Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hawaii hotels raking it in; Legislature mulls Medicaid gap, minimum wage, reapportionment, rock climbing; Hirono's gay joke goes viral; Hawaii County seeks to buy more land; tsunami debris washes up on Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii hotel pool (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s hotel industry kicked off 2013 in record-setting fashion, reaching new highs for average room rates and total revenue. Star-Advertiser.

The House Judiciary Committee is planning to consider a bill today to include all military members when drawing district lines for state Senate and House seats. Associated Press.

Roughly 21,000 people in Hawaii who were previously covered under Medicaid will need to buy their own health insurance once President Barack Obama’s sweeping federal health care overhaul takes effect next year, the chief executive of the Hawaii Primary Care Association told a state Senate committee Monday. Associated Press.

Allowing Hawaii residents who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to return to the state’s Medicaid program could save more than $20 million in health care costs, health care providers told state senators Monday. West Hawaii Today.

The state House of Representatives’ Labor and Public Employment Committee will vote today on a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage by $2 over the course of two years, with the first increase in July 2014. Garden Island.

One third of the tsunami warning buoys that Hawaii and others rely on for advance notice of impending waves aren't working or sending data, federal officials say. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gets a C on Transparency Report Card. Hawaii Reporter.

In 1995, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill that made secret the names of county police officers who had been suspended for misconduct. Less than two years later, the Hawaii Office of Information Practices wrote a formal opinion that undercut that law, saying the public has a fundamental right know about cops who were getting in trouble. Civil Beat.

A state lawmaker is now launching Senate hearings into whether the Department of Public Safety is capable of keeping inmates like Cyril Chung safe. Hawaii News Now.

Dangers at Hawaii's correctional facilities are hurting not just the inmates involved, but also are racking up costs for taxpayers. KHON2.

A student dressed as an Oompa Loompa from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was seen walking the state Capitol halls Monday, encouraging legislators to limit youth access to tobacco products. Star-Advertiser.

The state Legislature hit halftime last week, sealing the fate of bills that failed to pass the House or Senate by mid-session. Tribune-Herald.

The Department of Defense could start furloughing civilian employees April 26, including 19,000 people in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

Federal budget cuts affect military jet flyovers. Hawaii Air National Guard forced to trim Memorial Day flybys. KITV4.

State Legislature Focus on Rock Climbing. Hawaii Public Radio.

Months after cracking a joke on the campaign trail, that joke has launched Hawaii's newest U.S. senator to ‘viral status' in the world of social media. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for March 12. Associated Press.

Oahu

The USS Freedom, an aluminum-and-steel warship that will chart the Navy's future in the shallows where shipping and people are prevalent, pulled into Pearl Harbor on Monday on its way to history as the first ship in its class to head to Singapore on rotational deployments. Star-Advertiser.

The long-awaited Ewa Mahiko Gym opened to park-goers over the weekend, more than 18 months behind schedule and $600,000 over budget. Star-Advertiser.

Graduate students at UH Manoa haven’t received a raise in nearly a decade. This low pay combined with Hawaii’s high cost of living is making life for graduate students in Hawaii a struggle … forcing many to get second jobs to supplement their income. Hawaii Public Radio.

A report issued last month by the city's Department of Facility Maintenance pinpoints which Honolulu City Council districts have the worst roads on Oahu. KITV4.

Down to Earth Organic & Natural said its five stores in Hawaii will begin requiring foods with ingredients containing genetically-modified organisms to be labeled as such by 2018, following Whole Foods Market's announcement last week that it will do the same. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Having acquired almost 1,000 acres for protection since its inception in 2006, the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission is asking the public to nominate more parcels for consideration. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Farmers Union is asking state legislators to restore $1 million to fund research into the coffee berry borer situation on Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

Stop calling it "the Big Island." That's the request of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, the top marketing arm of the state's Hawaii Tourism Authority. Civil Beat.

The Mokupapapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo is getting a new home just in time for its 10th anniversary in June. Big Island Now.

The Three Fat Pigs and The Thirsty Wolf, a new restaurant and gastropub by 24-year-old Waimea chef Philip “Ippy” Aiona, is a foodie fairy tale come to life. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Council committees on Maui are finalizing items this week before the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Session begins at the end of the month. Maui Now.

The state Senate has approved a bill to establish a daily, around-the-clock special emergency services medical response vehicle based at Maalaea, but the amended version includes no specified funding and wouldn't go into effect until 2050. Maui News.

A refrigerator-sized piece of ocean debris, possibly from the Japanese earthquake/tsunami two years ago, was removed by helicopter from the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve shoreline Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

A trial date has been set for former state Rep. Roland Sagum III, accused of stealing rocks from a heiau on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

What do they wish you to do? The question was posed by the Rev. Noriaki Fujimori of the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji Sunday during the Japan Disaster Memorial Service and Concert, in memory of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Garden Island.