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Thursday, February 7, 2013
February 7, 2013 News Read
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NRA: Deeply Flawed Hawaii Mental Health Bill to be Heard Friday

World Economic Forum: Reform Jones Act to Grow Economy

Dojo Mystic Ousted From City Administration

Keaau K-8: Nearly 1,000 students assigned digital devices

SB465 “Tramples on First Amendment”

Public Charter School Commission names director

 

Geothermal development proposal prompts behind-the-scenes flap at OHA

ILIND: There was apparently some serious behind-the-scenes maneuvering relating to geothermal development in advance to today’s scheduled meeting of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.

Last week, a group of six trustees filed their own agenda calling a trustees meeting for this morning. It contained a single agenda item under new business: “Proposal for OHA to invest in geothermal development in Hawaii.”

OHA rules provide that meetings can be called by the chair, or by any six trustees. OHA Chair Collette Machado did not sign off on this geothermal agenda. It was instead backed by trustees Peter Apo, Rowena Akana, Dan Ahuna, Hulu Lindsey, Bob Lindsey, and John Waihee. Also conspicuous by their absence were former chair Haunani Apoliona, and Oz Stender.

Stender is the chair of OHA’s Committee on Asset and Resource Management, which would normally vet any proposal of this kind before it was presented to the trustees. His committee met yesterday with no geothermal-related item on its agenda…..

read …  Wao Kele O Puna

Legislator Demands Answers from DoTax

KHON: Federal and state investigators cracked down on alleged tax-record-snooping that went on for at least several years until 21 people were suspended more than a year ago, with few details since. After our story revealing the IRS concerns and other details, the legislature is asking questions.

Rep. John Mizuno, House vice speaker, submitted a written inquiry to Fred Pablo, the Department of Taxation director, wanting to know how many if any alleged offenders have been fired, any cleared, how many taxpayers were affected and the nature of the information that was compromised, among other

questions. He also may call for a hearing.

"Why and what, why would they do this? Is it political, was it politically motivated? So there are a number of questions,” Mizuno said. “In addition to that I'm going to be speaking with house leadership to see if perhaps a legislative briefing might be prudent at this stage."

“We're not asking for specific names, we respect their privacy, we understand that some cases are ongoing, but

this is big, this is very big for us,” Mizuno said. “It's very concerning to us at the legislature that there were breaches, internal breaches in out I/T system especially at the Department of Taxation.”

Separately, the tax department told us it is putting forth several bills to put more teeth into penalties against unauthorized access of taxpayer records, HB968 HB969 and companion measures SB1199 and SB1200.

read … DoTax

Mainland Gay Activists Wave Money Around—Can $2M Buy Gay ’Marriage’?

BF: Freedom to Marry, which spent more than $4 million on state marriage efforts in 2012, announced plans Thursday to spend another $2 million on advancing marriage equality in the states in 2013.

According to a statement provided to BuzzFeed, Freedom to Marry is starting the 2013 effort — called the Win More States Fund — by investing $800,000 in the six states where marriage bills are being debated: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

On Top: The group said it hoped to raise and invest $2 million toward securing marriage equality in 2013 through its Win More States Fund.

read … BuzzFeed

Movers, Shakers Give Big To Gov's Re-Election, But Labor Support Soft

CB: An analysis of campaign finance records shows that Abercrombie's donors' list reflects much of Hawaii's political status quo: lawyers, lobbyists, business executives, politicians, PACs and political appointees.

But what has yet to materialize — and what may be a warning flag for his re-election — are large campaign contributions from top labor groups….

…it's unclear whether the Hawaii GOP will be able to field a credible challenger next year….

Individuals who have already given the governor the maximum $6,000 include retired banker (and board member excelsior) Don Horner, developer Stanford Carr, MW Group executive Michael Wood, government consultant Charles Toguchi, HMSA executive Tim Johns, Labor Director Dwight Takamine, attorney Bert Sakuda, Navatek CFO Martin Kao, RevolSun executive Mark Duda, Royal Hawaiian Movers executive Richard DeWitt, Oceanit executives Jan Sullivan and Patrick Sullivan and consumer advocate Jeff Ono.

There's so many individuals in the $6,000 club that another paragraph is necessary: developer Duncan MacNaughton, Ground Transport executive Louis Gomes, James Campbell Co. executive Richard Dahl, real estate investor Bert Kobayashi, Waikiki Business Plaza executive Leighton Mau, Queen's Health executive Arthur Ushijima, erstwhile energy executive Roald Marth, a whole bunch of people who work for Mitsunaga & Associates, and Hawaiian Electric executives Richard Rosenblum, Constance Lau and Robbie Alm.

