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Wednesday, September 05, 2018
September 5, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:30 PM :: 1417 Views

Pearl City: Lowest Percentage of Families with Small Children in USA

Pension spiking cost Hawaii taxpayers $20.5M in FY 2017

Brett Kavanaugh: Office of Hawaiian Affairs a “naked racial spoils system.”

CB: …Before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments, he wrote an op-ed for the The Wall Street Journal titled, “Are Hawaiians Indians? The Justice Department Thinks So.”

In the piece, Kavanaugh argued that the case could reverberate well beyond the islands.

He said that through OHA, the state of Hawaii had set up a system that “doles out money to certain citizens based solely because of their race.” If Hawaii’s law regarding OHA’s elections were allowed to stand, he warned that the consequences would spread beyond the ballot box.

“Hawaii’s naked racial spoils system, after all, makes remedial set-asides and hiring and admissions preferences look almost trivial by comparison,” Kavanaugh wrote. “And if Hawaii is permitted to offer extraordinary privileges to residents on the basis of race or ethnic heritage, so will every other state.” ….

Andrade said that Kavanaugh’s world view, at least as it relates to Native Hawaiians, seems to come from a place in which everyone is on the same playing field….

Hirono did not want to preview her line of questioning Tuesday, but a spokesperson said Kavanaugh’s previous comments about Native Hawaiian issues are “a serious concern.”….

CB: Hirono Circus at Kavanaugh Hearing

Related: Kavanaugh for Supreme Court?  Rice v Cayetano Front and Center

read … Brett Kavanaugh

Maui Council and Mayor: School tax ballot proposal ‘A Blank Check to Come After County Funds’

MN:  Wary of a state government that’s taken the lion’s share of county taxes before, Maui County Council members and the mayor spoke out Tuesday against a state constitutional amendment to tax investment properties to fund public education statewide.

“I think it was specifically drafted in a way that it gives the Legislature a blank check to come after county funds and use them not only for education, but for whatever else they choose to use it for,” Council Chairman Mike White said during Tuesday’s council Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

The proposal, which is headed for the Nov. 6 general election ballot, has drawn criticism from all four counties, which have joined in a lawsuit to block the amendment from the ballot….

“We don’t know what ‘surcharge’ means,” Deputy Corporation Counsel Brian Bilberry said. “It sounds like an additional real property tax. And we don’t know what ‘investment property’ means. Quite frankly, that could mean just about any property, including properties subject to homeowners exemptions.”…

Council Member Alika Atay thought the top Education Department brass should be audited instead to see how they’ve been using current funds. He called the proposed surcharge “a raid” and echoed White’s concerns about the transient accommodations tax, which was originally offered up as a temporary tax to pay for the Hawaii Convention Center but later became a permanent tax that the counties say is unfairly divided between them and the state.

“Using that hindsight of what the state has done with the TAT, this is telling us more so not to trust this move, especially when they don’t even define what they going to collect,” Atay said….

read … Council and mayor: School tax ballot proposal flawed

Hawaii County anticipates $75M tax hit from ballot question

HTH: Hawaii Island property owners could end up paying an extra $75 million annually if a constitutional amendment passes that would allow the state to carve off a piece of county property taxes for public education.

It’s not known which categories of properties would be taxed if the ballot amendment passes in the Nov. 6 general election.

Property classifications such as affordable housing and agriculture could fall under that category, in addition to the non-owner-occupied residential class, which already carries the highest property tax rate in the state. Preliminary indications are the state surcharge alone could increase that rate from $11.10 in tax for each $1,000 in property value to $18 per thousand.

That’s according to county Finance Department officials, who made a presentation Tuesday to the County Council Finance Committee. The $75 million increase in state taxes compares to the county’s current $524 million budget….

read … County anticipates $75M tax hit from ballot question

Hawaii Climate Commission – Make the Little People Feel Pain

IM: …The 22-Member Hawai`i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission, created by SB 559 (Act 32) in 2017, met on September 4, 2018. The panel is beginning to grapple with a wide-ranging and complex issue with massive unknowns and a certain train wreck down the tracks.

Hawaii Business Magazine ran an extensive article--The Cost of Climate Change in Hawai`i by LiAnne Yu on September 2, 2018. “In this article, leaders across the state’s public, private and scientific spheres share six of the most critical issues we need to understand about what climate change will cost Hawaii in the coming decades.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser published an editorial--Climate-change effects here will necessitate education and tough new policies—behind a paywall on September 2, 2018….

read … Hawai`i Climate Commission Plans for the Future

Caldwell: Fine TVRs $100K Per Day Until The City Owns Their Property

SA: There are between 8,000 and 10,000 vacation rentals on Oahu, of which approximately 800 are legally permitted, meaning the rest are illegal. No matter how many inspectors the city hires, enforcement is too challenging under the existing system. We have to catch scofflaws in the act, they have to admit guilt, or we take them to court. Even if the court fines them in violation, they continue the illegal activity because the fine is not an economic deterrent.

