Legislators to Consider Police Reforms When Session Resumes

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki today announced that the Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives will reconvene the 2020 legislative session on Monday, June 22, 2020

The Legislature will take up a limited number of bills, including budget matters and COVID-19- related legislation.

“The House and Senate are reconvening the session to address several pressing issues that are outstanding, including the budget and any COVID-19-related and emergency-type bills,” said Speaker Saiki. “We are working with our committee chairs to prioritize legislation that must be enacted.”

The chairs of the House Judiciary and Labor and Public Employment committees are expected to consider police reform measures, such as HB 285 (requiring the disclosure of the identity of a police officer upon suspension or discharge of the officer).

The State Capitol will be closed to the general public to conform with state and federal recommendations for physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings. The public will have an opportunity to submit written testimony and to observe proceedings through livestream.

Legislators and legislative staff will be allowed into the Capitol through a single entrance where everyone will be under a temperature check. Masks must be worn in all public spaces, physical distancing rules will be mandatory, and anyone exhibiting signs of illness will be denied entry into the Capitol.

All House floor sessions and some committee hearings will be televised on ‘Olelo Community Television and live-streamed at https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/broadcasts.aspx. Check olelo.org/ or www.capitol.hawaii.gov for the broadcast schedule.

The Legislature recessed on March 21 due to the pandemic, reconvened on May 11, and recessed for a second time on May 22. The session is expected to adjourn sine die on July 10.

Hawaii Legislature to Reconvene on June 22

Senate President Ronald Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki released the following statement on reconvening the 2020 legislative session.  

The Hawaii State Legislature will reconvene on Monday, June 22, 2020, and is expected to adjourn sine die on July 10.

Hawaii Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Asking for Plans on Recovery

On June 4, 2020, the Hawaii Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 sent the following letter to Directors of the Department of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism; Presidents of University of Hawaii and Hawaii Tourism Authority; Executive Director of Agribusiness Development Corporation.

We thank you for your continued cooperation during our ongoing hearings. We appreciate the efforts of your departments in assisting the Senate in the prevention and containment of COVID- 19 and are eager to work alongside you in rebuilding Hawaii’s economy during this time of recovery.

This period has caused our state to experience historic levels of unemployment and food insecurity, which has triggered predictions from the University of Hawaii of up to 25,000 of our residents leaving our state in hopes of more stable work prospects and security. We are experiencing a lack of active jobs, a shrinking labor force, and the severe impacts of brain drain. A massive dip in the labor force would only exacerbate the state’s economic woes, while also fracturing our communities.

This pandemic has caused all of us to pause and reassess the state of our economy. We have, for years, pledged to re-diversify and reverse the brain drain, but it is clear that the state can no longer wait for decisive action toward this goal. The committee respectfully requests that your department and agencies be part of the solution to diversify the economy based on your respective economic sectors and areas of expertise. We ask that you join us in this effort by developing comprehensive plans based on your department’s scope of knowledge to address components such as, but not limited to, job creation, utilization of the currently available workforce, revenue enhancement, and educational pipelines for the purpose of workforce development.

The committee respectfully requests that you submit your plans by Wednesday, June 10, 2020, to Dane Wicker via email at d.wicker@capitol.hawaii.gov. Please contact Dane Wicker at 586- 6639 if there are any questions.

Sincerely,

/s/ Donovan M. Dela Cruz Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov

/s/ Jarrett Keohokalole
Senator Jarrett Keohokalole senkeohokalole@capitol.hawaii.gov

/s/ Michelle N. Kidani Senator Michelle N. Kidani senkidani@capitol.hawaii.gov

/s/ Donna Mercado Kim Senator Donna Mercado Kim senkim@capitol.hawaii.gov

/s/ Sharon Moriwaki
Senator Sharon Moriwaki senmoriwaki@capitol.hawaii.gov

/s/ Kurt Fevella
Senator Kurt Fevella senfevella@capitol.hawaii.gov

New Senate Special Investigating Committee on COVID-19 with Subpoena Power

Through the passage of Senate Resolution 198 today, the Hawai‘i State Senate has created a new Senate Special Investigating Committee on COVID-19 with subpoena power. This new investigative committee will supplement, if necessary, the existing informal Senate Committee on COVID-19. The addition of this new investigative committee will give the Senate the greatest flexibility to obtain the information it needs.

