Friday, May 1, 2015

Lawmakers send bills on rail tax, Turtle Bay, Alii Place for final floor vote

House and Senate conferees today agreed to advance bills relating to the extension of the general excise tax for rail, the purchase of Turtle Bay lands for conservation and the purchase of Alii Place. Today was the deadline for House and Senate conferees to pass bills out of their respective committees before a final floor vote. If the bills pass both houses, they will be forwarded to the Governor for his signature, veto, or passage without his signature.

After months of discussion and negotiations, the conferees voted to send HB134, CD1, extending the rail tax, for a final floor vote in both the House and Senate. The conference draft proposed extending the 0.5% General Excise Tax for another five years on Oahu until 2027. It would also allow the neighbor island counties to implement a 0.5% GET increase starting 2018 through 2022 to fund transportation related projects only. In addition, the amended bill would give the state “air” (advertising and development) rights above the rail stations.

SB284, CD1 allows the state to enter into an agreement with the owners of Turtle Bay that would protect about 665 acres from development in perpetuity, which includes the purchase in fee of 65 acres around Kawela Bay.

HB1366, CD1 allows the state to enter into negotiations for the purchase of Alii Place in downtown Honolulu to house state agencies and offices. Bristol Alii Holdings LLC of San Francisco has offered to sell the property to the state for $90 million. Currently, the state rents about 420,888 sq. ft. of office space in the downtown area and spends about $10.15 million in rent. It would cost the state approximately $270 million to design and construct a comparable size building compared to the $90 million for Alii Place.

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