Organizations in the $6,000 club include Outrigger Enterprises, Alexander & Baldwin, Castle & Cooke, Hawaiian Electric, Young Brothers, Island Insurance, DTRIC Insurance, HMSA and NAN Inc.

read … Labor Boycott

DHHL nod withstands accusation

SA: A Senate committee recommended Wednesday approving Gov. Neil Aber­crom­­bie's controversial nominee to run the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands even though the nominee's former deputy said she was fired in December for not accepting a position in another department that was to be paid for using DHHL money.

Michelle Kauhane told members of the Senate Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs that Bruce Coppa, the governor's chief of staff, made the offer.

She also said Attorney General David Louie mentioned an investigation "that revealed that I had expressed an opinion not in line with me continuing" as the deputy, and that it would become "less manifest" if she accepted the $85,000-a-year position to be deputy to the governor's homeless coordinator.

She said she construed that as an attempt to intimidate her.

The revelation came during a two-hour-plus confirmation hearing for Jobie Masagatani, Abercrombie's choice to lead DHHL, and prompted Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), a member of the committee, to say, "That's pretty hard-hitting testimony."

Yet before the committee voted 5-0 to recommend that Masagatani's nomination be approved by the full Senate, no one on the committee asked Masagatani a single question about the allegations.

read … DHHL--Another Abercrombie Failure

Sugary drink tax draws mixed response

WHT: A measure that would add a penny per ounce fee to sugary beverages will get another hearing before the state Senate’s Health Committee takes a vote on it.

Committee Chairman Josh Green, D-Kona, said during a hearing recess Tuesday afternoon that committee members wanted more time to gather more information before voting on SB 1085, which would impose a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages at the distributor level. They will likely take the measure back up Monday.

The fee comes out to one cent per ounce…

“Will you go out and drink a $6 soda?” Hawaii Bar Owners Association spokesman Bill Comerford asked. “In the long run, we have to raise the prices. … If you lose the business, you lose the tax bases. Who do you tax then?”

Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Roger Morey called the measure, which could end up increasing the price of soda, for example, by about 25 percent, unconscionable. Worse, he said, it won’t even accomplish what health officials claim it will do….

“My question always is, what is the role of the parents and responsibility for parents in the home here?” Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai. “We keep involving government. And yet that’s a small part of life. By taxing all of us, you’re penalizing all of us for something parents aren’t doing.”

Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland questioned whether the governor’s obesity tax force, which recommended the tax, considered unintended consequences of increasing the costs of sugary beverages.

“My concern is by taxing one part of it, it will send the message it’s OK and better to choose a diet soda that’s probably just as bad,” she said. “I think there’s pretty good evidence about aspartame being a neurotoxin.”

SA: Soda tax bill draws divided testimony

read … Tax the Poor

HSTA Shills Demand Poor Hand Over $1B in GE Tax Hike: Claim DoE Has ‘Cut Every Ounce of Fat’ from Budget

HTH: The penny increase sought would bring the state general excise tax to 5 percent on the neighbor islands and 5.5 percent on Oahu. If approved, House Bill 1368, introduced by Rep. Roy Takumi, D-Pearl City, Manana and Waipio, at the request of teachers, would transfer 20 percent of general excise tax revenues to a special fund aimed at funding facilities maintenance and teacher salaries.

Currently, the Department of Education receives about $2 billion, or nearly half the state’s general fund.

“It’s going to raise roughly between $900 million and $1 billion, which is coming out of the economy and that is that much less that can be spent,” he said. “Businesses as consumers pay general excise taxes and the cost has to be recouped and the only thing that can be raised is the price of the items on the shelf.”

 The bill passed the committee Tuesday by a 7-1 vote with one person excused, and next goes to the Education and Finance committees….

While deferring to the Department of Taxation in regard to supporting the 1 percent increase, Young said his department is opposed to creating a special fund within the general fund to be used for special purposes. He also noted opposition to the Department of Education spending the money without appropriation….“Given the track record, the Legislature will raid it,” Kalapa said, pointing to the state’s use of money from the hurricane and rainy day funds for purposes other than originally intended.

“Hawaii has one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the nation, which is degrading the quality of education for all our children,” testified members of Parents for Public Schools Hawaii….

