Friday, April 23, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Lessees bill, others
signed into law

Shark-finning bill dead
Hana Medical funds

By Pat Omandam


Those with Department of Hawaiian Home Lands leases can now transfer their leasehold interest to a spouse, child or grandchild who is at least one-quarter Hawaiian, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Ben Cayetano on April 15.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature Act 17 (HB 1114, HD1) allows native Hawaiian lessees, with the approval of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, to transfer interest to these qualified relatives.

The department and homestead associations favored the measure this session because it helps ensure that the lease remains in the family of the original lessee. The act took effect upon the governor's signature.

Other bills signed into law:

Bullet Act 13 (HB 622 HD 2): Provides health insurance coverage of mammograms annually for women age 40 and older or as recommended by a doctor.

Bullet Act 14 (HB 849 HD 1): Includes cargo operations under the definition of special facilities for special facility revenue bonds.

Bullet Act 15 (HB 992 HD 1): Removes the requirement of Social Security numbers on state identification cards and changes what fingers will be used for fingerprints to be obtained and retained by the attorney general.

Bullet Act 16 (HB 1034): Provides the Public Utilities Commission with flexibility to address demands for telecommunication services where existing carriers are not able to meet the need due to unpredictable circumstances.

Bullet Act 18 (HB 1430 SD1): Corrects errors and references, clarifies language and deletes unnecessary provisions in the Hawaii Revised Statutes and session laws.

Bullet Act 19 (HB 1444): Requires notary public records to be deposited with the attorney general rather than the courts.

Bullet Act 20 (HB 1485): Addresses jurisdiction of multiple offenses dealing with abuse of family or household members before District Court.

Shark-finning bill dead
until next session

By Pat Omandam


A Big Island senator has killed any shark-finning regulation this legislative session, despite efforts by the House to pass it through as part of another bill during conference committee talks.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Hilo) said as conference chairwoman on Senate Bill 1089 SD 1, HD 1, she will defer talks about restricting the harvesting of shark fins until next session. Inouye said she personally believes the practice needs to be regulated. But she said the shark-finning issue is much broader than she originally thought, and more time is needed to study the matter.

Shark-finning is the practice of catching a shark, removing its fin and throwing it back in the water. The fins, used for the popular shark fin soup in Asia and Hawaii, sell for up to $50 a pound on the international market. Hawaii lawmakers estimated some $20 million to $30 million worth of fins go through the state each year, although little of that money ends up in the local economy.

A Senate committee earlier this month was deadlocked on a unanimously approved House bill that regulates the practice, stalling the measure. As a result, the House amended SB 1089 to include the shark-finning regulation. That bill was discussed at a conference committee yesterday, where Inouye decided to defer the talks indefinitely.

Inouye praised the efforts of freshman Rep. Brian Schatz (D, Makiki), who introduced the issue to the Legislature.

Schatz, however, criticized the Senate for not making the smart decision and passing the bill. By delaying the issue a year, he said 100,000 sharks will be landed, finned and killed. He added that the Senate's decision is neither in the best interest of Hawaii fisheries nor residents.

"We are simply shedding more light on the issue," he said.

Schatz now is advocating approval of another bill that allows the Department of Land and Natural Resources to adopt administrative rules and regulations for aquatic resources. That would allow the department to specify bag limits, sales and seasons of fisheries, as well as regulation of fishing gear.

If approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor, Schatz said Senate Bill 1091 SD 1, HD 2, would put the issue of shark-finning in the hands of the Land Board instead of the Legislature, where he believes it belongs.

Hana Medical Center
supporters request funds

By Ben DiPietro
Associated Press


More than a dozen people from Maui lobbied lawmakers yesterday to provide money to keep Hana Medical Center operating.

House and Senate conferees discussed hospital funding, but said it was too soon to tell how much money would be available for the center, which services the remote east Maui community.

Conferees also said they were committed to finding money for an emergency appropriation to fund the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., which runs community hospitals statewide, and to allocating money for the Healthy Start program that provides services for preschool children.

Without a hospital in Hana, residents would be without an on-call doctor seven days a week, forcing them to use paramedics for after-hours care, center executive director Cheryl Vasconcellos said.

Paramedics would have to transport people to Maui Memorial Medical Center, a 50-mile drive along winding roads.

"We're not going to be there" in operation without state funding, Vasconcellos said.

"We can't do it for less than $1 million. The next closest thing is Wailuku, and when you're talking about kids who have asthma attacks, people who have heart attacks ... the likelihood of them making it there in time is not too great," she said.

The center is asking for $200,000 in emergency funds to repay a loan from the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. to cover expenses the rest of the current fiscal year ending June 30.

The center also wants $1 million a year for the next two fiscal years.

The center may be forced to close or cut back hours unless funding is provided, Vasconcellos said, adding that private donations are not enough to keep the center operating at current levels.

Vasconcellos isn't sure the hospital will get all the money it needs.

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