Enforcement is key to success. The city has proposed a bill that contains a bright line enforcement mechanism that uses technology instead of hiring hundreds of additional inspectors, which would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Upon passage of this bill, those with vacation rentals need a registration number on all advertising, including on social media platforms. If the registration number is not shown (Whose fault??? Hello?), it is an automatic violation. The fine is high: $25,000 per day for the first warning, up to $50,000 per day for the second warning, and $100,000 per day for the third warning. The fines become a lien on the property, after which the city may sell the property at auction and the liens paid off from the sale proceeds….

Under the bill, the city could also force the owner to pay all the ill-gotten revenue from the illegal vacation rental, called disgorgement. We won’t need an army of enforcement officers, just a small group of tech-savvy people to use the internet to find violators, or neighbors who report an illegal vacation rental operation.

The bill focuses on regulating: 1) unhosted single-family residences, where we get most of our complaints; and 2) hosted bed-and-breakfast units in homes where the owner resides and for which the city receives very few complaints.

In both, the owner must be a real person, not a corporation.  (Translation: Owner will be personally liable for all fines.) We’ve seen corporations purchasing multiple unhosted vacation rentals. The owner must have a homeowner’s exemption….

read … Caldwell

10 Years Later -- Hawaii Energy Plans Overtaken by Reality

IM: … For planners, it is interesting to see how time has overtaken goals in less than a decade.

The number one goal was Big Wind, Big Cable. “The Hawaiian Electric Companies are committed to integrating the maximum attainable amount of wind energy on their systems...it is necessary to transmit the wind power produced on the other islands by undersea cable systems.”

A high-voltage undersea electric cable system would be built between O`ahu, Lana`i, Moloka`i, and Maui. Continuing the cable to the Big Island would be studied.

Another key component involved water-based energy. Two Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) facilities were planned for the coast of O`ahu, a 10 MW Lockheed Martin facility and a 25-100 MW Sea Solar facility. A wave energy system would be builtoffshore of Haiku, Maui, and interconnected to the MECO grid. The Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning would be installed by 2010.

On the Big Island, geothermal would be expanded.

A solar farm at the Kahe Power Plant would be considered.

HECO would re-ignite the local agricultural industry. “The demand created by the use of biofuels In Hawaiian Electric's units will provide a strong basis for investment in the local biofuel industry, which, in turn, will bolster Hawaii's agriculture sector and Increase our energy Independence and security, and retain dollars in the State.”…

read … Hawai`i Energy Plans Overtaken by Reality

3 who lost homes in eruptions sue over denied insurance claims

HNN: …her insurer, Lloyd's of London, denied her fire claim.

She said the denial left her feeling deceived.

"I was just heartbroken, frustrated, concerned, very concerned about the next steps in my life," Osborne said.

Lloyd's of London didn't return requests for comment, but Jeff R. Hall, the adjuster for Affirmative Risk Management appointed on behalf of the company, wrote a letter to Osborne on July 19.

It said, "My investigation has confirmed your premises is a total loss due to the lava flow/volcanic eruption. Unfortunately, your policy excludes coverage for any direct physical damage or indirect physical damage or loss of use that is a result of lava and/or lava flow."

Osborne is the third victim of the eruptions to sue Lloyd's of London after the insurer denied a claim.

Attorney Jeffrey Foster says he expects a dozen more to also file suit….

read … 3 who lost homes in eruptions sue over denied insurance claims

Charter Amendment: Will Kauai Voters be Suckered into voting for Term Limit Repeal?

KGI: Ballot Question 6 (Term Limit Repeal): In 2006 Kauai residents voted overwhelmingly 13,266 to 6,139, to amend the charter and limit councilmembers from serving no more than four consecutive two-year terms. Councilmember Ross Kagawa introduced and the council passed (5 to 2) this charter proposal that seeks to repeal that term limit charter provision. A yes vote will repeal term limits, and a no vote will keep the existing term limits in place.

read … Charter Amendment questions on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Proposed Maunakea rules – Keep the Peasants Off

HTH: Residents will get a chance to weigh in later this month on proposed rules for public and commercial activities at Maunakea lands managed by the University of Hawaii.

The university is hosting a series of public hearings throughout the state toward the end of the month to collect input from the public on those rules, which govern everything from snow recreation to commercial access. One of two Hawaii Island hearings will take place 6:15-8:15 p.m. Sept. 26 at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School….

Background: Maunakea Administrative Rules Public Meetings

read … Input sought for proposed Maunakea rules

Hawaii Elections 2018: General Election Ballot

CB:Need to figure out who to vote for on Nov. 6? Click on the links in this story to see how candidates in your area feel about certain issues.

read … Hawaii Elections 2018: General Election Ballot

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