House Republicans oppose proposed GET increase

September 11, 2012

Honolulu – Today, House Republicans presented a letter to the Tax Review Commission opposing the commission’s proposal to increase the GET and other taxes. In the letter, Republicans argue that increasing taxes would hurt Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens and negatively impact Hawaii’s economic recovery.

The letter reads as follows:

“Dear Chair Iwase and Members:

The House Minority Caucus would like to express its appreciation to The PFM Group for their work in developing their report titled Study of the Hawai‘i Tax System: Final Report, dated August 28, 2012.  We would like to note that the report contains a number of recommendations we agree with and support including the elimination of the .5 percent GET and Use Tax rate on business-to-business transactions, the elimination of the individual income tax on the first $20,000 of adjusted gross income, the increase of refundable food/excise tax income tax credits, and improvements in tax administration.  These recommendations would improve system efficiency and reduce taxes on low-income individuals.

Unfortunately, the report also contains a number of recommendations that we vehemently oppose.  The most egregious of these recommendations are the increase of the GET rate from 4.0 percent to 4.5 percent (which is actually an increase to 5 percent for the majority of people of Hawai‘i), the implementation of income tax on pension income, the elimination of the income tax deduction for property taxes paid, and the increase of the corporate income tax rate.  We find these recommendations, as well as others in the report, disappointing and disagreeable as they increase taxes on individuals and businesses placing a greater burden upon them.

This is especially problematic given the state of Hawai‘i’s economy and the significant cost of living faced by residents of the state.  An increase in taxes would be a detriment to individuals and businesses at this most inopportune of times.  Rather than exploring ways to increase revenue, we believe government spending should be curtailed and be done in a smarter and more efficient manner.

Furthermore, we feel the business climate should be improved in the state through improved regulatory procedures and greater government efficiency.  A more business-friendly environment would help companies conduct business thereby growing the economy and helping the people of Hawai‘i.”

HMIN_Letter_10_11_2012

GROUNDBREAKING CYBER CRIME BILLS BECOME LAW

As of July 10, four 2012 Legislative session bills to curb Hawaii’s growing cyber crime trend have become law. A measure to combat cyber bullying (HB 2295) was signed by the Governor on June 28 and a measure to prohibit adults from soliciting minors to electronically transmit nude images of a minor(s) (SB 2222) was signed on July 3. On July 9, the Governor signed a measure to strengthen Hawaii’s existing computer fraud and unauthorized computer access laws (HB 1788). The Governor signed a measure allowing out-of-state records to be subpoenaed in criminal cases (HB 1777) on July 10.

As part of her efforts to protect cyber crime victims and aid law enforcement, Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine worked closely with prosecutors and victims throughout the legislative session.

“One of my major focuses this session was to protect victims from cyber criminals,” said Rep. Pine. “I am delighted that the Legislature passed these important measures and the Governor recognized the seriousness of cyber crime and its devastating effect on the people of Hawaii. These new laws give hope to victims that their perpetrators will be prosecuted.”

Under these laws, prosecutors and law enforcement will have increased ability to investigate, obtain evidence, and bring cyber criminals to justice with new or stiffer penalties.

 

POTENTIAL BUYERS OF HMC WEST WILL BE AMONG PARTICIPANTS IN LEEWARD JOB AND CAREER FAIR JUNE 12

Over 1,000 Jobs Available at Fair

Of the three potential buyers interested in purchasing the closed Hawaii Medical Center West facility, The Queen’s Medical Center and Hawaii Pacific Health will be attending the Leeward Job and Career Fair. The hospitals hope to fill 450 job openings available at their current facilities. Job seekers are encouraged to connect with the two employers as the possibility is strong that one will be the new owner of the facility.

Many other Leeward Coast employers will participate in the fair. Child and Family Service, Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health, Kama‘aina Kids, Zippy’s, WalMart, Ko Olina Golf Club, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are among the many companies hiring at Leeward Coast locations. Safeway will be taking applications for its new Laulani Shopping Center store in ‘Ewa Beach scheduled to open later this year.  The Pearl Harbor Navy Ship yard that employs thousands of Leeward residents will be on hand to educate applicants on what they will look for in their next hiring period.

The event is co-hosted by West Oahu Women Social & Business Network and the Office of Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine and is a response to requests by numerous Leeward residents who lost their jobs in the hospital closure and from the recession.

