(AP). Annual festivities normally held during the legislature’s opening day are being called off this year for the first time. Legislative leaders have cancelled the vast spreads of food, office parties, and live music because they want to show that this year is all business. They’re facing an underfunded state budget that’s $1.2 billion short. Hikes in the use tax on imported goods, franchise tax, and other taxes may come into play.
The Charter Commission tells the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that it will decide on Thursday whether to put the land fund issue back on the ballot. In 2006, voters approved setting aside 2 percent of property taxes for the purchase of land worthy of protection. Kailua-Kona resident Debbie Hecht, who organized the 2006 land fund measure, wants the question put on the November ballot so it will be immune to the suspension now imposed by the mayor’s administration.
A magnitude 3.8 earthquake shortly after 1 p.m. Monday did not generate any reports of damage. According to Hawaii Civil Defense, the tremblor was located about 3 miles west south-west of Pahala at a depth of 4 miles.
Jury selection is underway in Hilo Circuit Court in the trial of Malaki McBride, who is accused of killing Tyrone Kalai Tores on February 25th, 2007. Police tell the “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” that Torres was killed by a shotgun blast to the head while he was parked in a secluded area in Nanawale Estates.
(AP). The vog-affected district of Ka’u on the Big Island is on course to get a $18 million emergency evacuation shelter. The district has been among those most heavily affected by vog since the new vent opened at Halemaumau summit in March 2009 and the volcano began releasing more sulphur dioxide. The center would be built on the grounds of the Ka’u High School and Pahala Elementary School complex and would double as a school gymnasium. The Legislature last year budgeted funds to design the center for the state Department of Education. But state Representative Bob Herkes says he’ll introduce legislation to transfer trhe money to Hawaii County because building the center isn’t a priority for the department.
The Lions Club of Kona will be conducting a used eyeglass collection this Saturday, January 23rd, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the KTA store in Keauhou and Choicemart in Captain Cook. Look for the familiar yellow Lions Club vests for drop off information.
(AP). The state House Judiciary Committee is set to examine budget cuts to Hawaii’s court system at a hearing scheduled for today. The panel will discuss the reduction in public services and programs at the courts, and how to address those cuts while the Legislature is in session. The committee says the judiciary’s budget has been cut 7.6 percent, severely affecting community outreach, victims, and child protective services.
The Department of Water Supply will conduct a fire hydrant flow test along Mamalahoa Highway, between Rodney Yano Hall and the Captain Cook Post Office Center, on Thursday, January 28th, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The affected area may experience slightly discolored and turbid water for several hours after the test. Customers are advised to refrain from washing clothes and store a container of water for their drinking needs until the supply of water is restored to normal. For details, call 322-0600.