Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Charter Amendment For Increased Property Taxes

An article at HawaiiReporter’s website outlines a Honolulu City Charter proposal that would mandate a certain percentage of property taxes be dedicated to “the acquisition or preservation of watersheds, drinking water sources, beaches, coastal areas and other natural, cultural and historical sites.” According to the article’s author Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, this proposed requirement will guarantee regular increases to Honolulu’s already high property taxes that people have been complaining about for several years.

Kalapa also states “backers of the amendment obviously did not think the issue of preservation of natural resources could persuade enough voters to adopt the provision and therefore earmarked an equal amount to provide and maintain affordable housing for low-income families. The provision, to be considered by the Honolulu voters, will earmark one percent of real property tax collections for these purposes with the windfall to be divided equally between natural resource preservation and affordable housing.”

Why should our money be earmarked for such purposes? Kalapa says this kind of funding is “poor public policy” as it “”restricts budget flexibility, creates inefficiencies and lessens accountability.”

Read the article. If you are concerned about this charter amendment proposal taking away more of your hard earned money, be sure to vote this amendment down.

Remember we are already paying some of the highest taxes in the State of Hawaii. Next year the General Excise Tax increases another 12.5% (thanks Governor Lingle) to pay for rail, the container redemption tax is slated to go up later this year and the state has a budget surplus that should be returned to the taxpayers. We cannot continue down this long and spiraling road of more tax increases to save property that is not ours or build homes that we won’t live in.

Relevant Links:

Governor May Veto 68 oz. Bottle Tax Bill

Governor Linda Lingle may veto SB 3181 which would apply the 6¢ bottle tax to 68oz. containers. The beverage container tax program which was started in late 2004 puts a surcharge of 6¢ on every beverage container under 68 oz. That means canned sodas, juices, bottled water and more are taxed an extra 6¢ on top of the 4.16% general excise tax paid on all goods sold in Hawaii. Consumers get 5¢ of the 6¢ back if they return each container. Consumers lose a penny per container after they redeem them. The penny is applied cover “administrative expenses” due to the state for running the recycling program.

When the tax was implemented it forced me to change my purchasing habits. I like many others simply stopped buying beverages that came in smaller containers.

Fortunately, if the Governor holds true to her stated intentions, by July 11 the threat of the bottle tax being applied to 68oz. containers will have passed for this year.
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Rail: Expensive & Ugly!

The city revealed its plans for the proposed rail transit system. Critics are already calling it “ugly” and “expensive.” From today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

“There’s no hiding of a concrete structure in the middle of the road,” said Toru Hamayasu, the city’s chief transportation planner.

“Why does it have to be so ugly?” asked Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who represents Moiliili and Manoa and was shown a computer simulation of a 60-foot-tall rail transit structure that is being proposed to run along University Avenue to the university.

“That’s one of the last photos they showed me before they ran out of my office,” Kobayashi chuckled. “I was just shocked when I saw it.”

Yes, more concrete in the middle of your neighborhood. The computer renderings revealed in today’s paper are mostly seen from afar. Up close I have to assume the structures will loom even larger. One thing they forgot to include: The potential of taggers getting to this structure and making your neighborhood even more ugly by spraying and painting graffiti on them. It is bound to happen.

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Snippets from the SBH Mid-Year Conference

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Small Business Hawaii held their Mid-Year Conference yesterday (June 22) at the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki. The conference featured speakers from the government sector including heads of the Department of Labor, Commerce & Consumer Affairs and the State Tax Department. Several political candidates made 2 minute speeches stating why the small business community should support them. Business speakers spoke on the recently suspended gas cap law and the restaurant services industry. The keynote speaker was State Attorney General Mark Bennett, who spoke on tough crime measures that were passed this year as well as a bad constitutional amendment question that voters will have to consider this fall.

State Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi touched upon the upcoming general excise tax issue stating that neighbor island customers may not have to pay the extra .5% of the Oahu county surcharge to the G.E.T. under certain conditions. This was news to me.

Barnaby Robinson, owner of Kahala & Nimitz Chevron reminded conference goers that Hawaii consumers are presently enjoying a break from having to pay General Excise Tax on a gallon of gasoline. That break will come to an end at the beginning of 2007 when the GET will be reinstated to gasoline purchases at the higher rate of 4.5% for Oahu consumers given the fact that the county surcharge to pay for fixed rail will also kick in at the same time. This will increase the cost per gallon by at least 15 cents he says. OUCH! Rail sucks.

Two 2nd congressional district candidates showed up at the SBH conference. State Senator Colleen Hanabusa currently representing the Leeward Coast of Oahu is making a bid for the 2nd congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Representative Ed Case, who is going head to head this year against U.S. Senator Dan Akaka. She along with State Senator Bob Hogue from Kaneohe, are two candidates running in this race who actually live in the 2nd Congressional district. The crowded field of candidates include several who do not reside in the 2nd district but still making a run for the seat because the law says they can. We’ll see what happens this fall.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett touched upon the judicial triumphs this past legislation session that included the passage of tougher laws that punish criminals including the “three strikes” statute that mandates a 30-year prison sentence for repeat offenders, a stronger wiretap law and increased emphasis on prosecuting sexual predators, especially those who use computers to entice and commit a crime. He also warned conferees about the judicial mandatory retirement age repeal law that is being proposed as a constitutional amendment this fall. This amendment is a Democrat party proposal to stave off mandatory retirement of certain judges that were appointed before Governor Lingle took office in 2002.

Link: Small Business Hawaii
Photo: State Attorney General Mark Bennett speaks at SBH conference.

Hawaii Republican Convention

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Both the Hawaii Republican and Democratic parties held their 2006 political conventions this weekend. I attended the Republican convention as a delegate from our district.

Attending a political party convention is something you should do at least once in your life. These events are huge pep rallies for the party faithful and the Hawaii Republican Party convention was no exception.

The 3-day convention had the party faithful attending workshops and rallies on a number of topics including education, candidate training and policy making. The highlight of any convention are the colorful general session rallies. These are loud and pompous occasions where one can see and listen to some of their favorite candidates.
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Rally For Life

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Yesterday’s annual Hawaii Right for Life rally and march attracted hundreds of people to the grounds of the State Capitol to protest against the ruling of the Roe vs. Wade court case that paved the way for legalized abortions. Life is precious and our sacred children should never be killed, even before they are born.

The rally and march at the capitol was a peaceful, reflective and sometimes prayerful event. Attendees listened to a procession of speakers and political leaders who support life and legislation for life. Several bills are being proposed this legislative session to enhance the rights of the unborn and those whose lives are threatened.

Life is a gift from God. Don’t take it away before it happens.

  • Hawaii Right to Life website
  • Honolulu Transit Meeting

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    Street maps such as this one were part of the display at the Honolulu Transit public meeting Tuesday night.

    On Tuesday night the City and County of Honolulu held a public meeting at the Blaisdell Center Plumeria Room to pitch its proposal for a possible mass transit �solution.� Hundreds of people came, expecting to hear some speeches by the supporters and maybe opponents of the transit project.

    This was not a meeting where anyone spoke. What we got was an informal gathering of public officials, transportation project planners, the transit planning contractor and the general public, all in one room to look at displays of the various proposals to Honolulu�s traffic problems. The public also got to have their �say� by filling out comment forms which were collected by officials running the show.

    This public meeting was set up just to satisfy the federal requirement to present the public with a number of transit options even though we all know that the City and County�s leaders want a fixed rail of some sort.
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