The Legislature is pau, but the talk is of a special session to take care of unfinished business.

5:10 p.m. Neighbor Island News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that, to rent a two-bedroom apartment on the Big Island, “a person should be making” at least $22 an hour:

Many renters here make less than half that, according to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

At a median renter’s wage, a person would have to work at least 73 hours per week, year-round, to maintain a two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii County, according to the study. At minimum wage, $7.25, a renter would have to work every hour of every day, and would still fall short.

The Maui News reports that the County Council voted unanimously to recommend first-reading approval of spending $1.7 million “for the negotiated purchase of almost 65 acres of wetlands and oceanfront property” between Waiehu and Waihee”

Council Member Mike Victorino, the measure’s sponsor, said that the county already has an agreement in place with the owners to purchase the property valued at $2.1 million. If the county hadn’t stepped in, the land, which has numerous archaeological sites and valuable natural water sources, could have gone up for auction after June 12, he said.

“And who knows how, at least parts of it that could be, would be developed,” Victorino said. “It is the last piece of untouched land between Waihee and Waiehu. I’m really, really happy about this. Very happy.”

The Garden Island reports that the county’s auditor has been “hampered” by delays in submitting its budget to the Kauai County Council:

The relatively new department, which voters created via charter amendment, works to provide independent evaluations and analyses of county operations and “to be a catalyst for improving county government,” County Auditor Ernie Pasion says in his budget presentation. …

Pasion states in his presentation that one of the most notable challenges the office faced in its first full year of operations was encountering “obstacles in procuring the work of outside experts to assist in the conduct of several audits.”

4:17 p.m. Reapportionment Panel To Follow Sunshine Law

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission amended its rules last month to allow for three-day, rather than six-day, notice for its meetings. It cited its short timetable — it must publish a proposed reapportionment and redistricting plan within 100 days and finish its work within 150 days — as the reason.

The move drew criticism from good-government activists. The League of Women Voters, Common Cause Hawaii and Americans for Democratic Action sent a letter in late April to the commission expressing concerns that “some of the adopted rules would inhibit public participation in the reapportionment and redistricting process.”

Today, the commission went into executive session to confer with the state’s deputy attorney general about the matter.

When it emerged, Victoria Marks said the body would return to the six-day notice laid out by the Sunshine Law — not because it had to, but because the commission “voluntarily” wanted to abide by the spirit of the state’s open meetings rules.

The commission on Wednesday discussed the items that would be on the agenda for its next meeting, scheduled for May 24 — far more than six days from now.

Michael Levine

4:05 p.m. Bills From Hirono

Mazie Hirono, according to a press release, has introduced legislation that would provide grants for asthma management programs in schools across the U.S. “in a step to ensure the nation’s 7.1 million children with asthma have access to care that could save their lives.”

The release says:

Hirono announced the bill, H.R. 1692, The Asthma Management Plans in School Act, at the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) 14th annual Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill.

“Early access to medication can be a matter of life or death for students with asthma or anaphylaxis,” says Nancy Sander, president and founder of AANMA, the nation’s leading family-founded nonprofit organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. “Just like some schools have defibrillators in case a student goes into cardiac arrest, this bill would prepare schools for breathing emergencies such as asthma and anaphylaxis episodes.”

Meanwhile, Maui Now reports that Hirono has joined Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jim Moran of Massachusetts in supporting the Commuter Relief Act of 2011.

If passed, according to Maui Now, the bill would “offer relief and additional incentives” to those who use alternative transportation modes, are self-employed, use employer-paid parking and van pools:

“Commuters in my district pay more for a gallon of gas than any other place in the country — on average almost $5 dollars,” said Hirono, in a statement released today by her office. “At the same time, Big Oil just raked in $35 billion in profits this last quarter while still receiving $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies. That’s simply not right. We should give those tax benefits to the people who need them most — businesses and their employees who commute to work.”

