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Sunday, May 5, 2024
May 5, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:48 PM :: 1509 Views

Shimabukuro Resigns Early from Senate

FBI Raids? No problem--Dawson Begins Construction of Lahaina Housing

Legislature comes through big time

The Also-Rans

$5B Income Tax Cut

Borreca: … “Hawaii has the second highest tax burden after Oregon, a state with no sales tax. Under current tax law, a family of four living in Hawaii and making the State’s median income would pay $5,086 in individual income taxes per year,” says the state in a tax department comparison of Hawaii taxes.

To make the Hawaii picture worse, the state notes that “the rates increase quickly and at low-income levels.”

This is the second year in a row that the Legislature tried to address the problem.

Last year, it doubled the refundable food and excise tax credit and doubled the state’s refundable earned income tax credit. This year legislators passed what they say will be the biggest tax cut ever, claiming tax cuts of more than $5 billion over the next seven years.

Republican critics have been pointing to Hawaii’s high tax rates for decades, but this is one of the few times that there has been a dedicated bipartisan effort to get serious about the issue.

Others said it was “the biggest tax relief for residents in Hawaii history.”

Leading the tax cut supporters is Gov. Josh Green, an early proponent of tax reform….

SA:  Dela Cruz said that the standard deduction for joint tax filers will grow from $4,400 currently to $24,000 by 2031.  The take-home pay for a family of four earning $88,000 would rise by about $3,600 as their tax bill drops to about $1,500 from about $5,100….

Shapiro: Socialist Rep. Amy Perruso claims, without providing any evidence, that cuts benefit well-off taxpayers who don’t need the help

read … On Politics: Legislature gets serious on tax cuts

Hawaii Vacation Rental Occupancy Sinks as Rates Continue to Soar

BH: … In parallel with huge legislative reforms, both statewide and on Maui, the vacation rental market in Hawaii is already experiencing a marked downturn in occupancy rates. Mixed messaging from the state did not help matters either. That contrasts starkly with the far more robust performance of Hawaii hotels….

(TRANSLATION: It’s working as intended.)

PBN: Hawaii vacation rentals report occupancy, average daily rate for March

read … Hawaii Vacation Rental Occupancy Sinks as Rates Continue to Soar - Beat of Hawaii

National Science Foundation to discuss possible funding for TMT

HTH: … A federal agency will conduct an external review of the Thirty Meter Telescope project to determine whether the observatory will receive federal funding.

The board of the National Science Foundation met on May 1 and 2 and discussed, albeit briefly, a process to decide which major telescope project, if any, the foundation should fund.

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said at the May 2 board meeting that the agency has had discussions with “many interested parties” — including the White House — about its investments into the ELT project and concluded that it will convene an external panel to review both the TMT and GMT projects.

“I want to be very clear: this is not a decision to construct any telescopes,” Panchanathan said at the meeting. “This is simply part of a process of gathering critical information to inform my decision making on advancing either project to the final design stage.”

Panchanathan said the panel will visit with each observatory and evaluate them on a series of topics including their current progress, partnerships, risks and risk mitigation, governance, opportunities for access by early-career scientists, how well the project complements the European Southern Observatory’s Chilean Extremely Large Telescope, and public engagement.

The panel will also consider how each project will impact NSF’s current resources throughout the planning, construction and operation phases….

AIP: External Panel to Advise NSF on Extremely Large Telescope Plans - AIP.ORG

read … National Science Foundation to discuss possible funding for TMT

Lessons For Hawaii: Other States Have Strong Pay-To-Play Laws

CB: … Experts say regulating contractor donations along with publicly financed elections could go a long way to taming corruption….

read … Lessons For Hawaii: Other States Have Strong Pay-To-Play Laws

Millions spent waterproofing Hawaii Capitol with no pools

KHON: … A recently-awarded $6.4 million contract to waterproof the chamber level of the State Capitol raised questions among some of the lawmakers who work there.

“There needs to be direct oversight, audits going on to see where every single penny is going because this is taxpayer money,” said House Minority Floor Leader Rep. Diamond Garcia.

Rep. Garcia admitted that some repairs are necessary after the basement level beneath the chamber flooded in January 2024 during a flood advisory on Oahu.

“There was a really rainy day and most of the downstairs basement was flooded and you had water streaming down through the ceiling tiles, through light fixtures,” said Assistant Majority Whip Sen. Lee.

“And unfortunately, that would come at a cost of about $1 million a year just to keep water in those pools,” Sen. Lee said.

“Does it really cost $1 million a year just to maintain this thing? I don’t think so, it shouldn’t have to! I mean, the building was built in the late 1960’s, so it’s an old building, it definitely needs maintenance, repair. But my only concern is seeing how much money we’re spending on a single issue,” Rep. Garcia said….

Sen. Lee added that the current plan is to install glass, water-like features where the pools used to sit …

Sen. Lee said — weather permitting — the project is on track for completion between 18 months and two years from May 2024….

