About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 18, 2012

Sen. Gil Kahele looks on as the Senate's only Republican, Sam Slom, pushes for lower taxes and less government.
Photo from Sam Slom
AN IMPROVING ECONOMY means more tax revenue for the state and no major increases in state taxes or fees at the Legislature this year. The only major hike is punitive, one that would tax more kinds of tobacco the way cigarettes are taxed, reports Civil Beat in its review of money bills at the state Legislature. The new tobacco tax would increase the general excise tax to $3.20, or 70 percent, of the wholesale price (whichever is higher) on most cigars and pouch tobacco. The GE is already $3.20 per pack, or 16 cents a cigarette. “Cigarettes are selling for about $9 a pack these days,” Civil Beat reports, noting that “cigarette and tobacco taxes brought in more than $106 million in revenue for the state last fiscal year.”

A SUGAR TAX proposed by Big Island senator and physician Josh Green stalled. Green proposed distributors pay a penny tax for every teaspoon of sugar contained in a beverage, syrup or powder for sale. This could have led to taxing approximately ten cents per can of soda. Green announced his campaign for the new Senate District that will include Ka`u through Ocean View, Na`alehu, Discovery Harbour, Green Sands, Kalae and Honu`apo.

BUDGET PROPOSALS are making it through the Legislature, which is pau by May 3. An $11.16 billion dollar state budget passed the House of Representatives for debate in the Senate. The spending bill is approximately $54.5 million above Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s proposed budget for 2012-2013. Last year the Legislature passed an $11.05 billion budget. Civil Beat reporter Nanea Kalani sums up other important budget proposals:

The State of Hawai`i and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are
attempting to settle land disputes by the end of the
2012 Legislature.
OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS would receive compensation for state-held Hawaiian lands by accepting urban land in Honolulu at Kaka`ako. The bill crossed over from the Senate to the House for final consideration. 
THE INVEST IN HAWAI`I ACT “is an aggressive $500 million general-obligation-bond-funded capital improvement plan intended to spur the economy, create jobs and tackle maintenance backlogs,” Kalani reports. It “aims to streamline the building process by exempting contracts of $1 million or less from the state procurement code, as well as exempting projects from county-level permitting and licensing requirements…. Not surprisingly, the bill has strong support from construction and subcontractor groups. The Sierra Club opposes the measure, calling it misguided.”

A Clean Economy Bank would help finance clean energy
projects. Photo from Good Environment
A CLEAN ECONOMY BANK is proposed “to lessen the burden on the state and other participating entities to finance qualified renewable energy,” Civil Beat reports.

THE STATE BANK, which could help take on mortgages in cases where homeowners qualify for making payments, passed the House and is under consideration by the Senate. Ka`u Rep. Bob Herkes sees it as a way to keep money in the state and people in their houses, particularly those whom he sees as victims of unfair banking practices that helped create the recent countrywide recession. North Dakota has such a bank, which was founded by farmers to help their local economies. Private banks oppose the measure. Another measure to help homeowners would set up a state Housing Finance and Development Corp. program to purchasse mortgages in trouble, Civil Beat reports.

BIODIESEL JOBS are being offered by Pacific Biodiesel during a job fair at its Kea`au plant in the Shipman Industrial Park on Saturday, March 24 from 8:30 a.m. until noon. The company is looking for a facilities manager, plant operators, shift managers, shipping and receiving agents and an administrative assistant. 
Singer and songwriter Jack Johnson supports the
sustainability model of Pacific Biodiesel founders
Kelly and Bob King. Photo from Pacific Biodiesel
      Pacific Biodiesel received the Green Jobs award last year and was voted one of the best places to work by Hawai`i Business Magazine. It promotes small-scale renewable energy development. The job fair is co-sponsored by Hawai`i Community College, Workforce Hawai`i and the Hawai`i Economic Development Board. The new biodiesel plant is expected to produce five million gallons a year. 

OVER $4,000 WAS RAISED for scholarships at Ka`u Hospital Charitable Foundation’s auction and rummage sale this month. Any resident of Ka`u enrolled in health or medical education classes may be eligible. Applications can be downloaded at www.facebook.com/kauhospital?sk=notes. Board members express their gratitude for all the hard work and support from members of the Ka`u community who made this event a success, said the event organizer Ursula D'Angelo.

HELP FROM THE Hawai`i Small Business Development Center is available to Ka`u residents who are starting or running small businesses. The organization provides business consulting, business-related research, workshops and training. It works with pre-venture exploration of business ideas, start-up operations and existing businesses. 
      Senior business consultant Hazel Beck recently held a free workshop in Na`alehu and will hold another on April 19 at Yano Hall in Captain Cook. To sign up, contact Jane Horike at 961-8496 or jhorike@co.hawaii.hi.us.
      To request counseling services, visit www.hisbdc.org.

MAYOR BILLY KENOI and directors of county departments meet with Ka`u residents tomorrow from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Na`alehu Elementary School. The talk story is hosted by Hawaiian Civic Club of Ka`u and Ka`u Rural Health Community Association.

KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL meeting takes place Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Pahala Community Center leading up the festival on May 12 and an education day on May 13. Members of the public who would like to help the farmers promote their award-winning coffee and put on the event to thank the community for their support can join in.