Bill Advances to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

The Hawai‘i Senate announces that today, Feb. 6, 2018, measures intended to boost the state’s economy by increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next two years and to create a family leave plan to help family caregivers were advanced by the Senate Committee on Labor.

Senate Bill 2291 would increase the minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in 2019 and $15 per hour in 2020.

Click to submit testimony

The measure would eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers, and provide automatic cost-of-living increases. Testimony in favor of the bill support Hawai‘i workers by providing an adequate hourly wage to reflect the state’s high cost of living.

Senate Bill 2990 would establish a paid family leave program and lay the groundwork to implement a framework of laws and policies so that all employees can access leave benefits during times when they need to provide care for a family member. It would also establish a paid family leave implementation board. In Hawai‘i, 247,000 people serve as family caregivers. Of those who would benefit from paid family leave, it is estimated nearly one-third would take those leave benefits to care for an ill spouse or elderly parent. Most family caregivers are unable to afford to take time off from work.

“Both of these measures address critical issues for working families,” said Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor Sen. Tokuda. “With so many families struggling just to survive in our islands, putting money into the hands of Hawai‘i’s working people and reducing income inequality will have positive economic benefits throughout our communities. Having the assurance of paid family leave benefits Hawai‘i’s economy by giving caregivers stability during times when they need it most, and ensures they can return back to the workforce when ready.”

SB2291 and SB2990 now go before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.

Reps. Gabbard & Hanabusa Will Not Accept Salary During Shutdown

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa announced on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, that they will not accept their salary during the federal government shutdown.

Hawaii Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, left, and Colleen Hanabusa. Courtesy photos.

“Congress’ job is to serve the people, and it has failed,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Partisan posturing and grandstanding has taken precedence over human lives. Enough is enough. The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable. I will not accept any pay during this shutdown, and stand with our troops, law enforcement, first responders, and federal employees in Hawaii and nationwide who continue to serve and report for duty with no pay during this shutdown. Congress needs to put people before politics and reopen the government.”

“If we cannot work together through the regular order to keep the government funded and functioning then we should put our salaries to good use supporting causes that help people and nurture the communities who need it most,” said Rep. Hanabusa. “I intend to donate the salary I earn during the period that the government is shut down to charity.”

Background: Both members also did not take pay during the 2013 government shutdown. In 2013, Gabbard returned her salary to the U.S. Treasury and Hanabusa donated her salary to Meals on Wheels and the Moiliili Community Center.

IRS Advisory: Prepaid Real Property Taxes May Be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed & Paid

The Internal Revenue Service advised tax professionals and taxpayers today that pre-paying 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible under certain circumstances.


The IRS has received a number of questions from the tax community concerning the deductibility of prepaid real property taxes. In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.  A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.  State or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed.

The following examples illustrate these points.

Example 1:  Assume County A assesses property tax on July 1, 2017 for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  On July 31, 2017, County A sends notices to residents notifying them of the assessment and billing the property tax in two installments with the first installment due Sept. 30, 2017 and the second installment due Jan. 31, 2018.   Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on Dec. 31, 2017, and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer’s 2017 return.

Example 2:  County B also assesses and bills its residents for property taxes on July 1, 2017, for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  County B intends to make the usual assessment in July 2018 for the period July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  However, because county residents wish to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017, County B has revised its computer systems to accept prepayment of property taxes for the 2018-2019 property tax year.  Taxpayers who prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017 will not be allowed to deduct the prepayment on their federal tax returns because the county will not assess the property tax for the 2018-2019 tax year until July 1, 2018.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that a number of provisions remain available this week that could affect 2017 tax bills. Time remains to make charitable donations. See IR-17-191 for more information. The deadline to make contributions for individual retirement accounts – which can be used by some taxpayers on 2017 tax returns – is the April 2018 tax deadline.

