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Sunday, May 3, 2009
May 3, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:29 AM :: 5682 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

New Hawaii petroleum tax hike likely to raise gas prices (barrel tax)

Looking for money to finance renewable energy and food security, state lawmakers have agreed to increase a per barrel tax on petroleum products sold by distributors, which could cost consumers a few cents more per gallon of gasoline...The barrel tax, which is now collected to help the state respond to oil spills, would increase from 5 cents per barrel product to $1.05. The $1 hike could generate $31 million a year to help the state explore alternative energy and protect local agriculture....

The Tax Foundation of Hawai'i, in testimony to lawmakers, said there was a nexus between oil importers and the possibility of oil spills which may have justified the initial tax, but that lawmakers have already expanded the scope to include environmental and natural resource protection.  The foundation described the bill as "a classic effort of getting one's foot in the door with a palatable and acceptable" tax for oil spills and then increasing it for broader purposes.

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State Lawmakers Reject Gas Tax, Fee Hike (highway bill)

State lawmakers worked right up until their midnight deadline on Friday to get hundreds of bills ready for final votes next week.

Many of the advancing bills contain tax and fee increases, but lawmakers rejected a gas tax and fee hike that could have cost residents nearly $170 in taxes annually.

The tax-heavy proposal was introduced by Gov. Linda Lingle in January to help pay for needed highway improvements, but she was unhappy when lawmaker Joe Souki changed the wording of the bill to allow the tax hikes to kick in almost immediately.

Other Democrats were unhappy too, and late last night they turned down the bill.

The bill would have been particularly costly to Hawaii drivers, as it would have hiked taxes on each gallon of gas by 10 cents. It also would have increased the vehicle weight tax and raised registration tax rates from $25 to $45.

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State budget cuts $800M, 200 (nonunion) positions (190 vacant)

Lawmakers set the fiscal 2010 operating budget at $10.8 billion with $5.1 billion coming from the general fund. The budget for fiscal 2011 is $10.5 billion with $5.3 billion from the general fund.

Lawmakers cut general fund spending by about $417 million in 2010 and $396 million in 2011, to help close the state’s $650 million deficit.

All but 10 of the proposed 200 state job cuts are vacant positions, and all are nonunion.

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Biden slip painful to tourism

Vice President Joe Biden's first (SIC!!!) major gaffe in his new job caused outrage in the travel industry and admonitions in the form of clarifications from every corner of the Obama administration. His remark that he would avoid virtually all public transportation to avoid the swine flu was denounced so broadly and vehemently that the net effect may actually boost tourism.  (The Democrats at SB are telling us that the Democrat Biden helped Hawaii tourism out by urging no air transport due to this minor flu outbreak)

James C. May, president of the Air Transport Association, was quick to respond that none of the government agencies had suggested that healthy people avoid air travel.

"The fact is that the air onboard a commercial aircraft is cleaner than that in most public buildings," he said.

Jack Richardson, head of Pleasant Holidays LLC, Hawaii's largest tourism wholesaler, said Hawaii "is definitely going to lose business" because the statement "comes from the vice president of the U.S."

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Hawaii County Council postpones land fund vote

The Hawaii County Council won't make a final decision Wednesday on the mayor's proposal to suspend payments to the 2 percent land fund.
The proposals by Mayor Billy Kenoi would halt payments into the fund for two years, shifting an estimated $4.5 million into the county's general fund to help balance the budget.
Council members tentatively approved the bill April 22, but the second reading is being held off until the council meets May 20 in Hilo.

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Checking on Charities

Depending on who is asking, the money you give could go to help the child, or it could go mostly to fundraising costs.

Now there is an easy way for Hawaii residents to find out. With a few keystrokes, they can check up on a charity before making a gift, using a searchable online database created by the state attorney general's office.

Under a law that took effect in January, every charity soliciting funds in Hawaii must register with the state, including those based on the mainland. So far, 750 charities have done so and are listed on a database unveiled by the state last week, with revealing details on their operations.

