Thursday, April 15, 2010

Business secrecy bill advances, Legislature sends fuel tax bill to governor, Save Our Schools ends protest, Hansen's disease settlement only land route blocked by mudslide, the band plays on and more Hawaii news

Listeners swayed and tapped toes to the rhythms of the Royal Hawaiian Band yesterday, enjoying a 174-year-old tradition of free music that some lawmakers say might be too costly to continue.

A proposal to keep thousands of complaints filed against Hawaii businesses secret has been resurrected by the legislature this year without one public hearing.

The state House and Senate yesterday gave final approval to an increase in the barrel tax and a measure to halt a state plan to close eligibility offices on the Neighbor Islands that help the poor.

A bill to drastically raise the state tax on a barrel of oil dribbled out of the Legislature yesterday, but faces an uncertain future.

Lawmakers have made a move to block streamlining and layoffs at the Department of Human Services

Pau. That's word from the group protesting school furloughs. Members of Save Our Schools Hawaii, or S.O.S., have been camping out at the governor's office since last Wednesday.

The past week of heavy rain created a mudslide and serious damage to a footbridge on the "pali trail," which forced the National Park Service on Tuesday afternoon to close the only land route to the Kalaupapa Hansen's disease settlement, which remains accessible by plane or boat.

Former Honolulu City Councilman John Henry Felix has agreed to pay a $50,000 administrative fine to settle claims that he violated campaign financing laws, the highest amount ever paid to the state Campaign Spending Commission by a political candidate.

Verizon Wireless recently submitted an application to the Hawaii County Planning Department for approval to build a 54-foot cell tower behind Parker Ranch Shopping Center in Waimea.

Sticking to his promise in 2008, shortly before leaving office because of term limits, former Maui County Council Chairman Riki Hokama is making his return to politics.

A brush fire Wednesday morning scorched some five acres of former sugarcane lands across from the old Kekaha sugar mill.