Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hawaii Legislature tackles sexting, e-cigarettes, porn sites, homeless, health insurance, pension plan; Honolulu rail battles continue, frisk-free airline travel, federal money for Kona pier and more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Iconic Royal Hawaiian hotel (c) 2012 All Hawaii News

Hawaii's hotel room revenue in 2011 was the highest since 2007, according to a report that tourism industry consultants released Wednesday. Associated Press.

A bill that would ban the sale of smokeless electronic cigarettes to minors and impose the 70% tobacco tax on the devices was briskly debated at the state Legislature on Wednesday. Hawaii Reporter.

Senate's sexting bill prohibits adults from asking minors for nude pictures and it would also outlaw minors from sending nude pictures of themselves to adults or other kids. Hawaii News Now.

House lawmakers deferred action Wednesday on the Abercrombie administration's proposed ceded lands settlement with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, saying they would wait for the Senate version of the bill. Star-Advertiser.

Homelessness has been one of the top Legislative priorities over the last 3 sessions. Wednesday, a House bill on homelessness was heard by a Joint Committee and underwent major revisions based on recommendations by the administration. Hawaii Public Radio.

Despite opposition from public-sector unions, a Senate committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would cap the amount of overtime used in calculating pensions for public workers whose non-base pay jumps substantially near the end of their careers. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie may cut short the term of his latest appointment to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, raising serious questions about the quasi-judicial body’s ability to act independently of gubernatorial influence. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono
More than a quarter of Rep. Mazie Hirono's individual contributions for her U.S. Senate race were for $200 or less, according to an analysis of her campaign finance report for the fourth quarter of 2011. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. on Wednesday reported a profit of $138.2 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, for 2011, a 22 percent increase from net income of $113.5 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, in 2010. Pacific Business News.

The President of the University of Hawaii System is asking for the state legislature to get involved in a fight against an adult site – “universityofhawaii.xxx” Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii's largest medical insurance provider is promoting two new measures to help bring down medical costs, a move company officials say may also help bring down premiums — eventually. West Hawaii Today.

The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has issued an alert to its members regarding the upcoming hearing of a bill mandating employers of all sizes to provide minimum paid sick and safe leave. Maui Now.

A bill that would regulate music therapy licensing in the state is moving through the Hawai‘i Legislature after the House Culture and Arts Committee unanimously recommended passage of the bill on Monday. Garden Island.

The CH-53D Sea Stallion Helicopter has seen over 4 decades of combat dating back to the Vietnam war in 1969.  But, this week will mark the end of the aircrafts long run of service. KHON2.

Attorneys are scheduled to deliver closing arguments in the court-martial of a Hawaii-based Marine sergeant accused of hazing a lance corporal who later committed suicide. Associated Press.

State roundup for Feb. 9. Associated Press.

Oahu

A new federal passenger screening program, which began at seven airports in October, is being expanded to Honolulu and 27 other major U.S. airports this year. Star-Advertiser.

The federal government this week authorized nearly $185 million in construction on Honolulu's planned 20-mile rail line, but the city so far hasn't been given the green light to start erecting the concrete guideway that will sit atop the support columns it can now begin building. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi (District 5) is questioning why the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit board launched a city taxpayer sponsored radio blitz promoting the planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel Honolulu rail project. Hawaii Reporter.

Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang wants the city to adopt a standardized system for rating city roads. KHON2.

Hawaii

Almost $1.1 million in federal emergency funds is headed to Hawaii County to cover repairs to the Kailua Pier damaged by the March 11 tsunami. West Hawaii Today.

The County Council hasn't held meetings on the west side of the island since November, despite the new $50.5 million West Hawaii Civic Center that was supposed to make public access easier. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Members of Maui's gay and lesbian community applauded an appeals court ruling declaring California's gay marriage ban unconstitutional and called the decision another step toward marriage equality for everyone. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s controversial decision to introduce smart meter energy readers took center stage at Kaua‘i County Council chambers in Lihu‘e Wednesday following a presentation from KIUC CEO Mike Yamane, who said the co-op has been looking at this technology since 2005. Garden Island.