2017 Hawai’i Legislative Outlook

March 30, 2017
6pm   -   8pm
West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers

Join us and hear the priorities your state representatives have set for the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

This West Hawai’i Forum is your opportunity to speak directly with your State and West Hawaii County representatives…  Share your thoughts on the issues and priorities for Hawai’i that’s important to you, your family, and the Community.

Various tax measures (raising, not lower taxes and fines) highlight the 2017 legislative session and if passed will impact Big island residents.  Some taxing examples include increase taxes and fees that impact Hawai’i Island residents:

Possible General Excise Tax increase may be forthcoming in a new bill that is moving through the state Legislature that will increase (statewide) the (GET) general excise tax to 5.2 percent.

Neighbor islands, including Hawai’i County, would be affected as well.  The Tax Foundation of Hawai’i projects that a half-percent GET tax increase equals about $200 per person a year, and that’s for every adult and child. By example, a family of four with two kids would pay an additional $800 a year.

The GE Tax is seen as a regressive form of a statewide sales tax that applies to all residents of Hawai’i – tax on living expenses that include essentials such as medicine and food.

State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D, Hawaii Island, amended the taxation bill (SB1183) to add that extra-half percent to the General Excise Tax from 4.7 percent to 5.2 percent.  Senator Inouye has indicated that the proposed GET increase is a contingency tax strategy, that is, if a bill to seeking to Hawaii’s vehicle fuel and weight taxes and increasing registration fees fails to pass the Legislature, raising the GET tax is plan B.

Drivers May Face Higher Taxes, Fees to Maintain Highways

Ford Fuchigami, director of the state Department of Transportation, told senators that his agency needs $100 million in additional funding for the state highway fund. Without that the money, roads, highways and interstates will continue to deteriorate, he said.

A bill to address the Fuchigami’s funding request has taken the form a higher fees in Hawaii’s fuel and vehicle weight taxes, along fee increases in statewide vehicle registration fees.

“With Hawaii’s cost of living, it is appalling that you keep on adding costs to the citizens of the state just because we are able to afford a car”… Katherine Kupukaa of Mililani

If driving isn’t expensive enough already in Hawai’i, pending legislation will substantially raise driving fines for: 

Speeding in a school zone or construction area, $750, up from the current $250 fine, — triple the current fine if Senate Bill 663 passes.

Excessive speeding , $1,500 minimum fine, and up to $3,000 — triple the current fine range if Senate Bill 664 is approved.

Drunken driving – first offense, minimum fine: $450, up to $3,000 — triple the current fine range, under Senate Bill 659.

House Bills to Watch impacting Hawaii County and West Hawai’i

HB 1586 — The legislature finds that the current property tax structure caters to non-residents and burdens local residents, particularly the senior population.

Non-residents are afforded the luxury of an investment in highly appreciable land while, at the same time, they are able to export their income tax to a state where the rate is lower. This form tax results in raising the cost of living for Hawaii residents.

HB 14 – The legislature finds that lifeguards act as the primary responders for emergencies on shorelines and within near shore waters, where the majority of ocean recreation activity takes place.  Lifeguards also provide injury control and dispatch ocean rescue services.  However, the legislature also finds that although Kua Bay, Kekaha Kai State Park (Kua Bay) in North Kona on the island of Hawaii… (NEED) to hire and provide benefits for four full-time equivalent lifeguards.

HB 1359 – General powers and limitation of the counties. Each county shall have the power to frame and adopt a charter for its own self-government that shall establish the county executive, administrative, and legislative structure and organization…

HB 603 – The legislature finds that residents of the island of Hawaii would greatly benefit from the addition of an advanced life support ambulance to augment the Hawaii county emergency medical services system for residents of the Makalei area.

Join the Community for an opportunity to speak directly with your State and West Hawaii County representatives

This forum took place on March 30, 2017, at 6pm at West Hawai'i Civic Center, Council Chambers.

To learn more about each Forum featured speaker, click onto the presenter's name listed below their picture.


This event was moderated by:

Bill Bugbee
Community Forums

The event's featured speakers were:

Rep. Nicole Lowen
House, District 6
Sen. Josh Green, MD
Senate, District 3
Sen. Lorraine Inouye
Senate District 4
Rep. Cindy Evans
House District 7
Rep. Richard Creagan, MD
House, District 5

Subject Support Materials

Please see support material for this subject Forum.


Forum Session Video

View the recorded session here: