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Thursday, April 20, 2023
April 20, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:32 PM :: 1587 Views

How counties can provide property tax relief

Proposed ‘green fee’ could end aloha as we know it

Governor’s ‘remarkable’ tax bills still mostly alive

VIDEO: DLNR Police Face off With Mob ... of Waikoloa Cat Feeders

HGEA: Who needs collective bargaining? Big Fat Teachers Pay Hike Will Be Model for us, Too

SA: … A union representing nearly 7,000 Hawaii public school employees other than teachers is claiming that pay equity for many of its members has been thrown out of whack by recent gains for teachers.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Wednesday that some of its school workforce members, a group that includes principals, teaching assistants, custodians, security personnel and others, were having issues of pay inequality ignored by the state Department of Education. Their concerns were raised as teachers stand to receive pay increases under a contract agreement reached Friday that followed pay gains for many teachers granted by the Legislature last year….

HGEA represents about 6,800 members working in public schools in six separate collective bargaining units. All six units have existing four-year contracts running through June 30, 2025.

The union is not seeking across-the-board raises or changes to the contract for its school workforce members, but has been asking DOE to counteract negative impacts on many of its members resulting from the pay class adjustments lawmakers granted many teachers last year and the new contract agreement. Such changes can be made outside labor contracts through mechanisms such as pay differentials.

HGEA contends that in some cases teachers make more than principals. The union also said low pay for educational assistants, who can earn more being a school custodian or working at Starbucks, is a major factor in hundreds of vacancies for that position….

Efforts by HGEA to work with DOE to address these pay equity issues began last year when the teacher pay compression adjustment was being advanced at the Legislature.

Lawmakers, with then-Gov. David Ige’s approval, last year provided about 9,000 of the roughly 13,700 teachers represented by the Hawaii State Teachers Association with $164 million to fix salary shortfalls stemming from being compressed, or increasingly grouped, into certain pay levels and to maintain pay differentials for employees in hard-to-staff positions.

The new tentative contract provides compression fixes for the balance of teachers. It also includes pay increases totaling 14.5% over four years, a big pay boost for entry-level teachers and a new top pay class for the most senior qualified teachers. All these things, according to HGEA, will widen pay inequity gaps between teachers and other school staff….

SA Editorial: Contract good deal for teachers, state

RELATED: Tentative HTSA Contract Inked--14.5% raise

read … Union for nonteacher public workers seeks pay equity

Kaua‘i County Council shifts tax break plan--Abandons Small Business and Agricultural Tax Cuts

TGI: … After a Wednesday, April 19 county council committee meeting, a plan for broad Kaua‘i property tax breaks appears to have been shelved in favor of a more targeted proposal.

Council Chair Mel Rapozo presented an initial draft of a tax relief plan last week which would have provided a 10 percent tax rate reduction for commercial, industrial, agricultural, conservation and commercial-home-use classes, while cutting the homestead tax rate by 5 percent, in addition to a proposed 10 percent cut included in the mayor’s budget.

Under Rapozo’s draft plan, Resolution No. 2023-37, the cuts would be paid for by tapping the reserve fund, reducing the amount of money set aside for this fund from 30 percent to 27 percent.

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami presented a new proposal before the council Finance and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday, under which the breaks for commercial, industrial, agricultural, conservation and commercial-home-use would be scrapped, while the 5 percent tax break for the homestead tax class (owner-occupants) would remain in place….

read … Kaua‘i County Council shifts tax break plan

Sports Doctors From Other States May Get A License Exemption In Hawaii

CB: … Sports doctors traveling with their out-of-state team to Hawaii may soon be exempt from needing a state license to practice medicine in the islands.

Hawaii is one of four states that don’t clarify the status of requirements for the traveling doctors, which raises concerns about their practices in relation to local laws and regulations. That also limits the care they can provide.

The other states that are unclear and unspecific about the issue are Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, said Brian Williams, director of advocacy for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.

“When the physician travels with the team,” Williams said, “the status of their medical license is in question.”

