Gambling on a New Hawaii Casino
Fifty days of the 60 day Hawaii legislative session have concluded. The session is set to wrap up May 5.
But since the state’s $22 billion two year budget has not been balanced as required by the state constitution, and lawmakers are still short $1.3 billion for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and $232 million from now until the end of the year, lawmakers may need to go into overtime. If so, they would likely call a special session in June or July.
If that happens, lobbyists for legalizing gambling in Hawaii believe they have a good shot at getting passed a plan to legalize gambling at a free standing casino in Waikiki, mainly because the license is $100 million for 10 years and the operators would pay a 15 percent General Excise Tax instead of the 4.72 percent paid by everyone else on Oahu.
One lobbyist told Hawaii Reporter that besides bringing in $80 million to $100 million in General Excise Taxes and hiring hundreds of workers, the state could also keep another $1 billion worth of revenue from residents who leave the state to gamble in destinations such as Las Vegas.
Opponents say the plan would bring more crime and social problems to Hawaii.
Story Sparks Firestorm of Complaints About the TSA
Sen. Sam Slom’s story in Hawaii Reporter on a new, national, bipartisan legislative caucus emerging to take action to address problems with the TSA, was picked up by the Drudge Report on Friday.
From there, Slom, who is a member of the caucus, received hundreds of emails and calls from people outraged over an experience they’ve had with the TSA. National media have called to interview him. Hawaii Reporter also received several comments, all critical of the TSA. The agency, which upholds security inspections at American airports, may be as unpopular as the IRS.
In his column, Slom writes about the “United States for Travel Freedom” caucus, which officially convened on April 14, 2011 via teleconference and video live streaming (http//alaskalegislature.tv/).
He says the mission of the caucus is to, “establish a centralized location to share information regarding
· detailed information of federal security policies as they pertain to the right to travel freely;
· detailed information on how these policies affect the citizens of the United States of America;
· detailed information on methods of screening and the accumulative costs of these procedures.”
Alaska State Representative Sharon Cissna and Washington State Senator Val Stevens are the primary organizers and Republican and Democrat legislators from Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington are initial members.
“We have pledged to work together for common goals to oppose what is perceived as an ever growing threat to liberty by the TSA,” Slom said. “Each of the lawmakers involved to date has introduced legislation in their state to curb what they, and their state’s citizens, believe to be excessive power by the TSA. Specific issues include constitutional rights, invasion of privacy and civil rights, child protection and fiscal issues. Many of the state bills call for individual state prohibitions on TSA procedures with the ultimate goal federal action against the operations of the TSA itself.”
See the full report here
Despite national media attention, no local media has reported on the new national caucus yet.
Garibaldi: Out Before He is In
John Garibaldi, formerly of the Hawaii Superferry, was asked to step down as a nominee for the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund Board, after Gov. Neil Abercrombie relayed that Garibaldi may be in conflict as a member of the DTRIC Insurance Board of Directors.
Garibaldi was already meeting with Senators and on the agenda when he got the word from the governor’s staff that if there was a hurricane, the Hurricane Relief Fund Board could vote to place a surcharge on premiums paid to local property and casualty insurance companies. If that happened, Garibaldi may have a conflict of interest, he was told.
Garibaldi told Hawaii Reporter that he was surprised that his candidacy was not vetted earlier in the process. He’d already been meeting with Senators and felt he had wasted their time.
Whether or not Garibaldi was actually in conflict, the Hurricane Relief Fund will likely be emptied this session by lawmakers and the Governor who are targeting the fund to balance the state’s $1.3 billion deficit.
In a twist of irony, lawmakers regularly declare a potential conflict of interest before voting, particularly in the 51-member body of the House of Representatives. But they are never found by legislative leadership to actually be in conflict.
Pork on the Menu
The Council of State Governments-West is meeting in Hawaii at the Sheraton Waikiki from July 30 to August 2, 2011 for an annual meeting. House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro and Senator Brian Taniguchi are chairs for the event.
They are soliciting recipes from Hawaii for their publication, “Host state cooking with aloha.” How many ways are there to cook up government pork?
Governor Abercrombie, Sen. Inouye Charged by Electric Car Network Unveiling
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and Governor Neil Abercrombie along with Jason Wolf, Vice President of Better Place North America and Brian Goldstein, Director of Better Place Hawaii will hold a Hawaiian blessing Tuesday at the launch of the first “smart” electric car charging network in Hawaii.
A statement from the group said: “The installation of the first 10 charge spots across Oahu, including five at the Sheraton Waikiki, is the result of cross-sector partnerships between Better Place, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Waikiki, Hawaiian Electric Company, and Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture. This is a major milestone in the road toward the widespread adoption of electric cars in Hawaii.”