Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hawaii agriculture gets boost, Abercrombie signs animal cruelty bills, state reacts to gay marriage rulings, former Kauai state rep sentenced for rock theft, Big Island mayor vows to build waste-to-energy, beaches rank fourth, GMO bill advances, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

animal cruelty bill with dog
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs animal cruelty bill, courtesy photo
During a bill-signing ceremony enlivened by wagging tails and pooch-themed puns, Gov. Neil Abercrombie enacted six laws aimed at curtailing animal cruelty. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s agriculture industry is set to establish a strong position in world markets with new laws to help farmers, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday. Abercrombie signed seven agriculture-related bills during a ceremony at the state Capitol. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Wednesday that will provide coffee farmers with funding to combat the coffee berry borer beetle. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaiian Humane Society calls it a great day for animals and those who care for them. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed six new laws on Wednesday to help protect them. KHON2.

A federal lawsuit challenging Hawaii laws reserving marriage for heterosexual couples could provide the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to definitively rule on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage. Star-Advertiser.

Supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the State Capitol to celebrate the latest step toward making such unions legal in Hawaii. But they noted that it was still just a step. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii House Speaker Joseph Souki says he will meet with fellow Democrat lawmakers to discuss the ramifications of the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage. Associated Press.

Right now Governor Neil Abercrombie doesn't know if more gay marriage legislation is required or what it should say. Hawaii News Now.

The drive for gay marriage in Hawaii will intensify after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that gay couples legally married under state laws are entitled to federal tax and health care benefits. Star-Advertiser.

Given the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions Tuesday to overturn a ban on federal benefits for same-sex couples and to effectively allow same-sex marriages in California, what does this mean for Hawaii? Civil Beat.

Hawaii ranks fourth among 30 states for water quality at its beaches — up from seventh in 2011 but down from third in 2010, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. West Hawaii Today.

It should go without saying that there's a conflict of interest if you can apply for a job and then have a direct say in whether you get the position. But that's apparently okay in certain parts of Hawaii government. Or it was until Wednesday when the Hawaii State Ethics Commission overturned two opinions in favor of a new one requiring the members of any state board or commission to resign before applying for a job that they are in charge of filling. Civil Beat.

Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is looking to fill two top staff positions. Amy Asselbaye, her Hawaii-based chief of staff, is departing to devote more time to her work at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Department of Education is supposed to put a laptop or tablet in the hands of every public school student, and it has $8 million to figure out how to make the digital device initiative work during the coming school year. But the department appears to be off to a rocky — and rushed — start. And it’s shaping up as an $8-million gamble that might lead to the loss of many times more. Civil Beat.

Hospital visits and costs associated with mental illness soared between 2009 and 2012 after the state substantially cut mental health services. New statistics released Wednesday by Hawaii Health Information Corp. showed overall increases in emergency room visits, hospital admissions and charges statewide. Star-Advertiser.

A University of Hawaii Hawaiian language instructor is translating English-language classics into Hawaiian. R. Keao NeSmith has translated two well-known Lewis Carroll books from the 1800s for Evertype Publishing in Ireland, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.” Associated Press.

State briefs 6.27. Associated Press.

Oahu

Less than a week after Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council leaders closed the book on a contentious 2014 budget season, they are agreeing to look at ways to raise more revenues. City Budget Director Nelson Koyanagi told the Council Budget Committee on Wednesday that the administration is amenable to developing more ways for the city to generate additional revenues to pay for services. Star-Advertiser.

What effects will transit spending have on the city budget? A forum this Saturday will examine this question. Hawaii Independent.

Honolulu Police officers have stepped up their presence in the Manoa area, incorporating plain clothes officers into routine patrols, after an up tick in reported crimes. Hawaii News Now.

There’s no question there’s money being generated by thousands of tourists who pay to park and then visit Hanauma Bay. But exactly how much cash is not easily discovered. KHON2.

Demolition recently started on part of the former Honolulu Advertiser building, which will be developed into a $200 million high-rise affordable condominium tower. Pacific Business News.

Sales were strong last week for condominium-hotel units in a planned Ritz-Carlton tower in Waikiki slated to start construction this summer, so why not build another one? That’s what the developer of the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach is considering. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

As his newly appointed Environmental Management director told a county panel the Hilo landfill could last another 12 years, Mayor Billy Kenoi vowed Wednesday that a waste-to-energy facility will be “on the ground” by the time he leaves office in 3 1/2 years. West Hawaii Today.

Members of Hawaii Island’s gay and lesbian community said that Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings in favor of gay marriage mark important milestones in a fight that they think is still far from over. Tribune-Herald.

Stumps are all that remained Wednesday of four jacaranda trees and the rest are in danger of being cut down unless the state Department of Transportation changes its mind, said several concerned Big Island residents and Imua Landscaping Co., the contractor doing the tree removal and trimming. West Hawaii Today.

Organizers of Hawaii Island’s Fourth of July fireworks displays in Hilo and Kona say that the shows will go on, despite both sides struggling to raise funding. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The embattled Wailuku Main Street Association Inc./Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center soon may be dissolved following a motion filed Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court by the state Attorney General's Office. Maui News.

Lance Taguchi is Maui County's new auditor. His appointment to the position was confirmed Tuesday when the Maui County Council unanimously adopted a resolution appointing the current county deputy clerk to the new position. Maui News.

Mala boat ramp and the two loading docks at the West Maui boat launch facility will be closed off for about 60 days starting Oct. 14, as agreed upon at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council unanimously voted 7-0 Wednesday night to hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to regulate pesticides and GMOs by agricultural farms. Star-Advertiser.

A former state representative was sentenced to community service Wednesday for illegally receiving rocks from a historic preserve and heiau site in 2011. Roland Diaz Sagum III was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. His request to serve the sentence with the Royal Order of Kamehameha was approved by the court. Garden Island.