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Saturday, April 30, 2011
April 30, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:04 PM :: 9306 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development, World News, Hawaii History

Friends of Lanai Calls for Big Wind Bidding Process to be Reopened

'Birther' Myth First Spread by Hillary Clinton Supporters in 2008

Capped Out: Conference Committee Seizes Some TAT Revenue from Counties

One of the measures being watched statewide was Senate Bill 1186, which would — among other things — cap the amount of hotel room tax revenue going to the counties and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

House members had proposed a cap of $101 million, roughly 45 percent of the total taken in by the transient accommodations tax. Senate members late Thursday night floated a proposal to cap the amount at $85 million.

The compromise was announced at 9:40 p.m.: $93 million.

Among those prowling the Capitol hallways late last night was City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia (a former state rep who has seen the House-Senate brinksmanship in the final days of the session first-hand).

He estimated the loss to city at between $6 million and $7 million. …

The City Council has kept alive various tax hikes and fee increases — as well as steep departmental cuts — in anticipation of some loss of revenue from the state.

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GE TAX Raised: Will reverberate throughout the economy as higher prices for consumers

The most significant tool is a bill that would temporarily suspend general excise tax exemptions on nearly two dozen business activities — including tax breaks for contractors, airlines and businesses that sublease — which would bring in about $200 million a year.

The second largest step is a bill that would repeal a state income tax deduction on higher-income taxpayers, cap itemized deductions on higher-income taxpayers, and delay an increase in the standard deduction and personal exemption. The bill would generate $51.8 million a year.

Lawmakers agreed to cap hotel-room tax revenue that goes to the counties and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which would bring the state more than $30 million a year.

Lawmakers signed off on a bill that would adjust rental car surcharges and divert some of the money into the state's general fund for one year. The bill would capture about $60 million in fiscal year 2012.

But House and Senate negotiators, working to make a midnight procedural deadline to have bills ready for final votes before the session adjourns on Thursday, got entangled over a pension tax.

State Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), backed by Senate leaders, drew the line on any tax on pension income. Rep. Marcus Oshiro, (D, Wahiawa), supported by House leaders, refused to drop a pension tax from the bill that contained several of the other tax options.

For a few hours yesterday, the impasse over the pension tax temporarily put the other tax options at risk. Late last night, lawmakers agreed to kill a pension tax and save the other tax options, but the fallout ended talks on several other bills many lawmakers wanted to advance.

"There is no additional monies to expand programs or pay for new programs or extend credits," Oshiro said of the bills that have likely failed.

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Bill Would Raise Hawaii's Production Tax Credits by 20%

The bill would raise film production tax credits for movies shot in Hawaii from the current 15 percent to 35 percent on Oahu, the island where Honolulu is located, and from 20 percent to 40 percent in the rest of the state. 

It  would make tax credits easier to sell or assign to others, and would remove a cap on how much the state will spend annually to support film production.

The bill would also exempt productions that shoot for a long period of time from hotel room taxes and provide an additional 5% bonus for special and visual effects and animation done in the islands.

What is even more unusual is the incentives to build permanent infrastructure and quickly train a local workforce. Each studio could get back up to $25 million of the cost of the building. If the film company trains and then hires a worker, they can get a rebate of up to 50 percent of that salary on the first 900 hours of employment by a state resident.

That would make it competitive with Louisiana and ahead of the other 40-something states offering incentives to lure movies and TV shows.

A state legislative analysis says it will cost Hawaii $46.3 million in the next fiscal year. But Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity, has said he expects it would bring in about $2 billion a year in business fairly quickly….

(buy waaaay down at the end of the article it turns out that these Clowns only just began making movies…)

Relativity, which is primarily backed by New York hedge fund Elliot Management, has in the past two years begun to expand from simply financing movies for studios including Universal and Sony to being its own distributor of movies through the Rogue label and its own name. Many of the movies that it has been associated with in promoting the plan in Hawaii, such as The Social Network and Despicable Me are not movies it actually made, but rather films it financed.  However it is now increasingly making movies….

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Proposal to start a casino in Hawaii dies

House and Senate negotiators decided Friday to end discussion of a last-minute proposal to create one stand-alone casino in the state.

Lawmakers said they had procedural concerns about advancing a measure that was only introduced Thursday.

Sen. Malama Solomon, a Democrat representing Hilo, pushed for the casino idea by replacing the contents of an unrelated bill that originally would have abolished the Aloha Tower Development Corporation.

(And so the useless Aloha Tower Development Corp lives to see another year…and how many of your tax dollars?)

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Foreclosure aid bills advances

Lawmakers also struck an agreement on a measure establishing a temporary mortgage foreclosure dispute resolution program that aims to assist struggling homeowners….

House Consumer Protection Chairman Bob Herkes hailed the mortgage foreclosure proposal, SB 651, as a "great benefit" for homeowners having trouble with their loans but who still are able to pay at some level.

"The lender is going to be required to meet with them with an impartial mediator to see what they can work out," said Herkes (D, Volcano-Kainalu). "It covers all of the problems we have seen the last few years with the mortgage lenders."