A new bill, House Bill 884, aims to spell things out by creating an exception for these traveling doctors under certain conditions. This exception includes limiting the doctor to the practices of its governing body and requires that the doctor notify the Hawaii medical board before entering the state….

read … Sports Doctors From Other States May Get A License Exemption In Hawaii

If some lawmakers have their way, the Hawaii Tourism Authority could soon be just a memory

HNN: … Measures to dissolve the HTA and replace it with an Office of Destination Management or an Office of Tourism and Destination Management are now headed to a Senate-House conference committee.

In a news conference Wednesday, HTA leaders said the two measures could jeopardize (blablabla)….

The measures, which are in response to the public backlash over overtourism, also seek to disband the HTA’s 12-member board. The bills will have no impact on the HTA’s current staffing levels….

SA Column: Anti-HTA bills would remove agency’s first Hawaiian leader

SA: HTA cuts would cost Hawaii millions, agency says

HTH: HTA ‘at serious odds with legislature,’ battles budget cuts

read … If some lawmakers have their way, the Hawaii Tourism Authority could soon be just a memory

No More Extensions for Hawaii County Resort Developers?  Council Overrides Veto

HTH: … Hawaii County Council on Wednesday overruled Mayor Mitch Roth’s veto of a bill that would allow the council to confirm whether developers can get extensions on their rezoning applications.

West Hawaii Councilman Holeka Inaba introduced Bill 194 last year in order to address frequent complaints from residents that the county Planning Department consistently approves time extensions for developers’ rezoning applications without considering how conditions may have changed over the years.

After a series of amendments, the final version of Bill 194 eliminates the ability of the planning director to grant an administrative time extension to any change of zone request, and that such extensions can be granted only by the County Council via resolution, so long as certain conditions are met.

The measure was popular among residents, with dozens of letters of testimony supporting the measure submitted before Wednesday’s council meeting.

“I know you’re under pressure to streamline the permitting process and in some cases, that would be a wonderful thing to do,” wrote Topher Dean to the council. “When permitting a structure in an existing subdivision or commercial property in a town, it would be fine, but we can’t have a broad sweeping streamlining of the entire process for big developers.”

read … Council overrides Roth veto; bill regarding extensions of zoning change applications becomes law

Maui ‘Affordable Housing’ $43M to Pretend to do something

CB: … The council is now vetting his administration’s proposed 928-page spending plan. It calls for adding $43 million to the county’s affordable housing fund to lower the costs of more than 450 new units and tackling projects within the county’s housing division that weren’t done last year ….

read … Can Maui’s New Mayor Finally Make A Dent In The Housing Crisis?

Council Approves Rail Operating Hours

KHON: … Beginning in July, the first leg of the rail’s trek will be from East Kapolei to the Aloha Stadium. It will run from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

Beginning in early 2025, the second leg of the rail’s path from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street will run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekends and holidays.

According to the Department of Transportation’s proposal, full operations for the rail are slated to begin March 31, 2031.

According to Officials, at that point, hours of operations will be from 4 a.m. to midnight on weekdays. It will run every 10 minutes during non-peak hours and every six minutes during peak hours….

read … Council approves HART rail safety plan, releases prelim schedule

Schools getting new preschool classrooms

SA: … Although some Hawaii lawmakers have grumbled that a new agency in charge of public school construction is moving too slowly, its leader says the first 11 classrooms in the state’s Ready Keiki preschool initiative are on track to welcome students this fall — below budget and a year ahead of schedule — while three Oahu high schools are in advanced discussions to become Hawaii’s first major teacher housing projects.

Under the latest version of the state’s Ready Keiki preschool plan, the state School Facilities Authority is set to open 11 newly renovated classrooms this August, rising to 55 renovated or new classrooms by August 2024, and 80 to 100 classrooms by August 2025, said Executive Director Chad Keone Farias. Originally, the first classrooms had not been expected until 2024.

The Ready Keiki initiative, spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, aims to create 465 classrooms over time through a combination of renovations and new construction to provide preschool access to all Hawaii 3- and 4-year-olds by 2032. The new classrooms will join 37 public preschool classrooms already run by the state’s Executive Office of Early Learning….

Meanwhile, if state Senate Bill 941 Opens in a new tab passes, the School Facilities Authority also could be tasked with building teacher housing projects at Mililani, Nanakuli and Waipahu high schools….

read … Schools getting new preschool classrooms

The driver who plowed into an officer was arrested for DUI a month before. Why was he behind the wheel?

