Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hawaii Superferry & Real Estate Speculators

Today is the last day of the senates ability to pass all bills, if they do not pass today then the become invalid and go back to the drawing table.

1/6/2007 senators yesterday called for the state to complete an EIS while the Superferry is allowed to start service between Honolulu and Maui in July.

Ferry officials had raised the possibility of suing the state if it is not permitted to start service, after the state has put $40 million into harbor construction for the ferry. The service is scheduled to start this summer.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate tomorrow and then go to the House.

A bill that did pass the Senate yesterday requires counties to identify property owners running vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfast establishments to make sure that the owners are paying the hotel room tax.

In the House, lawmakers worked well into the night tackling a 341-bill agenda that included measures ranging from the establishment of traffic cameras to catch red-light runners and increased taxes for real estate speculators.

Some of the more spirited debate in the House focused on increased taxes for speculators, those who buy properties and sell them after a short time at a profit.

One measure, House Bill 1002, would assess a graduated anti-speculation tax on the capital gains realized on real property held from less than six months and up to 24 months before sold. Another measure, H B 252, increases conveyance tax rates for sales of condominiums or single-family residences where the purchaser is ineligible for a county homeowner's property tax exemption.

"How can we deny that speculation is not contributing to increase the cost of housing, when neighborhoods in Makaha have homes that are selling for millions of dollars," said Housing Chairwoman Maile Shimabukuro (D, Waianae-Makua).

"I'm just really concerned about this philosophy that the speculators are the true cause of raising the costs of housing in Hawaii," said Rep. Kymberly Pine (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point). "I believe the true cause of the high cost of housing in Hawaii is us -- government."


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