2:44 p.m. Another State Approves Civil Unions

According to a press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, “Delaware Gov. Jack Markell today signed legislation that makes Delaware the eighth state to allow civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.”

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012 — the same day Hawaii’s civil unions law goes into effect.

12:22 p.m. I Can Has Cheezburger?

In case you missed it, an item from the Hawaii House Blog involving cheeseburgers is making the rounds.

Briefly, the item describes how an HPD officer found a Texas woman missing in Honolulu, winning her trusts by buying her cheeseburgers from a nearby Mickey D’s.

With the help of John Mizuno, the homeless woman was reunited with her mother and flown home.

10:53 a.m. Green Defends Med Pot Position

The Big Island Chronicle blog has posted Josh Green‘s response to a registered nurse’s complaints about the senator’s views on limiting the number of certificates issued for medical marijuana use.

The nurse, Sandy Webb, wrote in part:

You stated that chronic pain and/or muscle spasm should no longer qualify patients for medical cannabis treatment and that these patients would have to send in their cards if your legislation passed. You further alleged that giving certifications to patients under age 30 implied abuse by both patients and physicians.

The response from Green, a medical doctor, included this passage:

I find it incredibly hard to imagine that more than 1/2 of the 8000 people statewide with medical marijuana scripts would be under age 30. These are not the right patients for this medication for the most part. There are obviously some exceptions.

Over time I hope you will see that I do support medical marijuana for people who need it, and that I am tasked with considering all the potential impacts all health programs have on our entire community.

Green, who chairs Senate Health, killed a bill this session that would have set up a five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot program.

Governor to Speak at Turtle Bay

“Talk Story 3,” a community conversation on the future of Turtle Bay hosted by the Koolauloa North Shore Alliance, will feature Neil Abercrombie as speaker.

It’s set for 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Sunset Elementary School Cafeteria.

Keep the country country! Keep the town town!

Akaka Co-sponsors DREAM Act

Dan Akaka is one of 30 Senators introducing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in Congress — “a narrowly tailored bill to give undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing,” according to a press release.

The senator said in a statement:

“As a former educator and a veteran, I believe that our youth should have the opportunity to reach their potential through college education and military service. The DREAM Act will strengthen our armed forces, add to our skilled workforce, and contribute to our economy, while offering an opportunity for these young adults to pursue the promise of our nation.”

According to the bill’s sponsors, it is supported by the AFL-CIO, the National PTA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies and dozens of colleges and universities.

A House version of the DREAM Act has also been introduced.

Schatz Wants Help For Flu Shots

KHON2 reports that Brian Schatz will meet with private insurance companies Friday to ask for financial help in keeping the Stop Flu at School program alive.

The program’s future is uncertain because of cutbacks in state and federal funds.

KHON2 reports:

We’re really open to any kind of partnership where everybody is paying a little bit for a critically important thing,” said the lieutenant governor. “If we take no action then the program will simply run out of funds.”

Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Laura Lott confirmed the health maintenance organization had been invited to hear Schatz plead his case.

HMSA, the largest provider of health care coverage in Hawaii, did not confirm whether it too would hear the lieutenant governor make his pitch, but it’s unlikely the meeting would take place without HMSA’s participation.

Obama Library for Kakaako?

KITV reports that the Kakaako Community Planning Advisory Council has thoughts about a Barack Obama presidential library:

Community stakeholders hope if Hawaii beats out Chigago for a bid to build a presidential library once Obama leaves office, the structure will maintain a Hawaiian sense of place.

The council is working on a master plan for growth in the area, but news about including a possible site for a presidential library “came at the 11th hour.”

“It was really not on our radar screen when we were doing the master planning process,” said Wayne Takamine, chair of the council.

Meeting: Reapportionment Commission

The nine people charged with redrawing political districts based on the latest U.S. Census data is scheduled to meet this afternoon.

Here is the commission’s agenda for today.


Catch up on previous coverage:

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