Kauai: Hundreds rally against civil unions
LIHU‘E — In the wake of the news that a bill seeking the legalization of same-sex civil unions could soon be pulled from its deadlocked committee for a vote by the full Hawai‘i Senate, hundreds of red-clad concerned Kaua‘i citizens voiced their displeasure Monday afternoon by lining Kaumuali‘i Highway with signs in hand denouncing House Bill 444.
The group, whose hoots and hollers were joined by countless honking horns passing Kukui Grove Shopping Center, featured participants ranging from young students on spring break to a 93-year-old woman.
An attendee was overheard asking, “Does this look like 16 percent?” in a rhetorical response to a poll, conducted this month by QMark Research and Polling and funded by the Family Equality Coalition, a pro-civil unions advocacy group, that shows 81 percent support for equal rights.
Kauai Rally: VIDEO
Civil union standoff
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) noted that there are discussions among several Democrats about amending the bill, and the talk of amending the bill means that support for the encompassing civil union language in HB 444 is waning.
"If people are asking for amendments, it may mean there is not the support for the original bill," Hanabusa said.
The measure chief sponsor in the Senate, Kauai Democrat Sen. Gary Hooser, said he prefers the original bill but is open to suggestions.
"We want to see if there is a way we can come up with something that a broad majority would agree on and would still be meaningful and also be accepted by the House," Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau) said.
(And with Mike Gabbard a Democrat now, there is less fear that voters will bolt to the Republicans.)
Now supporters of the bill say a recent statewide survey done by QMark Research and Polling shows 81 percent support for equal treatment for couples no matter what their gender.
(And if that were really true, this would have sailed right through because Democrats clearly want it, they just don't want to pay a price for it in 2010.)
Save the Hawaii Superferry Petition
KHON: Superferry Supporters Launch Online Petition
You can sign the petition to SAVE THE HAWAII SUPERFERRY at the following websites:
Rail ridership in U.S. a 'good sign' for Hawaii?
Ridership at the 38-mile Frontrunner train in Salt Lake City, which opened in April of last year, initially surpassed expectations. Ridership peaked at about 8,700 average weekday boardings in August, which was above the first-year forecast of 5,500 average weekday boardings. However, in December, average weekday boardings dipped to 5,311, according to the Utah Transit Authority.
Similarly, the 10-mile Lynx light rail line in Charlotte, N.C., had an average of 13,963 weekday riders in January, according to Charlotte Area Transit. That's well above the forecast of 9,100 average weekday riders during the first year. Still, January's ridership was down sharply from a peak of about 17,000 in July when gasoline prices were higher and the economy was healthier.
After Lynx opened in December 2007, ridership climbed about 23 percent through July 2008. However, Charlotte Area Transit System bus ridership increased by 24 percent, according to a September report by the John Locke Foundation, which is a Raleigh, N.C.-based free market advocate. According to the study, about two-thirds of the increase in Lynx ridership could be attributed to gas price increases, regional growth and economic circumstances, rather than the availability of better transit service.
"This means that ridership is likely to be vulnerable to declining gasoline prices or a strengthening economy," the study stated.
(Math problem: $5 billion / 13,963 riders = $358,089.23 per rider--could door-to-door helicopter service be provided for this price?)
Karen's Law Hearing Set for Today in the Hawaii Senate
Karen’s Law will be heard in the Senate Human Services Committee on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 2:40 pm in conference room 016.
Should it pass the Human Services Committee, Karen’s Law will be moving on to the Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. However, Karen’s Law will face its toughest challenge in these two committees.
Introduced by Reps. Kymberly Pine and John Mizuno, "Karen's Law", HB 819 HD2, passed out of the House last week with just "no" votes placed by Reps. Lyla Berg, Roy Takumi, Faye Hanohano, Sylvia Luke, Hermina Morita, Mark Nakashima and Scott Saiki.
Hawaii governor hails Iolani School champs
"These kids are very bright, but they have something else. They're not afraid to work hard, and they love challenges," said Carey Inouye, a physics teacher at 'Iolani and the team's coach. "They didn't know what they were getting into. I couldn't help them. We don't have a course on aviation design. They learned everything on their own."
