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January 26, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:55 PM :: 1359 Views

Christian Club Sues Hawaii Department Of Education After Allegedly Being Barred From School Grounds

Lung Association: Hawai‘i Earns Mixed Grades for Tobacco Control Policies

Hawaii 2nd Smallest Racial Wealth Gap

Hawaii Bill Would Take Steps Against a Central Bank Digital Currency

Hawaii Democrats to Investigate Kim Coco Iwamoto Anti-Vaxxerism?

Sweet Justice is Coming:  Alaska judge will preside over Kaneshiro-Mitsunaga bribery trial after an unexpected recusal

AP: … A U.S. judge in Alaska (with no local entanglements to thwart righteous justice) will preside over an upcoming bribery trial in Hawaii against Honolulu’s former top prosecutor after a judge suddenly recused himself.

U.S. Senior District Judge Timothy Burgess (a Bush nominee) will temporarily serve as a judge in the Hawaii district in the case against former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, according to an order filed Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright in Hawaii unexpectedly, and without explanation, recused himself from the case….

ILind: The reason behind the judge’s sudden withdrawal from the Kaneshiro-Mitsunaga bribery case

SA: Off the news: Judge recuses in Kaneshiro case; why?

read … Justice is coming

FEMA Chief in Lahaina rebuilding amidst criticisms, price gouging

KITV: … “We are now in the process of moving those that have lost everything into more interim housing," added Fenton. “We've leased in secured units and put people into over to almost 100 different properties so far, and we've leased about 1367 properties. That's gonna meet the majority of the individuals that have come to us and said, hey, we need assistance in housing.”

Some of the delays in finding open inventory have been caused by some landlords on Maui accused of price gouging and other unscrupulous actions.

“For example, the one that I've heard recently is, 'I've been evicted from my rental property because the landlord is trying to rent to someone from FEMA for a higher rental rate,'" Fenton explained. “I don't regulate that, but the landlord shouldn't be doing that. I need to speak out to that. FEMA is not going to rent from landlords that are gonna do that. And there are protections underneath this, the governor's emergency declaration and the attorney general has the ability to take action.” …

read … FEMA Chief addresses challenges in Lahaina rebuilding amidst criticisms, price gouging

Mercado Kim Retaliation Bill Against Media

CB: … As The Blog reported earlier this month, Kim did not seen to understand the Sunshine Law even as she moderated a meeting about its perceived shortcomings. It requires public officials to conduct the public’s business openly, and it’s been in existence for most of Kim’s political career. (The Legislature, of course, exempted itself from the law it wrote.)

Now Kim has her eyes on the other open government law with a bill to regulate members of the news media who report information acquired through the Uniform Information Practices Act. This 1975 statute spells out how government agencies must respond to requests for public records.

Kim’s Senate Bill 3256 seeks to apply … UIPA requirements to the media. In essence, news organizations would have to answer requests for public records in the same way that government agencies do….

Kim introduced the bill “at the request of another party,” a legislative practice that prevents the public from knowing where proposed legislation is really coming from. She did not respond to The Blog’s request to identify that “party.”

But we do know that five other senators signed on as co-introducers: Stanley Chang, Lynn DeCoite, Troy Hashimoto, Michelle Kidani and Glenn Wakai….

read … The Sunshine Blog: Regulating The Media, And The Public Can Still Park At The Capitol, For Now

‘It’s unacceptable to me,’ Mayor Blangiardi speaks on the mistrust the lack of communication from HPD puts on the public

KHON: … “It’s unacceptable to me in a very big way because it negates a lot of the effort we’re making and what we’re trying to rebuild, trust and confidence in our team,” said Mayor Blangiardi.

He added that he even found out about a police brutality lawsuit filed by a father and son claiming to have been targeted by officers from the media instead of officials.

Mayor Blangiardi said he plans on addressing these issues with HPD Chief Joe Logan.

“They don’t get to be a separate country,” Blangiardi continued. “They don’t get to make up their own rules. There are fundamentals that they’re really required to do and they’re not doing.”…

Borreca: On Politics: Honolulu police chief’s bungling riles mayor, public | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

SA: HPD ‘failing’ to communicate with public, mayor says | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … ‘It’s unacceptable to me,’ Mayor Blangiardi speaks on the mistrust the lack of communication from HPD puts on the public | KHON2

Almost 340 bills are introduced to Hawaii lawmakers by the governor

SA: … Gov. Josh Green has given state lawmakers a lot to contemplate with a package of proposed legislation comprising close to 340 bills.

Wednesday was the deadline for bills drafted by Green’s administration to be introduced at the Legislature, and now lawmakers can see details of plans the governor highlighted Monday in his State of the State speech to them, including a revamped visitor impact fee and a “landmark” bill aimed at converting short-term vacation rental homes into long-term housing for residents.

Green also is making another push to provide Hawaii residents with broad tax breaks, and has put forth a bill to do that after lawmakers in 2023 rejected a similar bill in favor of providing more limited tax relief to only lower-income Hawaii households.

Many bills in the governor’s package, all of which were introduced Wednesday, are intended to carry out routine annual needs of the state and to make technical or relatively small changes in operations or procedures. Many others also arise out of requests by leaders of state agencies to address spending or other needs….

Green, in his Monday speech, referred to the tax changes enacted in 2023 “phase one” of his previous proposal that he had described as an “audacious” bill that would have saved a family of four around $2,000 or more annually.

The new tax relief proposal from the governor is in SB 3093 and HB 2404.

