Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review
False Missile Alert: CDC Analyses 38 Minutes of Tweets
Gallup: Hawaii 2nd-Most Liberal State
Individual Development Accounts, Version 2.0
New Tactic to Grab Rail Money from Feds—Cry Racism
Borreca: … Since helping take down the Hawaiian monarchy, the federal government has at times viewed Hawaii and its people as somewhat untrustworthy and in need of major supervision.
All of this is important in light of the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into how the city is building rail. (Clue: No it isn’t.) Also, continuing interest in the city’s handling of the Kealoha police and maybe prosecutor’s scandals have merited federal grand jury and U.S. prosecutors’ ongoing investigations. (Message: Kealoha should cry racism, too.)
The feds have always had an eye on Hawaii. Interest was peaking in 1931, during what was called the Massie Case…
Fortescue was found guilty, but the racist mainland backlash was so high that Fortescue was sentenced to just one hour of confinement, with the U.S. Navy raising the very real issue of putting Hawaii under martial law.
That didn’t happen — although in 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that launched World War II, the U.S. within hours did declare martial law. It lasted until October of 1944, the longest declaration of martial law in U.S. history.
(Translation: Federal investigators rooting out corruption are a bunch of racists seeking to impose martial law.)
Since then, terms have been somewhat more civilized, but make no mistake, the feds are still watching….
read … Harsh spotlight of federal investigations leave Hawaii squirming in the hot seat
Not Fooled by Claim that Federal Investigation Won’t Interfere with Rail
Shapiro: …>> Rail CEO Andrew Robbins tried to spin a new federal criminal probe of Honolulu’s $9.2 billion train as mere “bumps in the road.” It could only look that way from a bump on a log.
>> Facing doubts about rail’s final leg through downtown, the transit agency will pay losing bidders $1 million just for participating. It’s like having to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you….
Big Q: What’s your reaction to the federal subpoenas for Oahu’s rail documents?
read … Not Fooled
Star-Adv: To Get past Middle Street, Rail Needs FTA Funds and P3
SA Editorial: …it’s at a particularly sensitive juncture, still awaiting final approval from the Federal Transit Administration of its latest “recovery” financial plan. That approval is needed to secure the remaining allotment in the FTA’s full-funding grant of $1.55 billion, which is essential if the project is to push forward to complete the planned East Kapolei-to-Ala-Moana alignment.
The recovery plan was necessary because funds were running short to get the project past Middle Street….
If there was any vestigial hope for further budgetary help from the state — which always was a long shot — it’s surely evaporated now. And continuing problems with finances will make the project even more politically radioactive than it already is within Honolulu Hale as well.
The best chances for progress that has eluded HART’s board and executive staff lie in a successful search for a private partner for the final phase. The pursuit of this public-private partnership (P3) plan needs to have top priority….
read … Keep rail going, but with caution
Next Boondoggle: $350M Downpayment for Unnecessary New Stadium
SA: … the committee unanimously passed a funding measure, House Bill 1497 Friday.
Senate Bill 1530 is scheduled to be voted upon by the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee Monday.
The two nearly identical bills progressing through the Legislature would appropriate $350 million in general funds and bonds for the construction of a replacement for the 45-year-old facility with development to be overseen by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
(IQ Test: The Stadium will cost $350M T/F?)
Included are $150 million in revenue bonds, which would be repaid by proceeds from a planned public-private partnership designed to leverage transit-oriented development, officials and legislators say….
(Clue: We already have a stadium.)
Shapiro: It’s never to soon to set the stage for the next federal grand jury.
read … Unnecessary
Tax Credits: Hollywood Movie Moguls -- $35M is Not Enough!
KITV: … At the start of this year, Gov. David Ige put a $35 million limit on the credit, that's about one-third of tax credits filmmakers received last year. Industry leaders worry the drastic drop in credits will turn away potential filmmakers. …
read … Film industry leaders worry tax credit limit will turn away potential filmmakers
Tobacco tax clears final Senate committee
HTH: … After a decision by the state Senate Committee on Ways and Means Thursday, a new tobacco tax is one reading shy of heading to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 887 would raise the tax on cigarettes and little cigars from 16 cents per unit to 21 cents per unit, an increase of $1 in price per pack of 20 cigarettes. It would bump the total tax on a standard pack of cigarettes to $4.20….
WAM amended the measure, changing its effective date from July 1, 2020, to 2050 (in order to put the bill in Conference Committee where everything can be changed at the last minute in secret)…..
Jose Miranda-Kepa, the general manager of Irie Hawaii Smoke Shop Pahoa, testified that people will simply go elsewhere for their cigarettes — like online.
In written testimony, he also characterized tobacco excise taxes as “some of the most regressive forms of taxation that fall most heavily on individuals with lower incomes.”….
the Tax Foundation of Hawaii noted a point of diminishing returns in testimony objecting to the passage of SB 887.
“Revenues produced by the tobacco tax have been in steady decline over the past few years despite tax rate increases, and hoisting the smoking age to 21 in the 2015 session certainly didn’t reverse the trend,” the testimony read.
“Do we really need an elaborate study to tell ourselves that fiscal reliance on funds from a sin tax is inadvisable or outright dangerous? If the goal is to affect social behavior, use of the tax law is not the most effective way to do so.”
read … Tobacco tax clears final Senate committee
Doubled: Hawaii Co Council approves 100% sewer fee hikes
HTH: … Under the plan, the current $27 monthly fee for single-family and multi-family residential units would increase to $35 April 1, then progress to $40 in 2020, $44 in 2021, $48 in 2022 and $52 in 2023.
Nonresidential rates would increase from $22 monthly to $34 April 1, then continue increasing to $42 in 2020, $46 in 2021, $50 in 2022 and $54 in 2023.
Gang cesspools would increase from $15 monthly to $18 April 1, then to $20 in 2020, $22 in 2021, $24 in 2022 and $25 in 2023. Septic haulers’ rates will also increase for those who have septic tanks pumped….
read … Council approves sewer fee hikes
Lawsuit filed over burials on Maui project site
SA: …A Maui resident has sued the state, Maui County and a developer to stop construction of a housing subdivision after learning that at least 182 Native Hawaiian burials have been disturbed by the project.
Jennifer Ahia filed the complaint in state Circuit Court Tuesday to stop work on The Parkways at Maui Lani.
Ahia’s complaint, prepared by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., alleges the project’s developer, an affiliate of Towne Development of Hawaii Inc., is violating state historic preservation law intended to protect ancient Hawaiian burials….
The lawsuit argues that an archaeological survey, which Towne did for the 45-acre site by digging 52 test trenches, was inadequate given that the land comprising old sand dunes was known to contain burials.
Trenching discovered just one burial site containing five burial features, though three other burial sites on the 45 acres had been previously documented in state records, the lawsuit said….
read … Lawsuit filed over burials on Maui project site