BY SAM SLOM – The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is hosting a special luncheon meeting TODAY, Wednesday, with Tea Party Republican Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Room 2, 11:30 am -1 pm.  You may have recently seen Rep. Bachmann, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, as she presented the Tea Party response to the State of the Union address.

A total of 3,224 bills were introduced in the 2011 state Legislature. 1,665 in the House and 1,559 in the Senate. Still no regular prayer in the Senate at a time when lawmakers should have Divine Guidance.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has already broken two key campaign pledges: (1) he can balance the budget without tax increases and (2) tell the truth and be transparent.  He has advanced half a dozen new tax bills (including coming after your pension) and kept his Supreme Court nominee secret in contrast to the open Linda Lingle.

A Florida court ruled the key ingredient in the Obama Care health scheme (mandatory coverage and insurance purchase) is unconstitutional. This follows a Virginia court ruling in November. The issue will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, Moody’s ranked Hawaii worst in the nation in terms of debt and pension underfunding. Worst. (See Greg Wiles’ story on Hawaii Reporter.com). The majority of lawmakers and the Governor don’t seem deterred in the march to spend more and increase Hawaii’s debt.

The US Environmental Protection Agency applauded the Mayors, County Councils and residents of Maui and Kauai counties for enacting restrictions banning plastic shopping bags – reducing their waste and protecting the environment in a single action.  The County of Maui and Kauai join American Samoa in banning plastic shopping bags in the Pacific area. Other cities like San Francisco, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Marin County, South Padre, Texas, coastal North Carolina, and other California cities like Malibu, Palo Alto, Fairfax, and Los Angeles County have bag bans.

California cities of Fremont, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Trent Hills, Long Beach, Santa Clara County, and other areas such as New York City, Seattle, Boston, Phoenix, Arkansas, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maryland are also considering legislation to ban plastic bags. Other countries that have banned plastic bags include China, Bangladesh, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, and Taiwan. There is a renewed attempt at the State Legislature to ban plastic bags. Bans are always a bad move and remove choice from consumers.

Smart Business Hawaii’s next  monthly Sunrise Networking Breakfast will be Thursday, February 24, in the Pineapple Room at Macy’s, Ala Moana from 7 to 8:30 am. Sunrise is held the last Thursday, monthly, through November. This month’s speaker, Abbey Mayer, former State Planner under Governor Linda Lingle, is now the Vice President for Government Affairs, Ko O’lina resort.

Members at SBH Sunrise enjoy a complete buffet breakfast, free exhibit area, networking, and business introductions to boost their business. The public is welcome and parking is free at Ala Moana Center. Cost is $25 for members and their guests who pay in advance; $35 for non-members and at the door. For information and reservations, call Darlyn at SBH at 396-1724 to reserve a seat.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii last week named Marsha Wienert its Regional Director of Public Relations. In her new position, Wienert will be responsible for all aspects of public relations including campaign development and implementation, crisis communication and public affairs. She will be focused on the Sheraton, Westin, Luxury Collection and St. Regis brands found here in Hawaii. She will report to Angela Vento, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. – Hawaii & French Polynesia.

Lava Net was purchased last week by Think Tech Hawaii. Attorney Jay Fidell heads the group.

Sadly, the Pipeline Café in Kaka`ako, closed Monday night. The local watering hole, concert venue and host to many charitable fundraisers was forced out of business by the Honolulu Fire Department. The HFD ruled the Café could have no more than 250 people (they have had more than 1,500 for events) and retrofitting sprinklers would have cost the small business more than $60,000. So now the business is gone and the employees are out of work. What price safety?

Get your umbrellas ready: the annual Punahou Carnival opens Friday and Saturday. The scholarship event nets about $1 million and has maximum student, parent and alumni support and help in the booths.

Hawaiian Electric Company and its union, IBEW, reached a contract settlement yesterday. It still awaits union member approval. Watch for even higher electric rates.

The State Senate Energy Committee today passed a bill banning any further fossil fuel generation plants or expansion of existing facilities. Yet more of an electric increase is anticipated.

The Senate also fast-tracked and voted out this year’s version of the civil unions/same sex marriage bill (SB 232) 19-6 last week. It was the first bill passed this year and now goes to the House where activists want to liberalize the bill even further.

Facebook warning:  Judge Sabrina McKenna who is up for confirmation this Friday (10 am) to the State Supreme Court, had someone post a fictitious Facebook site in her name. Unfortunately, it is too easy to do.

Maui Land & Pine will no longer manage the two Kapalua, Maui golf courses after this week. There will be unemployment.

Former Governor Ben Cayetano, held a press conference on the steps of Honolulu Hale Monday against the Honolulu rail train to nowhere. He was supported by more than a dozen community groups, including Native Hawaiians, environmentalists, League of Women Voters and others. The City continues to try and ram this $7 billion heavy rail train down the throats of taxpayers even though there is not nearly enough kala to pay for just the construction.

Kaneohe Ranch has completed the sale of more than 300,000 square feet of commercial property in Kailua town to Target who will begin construction on their new store and repair the existing area. Retailer Don Quijote closes this Saturday..Community activists oppose the Target store.

Wanna bet?  Several gambling bills are back before this legislative session. Casinos, offshore and lotteries are part of the mix.

Celebrating a major business anniversary?  New location or product? Your business press releases are welcome in the weekly SBH News & Views E-News which reaches more than 8,000 business owners and government leaders in Hawaii.

What? Not receiving your copy? Send PR, additional requests and email address to SBH@lava.net or call Darlyn at 396-1724.

Let SBH help you with YOUR business. Just starting a business?   Call me personally for help at 396-1724 or email: SBH@lava.net. Smart Business Hawaii Means Business and we’re here to help you..

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