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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
March 1, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:23 PM :: 3398 Views

POTUS Rescinds WOTUS: Hawaii Waters to be Freed of Federal Control

Best States? Government Drags Hawaii Down to 27th

Full Text: President Donald J Trump Speech to Joint Session of Congress

First Month of Trump Economy: Visitor Spending up 10.1%—Arrivals Jump 4.9%

Senate Devises Property Tax Bait n Switch to Help $500M HSTA Slush Fund Pass Vote

SA: …investment homes valued at $2 million or more would be subject to a property tax surcharge earmarked for public schools under revisions legislators made Tuesday to a controversial tax proposal drafted by the teachers union.

(There is no cost of living escalator—this will be in the State Constitution.  Soon it will nail everybody.)

The Hawaii State Teachers Association put forward a pair of bills that it said could raise an estimated $500 million a year for the Department of Education by creating a property tax surcharge for owners of residential investment properties and a daily surcharge on visitor accommodations.

Senate Bill 683 calls for a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would allow the state to collect the property tax surcharge. An amendment is needed because the state Constitution gives counties the power to levy property taxes. Senate Bill 686, meanwhile, contains the proposed tax rates and exemptions for the surcharges, along with language about how the collected funds could be spent.

(Bait-n-Switch:  Change the Constitution to allow State property tax and then the Lege will change the valuations whenever they want.)

Earlier versions of the bill called for five tax rates based on a home’s value, starting with investment properties with assessed values of $500,000 or less….

(And after the State property tax is written into the Constitution, they will re-impose those rates.) 

read … Senate trims taxation scope of teachers’ property tax bill

SB1129: Senate to Vote on Assisted Suicide

CB: Legislation that would allow terminally ill Hawaii adults to receive medication to end their own lives is heading to the floor of the state Senate.

Assuming it clears that chamber, Senate Bill 1129 could cross over to the House of Representatives as early as this week, where its fate is uncertain.

Based on Senate action so far, the bill seems assured to pass the Senate.

On Tuesday the Judiciary and Labor Committee voted 4-0 on an amended version of SB 1129.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim’s “aye” vote came with reservations. “It’s not an easy issue for me,” she said.

She said the bill was more “palatable” after it was amended to address some of her concerns, such as establishing reporting requirements to the Legislature, retaining medical records and tracking the numbers of patients that might request the medication.

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, the panel’s chairman, recommended a number of additional amendments to satisfy other concerns. They included clarifying who might serve as witnesses to a death, how next of kin would be notified and how death certificates would be completed…..

read … Insurance Company Profits

Airbnb bill calls to collect taxes from vacation rental owners

HNN: The House Finance Committee approved a controversial measure Tuesday that would collect hotel room and general excise taxes owed by vacation rental owners.

Airbnb, a popular service that connects travelers with vacation rental owners, said the proposal -- similar to a bill vetoed last year by Gov. David Ige -- will generate up to $26 million a year in state taxes that aren't being collected now.

"Our intention from the start was to collect and remit taxes from our community. We've done that in 220 jurisdictions now and we want to add Hawaii to that list," Cynthia Wang, regional public policy director for Airbnb said.

However critics believe the bill could help conceal illegal vacation rentals, which they say are driving up property taxes and reducing the state's inventory of affordable homes.

"You would open up the door to a proliferation of more people getting into short-term vacation rentals," state Sen. Laura Thielen said.

Ben Sadowski, research analyst with the hotel union Unite Here Local 5, added, "We're really concerned that it's taking away from the affordable housing in our communities. We have a lot of people who are struggling to make it," he said.

But Airbnb said it willing to work with the counties on the problem of illegal rentals, but a tax measure is the wrong vehicle….

HNN: State moves closer to collecting tax for online vacation rental listings

read … Airbnb bill calls to collect taxes from vacation rental owners

Prescribe-a-Home Bills Amended

HTH: As of Tuesday, two were headed for a vote on the Senate floor. But neither are quite as ambitious as when they started.

Senate Bill 2 would have required health insurance providers to offer coverage for “the treatment of homelessness,” effectively declaring living without a roof above your head a medical issue.

The bill passed two committees after being amended to instead require the state auditor to study use of Medicaid funds to treat homelessness.

The original and amended versions define treatment as behavioral health services, case management, personal care, home and community-based services and housing services. The study would be due before the start of the 2018 legislative session.

Senate Bill 7 would have required the state Department of Human Services to create a Medicaid housing benefit plan.

The amended version uses slightly different language. It directs the department to pursue “efforts to utilize Medicaid to provide supportive housing services for chronically homeless individuals” and offers guidance for that effort.

The current version also directs the department to review progress of the Hawaii Pathways Project, which takes a “housing first” approach to those suffering from substance abuse or mental illness.

Both bills passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee in their amended forms Thursday. Funding amounts were left blank….

Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read … Prescription Housing

Hawaii Bill Targeting Commercial Fishing Industry in Danger

AP: fishing industry representatives have told lawmakers the bill could wreck the industry.

The bill would restrict commercial fishing licenses to people who are legally allowed to enter the U.S. It also would require fishing license applicants to appear in person before state officials.

"That's a big step and there's definitely not the political support to do that even if I really wanted to," Rhoads said.

The bill will likely be amended to remove the part requiring that licensees have permission to legally enter the U.S., Rhoads said, while the section requiring applicants to appear in person for fishing licenses might survive.

Currently, fishing boat operators apply for licenses on behalf of the crew that can't leave the docks….

At a previous hearing, fishing industry officials said they would lose foreign workers and that hiring Americans for higher wages would drive up seafood costs if the bill passed.

"We fight all the time pricewise with imports," said Jim Cook of the Hawaii Longline Association.

Cook and others said the state's commercial fishing industry could shut down if the bill passed.

"I think they're probably right," Rhoads said Tuesday. "They wouldn't be able to get visas (for the foreign workers) and they won't be able to get enough Americans to do it at a wage they're willing to pay."

Reality: Anti-Fishing Lies Exposed: Attorney General Releases Point by Point Debunk of Kaniela Ing

read … Targeting

Why Weren’t Other Parents Told About Day Care Toddler Abuse?

CB: A panel of child abuse experts suggested screening other children to check for problems. But parents say it never happened, even months later.

Meanwhile: Girl, 12, arrested in assault of Waianae school worker

read … Friends of the Police

15 Years Later, UH Athletics Dep’t Finally Figures out it Might Need a Marketing Partner

SA: After nearly 15 years of going it alone, the University of Hawaii athletic department is seeking a national marketing partner.

UH has bucked the college trend in handling its marketing in-house since 2003-04 after severing a two-year relationship with Leigh Steinberg.

Athletic director David Matlin declined to say which companies UH is talking to, but they are believed to include the industry leaders in college sports marketing, Learfield Sports of Plano, Texas, and IMG College of Winston-Salem, N.C.

read … 15 Years Later

Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists

R: Perpetually raging about the world's injustices? You're probably overcompensating.

read … All About Me

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