Maui News

Senate Update: Civil Unions Bill Heads to Final Vote, Ag Bill backs Buy Local

February 15, 2011, 8:29 AM HST
* Updated February 16, 7:00 AM
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By WendyOsher

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Senate on Civil Unions: The state’s Civil Unions bill is headed into a final vote in the state legislature today after years of debate on both sides.

Senate Bill 232, if passed, would extend the same rights and responsibilities to same sex couples that are already granted to legally married couples. The senate already approved the bill last month, but must make a final vote after the measure was amended by the House to clarify tax filing and divorce proceedings.

If approved by the senate, Governor Neil Abercrombie would still have to sign the bill into law. Five other states and the District of Columbia already allow civil unions.

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Ag bill Backs Buy Local Campaign: The senate committee on Agriculture meets today to discuss bills relating to electric rates, buying local, and agricultural land classifications.

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With an estimated 85% of Hawaii’s goods imported into the state, SB1143 is aimed at increasing Hawaii’s level of food self-sufficiency. The bill would appropriate funds to 4 Ag Hawaii, a private-public partnership that started the Buy Local, It Matters campaign, encouraging residents to support local farmers by making conscious decisions to buy locally produced products.

Another bill, SB1343 would reduce the cost of electricity for qualified agribusinesses, subsidizing the rates with rates charged to other public utility customers.

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