“Our state has cut every possible ounce of fat from the education budgets,” testified Keaau resident Patti Pinto.  (She didn’t even break a grin.)

read … Every Ounce of Fat ROTFLOL!

Legislature Hears Bills to Clean Up School Bus Contract Waste

CB: Following the recommendations of last year’s scathing state audit and a consultant’s study that confirmed two years of media reports, legislators are looking to give the Department of Education more control over contracting with bus companies.

House Bill 851 and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 1082, would repeal a significant section of the law regulating school bus contracts.

HB851 cleared the Education Committee last week and the Finance Committee passed it Wednesday. It goes to a House floor vote next, before crossing over to the Senate. The Senate version of the bill hasn’t moved.

Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in her testimony that the department supports the bill because such considerations and provisions should reside in the contract agreement itself and not in statute.

Senate Bill 1083, and its companion, House Bill 852, would exempt bus drivers and others contracted to do work related to student transportation from a state law regulating wages. The statute requires the wages for contractors’ employees to be at least on par with the wages paid to public officers or employees who do similar work.

SB1083 has cleared the Education Committee and is up for decision-making Friday in the Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing Committee. It also needs to go through the Senate money committee before crossing over to the House. The House version of the bill has progressed similarly.

The only student transportation-related bill that isn’t moving forward at this point is House Bill 506, which would clean up an issue that many officials were shocked to discover. Under the current contracts, the state is paying the bus companies’ general excise taxes.

"The State is not liable for GET and it is illogical for the State to pay itself taxes," Hawaii Auditor Marion Higa said in her report. "However, the DOE estimates it will pay more than $2 million in school year 2012 for contractors' GET. The department was unable to explain why it pays GET on most contracts." HB506 would prohibit the state from paying contractors’ general excise taxes.

read … No Fat Here, eh?

HSTA Angered by its Inability to Stack Teacher Evaluation Commission

CB: A pilot program of the evaluation system is already being tested at 81 schools across the state, and the DOE hopes to implement at all schools come August. But critics, including the Hawaii State Teachers Association, have challenged the program, pointing to components that they say would not offer fair assessments of teachers' performance.

Teacher evaluations are a major sticking point in contentious contract negotiations between the teachers union and the state.

The GTGL task force — made up of an array of community leaders — was in part formed to help the DOE address those concerns.

Teachers union members on the task force and several hard-line teacher activists have been openly critical of the GTGL group, even accusing the DOE of stacking the committee with people favorable to its position on evaluations.

Former Big Island teacher Vanessa Ott complains that the DOE handpicks people who it thinks "would never speak up and contradict the administration."

"They’re ‘yes’ people," Ott said. "Those are the ones who ride up."

But a Civil Beat review of the task force and interviews with a number of its members doesn't support that criticism. If anything, members of the task force describe a process that is sincerely trying to come up with a fair evaluation system but is disappointing in how long it has taken to get there.

read … What's Going On With Hawaii Ed Task Force On Teacher Evaluations?

HSTA Tax Hike Signwave at Capitol

From www.ContractfortheFuture.org  January 31, 2013

"Today, 1000 teachers and supporters attended a mass sign waving at the Capitol. Teachers came from all over the island to show Hawaii the importance of a fair contract. Despite being angry, tired, and frustrated, teachers understood the significance of standing as One.

"I would like to thank all of the teachers, throughout the state of Hawaii, who took the time and made the sacrifice to attend all of our events.

"The negotiations team, comprised of teachers and staff, attended the sign waving at the Capitol. Seeing their brothers and sisters, all standing as One was encouraging and they would like to thank you."

Photos: HSTA Signwave Jan 31 at Capitol

Link: VIDEO MESSAGE FROM WIL

 

Hawaii State Library Website Back Up After Forgetting to Renew Internet Domain

News Release from Hawaii State Public Library System

The Hawaii State Public Library System’s (HSPLS) website is now up and running after being offline since yesterday due to technical difficulties. (They forgot to pay for the domain renewal, ooops!)

The System’s Electronic Support Services Section staff has restored the domain name and all connections, functions and operations are running normally.

“We would like to thank our library patrons and the general public for their patience and understanding during this inconvenience and disruption of our online services,” said State Librarian Richard Burns. “We have implemented changes to ensure that this will not happen again.”

