Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hawaii Legislature opens to budget challenge, Hawaii County mayor signs bag ban bill, prison reforms could save money, OT killing pension plan, Honolulu Zoo needs more space for elephants, teachers union faces contract ratification, Kauai's Coco Palms in tatters, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Capitol (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
The state Legislature plans a low-key opening day today while lawmakers look ahead to serious issues facing them during the 2012 session, such as economic recovery plans, job growth and funding for medical services. Associated Press.

State lawmakers will open a new session of the state Legislature this morning with brief speeches and little other fanfare, as they take a no-frills approach given the state's uncertain economic recovery. Star-Advertiser.

This time last year, lawmakers and the Abercrombie administration were scrambling for ways to shore up a nearly $850 million deficit that eventually swelled to $1.3 billion. Civil Beat.

Members of the Senate Majority Caucus unveiled their priorities today for the 2012 Legislative Session. Maui Now.

The board that oversees Hawaii's retirement system for state and county workers is unanimously backing a proposal to limit the amount of overtime and other nonbase pay used to calculate pensions for all employees, not just future hires. Star-Advertiser.

A proposal to reform overtime rules for Hawaii public pensions didn't get any blowback Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs saw their paychecks go up at the start of the current fiscal year — their third consecutive annual raise. Civil Beat.

The state could save more than $108 million over six years and eliminate the need to send prisoners to the mainland, according to an independent study that seeks to make Hawaii's criminal justice system more efficient. Star-Advertiser.

A national non-partisan research and policy analysis group completed a 7-month study of Hawai’i’s Criminal Justice System today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Proposed changes to Hawaii’s criminal justice system that would speed the release of numerous accused and convicted criminals from jails and prisons were outlined today at the state Capitol. Hawaii Reporter.

The Army will keep its force level about the same in Asia and the Pacific as the service looks to make cuts elsewhere, the chief of staff of the Army said. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission and the chief elections officer filed a motion for reconsideration on January 13, asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to review its January 6 ruling, which said the commission’s redistricting plan is “constitutionally invalid.” Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association has vowed to withdraw its labor case against the state if teachers ratify a collective bargaining agreement reached earlier this month. Civil Beat.

As teachers prepare to vote Thursday on a proposed six-year contract, some are troubled about the deal, which includes a move in July 2013 to a performance-based compensation system that rewards "effective" teachers with raises. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's public school teachers are doing some math to figure out if their six-year tentative agreement adds up to a better deal than the state's imposed contract. Hawaii News Now.

The head of Hawaii's public schools is hopeful a new contract with teachers will be enough to remove Hawaii off the "high risk" list for Race for The Top grant money. KITV4.

On Thursday afternoon, Hawaii's public school teachers will head to polling sites across the state to vote on a new contract. KHON2.

The University of Hawaii wants an extra $15 million from the Legislature, in part for exceeding most of its performance goals. Civil Beat.

State roundup for January 18. Associated Press.

Oahu

An Oahu boat harbor damaged by the tsunami spawned by the March 11 earthquake in Japan will be getting more than $1.4 million in repairs. KHON2.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority is moving ahead on a long-stalled retail and residential high rise planned for the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue. Pacific Business News.

Honolulu Zoo took the No. 10 spot at In Defense of Animals' 2011 list of the "10 Worst Zoos for Elephants" on Monday. KITV4.

Hawaii

Hawaii County on Tuesday became the third county in the state to ban plastic bags at the retail checkout, when Mayor Billy Kenoi signed a bill putting the process into motion. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County has joined its two Neighbor Island counterparts in outlawing businesses' long-standing practice of providing free plastic shopping bags at the checkout line. Tribune-Herald.

Alternative building materials, such as structural bamboo, rammed earth and straw bales, have found a place in the international building code and the building codes of Hawaii and many other states. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Board of Education has given itself one week to issue a decision concerning the disagreement between Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School and its state oversight panel, which has said it intends to delay the opening of the school. Tribune-Herald.

A $5 million to $10 million roadway project on Kaiminani Drive could get under way by the second half of this year, the project's manager said. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

More than two dozen Hana residents reacted with enthusiasm and hope in helping shape an income initiative aimed at improving the economic well-being of Native Hawaiians in the area. Maui Now.

Lindsey says she’s set to be sworn in for OHA vacancy. Maui News.

Isle couple sue lender, cite unfair, deceptive practices. Maui News.

Kauai

One of Hawai‘i’s more cherished landmarks, Coco Palms Resort in Wailua, has gone from hero to villain in the last 20 years. Garden Island.

PAHIO Development announced Tuesday that asbestos mitigation activities will begin this month at Lihu‘e Sugar Mill, to be followed by the mill’s demolition, tentatively scheduled Feb. 20. Garden Island.

Molokai

The U.S. Coast Guard has established a temporary security zone for when an American Safari Cruises tour returns to Molokai this weekend. Associated Press.