(The pool is a reflection of the State.  Paying and playing over the years.  One project leads to the next with nothing actually accomplished.)

SA: Nakoa Cos. stands poised to dismantle our beloved Haiku Stairs — the same stairs they refurbished in 2002.   Surprise, it’s an 8a: The Nakoa Companies Inc. - A Native Hawaiian Company  Link: BREG

read … Millions spent waterproofing Hawaii Capitol with no pools (khon2.com)

Hawaii Legislature OKs $18M for claims against state

SA: … In another case involving criminal wrongdoing by a state employee, a $1.25 million settlement was approved to resolve a lawsuit filed by the victim of a sexual assault by former Department of Land and Natural Resources conservation and resources enforcement officer Ethan Ferguson.

Ferguson was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a Hawaii island beach park in 2016. The victim claimed that DLNR should not have hired Ferguson, given that he had been fired by the Honolulu Police Department in 2012 over misconduct. HPD recommended to the state Department of Human Resources Development, which does hiring work for state agencies, that Ferguson not be hired.

Two settled claims this year involved the Second Amendment. In one of these cases, two plaintiffs claimed in a 2022 federal lawsuit that Hawaii’s ban on carrying billy clubs violated the provision in the U.S. Constitution regarding a well regulated militia, security of a free State and the right of people to keep and bear arms.

The plaintiffs, Todd Yukutake and Justin Solomon, entered into a stipulated judgment with the Attorney General’s Office that included $50,000 for attorneys’ fees.

The other Second Amendment case also stemmed from a 2022 federal lawsuit. It was brought by Rodney Pagba, who claimed that he was wrongfully denied a firearm permit because of a misdemeanor third-degree assault conviction.

After the Legislature passed a bill in 2023 that changed a state law so that a misdemeanor violent crime conviction resulted in a 20-year firearms possession disqualification instead of indefinite disqualification, the Pagba lawsuit was settled for $5,707….

Related: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President

Related: Rape and Death: HB2340 pays $2.5M to Coverup Foster Care Disasters

read … Hawaii Legislature OKs $18M for claims against state | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Three More Dead Ethics Bills

CB: … House Bill 1884 was proposed by the state Ethics Commission and would have required legislators to provide greater disclosures of income received from special interests.

House Bill 2184 would have prohibited political contributions from people convicted of campaign finance, ethical or lobbying offenses. It would have required the recipients of such contributions to turn them over to the fund used for partial public financing of campaigns.

And House Bill 2582 would have excluded “critical infrastructure information” from disclosure requirements of the Uniform Information Practices Act. It was another one of those measures that died due to no conferees being appointed, this time by Senate President Ron Kouchi.

read … The House Speaker Killed

SB2405: Help Candidates Learn the Ropes by Allowing them to Steal from their own Campaign Committees

CB: …  Senate Bill 2405, which would have established that candidates can spend campaign money for child-care expenses and “vital household dependent care.”….

Tarnas recommended his committee amend it to “defect the effective date to year 3000 to encourage further discussion.”….

Then came the final blow: Speaker Scott Saiki failed to appoint House conferees to discuss the measure, automatically killing it….

read … The House Speaker Killed An Effort To Help Young Parents And Caretakers Run For Office

UH Hilo Housing Moldy, Broken—Admin Solution?  Censor the Student newspaper

HTH: … The article at issue centered around a Feb. 15 Board of Regents meeting on the UHH campus. Students registered complaints during the meeting on “black mold and/or mildew growing in the dorm bathrooms, rusted pipes and kitchen appliances, power outages, gender equality issues concerning the rights of LGBTQ+ students, flooding in the dorms from sinks or toilets, and broken laundry units,” the article stated.

The article included anonymously submitted photos that purportedly depicted the conditions in student housing the regents heard complaint about.

“The April Ke Kalahea edition at the center of the dispute described and included photos of mold and the generally degraded conditions of the campus dorms, an embarrassment for sure for an administration trying to woo new students in a time of decreased enrollment at college campuses nationwide,” said Nancy Cook Lauer, Ke Kalahea’s editorial advisor, a retired newspaper reporter who most recently covered government for West Hawaii Today.

The article touched a nerve with UH-Hilo administration prior to the publication’s removal from the reception….

read … Removal of UH-Hilo newspaper causes flap - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Miske Trial: A look at the court’s draft jury instructions

ILind: … Not long after the racketeering trial of former Honolulu business owner Michael J. Miske Jr adjourned for the day Friday afternoon, a lengthy draft of instructions that will eventually guide members of the jury through their deliberations was filed in court.

The jury instructions are the detailed explanations of the law that will frame their eventual decisions on guilt or innocence. This draft runs for 176 pages, a reflection of the complexities of the case and the complications in the racketeering and conspiracy charges…. 

ILind: What’s a conspiracy, and when does it become a crime?

read … A look at the court’s draft jury instructions

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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