Sen Mike Gabbard
Sen Mike Gabbard

Gabbard’s Plastic/Paper Bag Tax Exemptions May Confuse Retailers, Consumers

In a recent email to a constituent upset with his plan to impose a 10 cent fee on plastic and paper grocery bags, Sen. Mike Gabbard wanted to clarify some exemptions in the law.

He writes: Just to be clear, the provisions in this legislation would not impose a tax. Instead, there would be a fee on every disposable plastic and paper bag given to customers by retailers. It gives people a choice. If you don’t want to pay the fee, you could bring your own reusable bags.  Or even take your grocery cart out to your car, and load up your cooler and/or boxes.

Exemptions would be:
·         Bags used to package loose items, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, candies or small hardware items (nuts, screws, nails)
·         Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or potted plants or other items to contain dampness
·         Bags used to protect or transport prepared foods or bakery goods
·         Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription medicine
·         Newspaper bags for home newspaper delivery to protect against rain
·         Door-hanger bags
·         Laundry or dry-cleaning bags
·         Bags sold in packages
·         Bags to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold at pet stores
·         Bags to hold pesticides, drain cleaners or other caustic chemicals

The fact is in Hawaii we go through 400 million plastic bags and 20 million paper bags a year. This is extremely wasteful and harms our marine life and natural environment. As you may know, all three Neighbor Islands counties have already banned plastic bags. The special fund allows us to put aside money for the Department of Health to run the program. Some of the funding will also be directed at protecting our watersheds. What was interesting about this bill is that retailers like Safeway and Times, the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, as well as numerous environmental groups, all supported the legislation.

Military Challenging Exercise Starts Today In and Around Hawaiian Waters

The San Diego-based ships USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Vandergrift (FFG 48) joined four Hawaii-based ships in exercise Koa Kai 12-2 beginning March 30, to participate in the semi-annual exercise in and around Hawaiian waters. This is the first time San Diego-based ships are participating in Koa Kai. Units participating in Koa Kai will conduct integrated flight operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine training, and dynamic ship maneuvers.

“Koa Kai provides an opportunity to exercise multiple warfare disciplines to ensure our ships are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. Dave Welch, commander of Destroyer Squadron 31 (CDS 31). “Koa Kai is integrated, challenging, state-of-the-art training here in the Middle Pacific that helps us achieve full deployment readiness.”

Benfold and Vandergrift join the Hawaii-based guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal (CG 73); guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60); and the guided-missile frigates USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and USS Reuben James (FFG 57) and underway replenishment ship USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187). The U.S. surface ships are joined by assets from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Helicopter Squadron Light 37, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, and the Royal Canadian Air Force 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron.

Koa Kai 12-2 is a maritime exercise to prepare independent deployers in multiple warfare areas, while also providing training in a multi-ship environment. Hawaii-based surface combatants regularly deploy to the Asia Pacific region and often train with international partners while on deployment. Joint, interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. Third Fleet’s ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.

– submitted by Commander Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Public Affairs

Maui County Website “Sunny Award”

The Maui County website has been awarded a “Sunny Award” for having one of the “most transparent government websites in America” according to the Editors of Sunshine Review.

Sunshine Review President Mike Barnhard informed Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo about the award in a March 5 letter. In the letter Barnhard states that the Maui County website scored an “A” on the Sunshine Review’s Transparency Checklist.

“This year, only 214 of the more than 6,000 government websites ranked by Sunshine Review earned a Sunny Award,” wrote Barnhart. “We hope the Maui County website will continue to serve as an example of transparency in the future. Again, congratulations on your award.”

Mayor Alan Arakawa said the award shows that County government is working diligently to be more open to the public.

“Whether it’s the Maui County website, our Facebook or Twitter pages or better communications between our civil servants and members of the public, I’m very proud of our Maui County workers who are helping to make government more accessible to all,” said Mayor Arakawa. “Let’s keep up the good work.”

– Submitted by Maui County

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