Should the Big Island Ban Fireworks… The Poll

Well now that it has been determined that each county will be allowed to determine their own fireworks law… I think it’s time for a poll:
[polldaddy poll=3395070]

The 9th Annual MATE International ROV Competition

Today I attended the competition missions & engineering evaluations day of the the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) International ROV Competition at UH Hilo’s campus.

I watched the Ranger Mission’s first:

If you don’t know what ROV stands for, it stands for Remote Operated Vehicles.

In the Ranger Class, there were schools from all over America, as well as the countries of Scotland, Hong Kong – China, and Taiwan.

The Hong Kong team below didn’t speak much English and I wonder how they felt about me taking pictures of their ROV?

Here is the complete list of schools competing in the  Ranger Division:

After the Ranger Missions, I watched the  Explorer Missions:

Schools from all over America participated in this as well as two teams from Russia and another from Scotland and China.

Of course the local kids were pretty thrilled to learn about Russian culture from the Russian kids.

Here is a complete list of the Explorer Teams that participated:

There were a lot of bright minds at that pool today.

It feels pretty good knowing that our future generation of kids are learning things that I never even dreamed about learning when I was a kid.

These remote vehicles varied from fairly simple

To very complex

and quite awkward looking things!

The competition wraps up tomorrow with an awards banquet and ceremony at Edith Kanakaole Stadium.

Feel free to click on any of the pictures below or above for a larger view:

Lingle Signs Law Which Will Hire More Inspectors and Strengthen Sanitation Inspection Programs

From the House Majority Communications Office:

Governor Lingle today signed into law HB2688 which strengthens the state’s sanitation inspection program, including the hiring of more inspectors.

The measure, now Act 176, changes the name of the “Environmental Health Education Fund” to the “Sanitation and Environmental Health Special Fund”, and allows the money in the fund to be used for sanitation programs and activities, including monitoring Hawaii’s restaurants and food establishments.

“Proper sanitation in public areas is critical to the health and safety of our population,” said Rep. Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Committee on Health.  “I’m pleased that the Governor signed this bill into law since it will allow the Department of Health to hire needed sanitation and vector control inspectors and to provide greater support to Hawaii businesses which have an impact on public health.”

The sanitation branch is charged with implementing programs related to:

  • Food protection
  • The regulation of barber shops, beauty parlors, massage parlors, tattoo shops, mortuaries, public swimming pools, and public laundries;
  • The inspection of tenement houses, lodging houses, and boarding houses;
  • The licensing of tattoo artists and embalmers; and
  • Enforcing the sanitation requirements for hospitals and medical facilities.

“Even before the infamous video of the rats in certain food vendor areas, I’ve been concerned that the number of sanitation inspectors is woefully low for the number of food establishments in Hawaii,” said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the introducer of the bill.  “It’s irresponsible to create that kind of health risk for the general public.

This new law sets up a special fund that allows the sanitation branch, which brings in much of the fees through their activities, to use the money for sanitation purposes and not just for environmental health.  It’s a good bill that will greatly benefit the public.”

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McCain Introduces Legislation to Repeal Jones Act

Following is a statement released by Senator McCain today:

“Today I am pleased to introduce legislation that would fully repeal the Jones Act, a 1920s law that hinders free trade and favors labor unions over consumers. Specifically, the Jones Act requires that all goods shipped between waterborne ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans. This restriction only serves to raise shipping costs, thereby making U.S. farmers less competitive and increasing costs for American consumers.

“This was highlighted by a 1999 U.S. International Trade Commission economic study, which suggested that a repeal of the Jones Act would lower shipping costs by approximately 22 percent. Also, a 2002 economic study from the same Commission found that repealing the Jones Act would have an annual positive welfare effect of $656 million on the overall U.S. economy. Since these studies are the most recent statistics available, imagine the impact a repeal of the Jones Act would have today: far more than a $656 million annual positive welfare impact – maybe closer to $1 billion. These statistics demonstrate that a repeal of the Jones Act could prove to be a true stimulus to our economy in the midst of such difficult economic times.

“The Jones Act also adds a real, direct cost to consumers – particularly consumers in Hawaii and Alaska. A 1988 GAO report found that the Jones Act was costing Alaskan families between $1,921 and $4,821 annually for increased prices paid on goods shipped from the mainland. In 1997, a Hawaii government official asserted that ‘Hawaii residents pay an additional $1 billion per year in higher prices because of the Jones Act. This amounts to approximately $3,000 for every household in Hawaii.'”

“This antiquated and protectionist law has been predominantly featured in the news as of late due to the Gulf Coast oil spill. Within a week of the explosion, 13 countries, including several European nations, offered assistance from vessels and crews with experience in removing oil spill debris, and as of June 21st, the State Department has acknowledged that overall ‘it has had 21 aid offers from 17 countries.’ However, due to the Jones Act, these vessels are not permitted in U.S. waters.

“The Administration has the ability to grant a waiver of the Jones Act to any vessel – just as the previous Administration did during Hurricane Katrina – to allow the international community to assist in recovery efforts. Unfortunately, this Administration has not done so.

“Therefore, some Senators have put forward legislation to waive the Jones Act during emergency situations, and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation. However, the best course of action is to permanently repeal the Jones Act in order to boost the economy, saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. I hope my colleagues will join me in this effort to repeal this unnecessary, antiquated legislation in order to spur job creation and promote free trade.”