The Investigating Committee will give the Senate legal authority to mandate a response from witnesses and compel records. The committee may also administer oaths and report instances of contempt. The subjects of the inquiries will be entitled to legal representation and will have the ability to legally challenge requests.

Hearings will continue to be televised live on ‘Ōlelo on O‘ahu, Akakū on Maui, Nā Leo o Hawaiʻi Island, and Ho‘ike on Kaua‘i, and streamed live on the internet. The committee will issue written reports and recommendations to the Senate.

The Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 was established on March 18 to review the state’s response to the pandemic, and the Senate Investigating Special Committee on COVID-19 was created today by Senate Resolution 198.

The members of both committees are Senators Donovan Dela Cruz, Jarrett Keohokalole, Michelle N. Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Sharon Moriwaki, and Kurt Fevella.

Hawaii Senators Defer Pay Raises Recommended by Salary Commission

The Hawai‘i State Senate Committee on Ways and Means today deferred pay raises for legislators and state officials this year that had been recommended by the Salary Commission prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The amended bill states (HB117), “Due to the unprecedented economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature believes that continued implementation of the commission’s recommendations for the executive and judicial branches, and planned adjustments for the legislature, is irresponsible at this time and should be deferred.”

The bill defers all salary increases slated for this fiscal year for members of the legislature, the governor, lieutenant governor, justices and judges of all state courts, administrative director of the State or an equivalent position, and department heads or executive officers and the deputies or assistants to the department heads or executive officers of the departments.

The amended bill notes that in expectation of an economic downturn due to COVID-19, “the State Council on Revenues lowered its fiscal year 2021 forecast from four per cent to zero per cent, meaning that the State will have about $225,000,000 less in revenues than expected.”

House Speaker Saiki Extends State Capitol Closure Through May 31

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki today announced that the House of Representatives’ offices at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol will remain closed through May 31 to maintain consistency with Governor David Ige’s stay-at-home order directing all persons to remain and work from home except for those performing necessary functions. 

Upon learning that a member of the State Senate had tested positive for COVID-19 last month, all House offices and agencies were closed through April 5. Subsequently, the Governor issued his order which remains in effect through April 30. 

On April 25, the Governor issued a sixth supplementary emergency proclamation extending stay-at-home order through May 31. 

Hawaii residents can continue to contact their Representatives by phone, email or social media. Click here for contact information.

Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Holds First Meeting

The Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 held its first meeting today and provided the following information about its findings.

The Airport Division of the Department of Transportation agreed with the committee’s recommendation to develop a plan on a 14-day quarantine of any arriving passengers.

  • This is a difficult action, but necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and keep the people of Hawaii safe.
  • The committee strongly urged the Governor to review and implement this plan.
  • DOT reported the plan will require hiring or reassigning approximately 500 people and cost approximately $1 million per month.

The Harbors Division of the Department of Transportation, as of March 18, 2020, will no longer allow cruise ship passengers to disembark in Hawaii.

  • Cruise ships are only allowed to refuel and resupply. Passengers are not allowed to disembark. Exceptions may be made for Hawai‘i residents.
  • Ban on cruise ships disembarking is in effect for the next 30 to 60.
  • This ban will not impact cargo ships. There are safety protocols in place regarding cargo. Ban will not impact delivery of needed consumer goods.

The Department of Health has launched a new website with guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic and updates on the virus within Hawai‘i: https://hawaiicovid19.com/

As of today, there are 26 positive cases.

  • Ten most recent positive cases were tested at private labs.
  • Private labs have approximately processed 1,000 tests. The State has only processed 40 tests
  • The State has tested only those suspected to be seriously ill.
  • Private sector labs are reporting they are running low on supplies.
  • Dr. Anderson told the committee that the State is “urging people to limit the number of tests being done and to not test those who are not ill.”

Regarding the positive case from Kualoa Ranch, the individual’s extended family has tested negative.

