STAND. COM. REP. NO.2255
RE: S.B. No. 2350
Honorable Robert Bunda
President of the Senate
Twenty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2002
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs, to which was referred S.B. No. 2350 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS TAX,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose of this measure is to set an unspecified limit on the transient accommodations tax (TAT) revenues deposited in the tourism special fund, with an unspecified amount to be deposited in the state parks special fund.
Testimony in support of this measure was received from the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Sierra Club Hawai`i Chapter. The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Visitor Industry Coalition, Hawai`i Hotel Association, Maui Hotel Association, Hawaii Activities and Tours Association, Waikiki Improvement Association, and Hawaii Business Roundtable testified in opposition. The Tax Foundation of Hawaii submitted comments.
Your Committee finds that Hawaii's parks are some of the most spectacular places in the world, and part of what brings people to visit the State. These resources should be experienced in the context of world class, well-designed, well-maintained park facilities, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Facilities designed and built decades ago to handle a few dozen visitors are now overwhelmed by thousands of people every day. To various degrees, roads are crumbling, sewage systems overloaded, water supplies overdrawn, trails eroding, irrigation systems failing, picnic tables are collapsing, and shelters are falling apart. Work crews have little time for preventative maintenance in the struggle to keep the failing basic facilities on line.
Your Committee has heard that the DLNR Na Ala Hele Program, under the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, currently manages approximately 277 miles of hiking and multiple use trails statewide. A study in 2000 of fourteen trails located in both state parks and under the Na Ala Hele Program, conducted by students from the University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning, determined that seventy-eight per cent of over 2000 individuals interviewed were from out of state. In addition, Na Ala Hele manages and regulates the commercial trail tour activities of twenty-one permitted operators on select trails statewide. Ten years ago there were virtually no trail tours in existence, and currently there is a growing demand for trail activity from visitors.
Your Committee strongly acknowledges the nexus between the visitor industry and Hawaii's natural resource areas. Well over half of state park users are visitors to the islands, and as the survey has shown, the percentage is even higher on trails.
Your Committee has amended this measure to:
(1) Add a purpose paragraph to detail the specific purposes of the measure;
(2) Cap the TAT revenues deposited in the tourism special fund at $61,000,000 annually;
(3) Require the HTA to direct at least $1,000,000 of that amount to support efforts to manage, improve, and protect Hawaii's natural environment and areas frequented by visitors;
(4) Deposit ninety per cent of any TAT revenues over $61,000,000 in the state parks special fund, and transfer ten per cent to the Hawaii statewide trail and access program to take care of those trails not under parks jurisdiction, up to $2,000,000 annually, and require expenditures in response to a master plan developed with HTA; and
(5) Authorize any excess over $63,000,000 to be deposited into the general fund.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2350, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 2350, S.D. 1, and be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs,
DONNA MERCADO KIM, Chair