Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counties face loss of HI-5 grants, Hawaii state auditor Higa retiring, shipping fees jump, UH biosafety lab scrutinized, charter school employees must follow state ethics, Kauai coral study continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii recycling center (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Despite bringing in an extra $4.5 million annually from a hike in the beverage container fee, the state Department of Health has put the counties on notice that they won’t be getting money back for their HI-5 programs next year. West Hawaii Today.

After 21 years, Marion Higa will retire as state auditor at the end of December. Hawaii News Now.

On Jan. 1, the cost to ship goods to and from Hawaii on the state's largest ocean cargo transportation firm will rise. Matson Inc. announced Wednesday that rates will increase by $175 for each westbound container and $85 for each eastbound container. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tax Review Commission will recommend that Hawaii create its own version of the Simpson-Bowles fiscal responsibility and reform commission to address a projected multi-billion dollar budget shortfall that is anticipated in the next decade. Civil Beat.

Public school teacher protests over contracts are mounting as the Department of Education nears another important milestone in school reform. KHON2.

The state of Hawai‘i continues to move steadily toward its goal of aligning with the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010 to provide cheaper and simpler health insurance choices to residents, after beating by two weeks the deadline to submit to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a blueprint application for a state-based health insurance exchange. Garden Island.

It took four months, but a predicted surge in new Hawaii foreclosure cases emerged in October as more law firms and mortgage lenders adjusted to the latest overhaul of a state foreclosure law enacted in June. Star-Advertiser.

State briefs 11/29. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu City Councilmembers were provided a financial update on the 5.2 billion dollar rail transit project today.    As HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports … although the construction was suspended three months ago … millions are still being spent on the project due to contractor delay claims. Hawaii Public Radio.

Some members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents are skeptical about whether the $2.2 million operating costs of a biosafety lab planned for Kalaeloa will benefit the state. Star-Advertiser.

A plot of land the University of Hawaii thought it was leasing for a dollar a year will now cost more than $200,000 a year. Hawaii News Now.

A key prosecution witness in the federal extortion case against former Honolulu police Maj. Carlton Nishimura will remain in custody after her arrest Friday at Honolulu Airport on a charge of possessing methamphetamine.Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents approved on Wednesday a $32 million sale of land next to UH-West Oahu to the Roman Catholic Church, which plans to build a church and a private school that one regent called "Maryknoll West." Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
The outgoing members of the Hawaii County Council will sit together for one final time Monday morning in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Carbon LLC, which spent some $50 million to build a biomass plant to turn Hawaii-grown macadamia nut shells into granulated activated carbon, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Pacific Business News.

The state Ethics Commission ruled in Hilo this week that Hawaii charter school employees are subject to the same ethics rules as any other state employee. Tribune-Herald.

If there was ever any doubt about whether a charter school employee works for the state, that issue was put to rest this week. Civil Beat.

Big Island police and federal agents on Wednesday arrested eight people in connection with an alleged illegal gambling and sports betting operation in Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The planned Olowalu Town development continues to be a hot-button issue as the Maui County Council works toward adopting the Maui Island Plan to guide future growth over the next two decades. Maui News.

The Maui Planning Commission accepted a final environmental assessment Tuesday for CMBY Investment's proposed 86-acre, $20 million heavy industrial subdivision in Puunene. Maui News.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for a long-awaited high school in Kihei. Maui Now.

Starting Jan. 1, the Maui Bus will extend its Upcountry route from Pukalani to Rice Park. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai’s outgoing prosecuting attorney says she will move to reinstate criminal charges against county official Janine Rapozo. Hawaii Reporter.

A pair of scientists spent more than six hours in the waters off of ‘Anini Beach Wednesday as part of an ongoing coral disease study along Kauai‘i’s North Shore. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council landed a right hook against one of Hawai‘i’s most lethal and undetected killers, the hepatitis B virus. Garden Island.