Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monsanto reaches out; Maui ponders GMO limits; guns up, gun crimes down; House committee wants more oversight over UH repairs; Kauai may get dairy; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy drawing
Monsanto courtesy chart
The GMO debate is considered one of the most controversial and confusing issues facing our state. Supporters say the technology behind genetically modified organisms is feeding the world at a time when the population keeps exploding and space to farm is getting scarcer.  Opponents say it poses health and environmental risks – the full scope of which is unknown, because its application is too new. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii firearms registrations have increased 72% since 2000 – but gun-related violence has dropped. Hawaii Independent.

At Hawaii Legislature, Access Equals Privilege. At the start of every annual session of the Legislature, lawmakers are invited to meals, drinks, talks and other activities sponsored by groups with business at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

Legislator jousts with U.S. high court over political spending. House Bill 1499 is state Rep. Karl Rhoads' symbolic response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which held that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections as long as the spending is not coordinated with political candidates. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie capitalized on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday to emphasize his proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage and expand access to early childhood education. Civil Beat.

State House Higher Education Chairman Isaac Choy says legislators would be putting the University of Hawaii "on steroids" to help eliminate its massive repair backlog under a bill that advanced out of his committee Tuesday, over the objections of UH officials. Star-Advertiser.

Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple surprised members of the UH Manoa faculty senate earlier this month when he told them a plan to quell public controversy surrounding the director of the UH Cancer Center by restructuring its administration is a temporary solution to “calm the waters.” Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state education leaders pledged their commitment today to significantly boost the number of adults earning college degrees in the islands over the next decade. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is set to make his third appointment to the Hawaii Supreme Court, making him the first governor in about two decades to select a majority of the five-member court. Associated Press.

How to Get High in Hawaii Without Breaking the Law. Civil Beat.

A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

First Wind, which has focused on wind-energy projects in Hawaii, is diving into solar energy with its first plans to build three separate major solar farms totaling 82 megawatts in Central Oahu, the chairman of the neighborhood board where the projects will be located, told Pacific Business News.

A report commissioned by Castle & Cooke, which has plans to build a major wind energy farm on Lanai, has identified three potential wind resource areas on Oahu and six other areas on Maui that would total 813 megawatts of capacity. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Placing liens against property when water or sewer bills are overdue, and shutting off water service for past-due sewer bills were two collection avenues discussed Tuesday by the county Water Board. West Hawaii Today.

A new electronic vehicle inspection system aimed at reducing fraud, errors and time spent on manually processing Hawaii licensed drivers’ data has made the procedure easier on the state and inspection stations, but some residents say it’s costing Big Island drivers time and money. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County officials, employees and residents celebrated the completion of a long-awaited repair project in Captain Cook. The renovated Yano Hall at Greenwell Park was rededicated Tuesday morning with speeches, prayer, music, food and pride. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A bill that seeks to implement disclosure and use restrictions on pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms in Maui County was introduced before the Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee today. Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is requesting two additional personnel within the Department of Agriculture to conduct pesticide inspections and alien species screening for Maui County. Maui Now.

The owner of the Pagoda Hotel, a popular and affordable rooming spot for many Mauians visiting Oahu for many years, plans to bring the brand to Maui with the prospective purchase of the Maui Beach Hotel. Maui News.

In an effort to promote open dialogue and greater understanding of its farming practices and products, Monsanto Hawaii said Monday that it is increasing its farm tours, holding community meetings and forums and having programs to promote a better understanding of the company. Maui News.

Kauai

A dairy farm could be operating on Kauai next year. Jim Garmatz, manager for Hawaii Dairy Farms, said their conservation plans have been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. They are waiting approval and permits from the Department of Health. Garden Island.

Officials with the Kauai Department of Water came out Monday in hopes of discussing the cost-savings analysis report for the Kahili Horizontal Directional Drilled Well Project. Garden Island.