Lieutenant Governor Signs Bill to Support HI’s Aerospace Industry

This afternoon Acting Governor Shan Tsutsui signed into law Senate Bill 1256, relating to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). The measure appropriates fund for PISCES to help foster the development and expansion of the aerospace, robotics, and related industries in Hawaii.

Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui is serving as Acting Governor while Governor Abercrombie is in Taiwan from July 9 to 12.

Lieutenant Governor Signs Bills to Help Build State’s Innovation Economy

Honolulu- Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui signed into law today two measures aimed at supporting the development of Hawaii’s innovation economy and growing our State’s research industry.

House Bill 858, relating to the HI Growth Initiative, appropriates $6,000,000 to the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation to implement the HI Growth Initiative.  The initiative is an investment program to develop and promote the creation of competitive high-growth companies in Hawaii.

 In order for Hawaii to thrive in today’s economic landscape it is imperative that we make strategic investments now, so that we can build an innovative economy capable of carrying us well into the future,” said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing.  “This initiative provides the tools necessary to support high-growth entrepreneurial companies in State, helping us to create more high-wage jobs and remain globally competitive.”

Senate Bill 1349, relating to economic development, reenacts the tax credit for qualified high technology research activities for six years.  The measure also establishes new reporting requirements. Additionally, it requires DBEDT to conduct studies to measure the effectiveness of the tax credit and submit reports to the legislature.

Hawaii’s lack of career opportunities in STEM related fields has led to an exodus of many of our Island’s talented youth, who are faced with too few career prospects here home,” said Dela Cruz, who introduced the measure. “By reestablishing the qualified research activities tax credit this measure allows Hawaii’s research and development companies to remain competitive with mainland businesses and generate and sustain lucrative high technology jobs for our children.”

Senator Dela Cruz also expressed when implementing such programs involving appropriations or tax credits that they need to center around location specific economic development, targeting where the funding will be focused on to spur economic activity, so that our local people can see the progress and positive impacts within their communities.

Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard in Response to Governor’s Signing of Green Infrastructure Financing Bill

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today Senate Bill (SB) 1087, which establishes a green infrastructure financing program.

Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, issued this statement in response to the enactment of SB 1087:

This innovative, first in the nation legislation allows us to do something unprecedented and that’s to join bond financing with on-bill repayment,” said Senate Committee on Energy and Environment Chair Mike Gabbard. “This program is going to be huge in providing lower and middle income folks with greater access to PV and other energy efficiency improvements, allowing them to borrow the money at extremely low interest rates and then repay the loans over time on their monthly their electric bills. Laws like this will make our state the model for the world to follow.”

Governor Enacts Measure to Promote Hawaii’s Clean Energy Goals

Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a measure aimed at helping the State of Hawaii achieve its clean energy goals by establishing a green infrastructure financing program.

Senate Bill 1087 provides a lower cost financing alternative for Hawaii businesses and residents to utilize green infrastructure equipment and technology to reduce electricity consumption by leveraging clean energy technology.

Building Hawaii’s clean energy infrastructure at a rate which is affordable for consumers is an essential component in advancing the State’s clean energy initiatives,” said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing.  “We needed to find ways for all of Hawaii’s consumers to benefit from affordable and clean energy options to gain relief from high monthly electric bills. This program establishes an alternative financing method that will ultimately pass savings onto the consumer by providing low-cost financing to enable the installation of green infrastructure equipment. It brings accessible and affordable energy options to all of Hawaii’s individuals, working families, and small businesses.  This is about reducing the cost of living and improving quality of life right here at home.”

The innovative financing method created in this measure will provide a secure financing structure to allow the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to issue revenue bonds at very competitive rates, which these savings can be passed on to the consumers in the form of lower borrowing costs.

Governor Signs Measures to Encourage Economic Development and Innovation

(Senators Carol Fukunaga and David Ige join the Governor Abercrombie for the signing of House Bill 2319 into law.)

Honolulu- On June 27, 2012 Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law bills aimed at promoting economic and high technology development in the State. Among the measures enacted include House Bill (HB) 2319, Relating to Economic Development, and HB 2873, Relating to The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES).

HB 2319 establishes a $2 million dollar venture accelerator funding program under the Hawai’i Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC) to assist the State’s technology start-ups compete for investment capital. The program will assist in the growth of technology businesses in the State, including areas such as information technology, aerospace, science, renewable energy, engineering, and film and digital media production.