Governor Ige Releases $3 Million in CIP Funding for East Hawaii Region

Sen. Ruderman

Senator Russel Ruderman announces the following release of Capital Improvement Funds:

I am pleased to announce that Governor David Ige’s administration has released Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation, to fund construction and equipment costs for renovation, acquisition, and installation of radiology equipment in the East Hawai‘i Region (Hilo Medical Center, Hale Hoola Hamakua, and Kau Hospital).

Amount Released: $3,000,000.

Thank you Governor Ige for your efforts on Senate District 2’s behalf.

Projects such as these are critical components of the public infrastructure and contribute to building a better home for our kupuna, keiki, and all the residents of Hawai‘i.

FREE Wi-Fi Now Available at Honolulu Airport

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Airports Division is pleased to deliver free Wi-Fi at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) just in time for the holidays. A soft launch began December 14, 2017 and within minutes travelers discovered the free Wi-Fi and immediately connected to the new service. The Wi-Fi is available through Boingo Wireless (Nasdaq: WIFI) which operates wireless networks in major airports, stadiums, campuses, military bases and commercial properties throughout the country and world.

“Free Wi-Fi is a highly requested service and my administration is thrilled to make it happen,” said Governor David Y. Ige. “Thousands of people have connected in just the first week of the new service, further enhancing the passenger experience.”

“Boingo is proud to work alongside HDOT to unlock fast, free connectivity for travelers,” said David Hagan, CEO, Boingo. “We look forward to connecting the millions of passengers that fly through Hawaii’s airports each year and satisfy their mobile demands.”

The Wi-Fi coverage area at HNL includes the Overseas Terminal and Central Concourse on the first and second levels between ticket lobbies 4-8, gates 12-25 and baggage claims E-H. Boingo is working on wireless infrastructure improvements that will add Wi-Fi coverage to the Diamond Head Concourse, Ewa Concourse and Interisland Terminal in the coming months, with airport-wide service anticipated for early spring 2018.

Customers can receive unlimited fast, free Wi-Fi sponsored by advertisers, or can opt for even faster speeds by purchasing a one-day or monthly Boingo subscription. Additional information can be found by visiting the following FAQ website by clicking here.

In addition to Wi-Fi, Boingo is building a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) network at HNL, a wireless solution that is designed to boost cellular connectivity for passengers.

HDOT and Boingo will bring Wi-Fi and DAS networks to additional airports in Hawaii including, Kahului Airport (OGG), Hilo International Airport (ITO), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) and Lihue Airport (LIH) beginning in 2018.

Boingo offers 24/7 customer service by calling 800-880-4117 or emailing support@boingo.com.

Revenue Per Available Room for Hawaii Hotels Grew 5.5 Percent in November 2017

Hotels in the Hawaiian Islands earned more revenue per available room (RevPAR) in November at $190 (+5.5%) compared to a year ago, according to the Hawaii Hotel Performance Report released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Additionally, both average daily rate (ADR) in November at $243 (+1.4%) and occupancy at 78.5 percent (+3 percentage points) grew year-over-year.

HTA’s Tourism Research Division issued the report’s findings utilizing data compiled by STR, Inc., which conducts the largest and most comprehensive survey of hotel properties in the Hawaiian Islands.

Jennifer Chun, HTA director of tourism research, commented, “November was a good month for hotel properties as a whole, as RevPAR increased statewide and for each island county, most notably on the neighbor islands. These across-the-board increases help support jobs and families in each county and generate increased state tax revenue, which ultimately helps to fund community needs statewide.

“The biggest eye-opener for November were the impressive results reported for Midscale and Economy Class hotels, with RevPAR jumping by 18.4 percent and occupancy by 10.1 percent. That kind of increase in occupancy is phenomenal considering that tourism in Hawaii has been thriving in recent years. It’s a sign the industry did an effective job in attracting price-conscious travelers, especially to Oahu where the increase in occupancy was 12.9 percent.