The committee met with Adjutant General Kenneth S. Hara, who has been assigned as the incident commander of the COVID-19 response. General Hara provided the committee an update:

  • He will review DOT’s 14-Day quarantine plan.
  • He is considering a proposed threshold Implementation Plan to deal with the transmission of COVID-19. This plan identifies three levels of risk:

Limited community transmission

Sustained community transmission

Widespread community transmission

  • The Plan also will detail actions for each government department to implement.
  • Her will also recommend to Governor Ige there be an analysis of critical functions, including identifying the resources required to accomplish these critical (people, equipment, power, sewer, etc.) and from that analysis is a continuity of operations plan could be adopted and implemented.

Big Island Mayor Requests Release of Money for Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to Governor David Ige on October 4th  requesting the release of money appropriated for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in 2018:

Dear Governor Ige,

This letter is a formal request for the release of $150,000 appropriated for the County of Hawai’i for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to use to fund the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit in the fiscal year 2018. This was authorized in the Hawaii State Budget, SB26, SD1, HD1, CD1, ACT 204 enacted on July 11, 2017.

The County of Hawaii is committed to the implementation of ACT 204 and looks forward to collaborating with other County and State criminal justice agencies in fulfilling the goal prosecuting and bringing justice to cases that involve career criminals. As provided for in the Career Criminal Prosecuting plan, we intend to fund eleven (11) positions described on the attached “Budget Detail” The Hawai’i County Council has approved the funding provided to the County in ACT 204 as an Intergovernmental Agreement between the State of Hawai’i and the County of Hawaii.

Please contact Lee Lord, Business Manager, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, County of Hawaii, at (808) 934-3315, if you require any additional information.

Sincerely,
Mayor Harry Kim

Changes in Hawaii House Leadership

After much consideration, Speaker Scott K. Saiki today accepted the resignation of Rep. Cindy Evans (North Kona, Kohala) as House Majority Leader. Evans offered her resignation as Majority Leader during the legislative special session held in August of this year.

Saiki has appointed Hawaii Island Rep. Mark M. Nakashima (Hamakua, Hilo), to Vice Speaker of the House. He replaces Rep. Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) who has been named House Majority Leader.

Rep. Evans will assume Nakashima’s chairmanship of the Economic Development & Business Committee.

With Nakashima’s appointment and with Kauai Rep. Dee Morikawa as Majority Floor Leader, neighbor island representatives continue to occupy two of the top four positions in House leadership.

Hawaii Senate Confirms Third Circuit Court Judges

In unanimous floor votes, members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed the appointments of Third Circuit District Family Court Judge Henry T. Nakamoto to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Hilo) and attorney Robert D.S. Kim to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Kona).

“These two appointees were brought before the Senate with high regard from those within the legal community,” said Senator Brian Taniguchi (Dist. 11 – Manoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakolea), chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. “The breadth of their experience, legal knowledge, and expressed commitment to the community and public service make these judges solid additions to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.”

Henry Taro Nakamoto has served as a Family Court judge and a District Court judge since June 2014. Before serving on the bench, he was a partner and director at Nakamoto, Okamoto & Yamamoto, and an associate at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel. He was born and raised on Hawai‘i Island and practiced law there for 23 years. Nakamoto completed a B.A. in economics at Cornell University before earning his J.D. at Hastings College of Law.

Nakamoto’s confirmation fills the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Judge Glenn S. Hara. He will serve for a term of 10 years.
Robert D.S. Kim has been a private practice litigator who has extensive civil, family and criminal trial experience. Kim served as the West Hawai‘i Bar Association President for many years. Kim graduated with a B.A. in political science from the University of Hawai‘i, Hilo and earned his law degree at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Kim’s confirmation fills the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Judge Ronald Ibarra. He will serve for a term of 10 years.

Hawaii Representative Ing to Introduce Bill to Lower Beer Tax

Representative Kaniela Ing plans to introduce a bill during the next legislative session that would cut taxes Hawaii residents pay for beer by more than half, from 93 cents a gallon to 42 cents a gallon.

“While it may appear that beer is taxed at a lower rate per gallon when compared to wine or spirits, if you break down the amount of alcohol per average gallon of beer versus wine or spirits, beer drinkers are taxed at a much higher rate,” said Rep. Ing. “The goal here is to level out the taxes so that each type of alcoholic beverage is taxed equitably.”

