Friday, January 25, 2013

Hawaii tourism hits record, Honolulu rail condems land on route, Kona dolphin asks diver for help, Molokai preserve finalized, marijuana minister trial delayed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii's tourism industry had a record-breaking year in 2012, with 7.99 million visitors to the Islands spending $14.3 billion, according to preliminary statistics released on Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Pacific Business News.

A recovering global economy, strong yen, stable oil prices, more flights and marketing campaigns helped bring a record number of tourists to Hawaii last year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said Thursday. Associated Press.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the state Legislature want to charge a 10-cent fee for paper and plastic shopping bags, and four representatives are sponsoring a bill to ban single-use checkout bags altogether. Associated Press.

A renewed gun-control debate is sweeping the country — and Hawaii is no exception. Lawmakers here have introduced at least six gun-control bills. Civil Beat.


Hawaii residents want state lawmakers to stop diverting the barrel tax from its original purpose in order to cover shortfalls in the General Fund. Pacific Business News.

Distressed that a state Supreme Court ruling that halted construction of the Honolulu rail project could also sidetrack state highway projects, the Abercrombie administration wants the state to be able to review in phases the potential impact of construction on burials or other historic sites. Star-Advertiser.

A pair of bills before the state Legislature would expand counties’ authority regarding development on agriculture land, impose a maximum size for farm dwellings and increase the minimum lot size for agricultural land. Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-Hilo, introduced the bills this month. West Hawaii Today.

A bill introduced at this year’s Legislature proposes to amend of the state Constitution “to provide that the freedom of speech shall be extended only to natural persons, and not to a business entity.” Garden Island.

Hawaii workers could soon see the first raise in the minimum wage in six years. Tribune-Herald.


Long-overdue performance evaluations for Hawaii public school principals will be rolled out next school year, with half of a principal's rating based on student achievement, the union for school administrators announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The Judiciary Committee of the state House of Representatives will hear today a bill that could make it a petty misdemeanor to lie down across a bench at a bus stop. Garden Island.

Hawaii’s newly appointed U.S. Senator Brian Schatz is supporting a highly controversial proposal called “filibuster reform” that being pushed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. Hawaii Reporter.

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Cornell University are asking people to enter a recipe contest for meals they'll serve during a simulated mission to Mars. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu rail transit officials took their first steps Thursday to use eminent domain to acquire two privately owned properties they need to help build the 20-mile project — and the owners of those properties aren't happy with the move. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation wants to use eminent domain to acquire two properties along the rail route. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's board of directors voted Thursday to use eminent domain to acquire pieces of two properties totaling nearly 10 acres in West Oahu that are needed to build the city's $5.16 billion rail project. Pacific Business News.

The new chief of the Honolulu Fire Department said Thursday he will consider a merger of its functions with those of the Department of Emergency Services. Star-Advertiser.

Former Honolulu City Councilmember Gary Okino has angered the gay community after making inflammatory comments during a council committee meeting.  All while he is trying to be confirmed as a member of the city Ethics Board of Appeals. Hawaii News Now.

Ala Moana Shopping Center isn't just the state's largest mall, but it's also one of the most dangerous areas when it comes to the number of pedestrian accidents. KHON2.

UH Students: We Had No Idea Our Dorm's Security Cameras Were Broken. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Telcom plans to work with police and state authorities to beef up security in an area frequented by the homeless where telecommunications cables have been damaged twice in the past 10 days, company officials said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Limited-service" hotels would be allowed in low-density, mixed-used areas of Hono­lulu, West Oahu and Central Oahu under a bill that got a preliminary approval Thursday from the City Council Zoning and Permitting Committee. Star-Advertiser.

Developers of a planned Waikiki hotel-condominium won a preliminary approval Thursday from a key City Council committee that would allow the high-rise to have a height of 350 feet, 50 feet more than is currently allowed. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A West Hawaii dive instructor’s aid to a bottlenose dolphin off the Kona Coast has become an Internet sensation. West Hawaii Today.

Dolphin video here.

 Bond rating agencies have affirmed Hawaii County’s solid financial standing as the county schedules the sale of $97.2 million in bonds. West Hawaii Today.

Trial has again been delayed for marijuana advocate Roger Christie and prosecutors have filed additional charges against him as well. Tribune-Herald.

Several Hawaii Island businesses have been fined by the Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch for violating air permit and pollution rules. West Hawaii Today.

The Hilo store is one of 300 Blockbusters nationwide that parent company DISH Network announced this week that it is closing, leaving the Big Island without a Blockbuster. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A bill introduced today by Maui Senators Gil Keith-Agaran and Roz Baker seeks approval to rename the Mokulele Highway to honor the legacy of late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Maui Now.

More than a dozen Native Hawaiian Maui boys began their three-year journey of self-discovery and maturation Wednesday night at Hale Nanea. Maui News.

Maui Planning Commission members approved a permit Tuesday for the Aloha Aku Inn to operate a six-bedroom, bed-and-break-fast business near St. Theresa Church in Kihei. Maui News.

Maui planner Chris Hart will be honored posthumously with an environmental award issued by the Maui chapter of the Sierra Club during their annual meeting on Feb. 2. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kaua‘i leaders are taking a cautious look at a proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana. Garden Island.

Molokai

Molokai Land Trust has received the deed to Mokio Preserve, 1,719 acres of some of the most pristine and environmentally sensitive land on Molokai. Molokai Dispatch.