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U.S. EPA Awards $100,000 Innovative Technology Contract to Hawaii Small Business

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $100,000 to Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., located in Honolulu, to develop a nontoxic coating for use in water pipeline repair. The company is one of 15 small businesses nationwide receiving a total of $1.6 million to develop technologies that will help protect human health and the environment.

“EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program is awarding funding to these small businesses because they have demonstrated the potential to create technologies that will improve our environment and our economy,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These technologies are focused on creating cutting-edge products that can help solve today’s complex environmental problems and enhance economic growth.”

Oceanit Laboratories received the funding to develop a corrosion-resistant, nontoxic coating to protect the interior of aging pipelines. The application process for the coating will allow heavily corroded pipes to be retrofitted and refurbished in place.

“Utilizing Oceanit’s family of EverPel repellent coatings, which can be applied in-situ via in-line pigging to previously worn and in-service pipelines, we are addressing the need for rapid, cost-efficient refurbishment of water transport pipelines without the need for full excavation and replacement,” said Matthew Nakatsuka, Senior Materials Engineer for Oceanit. “We look forward to applying and adapting research and technologies from the energy and defense sectors to addressing this pressing domestic concern, and are excited to work with the EPA in developing new ways to promote public health and infrastructure safety.”

EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding boosts local economies by creating jobs and promoting collaborations among small businesses through product testing and research. The funding also supports technologies aimed at creating cleaner manufacturing materials and better infrastructure in communities.

Companies compete for SBIR Phase I awards of up to $100,000 by submitting research that addresses key environmental issues. After receiving a Phase I award, companies are eligible to compete for Phase II awards of $300,000 to further develop and commercialize the technology.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR Program established by the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982.

For more information on EPA’s SBIR Phase I recipients, visit https://go.usa.gov/xRHhV.

Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program at www.epa.gov/sbir.

Learn more about the SBIR Program across the federal government at www.sbir.gov/

USS Cheyenne Holds Change of Command Ceremony

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) held a change of command ceremony at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 14.

In 2011 I was invited aboard the USS Cheyenne for a tour.

Cmdr. John T. Gonser relieved Cmdr. John W. Stafford as the commanding officer of Cheyenne and its crew.

Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander, Submarine Group Seven, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and praised Stafford for his achievements and dynamic leadership during his three-year tenure.

“Cmdr. Stafford achieved success because he gets out of the way and lets the officers, chief petty officers and crew do their jobs,” said Correll. “Our very best commanding officers, such as John here, know that their job is to really know their Sailors, and to help every member of their crew be successful by putting them in situations where their strengths are magnified.”

Under Stafford’s leaderships, the crew of the Cheyenne earned the 2015 Squadron Seven Engineering “E” award, 2016 Battle Efficiency “E” award and the 2016 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in battle efficiency competition.

Stafford thanked the members of the Cheyenne crew, his family, the support on the waterfront and her namesake city.

“Thank you to the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” said Stafford. “One of my biggest regrets was not making it to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but all the crew members, who did attend, remarked at the love the city has for its submarine. Thank you to the patriots of middle America.”

During the ceremony, Stafford received a Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service.

As Gonser assumed command, he praised his new crew for the incredible opportunity to continue carrying out his duty to uphold the reputation and demands of the Cheyenne.

“This ship and crew have an impressive history and reputation,” said Gonser. “While we should take pride in being part of this legacy, here is my challenge to you, and my promise to you. Together we will serve our country whenever and wherever our nation’s security demands and live to make those who came before you proud of us.”

Following his relief, Stafford will report to commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was the last of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines to enter service in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned Sept. 13, 1996. Cheyenne measures more than 360-feet long and weigh more than 6,000 tons when submerged.

Informational Meetings on Rat Lungworm Disease Revised Scheduled Around Oahu

A series of three informational meetings on rat lungworm disease (RLWD) has been scheduled on Oahu this month. The meetings are being coordinated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).

The meetings have been scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 @ Waimanalo Elementary/Intermediate School Cafeteria, 41-1330 Kalanianaole Hwy., 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • *REVISED LOCATION: Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 @ Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC), 94-340 Kunia Rd., 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • *REVISED LOCATION: Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 @ Kahuku High School Cafeteria, 56-490 Kamehameha Hwy., 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Farmers, home gardeners and interested individuals are encouraged to attend.  Agricultural and health officials will make brief presentations and provide information on how to reduce the risk of RLWD and other foodborne illnesses, especially on farms and in gardens.

Those with a Hawaii State Department of Agriculture Pesticide License will be able to obtain 2.0 HDOA Agricultural Pesticide Applicator CEUs for attending the entire presentation.

RLWD is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a parasitic nematode called Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which may be carried by rodents, snails, slugs and other animals including freshwater shrimp, land crabs and frogs. Humans can acquire the infection by eating raw or undercooked snails, slugs or other animals infected with the parasite.

