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Saturday, April 27, 2024
April 27, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:21 PM :: 3104 Views

Miske Hitman Criminal Record Secretly Expunged

The trouble with Tulsi: Why the former Hawaii congresswoman is Trump’s worst choice for vice president

255 Candidates Pull Papers Statewide

Sprawling corruption case grows again as new grand jury investigation is revealed

HNN: … The bribery trial for Honolulu’s former prosecuting attorney has launched another grand jury investigation.

It was revealed in court this week by Joanna Kameoka, an employee of politically connected engineering firm, Mitsunaga and Associates, Inc., that she has a deal with federal prosecutors giving her immunity.

Kameoka also said she testified before a grand jury panel last week about recent allegations of witness tampering and obstruction.

Kameoka said her boss, defendant Dennis Mitsunaga, had her meet with another trial witness earlier this month.

Kameoka admitted that she reached out to Rudy Alivado to discuss his testimony in previous court matters — testimony that was not good for the defense.

Kameoka gave Alivado transcripts from his grand jury appearance in 2021. The government said that was an effort to get Alivado to change his testimony for trial….

One of Mitsunaga’s attorneys, John Schum, was removed from the case and a brief statement was made to the jury notifying them that he would no longer be part of the team. No reason was given….

Also resulting from the new allegations: bail for Mitsunaga was revoked and the 82-year old will be held at the Federal Detention Center through trial….

CB: The Sunshine Blog: Dennis Mitsunaga Ends Up In The Slammer And Other Legal Thrillers

read … Sprawling corruption case grows again as new grand jury investigation is revealed

HB2404: ‘Biggest Income Tax Cut Ever’

CB: … There were only a few details available Friday on the new income tax cut proposal in House Bill 2404, which was made public by House Finance Committee Chairman Kyle Yamashita shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

Yamashita told his colleagues the measure eliminates an entire income tax bracket for the lowest-paid state residents and also adjusts the remaining income tax brackets upward in response to the recent increase in the state minimum wage.

Hawaii’s minimum wage increased to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, and Yamashita said lawmakers are concerned that additional income will cause low-income residents to pay a larger share of their earnings in state taxes.

“If we don’t adjust the brackets, the people that are earning minimum wage will be pretty much paying middle-income taxes, so we have to keep adjusting these brackets,” Yamashita said. “We’re keeping money in the pockets of people that need to keep the money, so that’s the idea.”

Yamashita said the latest version of the bill would also double the standard state income tax deduction for all Hawaii taxpayers for this year, which will translate into savings when it is time for residents to pay their income taxes next spring.

The standard deduction will then be further increased in a series of steps in 2026, 2028, 2030 and 2031, he said. Yamashita did not say how large those future increases in the standard deduction will be for each of those years, and he was unavailable for comment Friday night.

At the committee hearing, however, he said the new bill would also eliminate the lowest income tax bracket in 2025, and then increase the remaining brackets in a series of steps in 2025, 2027, 2029 and 2031.

“Ultimately, by the time we hit 2031, it will be the biggest tax cut to the working people of the state of Hawaii in state history,” he said…. 

L360: Hawaii Legislature OKs Adjusting Tax Brackets For Inflation - Law360 Tax Authority

HNN: It’s being called Hawaii’s biggest tax break, but some will get more help than others

SA: Hawaii residents could see biggest tax cut yet

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Move To Cut Income Tax But HECO Bill Is In Limbo - Honolulu Civil Beat

HECO ‘Securitization’ Rate Hike Bill – Legislators to work all weekend to soak ratepayers

CB: … On Thursday, in a decision that surprised many at the Hawaii State Capitol, Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee Chair Jarrett Keohokalole deferred the so-called securitization measure, Senate Bill 2922, indefinitely. That prompted Gov. Josh Green to intervene directly in the hope of saving a bill he sees as vital to the entire state solar industry….

(CLUE: In the Senate version, ‘securitization’ bondholders would have the first lien on Hawaiian Electric property, with priority over lawsuit plaintiffs.  This means that if HECO goes BK, Lahaina lawsuit plaintiffs could walk away empty handed and the ‘securitization’ bondholders would end up owning Hawaiian Electric.  This formula is not in the House version.  The idea is to protect the old-boy power structure, Hawaiian Electric, from being taken over in bankruptcy proceedings.)

Late Friday the governor’s office confirmed that House and Senate leaders will work through the weekend with the administration to hash out a compromise draft of SB 2922….

“The conclusion I and several of my colleagues came to was we were being asked to approve an unknown allocation of money for an undefined purpose to be paid for by an undetermined fee that our grandchildren will likely still be paying for with no assurance that HECO will remain locally controlled and operated and no protections provided for the local workers at HECO,” Keohokalole said.

Other senators also expressed worry about the HECO employees who belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260.