Amy Ko, Adeline Li, Anya Liao, Celia Ou, Jessica Lynn Saylors and Julia Zhang spent every Saturday and Sunday since the start of the year sequestered with Inouye in an 'Iolani School classroom, poring over the specifications and performance capabilities of an existing aircraft while trying to learn what they could about aviation design.
Hawaii has best health coverage record
Hawaii had the best score of all the states, with just 9 percent of workers not covered by health insurance. State officials credit a state law that requires employers to provide health care benefits to those who work at least 20 hours a week. The large number of government employees in the work force also was cited for the high score.
Lillian Koller, director of the Department of Human Services, said, "Hawaii has long been a national leader in health insurance coverage."
She credited the state's Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974, which made Hawaii the first state to establish minimum mandatory health care benefits for employees. In addition, since 2006 the Lingle administration "significantly expanded eligibility for free Medicaid health insurance," Koller said in a written statement.
(now if only they had hospitals to go to....)
State releases $2.5 million to design biosafety lab at UH medical school
The Pacific Regional Biosafety Laboratory, which upon completion will be one of 13 such laboratories in the national network funded by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, will consist of approximately 25,000 square feet, including 8,000 square feet of laboratory space. Primary users will be the medical school's Department of Tropical Medicine and Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology. However, the facility will also be available for use by qualified researchers from the state and federal government, including the military and other research institutions.
More Korean, Chinese visitors expected in Hawaii
"Korea is rapidly catching up to Japan," Merner said. "The visa waiver is going to drive more Koreans to Hawaii. We're expecting a doubling of the number of Korean visitors in the next three years." Merner said the number of Chinese travelers to Hawaii will rise as government restrictions on travel agents are lifted.
Maui mayor warns 'hard road ahead of us'
We don't know yet what the state is going to do with the transient accommodation tax," Tavares told County Council Budget and Finance Committee members Monday as they began their review of the fiscal 2010 budget. "If they take all or part of that transient accommodation tax, which is represented by $18 million in this year's budget, that means we all have a hard road ahead of us to find $18 million or to do more cuts to get us to $18 million less than we have today."
Oahu Council Candidates debate B&Bs on Hawaii Public Radio
The first group included Paul Akau, J. Ikaika Anderson, Tracy Nakano Bean and John Henry Felix. Wilson Kekoa Ho, Steve Holmes, Sol Nalua'i, Tom Pico and Pohai Ryan made up the second group. Not in attendance were Keoki Leong and Leona Mapuana Kalima.
The mail-in special election is being held to fill the Windward Oahu City Council seat of Barbara Marshall, who died Feb. 22 after a battle with colon cancer. Today is the deadline for district residents to register to vote in the special mail-in ballot.
Hawaii County: Yagong submits more budget ideas
"Many of these organizations are requesting funds due to transportation needs," he wrote. "Instead of providing cash grants ... our contribution could be a vehicle that is being removed from our county fleet inventory. The dollar value of the vehicle can then be returned back to the general fund to help meet our budgetary shortfall."
Yagong wrote that, if the county provided 50 vehicles worth $10,000 each to nonprofit groups in lieu of cash, "it would return $500,000 of your $1.5 million allocation back to the general fund."
State failed to protect rare bird, groups say
The groups estimate that from 2003 to 2008, 60 percent — nearly 4,000 birds — of the entire population of the Palila has disappeared from its habitat area, leaving behind about 2,640.
"This downward trend is especially alarming," the groups said. (There is no downward spiral, only another of many up and down fluctuations in bird population counts. This is the typical environmental game with statistics. Ask them why they picked those very specific years.)
Ben, A Must Read, Typos and All
Former House Speaker Henry Peters gets a fatal head shot several times over. Severe gigs of former Supreme Court associate justice Steve Levinson, Sen. Fred Hemmings, former Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender and many former lawmakers. But not one bad word about his buddy, Congressman Neil Abercrombie, who wrote the forward.
Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano Gives His Take on Ceded Lands, the Akaka Bill, Obama’s Job Performance and the 2010 Governor's Race
He also gives his surprising opinions on the Akaka Bill, now pending before the US Senate, legalized gambling in Hawaii, the ceded lands case now pending before the US Supreme Court and Obama’s job performance.
RELATED: Ben Cayetano speaks at Kahala Mall