Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tourist injuries rise, sugary drink tax controversial, Tax Dept. snoops investigated, Legislature spurns Supreme Court, teachers want tax hike, Maui waste-to-energy bids roll in, Public Land Development Corp. targeted, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Tourist watches Hawaii surf (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Tourism officials and first responders are redoubling their efforts to raise visitor awareness about the potential perils of Hawaii's natural attractions after at least 11 accidental deaths of tourists this year. Star-Advertiser.

Public-health advocates on Wednesday called on state senators to approve a steep new fee on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages to raise money to combat obesity, but beverage, restaurant and retail interests argued that singling out soda is unfair. Star-Advertiser.

A measure that would add a penny per ounce fee to sugary beverages will get another hearing before the state Senate’s Health Committee takes a vote on it. West Hawaii Today.

More than 57 percent of the people in Hawaii are obese or overweight. Hawaii News Now.

In an historic first, Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald on Wednesday delivered his biennial State of the Judiciary address on YouTube. The Hawaii Legislature didn't invite him to address lawmakers, as is customary. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald started a new tradition Wednesday when he delivered his State of the Judiciary address via YouTube, making it the first time that speech has been delivered through social media. Pacific Business News.

A software glitch mistakenly added Hawaii to a tsunami watch alert sent out globally on Tuesday, an official with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Star-Advertiser.

A legislative inquiry has been made into the state taxpayer record breaches that KHON2 revealed yesterday had raised red flags with federal investigators. And the tax department itself is seeking tougher laws in the wake of the case. KHON2.

Hawaii’s educators are asking state lawmakers to bump up funding for education by increasing the general excise tax by 1 percent. West Hawaii Today.

There are 19 bills going through the Legislature dealing with election registration and oversight, and 16 regarding Internet or by-mail voting. Honolulu Weekly.

Connecticut and Illinois are ranked worst in the nation when it comes to taxpayer burdens from unfunded liabilities, but Hawaii is close behind them, coming in as the third worst “sink hole” state. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers are moving forward this session with bills to fix the state’s broken school bus program. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers want to dedicate more than $1 million over the next two years to mitigate the effects of a beetle that is endangering the state’s coffee crops. Associated Press.

More than a dozen national media organizations have signed on to a letter opposing Hawaii's so-called "Steven Tyler Act," a bill that seeks to prevent paparazzi and reporters from stalking celebrities who vacation in the islands. Star-Advertiser.

A state education task force formed to help come up with a teacher evaluation system is causing some consternation among members who worry little is being accomplished as a deadline for recommendations quickly approaches. Civil Beat.

A Senate committee recommended Wednesday approving Gov. Neil Abercrombie's controversial nominee to run the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands even though the nominee's former deputy said she was fired in December for not accepting a position in another department that was to be paid for using DHHL money. Star-Advertiser.

The solar industry has been booming in Hawaii, but state officials worry the industry’s tax credits are draining state coffers. Associated Press.

One of the strongest measures of a politician's electoral strength is how much campaign cash they have and who gave it to them. In that regard, Gov. Neil Abercrombie would appear a formidable candidate. Civil Beat.

Between 12 and 15-thousand people are homeless at any given time in Hawai’i.  The state legislature is proposing a number of bills this session that attempt to ease the situation on all islands…especially for Native Hawaiians who comprise the largest segment of the homeless. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two bills aimed at providing more legislative access for neighbor island residents passed out of key committees. Maui Now.

Popular parrot fish could soon be off limits permanently. KHON2.

“Catching Fire,” the second installment of “The Hunger Games” movies, is due to resume filming in Hawaii at the end of this month. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

A proposal for a year-round fairground in Kakaako with go-kart racing, a zip line, indoor skydiving and a surfing wave pool received limited but wholesale public support at a Wednesday hearing held by the state agency overseeing development in the area. Star-Advertiser.

Worse than ever and with no end in sight -- that's how some Chinatown merchants are describing conditions in their neighborhood. Hawaii News Now.

After KHON2 broke the story of private donors paying for a $10,000-a-month assistant to Honolulu's mayor, a list of who gave will be disclosed, and the Honolulu Ethics Commission may weigh in. KHON2.

A female green turtle that traveled more than 500 miles from the French Frigate Shoals to Oahu died Wednesday after being struck by a boat. Star-Advertiser.

A former high school teacher charged with having sex with a female student in his classroom was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Wednesday. KITV4.

Hawaii
University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy administrators are warning that the fledgling program is in danger of having its wings clipped before it has barely had a chance to fly. Tribune-Herald.

For the second time in six months, the Hawaii County Council voted unanimously to send a message to the state Legislature that the county opposes threats to its home-rule powers posed by the Public Land Development Corp. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii island physician who was severely injured in a car crash two years ago involving former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan reached an out-of-court settlement Wednesday in her personal injury lawsuit, her lawyer said. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Maui County has received 20 bids from potential developers to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant that is proposed for a 10-acre site next to the landfill in Puunene. Maui News.

The state Land Use Commission on Thursday is scheduled to hear oral closing arguments and to consider a challenge to the development of two large retail centers and 250 affordable housing units proposed in north Kihei. Maui News.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the designation of critical habitat to protect some 135 plant and animal species in Maui Nui. Maui Now.

Hundreds of Maui residents paid their last respects to noted Maui Attorney B. Martin Luna at services held at the Ala Lani United Methodist Church on Saturday. Maui Weekly.

Kauai

Police arrested two men Wednesday at Wailua Beach for obstructing a construction site for the county multi-use path. But to James Alalem, 55, of Wailua, and Ray Catania, 62, of Puhi, they were only protecting their religious rights. Garden Island.

A new data projector and an audio-visual screen are just a few of the new toys Lihu‘e Library patrons will be able to enjoy once construction is finished. Garden Island.

A small but fiery crowd of biologists, fishermen and ocean enthusiasts gathered in Lihu‘e Monday to ask questions and provide comments related to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s proposal to list 66 species of corals under the Endangered Species Act. Garden Island.