The HSPLS website, which receives approximately 4,000 visits per day, provides 24/7 access to the library system’s electronic resources and Public Access Catalog ….

read … News Release

Unfunded Liabilities are Putting Hawaii Taxpayers in Dire Financial State

HR:  Connecticut and Illinois are ranked worst in the nation when it comes to taxpayer burdens from unfunded liabilities, but Hawaii is close behind them, coming in as the third worst “sink hole” state.

An analysis by The Institute for Truth in Accounting shows Hawaii’s financial burden on taxpayers from unfunded liabilities is $38,300 in 2011, an increase from $32,700 in 2010.

The state’s portion of the $18.2 billion owed to Hawaii public employees for their pensions is more than $13.5 billion, according to the state’s latest financial report in the 2011 CAFR.

All combined the state owes public workers more than $20 billion, and state officials estimate that figure will climb to $37 billion in the next 12 years unless lawmakers put an aggressive plan into motion to pay down the debt.

During his 2013 State of the State Address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie admitted it would take an investment of $500 million a year, every year, for 30 years, to pay off what is owed to state workers.

Abercrombie said the $500 million figure was “impossible to meet all at once”, and instead asked lawmakers to start reducing the debt by allocated $100 million a year beginning in the next fiscal year, “with plans to continue to pursue payment in coming years."

GRIH: Is Illinois Hawaii's Canary in the Coal Mine?

read … Dire Straits

Counties Demand Cut of Abercrombie’s TAT Hike

Oi: The leap in tourism revenues has Gov. Neil Abercrombie thinking about raising the hotel room tax, even though he says an increase isn’t needed to balance his budget proposal. The plan to raise the 9.25 percent tax to 11.25 percent in July is merely to start a conversation, he says, about long-term revenue needs — government-speak for grooming the grounds for a raise.

The hotel industry, of course, is not too keen on the idea.

Neither are county leaders on Oahu, and on the neighbor islands where tourists are to be redistributed. As state revenue has increased with tourism numbers, counties have not received their fair share from the tax because state lawmakers put a cap on the amount they receive.

The funds were supposed to help counties deal with burdens that come with millions of tourists on their islands, such as police and emergency operations, trash collections, road work and park maintenance.

In this case, the goose of state government is holding on to the golden eggs, leaving counties with empty nests.

read … Falling out Amongst Thieves

College of Pharmacy could be in danger of losing accreditation

HTH: At a Wednesday morning meeting on campus with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Dean John Pezzuto explained that the college will be up for review in April by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and if no progress can be shown on securing a permanent building for the program, the loss of accreditation is a very real possibility.

“There is no college on Earth that doesn’t have a building,” Pezzuto said after the meeting. “As we’ve been through the accreditation process … we’ve done all the things a college does to be accredited. But when they come in April, they’ll be saying ‘This is what you told us, this is what we believed.’ Hopefully, we’ll be able to say ‘Yes, we are building it (a permanent building.)’”

At issue is the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education’s Standard No. 27, which states that a college or school “must have adequate and appropriate physical facilities to achieve its mission and goals.

read … Power Play? 

UH Vendors Go Unpaid for 120 Days

HNN: He oversees orders to vendors but he can't pay the bill because that's done by the University of Hawaii.

"I can't write a check," he said. "We encumber funds and then we submit invoices for payment."

Some suppliers are 120 days past due on receiving payments. Others are 30 to 60 days past due. Some have stopped supplying food. Some KCC students are noticing.

"This past week I've noticed that the chips haven't been refilled, and sometimes condiments as well," Aliyah Flowe said.

"I haven't seen really many beef items either," said Hunter Kaye, who gets his meals at the campus cafeteria.

Takahashi blames the supplier situation on growing pains with the university's new Kuali financial system. Plus, Manoa's bill paying office closes periodically.  He said when UH is on break, KCC's dining room is still open and ordering from vendors. (Note: Its not lack of money, it is bumbling bureaucracy and lack of technology.)

read … KCC culinary program faces food cuts

Star-Adv: Anti-paparazzi bill goes too far

SA: According to the bill, beaches would be open to members of the public but not to photographers who may be "engaging in constructive invasion of privacy" by taking shots of celebrities within "state marine waters," which extends from the upper reaches of the wash of waves to the U.S. territorial sea.

This legislation presumably would allow celebrities — or anyone else — to sue over unauthorized beach photos and other snapshots on the islands. It could also make lawbreakers out of anyone taking photographs in public places, be it an ordinary photojournalist or someone with a camera phone.