“Year-to-date, hotel properties on the island of Hawaii and Kauai continue to report the strongest rate of growth in both RevPAR and occupancy. Occupancy for Kauai hotels has risen to 76.8 percent and for hotels on the island of Hawaii to 74.3 percent, meaning the gap between these islands with hotel occupancies on Oahu and Maui has closed considerably this year.”

As seen in the accompanying tables, all classes of hotel properties in Hawaii earned more per available room in November compared to a year ago. Midscale and Economy Class hotels charted the highest RevPAR growth statewide for November to $111 (+18.4%), boosted by growth in both occupancy at 79.1 percent (+10.1 percentage points) and ADR at $140 (+3.3%).

Upper Upscale Class properties statewide achieved the highest occupancy rate at 83.6 percent (+1.2 percentage points) in November, however, ADR for this class of hotel properties remained unchanged from a year ago.

All four island counties in Hawaii achieved higher RevPAR in November year-over-year. Hotels in Maui County recorded the highest RevPAR at $236 (+6.5%), supported by growth in both ADR to $314 (+4.7%) and occupancy at 75.2 percent (+1.2 percentage points).

Kauai hotels earned the largest gain in RevPAR to $168 (+13%) in November, boosted by increases in ADR to $232 (+4.2%) and occupancy at 72.5 percent (+5.6 percentage points).

Hotels on the island of Hawaii achieved the highest rate of growth in occupancy at 73.2 percent, up 10.8 percentage points, in November. This drove the island’s RevPAR growth to $167 (+12.9%), despite the ADR declining to $228 (-3.8%).

Oahu hotels reported a small increase in RevPAR to $180 (+2.3%), with modest growth in occupancy at 82.1 percent (+1.5 percentage points) offsetting flat ADR of $219 (+0.4%). Waikiki hotels performed similarly to last November.

Hotels in Hawaii’s luxury resort areas performed well in November compared to a year ago, with Wailea leading the state in RevPAR to $409 (+13.2%), ADR to $489 (+7.5%), and occupancy at 83.8 percent (+4.2 percentage points ). The Lahaina-Kaanapali-Kapalua resort area reported growth in RevPAR to $194 (+4.4%) and ADR to $258 (+2.6%), with occupancy at 75.1 percent (+1.3 percentage points).

The Kohala Coast resort area reported strong growth in RevPAR to $231 (+8.5%), driven by an increase in occupancy at 69.6 percent (+6 percentage points), which offset a slight dip in ADR to $333 (-0.9%).

Year-to-Date 2017
Year-to-date through November, Hawaii hotels statewide reported growth in RevPAR to $208 (+5.7%), ADR to $259 (+4.2%) and occupancy at 80.2 percent (up 1.1 percentage points).

Through the first 11 months of the year, Luxury Class hotels achieved the strongest overall results of all hotel classes, with increases in RevPAR to $384 (+7.3%), ADR to $506 (+4.8%) and occupancy at 75.7 percent (+1.8 percentage points).

Midscale and Economy Class hotels also reported a strong increase in RevPAR to $117 (+5.8%), supported by growth in ADR to $151 (+3.2%) and occupancy at 77.6 percent (+1.9 percentage points).

Hawaii Supplemental Budget Proposal Builds on Progress Made in Education, Housing, Homelessness, Sustainability, Capital Improvements

Gov. Ige unveiled his Supplemental Budget proposal today, asking the State Legislature to continue supporting programs that tackle many of the challenges our communities face.

“Last year’s biennium budget invested in programs that have helped us address our state’s biggest problems. Evidence shows that we’ve made progress in many of our high priority areas, while being smart about managing taxpayer dollars,” said Gov. Ige.

