Monday, May 17, 2021

Vacation rental tax crackdown brings millions to state coffers, Congress mulls Pearl Harbor modernization money, Maui sets property tax rates, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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State tax crackdown garners millions in unpaid vacation rental taxes. The state Department of Taxation already has collected $4.1 million this year from vacation rental owners who owed back taxes, and through continued stepped- up enforcement expects to easily hit $12 million by year’s end. Star-Advertiser.

UHERO Forecast: Visitors Could Reach 6.4M in 2021, 8.8M in 2022. A new forecast from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization finds that, for 2021, Hawaii is bouncing back a bit faster than expected but that full recovery is still several years away. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii monthly bankruptcies rise for first time in year. Statewide bankruptcies rose for the first time this year as filings in April jumped 19.3% even as the state continued to show encouraging signs of an economic recovery. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii commercial fishers’ catch down 15% in 2020. Hawaii’s commercial fishers caught 6 million pounds fewer pelagic species of fish and brought in $27 million less in revenue in 2020 — a product of the coronavirus pandemic, which crushed demand for fish. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Fishermen Are Worried About China’s Fleet. So Is The Military. The U.S. military increasingly sees illegal fishing as a national security threat and has China’s vast government-subsidized fleet in its sights. Civil Beat.

The state and several nonprofit organizations are partnering up to develop a program to increase mental health services for keiki of Hawaii. The Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health Plan aims to improve access to service providers for families with children five years-old or younger, eliminate gaps in service and remove the stigma for families seeking help. Hawaii News Now.

Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds could come in June, rural areas remain concern for Hawaii. Another increase into triple-digit COVID-19 cases across the state was reported on Sunday, May 16. KHON2.

May 16, 2021 COVID-19 Update: 127 Cases (103 O‘ahu, 10 Maui, 3 Moloka‘i, 3 Hawai‘i Island, 8 Out-of-State); 1 Death. Maui Now.

Oahu

$25 billion bill in Congress seeks to speed up modernization of Pearl Harbor. A bipartisan bill seeks $25 billion to upgrade the Navy’s four shipyards — Pearl Harbor included — sooner rather than later, as well as to make improvements to private yards in the face of rapid Chinese military expansion. Star-Advertiser.

Search continues to fix Oahu rail’s too-narrow wheels and too-wide tracks. Officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are working with Hitachi Rail to find a solution — whether to replace 32 wheels on all 20 trains or have new track crossings manufactured and shipped in. Rail and Hitachi officials met in person in Honolulu on Friday. Star-Advertiser.

A plan to clear hundreds of DUI cases amid the COVID-19 court closures has resulted in 1,116 plea deals in Honolulu. The offers were not allowed ahead of the pandemic, but when the courts shut down last year the backlog ballooned to 900. Hawaii News Now.

Drug deaths in Honolulu hit 5-year high in 2020. Drug-related deaths in Honolulu hit a five-year high last year, fueled by methamphetamine overdoses that have law enforcement focused on keeping more illegal drugs out of the islands. Star-Advertiser.

Clinics see high turnout as COVID vaccine eligibility expands to 12 to 15-year-olds.
The Queen’s Health System held its first high school clinic Saturday since the COVID vaccine became available for children as young as 12 years old. Hawaii News Now.

Jack and Kim Johnson’s Kokua Learning Farm in Haleiwa
gets help from new solar e-tractor. Kokua Learning Farm in Haleiwa town recently debuted Hawaii’s first solar-powered electric tractor, which definitely makes it easier being green, according to Jack Johnson, the musician and co-founder, with his wife, Kim, of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which launched the farm and community center in December 2019. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

More money for lawyers: Council to vote on $200k more for landfill contract renegotiations. Two years into negotiations with garbage giant Waste Management Inc., county attorneys say they’re running out of money for outside legal counsel, and they’re coming to the County Council to ask for more. West Hawaii Today.

County plans to reopen all of Highway 137; work set for 2022. Ikaika Rodenhurst, director of the county Department of Public Works, confirmed that plans are being drafted to reopen all of the highway — from the “Four Corners” intersection to Pohoiki Road, and another stretch at the MacKenzie State Recreation Area — after it was buried under lava by the Kilauea eruption, but the expansion of the project has led to a few months of delays. Tribune-Herald.

Man Fined $633k For Poisoning North Hilo Stream. The largest Hawaiʻi land board fine ever for an aquatic resource violation in the state was handed down on Friday. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now.

Big Island Aquaculture Gets Boost With Big Grant. The Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii in Kailua-Kona has been awarded a $1.8 million grant to continue a fruitful aquaculture accelerator program aimed at supporting business retention and growth initiatives at a sustainable technology park. Civil Beat.

Maui

County to take in extra $7.8M from property taxes.
The Maui County Council on Friday set property tax rates that will net about $7.8 million more in county revenues than the prior fiscal year. The county is forecast to raise $383.2 million in fiscal 2022 from real property taxes, its largest income generator. Maui News.

Maui Democrats Narrow English Successor To Three Candidates.
Members of the Maui County Democratic Party’s Senate District 7 selection body chose three names on Saturday to send to Gov. David Ige for his consideration to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of Senator J. Kalani English. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

The Investigation Into The Ex-Maui Police Chief’s Hit And Run Is In. The former Maui police chief involved in a hit-and-run accident last year was properly investigated by his own officers who appropriately concluded the accident was a civil matter, not a criminal case, a new report on the incident concludes. Civil Beat.

Kauai

County mulls new tax ability. The county administration is still analyzing its position on a bill sitting on Gov. David Ige’s desk that includes a provision that would allow county governments to enact their own sort of transient accommodations tax. Garden Island.

Preparing for a Kekaha cleanup. The county has received $300,000 to start first steps in cleaning up hazardous-waste sites at the former Kekaha Sugar Company mill, revitalize the historic site and advance economic development in the area. Garden Island.

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