Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Abercrombie, NFL skirmish over Pro Bowl, Hawaii lawmakers tackle minimum wage, open meetings, political commmittees, pension fund, GOP seeks candidate for Congress, Honolulu mulls property taxes, Kona coffee labeling proposed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian monk seal, NOAA courtesy photo
A proposal to expand federal protections for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal is facing major push back from the state. Civil Beat.

A bill moving through the state Legislature could increase Hawaii's minimum wage for the first time since 2007, but opinions are mixed as to whether elevating the wage floor would help or hinder Hawaii's economic recovery. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie compared Pro Bowl negotiations to having a gun held to the state's head by the NFL, but later said, "We would like to continue to have (the game) and we're going to do everything we can to make sure that comes about in a fashion that will make everybody very, very happy." Star-Advertiser.

NFL flags Hawaii governor’s Pro Bowl comments . Pacific Business News.

Governor Neil Abercrombie made a surprise visit to the NFL’s Pro Bowl kickoff news conference to speak glowingly about the relationship between Hawaii and the NFL, after criticizing NFL owners earlier in the day. KITV4.

Hawaii political committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of campaign money would be required to disclose the candidates their expenditures are attacking or supporting under a proposal moving through the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are entertaining amendments to the state Sunshine Law to allow board members to attend public meetings, community events and professional association conferences without violating the open meetings law. Associated Press.

Lawmakers will be briefed on the state of the Race to the Top program on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Electric Co., and its subsidiaries on Maui and the Big Island, would no longer be allowed to generate electricity if they wished to sell it under a proposed bill from Rep. Denny Coffman. West Hawaii Today.

A Hollywood hit is shining the spotlight on Hawaii's film industry. "The Descendants," which was shot in Hawaii, has captured five Oscar nominations. Lawmakers hope to cash in on the movie's success by attracting new productions to the islands. Hawaii News Now.

A recent report shows that Hawaii's public pension fund ranked at the bottom among comparable funds for its investment returns over the past decade. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Human Services says it has introduced a new food stamps benefits processing system to address an applications backlog. Associated Press.

House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Shan Tsutsui said yesterday they are opposed to tax increases even though the State Council on Revenue lowered its state revenue projects by $130 million. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii GOP Still Looking For CD2 Candidate. Civil Beat.

Obama's Blueprint for Energy, Defense Could Mean Jobs in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

State roundup for Jan. 25. Associated Press.

Oahu

The City Council might consider reforms of some property tax exemptions, but reducing or eliminating the standard exemption for Oahu's 144,000 homeowners would be a tough sell to the public in an election year, the Council's budget chairwoman says. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee conducted a special public hearing yesterday on a controversial recommendation by an Advisory Commission to repeal nearly all of the property tax exemptions for O’ahu owners. Hawaii Public Radio.

Gambling proponents are eyeing the convention center as a possible venue to allow gaming in the state. KITV4.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle likely will seek Honolulu City Council approval for a "contingency plan" to raise additional funding for the Honolulu rail project if that becomes necessary. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Zoo is under fire over the entrance fee it charges students on school field trips. KHON2.

Hawaii

A group of Kona coffee growers hopes legislators pass a bill that would require businesses to more thoroughly describe the contents of coffee sold in Hawaii -- a change that critics claim would increase the price. Star-Advertiser.

American Motorists Insurance Co. will pay $12.5 million to Hawaii County as part of a proposed settlement agreement a series of lawsuits regarding the stalled Hokulia development. West Hawaii Today.

The jobs are coming back, but so are the job-seekers. Tribune-Herald.

Farmers, agricultural experts and educators gathered Tuesday in Hilo to help map the future of Hawaii's agricultural industry and attract workers needed to run it. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Board of Education cleared the way Tuesday for the Laupahoehoe charter school to open its doors in July.  Tribune-Herald.

The state Board of Education overruled the Charter School Review Panel for a second time Tuesday and ordered that Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School open as a charter school for the 2012-13 academic year. Star-Advertiser.

Maui
A standing room only crowd gathered at the Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria on Maui for an evening meeting on Monday to discuss runway rehabilitation options at the Kahului Airport. Maui Now.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations announced today that the non-seasonally adjusted annual unemployment rate for Maui County in December was 7.3% for 2011, down from 7.4% in December 2010. Maui Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie received praise Monday for supporting an extension of television and film production tax credits, alternative energy development and investment in the state's building projects in his State of the State address. Maui News.

Kauai

A Kaua‘i native who prepared oral arguments for the U.S. Supreme Court last November was very pleased to see a unanimous decision in his favor on Monday. Garden Island.

After Jan. 29, Red Box kiosks will be the only way for Kaua‘i movie lovers to grab a last-minute new release on the go. Garden Island.