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State roundup for June 20

State ranks low for gun deaths

HONOLULU (AP) — A nonprofit that advocates for gun control says Hawaii has the second to the lowest gun death rate in the nation.

The Violence Policy Center says that’s based on data released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on overall gun death rates in 2011, the most recent data available.

Hawaii’s gun death rate was 3.56 per 100,000 people. The nationwide gun death rate was 10.38 per 100,000 people.

The center says Louisiana had the highest per capita gun death rate while Rhode Island had the lowest.

Kauai council defers crop bill

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — The Kauai County Council has deferred a bill aimed at creating a separate property tax category for crop research and development land. The move kills any chance of the measure going into effect in the fiscal year starting July 2015.

Councilman Tim Bynam, who introduced the bill, and Councilman Gary Hooser recommended a two-week deferral. But the Finance and Economic Development Committee voted 3-1 to push the bill back to Aug. 20 — 11 days after the primary election.

Hooser said the bill itself wouldn’t raise taxes, but merely create another category of agricultural use. However, he recognized taxes could rise for the new category in the future.

Charter school conditions set

HONOLULU (AP) — A financially troubled Honolulu school can continue only if its board and director resign and turn over financial records, the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission decided Wednesday.

The commission voted unanimously to end Halau Lokahi Public Charter School if the changes are not made. The school opened in 2001 with a Hawaiian-focused curriculum. It has run up debts of $417,000. It stopped paying rent in February and stopped paying teachers June 5.

Director Laara Allbrett oversees a staff of 23, which includes five members of her family. Allbrett and the chairwoman of Halau Lokahi’s governing board, June Nagasawa, departed from the meeting without comment.

The commission plans a forensic audit of the school financial records, said commission Chairwoman Catherine Payne after the meeting.

“We are asking the governing board to resign effective upon the appointment of a new governing board, which we will appoint in consultation with the school community,” she said.

The commission will offer the Kalihi school a new contract if there’s new leadership and a financial plan that projects enrollment of 225 students and repayment of debts. Without those conditions, the school will end, according to the commission vote.

The campus in 2013 ended a relationship with a contractor that provided online courses, and enrollment dropped by 50 students to just 183 at the start of the school year. The school had 169 students enrolled as of last week.

Allbrett and the school accounting consultant on Wednesday presented financial plans that relied on an increase in enrollment and a possible bailout from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to cover debt.

Parents, teachers and staff last week urgently requested that the commission keep the school open. They said it had helped Hawaii children through project-based learning infused with Hawaiian culture.


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