The DOH reports that in 2017, there have been 16 laboratory-confirmed cases of RLWD statewide:

  • Hawaii Island: nine cases
  • Maui: six cases
  • Oahu: one case
  • Kauai: no cases

The average number of cases per year statewide typically range from two to 11.

More information on RLWD may be found at:

Honolulu New Park Rules Crack Down on Sale or Distribution of Expressive Materials

I wish Hawaii County would adopt similar rules to get the kook James Borden out of Lincoln Park once and for all:

James Borden Facebook picture

Honolulu – New rules are now in effect concerning the sale or distribution of expressive materials in Honolulu city parks.  The new rules became effective September 8, 2017.

The prior “Rules and Regulations Governing the Sale of Message-bearing Merchandise by Nonprofit Organizations in City Parks and Facilities” has been repealed, and new rules under Honolulu Administrative Rules Title 19, Chapter 18 entitled “Sale or Distribution of Expressive Materials” have been adopted.

Under the new rules, expressive materials are permitted for sale and distribution. Expressive materials are defined as any written or printed material containing political, religious, philosophical or ideological messages. This includes, but is not limited to: books, pamphlets, handbills, cards, circulars, pictures, magazines, and leaflets.

Additionally, there are numerous items defined as merchandise whose sale is prohibited under the new rules. The items include, but are not limited to: food, drink, coffee mugs, beverage containers, sunglasses, flags, records, patches, maps, jewelry, handicraft, decals, audio or video tapes, shirts, hats, ties, shorts, footwear or any other clothing article.

Sales permits approved under the old rules for the month of September 2017, prior to the implementation of the new rules, will be honored.

Other rules for permitted sales within parks, such as those outlined by temporary concession permits and designated concessionaire agreements, are not affected by these new rules as they do not apply to the sale and distribution of expressive materials in conjunction with a First Amendment activity.

Under the new rules, a permit is necessary for use of a portable table, within a designated area, for the purposes of selling or distributing expressive materials. The designated areas are located where there will be minimal impact to other park functions and facilities. The portable tables and all materials must be removed from the site each day and nothing can be stored at the park location. Permit applications for these activities will not be accepted more than a year before the proposed request date and cannot be used for a period lasting longer than 14 days.

The Department of Parks and Recreation reserves the right to seize and dispose of any merchandise being sold or distributed on park land in violation of these rules.

A public hearing was held on these proposed changes on February 22, 2017 at the Mission Memorial Building, with public notice given beginning on January 20, 2017.

The new rules are available online at parks.honolulu.gov in the “Rules & Regulations” section.

Hōkūleʻa to Visit O’ahu’s North Shore – Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail

Hōkūleʻa is scheduled to depart the Marine Education Training Center (METC) at Sand Island on Thursday, September 14, and will sail to the next stop on the Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail: Haleʻiwa, Oʻahu. During the 10-day Haleʻiwa engagement, crew members will participate with the community in events and activities that will highlight the recent Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage as well as the work being done on Oʻahu’s North Shore to care for Island Earth.

Events during the stop in Haleʻiwa will include outreach events, local school visits, service projects, crew presentations, and canoe tours. The following events have been scheduled to date. The public is encouraged to check hokulea.com for daily updates:

Haleʻiwa Engagement Schedule (*All dates and times subject to change)
(Local contact email: hokuinhaleiwa@gmail.com. Updates on Wanana Paoa Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/wanana.paoa.7)

Friday, September 15

7:00 p.m.
Hōkūleʻa Crew Talk Story, Surfer, the Bar at Turtle Bay ResortPolynesian Voyaging Society president and navigator Nainoa Thompson along with crewmembers from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage will share stories from the epic three-year journey around the globe. Free and open to the public.Participants (tentative): Nainoa Thompson, Kamaki Worthington, Kaimana Bacarse, Eric Co, Sam Kapoi, Kalepa Baybayan, http://www.turtlebayresort.com/Oahu-Restaurants/Surfer-The-Bar

Saturday, September 16

10:00 a.m.
Arrival ceremony at Haleʻiwa Harbor
Join the Hale’iwa community to ho’okipa Hōkūle’a to Hale’iwa.

