The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid - a two inch, glow in the dark creature - will have its moment in the spotlight tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, February 25. The Senate's Committee on Technology and the Arts (TEC) will hear a bill designating vibrio fischeri as Hawaii's official microbe.
Vibrio fischeri is a bacteria which lives in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, giving the animal the power to produce bioluminescence, or light from a living organism. The squid is endemic to Hawaii and hunts at night on reef flats. However, moonlight casts a shadow onto the sea floor, which alerts predators to the squid's presence. To counter this effect, the Hawaiian bobtail squid cultures vibrio fischeri in a special light-emitting organ, which allows it to become stealthy by projecting light that minimizes the dark shadow of its body.
The study of this chemical reaction has numerous medical and practical applications, such as testing for toxic compounds in water.
"We anticipate having a State Microbe will ignite interest in science for our kids. What could be more appropriate than a bacteria that creates a glowing blue squid that thrives just off our shores," says Sen. Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the TEC Committee, "With 70% of our planet covered in water, it makes perfect sense to have Hawaii's microbe tied to the ocean."
What: Hearing on SB 3124, designating a State Microbe
When: 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, February 25
Where: Capitol, room 414
More information on the bill can be found by clicking here.
Click here to view a very easy to understand video about the squid's abilities.
Click here for a picture of the glowing blue squid.
Oregon became the first state to have an official microbe. Lawmakers there designated saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as "brewer's yeast" as its state microbe due to its importance to Oregon's beer and winemaking industries. Wisconsin has attempted to turn lactococcus lactis into its official microbe, in recognition of its role in creating cheese.
Beginning this legislative session, all Hawaii residents will now have the chance to testify at hearings before the Senate Committees on Education (EDU) and Technology and the Arts (TEC) without physically being there. In January 2013, the Senate began a pilot project to allow neighbor island residents the opportunity to participate in the legislative process without traveling to Oahu. Understanding that access is also a barrier for Oahu residents, the committees will now pilot the videoconferencing technology statewide.
"Ensuring access and citizen and stakeholder participation is especially important when it comes to issues dealing with public education and our schools," said Senator Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. "Expanding our use of this type of technology to connect people with policymakers will only strengthen and enhance the quality of legislation produced."
The Hawaii State Senate will launch its Statewide Videoconferencing Pilot Program beginning with the Senate Committee on Education's first hearing on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:15 p.m. and continue with hearings from both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts throughout the 2014 Legislative Session.
"It's not uncommon for people to have to sit through a two-hour hearing just to speak for one minute on one measure," added Senator Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate Technology and Arts Committee. "If we can reduce the barriers to civic engagement by reducing the cost and time people spend to voice their concerns, we are on our way to creating a better Hawaii."
In its inaugural year, the Neighbor Island Videoconferencing Program was piloted by the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Technology and the Arts. In its second year, the two committees will continue to pilot this project, increasing the amount of constituents that can be reached and who can testify by expanding statewide. Hearing notices for the pilot project hearings will indicate that videoconferencing testimony will be allowed and contain a link to instructions for the public on how to participate. Because this is a pilot project, there are some limitations to how many individuals are able to participate. Following the completion of the legislative session, the project will be evaluated.
During Monday's Senate Education Committee, lawmakers will take up two measures that address air conditioning in schools. The bills call for the creation of a master strategic plan for the cooling of public schools.
For more information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit testimony and/or participate via videoconferencing or in person, please refer to the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU_01-27-14_.HTM
View the news release.
Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law a measure to enhance government transparency and accountability in Hawaii through increasing public awareness and access to open data.
House Bill (HB) 632, relating to open data, requires the State's Executive Branch departments to make electronic data sets available to the public.
"Here is an example of how ONE excellent idea, turned into ONE bill, which resulted in ONE significant policy change," says Senator Glenn Wakai, Chairman of the Technology and Arts Committee, "If we are going to reinvent government, step ONE is Open Data. Having data available to the public will lead to a more responsive and more accountable government."
Open data has been a top initiative of the State's Chief Information Officer (CIO). In August of 2012 the State launched its open data site, data.hawaii.gov, with data sets being voluntarily provided by departments and agencies. The site incorporates data that is readily available in digital format and commonly requested by the public. The intent of this measure is to continue and ensure the open data efforts of the CIO in the multi-year, multi-phased program open data initiative.
The CIO, in consultation with the Office of Information Practices, will develop policies and procedures to implement the open data program initiative. View the media release.
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