Housing production is up. Homelessness is down nearly nine percent across the state. Our classrooms are cooler. Hawai‘i is a recognized national and international leader in sustainability and clean energy. And Moody’s Analytics reports that Hawai‘i is one of only 16 states with enough cash reserves to weather the “stress test” of another recession.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET OVERVIEW

Operating:
FY 19 amendments total $85.5 million – an increase of .6 percent over FY 19 Operating appropriations in the biennium budget (all revenue sources).

Capital Improvements:
FY 19 amendments total $1.497 billion, an increase of 215 percent over FY 19 CIP appropriations in the biennium budget (all revenue sources).

The state’s improved G.O. bond ratings and lower interest rates make it a favorable time to invest in the state’s infrastructure. These capital projects have broad economic impact, supporting about 14,000 jobs of which 5,520 will be in the construction industry.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

Education:
• $2.8 million for the Hawaii Keiki program that provides school-based health services
• $1 million for the Early College High School initiative
• $700,000 for the Hawai‘i Promise Scholarship Program
• $15 full-time positions and $1.2 million to support underserved regions and populations at UH Mānoa and the community colleges
Also,
• $150 million in capital improvement projects to improve public school facilities
• $120 million in total CIP for the University of Hawai‘i
The future begins with investing in education and improving school facilities to make a difference for generations of students.

Housing:
We are asking for a cash infusion of more than $100 million. This includes:
• $25 million CIP for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund, statewide
• $50 million CIP for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund, statewide
The Department of Hawaiian Homelands is helping in the effort to produce more housing.
• $10 million CIP for repairs and maintenance of existing infrastructure
• $15 million CIP for lot development
“Our efforts are paying off. Since I’ve been in office, 5,300 units have been completed, 40 percent of them affordable. There are another 1,400 under construction and 4,500 units in the planning stages. Let’s build on our momentum,” Ige said.

Homelessness:
• $15 million for Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing, housing subsidies, homeless outreach services, and other homeless initiatives (this includes $5 million for property storage and trash/debris removal)
• $800,000 for homeless outreach and counseling services for chronically homeless persons experiencing severe substance use disorders
To maintain safety in public areas:
• Asking for 8 FTE (full time equivalent) permanent positions and $419,302 for deputy sheriffs positions to support homeless and illegal camping operations
• $300,000 for staff time and equipment to support homelessness policy reinforcement statewide for the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
“For the first time in eight years, there are fewer homeless people across the state – a decline of nearly nine percent. We hope the State Legislature continues to support our efforts to put more families in homes and drastically reduce our homeless population,” Ige said.

Sustainable Hawai‘i:
• $5 million for cash infusion for the Agricultural Loan Revolving Fund
• $2.8 million for agricultural infrastructure improvements
• $8.3 million for watershed protection
• $7 million for land acquisition for forest reserve expansion on O‘ahu and Maui
• $8.7 million for state parks infrastructure and improvements
“We are asking for this funding to continue support of the initiatives announced at last year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress – protecting our natural resources, doubling local food production, and growing our economy,” said Ige.
Other highlights:
• $4.5 million for Kupuna Care and Caregivers programs
• $536,819 in operating funds for Maui and Kauai County lifeguard protection at beaches under the jurisdiction of DLNR
• $69 million in revenue bonds for Kona International Airport permanent federal inspection station
• $16.5 million CIP for the Tax System Modernization project
“We see progress on complex issues, and this budget aligns our values and programs with those actions we know will make a difference. My administration remains focused on doing things the right way to achieve the best outcomes for the State of Hawai‘i,” Gov. Ige said.

Health Insurance Subsidies Available for Small Businesses

The Hawaiʻi Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) received $428,864 in federal funds to help augment the Prepaid Health Care Premium Supplementation Trust Fund (PSF). The PSF allows eligible small employers to receive partial reimbursement for health care BIN SYLE ONE WORD premiums that have been paid during a business year. Since 2011, the PSF has paid out over $2 million.

On Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, Hawaiʻi was granted a waiver from the Federal Affordable Care Act requirement that a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) operate in the state. As a result, the related Federal Tax Credit previously available was terminated for plan years beginning after Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. In place of the tax credit, Hawaiʻi will receive federal funds of approximately $2.7 million for plan years beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017 through Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.

Section 393-45 of the Prepaid Health Care Act (PHC) details the requirements small employers must satisfy in order to qualify for a reimbursement. The requirements are as follows:

  • The employer employs less than eight employees entitled to PHC coverage.
  • The employer’s healthcare plan is approved by DLIR.
  • The employer’s share of the premium cost for eligible employees (single coverage only) must exceed 1.5% of the total wages payable to such employees and the amount of the excess must be greater than 5% of the employer’s income before taxes directly attributable to the business.

In addition, the reimbursement is only for plan years beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.

For more information on how to apply and obtain a claim form (HC-6), visit the DLIR website.

For additional questions or information, call (808) 586-9239 or email the PHC office at dlir.prepaidhealthcare@hawaii.gov.

Hawai‘i Gas Prices on the Rise

Wikicommons photo.

Average retail gasoline prices in Honolulu have risen 4.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.04/g Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 214 gas outlets in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

This compares with the national average that has increased 1.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.55/g.

Including the change in gas prices in Honolulu during the past week, prices on Sunday were 27 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 12.1 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

The national average has increased 8.6 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 39.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on Nov. 12 in Honolulu have ranged widely over the last five years:

  • $2.77/g in 2016
  • $2.72/g in 2015
  • $3.86/g in 2014
  • $3.93/g in 2013
  • $4.11/g in 2012

On average, gas prices across the state $3.54/g, up 17.4 cents per gallon from last week’s $3.37/g.

“If you use gas prices to figure out the time of year it is, you’d probably think it’s spring based on the continued upward trend showing up in much of the country,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Absent is the beloved fall at the pump that we’re used to that accompanies the fall weather, but apparently this year is playing a trick on motorists. The cheapest price this year was in July while the most expensive showed up after the driving season concluded as Harvey hit, and we may get closer to that mark as gasoline inventories continue to drift to new multi-year lows. It’s been a lousy time for motorists, and I’d expect to see some cut their spending during the holidays as gas prices are up.”

For live fuel price averages, go online.

Hawaiian Electric Begins Soliciting Renewable Energy Proposals

Creative Commons image

To continue their progress toward achieving Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals, the Hawaiian Electric Companies plan to seek new renewable energy projects for O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island beginning in early 2018.

In early October, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) granted the companies’ request to start the regulatory process to issue requests for proposals (RFP) enabling the execution of the companies’ five year action plan for more renewable generation.

Hawaiian Electric Companies has also filed with the PUC its proposed process for competitively procuring the largest amount of renewable resources ever to be developed in Hawai‘i. The filing includes drafts of proposed RFPs and new model for renewable power purchase contracts.

The companies are requesting stakeholder and market feedback on these draft documents over the next month to inform its plans and to launch an expedited RFP process in 2018.

In line with the Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) for Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light accepted by regulators in July, the companies intend to issue RFPs in two stages over the next two years for renewable resources it targeted through 2022. Those resources include:

220 megawatts (MW) of renewable generation for O‘ahu

100 MW for the island of Maui, including 40 MW of firm renewable generation

50 MW for Hawai‘i Island

The companies also intend to provide developers the option to include energy storage in their bids. The two-stage RFP process is designed to expedite execution of the first stage so that developers can take advantage of investment tax credits before they expire, lowering costs for customers.

Yesterday’s filing includes a proposed model contract between the companies and developers of renewable projects. The contracts, known as power purchase agreements (PPA), are designed to address the unique challenges of operating island grids with high concentrations of renewables.

Working with experts in the industry, the new model PPA seeks to achieve greater flexibility for utilities to dynamically and cost-effectively dispatch power from the new projects and to lower risks to developers and their financiers, resulting in lower costs to customers.

