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Counties Join Unified Front in Legislative Plan

Photo courtesy County of Maui. [1]

Photo courtesy County of Maui.

By Wendy Osher

Leaders from the executive and legislative branches of all four counties agreed on a coordinated action plan for the 2014 Legislative Session, officials announced.

Members say the unified front emphasizes the importance of the role counties play in the visitor industry and other economic sectors in the state.

During previous legislative sessions, counties have dealt with an ongoing fight to maintain a share of the state’s Transient Accommodations Tax or TAT.

“It’s important for the state to show respect for home rule,” members said in a media release, noting that at times this has meant taking on traditional state functions.

During Friday’s meeting of the Hawaii State Association of Counties, members agreed to develop a legislative package consisting of approximately five major bills.

Maui County Councilman Michael Victorino, who serves as the treasurer of the group called the agreement an “unprecedented event.”

Mayors from across the state were among those who joined in agreement, as well as all council chairs.

“I’ve reminded my colleagues on the Maui County Council and on the other councils the significance of having a body representing the counties and its power to create a difference,” said Council Member Victorino in a media release statement.

He continued, “This power needs to be harnessed and properly used to advance county priorities for the benefit of our communities.”

The group will reconvene on Oct. 22, a week before the governor’s special session on marriage equity is scheduled to take place.