Senator Kai Kahele’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Senator Kai Kahele

Aloha Damon and mahalo for your email. Although we (the Senate) have not seen a bill yet there has been speculation to what a bill may look like to help fund the Honolulu Rail Project shortfall, however I can provide a response to your questions based on the knowledge I have so far.

Question #1: Answer: NO. I do not support increasing the TAT Statewide to fund the rail project. Front loading the rail project with money from a TAT statewide increase is bad policy for the State. Leisure tourism is our number one industry and is what drives GE revenues. Raising the TAT hotel tax statewide has the potential to hurt our tourism industry. In addition, I have heard from many of my constituents in Hilo and they are opposed to raising the TAT hotel tax statewide which would make on island and off island travel for hard working Hawaiʻi Island families, youth sports teams and church groups that much more expensive when they need to stay in our island hotels. If it makes Hawaiʻi Island hotels more expensive for local families, to fund the rail project on Oahu, I cannot support that.

Questions #2: Answer: YES. I do support the extension of the GE surcharge on Oahu to fund the rail project. The GE surcharge on Oahu has been paid and collected by Oahu residents since 2007 and is set to expire in 2027. An extension of this broad based tax, which the voters of Oahu voted for seems reasonable to me. It will also not impact the neighbor islands or the tourism industry. I do support a 6 year extension of the surcharge to complete the rail project.

Questions #3: Answer: YES. If front loading the rail project to decrease total cost and interest paid was what the voters and residents of Oahu wanted than I would support that. The Hawaiʻi GE tax is inherently a regressive tax and has the potential to affect lower income individuals and families which we would need to weigh appropriately. However, if this proposal could decrease the amount of years for the GE extension, which also helps lower income families, and ends up costing less in total interest paid, the legislature should consider it. Again, I would like to see what the residents of Oahu think about this proposal, maybe an informal poll could be taken.

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Rep. Chris Todd’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Rep. Chris Todd

Aloha Damon,
I would have to wait until I see the final version of the rail bill before committing one way or another. I know that’s not the answer you are looking for, but whatever bill we end up with may have a lot of moving parts and I don’t want to comment until I know what we’re dealing with.

I am committed to completing the rail project, and once we have a final bill I will definitely get back to you with more commentary and explain my thought process.

Mahalo for understanding!

Rep. Chris Toshiro Todd

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Navy Ship USS John S. McCain Collides With Merchant Vessel – 10 Sailors Missing, 5 Injured

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Gavin Shields)

There are currently 10 Sailors missing and five injured. Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured Sailor does not require further medical attention.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

Via Maritime Bulletin

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to Changi Naval Base. At this point, no fuel or oil is visible on the water’s surface near the ship.
Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities.

In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

An MH-60S helicopter from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is in the area providing search and rescue assistance. An additional MH-60S helicopter and MV-22 Osprey are expected to arrive soon.

Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. Damage control efforts continue while the extent of damage is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

John S. McCain family members may call the following numbers for updates: commercial from Japan: 046-816-1728; commercial from US: 011-81-46-816-1728; DSN in Japan: 243-1728; DSN from US: 315-243-1728.

Senator Josh Green’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Senator Josh Green

Thanks for asking Damon.
I need to see the actual proposals before I answer hypotheticals.

At this point the only tax I support for rail is an extension of the GET on Oahu, which I believe would need to be for 8 additional years.



Aloha Sen. Green,

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


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?

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?

I will be posting your answers (or non answer) on my website Hawaii News and Island Information ( .

Thank you for your participation in this quick and important decision that will affect all of us on this island.

7th Annual Kipimana Cup Saturday

Kamehameha and Kea`au will kick off the football season Saturday, Aug. 26, with their perennial goodwill game dubbed The Kipimana Cup.

“The start of the football season is part of the excitement of starting the new school year,” noted Bill Walter, president of W.H. Shipman, Limited. “The Kipimana Cup game was put together by Shipman, Kea`au and Kamehameha High Schools to both add to that excitement and to send a message to the community that we compete in a friendly way.”

Historically, Kamehameha Schools and Kea’au High School didn’t play against each other, being in different divisions — Kea’au being in Division 1 and Kamehameha being in Division 2. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation League ultimately changed that, but not before W.H. Shipman, Ltd. first pitched the annual Kipimana Cup seven years ago.

Kipimana is how Hawaiians referred to Shipman more than 100 years ago, and both Kea’au and Kamehamhea Schools are located on land formerly owned by Shipman.

W.H. Shipman provides $500 to each of the school’s booster clubs following the game, and a trophy to the winning team.

Kamehameha Schools has won all six of the previous Kipimana Cups, but neither Kamehameha or Kea`au have put any emphasis on that. The point has been to build comaraderie and goodwill amongst the private and public schools.

“We want to send a big mahalo to WH Shipman and Kamehameha-HI for the years of comaraderie and support,” said Iris McGuire, the athletic director for Kea`au High School. “I appreciate the aloha shared between the two schools and not making this event a rivalry.

“Both schools are active in our community,” McGuire said. “Our relationship with Kamehameha-HI continues to grow in a positive way. Over the years we have worked together in other aspects both academically and athletically. We may have different colors and different mascots, but when it comes down to it, we are still one community. Mahalo WH Shipman for your support!”
Walter expressed pride for Kea`au, noting how “privileged” we are “to work, study and live here.”

“How we approach and work with each other makes a real difference and we choose friendship and good will as the environment that we are creating,” Walter said. “This is a special community and we are focused on making it more special each year.”

Kamehameha School’s Hawai‘i campus opened on former W.H. Shipman land in 2001 and has an enrollment of a little over 1,000 students, grades K-12, while Kea‘au High School has an enrollment of 880 children, grades 9-12. The school first opened in 1998, also on Shipman property.

W.H. Shipman, for 130 years, has had approximately 17,000 acres in the Puna District, and is active in agriculture and commercial/ industrial development and leasing. Shipman holds a long-range view toward sustainability and planned development for balanced community use.

Saturday’s game will be held at Kamehameha Schools. Kickoff for the junior varsity game is at 5 p.m. The varsity game will follow. Expect to pay a nominal admission.

Female Opihi Picker Dies From Apparent Fall

Hawaii Fire Department arrived on scene and found a 20s female, with no signs of life, on the shoreline. Due to the terrain, Hawaii Fire Department Rescue personnel utilized a helicopter to extricate body. This was an obvious DOA and scene was turned over to HPD for investigation.

Cause is unknown and under investigation.