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HCOM Initiatives for the 2018 Legislative Session

January 27, 2018, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated January 26, 6:48 PM
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The Hawai‘i Council of Mayors (HCOM), representing the mayors of the Counties of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Maui and the City and County of Honolulu, sent the following letter dated Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 to the Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and the Chair of the House Committee on Finance, Rep. Sylvia Luke and other Representatives, stating the mayors initiatives for the 2018 legislative session.

Subject: Hawai‘i Council of Mayors Initiatives for the 2018 Legislative Session

The Hawai‘i Council of Mayors extends our appreciation to Committee Chairs Senator Donovan Dela Cruz and Representative Sylvia Luke, as well as to each member of these honorable committees for this opportunity to present our legislative priorities to you today. As Mayors, we are united on those issues that impact our counties collectively. Each of our counties also has its own unique issues, so we are grateful that each mayor has an opportunity to share their county’s respective legislative requests with you.

We are enthusiastic to work in collaboration with each of you to explore solutions to the issues facing all of us this legislative session.

As Mayors, we are unified and respectfully asking for your support on the following
three issues:

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(1) Fair Distribution of TAT between State and Counties – HCOM urges the legislature to adopt and follow the State-County Functions Working Group’s recommendations as to what would be a fair distribution of TAT funds between the state and counties. Specifically, HCOM recommends that the Legislature support HB 1665 that provides a 55-45% split between the state and counties, in lieu of the Legislature placing a cap of $103 million for all counties. While we appreciate the TAT funds provided each county, the counties must again emphasize our right to a fair share of the TAT and believe that the 55-45% split is fair.

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(2) Lifeguard Tort Liability – The counties seek your support for HB 1662 to permanently provide legal immunity for county lifeguards to ensure civil liability protection for county lifeguards – a benefit state lifeguards have.

(3) County Taxing Authority – In an effort to generate alternative sources of revenue to address each county’s budgetary challenges, the counties urge the Hawai‘i Legislature to support HB 1664 relating to County Taxing Authority. Providing the counties with such taxing mechanism would allow the counties to be less dependent on revenue sources such as fuel tax revenue which is predicted to decline with the increase in electric, hybrid, and other fuel efficient vehicles.

In addition to HCOM’s priorities listed above, other concerns facing the State and the Counties are the increasing impacts in our communities as a result of homelessness and the lack of a deep draft harbor on any of the neighboring islands. Should there be a major catastrophic incident on O‘ahu, a deep-draft harbor is the only acceptable alternative capable of accommodating transpacific shipping.

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On behalf of the people of the counties of Hawai‘i, Maui and Kaua‘i and the City and County of Honolulu, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for all of your dedication and commitment to making Hawai‘i a special place to live. We truly live in the best place on earth!

Aloha and Mahalo,

Alan Arakawa, Mayor County of Maui
Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr.,, Mayor County of  of Kaua‘i
Harry Kim, Mayor Count of Hawai‘i
Kirk Caldwell, Mayor City and County of Honolulu

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