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March 17, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:25 PM :: 1407 Views

HB2079 Would Legalize Child Kidnapping for Sex Change

The Hawaii Estate Tax

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 16, 2024

189 Candidates Pull Papers Statewide

Lets Cut Jaywalkers Some Slack

Grassroot Institute Bills on the Move in the Legislature

‘CPR king’ Abe Lee enables homeownership despite complicated legal framework

Green's PLA directive will make Government Contracting Even More Expensive

Lahaina not enough of an emergency to tap ‘Rainy Day Fund’?

SA: … Hawaii lawmakers have recently considered cutting every state agency’s budget along with various special funds and capital improvement projects to pay for stunning costs related to the Maui wildfire disaster, with one very big special fund excluded.

The state has a record $1.5 billion in its Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund. Yet the ongoing scramble for emergency wildfire recovery funding at the Legislature doesn’t appear dire enough to tap what is commonly known as Hawaii’s “rainy day fund” or EBRF.

Using some of the fund to help shoulder what could be $1 billion in costs from the worst disaster in Hawaii history makes sense to some observers.

“You have a rainy day fund, and it’s supposed to be used for emergencies,” said Tom Yamachika, president of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii. “You’ve got an emergency.”…

“We’re not even close to looking at touching any reserves at this point in time,” Rep. Kyle Yamashita, chair of the House Finance Committee, said Wednesday…

Under the law, appropriations from the fund require a two-thirds vote in the 51-member House and 25-member Senate….

On Friday, Green said in a statement, “At this point, using the rainy day fund is not something that needs to be considered given the large carry over balance that can be used to support the recovery costs. However, if, at some point, the use of rainy day funds is explored, I will be thoughtful about it and ensure that it is one part of a holistic range of options that is considered.”… 

Big Q: Should the state’s “rainy day fund” be tapped, given unexpected high costs for Maui fire recovery?

Borreca: On Politics: Maui fire recovery leaves state budget future shaky

read … With cloudy state finances, Hawaii’s ‘rainy day’ fund held for future rainy day

Just Like Rail: Nobody Wants Stadium Except Developers

Shapiro: … You could feel the singe of hot-potato politics as the University of Hawaii, fresh from another beatdown by state senators, quickly distanced itself from House legislation to abandon plans for a new $400 million Aloha Stadium in favor of expanding the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex at Manoa.

“We don’t want the money and we don’t want this stadium,” said UH Chief Financial Officer Kalbert Young, who likened it to the money pit of owning a boat….

House Bill 2664 by Rep. Andrew Garrett, which passed in the House 35-14, would cancel the $400 million planned for a new Aloha Stadium and give a portion to UH to improve the 15,000-seat Ching Complex…

Garrett, who would repurpose the Halawa site for affordable housing, says the $400 million is more needed for Maui wildfire recovery.

The bill has little chance in the Senate, which assigned it the unusual gantlet of five committee referrals, but it’s worth considering if only because the current plan is such a bad deal for the state.

The proposed 25,000-seat stadium to be built by a public-private partnership — half the size of the old Aloha Stadium and possibly lacking comfortable seating and sun shading — is simply not worth $400 million and valuable development rights to 70 surrounding acres. It more resembles the old Honolulu Stadium replaced by Aloha Stadium in 1975.

Other cities have built college stadiums and event venues with a lot more capacity and amenities for a lot less money in the past decade….

The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District, which has zigged and zagged as state legislators and administrators changed their minds, is now seeking proposals from private partners. Previous solicitations have drawn interest from big-money players such as Stanford Carr Development LLC, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., Kobayashi Group, BlackSand Capital and Nan Inc.

It leaves a feeling that this project, like Honolulu rail, is structured more for the benefit of politically influential contractors, developers and unions than sports fans and concertgoers….

read … David Shapiro: New House stadium plan deserves careful review

Artificial Shortage Jacks up Construction Costs

SA: … Hawaii has a shortage of construction workers, experiences significant project delays, and public works costs run well over budget. Two main factors contributing to this situation include unnecessary limitations on creating and approving pre-entry and new apprenticeship programs and the pervasive use of project labor agreements (PLAs)….

read … Column: Join forces to help build better Hawaii

Estate Tax Destroying Local Family Businesses

SA: … There’d be no poke from Foodland, no chili from Zippy’s, and no Coco Puffs at Liliha Bakery. Some areas of our state already have the anonymous feeling of a strip mall on the continent, full of the same chain stores you can find anywhere. One of the reasons Hawaii’s iconic businesses are disappearing: Our state’s laws make it unusually difficult for families to keep their businesses.

For us, this is personal. Our families started businesses that we hope to pass on to the next generation. That’s why we are supporting three bills that would eliminate barriers to maintaining family ownership of local companies: House Bills 2652 and 2653, and Senate Bill 3289….

Despite the many benefits of locally-owned companies, Hawaii doesn’t make it easy. Our state is one of only 12 states that requires families to pay an estate tax. That means when the owner of a family business dies, their heirs need to come up with a large sum of cash to pay the estate taxes if they want to hold onto their businesses. And Hawaii has the highest estate tax rate in the nation — up to 20%….

read … Column: Keep family businesses in local hands

HB2364:  Hike Taxes on Rental Properties and Spend the Revenue to block development

HTH: … House Bill 2364 is a promising solution, proposing a progressive adjustment (increase) to conveyance tax rates. Under this bill, rates for owner-occupied sales starting at $6 million and above would increase, alongside adjustments for investment properties sold at $2 million and beyond….

