Latest Articles

  • Group Wants $150K for Consultant to Help with Hotel Tax Revenue Recommendation

    · By Nathan Eagle

    A working group that’s trying to figure out how just much hotel tax revenue the state should give the counties is planning to ask the Legislature for $150,000 next session so it can hire a consultant to help.

    The 13-member group, created under a law passed last year, released its interim report to state lawmakers Friday.

    The final report is due prior to the convening of the 2016 session. It’s expected to recommend to the Legislature the appropriate allocation of the transient accommodations tax revenues between the state and counties based on the division of

  • University of Hawaii Makes Its Case for More State Support

    · By Nathan Eagle

    University of Hawaii officials want state taxpayers to help the 10-campus system pay its electric bills and unfunded federal mandates like the gender-equity dictates of Title IX that they project will cost more than $70 million over the next two years.

    UH President David Lassner, Board of Regents Chair Randy Moore, interim Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman and other officials presented their biennium budget request — $74 million in additional funding on the operating side, $400 million in capital improvements — to the House Higher Education Committee during an all-day informational briefing

  • Senators to Decide if Lawyer Labeled ‘Unqualified’ Should Be Big Island Judge

    · By Nathan Eagle

    UPDATED 2:30 p.m., 10/22/2014

    One of three judicial appointments pending this week in the state Senate has been labeled “unqualified” by the Hawaii State Bar Association despite significant testimony supporting her.

    Margaret Masunaga was nominated to a six-year term as a district judge in Big Island’s 3rd Circuit Court by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who chose her from a list of six names recommended by the Judicial Selection Commission in September.

    However, the bar association’s president, Calvin Young, told lawmakers in his written testimony that the board of directors “seriously questions the

  • UberX, Lyft Rerouted to Hawaii Legislature

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Hawaii lawmakers tried to learn more Wednesday about Lyft and UberX, two popular ride-sharing services that have been transporting people in and around Honolulu since June to the chagrin of taxi drivers who say they are skirting the law and creating unfair competition.

    State regulators believe the companies — both of which are rapidly growing Silicon Valley mobile tech startups — need to stop providing their ride-sharing services in Hawaii until they come into compliance with the law.

    It’s unclear what exactly that entails though because their services are so

  • New Law Gives Hawaii Unions Even More Power

    · By Nathan Eagle

    A new law championed by Hawaii’s most powerful unions has tilted the balance in favor of organized labor in a critical arena, although the effects on employers — and possibly taxpayers — won’t be fully realized for a few years.

    With little public fanfare, the Legislature last session passed a bill that changes how the governor appoints people to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, a quasi-judicial agency that resolves labor disputes involving private and public sector employees and the organizations that represent them.

    The board hears everything from complaints

  • Hawaii Could Be $1 Billion in Hole by 2019, GOP Senator Warns

    · By Nathan Eagle

    The state Senate’s sole Republican is waving red flags over the pace of government spending in Hawaii.

    Sen. Sam Slom says the Legislature and new governor will face a big challenge next year because the state is on track to deplete its record $844 million carryover balance by 2016.

    A five-year financial outlook, based on current spending projections, shows the state budget hundreds of millions of dollars in deficit. By 2019, the projected carryover ending balance will be just over $1 billion in the hole, according to Paul Harleman, the

  • Hawaii Women Lawmakers Slam Police Chief for Canceling Domestic Violence Meeting

    · By Nathan Eagle

    A group of Hawaii women lawmakers on Wednesday blasted Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha for canceling a meeting with them about domestic violence.

    “We sincerely hope this is not a sign of the lack of importance the department places on the issue of domestic violence,” Senate President Donna Mercado Kim said in a statement. 

    The Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, which includes 23 state lawmakers and three Honolulu City Council members, is perplexed by the chief’s decision not to meet with them Thursday as planned, she said.


  • County Councils Agree to Lobby State for More Hotel Tax Revenue

    · By Nathan Eagle

    UPDATED 9 a.m., 9/17/2014

    County officials agree on at least one thing as they prepare to lobby the Legislature next year: They want more funding for local government services ranging from roads to rescues.

    But Kauai, Maui, Big Island and Honolulu council members and mayors have different ideas on how to go about boosting their revenues.

    Council members plan to ask state lawmakers for a bigger share of hotel taxes. The mayors, although not opposed to more Transient Accommodations Tax money, may double down on new revenue proposals with

  • Hawaii Capitol to Prepare for ‘Active Shooter’ Scenario

    · By Nathan Eagle

    The Hawaii Capitol has never been the scene of a shooter running amok, although there have been incidents of white powder arriving in the mail (turned out to be sugar), suspicious bags left unattended and telephone threats.

    But with reports on the mainland of gunmen firing indiscriminately in schools, movie theaters and other public places, state officials say it’s time to prepare for the worst.

    The Honolulu Police Department is offering two sessions on “active shooter” preparedness this month for the hundreds of people who work at the Capitol.


  • Hawaii Counties Prepare for Another Battle over Hotel Tax Revenue

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Maui, Kauai, Hawaii and Honolulu counties want more money from the state — tens of millions of dollars more — to help offset the cost of providing services that visitors use, ranging from roads to rescue.

    Council members and mayors are already ramping up for the next legislative session, which starts in January, strategizing how they might grab a bigger slice of the state’s hotel tax revenue.

    It’s an annual fight that the state has dominated in recent years, particularly with the implementation of a cap on the counties’