A new element of the proposed RFPs would require developers that advanced to negotiations to publicly engage with communities where their projects may be sited before a PPA is signed and again after an executed PPA is sent to regulators. This feedback will be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission as part of the contract review process. The companies are adopting this new requirement in its energy procurement process out of recognition that communities should have greater visibility into the process and have better engagement with developers.

“With the commission’s acceptance of our PSIP, we are entering a new period of renewable energy acquisition. We are now focused on creating and successfully executing a competitive process for renewable generation that will help achieve our vision for sustainable communities and result in cost competitive and reliable service to our customers,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of business development and strategic planning.

“This series of RFPs is a critical component of meeting Hawaii’s renewable energy goals and will require the coordinated efforts of many parties including developers, land owners, regulators, government entities and many stakeholders to make it a reality.”

The PSIP accepted by the commission describes key goals such as seeking nearly 400 megawatts of new renewable resources by 2021. When the PUC opened the docket for this procurement process it urged the companies to move quickly on a transparent, timely and successful procurement process to work with developers and capture federal investment tax credits before they expire. The draft RFPs and proposed PPA language are intended to meet the commission’s objectives. The companies are also proposing a series of technical conferences and consultation with stakeholders such as prospective renewable developers.

The companies’ proposed timeline calls for issuing the final RFPs in the first quarter of 2018 with selection of developers and contract negotiations expected to start in the second quarter. The draft documents, of primary interest to prospective renewable energy developers, may be reviewed at www.hawaiianelectric.com/competitivebidding.

In December 2016, the companies issued a request for information to land owners to identify land available for renewable energy projects. The results were provided to interested developers to help streamline the development process and facilitate the matching of sites and projects. This information continues to be available to interested developers at hawaiianelectric.com/landrfi.

 

Aid for Tenants, Landlords Program Expands to Kauai

Following the success of a program that helps landlords to get paid and keep tenants from being evicted on Oahu and in Maui County, Steps to Avoid Eviction is now available on Kauai.

The STAE program guides homeowners and tenants to resolve disputes without going to court. Its goals are to teach renters how to avoid evictions and to ensure that landlords can consistently collect rental income that is due.

Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong

“When landlord-tenant cases enter the judicial system, it is often too late to amicably resolve their issues,” said Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong. “We hope that by providing advance information and available resources, all parties may address their problems before someone files a lawsuit.”

The potential impact for Kauai is strong. A recent U.S. Census Bureau study indicated that 25 percent of the island’s 30,238 total housing units are occupied by renters. Furthermore, the population of 71,735 residents is growing an average of three people daily, the bureau reported.

“I want to thank the participating agencies, and attorneys Craig De Costa, Michelle Premeaux, Patrick Childs, and Linda Vass for assisting with the program and brochure,” Soong added.

The agencies providing strong support for STAE are Kauai Self Help Center; Legal Aid Society; Kauai Economic Opportunity Mediation Services; County of Kauai Housing Agency; Mental Health Kokua; Catholic Charities; Women in Need; Family Life Center Kauai; and The Salvation Army.

“I deeply appreciate the hard work of the attorneys, agencies, and businesses in bringing this important early intervention program to the Garden Island, and thank Judge Soong for his leadership,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald.

The STAE brochure is available through numerous Kauai agencies, including those listed above, and online. A copy of the brochure is attached.

Program information: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/stae
Kauai brochure: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Kauai_STAE_brochure_FINAL.pdf

Real Estate Commision to Hold “Condorama” Education Event

The Real Estate Commission, together with Community Association Institute Hawaiʻi Chapter (CAI) will hold a free “Condorama” event at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol Auditorium on Saturday, November 4, 2017.  The event runs from 9:00 am – 11:00 am and will feature three speakers recognized in the condominium community for their expertise in law, property management and insurance.

In collaboration with the Real Estate Commission, the Community Associations Institute of Hawaiʻi provided the speakers for this event and will assist with condominium education outreach for the public.

