Saturday | February 25, 2017
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State briefs 2/8

Tourists robbed at Big Island park

HILO — Two tourists camping at a beach park on the Big Island in Hawaii were robbed.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald says the two tourists from California told police they were robbed at knifepoint early Wednesday at Kolekole Beach Park.

The two told police they were in their tent at the park north of Hilo when they were awakened by an intruder with a switchblade who first claimed to be a ranger as he rifled through their things.

The two said the intruder threatened to cut them with the knife if they did not turn over the keys to their rental car with all their belongings, including their wallets, their credit cards and cellphones.

The rental car was later found abandoned in Wainaku.

Fifth person drowns in Kauai waters

WAINIHA, Kauai — A Canadian visitor has drowned in a river on Kauai.

Kauai police on Wednesday identified the victim as Mark McLean from Sechelt, British Columbia.

The 51-year-old is the fifth person to drown in Kauai waters this year and the third person in less than a week.

Fire officials say a bystander called police at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday after noticing the man’s body lying face down in the Wainiha River.

Firefighters responded and immediately began performing CPR on the man until medics arrived. He was taken to Wilcox Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The other four people to drown in Kauai waters this year drowned in the ocean. Last year at this time, two people had drowned in the ocean and two had drowned in fresh water.

Hawaii lawmakers move forward with anti-GMO bill

HONOLULU — Advocates of all-natural food in Hawaii scored a partial victory when the House Committee on Agriculture passed a measure to require labeling on genetically modified food.

The committee approved the bill Thursday but amended it so it only applies to produce imported from outside Hawaii.

Numerous proponents of the bill testified before the House committee this week.

They say they deserve to know whether the food they are buying has been genetically modified.

Several opponents of the bill said they are worried about how the measure could affect local farmers.

They also argue that requiring labels would increase food costs.

House agriculture committee Chairwoman Jessica Wooley says because the bill only affects produce brought in from outside Hawaii, it benefits local farms and won’t cause food prices to rise.

Non-stop Spokane-Hawaii flights start Saturday

SPOKANE, Wash. — Allegiant Air starts non-stop flights Saturday from Spokane to Oahu.

The Spokesman-Review reports ( ) it’s the first non-stop Hawaii service from Spokane in years.

Allegiant follows a business model of jetting leisure travelers from smaller cities like Spokane to top vacation destinations.

Hawaii representatives mull marijuana legislation

HONOLULU — Lawmakers on Thursday postponed a decision until next week to adjust a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana use in Hawaii.

House judiciary committee Chair Karl Rhoads told the Associated Press he plans to push decision making back again until next Tuesday.

He says he needs more time to add amendments regulating where people would be able to light up and addressing technicalities.

Proponents say legalization would help Hawaii’s economy and save money in the criminal justice system.

Law enforcement officials say they strongly oppose the bill.

They say they aren’t wasting resources on marijuana now and that legalization would lead to higher crime rates.

Hawaii solar tax credits may decrease

HONOLULU — Representatives in the House committee on the environment voted Wednesday to gradually decrease the solar energy tax credit to 15 percent by 2018.

They cast aside the governor’s more drastic proposal to cut the current tax credit to 15 percent by next year. The credit is currently 35 percent of the cost of each solar energy system.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says the current credit is fiscally unsustainable.

But many environmental groups and solar companies say a sharp cut would cripple the renewable energy industry. Several support a gradual decrease.

Rep. Chris Lee, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, says the proposal approved Wednesday pulls from the best aspects of the different bills proposed.

He says he’s working closely with the Senate to come up with a compromise proposal that won’t get mired in politics.

Senators are expected to make a decision on the same issue next week.

Sen. Mike Gabbard, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, says the panel is planning to hear testimony Thursday about one more renewable energy proposal. The committee met Tuesday to hear testimony on three related bills, including the governor’s plan.

But Gabbard told The Associated Press that a gradual approach to decreasing tax credits makes the most sense.

He added he wasn’t surprised that the House rejected the governor’s proposal given the level of opposition by the solar industry.

Tyler to testify on HI celeb privacy

HONOLULU — Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler plans to attend a legislative hearing in Hawaii on a bill named for him that would limit unwanted celebrity photos and video.

A publicist for the former “American Idol” judge told The Associated Press on Thursday that Tyler has submitted written testimony supporting a plan that would give celebrities power to sue people who photograph them in an offensive way during their private lives.

Hawaii’s Senate judiciary committee plans to consider the so-called Steven Tyler Act on Friday morning.

Sen. Kalani English from Maui says he introduced the bill at Tyler’s request. Tyler owns a multimillion-dollar home in Maui.

More than two-thirds of the state senators have co-sponsored the bill.

English says the bill will spur celebrity tourism.

Opponents say the bill could be unconstitutional.