Sugar Supports in Jeopardy?; Georgia Birther Bill; Higher Healthcare Estimates; Historic Hawaii Photos

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Senate Bill taking Aim at U.S. Sugar Supports

A bill introduced into the U.S. Senate may have an impact on Hawaii’s dwindling sugarcane business in proposing to phase out the federal sugar support program.

The bill introduced by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and is being supported by the National Confectioners Association, which says the current policy limits the supply and inflates the price of sugar, creating a serious business challenge for the U.S. confectionery industry.

The Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions Act of 2011 or SUGAR Act of 2011 would eliminate price supports and processor loans as of 2015 along with sugar marketing quotas and allotments. It would also support the increasing of tariff-rate quotas for raw cane sugar.

The measure, S. 25, is being opposed by the American Sugar Alliance, a trade group that has cited a study saying the U.S. food industry may be hit with volatile prices, inconsistent quality and delivery problems if it had to rely on foreign sugar.

Georgia Lawmakers Seeking Presidential Eligibility Act

Another state legislature has come up with a proposed law related to the Birther Controversy.

According to the Atlanta Constitution Journal newspaper, 93 Georgia lawmakers have backed a measure that would require candidates for U.S. President or Vice President present their long-form birth certificates in order to be placed on the state’s ballot.

The proposed law is an outgrowth of questions raised by so-called Birthers who contend Pres. Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii in 1961 and isn’t qualified to serve as President because he is not a U.S. Citizen. The state of Hawaii has previously tried to lay the issue to rest by having the Director of Health testify that a long-form birth certificate for Obama exists. Moreover, two birth announcements were published in Honolulu’s daily newspapers days after Obama was born.

The bill, HB 401, or the Presidential Eligibility Assurance Act, also would make it unlawful to cast an Electoral College vote for a candidate who was not approved by the Georgia Secretary of State as having submitted evidence of eligibility.

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Say Healthcare Reform to cost states $118 billion

A report by Republican lawmakers is taking the healthcare reform act to task, saying it will cost states almost double the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of $60 billion, including at least $30 million more in Hawaii.

The joint Congressional Committee report by the minority of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee examines the cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for states, noting it will cost them at least $118 billion through the year 2023.

“Rather than ensuring the Medicaid program remains fiscally sustainable, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enacted the largest expansion of the entitlement program since its inception in 1965,” the report says. “In fact, half of the individuals gaining health care coverage under the new health law will obtain it through the government’s Medicaid program.”

The report cites a Kaiser Family Foundation study for Hawaii’s added costs along with a quote from former Gov. Linda Lingle saying the measure would increase the state’s Medicaid eligibility and benefits and increase costs.

Some states have gone to court to stop implementation of the plan and the state of Hawaii has filed a legal brief in one of the cases supporting the reform law.

The Congressional Republicans issued their report came a day after Pres. Obama offered more flexibility to state governors who were meeting in Washington. Obama said he would allow states to come up with their own plans as long as they met goals of expanding coverage.

Historic Hawaii Photographs to be Sold at U.K. Auction

One of the earliest known photographs of a surfer, portraits of King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani and Princess Kaiulani will be up for sale on Thursday at a U.K.-based auction house.

Dominic Winter Book Auctions of Gloucestershire lists 82 photographs it believes were taken between 1887 and 1891 in Hawaii, including the iconic photograph of a surfer in a loin cloth with Diamond Head in the background. The collection also includes scenic pictures of Honolulu, Waikiki, Hilo, Kauai and Maui.

The auction is set for Thursday, March 3 and also includes photographs from Fiji.

Australian Soap Opera ‘Home and Away’ Filming in Hawaii

One of Australia’s highest-rated television soap operas is filming in Hawaii, according to various press reports.

Four stars of the show Home and Away were reportedly in the state for a week of shooting. The U.S. television show Cougar Town also is in Hawaii this week to shoot one of its episodes.