Institute pours cold water over proposed 'visitor impact fee'
Policy director Malia Hill writes in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the idea is appealing but impractical and legally dubious
from Grassroot Institute
There can be a world of difference between an appealing idea and something that is practical and workable in real life. And that’s where the governor's proposed visitor impact fee falls short, according to Malia Hill, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii policy director.
In a commentary featured on the cover page of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Sunday "Insight" section, Hill explained that the proposal has many problems. Those include the difficulty of defining a "visitor," the real possibility that enforcement could become a nightmare, the uncertainty that "fees" collected would be used in a cost-effective manner and the fact that the proposal is probably unconstitutional."
Hill's comments were echoed in testimony submitted by Ted Kefalas, Institute director of strategic campaigns, to the House Committee on Finance, which heard and ultimately approved the bill on Wednesday.
As reported by Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Allison Schaefers, Kefalas said that unless residents who are also injurious to Hawaii’s ecosystem are charged a fee, “the entire scheme risks being overturned on a legal challenge.”
Unfortunately, the state attorney general yesterday told the committee that his department “feels that the program is narrowly tailored and would pass constitutional muster,” and that likely factored into the committee's decision to let the bill advance.
Also influencing its decision, perhaps, was that the hearing was well-attended, with the bill drawing "broad community support from state agencies, nonprofits and even college and high school students," according to Schaefers.
Kefalas said yesterday that the bill now heads to the entire House chamber for a vote before going to a conference committee, where a select group of legislators will deliberate on the final version of the bill.
To read Hill's commentary, go here; Kefalas' testimony, here; and Schaefer's news report, here.