|Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a bill establishing a vog task force to study the effects of emissions coming from Kilauea Volcano. Photo by Peter Anderson|
HAWAI`I’S PREPAID HEALTH CARE ACT, considered one of the most protective in the country, will stay in place, despite the federal move toward national health care standards. The bill had been on Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s veto list, but he signed it on Tuesday after confirming with federal officials that it can operate side by side with new federal health care. The Prepaid Health Care Act requires Hawai`i businesses to share health care insurance costs for employees working at least 20 hours a week.
THE VOG TASK FORCE, championed by Rep. Bob Herkes, made it past the veto list. Gov. Neil Abercrombie stated that it duplicated other government efforts, but Herkes and the bill’s other supporters were able to convince him that the new task force would be more focused.
GREENWAYS AND TRAILS also escaped the veto pen. It sets up a timeline for the state to set up a system of trails and greenways around Hawai`i.
|An ag land protection bill could have allowed|
industrial development with less oversight.
Photo by Julia Neal
A BILL THAT COULD HAVE made development easier on agricultural lands was vetoed by the governor. Cast as an incentive to protect ag lands, it would have given owners incentives for industrial development connected with agriculture. Among the incentives would have been property tax breaks, reduced building permit requirements, reduced electric rates and state funding for water development. The bill would have allowed a 90-day automatic approval of any construction project connected to crops or other ag on the designated lands. “Permits should be granted on their merits, not by mistake or governmental inefficiency,” stated The Sierra Club, which opposed the bill.
The Land Use Research Foundation, comprised of large landowners and developers, supported the incentives. Former Ka`u Senator Russell Kokubun, who now heads the state Department of Agriculture, asked for the bill to be delayed to allow counties to map Important Ag Lands. The Sierra Club said it could have unintentionally approved “undesirable development projects throughout Hawai`i.”
GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE DID VETO 17 bills passed by the 2011 Hawai`i Legislature. They include eliminating the statute of limitations for civil suits by victims of child sex abuse, online voter registration by 2012, and changing the list of felonies requiring mandatory minimum prison terms for repeat offenders. He also vetoed a bill that was supported by astronomers and other people who want dark, starry nights here. It would have required shielding of new outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution. The governor said he supported the idea but said it would be too expensive right now, given the dire economic situation the state faces.
|Trini Marques is on O`ahu representing the|
Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative.
Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U COFFEE FARMERS are promoting their products at the annual Hawai`i Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo at the Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu today and tomorrow. Representing Ka`u are Trini and Frances Marques, whose coffee just took third in Ka`u at the Hawai`i Coffee Association’s annual cupping competition; Bull and Jamie Kailiawa, whose coffee took first in the U.S. and Hawai`i at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual competition this year in Houston; and Miss Ka`u Coffee Brandy Shibuya. The trip is sponsored by the Ka`u Coffee Farmers Cooperative and the Ka`u Coffee Mill.
REDISTRICTING OF HAWAI`I COUNTY is the topic at a District 6 Matters meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano Village. County Council member Brittany Smart and attorney Michael Udovic, from the office of Corporation Counsel, will be on hand to answer questions.
KUA O KA LA VIRTUAL ACADEMY, a New Century Public Charter School, hosts a question-and-answer meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. The school’s hybrid program offers place-based, Hawaiian culture-focused electives coupled with an online academic program. For more information, call 808-342-0611.