Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Letters in Support of Bills Sent to Governor

HCUL has sent two letters in support of two important bills awaiting the approval or veto of the Governor.

HB31, Relating to Employment Practices, makes it illegal for employers to use a prospective employee's credit report for purposes of evaluation. Financial institutions that are federally insured are exempt from this law.

SB1218, Relating to Mortgage Loan Originators brings Hawaii into compliance with the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008. This act required states to regulate the mortgage industry by July 1, 2010, or become federally regulated.

Letter of Support for HB31
Letter of Support for SB1218

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Post-Session Numbers

The Legislative Reference Bureau has released some raw numbers to recap the end of the 2009 session:

*House bills: 1,843 bills introduced; 115 passed.

*Senate bills: 1,680 bills introduced; 136 passed.

*Total: 3,523 bills introduced; 251 passed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Credit Card Reform Bill Passes Congress

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act passed the Senate yesterday, and now goes to President Obama for approval. Obama has indicated that he plans to sign the bill into law this Friday.

The intent of this legislation is to make credit card rules more transparent and easier to understand for card holders. Introduced to aid Americans swimming in credit card debt, and those that have fallen prey to unfair and undisclosed fees and interest payments, HR627 would help people better manage their credit.

Highlights of the measure:
  • Limited interest rate hikes
  • Extended monthy payment deadlines
  • Limits on over-limit fees
  • Lower sub-prime fees

Those in the credit card and banking industry opposed the bill, saying that it would result in credit cards becoming unattainable for lower-income individuals, and larger fees for current users.

Read the full article on creditcard.com by clicking here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

2009 Legislative Session Adjourns

After a relatively short veto override session today, the 2009 legislative session adjourned, Sine Die. This session was marred by a struggling economy and party politics, yet lawmakers were able to pass a balanced budget that largely preserved jobs and wages for public sector employees.

The following bills that were vetoed by Governor Lingle in her public ceremony yesterday were overridden by a large majority in both the House and Senate today:

HB 1747 HD1 SD1 CD1 (Income Tax increase): Raises the state income tax from the existing 8.25 percent to up to 11 percent on single taxpayers who make $150,000 or more a year, heads of households who earn $225,000 or more a year, and couples who make $300,000 or more a year. The tax increase would apply to roughly the top 2.6 percent of state taxpayers. Starting in fiscal year 2012, the bill would also increase the standard deduction and personal exemption, which would provide a tax break for many taxpayers.
Revenue estimate over the two-year budget: $96.6 million.
Revenue estimate over the six-year financial plan: $245.8 million.

SB 1111 HD1 SD1 CD1 (Hotel room tax): Raises the transient accommodations tax by 1 percentage point in July — from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent — and another 1 percentage point in July 2010 — from 8.25 percent to 9.25 percent. The tax increase would apply to operators of hotel rooms, apartments, condominiums, beach houses and other places rented to visitors or local guests. The increase would likely be passed on to consumers. It is estimated that it would roughly amount to an increase of $9 for a 5-day stay.
Revenue estimate over the two-year budget: $88.9 million.
Revenue estimate over the six-year financial plan: $367.2 million.

HB 1741 HD1 SD1 CD1 (Conveyance tax): Raises the conveyance tax on the sale of properties of $2 million or more and on second-home purchases. Reduces for three years the distribution of conveyance tax revenues into the rental housing trust fund and the natural area reserve fund.
Revenue estimate over the two-year budget: $8 million.
Revenue estimate over the six-year financial plan: $24 million.

HB 895 HD2 SD2 CD1 (Non-cigarette tobacco tax): Raises the state's tax on the wholesale price of tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco, from 40 percent to 70 percent starting at the end of September. The state's tax on the wholesale price of cigars would increase from 40 percent to 50 percent, and smaller cigars that resemble cigarettes would be taxed like cigarettes.
Revenue estimate over the two-year budget: $3.2 million.
Revenue estimate over the six-year financial plan: $18.6 million.

Governor Vetoes Tax Bills

At a public ceremony in the Capitol rotunda yesterday, Governor Lingle vetoed several taxation bills:

SB1111 SD1 HD1 CD1 – Increases the transient accommodation tax by 28 percent over the next two years, adding to the cost visitors and residents pay when staying at hotels, time-shares, and bed & breakfast lodgings. The tax increase would raise the cost of visiting Hawai‘i and discourage both leisure and business travelers from coming to the islands and further destabilize Hawai‘i’s already weakened visitor industry.

HB1741 HD1 SD1 CD1 – Increases by up to 257 percent the conveyance tax home buyers, businesses, real estate developers, charities, non-profit organizations and other purchasers of all residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural real estate must pay for transactions over $2 million. It would also adversely impact affordable housing projects and non-profit organizations, including churches, schools, and youth organizations.

HB1747 HD1 SD1 CD1 – Increases the personal income tax rate on almost 37,000 Hawai‘i income tax filers, sole proprietors and small businesses (S-corporations and partnerships) that file their business income as personal income. There are over 27,000 S-corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorship in Hawai‘i, which includes approximately 6,000 sole proprietors.

Visit the Governor's website at http://hawaii.gov/gov to view the veto messages and the veto ceremony.

At today's final legislative session, the House and Senate plan to override Governor Lingle's vetoes. Read the Honolulu Advertiser article here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bills Update

Please go here to view the updated bill tracking spreadsheet, with post-conference information. A full, comprehensive final legislative report will be available after adjournment of the legislature, which is scheduled for May 8, 2009.