Protecting minors from smoky cars

LIHUE — The fate of an amendment to a bill that would prohibit smoking in cars with minors could be settled Wednesday.

When the Kauai County Council meets, it is expected to make a decision on amending Bill No. 2629, which would make it illegal for adults to smoke in a car if they are riding with keiki under the age of 18.

The bill — which also prohibits smoking in restaurants, elevators, lobbies, museums, restrooms and galleries — was recommended for approval by the Public Safety Committee.

Supporters of the bill say they are giving children a voice because they don’t have a say in where and how they are transported.

The council agreed with the intent of the bill, saying something needs to be done to protect children. But Mel Rapozo, council chair, voiced concerns last Wednesday about the bill pertaining to teenagers.

“Does a 16- or 17-year-old have the choice not to be in a car with someone smoking? Absolutely,” he said. “So at what point do we say, ‘Let teenagers make their own choice’?”

The council is expected to hash out those and other concerns — like private versus public space and enforcement — before making their final decision.

Also on Wednesday, the council will discuss several resolutions.

One seeks to allow voters to decide how to pay for $100 million in backlogged road repair projects.

Originally, the county planned to pay for those projects with an increase in the general excise tax. But in May, the council voted 4-3 against the proposed half-cent increase, saying it would have a negative impact on the less fortunate community.

So a resolution was introduced by Councilman KipuKai Kuali’i in an effort to generate money to get the projects going.

If passed, the resolution would create a county roads resurfacing/reconstruction fund. According to the resolution, 1 percent of the annual real property tax and 6 percent of the annual transient accommodation tax will go into the fund for a period of 20 years. The monies generated will not be used for any other purpose, and any remaining balance after 20 years will be transferred back into the general fund.

Councilmembers are expected to have a discussion to approve a bus stop along Kawaihau Road in Kapahi.

The resolution was put on the agenda after Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer, recommended a bus stop be placed about 205 feet west of Awa’a Place.


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