Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hawaii wants its tourists back, emergency funding, gambling bills at issue, Kauai to add garbage tax, maui praises wind farm, rail tranist lauded, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

Quiet Waikiki (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Online travel companies are appealing $170 million in assessments from the state in unpaid hotel occupancy taxes, but the Attorney General's Office says it intends to collect from several online travel companies including Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotwire.com. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is spending nearly $3 million to secure more flights to Hawaii, while reaching out to other untapped markets -- all in an effort to lessen the blow of the big decline expected in Japanese visitors. KITV4.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority will mount a $3-million-plus recovery plan to offset substantial losses related to the tsunami and earthquake in Japan and the radiation scare. Star-Advertiser.

The state Council on Revenues plans to hold a special meeting Tuesday to revisit its general fund forecast after this month’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake in Japan that is expected to have a drastic impact on state tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Officials with the Hawaii Tourism Authority on Wednesday laid out plans for a new recovery strategy to offset more than $200 million in anticipated losses from fewer Japanese visitors coming to the Islands. Pacific Business News

The preliminary Big Island price tag on damage from the March 11 tsunami is almost $14.2 million. Tribune-Herald.

A proposal that would allow events like the World Series of Poker to take place in a Hawaii hotel or resort was passed in two legislative committees Wednesday. KITV4.

Just when the public thought lawmakers had killed all forms of proposed-gambling in Hawaii there's a new proposal up for debate. KHON2.

A bill that would have given tax breaks to parents buying back-to-school supplies for their children has been gutted and replaced with language allowing internet poker games and poker tournaments in Hawaii. Hawaii Reporter.

Mauna Kea State Lands to be discussed at Hawaii Senate Committee. Big Island Video News.

An Oahu judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of the city of Honolulu in a lawsuit seeking to block the multi-billion dollar rail transit project. Hawaii News Now.

The good news for supporters of Honolulu’s rail project did not end at the courthouse Wednesday where Circuit Court Judge Gary Won Bae Chang dismissed a lawsuit that challenged construction of the $5.5 billion system. KHON4.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Wednesday pronounced Honolulu’s $5.5 billion rail transit project a model program, but sidestepped questions about how his agency would react if state lawmakers raided $200 million funding for the effort. Hawaii Reporter.

Starting July 1, the Kauai County will start charging a trash collection fee, which will be added to property tax bills. Garden Island.

Mayor Billy Kenoi is proposing that West Hawaii get a big chunk of county's capital improvement projects this year, a circumstance that likely reflects the region's rapid growth, solid tax base and developer contributions. West Hawaii Today.

Young girls in Hawaii are bought and sold as easily as pizza. Honolulu Weekly.

Building more affordable work force housing has been debated and studied for decades in Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

The giant turbines in the hills above Kahuku have been pumping power into Hawaiian Electric's grid since the middle of December with no hiccups. Hawaii News Now.

Maui planning commissioners Tuesday praised a proposed wind farm as a "wonderful, wonderful project" but raised doubts about getting the massive equipment to the remote location on the southwest flank of Haleakala between two sections of the Auwahi native plant restoration area. Maui News.

A month after denying a cell phone carrier a permit to install a 150-foot pole by Halfway Bridge on Kaumuali‘i Highway, the county Planning Commission on Wednesday granted Sprint/Nextel a request for reconsideration. Garden Island.

FACT CHECK — Abercrombie: I Helped Put 'Thousands' of Federal Employees Back to Work. Civil Beat.

The man who became inextricably linked to Hawaii's 1959 statehood as a grinning newsboy in an iconic photo has died. Associated Press.

Hawaii's legislative leaders have appointed members of a commission charged with redrawing district lines for elected state and federal lawmakers. Associated Press.