Wednesday, March 3, 2010

State lawmakers tax marijuana, rescue schools with hurricane fund, move other bills at midway point of the legislative session, Honolulu mayor increases budget, Hawaii County mayor decreases budget, smoking ban flaunted, tsunami aftermath studied, more news

Furlough Fridays would be gone, marijuana for medical purposes would be taxed $30 an ounce and gas-powered leaf blowers would be outlawed in Hawaii as the Legislature moves to the halfway point.

Showing Gov. Linda Lingle and educators that options are available, state lawmakers yesterday moved bills that would dedicate money from the state's hurricane relief fund and rainy-day fund to reduce teacher furloughs.

Unsatisfied with the federal government’s penalties that have failed to deter the harassment and killing of Hawai‘i’s endangered species, state lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands.

Legislative Auditor Marion Higa could damage the state's good credit rating and cost taxpayers millions of dollars with a not-yet-published audit of the state Department of Budget and Finance, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann on Tuesday laid out his $1.827 billion budget plan that includes cuts and furloughs.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann presented an operating budget yesterday that increases spending by 1.2 percent to $1.83 billion without major tax increases.

Mayor Billy Kenoi's preliminary budget abolishes or unfunds 111 positions, furloughs most county employees two days a month except those in public safety and silences the county bands.

Hawaii County must raise property tax rates, cut positions and furlough workers to make ends meet, Mayor Billy Kenoi told lawmakers Monday in presenting his annual budget proposal.

With a cigar smoldering and the smoke wafting throughout, O'Toole's Irish Pub doesn't hide the fact it serves smokers.

Stand-up paddle boarding's rapid rise in popularity has left state boating officials unsure how to regulate the activity at Hilo's Wailoa Small Boat Harbor.

The city's emergency response to Saturday's tsunami warning cost $330,000, but Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the expense was "fully justified."

Although Maui's Department of Wastewater Reclamation shut down several pump stations to prevent saltwater damage Saturday, the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services did not.

In light of the recent tsunami warning, county officials are urging residents and businesses who have not yet signed up for Connect CTY, Kauai County’s free mass notification service, to do so.