Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hawaii Senate passes gay marriage bill 20-4, lawmaker sues to stop special session, religious exemption at issue for House, big pay raises for Hawaii County officials, Kauai mayor to decide GMO bill today, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

20-4 vote passes historic measure
Hawaii Senate passes gay marriage courtesy Senate majority
The Hawaii Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to approve a gay marriage bill, casting the decision as an important leg in the long march toward equality for gays and lesbians. The 20-4 vote sent the bill to the state House, where the House Judiciary and Finance committees will hold a public hearing today. If the committees amend the bill, which is likely in order to win over some House lawmakers worried about the scope of a religious exemption, then the bill would return to the Senate for another review. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage, sending the measure to more uncertain prospects in the House. After nearly two hours of discussion on the Senate floor on the merits of allowing same-sex couples to marry, the bill passed easily, 20-4, with one senator abstaining. The Hawaii Senate is dominated by Democrats, with only one Republican. Associated Press.

The tide of history flowed smoothly through the Hawaii Senate chamber Wednesday, where same-sex marriage legislation passed 20-4. Democrats Donna Mercado Kim, Ron Kouchi and Mike Gabbard voted "no," as did lone Republican Sam Slom. Democrat Glenn Wakai was excused because of a death in the family. Senate Bill 1 now heads to the House of Representatives, where the gay-marriage wave is sure to encounter rougher waters. Civil Beat.

Senators passed SB 1, the "Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013", on their third reading Wednesday afternoon and sent it over the House where it passed its first reading, but not without a fight and a lot of political posturing.  Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, moving the issue over to the House, where two committees are expecting hundreds of people to testify at a Thursday hearing. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii. Hawaii Reporter.

Some House lawmakers want an exemption in the same-sex marriage bill that gives small businesses, especially those in the wedding industry, an "opt out" option. Hawaii News Now.

I was there the day the battle for same-sex marriages began in Hawaii. It was December 17, 1990. A KITV cameraman and I followed three homosexual couples as they marched ceremoniously down Beretania Street to the State Health Department to file for marriage licenses. Civil Beat.

In 1998, Hawaii voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that supporters said was against same-sex marriage. Today, supporters of gay marriage say the same amendment supporters their side. State Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Ewa, Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point) filed a lawsuit in state Circuit Court Wednesday to try to settle the question. Hawaii News Now.

At least one lawmaker is taking his fight against same-sex marriage to court. Rep. Bob McDermott filed a lawsuit to try and stop the special session. KHON2.

A number of people on both sides of the gay marriage debate say the current draft of Senate Bill 1, which would legalize same-sex ceremonies, infringes on religious liberty. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii Department of Education announced today that it’s had to revise 37 high schools’ Strive HI scores after finding flaws in graduation rate data used in part to evaluate how well schools are closing the achievement gap. Civil Beat.

A national report praises Hawaii for being one of only a few states with a teacher evaluation system that ties teachers’ compensation to their performance. Associated Press.

An eyeless shrimp and 14 other Hawaii creatures and plants have been added to the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. Associated Press.

Oahu

A civilian procurement official for the Navy is facing criminal charges for allegedly steering federal work to government contractors that hired his wife. Federal prosecutors have charged 56-year-old William Nesmith of Ewa Beach with two counts of conflict of financial interest involving the awards of more than $15 million in naval contracts. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's Department of Health will use a $2.1 million federal grant to run a three-year program expected to serve at least 120 people who are considered chronically homeless. Associated Press.

Oahu residents will have to fend off wild chickens on their own and gripe directly to police about noisy roosters because of a cost-cutting measure by the Caldwell administration. In a move to reduce spending, Managing Director Ember Shinn decided in late August or early September to not award an $80,000 contract for crowing rooster and feral chicken control services, city Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara told the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The city insisted Wednesday that its sewage system in Kakaako can handle new condominium tower projects in the area, but acknowledged that foul odors escaping the system are a problem that needs to be fixed. Star-Advertiser.

Architecture firm Perkins+Will said Wednesday that it opened its 24th worldwide office in Honolulu, to focus on work related to the city’s planned $5.16 billion rail transit project. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Double-digit raises are coming to 12 county officials Friday under a pay plan unanimously approved Wednesday by the Hawaii County Salary Commission. The salary plan, designed to make Hawaii County officials’ salaries more on par with those on other islands and to make sure no department head is making less money than his or her subordinates, adds from $10,218 to $17,598 to salaries of the 12 officials. West Hawaii Today.

Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have created a thermal image video of the lava lake in Halemaumau Crater that shows lava upwelling in the lake and spreading out like sheets of ice on the ocean. Star-Advertiser.

Ocean View Food Pantry reopens after short hiatus. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
Halloween in Lahaina will go on this year Thursday - without the legal protests of the past couple of years - as preparations are made for more than 30,000 revelers along Front Street. Maui News.

Maui County water officials called on Upcountry residents Wednesday to double their voluntary water conservation, reducing normal use by 20 percent, due to the dry weather conditions. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee Tuesday recommended a new independent appraisal for Launiupoko lands the county administration wants to purchase for open space and park use, with the committee chairman calling the current appraisal "fundamentally flawed." Maui News.

To encourage Central Maui residents to exercise more every day, Maui County has teamed up with local groups to come up with a 20-year master plan that identifies areas in Kahului, Wailuku and Waikapu that could be made more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. Maui News.

Kauai

Gov. Neil Abercrombie abruptly withdrew the name of his nominee to the state Land Board after his pick for the Kauai seat said for personal reasons he no longer wanted to be considered, a development that was welcomed by critics who said a land developer shouldn't have been selected. Star-Advertiser.

Shawn Smith, general manager of land investment company Falko Partners, LLC, withdrew his nomination to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources Wednesday, state officials said. Garden Island.

The corporation overseeing Kauai’s two public hospitals will seek $7.3 million in emergency funding at a public hearing today before the state Legislature to keep the state-funded public health system afloat. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council, as well as many members of the public, are waiting anxiously to see whether Mayor Bernard Carvalho will veto the bill which requires biotech companies to disclose pesticide use and farmers to report any genetically engineered crops they are growing. The mayor has until Thursday (Oct. 31) to decide what he’s going to do with the bill. Civil Beat.