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Community Voices

Economic Nexus: Solving the Online Tax Dodge

Recently there has been some confusion about a bill now in our legislature, SB 620, that would redefine how our general excise tax laws define “doing business.” The bill concerns a U.S. Constitutional concept called “substantial nexus.”  Some amount of connection between a potential taxpayer and a State is needed before the State has power to impose that tax.  The …

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Community Voices: Yes, Toto, Tourists Also Pay Real Property Tax

On March 8, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism released a study on Hawaii real property taxes. It may be unusual for a State agency to do a study on a county tax.  But this study appeared to be an outgrowth of a move by our teachers’ union during the 2016 legislative session, which we wrote about …

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Community Voices: County workers in Hawaii make highest wages in nation

County workers in the state of Hawaii make the highest wages on average in the entire nation compared to county workers in other states, according to research from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that county workers in Hawaii make a mean average wage of $61,365 a year. Private sector workers in …

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Community Voices: Plantation Worker Pride and Perspective

The plantation era is over in Hawaii, and a new generation of leaders will determine what comes next. Like many of my friends, I am a product of our plantation history, stemming from seven generations of mixed-race workers here on Maui. My first job was picking pineapples at 14 years old to help my widowed mother with family bills. My …

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Community Voices: Hawaii crime goes down, police spending goes up

Almost every morning, Hawaii residents wake up to news stories of violent crime in local papers, from road rage stabbings to burglaries. Most people in the islands might assume crime is getting worse, but surprise: crime in Hawaii is actually falling. Over the past two decades, crime in Hawaii has fallen by over 40 percent. This is during a time …

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Community Voices: Maui Hospital Transfer Travesty – Lives Will Be Lost

As a resident of Maui, I am appalled at the travesty that is occurring at Maui Memorial Medical Center – the only acute-care hospital serving the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. The inability of our government leaders and the unions to come to an agreement about the future of healthcare on Maui is staggering. For many years, our only …

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Community Voices: Hospital Delay Heightens Vulnerability to Hurricanes

As I write this, Hurricane Lester is threatening Maui and the Big Island and the residents of those areas are preparing for the worst. Friends in the mainland who have never been on an island before an oncoming storm may not know just how scarce supplies can get…or how worrisome that can be. That’s why the onset of hurricane season …

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Community Voices: Maui’s long waiting list for water

Getting water on Maui isn’t easy, especially upcountry. Almost 1,900 applicants have been waiting for years, often decades, to get hooked up to the county water system. You read that correctly: 1,900 applicants on Maui are still waiting for running water, meaning that they must either gather water using a catchment system or are unable to expand their property due to …

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Community Voices: Hawaii Lawmakers Pass Illegal and Unfunded Bill

During a special session this summer, Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill that is both illegal and unfunded. The bill offers a $60 million severance package to union workers at the Maui public hospital system who will lose their jobs due to privatization, even though all the workers have already been offered their jobs back. Lawmakers overlooked the fact that the …

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Community Voices: ‘Show Me The Water’ needs repealing

Water on Maui can be difficult to come by — not because we are running out of water, but because of bureaucracy.  An ordinance called “Show Me the Water” has slowed down many home builders who desire to build communities that include affordable housing, who try to get their applications through a Water Department with a history of dragging it’s …

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