Thursday, February 16, 2012

Watershed protection advances, sweet soft drink tax killed, rentals limited at Oahua beaches, Honolulu Council mulls plastic bag ban, UH settles data breach lawsuit, Hawaii Island may declare food emergency, family of murdered inmate files lawsuit, Kauai students want free bus, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Waipio Valley watershed (c) 2012 All Hawaii News


There are more than 60 bills relating to natural forest watershed protection before the State Legislature this session. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Senate Health Committee shelved a bill Wednesday that would have imposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, and the syrup and powder used to make them, in an effort to combat childhood obesity. Star-Advertiser.

House Speaker Calvin Say is raising the ire of environmental activists by sidestepping normal legislative procedures on a bill they think would weaken environmental protection in the state. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s newspapers will continue collecting some $1 million for at least another year to print government legal notices, according to the state’s Chief Information Officer. Hawaii Reporter.

The foreclosure count for January was the highest since June, it was still 34 percent below the 985 cases filed in January 2011, suggesting that Hawaii's new foreclosure mediation is still having a dampening effect and providing relief to troubled borrowers. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority approved a 5 percent increase for executive director Tony Ching at a time when other state officials are subject to a 5 percent salary cut because of tight fiscal times. Civil Beat.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii announced a lawsuit this morning against the state and a private prison company for the murder of a Hawaiian inmate in Arizona in 2010. Hawaii Independent.

Bronson Nunuha's family filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state and its contractor, Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America, alleging understaffing and their failure to protect Nunuha, who was killed by fellow inmates on Feb. 18, 2010, in a CCA prison in Eloy, Ariz. Star-Advertiser.

A state judge has approved a $9 million settlement between Bank of Hawaii and 160,000 customers in a class-action lawsuit over improper overdraft charges. Associated Press.

A judge has approved the University of Hawaii's settlement over a major data breach involving thousands of students, faculty, alumni and employees. Hawaii News Now.

The state Reapportionment Commission expects to finalize new political boundaries for state House and Senate offices by the end of the month. Star-Advertiser.

A new attempt to redraw political boundaries drew opposition at the unveiling of the new election maps. KITV4.

Norwegian Cruise Line agreed to pay $526,602 in back wages to 2,059 employees in Hawaii after a federal labor investigation found that the company had violated minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions for employees on the Pride of America cruise ship. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for Feb. 16. Associated Press.

Oahu

Seeking to curb increasing commercial activity at two of Kailua's most popular beach parks, the Honolulu City Council Wednesday approved a ban on such enterprises at Kailua Beach Park and Kalama Beach on Sundays and most of Saturdays. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would ban the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags passed the first of three required votes at the City Council Wednesday. KHON2.

The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday voted to approve the Waianae Sustainable Communities Plan with the controversial "purple spot" of light industrial zoning in Lualualei Valley inside it. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has pledged to improve a staffing shortage which resulted in just one inspector left working in the field to test the accuracy of thousands of gas pumps, supermarket check-out scanners and taxi meters on Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

The Seaside Hotel in Waikiki is about to change hands with the pending sale of the 1970s-era building from owner United Airlines to an unnamed buyer. Pacific Business News.

A killer monk seal named KE18 is expected to return to Hawaii and spend his days at Sea Life Park outside Honolulu, one of just four institutions authorized to house Hawaiian monk seals. Associated Press.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council will likely declare an emergency in order to give money to the Food Basket. West Hawaii Today.

A 10-day-long effort to gather 100,000 pounds of food for the island's only food bank reached its goal, but the "tremendous" increase in demand for food remains and the call for help is continuous, said Nani Lee, executive director of The Food Basket. West Hawaii Today.

Native Hawaiian homesteaders owe more than $1.6 million in back property taxes, penalties and interest that Hawaii County needs but is virtually powerless to collect. Tribune-Herald.

Waimea Middle School officials have scheduled a community meeting for tonight to discuss the departure of Principal John Colson. Tribune-Herald.

Maui


After years of planning and funding delays, the Kahului Airport access road and parking lot expansion projects have money lined up to start construction in mid-2013. Maui News.

Maui County Council members on Friday deferred a proposal that would require house lots on agricultural land to be taxed the same way as any other residential property. Maui News.

The EA Sports Maui Invitational brought more than 5,000 visitors, including college basketball fans, coaches, players and sports media, to the Valley Isle and generated $8.1 million for the island's economy, according to an announcement from KemperLesnik, operator of the annual tournament hosted by Chaminade University. Maui News.

Kauai

A group of Kaua‘i Community College students rode The Kaua‘i Bus from their campus in Puhi to urge the Kaua‘i County Council to continue the island’s free bus fare program for students. Garden Island.

About 50 people gathered at the Hanalei School cafeteria Wednesday evening for the first of five forums featuring candidates for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved on first reading Resolution 2012-22 calling for the following ballot question to be added to the November elections: “Shall the terms “must” and “shall,” when used in the Kaua‘i County Charter, be interpreted as mandatory directives and shall the term “may,” when used in the Kaua‘i County Charter, be interpreted as permissive?” Garden Island.

The deadline to submit an application for a seat on the Kaua'i County Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission has been extended to March 2. KHON2.


Molokai

A product being sold as incense on Molokai is causing concern, especially for its possible abuse among students and teens who are reportedly smoking it. Known as Spice, K2, herbal incense and other names, the substance, legal in Hawaii, is classified as synthetic cannabis and is chemically blended with herbs. Molokai Dispatch.