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Thursday, June 6, 2024
June 6, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:26 PM :: 882 Views

PIT Count Claims 14% Drop in Sister Isle Homeless

KIUC Continues to Lead State in 'Renewable' Generation

‘Embarrassing’ -- Hee, Kahele reemerge in Hawaii politics

SA: … Former state senator and Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Clayton Hee and former U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele have reentered Hawaii politics this election cycle, while current Council Member Calvin Say, the former speaker of the state House of Representatives, has decided to retire from politics at age 72.

Say’s decision not to seek reelection had been widely speculated upon and already set off a scramble to replace him to represent an urban Council district that includes St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Ala Moana, Makiki and portions of Kakaako.

Among the field of candidates to succeed him are former state Reps. Dale Kobayashi and Scott Nishimoto, who just left the House after 22 years….

Hee will run in the Aug. 10 Democratic primary election for the largely rural Senate district that includes Laie, Mokuleia and a portion of Kaneohe.

If Hee moves on to the Nov. 5 general election, he will face incumbent Republican Brenton Awa.

A potential race between Hee and Awa would be among the most interesting this year because voters could easily decide to go Republican or Democratic in choosing between two Hawaiian candidates who can be unpredictable but with reputations “for not pulling their punches,” said Colin Moore, who teaches public policy at the University of Hawaii and serves as associate professor at the University of Hawaii Economic Resource Organization.

“Very rarely do we see a strong Republican and a strong Democrat running in a district that could go either way,” Moore said….

(CLUE: Arrogance is not strength.)

After serving in Congress, followed by aspirations of becoming governor, Kahele has now chosen to run for OHA and certainly has the name recognition to be a strong contender, Moore said.

Milner called Kahele’s failed run for governor “embarrassing” and, as a result, “he certainly wouldn’t have any luck getting his old congressional seat back.” …

REALITY: Clayton Hee Trying to Sneak Back into the State Senate

read … Hee, Kahele reemerge in Hawaii politics as Say exits

Former meth addict Milton Holt fired--$500,000 allegedly stolen from Sand Island Business Association

SA: … According to the complaint, Holt, a former Honolulu City Council staff member, was falsely accused of stealing $500,000 in rent money in a public rant by Matsuzaki, Striker and Suehiro after they unsuccessfully tried to find stolen rent checks….

(IQ Test: ‘Falsely.’  How hard are you laughing?)

Holt, first elected to state Legislature in 1978 at the age of 26, entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in August 1999….

The Kamehameha graduate once worked as a special projects officer for Bishop Estate until he was removed from that position in July 1999.

Holt acknowledged charging more than $23,000 on Bishop Estate credit cards at local restaurants and strip clubs….

Holt admitted he took a pre-signed blank check from the Friends of Milton Holt campaign committee and wrote a check for $2,051 to Ryan’s Graphics Inc., a Hono­lulu printing company, on May 28, 1997. Ryan’s Graphics Inc.’s sent Holt $2,000, which went into Holt’s bank account while Holt’s office manager claimed the money was spent on thank-you cards.

During the prosecution Holt was ordered held without bail after he tested positive for methamphetamine….

PDF: Holt deadbeat $9K judgments March 6, 2024

HNN: Former lawmaker Milton Holt claims organization he made possible wrongfully fired him

read … Sand Island business board sued by former lawmaker Milton Holt  

Doctors to get tax relief on patients' government health plans under new law

HPR: … Starting in 2026, doctors will no longer have to pay the state’s general excise tax on health care for patients on Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare.

It’s a major win for medical professionals who have had to pay a 4% tax to care for those on government health plans.

Under the law, doctors are not allowed to pass those costs on to patients. That’s why some doctors in Hawaiʻi have been reluctant to take on patients on government plans — many of whom are often already underserved….

Gov. Josh Green's signed measure would eliminate the tax, aimed at making health care more accessible.

Dr. Jason Ching, a pediatric dentist on Oʻahu, said 40% of his patients are on Medicaid.

“For me directly, this will impact me and allow me to see more Medicaid underserved which is the whole reason why I moved back home to Hawaiʻi,” he said.

“In a short way, it is a competition amongst the states and if you're so highly taxed then that's why we're losing our providers. So yeah, I got a little emotional today. It was good stuff.”

Dr. Penelope Dodson, another pediatric dentist, explained that the new law will allow more doctors to take on Medicaid and Medicare patients.

 “Even providers, who potentially didn't take Medicaid and Medicare before, will opt in now,” Dodson said.

“It's an incredible impact for private practice practitioners,” she said.

Green said that about half the state is either on Medicaid and Medicare, or eligible for the program….

read … Doctors to get tax relief on patients' government health plans under new law

The Backlog Of Honolulu Building Permits Is Taking A Toll On City Revenue 

CB: … The new Raising Cane’s restaurant in Pearl City was a financial win for the city.  

Before the eatery was built, the owners were paying about $62,000 in city property taxes for what was then an empty lot. By the time the restaurant opened in 2022, the property’s value had jumped by $1.5 million, and the tax bill increased to $82,000. 

But the county didn’t get to collect that extra $20,000 right away. After a permit application was submitted in May 2020, Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting took a year and seven months to approve it. The increased tax bill didn’t go into effect until 2023. 

Had the plans been approved and construction started by the October 2020 tax assessment deadline, the city would be up to $40,000 richer today. 