Ing says that his proposed tax cut is not to encourage drinking, as he rarely drinks alcohol himself. Rather, Ing says, his proposal is a matter of class fairness.

“Working people tend to drink beer more often than other types of alcoholic beverages. But today they are taxed more per ounce of alcohol than someone drinking wine. When you look at it that way, the current system is incredibly unjust.”

Compared to other states, Hawaii’s alcohol taxes rank second for beer, 11th for wine, and 23rd for spirits.

Ing believes this proposal makes sense from an economic and business standpoint as well. “Hawaii’s beer industry is growing and has resulted in hundreds of new jobs, diversified tourism, and a stronger economy,” he said. “If you look at other states, this local industry has a lot of room to grow. We should encourage the growth of local business to allow them to compete in the national marketplace.”

House of Representatives Honored to Host French Legion of Honor Presentation to World War II 442nd Veterans

The Hawaii House of Representatives was honored today to host the presentation of the French Legion of Honor decoration to three Nisei veterans of US Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team for their service during World War II.

Rep. Mark M. Nakashima (from left), Futao Terashima, Vice Speaker Della Au Belatti, Dale Tateishi holding a photo of his father Tetsuo Tateishi, Harold Zenyei Afuso, and Rep. Scott Y. Nishimoto.

The veterans: Harold Aenyei Afuso, 442nd RCT, 2nd Battalion, H Company; Tetsuo Tateishi (posthumously) 442nd RCT, 100th Battalion, A Company; and Futao Terashima, 442nd RCT, 3rd Battalion, I Company; were presented their medals by Guillaume Manan, Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii.

“The House of Representatives and Speaker Scott K. Saiki are so happy that our chamber could serve as the venue to honor these brave men,” said Vice Speaker Della Au Belatti. “The Legion of Honor is France’s highest award and it recognizes the bravery and sacrifice that these men made to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today.”

The 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team was comprised of Japanese Americans, most of them from Hawaii. The men volunteered and fought in Europe during the war, becoming the most highly decorated unit in the history of the United States for its size and length of service.

Representatives Scott Y. Nishimoto and Mark M. Nakashima also attended the event and presented lei to the honorees.

Hawaii Senate Holds Special Session to Confirm Judiciary Appointments

A Special Session of the Hawai‘i State Senate is scheduled for September 25 – 26, 2017 to consider two judicial appointments for the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit – Hawai‘i Island.

On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, the Senate received two letters of appointment from Governor Ige naming current District Family Court Judge of the Third Circuit, Henry T. Nakamoto, to the Third Circuit Court (Hilo) and attorney Robert D. S. Kim to the Third Circuit Court (Kona). Both appointees were chosen by Governor Ige from a list of candidates selected by the Judicial Selection Committee.

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution, the Senate has 30 days from the date of the appointment to advise and consent on the two appointees. Therefore, the Senate will convene a two-day Special Session at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, September 25, 2017 to consider both appointments.

Informational Briefing on Hawaii’s Planned Response to Potential Regional Military Threats

In light of recent concerns regarding North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Senator Clarence Nishihara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs will be holding an Informational Briefing on contingencies and planned responses to potential regional military threats to the State on Thursday, September 21, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the State Capitol Auditorium.

Representatives from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency will be providing a presentation on preparation and planning efforts being conducted between the counties and other Federal and State agencies and departments.
To view the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_PSM_09-21-17_INFO_.HTM

Notices to Women Regarding Access to Family Planning Services Must Be Allowed, State Argues

Yesterday the Department of the Attorney General filed a memorandum opposing an attempt by certain religiously-affiliated organizations to prevent a new law concerning women’s access to information regarding reproductive health services from being enforced. The law, Senate Bill 501 (2017), was passed by the Hawaii state legislature on May 4, 2017, and signed into law as Act 200 on July 12, 2017. It requires limited service pregnancy centers to notify women in writing regarding the availability of state-funded reproductive health services.

The Department’s memo argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over several Western states including Hawaii, already upheld a similar law passed by California in 2015.
The opposition memo states in part:

The Legislature has found that “[m]any women in Hawaii … remain unaware of the public programs available to provide them with contraception, health education and counseling, family planning, prenatal care, pregnancy-related, and birth-related services.” To address this concern, [Act 200] was enacted into law. It requires “limited service pregnancy centers,” as defined in the Act, to disseminate a written notice to clients or patients informing them that Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services.

