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Tuesday, March 30, 2021
March 30, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:28 PM :: 1374 Views

Frankenbill: SB56 Tax Hikes Grafted on to HB58

Should Hawaii Raise Taxes on 'the Rich'?

Police: AntiVaxxers vs Chicken Fights

Fools. No Joke: Plastic Ware to be Outlawed Effective April 1

9th Circuit Gun Ruling Stalls Hawaii Taser Case

HB31: Tighten Gun Storage Requirements

UH Manoa Campus Reopening August 23 for Fall Semester

Moody's announces completion of a periodic review of ratings of Hawaii

Na Leo CEO Stacy Higa To Take Leave Following Bribery Allegations

CB: … The CEO of Hawaii island’s public access station, Stacy Higa, will take a leave of absence after his former colleague told federal prosecutors Higa tried to bribe him into steering CARES Act money his way.

The board of directors of Na Leo, the Big Island’s only public access station, announced the news on Monday afternoon….

According to the plea agreement, the CEO promised Aipoalani financial benefits if he would influence the approval of his applications to Honolulu for COVID-19 relief money.

In August and September, Aipoalani said he repeatedly advised the CEO on how to apply for two grants through two entities controlled by the CEO: Na Leo and an unnamed “business and leadership consulting” business on Hawaii island.

Aipoalani and his co-conspirator “discussed splitting the remaining funds” after Na Leo and the other company completed the required work for the grants, according to the plea deal. Aipoalani expected his co-conspirator to set him up with a job that would pay approximately $60,000 a year, the agreement said.

The men also talked about having their wives front limited liability companies on Oahu in order to launder money, according to the agreement.

Ultimately, the station leader applied for $845,000 on behalf of Na Leo and his other company and claimed false expenses, according to the agreement. According to a federal official, the criminal investigation “disrupted” the scheme to obtain those funds.

Higa is a former Hawaii County councilman. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Hilo last year. Previously, he was the executive director of the Hawaii Commission on National & Community Service, which administers AmeriCorps programs….

read … Na Leo CEO To Take Leave Following Bribery Allegations

State executives plead with lawmakers to save hundreds of vacant 'positions' at risk of being cut

KITV: … The proposed state budget currently would eliminate 136 (vacant) ‘positions’ within the Department of Education (DOE) 235 (vacant) positions from the Department of Public Safety (PSD) 54 (vacant) jobs at the Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) and 41 more (vacant positions) at the Attorney General's office….

"The reduction of 235 (vacant) positions would basically cripple our ability to operate prisons and jails (by paying working staff huge OT so they can get their top three by filling in for staff that are refusing to work)," said Max Otani, Director of the Department of Public Safety.

Senators are set to continue budget discussions on April 1….  

SA Editorial: Tighten spending to balance budget -- “In many cases, eliminating vacant state positions seems sensible for necessary belt-tightening, with an eye toward meaningful reform for improving efficiency. Predictably, though, in response to state House leaders targeting some 800 jobs in their plan — mapped out in House Bill 200 — a long line of state agency leaders and others are urging lawmakers to take positions off the chopping block.”

read … State executives plead with lawmakers to save hundreds of vacant 'positions' at risk of being cut

House Leadership Bails On Unemployed Tax Relief

CB: … In order to survive, more than 580,000 Hawaii workers filed for unemployment benefits in 2020….

Senate Bill 614 SD 2, which would exempt state income tax on UI/PUA during the pandemic, passed its third reading unanimously on the Senate floor and was transmitted to the state House of Representatives.

The Senate committees on Labor, Culture, and the Arts and Ways and Means, and the Senate leadership had the courage and foresight to move this important relief for workers forward — and they should be thanked for their efforts to help struggling working families.

But when the time came for House leadership and the House Committee on Labor and Tourism to consider working families, they didn’t even have the decency to schedule the bill to be heard. They quietly smothered the hopes of local working families outside of the chambers.

There were at least three opportunities for House leadership to hear bills that would have directly benefited local working families — UI/PUA tax relief as a House bill, general excise tax exemption on groceries, and SB 614 from the Senate. House leadership passed on worker relief at every turn. A bill requiring studio teachers and nurses for child actors that would have cost the state absolutely nothing was also killed — a bill that was all but law just before COVID-19….

read … House Leadership Bails Out Businesses But Bails On Worker Relief

Hawaii Lawmakers Advance Capital Gains Tax Increase

CB: … A proposal to jack up the top rates for state capital gains taxes on businesses and wealthier individuals cleared an important hurdle Monday by winning unanimous approval in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The state House has already approved a similar version of House Bill 133, which suggests the measure has a good chance of passing this session. The state Tax Department estimates the higher capital gains tax rates would funnel more than $57 million extra into the state treasury next year….

