Quick takes on bills approved by 2023 Hawaii Legislature, Part 1

The following news release was issued May 2, 2023, by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Here are a few brief comments from Keli‘i Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, regarding some of the bills that were approved today by the 2023 Hawaii State Legislature.

>> On the governor’s tax package, HB954:

I’m glad the Legislature has passed a few pieces of Gov. Josh Green’s “Green Affordability Plan.” Unfortunately, the broader-based tax-relief measures in the plan were removed at the last minute, leaving us with just a handful of tax credits that are slated to expire in five years. These measures might provide a modicum of tax relief, but next year the Legislature should enact bolder tax reform for the benefit of all.

>> On the “pass-through entity” bill, SB1437:

SB1437 would reduce taxation on Hawaii businesses at no cost to the state. It is a welcome bill, especially since Hawaii is consistently ranked as one of the worst states for businesses.

>> On the “employee earnings” bill, SB1057:

This bill ostensibly is about transparency, but its practical effect would be to create logistical hurdles for Hawaii’s private employers and hinder their ability to negotiate with job applicants. In addition, if signed by the governor, it also has the potential to harm local businesses by elevating salaries over benefits and community considerations.

>> On the Uniform Commercial Code bill, applicable to cryptocurrency, HB525:

The technical and confusing language of this 197-page tome is fraught with problems, not the least of which is a provision that could have grave consequences for the future of digital currency and business innovation. Specifically, it would exclude certain cryptocurrencies from the definition of “money” — a distinction not in step with the modern economy.

>> On the new employer tax to go toward a proposed Unemployment Insurance Technology Special Fund, SB1383:

Hawaii businesses are already paying more in unemployment taxes this year, and this bill would just make things worse. Plain and simple, it’s a tax hike that employers in Hawaii can ill afford. It should be shelved permanently.

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