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Sunday, February 25, 2024
February 25, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:16 PM :: 1506 Views

The Department’s Quest to Nullify Evidence

DoTax: State Tax Credits You Can Claim

City Demands Energy Use Data on Apartments and Commercial Buildings

15% State Budget Cut Threatened by Hawaii’s Failure to Build Housing

Borreca: …  As the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday: “Gov. Josh Green’s administration had budgeted $199 million for … expenses but are now expecting they may need $561 million (more) under a “worst-case” scenario….

Under consideration is a 15% cut to the rest of the state’s budget. That sort of a reduction would sweep away all thinking about new school programs, additional social service support and increase to local welfare grants….

(REALLY OBVIOUS QUESTION:  Hey HGEA, UPW, and HSTA, what is the Ali'i Trust Agenda worth to you?)

The problem is that no one has ever said that the one thing Hawaii is really good at is quickly building first-rate new housing.

Now, as the Legislature starts to sort through the rental and lease bills accumulating to shelter the thousands of displaced Maui residents, the same Hawaii criticisms of too many regulations, unsympathetic bureaucrats and not enough public money come to the forefront….

read … On Politics: Costly Maui recovery calls for business not as usual

Hawaii has done poorly with grandiose cannabis authorities

Shapiro: … Visions of a vast tax windfall to fund other Hawaii needs are greatly oversold. State analyses project our relatively small market would produce annual tax revenue of $20 million to $50 million, while legalization supporters put it at $30 million to $80 million.

Either way, it’s barely enough to cover the cost of a new cannabis bureaucracy, educating the public on safe pakalolo use and addressing abuse — especially among minors.

Claims that legal cannabis curtails the black market haven’t proved true; cheaper street pot continues to thrive in states that allow regulated recreational cannabis.

The same is true in Hawaii since the legalization of medical cannabis in 2015. Illegal sales are pervasive as ever despite the Legislature’s liberal list of qualifying conditions that enable virtually any adult — including tourists — to easily get a state card to buy cannabis from licensed dispensaries.

The dispensaries haven’t been the cash cows operators expected, and medical cannabis still isn’t built out to the number of dispensaries allowed by law. Dispensaries blame overhead from state regulations that keep their prices well above street weed.

Why rush into knotty recreational sales before the simpler medical program works out kinks?

Hawaii has done poorly with grandiose authorities and boards created to regulate complex matters, leaving the public dubious of local government’s competence to deliver what it promises. Boards overseeing tourism, housing, law enforcement, commercial development, agriculture and Honolulu rail have ranged from ineffective to disastrous.

Legally, cannabis is already decriminalized in Hawaii, with users possessing less than three grams facing only a $130 civil fine. Lawmakers are considering a bill to raise the limit to an ounce and cut the fine to $25….

read … David Shapiro: No time for pakalolo high on busy legislative agenda

Column: Crackdown on short-term units will hurt isle people

SA: … In September, enforcement of New York City’s 2022 short-term rental rules began — and we can now see the results. Unfortunately for guests and hosts alike, only about 250 of 36,000 vacation rentals in the city were able to obtain a license before the rules took effect. Tens of thousands of families have lost the vacation rental income they depended on, but there are winners. The hotels are reaping windfall profits.

But did it work? Did it solve the affordable housing crisis? No. The data is in and it didn’t make the smallest dent in affordable housing. The city took away people’s livelihoods, and the only beneficiaries were corporate hotels.

Of course NYC’s market interference isn’t unique. Hawaii has favored the elite over everyday citizens for centuries…

read … Column: Crackdown on short-term units will hurt isle people

DHHL Plan: More Paper Leases

SA: … DHHL expects to have properties available to offer all 774 of the beneficiaries holding Lingle-era paper leases by June 30, the end of fiscal year 2024. And it aims to issue nearly 3,700 additional paper leases by the end of fiscal year 2025 — with sufficient funding. Each would be tied to specific projects as they are authorized by the HHC, Watson says — and DHHL’s plan is to encumber projects delivering more than 6,000 homesteads by that time…. 

“The big difference, versus the past 20 years, is that we have a (federal) Bipartisan Infrastructure bill,” Watson told the Star-Advertiser. “We are aggressively pursuing funding with federal agencies including the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, as well as other funding sources. Not only do we have the $600 million, but we also are in a very good position to get the additional $622 million that we’re seeking.”

read … Editorial: DHHL’s ‘paper lease’ plan worth a 2nd look | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Ethics Reform: After two Bribery Arrests, Legislators Set to do Nothing (again)

CB: … After meeting frequently for most of 2022, the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct concluded that the problems went well beyond a couple of cases of bribery….

Citing a “deep moral crisis” that had eroded the people’s faith in their leaders, commission members recommended dozens of changes to improve ethics and transparency at the Capitol. When the Legislature convened in 2023, the push for reform seemed to have momentum.

Some modest and mid-size accomplishments were achieved. But the major proposals coming from the commission and other good-government advocates were shot down that session, and most have already died this session as well….

(CLUE: That’s the plan.  Pretend to do something until public interest dissipates.  Then continue with the status quo.)

read … After All The Hoopla, Legislators Have Just One More Shot At Major Reform Before The Election - Honolulu Civil Beat  

SB2322: Money for Surfrider’s Fake Bacteria Counts

SA: … The Senate’s Ways and Means Committee on Friday approved Senate Bill 2322, which requires continued testing during the advisories, with an appropriation of funds, clearing its way to the House for consideration.

Advocates, including the Surfrider Foundation, say this should be part of routine monitoring so that the public has accurate information needed to decide whether it is safe to surf, swim or play at a beach in Hawaii.

In earlier testimony, the Hawaii Department of Health said it does not have enough resources to do so and that, from a practical point of view, it’s not necessary.

(CLUE: Surfrider will become the DoH contractor.)

REALITY: Feds Debunk Surfrider's Fake Bacteria Counts

read  … Senate bill seeks testing, data, during brown water beach days | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com) 

County to Set up Massive Festering Homeless Tent City in Hilo?

HTH: … Hilo residents’ concerns about the possibility that a government-sanctioned homeless camp could be created near Wailoa River State Recreation Area are premature, Hawaii County and state officials said last week.

Residents at the Hilo Lagoon Center have been worried about a rumored plan by the county to establish a “Safe Space” in a nearby parking lot on state land as part of an initiative to shelter homeless individuals.

As Mayor Mitch Roth explained to the Tribune-Herald in January, the Safe Spaces initiative is an attempt to establish temporary or semi-permanent areas where homeless individuals can congregate and stay without being asked — or forced — to move or relocate because their presence violates county or state rules. (Ignoring the fact that his plan provides no actual housing,) Roth (falsely) compared the project to Gov. Josh Green’s “kauhale” initiative, which creates villages of tiny homes (key word) for unhoused people….

BIVN: HOPE Services Issues Statement On Recent Kona Encampment Enforcement (bigislandvideonews.com)

read … Possible ‘Safe Space’ site draws concerns

Lahaina Fire News: 

Legislative Agenda:

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