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Monday, April 24, 2023
April 24, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:30 PM :: 1497 Views

UHERO: Effect of Eliminating all Short-term vacation rentals?

How Much Hawaii Taxes Its Residents Compared to Other States

With Sen Dela Cruz Satisfied, Conference Committee Process Begins

CB: … That changed late Friday when budget conferees finally scheduled the first public meeting on House Bill 300, which pays for the operating and capital improvement budget of the executive branch for the next two fiscal years. Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and House Finance Committee Chair Kyle Yamashita are scheduled to begin hashing things out Monday at 4:30 p.m. in Room 309….

Word is that agreement has been reached over the past few days on some budget items but not all. The goal is to wrap things up by Wednesday, those who are in the know tell us.

(Translation: Contracts for WCIT/DTL.)

The upside: Movement on the budget triggered the naming of conferees to the bulk of the conference committee bills, all of which must be dealt with by end-of-day deadlines this Thursday and Friday or else perish for the session.

The downside: There isn’t much time left, as the session is pau May 4….

Cold feet? In spite of the progress during the last few months, several dozen bills in conference committee only have conferees assigned for only one chamber and not two, as necessary to survive. They include Senate Bill 1543, the comprehensive publicly funded campaigns bill.

The House has Yamashita and Rep. David Tarnas to chair its side of talks, but the Senate as of Sunday had not named its team — even though only one senator, Republican Kurt Fevella, voted against the measure during its third reading in that chamber….

CB: House and Senate money committee chairs reign supreme during the last few weeks of session, relishing their power over other lawmakers.

read … Conference Committee Shifts Into Overdrive

UH: Senators Revenge Budget Heads to Conference Committee

SA: … The House version of the state budget fully restores funding to the University of Hawaii, unlike the Senate version, which only partially restores funds cut during COVID-19.

The difference — which will be hashed out by a House-Senate conference committee — underscores ongoing tension between key senators and the university….

For capital improvement projects the university requested $262.5 million for the 2024 fiscal year and $296 million for the 2025 fiscal year.

The Senate’s budget includes $142.5 million for the 2024 fiscal year and $93.7 million for the 2025 fiscal year in general obligation bond funding. The budget also includes $91 million for the 2024 fiscal year and $54 million for the 2025 fiscal year in general funds for various projects, according to UH.

“But between the two, if you have to pick two, clearly, the House version of the budget is far more advantageous for UH, but even the House version lacks for some of the priority funding,” Young said.

The House and Senate need to reach a compromise on the budget — and UH funding — before the scheduled adjournment on May 4.

As of Friday no conference committee had been scheduled to resolve their budget differences….

read … University of Hawaii concerned with Senate version of budget

Will Hawai‘i Tourism Authority be Zeroed Out?

SA: … The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority faces its most critical week since its 1998 creation as lawmakers consider a state budget that could zero out its funding or drastically reduce it, and begin the final push in advance of Friday’s decking deadline on two bills that could repeal the agency.

The state budget bill, House Bill 300, is slated to go to conference today at 4:30 p.m. in Room 309. The current appropriation in the Senate version of the budget bill is zero, while the appropriation in the House version is $35 million, but that’s a cut of more than 50% from the $75 million that HTA requested this legislative session.

If the budget bill gets passed without an adequate appropriation for HTA, the stakes would get higher as the bills to repeal HTA would become the vehicle to fund state tourism marketing and destination management. HTA got only $35 million of its $60 million request from 2022 after lawmakers left HTA out of the state budget bill and then couldn’t come to terms on the bill that contained HTA’s funding.

read … Hawai‘i Tourism Authority faces critical week

Fake Debate Over A New Hawaii Jail Designed to Ensure None gets Built so Lots and Lots of Criminals will Remain on our Streets

CB: … The yearslong debate over what to do about the outdated and crowded Oahu Community Correctional Center has emerged as a hot issue after the state Senate earmarked $25 million to plan and solicit proposals for a replacement.

The state House has so far declined to put any money for a new jail in its budget proposal, and House Speaker Scott Saiki said Thursday he is not certain there is even consensus among state political leaders on where a new jail should be built.

If the new jail is to be funded, the House and Senate will have to agree in the days ahead on how much money to provide for the project. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 4.

Complicating the issue, Gov. Josh Green said in January that he had instructed his staff to come up with “a better proposal” than the plan the state has been pursuing….

(Tough IQ Test: Do they sound uncoordinated to you?  Wrong.  They are VERY coordinated.) 

