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House Rejects Bills That Would Increase Costs

Rep. Richard Fale

This month we honored the Kahuku Red Raider varsity football team at the House of Representatives for back-to-back state championships. We also honored the school’s We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution team. The team will go to Washington, D.C., next month for the national competition representing the state of Hawaii. Honorees at the event were head football coach Reggie Torres, Jan Harney (social studies teacher and We the People adviser); athletic director Gillian Yamagata; and Kahuku High and Intermediate principal, Donna Lindsey. Congratulations to students, administrators and staff!

We are at the midpoint of the 2013 legislative session. My concern is for the members of my community and for all struggling families in the state who are just trying to work, put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. We live in the most isolated state in the nation, and the majority of our food and energy must be imported – which accounts for the high cost of living.

I feel it is the responsibility of government to do its part to keep taxes down and help out the many people in our state who are living from paycheck to paycheck.

There is some good news; HB 694 passed out of the House and is currently in the Senate. This measure will repeal the increase in tax that resulted from Act 60 (in 1990) by changing the sunset date from Dec. 31, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2014. This means tax rates will be reduced one year sooner than the current statute.

There are some bills that I voted against that I am happy to report did not move forward. These bills would have increased taxes, fees and the overall cost of living.

* HB 1368: This bill would have increased the general excise tax in our state. Hawaii has no sales tax; instead we have a general excise tax, which is a pyramiding tax that is charged for all goods and services in our state. This hurts the poor the most since it includes food and medicine. I opposed this measure, and it was defeated in the House.

* HB 837: This bill will require money transmitters to pay a fee to the state and register their business in a national database. These new fees would be passed on to the consumer. This bill directly impacts minority working-class people who regularly send money back to their families that live outside of the United States.

This is an unnecessary hardship to people who are struggling to make ends meet. I opposed this measure, which was defeated in the House.

* HB 357: This bill charges a 10-cent fee for each single-use checkout bag used. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The fee also may increase to 25 cents in 2016 if the Department of Health does not find a reduction of single-use checkout bags. I opposed this measure, which was defeated in the House.

If you would like to contact us, call 586-6380. You also can email us at repfale@capitol.Hawaii.gov or visit us at the Hawaii State Capitol, 415 S. Beretania St., Room 319.

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