Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hawaii Legislature opens with leadership changes, protests, tax concerns, Honolulu mayor wants rail tax money, Hawaii County mayor wants state parks, plastic bag ban begins, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

opening day 2013 Legislature
Hawaii Senate opening day, courtesy Senate Majority Office
The Hawaii Legislature opened its 2013 session at the Capitol in Honolulu on Wednesday with speeches from new leadership and music and dance from local entertainers. Pacific Business News.

Senators and representatives were sworn in and new leadership was chosen in both houses Wednesday as the 2013 Hawaii legislative session got under way. Associated Press.

State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim said Wednesday that despite anticipating a better economy, lawmakers should not impose new tax burdens on residents or reflexively expand state programs. House Speaker Joseph Souki said the state must generate new revenue if legislators want to restore the social safety net, improve public education and repair infrastructure. Star-Advertiser.

On Wednesday, Calvin Say's 14 years as speaker ended, and the man he deposed — Joe Souki — was returned to power with the votes of 25 Democrats and all seven Republicans.Civil Beat.

on Wednesday, January 16, during the first day of the 60 working day session, both the Senate president and House speaker expressed their concern over Hawaii's high tax burden. Hawaii Reporter.

The 27th State Legislature opened Wednesday, and an expected change in the House of Representatives leadership has given more — or at least some — power to the Republican minority in Hawai‘i’s Democratic-dominated political arena. Garden Island.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim takes helm as Senate president, Rep. Joe Souki installed as House Speaker. KITV4.

The State Legislature convened today with many focusing on the House of Representatives where a new leader was formally installed… resulting in a major shift in power for the first time in 14 years. Hawaii Public Radio.

Joseph Souki officially took over as state House speaker, succeeding Calvin Say. But supporters of the outgoing leader voiced discontent at Say's seat assignment. Hawaii News Now.

Hundreds marched on the state capitol on Wednesday hoping lawmakers will hear their call to action. KHON2.

With swooping, rhythmic motions, hundreds of men, women, teenagers and preschoolers pounded taro into roughly 1,000 pounds of poi Wednesday at the state Capitol as part of a protest that drew hundreds of residents hoping to have their voices heard on the opening day of the legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

On Wednesday, there was a cadence of movement, as hundreds gathered in a convocation of various groups coming together to push for labeling of genetically modified foods. Hawaii Independent.

[VIDEO] Legislature's Opening Day: Speeches, Songs, Chants and Cheers. Civil Beat.

This is a copy of Speaker Joseph M. Souki's prepared remarks to the opening session of the state House of Representatives on Wednesday. Maui News.

A Honolulu-based nonprofit law firm wants state lawmakers to establish a Hawaii earned income tax credit and eliminate the income tax on the poor to ease the burden on low-income individuals and families. West Hawaii Today.

Toxic chemicals released in Hawaii from facilities such as electric utilities and fuel refineries increased slightly in 2011, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is considering asking environmental regulators to extend deadlines for complying with new regulations that they say would cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk  Caldwell told lawmakers this week the city has been shortchanged when it comes to a special tax that's earmarked for rail and that an accounting error led to the loss of $10 million last year. Civil Beat.

The explosion at a Waikele storage facility that killed five people in 2011, along with a fireworks-related Fourth of July fatality in Kansas, shows a clear "regulatory gap" when it comes to the disposal of fireworks in the United States, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said in a report expected to be released this morning in Washington, D.C. Star-Advertiser.

Preliminary necropsy findings on a humpback whale calf that died off an East Honolulu beach indicate the mammal may have been battling some sort of respiratory infection, according to one of the scientists at Hawaii Pacific University involved in the examination. Star-Advertiser.

Chevron Corp. will likely follow Tesoro Corp.'s lead and close its Campbell Industrial Park refinery within a few years as the environment to do business in Hawaii becomes more difficult, an East-West Center energy expert said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

One of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s legislative priorities — a county takeover of Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea State Recreation Areas — is already encountering some resistance in the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

If you want to save a few cents at area supermarkets and shopping malls, now is the time to start toting your shopping bags into the store with you. West Hawaii Today.

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii island took top honors in four categories in the TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers' Choice Hotel awards: best overall in the U.S. and in the world and best luxury hotel in the U.S. and in the world. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

A lecture, a performance and a display are part of the events that will be held Thursday on the University of Hawaii Maui College lawn fronting Kaahumanu Avenue to commemorate and educate the public about the 120th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom that occurred on Jan. 17, 1893. Maui News.

The Department of Water Supply will be providing combined water and wastewater bills on a monthly basis starting next week. Maui News.

Kauai

The Department of Water will bill its customers on a monthly basis instead of bi-monthy beginning Jan. 22, according to a county news release. DOW officials say the change was made to provide better customer service. Garden Island.