Despite the bill's vagueness and unconstitutional underpinnings, it inexplicably has been scheduled for a Friday hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee….

The stated purpose of the bill "is to encourage celebrities to visit and reside in our State." Lawmakers need to get the stars out of their eyes, nix this bill and turn their sights to more pressing issues.

SA: Isle anti-paparazzi bill condemned by media groups

read … Too Far

Kaiser: Closing Urgent Care Facility Means Better Care

SA: "The changes we are making at the Honolulu Clinic will increase access to same-day appointments and improve the quality of care our members receive," she said in an email.

Kaiser announced Friday it is laying off 13 clerical and emergency tech employees when it shutters the after-hours facility. The clinic at the same location, which sees patients by appointment during regular hours, will not be affected….

The company said on Friday the 30 patients who use the Urgent Care Clinic on an average day will now be seen by primary care doctors in the upstairs clinic as part of a new model of care that will ultimately give members greater access and result in better outcomes.

The company said recently it has streamlined the appointment process for primary care doctors and that this new capacity means "our patients will be seen directly and more conveniently by one of our many physicians."

Kaiser added that patients needing after-hours or emergency services could go to the 24-hour Moanalua Medical Center.

"Things just aren't adding up. Kaiser is implementing all these cuts affecting workers and the community, (but) at the same time they're boasting about being able to spend more than $300 million on new facilities," said Cade Watanabe, spokes­man for Unite Here Local 5, representing the soon-to-be laid-off workers.

"It's kind of crazy when you think about it. At the end of the day, the real question is whether they're going to put people ahead of profit?"

Meanwhile, Kaiser is in workforce negotiations with both Local 5 — representing roughly 1,900 Kaiser employees, including licensed practical nurses, medical assistants and housekeeping staff — and the Hawai‘i Nurses' Association, negotiating on behalf of registered nurses.

In union talks, Kaiser has proposed to eliminate 47 registered nurses in primary care positions at some of its 18 clinics statewide, or nearly one-quarter of its clinic RNs. The company also cut 35 union and management positions in October in an effort to streamline operations.

read … More Emergency Room Visits

Greenwood Confused About Which Telescope

MN: On behalf of Greenwood, Lynne Waters, associate vice president for external affairs and university relations at the University of Hawaii, apologized for "inadvertently confusing the status of the ATST on Haleakala."

"The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope is a complex and sophisticated project," Waters said in an email. "Such projects require approvals, permits and other clearances from multiple levels of government, community and, frequently, judicial bodies. With multiple scientific projects such as this proceeding simultaneously under the university's umbrella, misunderstandings can easily occur and one did during President M.R.C. Greenwood's interview with The Maui News last week.

"In the case of the ATST, a contested case before the State of Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources was resolved by final action of the land board on Nov. 9, 2012. That land board's decision is being appealed but construction is allowed to proceed and is proceeding while the appeal goes on," Waters said.

The state Supreme Court appeal that Greenwood mistakenly referred to was for another lawsuit filed against the ATST, she said. That case was decided in the university's favor in Circuit Court and the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the state Supreme Court is reviewing it, she added.

"The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that case on Dec. 20, 2012, not long after the land board's final decision in the contested case on Nov. 9, 2012, and the university respectfully awaits the Supreme Court's decision," Waters said.

She explained that Kilakila O Haleakala, which objects to the ATST's impacts to Haleakala's cultural and environmental resources, has filed three lawsuits against the ATST project. The first challenged the management plan for all of the Haleakala observatories and the ATST project, Waters said. That lawsuit was resolved in favor of the university, she said, although officials expect Kilakila to appeal.

A second lawsuit was an appeal of the land board's December 2010 permit for the project, and that was the case heard before the Hawaii Supreme Court in December. The third lawsuit is an appeal of the board's November permit for the telescope project, Waters said.

She added: "President Greenwood apparently confused the impacts of the two cases on construction. We regret that any statement made during the interview last week by President Greenwood inferred that the project was stalled due to the Supreme Court appeal or other legal proceedings. It is not. Construction is continuing pursuant to the November 2012 permit."

read … Telescope?

High Utility Bills Drive Restaurant out of Business

SA: The historic and beloved Waioli Tea Room & Bakery will change after its 10-year lease expires in early November.

Its famed chicken curry salad and daily baked guava bread, lilikoi bread, scones and more may cease to be served before Nov. 3, but the closing date is uncertain.

