Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hawaii legislative session begins today, leadership changes, new lawmakers in the mix, voters oppose gay marriage, old Kauai sugar stack comes tumbling down, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

legislative session
Hawaii Legislature 2013 session calendar
Hawaii lawmakers were gearing up to address major issues that include the state budget, food and energy independence and education as the 2013 legislative session opens today. Associated Press.

After the 27th State Legislature convenes Wednesday, expect the state budget to dominate discussion. Hawaii News Now.

When the new session of the Legislature opens today, veteran Rep. Joseph Souki will take the gavel from Speaker Calvin Say on the strength of a dissident faction that has sought to remove Say for the past eight years. Star-Advertiser.

It's showtime for the band of former dissidents in the state House of Representatives who are finally taking the reins of power after years of battling outgoing Speaker Calvin Say for control of the House. Star-Advertiser.

Speaker-elect Joe Souki of Maui (District 8 – Wailuku, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Waikapu) announced today state House leadership positions and chair and vice-chair positions for the 2013 session. Maui Now.

Wednesday is the opening day of the legislative session and it could mark a new era in leadership. KHON2.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie this afternoon announced his appointment of Maui businessman Justin Woodson to fill the House seat vacancy created when Rep.Gil Keith-Agaran moved over to the Senate. Civil Beat.

Justin Woodson, owner of a Maui carwash and a former president of the Young Demo­crats of Hawaii, became the newest member of the state House Tuesday, on the eve of opening day of the 2013 Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

As the economy shows positive signs of recovery, this year’s Senate Opening Day ceremony will include remarks by presiding officers, local musicians and honored guests will be allowed to be seated on the chamber floor. Hawaii Reporter.

It was high fives all around following a meeting of the minds Tuesday, before the county mayors made their way downstairs to talk to state lawmakers about their priorities. KITV4.

In order to make the legislative process more open and participatory for the public, Common Cause Hawaii and 13 other community organizations have asked the Senate and House to consider implementing new rules and practices in the 2013 Legislative Session. Civil Beat.

Most Hawaii voters remain opposed to same-sex marriage in the state but support is growing, a new Civil Beat Poll shows. Civil Beat.

The teachers who organized the so-called "Work to the Rule" protests that spread to schools statewide will rally at the State Capitol Wednesday morning, urging lawmakers to consider legislation that the teachers' union says it does not support. Hawaii News Now.

Emboldened by the United Public Workers’ new deal, the Hawaii State Teachers Association wants the state to double down on its latest contract settlement offer. Civil Beat.

The Blue Planet Foundation said Tuesday that the existing state renewable energy tax credit, which has helped the solar photovoltaic industry reach new heights, provides a “significant net fiscal benefit to the state.” Pacific Business News.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen is questioning whether the Public Utilities Commission is properly regulating the cost of electricity in the state. Star-Advertiser.

A Joint State Senate Committee conducted an informational hearing today to receive an update on the implementation of provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s largest health insurance provider wants to deliver more support to its members over the next several years, the company’s new CEO said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Travel Technology Association, a trade organization that represents the nation’s top online travel companies including Amadeus, Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Priceline, Orbitz Worldwide, Travelocity, Travelport and Vegas.com, will fight a court ruling that orders them to pay millions of dollars in back state taxes for $2.7 billion in Hawaii hotel room sales. Hawaii Reporter.

It’s been only three weeks since Brian Schatz abruptly took off in Air Force One with President Barack Obama en route from Honolulu to Washington D.C., where he was promptly sworn in as Hawaii’s new U.S. senator. Civil Beat.

Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka left office with about $15,000 in his campaign account. Associated Press.

State roundup for January 16. Associated Press.

Oahu

Tuesday's early morning blaze under a freeway viaduct near Honolulu Airport marked the first time a fire damaged fiberoptic telecomunications cables, cutting off telephone, Internet or cable TV service to about 25,000 homes and businesses. Star-Advertiser.

The Aloha Tower Development Corp. on Monday approved Hawaii Pacific University’s $30 million plan to transform the Aloha Tower Marketplace into a student dormitory with as many as 300 units and entertainment and sports complex that would infuse economic growth into the center near downtown Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

The state Department of Health said Oahu smoke levels during the 2013 New Year's celebrations were consistent with levels during 2012 celebrations thanks to an islandwide ban on fireworks with the exception of firecrackers. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

’Tis the season, according to police — the season for cockfighting, that is. Tribune-Herald.

Fishermen off Honokohau Harbor found what they believe to be debris from the March 2011 tsunami. West Hawaii Today.

The Reed’s Island bridge was closed Monday, marking the start of an approximately nine-month renovation project. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Members of Maui's legislative delegation are optimistic about the significant leadership changes in store when the Legislature convenes Wednesday, saying they anticipate accomplishing a laundry list of priorities for Maui residents. Maui News.

Justin Howard Woodson of Kahului was appointed to fill the vacant state House District 9 seat Tuesday afternoon by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Maui News.

The Maui County Council is expected to make initial committee referrals on Friday that could include review of the Maui Bus schedules and fares; and a resolution to hire the first county auditor. Maui Now.

Kauai

On the day before the opening of the 2013 state Legislature, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. traveled to O‘ahu to talk to Legislators about collaboration. Garden Island.

The Lihue Sugar Mill smokestack stood watch over the town of Lihu‘e for almost 65 years. Yesterday, it tumbled into the mud. Garden Island.

Lyle Tabata stood with co-workers Tuesday afternoon outside the Lihue Civic Center, about a quarter-mile from the former Lihue Sugar Mill on Kauai, and watched as contractors tore down the mill's historic smokestack, a symbol of Hawaii's bygone sugar plantation era. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands of  Kaua‘i and O‘ahu customers — including businesses and government offices, including the Kaua‘i Police Department — were affected by a fire on O‘ahu that knocked out phone and data service for an estimated 10,000 Hawaiian Telcom customers. Garden Island.

Molokai

The Molokai Land Trust has received the deed to a 5-mile stretch of remote and environmentally sensitive coastline along the rugged north shore of Molokai that has endangered ferns, subsistence gathering areas and an extensive tidal pool system, the trust announced Monday. Maui News.