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Monday, April 5, 2021
April 5, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:36 PM :: 541 Views

Does ARPA Outlaw Hawaii Tech and Film Tax Credit Expansion?

If we can’t lower taxes, at least don’t increase them

SA: … If there is a theme to this year’s legislative session, it would be, “taxes, taxes, taxes.”

Even before the 2021 legislative session began, there was talk about increasing taxes to make up for COVID-19 revenue losses. However, a federal bailout and better-than-expected forecasts from the state Council on Revenues made the rumored tax increases unnecessary — at least according to Gov. David Ige.

Unfortunately, the Hawaii Legislature didn’t get the memo.

Proposed tax hikes, tax surcharges and suspension of tax exemptions have dominated this year’s legislative hearings. But the headlines have been reserved for bills such as Senate Bill 56, which was approved 24-1 by the state Senate and would make Hawaii’s top marginal income tax rates the highest in the nation.

SB 56 opponents had hoped the bill was dead, due to its quadruple referral in the House. But its reanimated corpse lives on in House Bill 58, a “Frankenbill” that incorporates its predecessor’s proposed conveyance tax increase and repeal of more than a dozen general excise tax exemptions, then adds a hike in the estate tax for good measure….

read … If we can’t lower taxes, at least don’t increase them

More Excuses: DOE ‘still waiting on funds, approval’ to address COVID learning loss

HNN: … With less than two months until summer, many parents are wondering how the Department of Education (DOE) will address COVID-19 learning loss.

Under the state's allotment of the American Rescue Plan funds for education, the department must use 20 percent of the money to mitigate learning loss, or about $78 million.

On March 24, the department received an initial grant award and the remaining funds will be released once the U.S. Department of Education approves its plan on how it will use the funds -- but, the department did not yet receive an application.

(So you haver no summer school because the DoE hasn’t got a form to fill out for the federal money.  These guys are so untouchable they don’t even need to try hard to come up with excuses.)

Additionally, the department says it has to wait on lawmakers to finalize its operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year before it can introduce any plans.

(Translation: DoE refuses to plan for summer school before Sine Die—or maybe before the Governor signs the budget.  So there won’t be much of a summer school—but the HSTA will still get paid.)

According to a DOE spokesperson in a statement to KITV-4, the department is "working on a comprehensive plan for the use of these funds, which will include various learning loss mitigation strategies to best serve our students."

The Department is set to present an update on these mitigation efforts in a Senate Education Committee hearing on Monday.…

(Uh-huh.  Sure.)

read … DOE still waiting on funds, approval to address COVID learning loss

HPD Chief Susan Ballard Is Up For Review This Week

CB: … Four years ago, she was praised for righting a department in turmoil. Now, under fire from critics inside and outside the department, Ballard faces a new assessment from the Honolulu Police Commission….Her annual performance evaluation, to be discussed at Wednesday’s police commission meeting, may not be as positive as previous ones. And commissioners’ feedback will set the tone for the remainder of Ballard’s five-year term, which ends in the fall of 2022….

Related: What Does the Honolulu Council Want to Know About Kimura Shooting?

read … HPD Chief Susan Ballard Is Up For Review This Week

Hawaii police reform bills progress in Legislature

SA: … House Bill 250 is one of them. The bill, which is being discussed between the House and Senate, would make sexual assault by an officer a second- or third-degree offense.

If the Senate and House agree on the amendments to the bill, it will go the the governor’s office for final approval….

HB 250, introduced by Rep. Linda Ichiyama (D, Salt Lake-Moanalua Valley), was prompted by an incident in 2014, when a Honolulu police officer sexually assaulted a teenage girl. Last year the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that former Honolulu police officer Kramer Aoki, 41, was sentenced to 14 days in jail for sexually assaulting the minor he stopped for speeding.

The case was deemed as a fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, but prosecutors had asked for up to a year in jail. Aoki’s lawyer, at the time, said that “a traffic stop is not custody.”…

Senate Bill 726 would ban no-knock warrants in Hawaii, clarifying that officers would have to announce their presence at a premises and wait 30 seconds before entering, and must be in uniform….

Senate Bill 742 would’ve required police departments to collect data on use of force, but it was shelved for this session when it was sent to the House….

read … Hawaii police reform bills progress in Legislature

Hawaii Data Landscape: Antiquated Infrastructure, Widespread Distrust

CB: … The pandemic laid bare major problems with Hawaii’s data collection and provision capabilities, which weakened the ability to make evidence-based decisions on policies and programs in a time of crisis.

Just to name two — we learned that initial contact tracing was done by faxes and an antiquated system of processing unemployment applications failed thousands as the key travel industry unraveled.

A report released last week by the Hawaii Data Collaborative found the challenges go beyond problems with infrastructure, technology, manpower and other resources and extend to the culture — the attitude, values, approaches and a lack of trust— among people who engage with data.

“We need to learn to value data and work with data and trust in data as an important component of our decision-making in a way that helps build a case for increasing data capacity,” said Nick Redding, the organization’s executive director….

read … Hawaii Data Landscape: Antiquated Infrastructure, Widespread Distrust

Embattled hotel and condo project near Ala Moana Center hits another major snag

HNN: … Fang, who heads Hawaii Investment Regional Center and California Investment Regional Center, is also the developer of the stalled Hawaii City Plaza project nearby.

Back in 2017, he threatened to organize a boycott of Hawaii tourism after permits on his Hawaii City Plaza project stalled in the City Council.

He also accused council members of forcing him to hire union labor, which he later agreed to do but apparently backed out.

In recent months, critics have expressed doubts about the viability of Fang’s project. The developer is also facing tremendous financial and legal pressures.

Dozens of Chinese and Japanese nationals who invested in the project have sued Fang and his companies over the delays, asking for their money back.

The developer’s landlord has also sued seeking more than $162,000 in past-due office rent.

“This is a situation where the city should take a pause and look at can it actually be carried out,” Dos Santos-Tam said….

read … Embattled hotel and condo project near Ala Moana Center hits another major snag

Banning sunscreen ingredients means creating a greater risk of skin cancer.

CB: … In their Civil Beat Community Voice piece, the authors of “Hawaii Shouldn’t Wait To Ban Harmful Chemical Sunscreens” make several inaccurate and misleading statements about chemical sunscreens. If legislators in Hawaii believe those statements and enact a ban on these ingredients, thousands of Hawaii residents run a greater risk of developing skin cancer….

Bans, such as that proposed by Senate Bill 132, will remove about 64% of sunscreens from the market. The unfortunate result will be fewer people wearing sunscreen and more people getting skin cancer….

read … Banning sunscreen ingredients means creating a greater risk of skin cancer.

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