The event is open to the public and registration is available online at www.caihawaii.org. For more information the public can call the Real Estate Branch at 808-586‑2643.

AGENDA

8:30 a.m.  – 9:00 a.m.                        Registration

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.                         Welcome and Introductions

9:10 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.                         Do’s & Don’ts of Association Contracts. Lance Fujisaki, Esq. – Partner, Anderson Lahne & Fujisaki

9:40 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.                       Communication, Meets & Volunteerism. Kanani Kaopua – VP, Hawaiian Properties, Ltd.

10:10  a.m. – 10:40 a.m.                    Insurance – How Much is Enough. Sue Savio – President, Insurance Associates, Inc.

10:40 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.                     Questions & Answers

10:55 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.                     Evaluations & Adjournment

Island Air Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection to Fend Off Action by Aircraft Lessors

Interisland Air Service to Continue as Normal; All Tickets and Confirmed Reservations to be Honored

Hawaii Island Air, Inc. (Island Air) announced today it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an effort to continue normal operations while navigating through legal challenges recently presented by the lessors of its aircraft. The bankruptcy filing was caused by threats of legal action to ground the aircraft and strand hundreds of passengers. The filing prevents the threatened action and allows Island Air to continue interisland service for its customers.

During the reorganization process, Island Air expects to fly its scheduled routes as normal and honor all previously purchased tickets and confirmed reservations. In addition, there will be no changes to the Island Miles frequent flyer and other customer service programs, including Kupuna & Keiki Saver Fare, Island Biz corporate travel program, and military and group travel programs.

On October 12, 2017, while in the process of negotiating its aircraft leases with its lessors, Island Air was very surprised that the lessors served them with notices of termination of the leases and demands to surrender its airplanes.

Prioritizing its customers, employees and the communities it serves, Island Air made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy protection. Continuing to operate under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court will allow Island Air to maintain its service to its customers, provide continued employment to its more than 400 valued employees, and ensure a revenue stream so its vendors are paid.

“Island Air will continue to hold our customers and employees, as well as our invaluable vendors, as our main priorities during this reorganization process,” said David Uchiyama, Island Air president and CEO. “Once we have completed the reorganization process, Island Air expects to emerge as a stronger airline with a solid financial structure that will allow us to continue to meet the demands of Hawai‘i’s dynamic interisland market, while positioning us for future growth and expansion.”

As with all companies experiencing a growth in demand, there is an adjustment period. Island Air narrowed its 2017 first quarter loss while revenue continued to rise, making this the airline’s highest quarterly revenue since before 2013 when Island Air was required to begin reporting its financial data to the DOT due to the size of its aircraft. In the second quarter of 2017, the airline earned $12.5 million in revenues, its highest quarterly revenue in more than a decade. In the first quarter of 2017, Island Air flew 172,200 passengers (over double the previous quarter’s figure of 75,102). Additionally, Island Air has increased marketing in North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

In January 2016, Hawai‘i-based investment company PacifiCap acquired controlling interest in Island Air from Ohana Airline Holdings, LLC (OAH), which is wholly owned by Oracle corporation founder Larry Ellison. Since that time the airline has been focused on improving operations, increasing efficiencies and elevating service to customers. This has included strategic investments in equipment and supplies, including upgrading its aircraft fleet, as well as expanding training and resources for employees. In addition, Island Air is currently modernizing its information technology system, which when fully implemented will enhance online reservation and bookings, expand digital services and improve interface with codeshare and interline airline partners.

Founded in 1980 as Princeville Airways, the company was renamed Island Air in 1992 and has been serving the Islands of Hawai‘i for 37 years. Island Air currently offers approximately 200 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, and employs more than 400 individuals throughout the State of Hawai‘i.