"The lease is up and I had a chance to renew, but decided not to," said restaurant operator Brian Jahnke. "Gas, water and electric doubled," he said. Utilities went up by $5,000 a month, and those expenses plus rent, maintenance and insurance make the operation "not profitable for me."

read … Squeezing Small Business

Electric Car Charging Station Builder Collects Stimulus Funds, Walks Away Laughing

PBN: The San Francisco Business Times reports Better Place, which said that its EV battery-charging infrastructure has made the most progress in Israel and Denmark, once had 200 employees at its former headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., but has fewer than 50 there today.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Better Place has only one employee in Hawaii, manager Brian Goldstein, who said the company was working to find alternative charging arrangements for its customers in Hawaii.

The newspaper noted that the company, which activated a network of more than 100 charging points in Hawaii last year, received $581,943 in federal stimulus funds under the state Energy Office's EV Ready Grant Program.

read … In a Better Place, Suckers

Politically Connected Developer hopes to open Kakaako amusement park before start of summer

KITV: Billy Balding of Alii International Enterprises, LLC envisions the park as a place where both visitors and tourists alike can unwind. He plans on investing as much as $10 million, and hopes to open by May 31. 

The amusement park would encompass an area of just over three acres bordered by Ahui, Ilalo and Koula streets, as well as Ala Moana Boulevard.  The site is unoccupied, but was most recently used to store vehicles for a nearby car dealership.

Balding is currently negotiating terms of a lease with land owner Kamehameha Schools, but success of the project depends largely on approval of a development permit by the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Balding held an informational briefing for HCDA board members Wednesday morning, who may grant a development permit as soon as March 7

However both the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board and the Kakaako Improvement Association have not taken a position on the proposed amusement park.  If there is any concern, it would most likely focus on noise coming from gas-powered go-karts, and any increase in traffic.

read … HCDA = PLDC

Rep. Thielen addresses HB154 relating to industrial hemp

(Broadcast quality Feb.-6-2013 — Please note that the House Sergeant-at-Arms has been notified to the brightness of the broadcast during the session and will adjust the contrast to correct the problem in the future ) Excerpt from Capitol TV.

RELATING TO INDUSTRIAL HEMP.

Report Title: Two-Year Industrial Hemp Remediation Pilot Program ($)

Description: Authorizes the Chairperson of the Board of Agriculture to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation pilot program. Appropriates funds. Effective July 1, 2050. (HB154 HD1)

2/6/2013 Passed Second Reading as amended in HD 1 and referred to the committee(s) on CPC with Representative(s) Choy, Fale, Tokioka, Ward voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Har voting no (1) and Representative(s) Cachola, Say excused (2).

watch … http://houseminority.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/rep-thielen-addresses-hb154-relating-to-industrial-hemp/

Bills Moving Forward Provide Neighbor Islanders With Better Access to Hawaii Legislature

HR: HB 358, relating to videoconferencing, requires both the House and Senate to implement rules to permit residents to present testimony through audiovisual technology.

HB 361 requires the governor, legislature, and judiciary to ensure public access to information, services, and proceedings of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The bill also authorizes the governor to convene a fair access commission to review public access issues for the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.

read … Rep Lowen

Enviros Seek Bill to Ban Uhu Fishing, $10,000 Fine

KHON: But some want to wipe the fish off the menu..."But then the Filipinos go crazy if you ban this, this is good fish yeah."

Representative Scott Saiki says that may be so, but he was approached by conservationists who make a strong case to protect parrot fish.

"Conservationists are afraid there's been over fishing of Uhu," said Rep. Scott Saiki.

He's proposing an outright ban on the taking of Uhu from state waters. Anyone who violates that could face a 500 to10-thousand dollar fine.

"The reason why that's important is the uhu plays an important role in maintaining our reefs, the uhu eats algae and in the proves of that also eats dead coral," said Rep Saiki.

Uhu turn that coral into sand, and that becomes homes for shrimp and crabs.

"Not sure how much support there is for this legislation but it's an important issue that the public needs to be aware of," said Saiki.

Spear fisherman say the move is going overboard.

"I go out diving all the time, and every time I see Uhu's it's not like they are rare," said Ikaika Stricker, fisherman.

"It's a tradition in hawaii for people to get together and eat this fish," stated Desmond.

The bill would basically ban the fish forever, fisherman say why not put a limit instead.

read … Popular parrot fish could soon be off limits permanently

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