Green said Monday that this “phase two” plan would provide all taxpayers relief from inflation and further increase the child and dependent care tax credit.

“Families in our state struggle to make ends meet,” he said. “Despite working multiple jobs, more are living paycheck to paycheck than even before the pandemic.”

At least a few bills introduced this year by lawmakers to provide residents with tax relief could compete with the governor’s tax proposal, including SB 3280 and HB 1729.

read … Almost 340 bills are introduced to Hawaii lawmakers by the governor

Dozens express strong opposition to County Council’s short-term rental measure

HTH: … A proposal to rewrite how Hawaii County regulates short-term vacation rentals led to hours of backlash from residents accusing the County Council of overreach.

Bill 121 would establish new regulations for transient accommodation rentals, or TARs, further restricting where and how they would be allowed to operate in an effort to protect the island’s residential market from an increasing amount of out-of-state TAR owners buying up the county’s limited housing stock.

The measure was wildly unpopular among residents, dozens of whom held court for nearly four hours Tuesday to decry the bill during a meeting of the council’s Policy Committee on Planning, Land Use and Development.

Linda Swanson, president of the West Hawaii Association of Realtors, said the bill violates the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, arguing that its protection of private property rights would be “eroded” by Bill 121’s limitation on how a private residence can be used.

Many TAR operators said they will be forced to close their units or sell their homes if the measure passes. Several said that their rentals are their primary source of income and cannot feasibly be converted to long-term housing — which is defined by state and county standards as a unit rented for more than 180 days at a time.

Holualoa Airbnb operator Mary Jo Lake said she flat-out refuses to pay additional fees to register with the county, saying she already pays “close to 18%” in general excise and transient accommodations taxes.

“I can afford to take my ohana unit out of the B&B rental pool, but a lot of people can’t,” Lake said. “I can stop, and I will stop, if you insist on me buying this extra permit.”…

Several noted the bill will benefit hotel and resort franchises — because more tourists will simply choose those businesses to stay at — while hurting local business owners….

Another testifier called the bill a “farm killer,” saying that countless farms throughout the county rely on renting out ohana units for supplemental income. Others said that the fines established by the bill — $2,500 for a first violation, and $10,000 for a third — are unfairly high.

“Bill 121 would remove the ability for small farms such as ours to subsidize farming operations with one transient accommodation rental,” wrote Rachel Laderman and Dan Kelly. “TARs placed on or near farmland actually help fund agricultural practices and build support for buying local.”…

BIN: Proposed short-term rental rules on Big Island met with overwhelming opposition

read … Dozens express strong opposition to County Council’s short-term rental measure

Is Hawaii Saying Goodbye to Vacation Rentals?

BH: … As Governor Green mentioned, “52% of all short-term rentals in Hawaii are owned by non-state residents, and 27% of short-term rental owners own 20 or more units.” He estimates that short-term rentals make an average of four times what they would if the property was rented to a local family.

Now, Hawaii’s Legislature is also seeking ways to tackle the issue of short-term vacation rentals. Potential solutions include a range of measures, including new accommodation taxes to add to the 18% now charged….

BIVN: Short Term Rental Bill Package Sent To Planning Commissions (bigislandvideonews.com)

read … Is Hawaii Saying Goodbye to Vacation Rentals?

North Shore homeowners blocked from building seawall

SN: … The order against homeowners Richard and Joann Palmer is effective through Feb. 3.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands received several reports about heavy machinery being used to construct a concrete-rubble masonry wall on public beach near the Palmers’ property….

Earlier this month, the Board of Land and Natural Resources fined North Shore landowners William and Melinda Kernot $948,000 and Randy Youman $993,000 for violations involving the installation of unauthorized erosion-control measures.

Last month, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources fined Josh VanEmmerick $77,000 for installing an unauthorized barrier along his North Shore property….

1/25/2024: DEPT. OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OBTAINS TRO HALTING UNPERMITTED NORTH SHORE BEACH CONSTRUCTION

Editorial: Fines set tone, stir action on shoreline erosion | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … North Shore homeowners blocked from building seawall

Billboards may be allowed in Aloha Stadium district

SA: … Proposed legislation to allow billboards and other large messaging signs in the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District passed first reading in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 3197 would make NASED exempt from long-standing Hawaii state law that prohibits such in most cases. One of the bill’s primary sponsors said this would make development in the 98-acre district more attractive to potential builders.

“It will allow for advertising on the sides of buildings,” said state Sen. Glenn Wakai at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Aloha Stadium Authority. “It will be perfectly aligned with the RFP.”…

read … Billboards may be allowed in Aloha Stadium district | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Hawai‘i Digital Currency Innovation Lab to conclude after four years of research

MN: … The Hawai‘i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions and the Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation jointly announce that the Digital Currency Innovation Lab is scheduled to conclude on June 30, 2024.

This collaborative research project, initiated in 2020, was created to explore the landscape of digital currency activity within the state, while assessing the regulatory framework required for companies specializing in digital currency, also known as cryptocurrency….

read … Hawai‘i Digital Currency Innovation Lab to conclude after four years of research

Hawaii Highest Grocery Bills in USA

HNN: … Hawaii families average $333.88 per week in groceries ….

read … See which states have the most expensive and least expensive groceries

Slam The Brakes On Runaway Legal Fees Charged By Condo Boards

CB: … Legislation has been introduced to prohibit illicit demands of individual owners when boards hire attorneys….

read … Slam The Brakes On Runaway Legal Fees Charged By Condo Boards

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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