Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Green light for Honolulu rail, state overpays employees $1.5M, Abercrombie answers civil unions legal challenge, Legislature considers gambling, farmers markets, land deals, building codes, more Hawaii news for smartphone and web

Honolulu rail transit artist's depiction courtesy image



The federal government has granted a key approval that will allow Honolulu to immediately begin up to $184.7 million in construction and other activities on the city's rail project, including erecting the first sections of raised guideway from East Kapolei to Pearl Highlands. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu on Monday got a key green light from the Federal Transit Administration and could start to spend $185 million of local tax dollars on heavy construction for the rail project within weeks. Civil Beat.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle trails Hawaii's incumbent senators when it comes to local individual contributions but is in the middle of the pack, just under Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, when it comes to overall contributions, including political action committees. Civil Beat.


The Abercrombie administration is preparing a response to a federal lawsuit challenging the state's civil unions law as unconstitutional because it does not allow same-sex couples to marry, searching for a line that balances both the law and politics. Star-Advertiser.

Some Hawaii lawmakers want to give the governor more power in appointing members to the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents, picking up a political debate started last year after the Senate rejected two of his nominees. Civil Beat.

The state has overpaid its employees more than $1.5 million, with hundreds of thousands more in state tax dollars written off as noncollectable and other incorrect pay amounts recovered months or years later from employees who were accidentally paid too much. Hawaii News Now.

A bill moving through the state Legislature will take out what many consider the more onerous sections of the state building code and give counties more flexibility in defining their own codes. West Hawaii Today.

A parent's failure to report the death or disappearance of a child would become a felony under a bill before the state Legislature. Associated Press.

Several Molokai residents and University of Hawaii students assembled a stone platform with a wooden statue known as a "ki`i" on the grounds of the state Capitol today to bring attention to legislative bills that would require the labeling of genetically modified food in Hawaii stores. Star-Advertiser.

A small group of advocates from Molokai flew over to Oahu today to clean, sand and oil a Haloa Ki’i. Maui Now.

Some farmers say Hawaii's farmers markets are too restrictive and they want state lawmakers to change the rules. Hawaii Public Radio.

Almost 30 gambling bills are still up for consideration by state legislators, ranging from stand alone casinos, lotteries, and internet gambling. lawmakers are floating the ideas to raise much needed revenues for the state. A professor who has studied the effects of gambling across the country says it's a big mistake. KHON2.

Last year was a big year for Hawaii’s cruise ship industry, with 124,456 cruise ship visitors coming to the Islands and spending a collective $34 million. Pacific Business News.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and two Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees urged lawmakers Monday to approve a $200 million real estate deal that would settle the department's longstanding ceded lands claims with the state. Associated Press.

A proposal to transfer about 25 acres in Kakaako worth $200 million to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to settle long-standing ceded lands claims does not do enough to empower the Native Hawaiian people, a key senator contends. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Neil Abercrombie made a personal appeal to legislators this morning to pass his administration’s proposal for a land transfer to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that would permanently resolve a decades-long dispute over ceded lands. Hawaii Reporter.

The Advisory Council to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is recommending that the sanctuary consider expanding its focus from humpback whales and their habitat to the ecosystem as a whole. Maui Now.

The University of Hawaii is demanding the operator of a pornographic web site stop using the school's name or face legal action. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for Feb. 7. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Kapiolani Park Preservation Society said it does not support a Honolulu City Council bill that would double parking meter rates at public parks that include Kapiolani and Aala. KITV4.

Honolulu city workers have cleared a sofa, a bicycle and other personal items from the Occupy Honolulu camp at Thomas Square. Associated Press.

Casting for a new ABC pilot series "Last Resort" will be held on Hawaii. KITV4.

Hawaii

A mainland company is a step away from securing a 30-year lease to test ocean thermal energy conversion in West Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

The increasing popularity of solar panels will mean higher electricity bills for the majority of Big Island residents who still rely on Hawaiian Electric Light Company for most of their power. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

An anonymous donation totaling $100,000 from a local foundation was issued to the Maui Oral Health Center for the acquisition of new dental chairs at the decade-old facility. Maui Now.

Kauai


Kaua‘i County will fund an additional nine local tourism initiatives this year in addition to the 20 the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority will support, county officials said Monday. Garden Island.

A new 500,000-gallon county Department of Water tank will expand water service to users in the Lawa‘i and Oma‘o communities of Kaua‘i, Daryl Kaneshiro, the Department of Water Board chair, said Monday at a dedication of the new equipment. Garden Island.

Molokai

The owner of a controversial excursion yacht to Molokai said he intends to keep bringing passengers to the island despite protests but also plans to implement conditions that he finds acceptable from an ongoing community study. Maui News.