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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 1591 Views

Lahaina aid should be about quality, not quantity

Tax Hikes Based on Scorn for Taxpayers

Comments Sought on Oahu District Judge Nominees

There is Room on Mauna Kea for Both Culture and Science

Short-term rental owners stand firm for their rights

Lawsuit Against Honolulu City and County for Infringing on Concealed Carry Rights 

Amended Return Equals Guilty Plea 

Green’s April Fools Day TVR Ban will lead to ‘substantial legal action’

SA: … Some Maui landlords have threatened to challenge a ban on short-term rentals in court, but Callies believes Green would prevail….

Former Hawaii Attorney General David Louie and his colleague, Joseph Stewart, represent Airbnb and testified in opposition to two bills that are not directly related to Green’s threat of an April 1 ban on short-term rentals in West Maui.

They said in written opposition that both bills are unconstitutional and would likely lead to “substantial” legal action.

The latest version of House Bill 1838 would allow counties to phase out “nonconforming single-family transient vacation rental units.”

The latest version of Senate Bill 2919 would “amortize or phase out transient accommodations uses in residential or agricultural zoned areas and … expands the scope of the transient accommodations tax law to include certain shelters and vehicles with sleeping accommodations.”

Louie and Stewart wrote that SB 2919 “requires platforms to verify registration through an electronic verification system but provides no viable means of complying with that requirement, thereby raising serious due process concerns.”…

Maui County’s Real Property Assessment Division recently provided the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser with data showing that there had been 1,065 properties being rented for a year or more to survivors, of which 53% are transient vacation rentals. Another 538 properties were being rented for six to 11 months, of which 93% are vacation rentals.

Green said Tuesday that 1,746 households representing 4,185 survivors are still being housed in Maui hotels…

read … Questions remain over threats of moratorium on West Maui vacation rentals

Time will tell if gov’s housing hurdles will trip him

Borreca: … Green goes into the housing battle with solid backing from Hawaii voters. He won his first gubernatorial race in 2022 with 63.2% of the vote. That performance adds up to be the highest percentage of the vote received by any gubernatorial candidate in the state’s history….

(TRANSLATION: Biggest Republican loss ever.)

The governor’s efforts took a public hit last year when his point person for housing — Nani Medeiros, who was brought in by Green from the private sector — resigned in September, saying she was driven from her post.

“Over the last several weeks many lies have been said about me and my family,” Medeiros said at the time. “Threats have been made against me, loved ones who don’t even work for the government, and even children.”…

(CLUE: Extortion of public officials is a crime.  Where are the arrests.)

“Based on 2023 survey data, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has an approval rating of 62% and a disapproval rating of 22%. Based on these figures, Green ranks as the sixth most popular state governor in the country,” according to Morning Consult…

The Star-Advertiser last week quoted a policy specialist with Green’s housing team, who said that “only 8,000 of the backlog of 50,000 homes were expected to be delivered by 2025.”…

Green’s next test result will be delivered Nov. 3, 2026, as the Hawaii general election votes are tallied. How he did in advancing Hawaii’s housing cause will be a big part of the voters’ judgment….

(If so, it would be only in the Democratic primary because the Republicans will not be able to put up a credible opponent.)

read … On Politics: Time will tell if gov’s housing hurdles will trip him

HB2781: Will Rail GE Tax Subsidy be Cut of in 2031?

Shapiro: … The half-percent state excise tax surcharge to fund construction of Honolulu rail and neighbor island transportation projects doesn’t expire until 2030 — a decade later than promised, before rail ran $5 billion over budget, 11 years behind schedule and needed two state bailouts.

But state and county politicians are already fighting over who will get the bounty from the surcharge when its dedication to rail and county roads ends in six years.

Honolulu officials always hoped the Legislature would continue the rail tax in perpetuity to cover future cost overruns, failure to plan for hundreds of millions in annual rail operations and expanding the line if anything is left.

Neighbor island leaders argue the funds are essential to maintaining their transportation infrastructure.

Covetous state legislators, however, want to cut counties off when rail is scheduled for completion in 2031 and redirect the revenue — some $430 million in 2023 — to state education and social programs.

A measure to do that, House Bill 2781, was introduced by House Finance Chairman Kyle Yamashita and heard by his committee last week. After hearing county objections, the influential Yamashita shelved the bill for now but signaled the plan will be back.

Unsurprisingly, no power players pushed for keeping the original promise of simply letting the surcharge expire when rail is completed to relieve Hawaii’s oppressive cost of living and give suffering taxpayers a break ….

read … David Shapiro: Legislature starts early on a taxing conundrum

Legislature: Most Ethics Bills Didn’t Even Get a Hearing

CB: … Don’t hold your breath waiting for a change ….

read … We’re Still Waiting For These Simple Rule Changes To Improve The Legislature

How A Team Of Dedicated Cops And Scientists Sorted Through Ash And Rubble To Identify Lahaina's Fire Victims

CB: … There was no way for Earles to know how many people might have died in the Lahaina fire, but early reports were ominous. Within 24 hours of the fire sweeping through the historic town, rescue workers had located 40 sets of human remains and more than 800 people had been added to an online missing persons list. Forensics experts were predicting that it could take years to identify all the fire victims — and that some people might never be identified at all.

