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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
January 31, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:47 PM :: 1340 Views

New report makes case for exempting medical services from Hawaii's GET

Judge Lifts West Hawaii Fishing Injunction

Bill 62 Higher Taxes Mean Higher Rent on Oahu

December Tourist Count 91.5% of 2019 Level

Green Abandons GET reform effort--Still Lying About how Much Tourists Pay

HTH: … Removing the general excise tax on food and medicine might not be the best way to help struggling Hawaii residents, Gov. Josh Green said Monday.

During his gubernatorial campaign and his inaugural address, Green proposed exempting food and medicine from the GET in order to help lower-income households survive the rising cost of living.

However, in a livestreamed interview Monday, Green suggested that such a plan could be overly complicated to implement, and instead advocated for a number of extended tax breaks for “ALICE families,” which are households that are asset-limited, income-constrained and employed….

Green explained that, depending on the number of children in a household, ALICE families’ annual incomes range from between roughly $42,000 and $129,000, which puts them above the federal poverty level but unable to afford a basic cost of living….

“Getting rid of the general excise tax on food and medicine is easier for people to understand,” Green said. “It would return about $400 million back to people, but the challenge with that is a third of that money is paid for by vacationers, by visitors. (CLUE: Absolutely false.) And I’m not really trying to give them any break from taxes. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just trying to say they should pay their fair share of taxes more.”…

REALITY: GE Tax: Audit Shows Tourists Pay 14.1%--not 30%

read … Tax breaks urged for ALICE families: Gov. Green pivots from GET reform efforts

Governor’s ‘green fee’ plan scaled back to target park, trail and beach users

HNN: … During the campaign and in his State of the State address, Green said he supported charging every adult visitor a $50 fee to deal with impacts of climate change as well as mitigate the impact of the visitors on Hawaii attractions.

But in bills introduced to the Legislature by his office, the governor’s proposal is now for what could be called a “paradise passport,” targeting only people who visit “a state-owned park, beach, forest, trail, or other state-owned recreational natural areas.”

In an appearance on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Facebook feature “Spotlight,” Green acknowledged what critics of the airport fee have long been telling him.

“You’re not allowed to collect these fees directly at airports,” he told the hosts.

The new version of the proposal says tourists over 15 would have to buy a $50, one-year “environmental license” to visit state recreational sites….

read … Governor’s ‘green fee’ plan scaled back to target park, trail and beach users

The local news media landscape

ILind: … among the information filed in court along with a survey of residents asking about pretrial news coverage about the Miske case. It has a number of limitations, both in the relatively small size of the sample (153 respondents) and the questions asked, which aren’t relevant to this post.

One question was asked about sources of news: “ What news sources do you regularly follow? (Check all that apply to you)”

Ranking as the top news sources followed by this group of 153 Hawaii residents was Hawaii News Now (20%), followed by Civil Beat (16%) and a catch-all category of “social media” (15%). The top three were followed by KHON News (14%), and both KITV News and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at 13%….

read … The local news media landscape

Former police chief prevails in defamation suit brought by ex-SHOPO president

HNN: … A jury on Monday sided with former Police Chief Susan Ballard in a defamation suit.

The suit was brought by Tenari Maafala, who stepped down as president of the police union in 2018.

Maafala had argued that Ballard damaged his reputation with statements she made to Honolulu Civil Beat in 2017, accusing him of overtime abuse. In testimony, Ballard claimed her statements were mischaracterized.

Ballard said on the stand that when she said “overtime issues” to Civil Beat, she did not mean “overtime abuses.”

In their decision, the jury found that Ballard hadn’t made false statements to Civil Beat….

read … Former police chief prevails in defamation suit brought by ex-SHOPO president

Lawmakers Want More Information Made Public On Inmate Deaths In State Prisons And Jails

CB: … House and Senate measures would require corrections officials to announce each prisoner death on a website, and include information on what caused each fatality (so lawyers can exploit the information)….

read … Lawmakers Want More Information Made Public On Inmate Deaths In State Prisons And Jails

Under pilot, Homeless Drug Addicted Criminals in Chinatown are being given a choice: Jail or treatment

HNN: … Jail or treatment.

It’s a choice now given to some homeless addicts who are repeatedly caught breaking the law.

Under a pilot project, treatment is approved by the court before a judge ever rules on the case.

The idea is to get homeless drug addicts into residential drug treatment programs right after they’re arrested.

Not only does it limit the amount of time they spend in jail, it also prevents them from immediately being released back to the streets, advocates say. And that’s a problem many in the community say needs to be addressed….

(Clue: The drug addicts realize they won’t be spending much time in jail so the incentive isn’t as strong as it sounds.)

“We realized when we were going to do Weed and Seed in Chinatown that there were a lot of chronically homeless folks,” said city Prosecutor Steve Alm. “And virtually all of them have mental health or drug and alcohol problems.”

Alm says over the past year and a half, officers arrested approximately 140 homeless people in Chinatown.

Nearly every case involved drug possession….

The pilot project is called Substance Use Disorder Assessment Fast or SUDA-Fast….

Since April at least 19 non-violent offenders have been referred to drug treatment for an assessment, the state said….

(19/140=13.6% Therefore insufficient force is being applied.)

And while the programming is strong, stabilization beds are scarce.

Alm said without a dedicated source of funding, the program can’t expand. So he’s calling on the city and governor for help “to somehow create hundreds of beds for mental health, and drug and alcohol in order to deal with this problem statewide.”

Anton Krucky, director of Honolulu’s Department of Community Services, agrees the creation of more stabilization beds is critical.

He said the city recently purchased a building for a project on Dillingham Boulevard, saying officials are actively looking for more….

HNN asked the state Department of Health how many of the 19 offenders in the pilot completed treatment. Officials said they did not have that information.

(You know what that means.)

read … Under pilot, some repeat law-breakers in Chinatown are being given a choice: Jail or treatment

To Reduce Rent, Many Oahu restaurants eliminate their dining areas

KITV: … In addition to Zippy's, Chick-fil-A’s second location on Oahu -- which is currently under construction on Beretania Street -- will also join the trend of not offering an indoor dining area. Management does not believe this will hurt business because most customers want to get their food to go….

"The rent of that space, and the revenue, is what they're looking at on the top of expenses, the employee shortage and whether they have enough staff to provide excellent customer service,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, executive director of Hawaii Restaurant Association….

Matsuoka says more restaurants are choosing to close their indoor seating instead of reducing hours of operation….

read … Many Oahu restaurants eliminate their dining areas

Legislative Agenda: 

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