As Honolulu’s permitting department struggles to keep up with its workload, there is a growing gap between the number of applications DPP receives and the number of permits it issues. The mounting backlog is a major frustration for applicants, and a Civil Beat analysis indicates it is also hurting the city itself. 

Each permit issued in fiscal year 2023 represented an average of more than $220,000 in taxable construction work and over $1,400 in building permit fees, according to a Civil Beat review of county permitting statistics. The thousands of others left to wait are worth millions of dollars in city revenue. 

In the 2023 fiscal year alone, Honolulu received close to 20,000 permit applications but issued fewer than 15,000. The difference — carried over into the following year — represents an average of more than $1 billion in taxable construction work and nearly $7 million in building permit fees.

In some cases, like that of Raising Cane’s, the city is missing out on a year or more of increased tax revenue from properties whose value is set to rise due to new construction or renovations. Honolulu property tax rates vary from .35% for owner-occupied homes to 1.39% for hotels and resorts….

read … The Backlog Of Honolulu Building Permits Is Taking A Toll On City Revenue

Honolulu's New Budget Includes 225% Higher Property Taxes For Short-Term Rentals

CB: … Owners of Honolulu short-term rentals will pay more in property tax this year under a budget approved by the City Council Wednesday….

Council members also approved a plan to restructure the Honolulu Salary Commission, which last year gave a controversial 64% raise to council members that commissioners said was long overdue. Voters will have final say on the plan during the general election since it requires amending the city charter….

The council created a new property-tax category last year to charge short-term rentals a rate between that of residences and hotels. 

Many short-term rental owners testified in opposition to the new rate, which will more than double what they pay.

Currently, residential properties not occupied by their owners are charged $4 per $1,000 of assessed value up to $1 million, and hotels are charged $13.90.

Short-term rentals will be charged $9 per $1,000 of value up to $800,000 and $11.50 for anything over that. The owner of a $1 million house, for example, would be charged $9,500 according to the new tax rate.

Kelly Lee, president of the Oahu Short-Term Rental Alliance, testified in opposition. 

“The higher rates will destroy the intent to have STRs register and pay the appropriate taxes. Less STRs will also further reduce tourism numbers,” she said in written testimony. …

LINK: Honolulu Budget Bill 12 of 2024

SA: Honolulu City Council adopts $4.7 billion budget package

read … Honolulu's New Budget Includes Higher Property Taxes For Short-Term Rentals

Maui Hits Pause Button On Managed Retreat Fund

CB: … A fund established to help Maui County deal with the impacts of climate change and sea level rise will be paused for three years and the money earmarked for it in the 2025 fiscal year used instead for the Pulelehua housing project north of Lahaina.

Introduced by County Council member Yuki Lei Sugimura, Bill 78, which suspends new payments into the managed retreat fund and frees up the money, passed unanimously on second and final reading Wednesday.

The fund was created in 2022 at the urging of council member Tamara Paltin…

A majority on the council agreed with Paltin’s measure. Nohelani U‘u-Hodgins, Tasha Kama and Sugimura voted no.  

The three have said on several occasions that they oppose funding Cheng and his project because Pulelehua has no guarantee of water or wastewater services and they have reservations about his past. Cheng spent six years in federal  prison for white collar crimes in the early 1990s during the savings and loan scandal, a fact he didn’t disclose when he approached the council for money….

CB: Council Prioritizes Maui Fire Recovery And Housing In $1.7 Billion County Budget 

read … Maui Hits Pause Button On Managed Retreat Fund - Honolulu Civil Beat

HPD officer Mariah Ah Tou will likely be recharged for DUI

KITV: … HPD officer Mariah Ah Tou will likely be recharged for DUI. The Honolulu prosecutor's office could charge her within the next few days because the case was dismissed without prejudice.

"In these types of cases, if a case is dismissed for rule 48, the government typically refiles the case and recharges the defendant," said Honolulu defense attorney Megan Kau.

The prosecutor's office has not yet confirmed they'll do so. …

read … HPD officer Mariah Ah Tou will likely be recharged for DUI

State works to waste $80M from opioid settlements

HPR: … Hawaiʻi can address substance abuse with $33 million from opioid manufacturer settlements — and that number is expected to continue to grow.

However, managing and spending the funds has been a work in progress.

The state began receiving the funds about three years ago and was awarded another $15 million in April.

It’s not yet clear how much money the state will get in total. While it will depend on the outcome of future court cases, some estimates show nearly $80 million….

read … State works to spend millions of dollars to address opioid addiction | Hawai'i Public Radio

Fireworks bill moves forward at Honolulu City Council

KHON: … The Honolulu City Council held its first public hearing on Wednesday on whether or not Oahu should bring back sparklers and fountains.

“I’m absolutely in support of this bill, because since the ban, we’ve seen the illegal aerials proliferated so much so that people are stopping on H1 to see the illegal aerials,” said Natalie Iwasa, Hawaii Kai resident.

Councilmember Calvin Say introduced the bill after a friend suggested making certain ones legal.

“It would only be the sparklers and fountains, it’s not the aerials,” Say explained. “And he felt maybe we should have it sold in retail market or retailers have the license for buying it so that was the approach.”

The hope of the bill is that it would help eliminate some of the illegal aerials…. 

SA: Council, retailers wish to ignite fireworks bill

read … Fireworks bill moves forward at Honolulu City Council

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