Hill flags good housing bills, awful tax bills at Legislature

Grassroot’s policy director says Hawaii high cost of living is due to “one little thing after another, just building on each other”

There are many promising housing bills being considered by the 2024 state Legislature, but Malia Hill’s favorite is SB3202, dubbed the “starter home bill,” because it would change Hawaii’s zoning rules in a variety of ways to make it much easier to build smaller, more affordable homes.

Hill is policy director of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, and she spoke last week about this year’s legislative session with radio host Rick Hamada on KHVH News Radio 830. During the 17-minute conversation, Hill said other bills she likes are:

>> SB2035, which would amend the voting procedures of the state Land Use Commission board to help speed up housing project approvals.

>> HB2212, called the “Yes in God’s backyard” bill, which would grant certain nonprofits the ability to build affordable homes on their lands “by right.”

Hill said bills she doesn’t like include the many proposed tax increases, such as SB2056, which would amend the state’s Constitution to allow the state to levy a surcharge on property taxes collected at the county level; and HB2629 and HB2364, both of which would increase the state’s real estate conveyance tax rate.

Hill said some people might think these proposed tax hikes would apply to only the wealthy, but “it wasn’t too long ago when everyone was going, ‘Oh, $1 million, that’s a really expensive property.’ And now, that’s just the median value.”

Hill noted that while legislators might not intend to increase the cost of living, it’s the inevitable result of “one little thing after another, just building on each other. That’s what I think what’s going on with these bills related to property taxation.

To hear the entire conversation, please go here.

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