Is there relief for rising property taxes on Oahu?
Counties must prioritize property tax relief
In Honolulu $100K only worth $36,026
HB622 Suicide Prevention Bill Passes Final Committee
Could more State Lawmakers be implicated in bribery scandal?
KHON: … Federal prosecutors spoke openly on Thursday, April 6 that they asked for a reduced sentence for Ty Cullen because of his substantial cooperation with an ongoing investigation.
Legal experts said that cooperation means investigators are looking into more lawmakers who have accepted bribes or donors … or both.
Defense attorney Megan Kau, who is not involved in the case, said the feds have probably communicated with the potential suspects.
“In my experience, it also means that person has already come in to talk with the federal agents and is either cooperating him or herself or is going to enter into a guilty plea,” she said.
Kau points out that the Feds rarely talk about an ongoing investigation, unless they’re that close to getting the suspect.
“There has been some communication between the defendant or the defendant’s attorney,” said Kau….
read … Could more State Lawmakers be implicated in bribery scandal?
Will Legislators Allow OHA to Hide Crooked Deals in Executive Session?
SA Editorial: … Perhaps it’s not so surprising that the Hawaii Supreme Court — lawyers all — would uphold the imperviousness of attorney-client privilege, when it sided this week with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs against the state auditor over sensitive OHA documents. But it is disappointing, since the ruling could provide an all-too-convenient shield for state agencies to hide behind, defaulting to business in “executive sessions” instead of in the public eye. Legislators next year should look to modify state law, to help the auditor’s office to improve fact-gathering capability when it runs up against privileged information….
It’s important for the auditor to have subpoena powers, which, if used well and at all, can help to bring crucial information into the public light. It should serve as a check to state agencies to know that most of their dealings will be subject to tough scrutiny.
As for attorney-client-privileged information: The high court noted that current law gives no assurance that any “involuntary” disclosure, such as compelled by the auditor, will withstand challenge and remain confidential. Amending the law, then, to provide state agencies such assurance could help resolve the legal dilemma. Surely, enabling a wider path for robust, expedient audits of government operations would be in the public’s best interest….
As Explained: Supreme Court: OHA Can Hide its Crooked Deals in Executive Session
read … Help for auditor’s office
Lawmakers take aim at Hawaii Tourism Authority
TGI: … Senate Bill 1522 and its companion, House Bill 1375, state it is “necessary and appropriate to dissolve the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority” and replace it with an “office of tourism and destination management.”
Ilihia Gionson, the authority’s public affairs officer, disputes the claims that the HTA is being mismanaged and says they are making significant progress.
“We believe in our model. We believe in the work that we’re doing, and the results that we’re getting,” he said in an interview with The Garden Island.
Meanwhile, The Grassroot Institute of Hawai‘i, a nonprofit policy research organization, has submitted testimony against both bills, saying Hawai‘i doesn’t need the HTA or a similar agency promoting tourism. The Grassroot Institute “has taken the position that the state shouldn’t be funding tourism promotion,” said its Director of Policy Malia Hill in a separate interview with The Garden Island.
Hill noted the nonprofit is not anti-tourism and sees it as important and valuable, but “does that really mean that taxpayer money needs to go to promoting tourism?” she said.
She referred to the legislation’s criticism of the HTA in recent years, stating they “want to get rid of it” but don’t know what to replace it with other than an enhanced version of the same agency.
“There are these two different bills that are replacing or repealing the HTA and replacing it with this new agency. But when you kind of drill it down, it’s hard to really see why this would be that much different,” said Hill.
The bill emphasizes a commitment to regenerative and holistic approaches to tourism, that “sound really good,” but “how is this really different from the HTA other than the sort of rhetorical window dressing you’ve put on it,” she said.
When asked about the criticism that the state no longer needs an agency promoting tourism, Gionson said “pushing for visitor arrivals” is “something from the past.” He stated that the agency’s focus is on visitor spending, resident sentiment, visitor satisfaction, as well as educating visitors….
Gionson agreed the bill would create a similar entity that would “dissolve the HTA in favor of an agency that is focused on destination management and caring for our community. And that is exactly what we are already.”
HNN: The bill also proposes $64 million to replace the roof of the Hawaii Convention Center, where HTA is headquartered.
read … Lawmakers take aim at Hawaii Tourism Authority
SB1502 Regulate Turo to Death to Support Car Rental Companies
SA: … The state House passed Senate Bill 1502 on Thursday after amending the proposal, which also authorizes the counties to regulate the parking of shared cars on highways under their jurisdiction and amends the required insurance coverage for vehicles used for peer-to-peer car-sharing to quadruple the minimum liability coverage for death, bodily injury and property damage per accident….
Heading into the Easter weekend, the Turo website showed 200-plus vehicles available for pickup at the Maui airport. Some of the listings provide instructions for picking up vehicles from the airport lot using lockboxes, while others note that vehicles were parked a few minutes away in the surrounding commercial area or offer personal pickup and drop-off by the Turo host.
On Thursday morning ample parking was available in the back half of the public lot at the Maui airport, and a number of vehicles were spotted with telltale lockboxes attached next to the rear license plate.
The practice is not endorsed by Turo, according to the company. “Turo reminds hosts throughout the year to conduct vehicle exchanges off airport property and has a Good Neighbor Policy Opens in a new tab that requires compliance with parking regulations. Failure to comply may result in punitive action from Turo,” the company said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Turo spokesperson Catherine Mejia said in a statement that the company “supports SB 1502 in its current form as it prioritizes the safety of our guests and hosts in Hawaii. The peer-to-peer car-sharing industry not only provides residents with economic opportunities but also enhances mobility options and expands consumer choice.”…
(REALITY: The car rental companies are working to eliminate competition.)
read … Hawaii airport parking lots suffer from overcrowding, thefts