Senator Donna Mercado Kim Selected as Senate President
Shan Tsutsui Accepts Lt Governor Position, Not Moving to Oahu
Rail: Tashima's final ruling — now the case is eligible for appeal
Full Text: HART Wins Favorable Rail Ruling
FULL TEXT: Native Hawaiian Justice Task Force Report
Souza Appointed Oahu District Family Court Judge
Tsutsui for Governor 2014?
CB: … a 74-year-old man just elevated a 40-year-old and a 41-year-old, respectively, to greater political power. And the governor knows it.
"There is a transition taking place," he said, adding that Hawaii voters sent Tulsi Gabbard, 31, to the U.S. House of Representatives. "A 21st century transition."
The governor compared the transition with the so-called "1954 revolution," when Hawaii Democrats wrested control of the Territorial Legislature from Republicans. Dan Inouye, then a young man, was part of that transition, said Abercrombie.
"The entire spectrum of change was covered in 1954," he said. "They literally transformed the foundation to and for the Hawaii we have today."
He continued: "I think you are going to be seeing the same thing taking place in the Legislature. ... This governor is aiding and abetting this transition phase as much as is humanely possible."
What happens to the people who are still on stage? Is the governor suggesting he might be leaving office sooner than expected?
When Civil Beat asked him that last month, he said he was committed to running for re-election in 2014. He said he was in good health and said he would defeat any primary challenge.
But you should have seen Abercrombie's face when he heard Tsutsui joke with reporters that he might run for governor himself in two years, too.
At first, the governor's expression was tight-lipped, suggesting either he didn't like what he had just heard or that he hadn't caught it. Then Abercrombie reddened and laughed, joshing that perhaps there was a flaw in his decision to urge Tsutsui to become LG.
SA: "I just look at this as a tremendous opportunity," Tsutsui said … Tsutsui gave no specific policy proposal he was interested in working on….
read … Oooops!
Tsutsui Promotion Shakes Up PLDC Legislation?
KGI: Tsutsui stepping in as lieutenant governor could throw a wrench on the Public Lands Development Corporation, which was created after Abercrombie signed Act 55 on May 20, 2011, following the state Legislature approval of Senate Bill 1555 the same year. To date, Act 55 has been arguably Abercrombie’s most unpopular action.
In September, Tsutsui posted on his Senate website that the situation with the PLDC calls for “thoughtful scrutiny and examination.”
“Although I will continue to monitor the actions of the PLDC, including the adoption of its rules, I will be introducing legislation in the 2013 legislative session to address the PLDC and its problems and shortcomings,” Tsutsui wrote on his official website on Sept. 27. “I plan to propose separate bills, one to repeal Act 55 … as well as a bill to narrow the scope of the PLDC’s authority and reduce or eliminate current exemptions from normal processes and procedures.”
SA: "I'm looking forward, too, to the scramble in the Senate," Abercrombie said to about a dozen of Tsutsui's Senate colleagues who attended his introductory news conference. "It'll be a lot of fun to see what's going on there."
HNN: Maui Democrats to Select Three Nominees for SD5
read … PLDC Saved?
Star-Adv: City Hall changes are promising
SA: In recent weeks, the Real Property Assessment Division reported a 2.3 percent rise in Oahu property values. Although the principal factor in the overall recovery is the increase in hotel and resort properties (up 9.4 percent), residential valuations are up more than 2 percent, too. There are certainly zones where the values are still depressed, but on average the payer of residential property taxes must be worried about the prospects of a bigger housing bill due to the tax calculations.
That means Caldwell reasonably can expect that, at the current rates of $3.50 per $1,000 of property value, the revenue picture is brightening just in time for his inaugural budget proposal. Details on that are still pending, and taxpayers hope the new mayor will consider all of the metrics in his decision on spending priorities.
read … Last Redoubt of the Old Boys
Fiscal Cliff: Health officials worry about cuts to reimbursements
PBN: The health insurance companies are gearing up for the Hawaii Health Connector online insurance marketplace that goes into effect in 2014 as the centerpiece of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Given the state’s well-established pre-paid health-care coverage, insurance companies are not expecting to see large increases in enrollment next year as the health-care exchange prepares to launch, Young added.