1 – 5 p.m.
Public Canoe Tours, Haleʻiwa Harbor
Visit Hōkūle’a and take a tour of the wa’a

Sunday, September 17

1 – 5 p.m.
Public Canoe Tours, Haleʻiwa Harbor
Visit Hōkūle’a and take a tour of the wa’a

7:00 p.m.
Hōkūleʻa Crew Talk Story, Surfer, the Bar at Turtle Bay Resort
Polynesian Voyaging Society navigators will share how they apply ancestral wisdom and ʻike through storms, doldrums, and more in their experiences around the world. Free and open to the public. Participants (tentative) – Kamaki Worthington moderator, Austin Kino, Noelani Kamalu, Jason Patterson, Bryson Hoe, Kaleo Wong

Monday, September 18 & Tuesday, September 19

All Day Scheduled school tours and visits. (By appointment only)

Wednesday, September 20

All Day Scheduled school tours and visits. (By appointment only)

5 – 9 p.m.
Hōkūleʻa Crew and North Shore Community Talk Story at Waimea Valley
Special guests from Hōkūleʻa crew and local organizations will share inspirational stories about the Worldwide Voyage and discuss how it has catalyzed action in our North Shore, Oʻahu community. Celebrate progress and learn how you and your ʻohana can be involved. https://www.waimeavalley.net/

Thursday, September 21

All Day Scheduled school tours and visits. (By appointment only)

Friday, September 22

Morning Scheduled school tours and visits. (By appointment only)

6:30 – 9 p.m.
Hōkūleʻa Crew Talk Story at Patagonia Haleʻiwa
John Bilderback will present a photographerʻs view tracking brilliant moments and events throughout the epic three-year Mālama Honua journey around the globe alongside Worldwide Voyage crewmembers who sailed Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia. Free and open to the public.
http://www.patagonia.com/patagonia-north-shore-66-250-kamehameha-highway-haleiwa-hawaii-96712/store_924602999.html

Saturday, September 23

2 p.m. Hōkūleʻa departs for Hanalei

About the Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail
The Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail will give PVS an opportunity to thank Hawaiʻi’s people, bring Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia home to all of Hawaiʻi, share lessons learned from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and deepen the organization’s connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for the earth. During the port visits, PVS will engage with schools and organizations through outreach events, service projects, crew presentations and canoe tours.

September Port Dates (tentative and subject to change):
• September 15 – 22, 2017: Haleʻiwa
• September 24 – 26, 2017: Hanalei

October through May port dates will be posted as they become available.

Media Darling Monk Seal Kaimana Hooked on Labor Day

The monk seal pup (RJ58), named Kaimana, who became a public and media darling after being born on the popular Waikiki beach of the same name was hooked on Labor Day. Volunteers from Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response spotted her around noon with a hook with a lure hanging from her mouth. They’d seen her two hours earlier without a hook.

The monk seal response team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service was called in to assess the situation and remove the hook which was attached superficially. Before they arrived, Kaimana was able to shake off the hook and lure on her own and began resting on the beach where she was relocated to in August. The seal was examined and a small wound was found, but no signs of infection. She continues to be monitored, is in excellent body condition and is behaving normally.

RJ58 was hooked with a type of lure typically used by fishermen casting or “whipping” for fish like papio or ulua. It is rare for monk seals to be hooked with this type of gear. While continued collaboration with fishermen is needed to better understand how seals become hooked, available data indicate that monk seals are most often hooked with hooks associated with “slide bait” or baited hooks cast from shore and held near the bottom with a weighted line.

Between 1976 and 2016, there have been 155 documented hooking’s and entanglements in gill nets, which resulted in 12 monk seal deaths. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “NOAA and DLNR are grateful to the many people who have called into our monk seal reporting hotlines to report injured or hooked monk seals. These calls have often resulted in life-saving actions for our critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals.”

Considering the fouling (algal growth) on the lure, it was probably not being actively used when Kaimana was hooked. The likely scenario is the lure was snagged on the bottom and Kaimana hooked herself by mouthing it. Fishermen can help reduce the chances of this type of interaction by taking extra care to retrieve as much gear as possible.

NOAA and DLNR remind people to please fish responsibly by following these best practices developed in consultation with leaders in the fishing community:

  • Take care when casting if a seal is in the area
  • Fish with barbless circle-hooks
  • Clean catch away from seals
  • Seals are wild animals. Never approach a hooked seal, call for help (888-256-9840).

Hawaii Representative Responds on Why She Voted Yes With Reservations During Special Legislative Session


Hawaii Island Representative Joy SanBuenventura posted the following response on her Facebook page as to why she voted Yes (with reservations) on the recent controversial rail bill:

Representative Joy SanBuenaventura

“Why I voted Yes with Reservations: For the reason I voted no in 2015 because I did not like the rail fiasco, I don’t trust Caldwell’s numbers & the amendment to exempt neighbor island from TAT surcharge (which I voted for and spoke up for) overwhelmingly failed. The 2015 rail bill passed which led to the rock & hard place we are in now: If this current bill failed by 9/15, we would be stuck with an $800 million bill to fed govt (That’s why Hanabusa and Schatz stepped in when they stayed away previously – they saw that the leg was willing to let rail fail by our lack of agreement when 2017 session ended & our unwillingness to schedule a special session- the special session was scheduled at the last possible minute prior to 9/15 fed deadline & only after Hanabusa & Schatz stepped in). We no longer have Dan Inouye nor President Obama and our fed legislators keep speaking out against trump- so fed relationships needed to be retained with the day-to-day non-appointees who actually administer the fed grant $. Hanabusa & Schatz were concerned that if rail died, ALL our fed grants are subject to re-review. Half our highways our funded by feds, including Hwy 130. Someone needs to keep nagging DoT so that Hwy 130 doesn’t lose its place in the STIP and I didn’t want to give DoT another excuse not to fund 4-lanes (they already allowed the $15 mil for the alternate access to lapse & they already blame me for the failure of the gas tax they wanted in 2016 session). DoT was in every rail hearing even if sometimes they don’t testify.

