Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GMO, pesticide bill passed on Kauai, AG gives nod for state Legislature to pass gay marriage, Board of Education wants $65M more, Hawaii council to raise tobacco sale age, mystery guests on Lanai, Health Connector goes online, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

genetically modified organisms pesticides
Kauai anti-GMO rally file photo
The Kauai County Council voted 6-1 to approve an amended bill that calls for mandatory disclosure of pesticides use and genetically modified crops by large agribusinesses on the island. Shortly after 3:30 a.m. today, the council approved Bill 2491 after a 14-hour discussion. Star-Advertiser.

After a marathon hearing, the Kauai County Council passed a hotly debated bill on Wednesday that could lead to prison time or fines for employees of agricultural companies if they don’t divulge specifics about pesticide use, abide by strict setback rules for spraying chemicals or disclose when they grow genetically engineered crops. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s attorney general issued a legal opinion Tuesday saying state lawmakers can act to legalize gay marriage without amending the Hawaii Constitution. Attorney General David Louie said the Legislature “unquestionably” has the constitutional authority to consider and enact a bill during a special session later this month. Associated Press.

Several states with gay marriage laws have religious exemptions that apply to public accommodations, a step Hawaii lawmakers drafting a bill for special session are reluctant to take. Star-Advertiser.

The state's public school system wants about $40 million in additional operating funds for next year that would help boost teaching staff at most schools and another $25 million in capital funds to start cooling classrooms with air conditioning. Star-Advertiser.

The state Board of Education will seek a $100,000 increase of the salary cap lawmakers placed on the school superintendent position back in 2001. The board approved a recommendation Tuesday to draft legislation raising the cap to $250,000 from $150,000. The proposal will be made during the upcoming legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul began offering plans for sale on Tuesday, more than two weeks after the start of open enrollment. Hawaii Health Connector Executive Director Coral Andrews said at a news conference that consumers can now review and buy plans offered on the exchange’s website. Associated Press.

Hawaii residents were able to compare health plans and enroll in medical coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act for the first time Tuesday, two weeks after the scheduled start of open enrollment. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge in Honolulu is expected to rule soon on whether Hawaii’s conduct of primary elections and a state constitutional provision protecting the “secrecy of voting and choice of political party affiliation or nonpartisanship” are unconstitutional. The case, filed by the Democratic Party of Hawaii in June, argues the state’s “open primary” system unconstitutionally infringes on the exclusive right of the party and its members to decide who should be eligible to nominate the county, state and federal candidates who will represent the Democrats in general elections. Civil Beat.

As Congress scrambled Tuesday for a way out of the budget conundrum, the government shutdown continued to take away millions from Hawaii's economy and negatively affect military engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's Public Records: Citizens Are Paying the Price for Disorganized Agencies? Civil Beat.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui has been put in charge of Hawaii’s sports development initiative, which aims to build the state’s sports industry, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Commercial boat operators are invited to a series of public hearings being held across the state to comment on proposed rule changes. State officials with the DLNR Boating Division say the hearings will focus on rule amendments to, “bring parity to all catamaran registration certificate holders.” Maui Now.

Starting Nov. 1, more than 700 safety check stations across the state will be required by law to conduct vehicle safety checks via a new, high-tech system that includes an iPad, wireless router, and printer. KHON2.

Hawaii epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park plans on garnering more sustainable funding for the state’s annual Stop Flu at School Program that started Tuesday. The program, which provides free flu vaccinations for 300 public, private, and charter schools statewide until Nov. 27, continues to struggle for funding, despite entering its seventh successful year. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

State and county officials will meet today to discuss possible solutions to the severe erosion that has exposed a large concrete foundation below Waikiki's Kuhio Beach. The erosion is occurring in an area that was part of the $2.4 million beach replenishment project between Kuhio Beach and the Royal Hawaiian groin in May 2012. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii senators are asking Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill two vacancies on a board that is in the process of vetting big development projects in Kakaako. State Senate leaders sent a letter to Abercrombie on Tuesday saying that two positions in the Kakaako board of the Hawaii Community Development Authority have been vacant for several months and urging him to appoint members. Civil Beat.

Nowel Alana is a third-generation Hawaiian homesteader who says the Department of Hawaiian Home Land is icing out native Hawaiian businesses like hers. Hawaii News Now.

The Plaza Assisted Living, a senior housing community, is planning on expanding into Waikiki with the company's fourth Oahu location. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A bill that would prohibit selling tobacco products to people 18 to 21 years old got a unanimous, positive nod from the Hawaii County Council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council will return at 1 p.m. today after it heard more testimony on a bill to restrict genetically modified crops Tuesday during the first meeting since members gave it a positive recommendation while in committee. Tribune-Herald.

The National Park Service’s efforts to protect the groundwater supply in North Kona, where thousands of homes are slated for development, could effectively be sidelined for the foreseeable future because the federal government shutdown is preventing employees from addressing the issue. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii has requested that the Department of Land and Natural Resources cancel its existing lease for 11,288 acres on the summit of Mauna Kea, and issue new 65-year leases, according to documents acquired by The Hawaii Independent.

Students rally against censorship of Mauna Kea message. Hawaii Independent.

Soldiers from 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, conducted a training rotation at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Island of Hawaii during September. Hawaii Reporter.

Maui

Maui generates more than 450 tons of waste per day, more than half of which is not recycled and ends up in the Central Maui Landfill, and Maui County Council members are weighing various options and proposals that may revolutionize the way waste is handled in the future. Maui News.

Mayor Alan Arakawa made it official Tuesday night: He's running for re-election next fall. Arakawa actually will be seeking his third term as mayor. Maui News.

For the 20th year in a row, Maui earned the top spot in Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s list for top islands. Maui Now.

Attempting to hit home runs on a dusty parcel in Waikapu, county and state officials gathered for a mock softball game Monday afternoon on the future site of the county's Central Maui Regional Park complex. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Community College is holding a blessing and dedication this week for a building newly renamed after the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Inouye's wife, Irene Hirano Inouye and his son, Ken Inouye, are both due to attend Friday's ceremony for the Daniel K. Inouye Technology Center. Garden Island.

A decision on the controversial Bill 2491 wasn’t reached by deadline Tuesday. Garden Island.

Over the last year and a half, Surfrider collected and stockpiled 17,600 pounds of nets hauled from Kauai beaches, according to Barbara Wiedner, founder and coordinator of the foundation’s Net Patrol. Garden Island.

Lanai

Lanai has gained a lot of attention these days since billionaire Larry Ellison bought the island last year, and now it seems that even coqui frogs are interested in Hawaii’s Pineapple Island. Pacific Business News.

Some pretty important guests are on the island of Lanai this week, with the posh Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay fully booked for an exclusive buyout from Wednesday through Saturday. Pacific Business News.