(CLUE: They’re all doing the same thing--coordinating the prevention of construction of a new jail.)

read … Debate Over A New Hawaii Jail Heats Up In The Final Days Of The Legislature

Let’s Play Pretend Again: 10,000 more homes planned at Hawaii public housing projects

SA: … The Hawaii Public Housing Authority anticipates picking a private master developer partner within 60 days to redevelop nine of the agency’s low-income rental housing subdivisions on four islands where all 1,187 existing apartments would be replaced while also adding potentially 10,880 more homes for low- and middle-income households.

If successful, (CLUE: It won’t be) the initiative would re­develop about a third of HPHA’s public housing, some of which dates back to 1953, and come close to tripling the size of the agency’s inventory with mixed- income housing and many homes near city rail stations….

Yet the plan could be difficult to realize given HPHA’s troubled recent history of redeveloping a few of its largest public- housing projects with private partners under long-term land leases. The plan, which is named Ka Lei Momi and means “The Pearl Garland,” also relies on state agencies and the Legislature to help fund redevelopment….

HPHA, which controls 6,270 rental housing units at 85 properties across the state, has had a difficult time with public-private partnerships, or P3s, formed to redevelop individual public- housing projects.

Previously, the most ambitious P3 for HPHA involved Mayor Wright Homes.

The agency in 2014 tentatively picked a team led by Texas-based Hunt Development Corp. to turn the old low-rise complex into a new community with 2,500 apartments mainly in towers with very low- to market-price rents, a central park, rooftop recreation decks, a community center, retail stores and an early-childhood public school.

However, the $1.7 billion project’s construction timetable got delayed, and in 2020 HPHA terminated its development agreement with the Hunt group over design, budget and other issues.

read … 10,000 more homes planned at Hawaii public housing projects

COVID Inflation: Food up 22%, Electricity up 35%

CB: … Prices for food at home — essentially groceries — rose 22% between 2019 and 2022 on Oahu, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the cost of electricity rose nearly 35%. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, rose 53%, according to the bureau….

read … Hawaii Residents Are Struggling Even More With High Interest Rates. But Good News May Be Looming

Interior Department proposes halt to Compact impact reimbursement

KUAM: …It's a major policy reversal that would cost GovGuam millions in federal reimbursement. The Biden Administration and the Interior Department want to put a halt to federal Compact impact funding starting next fiscal year. It would be a big setback in what's already been a very contentious issue between Interior and communities like Guam and Hawaii who have been clamoring for years that the annual reimbursement always falls well short of the actual costs of hosting migrants from the Freely Associated States.

Senator Frank Blas, Jr. first raised the concern, saying, "If this budget is approved as is we're not going to get anything. We're not going to get the $12 million to the $16 million in reimbursement. We're not going to get to be eligible for about $6 million in discretionary funding. And God knows what else is not going to be a part of this as a result of not being able to mitigate the impacts of this migration."

In documents obtained by Blas, the Department of the Interior has said any further assistance will be determined after the ongoing compact renewal discussions, and a new deal is signed with the FAS….

read … Interior Department proposes halt to Compact impact reimbursement

Hawaii child abuse cases on the rise, according to 2022 statistics

HNN: … The 2022 Hawaii child abuse statistics were released by Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Oahu, State Judiciary’s Children’s Justice Centers, and their partner agencies.

According to the report, the numbers show 2,114 cases of child abuse in Hawaii — an increase of 332 cases over 2020.

Overall, the number of cases “appears to be closer to pre-pandemic numbers,” says Jasmine Mau Mukai, Statewide Director of the CJCs of Hawaii.

The statistics show that Oahu and Kauai had the highest increases from previous years.

Girls are still the most prevalent victims of abuse, according to the report, but there is an increase in the number of boys and physical abuse victims, said the report.

“Research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18. But the statistics may not reflect the full magnitude of the problem in Hawaii, as child abuse and child sex abuse often go unreported. Some studies conclude that only 10 percent of children ‘tell,’” said the Friends of the CJC in their press release.

The report says that Friends of the CJC of Oahu helped 784 children through their programs in 2022, an increase from 773 in 2021….

SA: Child abuse cases in Hawaii rose to 2,114 in 2022 as pandemic unwound

read … Hawaii child abuse cases on the rise, according to 2022 statistics

Oahu has Massive Amounts of Fallow Ag Land, but Politics and Prices Drive Aloun Farms to Kauai

CB: … “On Kauai, it’s a dramatic difference from what you’re dealing with on Oahu,” Takase said. “There’s no doubt the land is much more fertile. There’s more affordable land leases. There’s reliable, affordable water. On Kauai we can do things that we can’t do on Oahu because of the urban sprawl and because the politics aren’t as friendly to agriculture.” ….

(Really Obvious Question: How will Kauai tourism activists kill Aloun?)

read … An Article Bizarrely Titled: “Oahu Land Crunch Leads Aloun Farms To Expand Acreage On Fertile West Kauai”

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