Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Superferry may return, more government jobs may be lost, bar owners want smoking back, more news

If you thought the Hawaii Superferry issue was gone, you may be wrong.

The House Transportation Committee approved a bill yesterday to study a state-sponsored ferry system that would be able to buy at least one high-speed vessel to carry passengers and vehicles between the islands

The Army said it plans to look at the environmental impact of basing up to three "joint high-speed vessels" in Pearl Harbor — speedy craft capable of carrying large loads, similar to the defunct Hawaii Superferry's ships.

More than 200 state workers who process applications for government assistance programs could lose their jobs, their union said, and at least 50 eligibility offices statewide could close under a cost-cutting proposal that advocates are worried will make it harder for the poor to access key social services.

Hawaii's largest government worker union says up to 400 people could be on the chopping block and 60 offices may shut down.

State legislators are reviewing bills that would require a minimum of instructional hours or days in Hawaii public schools as they look to restore school days lost because of budget cuts.

A group of bar owners is asking for an exemption from the state's three-year-old workplace smoking ban.

In another sign of hard times, residents have been without a place to swim in Lanai City since landowner Castle and Cooke Resorts closed the island's only public pool nine months ago.

Construction has begun at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands near Kekaha on an Advanced Radar Detection Laboratory facility