Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New prisons slated for Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, rental properties face new fees, state bank, charter schools up for votes today, pay raises for union workers, volcano draws tourists, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Halawa Correctional Facility
The state Department of Public Safety wants to bring back to Hawaii all of its inmates on the mainland by reducing the in-state prison population by about 1,100 and building about 900 new spaces for them on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. Star-Advertiser.

If all goes as planned, officials from the Hawaii Department of Public Safety predict that 1,000 local prisoners incarcerated in two Arizona prisons could be home by 2015. Civil Beat.

The other shoe dropped today in the state’s plan to bring all Mainland prison inmates back to Hawaii by 2015: construction of new prison facilities on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island to hold some 900 inmates. Hawaii Reporter.

Aging facilities and a lack of bed space require Hawaii to house almost 1,800 of its 6,000 inmates in Arizona prisons. Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration and the state Legislature want the prisoners returned to Hawaii.Associated Press

Owners of vacation rental properties in Hawaii are rallying support to defeat several bills they say would add thousands of dollars a year to the cost of renting out their places. Civil Beat.

About 1,250 state workers will have their pay restored by 5 percent as of this Thursday, March 1. KHON2.

A bill to overhaul Hawaii's charter school system is up for a vote today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, after legislators were urged to make changes in view of turmoil on a few charter campuses. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii House Democrats are considering whether to form a state bank. Hawaii Reporter.

A University of Hawaii scientist said he expects heavy debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to reach small atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands within a few months and the main Hawaiian Islands in about a year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii teachers in schools targeted by Race to the Top reforms approved an agreement for extended learning time, a key element of a $75 million grant that the U.S. Department of Education has said is at risk of being lost. Tribune-Herald.

Teachers can now apply to transfer to or from 19 schools that will offer longer instructional days and more teacher training next school year. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would require a permit to harvest sandalwood and any other native tree species deemed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to be "of concern," cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday morning. West Hawaii Today.

Industrial employment in Hawaii grew by a half-percent last year, according to a trade publisher’s report released Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for Feb. 29. Associated Press.

Oahu

The fight over a master planned community in Ewa that would displace more than 1,000 acres of prime agricultural land pits two former Democratic governors against Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Civil Beat.

More than 300 rail supporters chanted, "Go rail go!" outside a meeting discussing alternatives to Honolulu's rail project. Most of them came from unions touting the jobs the project will create. Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell
The Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers announced their endorsement Tuesday of Kirk Caldwell for mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. KITV4.

As general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Daniel Grabauskas was in charge of the nation's oldest and fifth-largest public transit system. Now, he's poised to take the helm of one of the nation's newest rail systems as CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. Civil Beat.

Sunday marks the long anticipated debut of the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra. Hawaii Public Radio.

A 400-foot residential tower is planned for the corner of Kapiolani and Ward Avenue. KITV4.

Hawaii

Mayor Billy Kenoi's upcoming budget, to be unveiled Thursday, will reflect property value revenues at their lowest level since he took office in late 2008. West Hawaii Today.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park attracted more than 1.3 million visitors who spent more than $88.2 million in 2010, according to a new National Park Service report. Pacific Business News.

A newly released study commissioned by the National Park Service shows that visitors to the four national parks and historical sites on the Big Island spent an estimated $122 million in the parks and surrounding local communities in 2010. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County is taking the plunge into electric and plug-in hybrid cars. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

After months of discussion and debate, the Maui County Council's Planning Committee advanced a bill to regulate short-term rentals Monday, voting 6-1 to recommend passage by the full council. Maui News.

A proposal to mandate a merger between the Maui County Fire Department and the county's Division of Ocean Safety was tabled Monday by the Charter Commission. Maui News.

New Flood Maps May Mean Higher Flood Insurance. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee passed a resolution Tuesday urging Grove Farm Co. to consider a "win-win solution" to sell Koloa Camp land to tenants facing eviction on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

Although smart meters were not on the agenda for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors meeting Tuesday, it was a topic of much discussion. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and Police Chief Darryl Perry met on Monday night, a spokeswoman for the county confirmed Tuesday, but she offered no details about the meeting. Garden Island.

Kauai's Department of Parks and Recreation began pumping the storm water Tuesday that accumulated in the Poipu Beach parking lot following last weekend’s heavy rain. KITV4.