaccinating the same way that we are.

And so that means that once you get, say, 70% to 80% of U.S. visitors back, there’s no more. There’s no place else to go until you get the international visitors back. And we think that’s going to be a little bit of a lag…. 

CB: Hawaii’s Summer Tourism Season Is Looking Promising

TGI: Kauai County has spent 95% of federal funds

HTH: Businesses, attractions struggle as cruise ships still months away from returning

read … UH Economists Carl Bonham And Sumner La Croix

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