A similar filing was made in a related case yesterday as well.

Hawaii Senate Adjourns Special Session

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate adjourned Special Session today after the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 4 to provide funding for the completion of the City and County of Honolulu’s rail transit project and bills to approve collective bargaining costs.

During this Special Legislative Session, as part of its constitutionally mandated duties, the Senate considered for advise and consent and approved a total of 50 gubernatorial appointments to 34 boards and commissions and one deputy director position.

Among those confirmed this week:

  • James Griffin, to the Public Utilities Commission
  • Douglas Shinsato to the U.H. Board of Regents
  • Robert Masuda as Deputy to the Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources
  • Marcus Oshiro as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

A complete list of actions taken during the Special Legislative Session can viewed at capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii House Passes Rail Funding Bill in Special Session

The Hawaii House of Representatives voted in Special Session today to pass Senate Bill 4 to fund the City’s $8.2 billion rail project. The vote was 31 yes, 15 no and five excused.

The Senate passed the measure on Wednesday. The bill now goes to Governor David Ige for his consideration.

The bill will provide about $2.39 billion to complete construction of the rail project to Ala Moana and provide a secure funding source to ensure continued federal support.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (Kakaako, Downtown) said after passing this funding bill, it is now up to the City to manage the project in a way that is both accountable to the taxpayers and completed within its budget.

“The legislature has taken on the responsibility of finding a way to fund rail and to secure federal funding,” Saiki said. “I want to thank our lawmakers for working together to reach this compromise.”

The bill will:

  • Extend the general excise tax surcharge on Oahu for three additional years, from December 31, 2027 through December 31, 2030. This will provide $1.25 billion.
  • Raise the hotel room tax charged to visitors (Transient Accommodation Tax) by one percent from 9.25 percent to 10.25 percent for 13 years, from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2030. This also applies to timeshares. This will provide $1.25 billion.
  • The hotel room tax is collected statewide and goes directly into the general fund, not to the island where it is collected. Each county receives an allocated proportional share of the tax regardless of total amounts collected. Raising the tax does not change that amount.
  • Permanently increase the counties share of the TAT from its current $93 million base to $103 million.
  • Reduce the State Department of Taxation’s administrative fee on the GET surcharge from 10 percent to one percent.
  • Require a state run forensic audit of the rail project and annual financial reviews.

The bill also provides that funds collected for rail go into a new Mass Transit Special Fund and rather than simply give the money to the City, and requires the State Comptroller to certify HART’s invoices for capital costs as the project moves forward. This will allow the state to keep track of both spending and construction progress.

This bill addresses the immediate rail construction shortfall by collecting funds upfront through a small TAT increase instead of adding additional years of GET surcharge on the back end. This will reduce the financing costs of the project by hundreds of millions of dollars.

A rail bill that relies solely on GET will continue to tax the poor and increase the cost to taxpayers in the long term. By substantially relying on the TAT, visitors will now bare a significant portion of the financing burden.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (Pauoa, Punchbowl, Nuuanu), Chair of the House Finance Committee, said careful thought and consideration went into this bill.

“After hearing testimony from city officials, neighbor island residents and the public, we looked in detail at how to fund rail while creating the least amount of increase on our taxpayers,” Rep. Luke said.

Rep. Henry Aquino (Waipahu) said it is important to support the rail project to relieve traffic congestion for West Oahu residents.

“This bill is a compromise that provides the funds to get rail built. When completed, rail will be a great relief for the thousands of people stuck in traffic every day,” Rep. Aquino said. “This bill not only provides much needed oversight on spending by the State Comptroller, it also mandates accountability though audits and financial reviews.”

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.

Senate Roll Call – Who Voted for What When It Came Down to the Rail

Today at the Hawaii State Capitol Building in Honolulu, the Senate voted 16-9 in favor of moving Senate Bill 4 over to the House of Representatives.

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.)

Many folks were wondering who voted yes and no on moving this bill forward and I was able to obtain the following roll call sheet from today’s hearing and for what it’s worth… all four Big Island Senators voted against moving this bill forward:

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