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Letters for Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Thank you to all who support ‘Rise to Work’

Thank you Dr. Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, and all of you who gift our community with your abundant financial resources. Few are able to give such huge amounts of money that can uplift hundreds willing to Rise to Work. And just because someone is able to give doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.

On occasion I hear someone speaking disparagingly about people with money. In my experience, having more money makes people more of who they already are. If someone is greedy, I have seen them more likely to hoard newfound money. If someone has a generous nature, I have seen them give abundantly when they have more.

I feel so much gratitude for all those who give – whether it’s financial resources, time, or talents. Our community is blessed by an abundance of volunteers who serve our kupuna, keiki, and families in need. Thank you, TGI, for consistently recognizing those who give and make a difference here in Kauai.

Marian Head, Kapaa

As we open up, quality of life should be considered

As the county announces its about to “open up” (to visitors) I would just like to say, before they do, please try “opening up” state and county public buildings so residents can once again enter them. If there is nothing left to fear from this virus, if we are now considered “safe” to open, lets begin by opening the state and county buildings and all other public venues, before the visitors arrive.

In addition, I hope and trust the county has taken into account all those folks who have expressed their concerns about TOO MANY VISITORS. I think most of us accept that visitors have a place here on Kaua‘i, the problem is, EXCEEDING OUR CARRYING CAPACITY! Buildings by law have a limit of how many people can be in them at one time, due to fire concerns. It makes sense to me that our island should also have a carrying capacity limit. When an emergency happens, a tsunami or hurricane or ????.

We don’t want a huge traffic jam, where no one can move and get to safety. I’m all for businesses being able to get back up and running smoothly and making a profit. Most businesses, I expect, received federal and state financial assistance during our shutdown due to the pandemic to help keep them alive. Going forward I’m hoping it’s not about greed and just how much money can be made by bringing as many visitors as possible.

I hope at this point, quality of life for those who live here has been mixed into the sauce of decision making. Working families should not have to sit in traffic an hour each way, to and from work. Let us never forget what Kaua‘i was like before the shutdown. The everyday stand still traffic through Kapa‘a, the inability to even find a place to park at the beach. The abuse of the land.

This is our opportunity to balance Kaua‘i. To keep a lifestyle we are all here to enjoy while still inviting enough visitors to support our economic system without destroying the ‘aina. I hope, I trust. Please.

Evelyn Harris, Kilauea

Bill would make jobless benefits exempt from state income taxes

Unemployed workers should not have to pay taxes on their unemployment benefits. There have been over half a million Hawai‘i workers who filed for unemployment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

It has been extremely difficult for workers to navigate the state Unemployment Insurance system, and to add insult to injury the unemployed have to pay a 5% state tax. The federal tax is even larger, at 10%. There is a bill to forgive the state tax at the Hawai‘i Legislature, Senate Bill 614. It has passed committee in the Senate and will come to a floor vote this week. There is overwhelming support in the Senate for this measure. Those that have paid the tax already will be able to get a refund if it passes the full Legislature. It will be going to the House soon. SB 614 will only cover the period from March 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.

It will be up to the House Speaker Scott Saiki to have it heard in the House. In two hearings in the Senate there were over 173 testimonies heard about this bill. There were only two in opposition. There was support from unions like the ILWU, the Hawai‘i Tax Foundation and Mufi Hanneman with the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association. There were also dozens of heartfelt testimonies from both unemployed and still-working Hawai‘i residents. Hawai‘i’s working families are struggling, and we need this measure to pass. Please call House Speaker Saiki at 808-586-6100 to schedule a House hearing or email him at repsaiki@capitol.hawaii.gov.

w Editor’s note: The measure has been received by the House, passed first reading and has been referred to three House committees, including the Finance Committee.

Mahalo,

Ray Catania, Lihu‘e
Source: The Garden Island

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