The creation of the venture accelerator funding program provides an urgently-needed means of supporting emerging high tech businesses in Hawai’i,” said Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology Chair Carol Fukunaga. “It represents an important phase of HSDC’s transition into a more hands-on, working entity rather than solely for disbursements to venture funds.”

(Carol Fukunaga, David Ige, and Will Espero join Governor Abercrombie for the signing of House Bill 2873 into law.)

Looking ahead into the future of innovation and tourism, HB 2873 transfers the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) from the University of Hawai’i to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Office of Aerospace Development, establishes a PISCES board of directors, and appropriates funds. This measure will give PISCES the flexibility necessary to operate effectively within the rapidly-evolving aerospace sector while keeping Hawaii competitive and attractive to space industry partners.

The passage of this measure is vital to our State’s future economic growth and development,” said Senator Fukunaga. “By promoting innovative industries, PISCES can aid in Hawaii’s economic growth through creation of new, sustainable green industries along with high-paying jobs, workforce development, internships, and education programs in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Keiki Caucus on collecting money Hawaii is already owed

The Keiki Caucus along with local retailers, employers and union members gathered at the State Capitol to discuss Hawaii’s Use Tax Law and SB 2405, SD1/HB 2352.  This legislation adopts amendments to Hawaii tax laws to implement the streamlined sales and use tax agreement.

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Recovery project is a national initiative that enables out-of-state retailers to electronically collect/remit uncollected taxes at the point of sale.  It levels the playing field for local retailers, since the out-of-state retailer collects a 4% use tax comparable to the general excise tax (GET) paid on local purchases.

In support of streamlined sales tax proposal

The Keiki Caucus, along with business and community leaders, yesterday gathered in support of SB 2405 and HB 2352, which would allow Hawaii to implement the streamlined sales and use tax agreement and collect taxes on out-of-state sales. Currently, Hawaii is unable to collect sales tax on out-of-state purchases, including those made through catalogs and over the Internet. The proposed measures would adopt amendments to Hawaii tax laws to implement the existing streamlined sales and use tax agreement.

The amount of sales and use tax revenues that have remained uncollected is significant. “Last year, the National Conference of State Legislatures calculated that $245.5 million was not collected by our state,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, chair of the Human Services Committee. “At the same time, hundreds of thousands of children and youth in Hawaii are being impacted by the cuts that have already been made in public education, child care, higher education, public health services, youth services and public assistance, to name a few.”

“Think about furlough Fridays,” suggested Representative John Mizuno. “If we had collected that $245 million, would this even be an issue?”

Mizuno also stressed that, “This is not a new tax. It is just uncollected tax.”

For the business community, there is also a concern that businesses selling via catalogs or over the Internet and do not collect the sales and use tax enjoy an unfair advantage. “For us, it’s all about competition,” said Dick Botti of the Hawaii Retail Association. “If somebody can order something from the mainland over the Internet and avoid the taxes, it creates an unfair playing field, and this helps level it. We need this type of legislation.”

According to Carol Pregill of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, “The retail industry in Hawaii employs about twenty-three percent of our workforce. This bill would give us the opportunity, the latitude, the revenue, the break that we need that we can continue to employ our Hawaii people in our industry.”

Since 1969, Hawaii law has required that buyers pay a tax whenever they purchase something outside of Hawaii through a catalog, the Internet, or by other means. However, the means has not been available to collect those taxes.

“With technology, we now have a way to help our tax departments collect the taxes that are due, help level the playing field for our local businesses, and help preserve those programs that are at the core of government services,” said Senator Carol Fukunaga, chair of the Economic Development and Technology Committee.

In 2003, Hawaii became a participant in the national Streamlined Sales Tax Project by enacting the Hawaii Simplified Sales and Use Tax Administration Act (Act 173, Session Laws of Hawaii 2003). In 2009, the State Legislature passed streamlined sales and use tax legislation by wide margins (23-2 in the Senate, 42-7 in the House) but Governor Linda Lingle vetoed the measure. Twenty-three states representing over thirty percent of the nation’s population have already been certified as being in compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Proposal for State Purchase of 1.6-Acre Waiehu Beach Park Advances in the Senate

In an effort to keep the 1.6- acre Waiehu Beach Park on Maui in public hands, the Senate Committee on Business and Economic Development voted in support of Senate Bill 3110, which appropriates $750,000 to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to purchase the park from Wailuku Agribusiness. The bill’s author, Senator Shan S. Tsutsui, praised the committee for taking an important step towards preserving public access to Waiehu Beach Park for generations to come.

Click here for a copy of the press release.

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