The 94-page bill specifies steps that lenders would have to take before foreclosure action is taken and spells out criteria that must be met. Mediators could help troubled borrowers work out a settlement with a longer term, lower interest or lower payments.

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Reefer Madness: Medical marijuana bill dies at the Legislature

Sen. Josh Green, the Senate health committee chairman, had sought tougher restrictions on medical marijuana, saying more than half of Big Island patients with legal prescriptions were young adults under the age of 30.

SA: Fear of medical pot abuse deserves full public vetting

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Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill Moves Forward in 2011 Legislature

Senate Bill 1520, which formally recognizes Native Hawaiian people as “the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawai'i,” was approved today by a joint conference of the Hawai'i State Senate and House conferees. The bill will now move to both ...

SA: Native Hawaiian government bill advancing

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Homeless Hotline Tally So Far: 100 Calls, Emails

"Places like Mililani and Waipahu and Hawaii Kai, places where there's a single person and no one has ever said to us 'There's a person out here who needs help.' We're then able to go out and find that person," said Darlene Hein, director of community ...

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Supreme Court Picks Reapportionment Chair

The Hawaii Supreme Court has named a leader of the group charged with redrawing election district lines.

The court appointed Victoria Marks, a retired state Circuit Court judge, as the ninth member and chairwoman of the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission yesterday.

The court stepped in after the commission was unable to select a leader.

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Kailua High teacher charged with throwing hammer at student

We must raise taxes immediately to support these glorious schools!

Totally Unrelated: Boy arrested for allegedly choking another student at an Aiea school

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Hauula Charter School plans under way

Melanie Cameron, from Hawaii Active Learning Academy and community member for 15 years said that she became interested in the idea when she saw holes in the public school system. Cameron emphasized that Hawaii-ALA is not seeking to take away students from public schools but hopes to offer help to those students who wish for an alternative….

The charter school will also offer music lessons, performing arts, various field trips, dance, drama, debate and a number of other opportunities. “Families can choose what will fit, but most importantly, kids will be able to move at their own pace and we will be able to zero in on what they know and what they don’t know,” said Glen Blomgren, executive director of Hawaii-ALA. “Learning is greatly enhanced when there are things to get excited about,” she continued.

Some professors from BYUH have already signed up to teach the K-12 classes and activities. The Deurdens from the music department will be offering beginning band, Dr. Shane Gold from the science department is designing a science lab, and Mike Griffiths from the Department of Online Curriculum has helped the charter school get on its feet.
Students too can help by being mentors. Hawaii-ALA are also interested in hiring BYUH professors or students who have graduated in specific areas that the school could utilize

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Hawaii residents victimized in ponzi scheme

Forty-six-year-old William L. Walters was sentenced Friday in Colorado District Court in Douglas County, south of Denver. He pleaded guilty on April 15 to securities fraud and theft.

He was accused of collecting more than $23 million from investors with promises of returns between 10 and 40 percent from day trading.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says the money came from investors in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

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Horizon Lines reports loss, cites Hawaii slowdown

It what is traditionally a soft quarter for the shipping business Horizon also had to deal with the shut down of its logistics operations and the start-up of its new China service,  he said.

“These factors were further exacerbated by a steep decline in international rates, a sharp rise in fuel prices, and the ongoing slow business conditions in Puerto Rico and Hawaii,” Frazer said.

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Is Obama trying to anoint Trump?

It’s hard not to wonder about the political considerations behind President Obama’s decision to request and then release his “long-form” birth certificate from the State of Hawaii. Images flash through the mind: political advisors huddled around a table, thinking about 2012, strategy, tactics, the opposition….

Who do we want to run against? Surely a first question for Obama’s electoral strategists….

Enter Donald Trump. For some time now (Perot 1992; Perot 1996) we’ve known the limitations of billionaire business people running for president. True, Trump has a celebrity value Perot (and our recent California Republican candidates for senator and governor) lacked. But Trump’s outsized self-regard promises a showy spectacle of haughty indignation as, without the boss’s immunity, he goes through the mill we subject our political candidates to.

Obama’s releasing his birth certificate has given Trump an amazing victory …. He’s become the King of the Birthers.

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Golden Week volunteers help earthquake victims in Japan

Dozens of volunteers donned white disposable jumpsuits, rubber boots and hard hats at the 370-year-old Jionin Buddhist temple cemetery Friday, sacrificing holiday time to help shovel away layers of tsunami mud and debris.

Others did more intricate work, tenderly wiping dirt off Buddhist statues and stone carvings.

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Celebration to mark Day of Prayer

The 60th annual National Day of Prayer will be celebrated Thursday at the state Capitol rotunda and at Kapolei Regional Park. The event is traditionally held on the first Thursday in May.

This year's theme is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," based on Psalms 91:2. Joni Eareckson Tada, an author and international advocate for people with disabilities, is the 2011 honorary chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and will give the keynote address at the national observance in Washington, D.C., according to www.nationaldayofprayer.org.

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