“The closing of Hawaii Medical Center and the economy have had a devastating impact on the people of the Leeward Coast.  A job and career fair like this was needed to help connect residents with the many companies that are hiring now,” said Rep. Kymberly Pine. “We also want to encourage residents to seek jobs on the Leeward Coast to reduce traffic flow to downtown Honolulu and to improve their ability to spend more time with their family which helps give our community a solid foundation.”

Over 1,000 jobs will be available for job seekers to choose from.  When visitors arrive they will be given a detailed list of the available jobs so they can tailor their visit.  If they have not been able to get hired, the Society for Human Resource Management Hawaii Chapter will review resumes and offer tips on improving hiring possibilities. If a visitor is seeking a new career, the Leeward Community College Office of Continuing Education & Workforce Development will be on hand to offer ideas.

Earlier this year, Rep. Pine held an emergency community meeting with leaders from various hospitals, the State Department of Health, the city ambulance service and HMC West doctors to inform the community about their plans to ensure health needs were met.  At the meeting, residents requested that more job opportunities on the Leeward Coast be provided.

For more information, please contact Rep. Pine’s office at (808) 586-9730.

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CYBER CRIME PACKAGE PASSES STATE LEGISLATURE

The State Legislature has passed three groundbreaking bills to curb the growing cyber crime trend in Hawaii. The bills were the result of the cyber crime informational briefing co-chaired by Representatives Kymberly Marcos Pine and George Fontaine.

Under these bills, law enforcement and prosecutors will have increased ability to charge cyber criminals with new or increased penalties.

“The cyber crime package gives new hope to victims that their perpetrators will be prosecuted,” said Rep. Pine. “My hope is that Hawaii will soon be one the toughest states in the nation to be a cyber criminal.”

HB 1777 authorizes district and circuit court judges in Hawaii to order the production of records held by entities located outside of the state in all criminal cases. The intent is to help prosecutors to obtain electronic evidence that is often stored by mainland organizations. The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office advocated for the bill, testifying that it was the most important action Hawaii could take to aid in the prosecution of cybercriminals.

“Supporting law enforcement is key,” said Rep. Fontaine. “Members of our caucus worked extensively with the Prosecutor’s Office to introduce an identical bill this session. I’m proud of my colleagues for equipping law enforcement with this critical tool to protect residents from computer crimes.”

HB 1788, a cybercrime omnibus bill, toughens computer crime laws by modeling language after existing identity theft laws defining computer fraud as an aggravated form of theft. It also imposes harsher penalties by raising each existing crime one grade higher. Most notably, the bill creates a new offense of Computer Fraud in the Third Degree, a class C felony. The crime would involve knowingly accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network, with intent to commit theft in the third or fourth degree.

HB 2295 expands the existing offense of Use of a Computer in the Commission of a Separate Crime to include situations where a perpetrator knowingly uses a computer to perform certain acts against a victim or intended victim of Harassment under HRS 711-1106 or Harassment by Stalking under HRS 711‑1106.5. The bill clarifies that the offense is also committed when the perpetrator knowingly uses a computer to pursue, surveil, contact, harass, annoy, or alarm a victim or intended victim.

Reps. Pine and Riviere address SB 2394 – Lending Practices

Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 1689-12 S.B. No. 2394, S.D. 1, H.D. 3 RELATING TO CONSUMER PROTECTION.(Consumer Protection; Lending Practices; Military Members; Distressed Residential Properties Program) AS AMENDED, PASS THIRD READING

Rep. Riviere asked HI Credit Union League: Q: What is most troubling about this bill? A: The Second Part. (We are OK with First Part.) Second Part could put taxpayer money in jeopardy.
Rep. Yamane asked AG: Q: Wouldn’t condemnation be allowed, for public purposes, since we buy distressed property? A: Eminent domain is for real property. There are problems with using eminent down for personal property. Mortgages, we consider, are more personal property. (AG told Rep. Ichiyama they would do research on laws in other states.)
Rep. Jordan asked AG: Q: What do you do for forgiveness of debt? Who takes on responsibility? A: Not sure how transaction could go. If homeowner owns the debt at the time, then it would apply to homeowner. If State, then State. Q: What about deficiency judgment? A: Homeowner will still owe. It’s like a monkey on your back. Q; Does that liability affect income tax of homeowner? A: Don’t know. Q: If I was the homeowner, will I still be burdened with having to pay tax on forgiven debt? A: Yes.

Contact: repriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov or reppine@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Excerpt from capitol tv