The TAT was always a state tax created in 1986 to help the tourist industry create a convention center and to advertise Hawaii as a destination. In 1991 various grants were given to the counties so that they can promote their own tourism on their island. The big island gets 18.6% of the county share (at least 4% more than we are entitled to because Harvey Tajiri who was once finance chair juiced it) – with this county vs. state debate, a tracking-down of where the money is generated is going to occur and I suspect the big island will lose this advantage because our visitor count shows only 14% of visitor arrivals vs. statewide. The huge pressure to vote “no” has already cost the Big Island to lose statewide power when Cindy Evans lost her majority leadership position – so this huge pressure to vote “no” when the “yes” votes were going to win only led the big island to a worse bargaining position when state monies are used for grants and capital improvements. Most neighbor island reps supported the amendment making this an Oahu-only TAT but we were overwhelmingly outvoted – so the “yes” votes were going to win regardless.

The current bill was a compromise between the 2 chambers & the hotel/tourist industry – It was originally 2-3% of TAT. It was meant to export the tax to tourists after Caldwell’s testimony that tourists paid for most of it and Hanneman stating that 90-99% of hotels are rented to out-of -state residents. The original neighbor island tax referred to in Civil Beat was a statewide GE surcharge which option was soundly rejected by all. TAT is deductible by residents but GE is mostly deductible based upon income. Moreover, I felt this bill was a move towards a more equitable tax away from the regressive GE which is a tax on everything and is paid by everyone including those who cannot afford a hotelroom. Everyone was already paying the Oahu GE surcharge without knowing it because the GE is a tax on wholesale items and even on the tax itself that’s why its 4.1666666 not just 4%.

As to lack of notice: Unless there is a constitutional amendment for a year-long legislative session, this lack of notice will always be a problem because we have 60 days to parse through hundreds of bills and every year we asked for funding for neighbor island residents to testify, we lose. The rail bill like all bills had the 48-hour notice and in this case because there was a special session, it got even more notice than the other bills; and frankly, I called a certain councilperson when this bill was going through the transportation committee in the original session as to the county position before it got to the yes or no stage – but got no response back (I suspect she did not want to violate the sunshine law by just polling members & the mayor on interim positions before getting back to me). Again I remain committed to lessen the burden on local B-n-B’s caused by this bill by introducing a bill next session and I invite the local b-n-b’s to give me a proposed draft of such a bill.”

 

House Transportation and Finance Committees Pass Rail Funding Bill

The House of Representatives committees on Transportation and Finance today passed SB4, a critical step in moving the bill forward to provide the funds needed to complete the City’s rail project.

Senate Bill 4 Report Title:  County Surcharge on State Tax; Extension; Transient Accommodations Tax; Appropriations:

Authorizes a county that has adopted a surcharge on state tax to extend the surcharge to 12/31/2030. Authorizes a county to adopt a surcharge on state tax before 3/31/2018, under certain conditions. Decreases from 10% to 1% the surcharge gross proceeds retained by the State. Allows the director of finance to pay revenues derived from the county surcharge under certain conditions. Clarifies uses of surcharge revenues. Establishes a mass transit… (See bill for full description.)

Stakeholders and the public testified at the State Capitol today including City, State and HART officials before both committees voted to pass the bill. Transportation voted 4 to 2 in favor with one excused, and Finance voted 8 to 6 in favor of the bill with one excused.

Transportation members voting yes were: Henry Aquino, Nadine Nakamura, Joy San Buenaventura (with reservations), and Bob McDermott. Voting no were: Sean Quinlan and Tom Brower. Mark Hashem was excused.

Finance members voting yes were: Sylvia Luke, Ty J.K. Cullen, Cedric Asuega Gates, Daniel Holt, Jarrett Keohokalole, Matt LoPresti, Nadine Nakamura and Kyle Yamashita. Voting no were: Romy Cachola, Bertrand Kobayashi, Lynn DeCoite, Nicole Lowen, Andria Tupola and Gene Ward. Beth Fukumoto was excused.

The bill contains two funding mechanisms: a three-year extension of the 0.5 % GET surcharge on Oahu and a 13-year 1% increase in the TAT statewide. This bill ensures that the City’s rail project will be sufficiently funded and reaches Ala Moana.

Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke said the bill also mandates accountability for hard-earned taxpayer money.

“This bill will provide enough money to fund the City’s rail project to Ala Moana and require the City to be transparent about how they are spending that taxpayer money,” Rep. Luke said.

The bill provides accountability by requiring a state-run audit and annual financial reviews of the rail project, and requires the State Comptroller to certify HART’s invoices for capital costs. The bill also requires the Senate President and the House Speaker to each appoint two non-voting, ex-officio members to the HART board of directors.

Transportation Committee Chair Henry Aquino said not depending solely on the GET to fund rail will save taxpayer money.

“By adding the hotel room tax to the mix, which provides and immediate cash flow to the project, we are saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars that would be spend on financing fees,” Rep. Aquino said.

The bill now moves to the full House for a vote on second reading tomorrow.

Hawaii Senate Passes Rail Bill

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today passed Senate Bill 4 on third reading by a vote of 16-9 to provide funding to complete construction on the City and County of Honolulu’s rail transit project.

SB4 addresses the City and County of Honolulu’s rail construction shortfall of $2.378 billion by extending the General Excise Tax on Oahu for three additional years through December 31, 2030 which will provide $1.046 billion. It also raises the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) by one percent to 10.25 percent for 13 years, to December 31, 2030. This will provide $1.326 billion. SB4 permanently increases the counties’ share of the TAT from $93 million to $103 million. The measure reduces the State Department of Taxation’s administrative fee on the GET surcharge from 10 percent to one percent. The measure creates a Mass Transit Special Fund to review and disburse funds to the city for its costs on the rail project. It also requires a state run audit of the rail project and annual financial reviews.

SB4 now crosses over to the House for their consideration.

A complete schedule of the hearings can be viewed at www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Mayor Harry Kim Opposed to Permanent Cap on Counties’ Transient Accommodation Tax


Testimony by Harry Kim, Mayor, County of Hawai’i before Senate Ways & Means Re: SB 4:

The County of Hawai’i opposes the permanent cap on the counties’ share of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT). This cap is unnecessary to achieve all other aspects of the bill to finance Honolulu’s rail. The bill proposes to finance rail by extending the General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge period to 12/31/2030, increasing the share of the surcharge that goes to rail by decreasing the administrative charge retained by the State, and increasing the TAT rate by 1% and dedicating all of that increase to rail. There is no reason related to rail financing to cap the share of the TAT to the counties.

A cap on the counties’ TAT share is contrary to the Legislature’s own working group report and the original intent of the TAT tax summarized as follows:

  • Working Group Recommendation. The working group recommended the Tourism Special Fund receive $82 million in FY 2016 and increase in subsequent years in line with the Consumer Price Index for Honolulu, $31 million constant for the Convention Center-Turtle Bay-Special Land Develop Fund, and the remainder split between the State and counties at 55% for the State and 45% for the counties. Based on total TAT revenues in 2016 of $444 million, the $103,000,000 cap represents 31% of the remainder of the TAT after allocations to the Tourism Special Fund ($82 million) and the Convention Center-Turtle Bay-Special Land Development Fund ($33 million). As a result of the cap, the counties’ share will only get worse as tourism grows.
  • Nexus to Tourism Services. The incidence of the TAT is primarily on visitors, so the TAT tax revenues should fund public services which benefit visitors. The UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) estimated that the counties pay for 53% of the services for which visitors directly benefit (UHERO Working Paper No. 2016-4). These services include police and fire protection, rescue, parks, beaches, water, roads, and sewer systems.
  • Act 185 (1990). Recognizing that “many of the burdens imposed by tourism falls on the counties,” the legislature created the TAT as a “more equitable method of sharing state revenues with the counties” (Conference Committee Report 207 on HB No. 1148). The legislature deemed at that time that the fair allocation was 95% of the total TAT revenues to the counties.

The State has multiple sources of revenues. The counties only have property tax, motor vehicle weight tax, and public utility franchise tax. Our out-of-control homeless problems are a symptom of the soaring cost to rent or own a home in Hawai’i. And you want to offer us the power to increase the GET tax, the most regressive form of taxation that impacts the lower income the greatest. We already had to increase our property tax to make ends meet. With the collective bargaining decisions dominated by the State, we again will face possible increases. We ask only for our fair share as recommended by the Working Group, to maintain quality services that uphold the tourism industry and affordability for our people.

EPA Penalizes Kapolei Company for Failing to Close Illegal Cesspool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Fileminders of Hawaii, LLC, requiring the company to close a large-capacity cesspool at its Kapolei facility on Oahu.  Cesspools can contaminate groundwater, and large-capacity cesspools have been banned since 2005.

In May 2016, EPA inspected the Fileminders facility, a records storage company in the Campbell Industrial Park, and found one large-capacity cesspool (LCC) in use. EPA regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act required closure of all existing LCCs by April 5, 2005.

