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Tuesday, April 19, 2022
April 19, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:18 PM :: 1696 Views

SB2070: $50M for ‘thinly veiled scam’?

Maui’s Automated Planning and Permitting System is LIVE

Court Order: Masks not Required in Airports or on Bus

HGEA Extortion: Salary Commission Hostages Include Council members, mayor and department heads

SA: …The commission’s report said executive salary raises are normally tied to pay increases in contracts nego­tiated with the Hawaii Govern­ment Employees Association’s Professional and Scientific Employees bargaining unit, which encompasses many administrative positions such as accountants, planners and information specialists.

“The counterpart collective Bargaining Unit 13 is utilized as a benchmark to grant salary increases for the Excluded Managerial employees, and for the salaries covered by the Commission,” wrote Commissioners Carolee Kubo and David Hayakawa in their report.

“No salary increases were negotiated for Bargaining Unit 13 effective July 1, 2021 and it is unknown at this time if any increases will be negotiated effective July 1, 2022.”

In 2020 the Salary Commission considered granting a 3% increase for the mayor and Council members but ultimately did not because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Salary Commission’s March meeting, Kubo explained that if the Professional and Scientific Employees do negotiate a raise, the commission can retroactively implement raises for the top administration officials in 2023.….

read … No salary increase this year for Council members, mayor and department heads

Kahele Fundraising Drops off Sharply

CB: … Contributions to Kahele fell off in the first quarter of 2022 while Case saw more donations to his campaign and Schatz continued to bring in significant sums….

So far, Kahele is the only candidate to report raising any money to run for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

A number of other well-known politicians have pulled papers from the Hawaii Elections Office, signaling their intent to run for Kahele’s seat — including most recently Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters — but none have officially launched their campaigns in part because they’re waiting to see what Kahele decides.

Over the past four months, Kahele has rarely shown up for work in Washington all while laying the groundwork for a potential gubernatorial campaign.

His latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show he raised nearly $54,000 in the first quarter of this year. That’s less than any other quarter for Kahele so far this election cycle.

More than 70% of Kahele’s money this quarter came from special interest groups and political action committees, most of which are affiliated with the aviation industry.

Data shows Kahele received $22,000 from several airline companies and industry groups, including the PAC representing the business interests of United Airlines and the American Association of Airport Executives. Kahele is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, a job he kept while serving in the House.

Recent questions have been raised about Kahele’s relationship with the company, which lobbies Congress and has an interest in numerous bills that go before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that Kahele sits on.

Civil Beat reported last week that Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association — the union Kahele is a part of — crafted a special arrangement for Kahele after he was elected to allow him to continue earning a part-time salary on top of his $174,000 congressional income.

No other pilots in the company appear to have been granted the same privileges….

SA: Kahele’s proxy voting raises eyebrows

read … No One Is Raising Money Yet To Run Against Kahele, Case Or Schatz

City Council Chair Waters Eyes Run For Congress

CB: … CD2 has had four different representatives since 2002…..

read … City Council Chair Waters Eyes Run For Congress

Working class tax credit still alive

TGI: … After taking a long, winding path through the Legislature, a bill making the Earned Income Tax Credit permanent and refundable has made it through both the House and the Senate, though disagreements over amendments mean that the bill will now go before a conference committee.

The policy, which state Rep. Nadine Nakamura called “an additional cushion for our working families,” is estimated by the Hawai‘i Tax Fairness Coalition to boost the incomes of 5,452 families by $420 on average while generating $2,840,179 in economic activity for Kaua‘i. The state EITC was introduced in 2018, but is set to expire at the end of this year….

Unlike the federal EITC and most states that use the credit, the Hawai‘i state EITC is not yet refundable, meaning that when a family’s credit exceeds the amount they owe income tax on, they do not receive the additional money….

A tax-preparation agent at accounting firm Makena Miyake in Lihu‘e used the example of a single person who worked and made $13,000 last year gaining a federal EITC benefit of $899.

The woman had $61 of taxes due, which were already canceled out by other credits. Since the federal EITC is refundable, the $899 will be sent directly to her.

This benefit only comes if it can be claimed, however, which Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawai‘i, says is easier said than done.

According to research from the Tax Policy Center, nationwide “about 5 million potentially eligible taxpayers do not claim the credit each year, resulting in about $7 billion in unclaimed.”…

It was originally included in House Bill 2510, which also slowed the rate of increase of the wage increase and increased the tip credit, which allows employers to pay sub-minimum wages to tipped employees.

This was removed by the Senate, which also amended the bill to speed up the timeline and get rid of the tip credit entirely.

In early April, the EITC was added into a House Bill 510 — a vehicle registration tax credit bill, which passed the Senate last Tuesday.

The House has since voiced disagreement with the Senate amendment to HB510, and the bill will now go to a conference committee made up of House and Senate members….

Related: The Great Earned Income Tax Credit Hunt

read … Working class tax credit still alive

Hawaii officials pursue stronger deterrents for illegal game rooms

SA: … For the first time in almost 40 years, the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney filed a civil nuisance abatement complaint against the property owners of an alleged illegal gambling den in McCully.

On Aug. 23, prosecutors filed the complaint against the owner of 845 McCully St., Wai Tung “Ave” Kwock; Kwock’s holding company, K.C. Management LLC; and Tom Van Tran, a worker who was arrested and charged with possession of a gambling device and promoting gambling on June 29….

Prosecutors asked the court to “permanently prohibit” Tran from entering the building and execute “the effectual closing of the building, premises, or place, against its use for any purpose, and that it be kept closed for a period not exceeding one year,” according to the complaint.

“A building owner would hate that prospect,” said Alm.

The department intends to use this “test case” to determine whether civil nuisance abatement actions can be an effective tool in shutting down illegal gambling rooms, according to Matthew Dvonch, special counsel to the prosecuting attorney.

“If it proves to be effective, we anticipate filing more cases,” he said….

On March 8, Judge Timothy Ho dismissed the cri­m­inal charges, without prejudice, against Tran after his attorneys cited a December Hawaii Supreme Court opinion that criminal complaints have to be signed by the complaining party.

Alm has said his office intends to refile nearly all of the cases dismissed without prejudice due to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He highlighted a proposal before state lawmakers that would elevate misdemeanor gambling offenses associated with game room activity to felonies.

Alm said he believes that would dissuade people from working as cashiers, security and other jobs in game rooms. Right now the most they face are misdemeanor gambling charges.

The current version of House Bill 2197 would amend “the offenses of promoting gambling in the first and second degree to a class B felony and class C felony, respectively; the requisite state of mind for promoting gambling in the first and second degree to recklessness and negligence, respectively; and the definition of ‘advance gambling activity’ to no longer include simple gambling.”

Alm’s office submitted testimony March 30 supporting the current version of the measure but suggesting that the penalty for promoting gambling be (criminal) negligence, as in the original version of the bill….

SA Editorial: Put legal squeeze on gambling dens

2021: Police Corruption Scandals Revenge for Gambling Prosecutions?

read … Hawaii officials pursue stronger deterrents for illegal game rooms

Blangiardi Will Sign Short-Term Rental Bill Into Law

CB: … The law will take effect 180 days after its approval ….

read  … Blangiardi Will Sign Short-Term Rental Bill Into Law

Closing arguments to begin in trial of prominent doctor accused of drug crimes

HNN: … Closing arguments are set to begin Tuesday morning in the federal drug trial against prominent Big Island physician Rudy Puana….

HNN: Jury begins deliberations in federal drug trial against prominent Big Island doctor

read … Closing arguments to begin in trial of prominent doctor accused of drug crimes

Legislative Agenda:    

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