Sources interviewed for this story said the great unknown with health care in 2013 is the fiscal cliff. If Congress and Obama can’t reach a deal or postpone the Jan. 1, 2013, deadline for massive government spending cuts to kick in, then Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will drop.
read … Fiscal Cliff
Solar Scammers Now Claim DoTax is ‘Rewriting’ Law
SA: Key stakeholders have long realized that DoTax's series of Tax Information Releases (TIRs), written during the Lingle administration to define and explain what constitutes a "system" for tax credit purposes, opened huge loopholes for potential abuse.
A joint Senate-House conference convened by state Sen. Mike Gabbard has recently met four times to craft a sound 2013 legislative "fix" that is intended to close the TIR loopholes, clarify the rules and save the state tens of millions of dollars.
Rather than trust the public legislative process, DoTax, itself the author of the problematic TIRs, moved unilaterally to solve a financial and administrative problem that it has neither accurately characterized nor adequately explained….
There is simply too much at stake to leave energy policy up to the DoTax folks on Halekauwila Street.
Reality: Why Stop at $500K? DoTAX Quietly Multiplies Hawaii Solar Tax Credit
read … Rewritten History
Biofuel: HELCO rate hike request blasted
HTH: One proposal calls for generating an additional $19.8 million in revenue via a 4.2 percent rate increase. HELCO says the extra revenue is needed to fund system upgrades and maintenance for its electric grid, as well as the inclusion of more renewable energy technologies. If the entire amount is approved by the PUC, it would add approximately $8.32 to the average, 500-kilowatt-hour monthly electric bill on the Big Island.
A second proposal would initiate a biodiesel supply contract with Aina Koa Pono-Ka‘u LLC and a related biofuel surcharge to customers to offset the costs brought about by the contract. An Aina Koa refinery in Ka‘u, which has yet to be built, would supply HELCO with approximately 16 million gallons of biodiesel each year for 20 years to fuel its Keahole power plant. The surcharge would add between 84 cents and $1 per month to a typical residential customer’s bill….
Bill Walter, president of W.H. Shipman Ltd., questioned the timing of the increase, pointing out that Hawaii Island rate payers pay four times the national average for electricity, and 25 percent more than Oahu customers.
“Hawaii Island residents include among the most economically challenged in the state of Hawaii,” he wrote. “While certainly not the only reason, the high cost of power works to keep our residents economically challenged. Why?”
Walter went on to compare electric rates to taxes, noting that the government has been reticent to raise taxes during the economic downturn. Government has worked to reduce the costs of government services while retaining service levels, through a variety of furloughs, employment freezes, layoffs and other measures, he added.
read … HELCO
With Schatz Gone, Who Will Champion LNG?
PBN: Schatz believes that imported LNG shows significant promise, and he thinks it could help stabilize and possibly reduce prices in the long run.
As I previously reported, the state plans to issue a request for proposals early next year for firms to import the fuel.
Schatz seemed to be at the head of this issue and now that he is gone, who will take the lead?
It is unknown if his successor will inherit this role, or if someone else in the governor’s office will be the champion for the state’s fastest-growing industry at an extremely critical time.
IC: Succession Rules In Hawaii
read … With Schatz in D.C., Solar, Wind Scammers Could Grab all the Marbles
PBN: Green Energy, Tourism Will Continue to Drive Economy in 2013
PBN: While the state’s visitor industry and photovoltaic installation businesses showed strong growth this year, many parts of the state’s economy had mixed results in 2012, staying true to PBN’s forecast for this year.
In 2013, PBN’s analysis shows that the visitor industry and PV installation businesses should continue to at least match this year’s healthy numbers, but future growth won’t be as rapid.
PBN: Wind energy tax credits causing quite a stir in Congress, Hawaii
read … Economy Built on Taxes and Tax Credits
Hawaii tourism revenue on record-breaking pace
HNN: Through the month of November, the tourism economy in Hawaii is more than $2.1 billion ahead of the first 11 months of 2011 and will likely break visitor spending records, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Visitors have spent a total of $12.9 billion through November, or about $193 a day -- 16 dollars more per day than a year ago. Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA, said that translates to $1.5 billion in state tax revenue.
Actual visitor numbers also are up. Visitor arrival numbers through November totaled 7.27 million, up nearly ten percent from the same period the year before. That means on average, there were nearly 200,000 visitors in the state every day. During the depth of the global recession in 2009, the visitor arrival number dropped to 6.4 million.
Eugene Tian: Tourism is No. 1. Tourism continues to be about 17.7 percent of the economy, but in the U.S. as a whole, tourism continues at about 2.6, so there’s a big difference. … (Florida) is not close to Hawaii. Hawaii is the highest.
read … Tourism