(Translation: Rent hikes coming.)

The Land Conservation Fund, vital for preserving Hawaii’s natural landscapes and cultural heritage, has likewise been hampered by its $5.1 million cap. The bill proposes to remove these limitations, dedicating a flat 10% of revenue to the LCF….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

read … Rethinking Hawaii’s conveyance tax

FEMA To Reopen Disaster Response Program To Include COFA Citizens

CB: … FEMA says it will reopen enrollment for the Individuals and Households Program to include Compacts of Free Association citizens impacted by the Maui wildfires….

According to FEMA, the assistance may include financial assistance for temporary housing; a temporary housing unit; funds to support repair or replacement of homes; hazard mitigation assistance; or funds for uninsured or under-insured disaster-caused expenses.

Earlier this month, the United States formally agreed to send $7.1 billion in aid to COFA nations — the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia — in a bill that also allows Micronesian migrants in the U.S. to access federal assistance programs for the first time in decades…. 

HNN: After decades-long fight, Pacific migrants in Hawaii ‘overjoyed’ by renewed benefits

SA: FEMA to reopen emergency assistance program to COFA citizens | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … FEMA To Reopen Disaster Response Program To Include COFA Citizens

Legal Pot Bill May Be Close To Its Last Gasp

CB: … On Friday, the Hawaii House of Representatives came within just one or two votes of killing Senate Bill 3335, the legislation allowing for recreational use of pot. And it came on the second reading of the bill, usually a routine procedural matter that directs legislation to its next committee.

A total of 22 legislators voted no on moving the measure along, including all six Republicans. But a whole bunch of Democrats voted against the bill, too, while two others voted with reservations — meaning yes but with … um … reservations.

And here’s where it gets weird. Rep. Rose Martinez said on the floor that she would vote no as well, which would have made it 23 against. But for some reason Martinez left the floor and so was excused from voting. Cedric Gates, Sean Quinlan and Sonny Ganaden were not present Friday, and Elle Cochran was also excused.

So, let’s do some math: There are 51 members in the House. Subtract three — Gates, Quinlan, Ganaden — and that makes 48. Had Martinez’s no vote counted, that would have made 23 votes against pot. Add one more and it would have made 24.

Had the vote been 24-24 — a tie — SB 3335 would have died.

And SB 3335 still has two more committees to clear in the House. If it makes it past the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee Tuesday, next up would be the House Finance Committee, where 11 of the 16 members, according to Friday’s tally, are now on record opposing recreational pot….

read … Legal Pot Bill May Be Close To Its Last Gasp

Mafia Testifies Against Cockfighting bill --but it still clears Senate Judiciary Committee

TGI: … House Bill 1980 would, if passed, make it a felony offense to arrange or hold a “fight between birds,” to train or raise birds with the intent to enter them into fights, or to allow minors to be present at any such fight.

Any of those violations would be considered first-degree animal cruelty and would be considered a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine.

Meanwhile, the measure also would make certain actions, such as gambling on or paying to attend a cockfight, subject to a charge of second-degree animal cruelty. While the offenses would be punishable by up to $1,000 fines or 30 days imprisonment, repeated offenses over a five-year period could see the penalties increase.

At a Thursday hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Honolulu Police Department Lt. Domingo Manog said cockfighting is currently treated as a misdemeanor offense, which isn’t a sufficient deterrent. With harsher penalties, he said, associated crimes, such as a 2023 shooting where two Honolulu residents were fatally shot and three others injured at an illegal cockfight on O‘ahu, could be avoided….

“This bill is like a snowball,” said Kaneohe farmer John Cambra III. “This is going to affect farmers later. It’ll affect the rodeos. It’ll affect the fishermen.”

Cambra said he does not raise chickens to fight, (IQ TEST: Are you laughing?)  but predicted the bill will put undue scrutiny on normal chicken farmers who will be viewed as criminals purely for raising poultry….

REALITY: Secret Arbitration Revealed: How DPS Official Kept Crooked Cop On The Job After FBI Raid

read …Cockfighting bill clears Senate Judiciary Committee

MEMA Set up as an under-staffed Fall Guy for Disaster Failures

SA: … In a recent interview, the new MEMA administrator, Amos Lonokailua-Hewett, said that he doesn’t believe his agency should take the lead in future emergencies.

“My staffing situation is dire,” he said. “There are not enough people to accommodate all the positions and function effectively.”

A recent investigation found at least a dozen natural disasters in the U.S. during the last decade where local emergency managers failed to issue alerts in time to save lives or, in some cases, didn’t issue an alert or evacuation order at all — with Maui being only the most recent example. Woe to any community who expects otherwise, because when the time comes, those expectations will be crushed yet again.

As a working emergency manager, I am grateful to Lonokailua- Hewett for speaking the truth, a profound truth with massive implications in these dangerous times.

Local governments, from Maui to East Palestine to thousands of communities across the nation, do not have an ability to meet the needs of their communities during disasters. And, until we commit to investing in those local emergency managers, the point of every spear, they never will….

read … Column: The Maui catastrophe is a wake-up call | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

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