Hawaii Awarded $2.25 Million for Youth Disability Workforce Development

Hawaii Youth At Work! Program Expands to Year Around

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was awarded $2.25 million in federal funds to help prepare youth with disabilities to enter the workforce or post-secondary education. The funding enables Hawaii Youth At Work! summer participants to obtain paid work experience during the year, coupled with employment preparation activities.

“The summer program is a resounding success for the youth and it is usually their first paid job,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “We are proud to help expand these opportunities for youth with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii’s workforce.”

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DLIR. DHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division, and Social Services Division counselors and staff work with DLIR workforce staff to place participants in temporary jobs with the State and Counties.

“Despite their ability to occupy a variety of jobs, people with disabilities only account for 20 percent of the workforce, have more than double the unemployment rate compared to the general population and continue to face barriers finding work,” stated DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We’re thrilled to expand this program so these young people have greater opportunity to engage in the workforce and prepare for meaningful employment.”

In 2016, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided 153 youth with disabilities paid work experience in State and County offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Youth were paid $10.00 an hour and worked up to twenty hours per week during the summer months. SYEP 2017 expanded referrals to include youth participants from the DHS’s Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and Social Services Division in addition to VR. 125 participants were placed in State and City offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii.

The funding will strengthen collaborations with businesses and workforce partners to increase the number of youth with disabilities entering career pathways and accessing workforce services. The grant provides funding for services in the Counites of Hawaii and Maui as well as on Oahu. In addition to DHS, key partners include the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, Department of Education, and American Job Centers.

DLIR previously received $2,923,674 in 2011 and $2,500,000 in 2015 in Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) funds to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI funds help refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC); training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships with businesses that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.  TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Hawaii Electric Light’s Energy Fair on Oct. 21

Hawaii Electric Light invites the community to its energy fair on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Keauhou Shopping Center.

The free, family-friendly event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature educational displays, demonstrations, and interactive activities on electrical safety, energy conservation, electric vehicles and fast charger stations, renewable energy, and our plan to reach a 100% renewable energy future.

Fun activities will include games as well as building and racing a model solar boat made with recycled products. Enjoy live, local entertainment by Kahakai Elementary School, The Humble Project, Kealakehe High School Dance Team, Mauka Soul, and Solid Roots Band.

For more information on the energy fair, visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com/energyfair or call 327-0543.

Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Puna Kai Shopping Center Breaks Ground

Today, ground was broken for the new Puna Kai Shopping Center that will be located in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About 100 community members along with dignitaries from the county and the mayor’s office were in attendance.
Pi’ilani Ka’awaloa gave the opening pule (prayer) and blessing of the land while elected officials and company representatives did the actual groundbreaking.

Situated on 9.93 acres, and featuring more than 83,110 SF of retail, office, dining, and entertainment space, Puna Kai will become the community’s premiere shopping center.

Conveniently located at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road & Kahakai Boulevard in the town of Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii.Puna Kai will be grocery anchored by 35,000 SF Malama Market (Malama Market name will be changed). Leasing opportunities are now  being offered from 1,000 SF to 5,540 SF.

Puna Kai, will provide a distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, entertainment, and eateries.
The building architecture will reflect the old Hawaii ambiance and charm, inspiring Puna Kai to be the gathering place in Pahoa that has something for everyone.

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson

Beware of Fake State Investigators

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) is warning the public about at least one individual who posed as a RICO investigator.

The office received information that a letter was sent to a local business asserting a violation and that RICO would be conducting an investigation at that location.  The letter, however, was not sent by an investigator from the RICO office.

Notices from RICO are sent on official letterhead and include contact information for all RICO offices.  Legitimate RICO investigators carry official badges and credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public may request to view the credentials of a RICO investigator to confirm the investigator’s identity. To verify the authenticity of an investigator or a written notice from RICO, the public also may call the RICO office at (808) 587-4272.

The Regulated Industries Complaints Office has opened an investigation into the matter. The impersonation of a public servant is a crime in the State of Hawaii.