Thursday, April 22, 2010

Honolulu Hale pushing tax hikes, Hawaii renters pay the most, Big Island bans smoking when kids in car, H1N1 hits Maui school, more top Hawaii news

A 3-cent increase in the tax on gasoline and a 30-cent hike in the real property tax rate for non-occupant homeowners advanced yesterday as Honolulu City Council members crafted their budget with a wary eye on lawmakers in the state Legislature.

After 8 hours of testimony, Honolulu City Council members are still in disagreement over the city budget.

At a time when Hawai'i families are weathering pay cuts and job losses, here's more gloomy news: The income needed to afford a modest two-bedroom rental in the Islands rose by nearly $3,000 this year to $64,396 annually — $26,000 more than the national average, a report on housing affordability shows.

State House and Senate leaders will likely turn to the state's Hurricane Relief Fund to eliminate teacher furloughs after budget negotiators agreed last night to remove furlough money from the state budget draft.

Hours after a breakthrough agreement yesterday to give counties the option to ban fireworks, lawmakers learned that the deal could fall through because of an obscure rule governing the negotiations.

State lawmakers on Wednesday agreed on a bill that is poised for final approval to allow the counties to come up with their own fireworks prohibitions stricter than the state's.

The Honolulu City Council has endorsed a proposal to support federal recognition for Hawaiians.

Pakalolo was the hot-button topic Tuesday when Police Chief Harry Kubojiri and other top cops met with the public in Volcano Village.

Police will have greater access to downtown Kailua-Kona next month when officers begin patrolling the Alii Drive area on mountain bikes.

It probably won't be enforced, proponents conceded, but a ban on smoking in cars when kids are present will be the law following a Hawaii County Council vote Tuesday afternoon.

An outbreak of H1N1 in two classrooms at a Maui elementary school has prompted state health officials to remind residents of the continued need to be vaccinated against the virus.