egislative committees approve hemp research
HONOLULU — Two Hawaii state Senate committees have given initial approval to allow privately-funded industrial hemp research.
The approvals Monday afternoon come after a House committee passed a measure last week to establish a pilot program using industrial hemp to get rid of toxins in soil.
Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat who authored the Senate bill, says industrial hemp research could help Hawaii grow its economy.
Espero says hemp has the potential to spur a variety of industries ranging from agriculture to fashion.
“You can even build a house out of hemp today,” Espero said. “I saw something on YouTube recently.”
Law enforcement officials oppose the bill, saying the law would make it harder for them to regulate marijuana.
The Maui Police Department submitted testimony saying that it doesn’t have enough resources to deal with monitoring private hemp research facilities.
Espero says the state used to permit industrial hemp research but allowed the law to sunset in part because of the stigma associated with cannabis.
The Hawaii Legislature is also considering a bill to legalize marijuana. The House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing Friday addressing marijuana legalization and will make a decision about the bill Thursday.
Espero says industrial hemp research is a separate issue.
He says he is optimistic about the industrial hemp research proposal passing the Legislature.
More cars on islands than last year
HONOLULU — Hawaii state officials say there are more 7 percent more gas vehicles on the islands as of January than there were the same month one year ago.
The state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said Monday that there were just over 1 million registered gasoline passenger vehicles in Hawaii. That’s up from January 2012 and up slightly from December.
The department says in its monthly report that hybrid vehicles account for 1.3 percent of the total passenger vehicles on the islands.
Gas prices in January averaged $4.06 per gallon, about the same as January 2012.
The average was $4.47 in Kauai, $4 in Oahu, and $4.06 in Wailuku on Maui and Hilo on the Big Island.
The national average in January was $3.33 per gallon.
Man who drowned off Kauai is fourth drowning
LIHUE, Kauai — A 65-year-old New York man who drowned in waters off Kaui this past weekend is the fourth person to drown off the island so far this year.
Officials previously had said the man who died Saturday was the third person to drown. They now say he actually was the fourth person to drown, and another drowning occurred earlier in the week.
The Garden Island reports that the man who drowned Saturday has been identified as John Nichols.
The Kauai Fire Department says the man was swimming at Lydgate Beach when he apparently got swept away. Lifeguards and firefighters responded and the man was located floating 75 feet off shore.
Medics worked to revive him but he was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.
Colorado man dies in fall on Maui
WAILUKU, Maui — A Colorado man fell off a cliff and died while hiking a trail on Maui, police said Monday.
The man was identified as Lynn Wyatt Huff, 60, of Boulder. He fell Saturday while walking in the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve along the Waihou Spring Trail.
The Maui Police Department said in a news release that officers were called to the scene and hiked about a mile down the trail toward the springs, where they met up with the Huff’s wife who showed them where her husband fell while hiking.
Officers then hiked about another half-mile to the bottom of the ravine to the river bed where they found Huff’s body. Fire and emergency medical personnel also responded.
Police said their investigation revealed that Huff was hiking when it appears he fell about 20 to 25 feet, and may have sustained head injuries. Police said it had rained throughout last week and ground was saturated when Huff fell to his death.
The approximately 1-mile trail follows the Waihou Springs State Forest Reserve tree plantation road before making a loop and descending into the Kailua Gulch.
Gov. approves emergency steps for Kauai forest
HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie is issuing an executive order to allow the state to take emergency actions to restore fire-damaged forest on Kauai.
The work includes removing dead trees, planting native species and establishing ground cover to stabilize exposed soils.
The governor’s office said Friday immediate action is needed to stabilize fire-damaged slopes. The state must also minimize the harm to the forest and ocean environment from heavy rains, debris and runoff in the area.
The state says three fires burned 3,000 acres in West Kauai from May to August last year. The fires were Kauai’s largest and most significant wildfires since the 1960s.
A third of the burned area is in the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve, Puuka Pele Forest Reserve and Kuia Natural Area Reserve.
Honolulu woman killed by reversing garbage truck
HONOLULU — A garbage truck backing out of a Honolulu cul-de-sac has struck and killed an 83-year-old woman near her home.
Police Lt. Robert Towne says the woman was run over Friday morning and she died later at a hospital.
Police say they believe the woman, a retired registered nurse, was crossing at a street corner at the time of the crash.
Honolulu environmental services department spokesman Markus Owens told the Star-Advertiser that it is common for garbage trucks to back out of short, dead-end streets because those areas are too narrow for trucks to go in and turn around.
Resident Deeter William says he has never seen garbage trucks back up on his street. The crash occurred in front of his house while he was at work.