Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Same-sex marriage advances in Hawaii, police boss under fire for anti-gay marriage remarks, audit again slams recycling program, Hawaii tax program millions in overruns, more GMO, $10 milk on Maui, Big Island council balks at diluting Sunshine Law, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Honolulu gay rights rally file photo (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Two state House committees sent a bill that would legalize gay marriage to the full chamber Tuesday night, ending a five-day public hearing that exposed deep divisions in Hawaii on an issue being considered across the United States. Members of the House Judiciary and Finance committees voted for the bill after hearing more than 55 hours of public testimony, leading to alterations in the measure. Associated Press.

The state House is preparing to take a critical procedural vote today on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry but would expand a religious exemption. Several lawmakers are expected to push for amendments that would broaden the religious exemption even further, which, if successful, could put the House version of the bill in sharp conflict with the Senate's and possibly prolong the legislative special session. Star-Advertiser.

Same-sex marriage legislation finally cleared another major hurdle. Despite 55-plus hours of oral testimony, most of it weighted heavily in opposition, two Hawaii House committees passed Senate Bill 1 Tuesday by a comfortable margin. The Judiciary Committee passed the bill 8-5. The Finance Committee passed it 10-7. Civil Beat.

Today the joint House committees recommended to pass SB1 out of committee with amendments. The joint House committee hearing on SB1 (between the Judiciary and Finance committees) recommended to pass SB1 back to the full house today but with three amendments. Hawaii Independent.

A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii has passed through a House joint committee. Senate Bill 1 passed through with three amendments: Adopts law consistent with Connecticut law. Remove sections on parental rights (§572-C) Effective date moved to Dec. 2, 2013. KHON2.

A Joint House Committee ended public testimony this afternoon on the marriage equality bill. Hawaii Public Radio.

A controversial same-sex marriage bill has passed a joint House committee and will advance to the House floor for a second reading and vote Wednesday morning. SB 1, the "Hawai'i Marriage Equality Act of 2013" passed 18 - 12 Tuesday afternoon. The biggest change in this amended version is the expanded exemption that will apply to both non-profit and for-profit religious organizations -- protecting them from fine or penalty if they refuse to perform a wedding ceremony for same-sex couples. Hawaii News Now.
SHOPO President Tenari Ma'afala
The head of Hawaii's police officers union said he is standing by his opposition to the same-sex marriage bill and other comments he made before a legislative committee Monday despite the charge by a gay Honolulu police officer who said the actions cast a shadow over the Police Department's integrity when dealing with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Star-Advertiser.

A gay Honolulu police officer is asking Chief Louis Kealoha to distance the department from comments made by police union president Tenari Maafala. On Monday, Maafala, an HPD officer and president of the State of Hawaii Police Officers Union, told Hawaii legislators he would never enforce such same-sex marriage legislation should it become law. Civil Beat.

"You would have to kill me." Any way you slice it, it's a dramatic, provocative statement. So it's easy to see why those six words — spoken by police union President Tenari Maafala during marathon hearings on same-sex marriage — resonated with Civil Beat.

Holding his bible, SHOPO President Tenari Ma'afala testifies against SB1, the same-sex marriage bill.  He told lawmakers this bill will turn him, a law abiding citizen, into a law breaker. While many in the crowd threw up shakas in support, members of the gay community listened in shock.   Including another Honolulu Police Officer, Corporal John Zeuzheim.  Hawaii News Now.

The contractor responsible for the troubled Hawaii Health Connector website is the same company the state hired 14 years ago to build a tax collection system that state officials say has never worked properly. Canadian-based CGI Group Inc. was paid $87.5 million between 1999 and 2011 to modernize the Hawaii Department of Taxation's collection system. Because of flaws in the system CGI built, the state is preparing to spend at least another $32 million to redo the project, Tax Department officials said. Star-Advertiser.

The state's Deposit Beverage Container Program has been around for a decade, but a new report claims the program is broken. KHON2.

Long-standing problems with the state's beverage container recycling program continue to result in overpayments of millions of taxpayer dollars, exposing the operation to abuse and possible fraud and undermining its financial viability, according to a new state audit. Star-Advertiser.

A new administrator is poised to take over the embattled State Historic Preservation Division. The news comes four months after the division's previous head stepped down, following repeated criticisms by federal officials of how the division was run. Alan Downer will join the agency Dec. 2. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has released a request for qualifications for a contractor to represent Hawaii in the Latin America market in an effort to boost tourism from the area to Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for November 6. Associated Press.

Oahu

HECO warns solar companies about unapproved PV systems. KITV.

An attorney representing many Kahuku Village V residents has launched a new salvo in a fight to keep his clients from being evicted from their rental homes -- a 233-page lawsuit filed in state court Monday. Star-Advertiser.

A pedestrian spotted a live 2 1/2-foot-long boa constrictor on a Nuuanu Avenue sidewalk Tuesday morning. The nonvenomous rainbow boa constrictor was seen on the sidewalk in front of the Kukui Plaza condominium at about 7 a.m., captured and turned over to police, the state Agriculture Department said. Star-Advertiser.

Sometime before the end of 2013, Bank of Hawaii will distribute the last $5.6 million in assets of the George Galbraith Trust to more than 1,300 current heirs. That final distribution will terminate both the trust and the bank’s own role as trustee, just over 109 years after Mr. Galbraith’s death. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council will not support attempts by other counties to weaken the state Sunshine Law. The council Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development voted 8-0 Tuesday to reject a proposal from Maui County, a move that removes it from a package of initiatives the Hawaii State Association of Counties will present to the Legislature for the regular 2014 session that starts in January. West Hawaii Today.

University of Hawaii officials want to extend the leases that authorize telescope usage on Mauna Kea by another half century. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council recessed its meeting on Bill 113, limiting GMO, on Tuesday evening after receiving over four hours of public testimony. Supporters of the bill exceeded opponents by more than 4-1. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Buying locally produced milk in upcountry Maui is likely going to cost a bit more than buyers may be used to. Photos courtesy of MAUIWatch show a gallon of Haleakala Dairy milk at the Safeway store in Wailuku costing $10.19. Hawaii News Now.

While the presence of sharks is seldom enough to deter Maui's most avid watermen and -women, some say they are taking more precautions before entering the water in light of recent attacks. Maui News.

A waterline break reported at around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, will result in a water outage along a portion of Baldwin Avenue in Pāʻia until around 9 p.m., water officials announced. Maui Now.

Kauai

The state Senate approved $7.3 million in emergency funding Tuesday to sustain two rural Kauai hospitals through spring. The Senate passed House Bill 3, unamended, to help keep the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Kauai regional health care system afloat. Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai) was the lone opponent of the bill. Star-Advertiser.

Emergency funding for Kauai’s public hospitals appears to be on its way. The Hawaii State Senate Tuesday passed House Bill 3 that will provide $7.3 million in emergency funds to the Kauai Regional Health Care System of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. Garden Island.

Proponents of Bill 2491, restricting GMO and pesticides, are saying Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. added insult to injury last week by vetoing the bill and releasing the County Attorney Office’s legal opinion on the matter. Garden Island.

The stage is almost set for deciding the future of Bill 2491, restricting pesticides and GMOs on the island. Four of the council members, including Jay Furfaro, Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura and Gary Hooser, said their initial vote to approve the measure is not likely to change.Garden Island.