Friday, March 22, 2013

Hawaii Legislature kills GMO labling bill, more seats on the train, firearm registrations up, gun crimes down, $1.25M boost for Thirty Meter Telescope, state Senate seeks marijuana minister's release, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii farmers market (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Senators Thursday afternoon deferred for this session a bill that calls for genetically modified imported produce to carry labels, opting instead to pass a resolution that requests several state groups study the issue in more detail and report back to the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Three Senate committees tabled a measure that calls for labeling imported genetically engineered produce or else bans its distribution in the islands. Civil Beat.

After a packed joint hearing between multiple Senate committees, members voted to kill House Bill 174 in a session today at the state Capitol. Maui Now.

The state Senate committee on public safety has approved two resolutions urging the federal government to release a pro-marijuana reverend from federal prison until his trial. Roger Christie has been in federal prison without bail since his arrest three years ago for growing and distributing marijuana. Associated Press.

A bill that would provide more information about misconduct of county police officers still has life, but there’s little guarantee it will survive the legislative session. Civil Beat.

Hawaii firearms registrations shot up more than 70 percent in 2012, while gun violence continued a four-year decline, according to a new state Department of the Attorney report. Hawaii Reporter.

The number of firearm registrations in Hawaii reached a record high of 50,394 last year, matching a national trend toward more gun ownership as the nation's leaders debate stiffer laws. Star-Advertiser.

The state recorded a record high for personal firearm permit applications processed in 2012.  The findings were detailed in the annual Firearm Registrations report released by the Department of the Attorney General this week. Maui Now.

The state Department of Education this school year paid more than $12.7 million to independent education consulting companies to help revamp underperforming schools. But most of the money has gone to one mainland company that critics say has been largely ineffective. Civil Beat.

In a letter to an accrediting body Thursday, the University of Hawaii acknowledged rocky relationships with legislators in the wake of last year's Stevie Wonder concert debacle but said the situation is improving. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges had warned earlier this month that the episode had included inappropriate external interference from government officials and "revealed the fragility" of the university's autonomy. Star-Advertiser.

UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple plans to ask the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to forgive the athletic department's $11.3 million — and escalating — accumulated net deficit as part of a major restructuring effort. Star-Advertiser.

Debris from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 continues to accumulate on Hawaii’s shores, including oyster buoys, refrigerators, driftwood and a 28-foot fishing boat. Honolulu Weekly.

State roundup for March 22. Associated Press.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell released a report Thursday that identifies sites that pose rockfall hazards to city property, and announced that the city has warned about 1,000 private property owners whose land is at high risk of rockfall. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on Thursday approved funding for additional passenger seats on the train cars for the city’s elevated-rail transit project. Pacific Business News.

A joint proposal by owners of the locally owned Foodland supermarkets and landowner Kamehameha Schools to build a new strip mall on 4.5 acres of preservation land in east Oahu has many Hawaii Kai and Niu Valley residents concerned. Hawaii Reporter.

Nearly two years after Foodland closed its Koko Marina location, Hawaii Kai residents turned out in huge numbers Thursday night to hear plans that could move the supermarket back into the neighborhood. Hawaii News Now.

A corrections officer at the Women's Community Correctional Center in windward Oahu has been indicted on four counts of alleged sex assault against an inmate.KITV4.

Upon his graduation from the University of Hawaii, Edwin S.W. Young entered the auditing profession through the arm of Congress that investigates the performance of the federal government. Many years later, he has returned to Honolulu as the city auditor. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Four years into the job, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri continues to get rave reviews from the Hawaii County Police Commission. West Hawaii Today.

The international Thirty Meter Telescope project on Hawaii’s Big Island is getting support from the United States in the form of a $1.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Pacific Business News.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks will host a public information meeting to discuss parking and entry fees at Hapuna Beach State Recreational Area. West Hawaii Today.

All appeared well at the Waiopae tide pools on Thursday following a die-off of marine life earlier in the week. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui fishermen are invited to "talk story" with the chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, William J. Aila Jr., 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului. Maui News.

Maui's northern coast would be one of three Hawaii areas studied as possibly being nationally significant sites to include in the National Park System, under the first bill formally introduced in Congress by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Maui News.

Unlike their first legislative briefing during the holidays last December, South and West Maui Sen. Roz Baker (D) and South Maui's freshman Rep. Kaniela Ing (D) presented issues and answered concerns to a full and lively house. Maui Weekly.

Kaiser Permanente will build a new home for its rehabilitation specialty services on Maui next to its Maui Lani facility. Maui News.

Officials dedicated Maui County's first double-decker bus on Wednesday, March 14. Maui Weekly.

Kauai

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative members still have time to vote for three seats at the co-op’s Board of Directors. Voting began March 1, and will end Saturday at noon. Garden Island.

After spending hours under fire at a Kaua‘i County Council meeting Wednesday morning and afternoon, state officials and researchers went to Waimea and faced more than 150 Westside residents who were not convinced that Cleome gynandra, locally known as stinkweed, was what made students sick at Waimea Canyon School years ago. Garden Island.

Users of the public Kapa‘a Swimming Pool could be faced with the possibility of having to use “interim toilets” for several years — or until the pool is relocated elsewhere — according to county officials. Garden Island.