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.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Jan. 14, 2013

Hawai`i's 2013 Legislature opens Wednesday, with four newly elected legislators representing Ka`u.
THE STATE LEGISLATURE OPENS this Wednesday, Jan. 16, with four newly elected legislators representing Ka`u. Incumbent Sen. Josh Green’s district extends to Honu`apo from Kona. Freshman Sen. Russell Ruderman’s district extends from Honu`apo throughout Volcano and Puna. Incumbent Rep. Denny Coffman’s district extends from Kona to Honu`apo, and freshman Rep. Richard Onishi’s district extends from Puna through Volcano to Honu`apo. The number of elected officials who will represent Ka`u in the state Legislature this year is up from two last year. None of them live here, but all promise not to forget this remote district.
Rep. Richard Onishi
      The change comes with the U.S. Census in 2010 and the subsequent redistricting to ensure the one person–one vote promise in the democratic form of government.
Sen. Josh Green
      Committee assignments in the Senate have Green, a physician, returning to chair the Committee on Health. He also sits on the Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection, Energy and Environment, and Human Services. Ruderman sits on the Committees on Energy and Environment, Education, Water and Land, and Ways and Means.
      The committees for the state House of Representatives are yet to be confirmed, as the Speaker of the House has not been finalized. Maui Rep. Joe Souki claims he has the lead and will replace Speaker Calvin Say. His backers are a group of Republicans and Democrats but remain a vote short to be able to set up the committees, according to various news reports.
      The Senate majority, comprised of Democrats, unveiled its priorities last week, promising to be “open, inclusive and collaborative in its decision-making on initiatives impacting the state of Hawai`i,” said Senate president-elect Donna Mercado Kim. The theme of the Senate majority is No Na Mamo, which means “for all generations.”
Rep. Denny Coffman
      The Senate majority announced it would work on Food & Energy Resiliency; Supporting People, Strengthening Communities; and Government Efficiency and Accountability.

SOLAR TAX CREDITS could shave some $139 million off state income tax revenues this year as homeowners and businesses invest more in photovoltaics to wean themselves from expensive electric bills. However, the state wants to reduce the loss in tax revenues by reducing the credits and is taking its argument to the 2013 state Legislature, which opens Wednesday.
      According to a Sophie Cocke story in Civil Beat, Republican state Sen. Mike Gabbard said his main focus this session “is making sure that the tax credit isn’t having too big of an impact on the state’s pocketbook, and not crippling the industry or making it too expensive for residents to install solar panels.” Gabbard chairs the Energy and Environment Committee and looks at a number of bills that would change the laws for solar credits.
      Sen. Russell Ruderman, who represents east Ka`u through Puna, campaigned on removing impediments to more solar. Ruderman said that solar is the obvious solution to Hawai`i’s energy challenge.
Sen. Russell Ruderman
          Ruderman said this morning that the amount the state says it’s losing from solar tax credits is a “little exaggerated.” He described the emerging solar sector of the economy as “the hottest part of the construction industry. It creates a lot of jobs and puts a lot of benefits back into the community,” he said.
      Ruderman said that instead of eliminating tax credits, he supports reducing them over five or six years so people have time to plan and invest in solar.
      He said he will introduce three solar-related pieces of legislation into the 2013 Legislature. One would prevent the utilities from charging customers for an interconnect study.
      Another would set up a loan guarantee for people who can’t afford to put solar on their homes.
      The third would create “community solar, as they call it,” Ruderman said. “You could sign up for energy created by a solar farm, even if it is not in your own neighborhood or your roof,” he said.
      See more at www.civilbeat.com.

MORE MONEY FROM THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY could offset solar credits for homeowners. The state won a case last week that requires online travel reservation firms to pay general excise taxes to the Hawai`i government whenever it books a Hawai`i hotel room. The state sued to collect money from Expedia, hotels.com, Priceline, Hotwire, Orbits and Travelocity. The taxes date back to year 2000 and could be worth some $150 million to the state of Hawai`i.
      The online reservations companies argued that their businesses are outside of Hawai`i, but they lost in the Tax Appeals Court of Judge Gary Chang. Chang did rule earlier that the reservations companies are not responsible for paying the transient accommodations taxes.
      Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted that former Republican Hawai`i Governor Linda Lingle declined to go after collecting these taxes. He said he made the issue a top priority for his governorship.

DLNR wants to protect more of the state's watersheds
which include Ka`u Forest Reserve.
PROTECTING THE STATE’S WATERSHEDS is a priority for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, reports Sophie Cocke in today’s Civil Beat. During this year’s state Legislature, the department plans to try to secure $11 million a year over the next decade to double the percentage of land protected. According to the story, DLNR said that it has taken 40 years to protect only 10 percent of the state’s most important watershed areas. 
      At a briefing of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee last Friday, DLNR’s native ecosystem section manager said the revenue would come from a new bag bill that would charge 10 cents each for bags that aren’t banned or from an increase in conveyance taxes.
      The Civil Beat story reports that, according to the department, “more than half of the state’s forests have been lost, in large part due to invasive species such as Christmas berry that have choked out native species.” It also said pigs, cattle and goats trample vegetation.
      The story says protecting Hawai`i’s watersheds has been a major DLNR initiative under the Abercrombie administration. Last year, efforts to gain dedicated funding from the Legislature failed.
      See more at www.civilbeat.com.

THE COFFEE BERRY BORER is the subject of a meeting at 5 p.m. at Pahala Community Center today, co-hosted by Synergistic Hawai`i Agriculture Council, University of Hawai`i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources and Ka`u Farm Bureau. Ka`u Farm president Chris Manfredi said that all coffee farmers should attend, whether or not they have CBB. He said the education session will focus on control and eradication of the pest which has severely impacted coffee farms on the island. The meeting will be followed by a Farm Bureau directors meeting.

Matt Patrick Photo from USGS
HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY geologist Matt Patrick presents an overview of Kilauea’s summit eruption, including a survey of the volcanic processes occurring within the vent, tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The free After Dark in the Park program is part of Volcano Awareness month. Park entrance fees apply. 

KAI HO`OPI`I, an Aloha Festivals Hawaiian falsetto contest winner, shares music of his `ohana Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The free concert is part of the park’s ongoing Na Leo Manu, Heavenly Voices, presentations. Park entrance fees apply.

KA`U AGRICULTURAL WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meets Thursday at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Orchards’ field office in Pahala. For more information, contact Jeff McCall at 928-6465 or mccalljeffreyw@gmail.com.

IN SPORTS THIS WEEK, grade checks for winter sports athletes are due today. 
      Ka`u High boys and girls soccer teams play at home, with Hilo High coming to Ka`u High tomorrow for games beginning at 2 p.m. On Saturday games with Kohala High begin at 1 p.m.
      Ka`u High girls basketball team travels to Kamehameha Wednesday, then on Friday meet Pahoa High at home.
      In boys basketball, Kea`au comes to Ka`u tomorrow, then Ka`u goes to Kamehameha on Thursday.
      Ka`u High’s wrestlers have a meet in Pahoa on Saturday.