Fileminders, the operator of the cesspool, and Hawaii MMGD, the company’s owner, will pay a civil penalty of $122,000 for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. In June, the cesspool was closed and the company installed an individual wastewater system.

“Closing large cesspools is essential to protecting Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal resources,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA’s large-capacity cesspool inspection and enforcement efforts will continue until illegal cesspools are a distant memory.”

An LCC is a cesspool that serves multiple residential dwellings or a commercial facility with the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, despite the fact that 95 percent of all drinking water in Hawaii comes from groundwater sources. over 3,400 large-capacity cesspools have been closed statewide, many through voluntary compliance.

For more information and to submit comments on this specific agreement, visit

https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders#oahu

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, visit http://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

Hawaii Supreme Court Refuses to Order State to Repair Waikiki Gold Coast Seawalls

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by Waikiki apartment and condominium owners to order the State of Hawaii to pay for repairs to a damaged seawall, or for the owners’ attorney fees after 10 years of litigation, Attorney General Doug Chin announced.

The case, Gold Coast Neighborhood Association v. State of Hawaii, was initiated in 2007 by private individuals owning property situated on what is known as the “Gold Coast” on Oahu. Friday’s decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court ends the case.

The owners sued the State to repair seawalls built by private parties to protect private property from erosion and wave damage. The Supreme Court refused to issue such an order. The Court ruled the State holds an easement over the seawalls and is not liable for attorneys’ fees.

Attorney General Chin said, “We are pleased the Court affirmed our position that the courts are not the proper place to decide how taxpayer money is spent. The State will repair the seawalls if and only if money to do so is appropriated by the state legislature and allocated by the governor.”

The State of Hawaii was represented internally at all stages of the litigation. Supervising Deputy Attorney General Bill Wynhoff tried the case in circuit court and argued the State’s case in both the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The private owners were represented by the firm McCorriston Miller Mukai McKinnon LLP.

A copy of the Supreme Court’s opinion and the dissenting opinion are attached.

Coast Guard Rescues 2 From Sinking Vessel Off Oahu

Two men are safe after being rescued by the Coast Guard from their sinking vessel 35 miles east of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Friday.

The men were hoisted from their vessel by a rescue swimmer aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and were transferred safely back to the air station.

“This case is a textbook demonstration of the equipment you should have on board your vessel and how to use it correctly and effectively,” Charles Turner, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our crews remain Semper Paratus 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, ready to answer the call and bring people home safely to their families.”

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received notification at 12:40 a.m., via VHF Channel 16 from the captain of the 82-foot pleasure craft Point Harris, stating his vessel was taking on water in the two forward water-tight compartments.

The men activated their emergency positioning indicating radio beacon and prepared to abandon ship after unsuccessfully energizing their dewatering pumps.

An HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched to the scene at 1:50 a.m., along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew at 1:58 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), homeported in Honolulu also launched to assist.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene at 2:09 a.m. to assess the situation and provide a visual. The Dolphin helicopter aircrew arrived on scene at 2:34 a.m.

The Dolphin aircrew deployed a rescue swimmer to assess the condition of the vessel. He determined quickly that the vessel was no longer safe and made the decision to hoist the two men and bring them back to the air station.

An urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and a hazard to navigation was issued and the vessel owner will work with Sector Honolulu response personnel to attempt salvage of the vessel.

Weather on scene was reported to be 20 mph with east winds and seas 5 to 8 feet.

No injuries were reported.

Information for 2017 Hawaii Legislature Special Session – How to Submit Testimony

The Legislature’s webmasters have set up a webpage for information on the 2017 Special Session called for Monday, August 28th. It can be found here: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2017a.

This is where you’ll find links to the rail transit funding bill, “SB1 Relating to Transportation Financing”, and the notice for Monday’s 11:30 a.m. 3:00 p.m. WAM hearing (link to hearing notice). The hearing notice lists special email addresses for submitting your testimony.

Note: The hearing will be broadcast on Olelo on channel 49, will go out live to neighbor island PEG access TV channels, and can be viewed live online on the Senate webcasts page (http://olelo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=13).

It appears that a number of nominations subject to Senate confirmation will also be considered during the Special Session, as numerous Governor’s Messages appear on the Special Session page.

Any subsequent hearing notices will also appear on the 2017 Special Session webpage.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Public Access Room (PAR) with any questions.

Cover Sheet to Pending Rail Bill to Be Voted On

Here is the cover sheet of the Senate version of the rail bill that Hawaii Legislators will be voting on during the upcoming session on the Honolulu Rail Transportation Project.

It basically calls for:

  • 3 Year General Excise (GE) surcharge extension on Oahu
  • 1% Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) Statewide (Increase hotel tax on all islands for everyone)
  • $103 million TAT to the Counties to be made permanent.

