State briefs for September 17

Parents withdrew missing girl from school

HONOLULU (AP) — The adoptive parents of a missing 6-year-old Hawaii girl pulled her out of school to home-school her, the state Department of Education said.

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Isabella Kalua attended kindergarten at Waimanalo Elementary last school year via distance learning, said Nanea Kalani, a spokeswoman for the education department. In June, her adoptive parents filed paperwork with the school to withdraw the child to home-school her, Kalani said.

The search for Kalua entered the fourth day Thursday. She was last seen sleeping at home in Waimanalo, on the east side of the island of Oahu, Sunday night, Honolulu police said.

Sonny Kalua told The Associated Press Thursday that he and Lehua Kalua adopted the girl in January. “We’re instructed by the detectives from day one that we’re not supposed to talk to reporters,” he said.

Interim Chief Rade Vanic told the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday there’s not sufficient evidence to show she was abducted.

Police have interviewed numerous people, but there are acquaintances and family members “who have yet to come forward to be interviewed,” Lt. Deena Thoemmes, of the Criminal Investigation Division, said in a statement Thursday.

Council passes hotel tax; mayor expected to sign

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — The Kauai County Council has passed a bill adding a 3% surcharge to the state’s hotel tax after the state stopped sharing revenue from the tax with the counties.

Mayor Derek Kawakami plans to sign the legislation, said Sarah Blane, his chief of staff. The measure was due to take effect on Oct. 1.

The county expects revenue from the tax to replace the roughly $15 million Kauai used to receive each year from its share of the state’s transient accommodation tax, The Garden Island newspaper reported Thursday.

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The Maui County Council was scheduled to vote on a similar bill today.

The state for many years distributed a portion of the revenue it collected from the 10.25% tax on hotel room stays and other short-term rentals to the counties but stopped doing so when the coronavirus pandemic squeezed its budget.

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