HNN: … The driver accused of slamming into a Honolulu police officer in February at the scene of a traffic crash, critically injuring him, has finally had his license revoked months after a DUI arrest.

The case is highlighting concerns about the DUI process and license revocation.

The purpose of the License Revocation Office was to get suspected drunk drivers off of the road quickly while the criminal case is tied up for months.

But legal experts say that’s not happening.

Nearly a month Tolentino Martinez slammed into HPD Officer Felix Gasmen, he was pulled over for traffic violations.

Court records show he had an alcohol content of .143, far above the legal limit of .08….

But after his DUI arrest, Martinez was still allowed to drive on an unrestricted permit for nearly two months.

In that time, he allegedly slammed into Gasmen, who was working another crash on the H-3 Freeway on Feb. 19.

Legal expert Victor Bakke said the case shows why the license revocation process isn’t working.

“It’s not uncommon to have drivers driving on extended permits for months and months after the original arrest,” Bakke said.

Martinez’s initial permit was for 30 days from the date of his DUI arrest on Jan. 14.

But on Feb. 7, his ADLRO hearing was continued because one of the officers involved in the DUI case was unable to attend. The permit was extended to March 10 ― with no restrictions….

Gasmen has had to have numerous surgeries following the crash.

A fellow officer started a crowd funding page to help the family….

read … The driver who plowed into an officer was arrested for DUI a month before. Why was he behind the wheel?

In bid to make Hawaii roadways safer, incoming DOT chief pushes speed enforcement cameras

HNN: … The man leading the state Transportation Department is pushing harder to get speed enforcement cameras installed in a bid to make Hawaii roadways safer.

The idea is expected to face headwinds due to the history of remote speed enforcement on Oahu.

In 2002, the spectacular failure of van-mounted speed cameras gave the idea a bad name in Hawaii.

Since then, few politicians are willing to champion speed cameras. But with better technology and apparent acceptance of red light cameras, the discussion is no longer about whether the speed cameras will come, but when.

At his confirmation hearing, Director of Transportation appointee Ed Sniffen pointed out speed enforcement by police officers tends to focus on urban areas and highways.

He said cameras would be useful on rural roads, which often become notorious for speed-related deaths….

read … In bid to make Hawaii roadways safer, incoming DOT chief pushes speed enforcement cameras

When incomplete financial disclosures took down a state judge

ILind: … It took three years for District Judge David L. Fong to publicly disclose his wife’s 1991 purchase of a Sheridan Street building on the financial statement he filed annually with the Supreme Court.

The deal established his wife, Connie Yon Fong, as landlord for several hostess bars that were later accused of prostitution and drug dealing.

The delay in reporting is being examined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct after a Star-Bulletin story about the building.

But the transaction is just one of several delays and omissions in Fong’s annual financial statements involving interests held in his wife’s name. Under court rules, judges are required to disclose relevant interests held by themselves, a spouse or dependent child.

Fong took another three years to disclose his wife’s 51 percent interest in Liquor License Specialists Inc., formed to take over his former business as consultant and agent for bars and nightclubs, records show.

Other financial interests which have not been publicly disclosed, including $1 million in loans made to liquor-related businesses, are revealed in court records, documents filed at the Bureau of Conveyances, Liquor Commission files and state business registration records….

read … When incomplete financial disclosures took down a state judge

Homeless Dude found guilty of setting sleeping homeless dude on fire in downtown Honolulu 

SA: … Williams Del Michael Woods doused the man with a gasoline mixture on May 12, 2021 before lighting him on fire.

He faces a life term with the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Aug. 31….

(Like many homeless dudes,) Woods has a criminal record of eight felony convictions for burglary, kidnapping, robbery, assault, sex assault and terroristic threatening….

More Homeless Mayhem: Woman in wheelchair struck, thrown 15 feet while trying to cross roadway

More Homeless Mayhem: Department of Planning and Permitting issuing notice of violation to owners of abandoned rape bus

read … Man found guilty of setting sleeping man on fire in downtown Honolulu

Legislative Agenda: 



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