I should re-poll those that refused to answered my survey because they said they haven’t seen the bill, and ask them if they are now voting YES or NO on increasing the TAT Statewide… but I simply don’t have the time!

Representative Mark Nakashima’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Representative Mark Nakashima

Dear Mr. Tucker:
Thank you for your recent email expressing your interest in the up-coming special session on the Issue of Honolulu’s rail system.  Please be assured that I share your concern.  As you know, the decision by the Hawaii Legislature was made before I joined the body, and I believe that questions regarding the state’s commitment to the program as well as other issues regarding the design have already been made.

The House of Representatives voted on the last day of the 2017 Regular Session on an amendment agreed to by with our Senate colleagues on an amendment that would have increased the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) by 1% for eleven years, extended the 0.5% General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge on Oahu for an additional year until 2028, restored $10 million to the county’s portion of the TAT allocation, and create a special fund for education.  Unfortunately, this agreement was not agreed to by the Senate as a whole and the bill died for lack of agreement.

One of the major rationales supported by the City and County of Honolulu for using the GET was the fact that approximately 30% of this cost was borne by visitors who paid the GET during their stay in the islands.  The TAT or hotel room tax is paid only by hotel guests while staying in a hotel room, and as such, the vast majority of this revenue would be paid by visitors with the exception of the local residents travelling inter-island and staying in a hotel.

Much has been said bout not wanting to pay for a project on another island, however I think many people miss the point that the City and County of Honolulu pays the vast majority of GET which then subsidizes the state hospitals and neighborhood schools – a system which work on a group of island where the vast differences in real property tax incomes would otherwise cause great inequities from island to island.

I regret that I will not participate in speculation on the final form of the bill to be considered the legislature until one has been written, as percentages and duration becomes meaningless until I am able to see the justification and rationale for these positions.

Finally, I will reiterate that only people who stay in hotel rooms pay the TAT.  Most residents will never pay this tax.  Everyone in Hawaii pays the GET.

Aloha and Best Wishes.

Sincerely,
Mark Nakashima
District 1


Aloha Rep. Nakashima,
Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Representative Nicole Lowen’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Representative Nicole Lowen

Damon,
I can’t give a yes or no answer about my vote on a bill that I haven’t seen yet, but I appreciate your concern about this and I intend to keep the interests of the Big Island and of my constituents at the forefront. I will be advocating to increase the share of TAT to the counties and for a bill that is in the best interests of taxpayers in my district and across the state.

Mahalo,

Nicole Lowen

——————-

Aloha Rep. Lowen,

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Representative Joy San Buenaventura’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Representative Joy San Buenaventura

As other legislators have noted, this questionnaire is premature in that we have not been told what we will be voting on in the special session. However, it is clear that there are 3 choices (and variations of these 3 choices) facing the legislature regarding rail funding: 1. No additional taxes and have rail be built until current funding runs out. HART claims that this is not an option because the federal government will want its $1.55 billion back. 2. Extend GE taxes forever (original request) or for 10 years until 2037. This is senate’s last position. 3. Increase TAT by 1% for 10 years and GE .5% for only 1 more year and gave back $10 million in TAT to the various counties with honolulu’s entire TAT share paying only for rail. This is the House’s last position. This was originally proposed late in the 2017 session because Mayor Caldwell testified that most of GE taxes were paid for by tourists (without data supporting his assertion); and it was to ensure that tourists did indeed pay for rail like he testified.

The tourist industry has recently spun the third alternative as a neighbor island tax on rail despite the fact that those who travel & stay with friends or family will not pay TAT tax at all; and completely ignoring the fact that a GE tax increase is also a tax on neighbor islanders who buy on-line from stores like Macy’s, Best buy, Sears, Target & Walmart. For the months of April &May 2017, amazon voluntarily collected Hawaii GE taxes too at 4.5% (http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/34933913/sorry-hawaii-your-tax-free-shopping-on-amazon-is-about-to-end) and stopped after it appeared that the US Supreme Court was not going to rule on internet sales but now there are 9 members of the US Supreme Court. See: one-step-closer-to-internet sales tax. Don’t let the tourist industry fool you, a GE tax increase affects everybody, especially neighbor islanders who depend on on-line purchases, and not just Oahu.

The various counties also do not like the TAT increase option because they want the option to collect the .5% GE for its own transportation needs.

To answer your questions:

1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?

It depends on whether the proposed bill gave back to the counties $10 million/year like the latest house position and decreased the GE increase from 10 years down to 1. As I stated earlier, a 10-year GE tax increase affects more neighbor island residents than a TAT increase especially where it is likely that the new 9-member US Supreme Court will rule to allow taxation of all on-line sales. I voted Yes on the house position in 2017.