"If they're not registered, you should think twice about giving to them," said Hugh R. Jones, supervising deputy attorney general, who oversees charities and was a driving force in getting the law passed. "You should contact our office if you've been solicited by an unregistered charity."  http://ag.ehawaii.gov/charity

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Dec. 31 fireworks ruin air quality curve (propaganda in war on old Hawaii)

Smoke from New Year's Eve fireworks again was responsible for a D grade for Honolulu in a national air quality "report card," says Jean Evans, executive director, American Lung Association in Hawaii.

"We do very, very well, except for that one night (for short-term particle pollution), which is why we were advocating so greatly for some type of regulation for consumer fireworks," she said.

Honolulu ranked third — below Cheyenne, Wyo., and Santa Fe-Espanola, N.M. — among the 10 cleanest American cities for long-term particle pollution in the national American Lung Association's State of the Air report.  (But for propaganda purposes we get a "D")

Honolulu is fifth in a list of cleanest cities for ozone air pollution.

"Our tradewinds basically keep our islands very clean, except for the volcano this past year," Evans said. But only man-induced pollution is considered in the annual look at air pollution, she said.

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Move sought for rail station (Kam Schools)

Kamehameha Schools is asking the city to move a planned station from its property at the intersection of Halekauwila and South streets to Mother Waldron Park, which is about 300 yards in the diamondhead direction.  Kamehameha, in documents recently filed with the state, has expressed concerns about the size of the elevated train stations, which will be 50 feet wide by up to 300 feet long. The 21 planned stations also will be three stories high or higher.

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Waiawa residents displaced by the city's rail-transit system wait for compensation (not Kam schools)

As Honolulu city officials move forward with plans to purchase properties in an area known as "Banana Patch," residents living in a cluster of 10 houses are hoping they'll be adequately compensated for the loss of their enclave.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said city officials were in discussion with residents about relocation.

"It's our part, our responsibility, to let them know that the city will take care of them," Hannemann said at a recent news conference.

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Air Force plan to add rec cabins at Hawaii beach stirs concern

The community learned of the project at an April 13 Waimanalo Neighborhood Board meeting. Board members said they do not want any expansion of the base's recreational programs.

"What they're trying to do is turn it into a vacation resort for the military," said Wilson Ho, chairman of the neighborhood board. "We don't want any more building."

With the dwindling use of the base's 1,483 acres for military purpose, Ho said it's time to give the land back to the public.

"It primarily prevented whoever took the land from building any structures or doing anything that would get in the way of the Marines using the property for amphibious training and air drops," Gibson said, adding that without the ability to develop the land the state dropped out of the negotiations.

The land remains with the Air Force and the Marines are using it for training, she said.

Sen. Clayton Hee, who has called for the return of unused military land before, said the military should return excess land including golf courses that could be leased back to the military for its use.

"If, as anticipated, the Akaka bill becomes law, the bill will mandate reconciliation. ... It just makes sense that surplus military lands would be at the top of the list because then nobody else gets hurt to the extent that you're taking away private property," said Hee, D-23rd (Kane'ohe, Kahuku).

(Saul Alinsky is alive and well and living in Waimanalo)

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Consultant warned Hawaii church its new construction would encounter old burials

In an April 2005 report obtained by The Advertiser, the church's consultant, Cultural Surveys Hawai'i Inc., urged Kawaiaha'o officials to conduct a subsurface archaeological study for iwi, or bones, and other cultural artifacts before building the two-story complex.

The church opted not to conduct the study and began construction of a 30,000-square-foot building this year on the makai side of the church. The building was to replace the 67-year-old Likeke Hall, which was demolished in 2007.

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Oahu Industrial Warehouse Space Spikes

Oahu's industrial vacancy rate rose to 5.1 percent at the end of March up from 4.4 percent at the end of last year.  Colliers said the vacancy rate was last above 5 percent 1999.

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