What happened next was unprecedented. By mid-October — a little over two months after the fire — police had identified all but one of the 96 victims recovered from the burn zone during the official five-week search for human remains. (Two sets of human remains were found after the search concluded and have since been identified, and three fire victims died in hospitals after the blaze.)

The story of how a small county police department that didn’t even have a medical examiner on staff at the time of the fires managed to achieve such a milestone is largely a story of science and collaboration. Incredible leaps in technology over the last decade, along with an enormous influx of volunteers from across the country, helped accomplish what would have been unimaginable just a few years ago….

read … How A Team Of Dedicated Cops And Scientists Sorted Through Ash And Rubble To Identify Lahaina's Fire Victims

This alleged Miske assault was just business

ILind: … Roger Usan, an employee of Terminix, a national pest control company with an extensive local presence, testified about an incident that occurred on March 24, 2011.

Usan said that at that time, he would use an “evidence book” when making sales pitches to prospective clients. The book showed problems with the work of rival companies, including Kamaaina Termite, as a way to steer clients to Terminix.

He testified that he received a call on his work cell phone from someone using the name “Kevin” who was shopping for termite treatment and asked Usan to stop and talk with him.

Usan said he went to the address Kevin had given him, and found the house was for sale. When he went in, and was met by two men. One, the larger man, punched him in the face and kicked him, knocking him to the ground. Usan hit his head in the fall.

“Don’t ever fuck with Kamaaina,” the man said, before he and his partner drove off.

Usan said that the next day, he received a telephone call. The caller, who Usan insists was Miske, said: “Sorry about what happened to you yesterday. Use that book again and you will be in a wheelchair.”

Usan said he had no doubt the second call was from Miske.

But, he said, he didn’t mention Miske or Kamaaina Termite when he spoke to police about the incident, a point that Miske’s attorney underscored during cross examination.

Usan explained he had been afraid to point to Miske or his business.

“I feared for my life, and my family. That’s why I didn’t mention Mike Miske,” he said….

read … This alleged assault was just business

Sen Fevella: “Figure out a way so we can break legs”

CB: … Farmers and others who testified argued that poaching, theft and trespassing are a persistent but underreported issue, while state law enforcement lamented that it is hard to enforce those crimes and the agency is short-staffed.

Fevella wants farmers and ranchers to be more like his rancher grandfather, someone he said no poacher or thief would dare to mess with.

“They would get lickin’s – busted up – and the police would come and take them to jail,” Fevella said. “Now we’re playing ‘Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker’s man.’ Why do you think the crime’s gotten out of hand? We’ve got to stop babying the criminals and take care of the law-abiding citizens.”

Fevella said he understood law enforcement had its limitations, so asked the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement to “figure out a way so we can break legs.”

“OK. Strike that comment,” replied Sen. Lynn DeCoite….

read … The Sunshine Blog: Frontier Justice And A Cloudy Day At The Hawaii Legislature

Senate passes bill on felony charges for habitual assaults

KHON: … State Sen. Sharon Moriwaki said it is time to drop the hammer on repeat assault offenders.

“We have some people who have five, ten of these assaults against people,” Sen. Moriwaki said. “So, somebody chokes you or somebody pushes you and you get hurt, that is the kind of crime we’re looking at.”

Sen. Moriwaki’s bill aims to establish a felony charge if a criminal is convicted of three third-degree assault counts — as well as second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer or fourth-degree sexual assault — within five years.

Hawaii’s current law classifies third-degree assault as a misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of probation for one year, regardless of how many times the person offends again.

Creating a felony of habitual violent misdemeanor crime would call for — after three convictions within five years — a minimum sentence of one year imprisonment and a maximum sentence of five years in prison….

read … Senate passes bill on felony charges for habitual assaults

Hawaii's Assisted Suicide Law Changes in 2023: More Access, Fewer Safeguards

BNN: … Hawaii has made notable amendments to its medical aid in dying law, significantly broadening the scope of individuals eligible to access death-inducing drugs. The 2023 adjustments have not only shortened the mandatory waiting periods but also authorized advanced practice nurses to prescribe these lethal medications and evaluate patients' mental capacity. This expansion is part of a wider trend observed in states with similar laws, where initial restrictive measures are gradually relaxed to widen eligibility criteria .…

read … Hawaii's Assisted Suicide Law Changes in 2023: More Access, Fewer Safeguards

Federal Farm Census Shows Hawaii Loses 10% of Farms in Decade

CB: … The 10.4% decline in the number of farms, from 7,328 to 6,569, is a “disappointing, somewhat disturbing” trend, Hawaii Farm Bureau Executive Director Brian Miyamoto said. Small farms suffered the greatest decline, dropping by 637 to sit at 4,231….

read … Federal Farm Census Shows Hawaii's Agriculture Is Still In Decline

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda: 

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