2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

YES – but this is unrealistic because the State Constitution requires that Hawaii County and all the other counties be given an option to increase their GE tax once we give Honolulu the extensionso it won’t be a Honolulu-only GE tax AND no one has ever testified that 6 years was sufficient. HART and all entities have testified that it is their request that the GE .5% increase extensions be forever because they don’t think it ever will be financially sustainable with just fares alone. HART’s track record of asking for a 10 year extension in 2015 and now another extension 2 years later has shown that they will keep coming back. In 2015, I voted NO on any GE tax increase specifically because I did not want to give Hawaii County an opportunity to raise GE at a time when we were just recovering from Iselle and the lava flow so if it was a statewide increase in GE taxes, like that in 2015, I would likely vote NO again because a GE tax is regressive.

3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

Probably Yes but no one has given us this option and see my objections to any GE tax increase in my prior answers

Rep. Richard H. K. Onishi’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Representative Richard H.K. Onishi

Mr. Tucker,

Thank you for your inquiry, as you know, there are many issues involved in deciding how to fund the Honolulu City & County’s rail project, including the total cost projection, funding from HC&C, Federal funding, public/private partnerships, GET funds, TAT funds, etc. Since there has been no formal proposed bill, your questions are hypothetic options and, may or may not be sufficient to fund the project and there may be combinations of funding methods. I believe that the prudent thing to do is to reserve my comments until after I have seen the proposed bill and have had a chance to ask my questions to the proposers on the details of the project cost and the amount of funding that each source would provide and its potential effect on our residents and tourist. I am also very concern that there needs to be included a method to have the HC&C more accountable for the cost and how the funds are being spent.

Mahalo,
Richard H. K. Onishi


Aloha Rep. Onishi,

Mahalo for representing the Big Island in legislative issues. I have some questions for you folks and hope you will respond to me by Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Questions:
1. Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?
If your answer is YES, please explain why? If your answer is NO, please explain why?
2. Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
3. Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?
YES or NO
Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

Senator Lorraine Inouye’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

 

Senator Lorraine Inouye

Aloha Damon,

Thank you for your email.

Although there are plans to go into Special Session, we have not gotten official word from the Leadership of both Houses, specifically, the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the House, about whether we will convene and the dates. The last week in August has been targeted but no word as of today.

Hence, there Is no draft bill to reference, however there is a federal deadline such that your questions are timely and relevant and I am happy to respond to your questions:

Question 1: Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?

My answer is absolutely NO. The rail project is on O’ahu, and the initial financial plan the Legislature approved 10 years ago was to allow the City and County of Honolulu to increase the GET by ½% specifically for the purposes of building an elevated rail system.

Ten years ago, as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I was one of the Senate negotiators and I supported the original bill for a 1% increase. However, during the course of the hearings, the Oahu Senators and State House of Representatives did not support it and ended up with the final ½%. Had we stayed with the 1%, we would not be in this position today.

As my District 4 constituents know, there is now a proposal under consideration to have the neighbor islands assist with rescuing Oahu on their shortfall by using – or more accurately, absconding – some of the Transient Accommodation Tax generated by Hawaii Island hotels. I absolutely cannot support this.

I have been in my district the last several days and all of those we have spoken to, and also many emails that I’ve received are not in support of paying into the rail shortfall. I have also circulated a poll and it is resoundingly opposed to this. My constituents have shared widely differing reasons for opposing use of neighbor island-generated TAT for rail on Oahu, and I agree with many of their reasons. Bottom line: it is not fair or equitable. The people of Hawaii County are already shouldering a recent increase in taxes – both property and fuel taxes. I will support my constituents first and foremost and those outside of my district on Hawaii Island and oppose such a proposal.

Question 2: Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. For the sake of my constituents, I must reiterate that this 0.5% GET Surcharge would apply only to Oahu, not the neighbor islands. I would support it but must also note that this proposed 6-year extension would not fully fund the shortfall. My preference is to support the City and County of Honolulu’s and the rail authority’s request to extend the Surcharge for an additional 10 years – to cover the shortfall – thereby not touching the Transient Accommodations Tax. I must add however, that even a 10-year GET Surcharge extension for Oahu is problematic because it would primarily be used for building the rail.
What about operational and maintenance costs going forward? They are not in the equation. This is why the County’s original request was to extend the GET Surcharge in perpetuity. Bottom line, this option, while it would address federal government funding requirements in the short term, it really amounts to kicking the can down the road for the next generation to resolve. This is sad.

Question 3: Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. I have shared a recommendation to allow the City and County of Honolulu the option to raise an additional 1% with Legislative leadership. I also believe such an increase may have to go for several more years as a 2-year extension may not fully fund the shortfall.

Thank you, Damon, for helping the people of Hawaii, especially neighbor islanders, understand what’s at stake and have their voices heard.

Sincerely, Lorraine R. Inouye
Senator, District 4 (Hawai’i Island – North Hilo-Hamakua-Waimea-Kohala-Waikoloa-North Kona)