The current top capital gains tax rate is 7.25%…  A new version of HB 133 as amended in the Ways and Means Committee on Monday would increase the top capital gains tax rate to 9% for individuals, and increase the top rate from 4% to 5% for corporations.

The House draft of the same bill features the same rate increase for individuals, but would not increase the corporate capital gains rate….

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Advance Capital Gains Tax Increase

Hawaii seniors now have lowest rate of COVID cases

KITV: … While younger people haven't seen fatality rates of seniors, their COVID cases can still be severe.

"We have 1158 active COVID cases now, and we have seen some younger people get hospitalized," stated Dr. Green.

Because younger people don't normally get as sick, the latest surge in cases isn't as troubling as if it was affecting our elderly population.
Plus, more than 600,000 vaccines have been given out - which also limits the spread of the virus.

Hawaii is expected to hit the 1 million vaccination mark by May.

"Then by about July 4th, we could reach herd immunity here. We didn't expect to see that until the fall," said Green….

read … Hawaii seniors now have lowest rate of COVID cases

Most Kaua‘i residents age 16+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

TGI: … Most residents age 16 and up are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, the county announced in a press release Monday.

If you are not sure if you are eligible, fill out the Kaua‘i District Health Office survey at kauai.gov/vaccine. If you don’t meet the current criteria, you will be added to the wait list for extra doses.

The Department of Health added an additional clinic date for the one-dose Johnson &Johnson vaccine on Monday, April 5 at the War Memorial Convention Hall from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. If additional J&J vaccines are received, clinic hours will be extended to 1 p.m….

HNN: State figures show that about 36.5% of Kauai residents have had at least one COVID vaccine shot.

read … Most Kaua‘i residents eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

Lawmakers Want New Group To Determine Future Of OHA Kakaako Makai

CB: … The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has proposed residential developments for some of the lands that it owns in Kakaako Makai, but measures to allow those developments failed this legislative session.

Now, the Legislature is poised to form a panel that would be tasked with identifying lands to trade with OHA for those parcels. Past development proposals have run into heavy community opposition.

House Concurrent Resolution 129 and House Resolution 111 would set up the Kakaako Makai working group. Both cleared the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee Monday and are on their way to a vote by the full 51-member House. …

Senate Bill 1334, would have allowed 400-foot towers to be built on two OHA-owned parcels, but the bill never received hearing in the House.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said during a rally on March 15 at the State Capitol that the measure would not be moving forward, and instead, that he and Sen. Sharon Moriwaki would try to explore alternatives to development. Saiki hoped to prevent uncontrolled development and preserve open spaces along the waterfront.

Moriwaki, who has previously opposed development on those lands, said in a text message that she hopes the working group could be a way for OHA, HCDA and community stakeholders to work together.

Still, Hussey called the resolution an intrusion by the Legislature on OHA’s authority to manage its own lands. In written testimony to lawmakers, OHA’s Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment Committee called the resolution an attack on Native Hawaiian self-determination….

A special committee from OHA’s Board of Trustees is expected to present its findings on the Kakaako Makai parcels at a hearing on Thursday….

Rep. Gene Ward was the only House member to vote no on the two resolutions….

read … Lawmakers Want New Group To Determine Future Of OHA Kakaako Makai

Hawaii lawmakers to consider bill that would make sex with animals illegal

SA: … Hawaii is one of only four states that doesn’t have a law against bestiality.

Senate Bill 343, introduced by Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo), would make it a Class C felony if a person commits bestiality, or has sex with an animal. It would be a Class B felony if a person does it in front of a minor or forces a minor to engage in sexual contact with the animal….

The bill is scheduled for a hearing today before the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. If the bill passes, it will go before the full House.

If the bill becomes law, a person convicted will have to forfeit their animals, attend a treatment program or obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling at their own expense. It would also prohibit a person from owning animals or working with them….

read … Hawaii lawmakers to consider bill that would make sex with animals illegal

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