“Personally, I support the chair’s decision — that is his committee,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye, referring to Keohokalole. “But I am concerned about the IBEW workers and how their pensions might be impacted, because they are going to be impacted. And I am also concerned that we have already been having rolling blackouts on Oahu and the Big Island, and things could get worse.”…

it’s not clear that there is majority support in either chamber for SB 2922, which if passed as currently written would impose a fee of up to 5% on customers’ monthly bills to finance bonds and raise money in a process known as securitization.

Unsaid but understood by nearly everyone is the fact that the primary election is barely three months away. Running for reelection while appearing to bail out a monopoly company may not be palatable to voters who already have among the highest electric bills in the nation….

SB2922: Text, Status

SA: Low-cost Hawaii utility wildfire prevention legislation is short-circuited “SB 2922 would require Hawaiian Electric and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative to produce and comply with a risk-based wildfire protection plan approved by the state Public Utilities Commission…. KIUC supported SB 2922 but has said that as a nonprofit it has access to financing that is cheaper than securitized bonds.”

KHON: HECO legislation to tack on new fee to customers for wildfire mitigation has stalled

KITV: Battle brewing at the legislature over bill that would allow HECO to raise more money

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Move To Cut Income Tax But HECO Bill Is In Limbo

Waihee: If HECO Goes BK, Insiders Like Me Will Lose Power

CB: … As one of the few remaining publicly traded companies based in Hawaii with local leadership committed to the community, it would shift its decision-making and center of gravity to outside the state. …In a forced bankruptcy, the people who win are outside-of-Hawaii investors looking to make quick money by picking up Hawaiian Electric stocks and bonds at bargain-basement prices and at the expense of the state, customers, employees, retirees and other stakeholders, as they did with Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California….

read … Gov. John Waihee: Hawaiian Electric Co. Needs Our State’s Support - Honolulu Civil Beat

$800M?  Hawaiian Electric to Sell American Savings Bank?

B: … Hawaiian Electric is working with advisers to weigh various options for the 35-branch bank, including a full or partial sale, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the details are private. No final decision has been made and Hawaiian Electric could opt to hold onto the lender, the people said.

While it’s not clear how much the bank would fetch in a sale, it had about $486 million in average shareholder equity in 2023, according to Hawaiian Electric’s most recent annual report. Hawaiian Electric’s bank could be valued at $600 million to $800 million, according to a note from Evercore ISI

“Our objective is to ensure we remain strong and financially healthy throughout our companies – at HEI, American Savings Bank and Hawaiian Electric, a representative for Hawaiian Electric said in a statement. “We continue to take prudent and measured actions to ensure our companies are well positioned to serve our customers and community for the long term.” …

read … Hawaiian Electric Is Weighing Sale of American Savings Bank - BNN Bloomberg

Lawmakers Agree To Pay $450 Million In Pandemic ‘Hazard Pay’ To HGEA Members

CB: … Negotiators for the House and Senate tentatively agreed Thursday to put up more than $450 million to fund an arbitration decision and a separately negotiated deal for back hazard pay for union and non-union state employees who reported for work during the pandemic.

The settlement calls for payouts of either $10,000 or $20,000 to thousands of workers who are represented by Hawaii’s largest union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

The settlement payments will go to workers in the executive branch, University of Hawaii, public charter schools, the state Judiciary and the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. The size of the employees’ payments depends on how many days they physically reported to their jobs during the pandemic …. 

AFSCME: Hawaii’s HGEA members accept state’s hazard pay offer; over 16,000 workers eligible

PDF: Who gets 100%?  Clue: 'salary'

WW: UH workers in line for hazard pay – Hawaii Warrior World

read … Lawmakers Agree To Pay $450 Million In Pandemic Hazard Pay To HGEA Members

House Bill 2504, Vape Tax

SA: … >> Expands cigarette tax levied upon wholesaler or dealer to electronic smoking devices and e-liquids.

>> Starting July 1, imposes an excise tax of 16 cents for each cigarette, e-smoking device and e-liquid sold, used or possessed by a wholesaler or dealer (originally proposed at 18 cents)….

HB2504: Text, Status

read … State House bill seeks to increase tobacco tax for cancer research

Hawaii’s Best Termite?  Miske Thugs Stuffed Ballot Box

ILind: … Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, the flagship of Mike Miske’s group of companies, was twice voted the #1 pest control company in the annual “Hawaii’s Best” readers’ poll, taking top honors in 2014 and 2019, if I recall correctly….

But they also had a few tricks to influence the poll results.

This photo was introduced during Miske’s ongoing racketeering trial in federal court.

It shows a number of Kamaaina employees in company shirts sitting around a conference table hard at work filling out multiple ballots. It appears they’ve been at it for a while, as most have water or other drinks with them….

read … Tricks of the trade | i L i n d

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