Thursday, February 14, 2013

State Historic Preservation Division tries to keep federal funding, minimum wage bill advances, state pension fund in worst shape since 1980, gay marriage loss could hurt tourism, hospital privatization in the works, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Historic hale at Kawa Bay (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
It’s down to the wire for the State Historic Preservation Division, which is battling to retain its federal certification and funding. Civil Beat.

A Hawaii Senate committee is pushing to increase the state minimum wage by $2 to $9.25 per hour. Associated Press.

The state's largest public pension fund is in its worst shape since at least 1980 with an $8.4 billion shortfall, and a new report estimates that accumulating enough money in the system to pay all benefits due qualified recipients would take 30 years. Star-Advertiser.

Pupus and Politics: It's That Time of Year at the Hawaii Capitol. Civil Beat.

A state Senate committee passed a bill Wednesday that would allow for the privatization of eight public hospitals operated by Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers want to expand the Public Utility Commission’s scope to allow incentives for electric utilities to reduce costs and integrate renewable energy resources. West Hawaii Today.

The Legislature's decision to sideline a gay marriage bill prevents potentially thousands of gay weddings in Hawaii and millions of dollars in tourist spending, according to a study by University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix and law student Lauren Gabriel. Star-Advertiser.

A new House rule is expected to let more sunshine into an important — albeit unsexy — political process of deciding who serves on state task forces and other appointed groups that govern everything from water resources to health care. Civil Beat.

Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA), has issued a statement that the organization does not support any proposed increase to the transient accommodation tax (TAT) beyond the current 9.25 percent. Maui Weekly.

If you want to show face at both Senate and House Higher Education committee hearings this session, you’re probably out of luck. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs has issued its 2013 Directory of Public Officials.  And now, thanks to AT&T, a web-based mobile application will allow smartphone users to download the directory for easy, on-the-go use. Hawaii Reporter.

Oahu
Some of Hawaii's most influential corporations, labor unions and individuals are among those who contributed $365,550 to help pay for Mayor Kirk Caldwell's inaugural luau, swearing-in ceremony and a transition team that aided the mayor with selecting his Cabinet, according to information released by the committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Private donors gave more than $360,000 to Honolulu's mayor, after he'd already won the election. KHON2.

The longtime effort to restore wetlands at Hamakua in Windward Oahu has reached a major milestone: acquisition of a hillside that recharges the nearby marsh, helping to preserve wildlife and native plants. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu rail agency to conduct financial audit of Ansaldo joint venture. Pacific Business News.

An anti-rail group will appeal a federal judge’s ruling in late December refusing to halt construction on the city’s $5.26 billion rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council considered a bill today that would provide no-cost annual bus passes for some riders.   But, as HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports … the City Administration opposed the idea of a fare reduction because public transportation is not free for all O’ahu residents. Hawaii Public Radio.

A high-profile case in Kahala that has pit neighbors against a Japanese billionaire has prompted new legislation. KITV4.

As the Honolulu real estate market begins to thaw after its half-decade chill, Kakaako is emerging as the hot new cool spot, abuzz with projects and visions that promise to dramatically transform the somewhat scruffy, but beloved, district into Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s envisioned “Third City.”  Honolulu Weekly.

Hawaii

Raises for the mayor, corporation counsel and several department heads could be in the works as the Hawaii County Salary Commission grapples with a way to make executive salaries more consistent. West Hawaii Today.

A bill that would lead to more physicians in Hawaii County will be heard in the state Senate Ways and Means Committee today. Senate Bill 664 was passed out of the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Democratic state Sen. Josh Green of Kona, on Feb. 5. Tribune-Herald.

County officials say favorable bond ratings allowed them to sell $98.8 million in bonds for new projects and refinance old loans and bonds in a way that will save about $8.5 million over the life of the bonds. West Hawaii Today.

The state broke ground Tuesday for a $14 million, 63,000-square-foot cargo building and light industrial facility at Hilo Airport. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Maui's hotel occupancy rate rose 2.4 percentage points to 72.6 percent in 2012 and the average daily rate for rooms increased 4.5 percent to $257.95, according to a new report by Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors. Maui News.

A 6-3 vote by the state Land Use Commission found the landowners of Pi'ilani Promenade, Maui Outlets and a housing project in violation of the original order granted in 1995 that converted the land from agricultural to urban use. Maui Weekly.

Kauai

Six candidates for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors Election have been confirmed by the nominating committee, according to a KIUC news release. Garden Island.

Data derived from space-based assets helped The Missile Defense Agency and the United States Navy conduct a successful flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system Tuesday night. Garden Island.

The remains of the Hanama‘ulu Trading Co., which housed the former Hanama‘ulu Post Office and several other businesses, were deconstructed Wednesday. Garden Island.

A passionate but peaceful group of protesters gathered at the intersection in front of Safeway in Kapa‘a Wednesday afternoon to speak out against genetically modified organisms and the experimental use of pesticides by biotech companies on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.



Lanai

The Public Utilities Commission has given final approval to transfer three public utilities on Lanai to the island's new owner, billionaire and Oracle Corp. chief executive Larry Ellison. Star-Advertiser.

Lanai's three regulated utilities are now in the hands of the island's new owner, software billionaire Larry Ellison, after the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission gave final approval last week to transfer ownership to him. Maui News.

It’s official. Hawaii regulators have given their final approval to the indirect sale and transfer of ownership of Lanai’s three public utilities from David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke Inc. to Larry Ellison’s Lanai Island Holdings, the last step needed to complete the sale of the Pineapple Isle. Pacific Business News.

Numerous changes have happened on Lanai since software billionaire Larry Ellison bought the island in June and many more are under way as Ellison's company tries to address the shortage of housing there and make other improvements. Hawaii News Now.