Monday, March 18, 2013

Hawaii Legislature mulls food, ethics, hospitals, poor, power; state senator backs off child sex comments; Kauai mayor trims budget; Maui tackles feral chickens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Key industry leaders put together the Local Food Coalition several months ago to spearhead and back efforts to get farm-related legislation passed by state lawmakers this year. More than a dozen bills originating from the coalition, along with a few independent of the group, have passed the halfway point in the legislative session, crossing from the House to the Senate or vice versa. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers want to give the working poor some relief this legislative session through targeted tax credits, rent subsidies and upping the minimum wage. Civil Beat..

Members of the Hawaii Senate Health Committee have approved a bill that would explore whether some of the state’s public hospitals should become private. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz describes himself as a "pragmatic progressive" who has passion for Demo­cratic values but understands politics is about compromise. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard discussed U.S. missteps in Iraq and the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs to clear its backlog of obligations during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

With the rhetoric coming out of North Korea heating up and its military capabilities advancing, is Hawaii adequately protected? According to Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, parts of Hawaii and Alaska already may be in range of North Korean missiles, so it could make sense to add some anti-missile defenses here. Pacific Business News.

While the state's four mayors and county councils worry about retaining transient accommodations tax revenue, the counties also face another threat - the loss of half their current public utility franchise tax revenues. Maui News.

A proposal to legalize casino gambling in Hawaii is not likely to pass into law this legislative session. But elsewhere in the Pacific, the industry is growing—and this weekend marks a new level. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers last year granted themselves broad exemptions from the state ethics code in a move that was framed as an accident, an oversight made during the sometimes messy process of bill writing. But this year, efforts to fix it have so far proved fruitless. Tribune-Herald.

The union contract that helps keep police officer misdeeds under wraps is now in the hands of an independent arbitrator who is expected to release a decision soon. Civil Beat.

Lobbyists serving on the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force could be cleared of potential ethics violations with the help of lawmakers. Tribune-Herald.

The House Labor Committee passed a bill Friday that strays from the Senate's approach to managing state funds needed to cover employee and retiree benefits in the future. Associated Press.

The Public Charter School Commission has approved a new contract with the state's 32 charter schools that is designed to measure their performance from year to year. Star-Advertiser.

Two House representatives from Maui joined colleagues in introducing resolutions this week that seek alternatives to a proposed inter-island undersea transmission cable system powered by wind generation on the outer islands. Maui Now.

Rep. Mele Carroll (13th District) voiced many Molokai residents’ concerns in Honolulu today, urging the Governor and the public utilities commission to find alternatives to proposed wind turbines and undersea cables on the island. Carroll introduced House Concurrent Resolution 189, which urges that island-specific alternatives be considered in order to reduce negative impacts on Molokai and Lana`i. Molokai Dispatch.

Sen. Slom explains controversial comment that "an underlying cultural problem here where some of our diverse cultures actually don't see any problem or any crime in having sexual relations with young children." UH Sociology Chair: No evidence child sexual abuse is viewed as acceptable in any social group, community. KITV4.

Oahu

The biggest beach replenishment project ever undertaken in the state is taking shape at Iroquois Point, where nine big T-shaped rock groins are going in along nearly a mile of shoreline. Star-Advertiser.

With nearly 460 units, the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, also known as 2121 Kuhio, will go up right behind Kalakaua Avenue's luxury row. Hawaii News Now.

Starting next year, the American Cancer Society will discontinue its support of camp opportunities nationwide for children who have been diagnosed with cancer, including three camps in the islands, to focus more funding on cancer research. Star-Advertiser.

Aiea residents are one step closer to getting a new library. KHON2.

For 20 years Challenger Center Hawaii has been providing middle school students from across the state with the opportunity to experience simulated space missions, despite budget cuts two years ago that could have spelled the end for the learning center. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Protesters begin their walk toward downtown Hilo from the Kamehameha statue for the March in March to Evict Monsanto on Saturday morning. Hundreds of people protested Monsanto’s leasing of land in Hawaii to grow genetically modified food.Tribune-Herald.

Hundreds of Big Island residents took part in a “March to Evict Monsanto” this morning along Kamehameha avenue. Big Island Now.

The State of Hawaii is in negotiations with the US Army for a new lease for Pohakuloa Training Area. Hawaii Independent.

Maui

The Maui County Council gave first-reading approval Friday for $3.25 million in additional bond funding for the new Kihei police station over the objections of two council members who questioned the need for and the amount of the money. Maui News.

Maui County's administration has asked the Maui Humane Society to develop a response to the feral chicken problem that a county official said may be a "mild nuisance" now but could be "something worse" if it's not addressed soon. Maui News.

Tails were wagging and mouths were drooling as pooches and their owners excitedly waited for Central Maui's first off-leash dog park to officially open Saturday at Keopuolani Park. Maui News.

Kauai

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. released Friday the county’s proposed $158.51 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which is $7.87 million less than the current fiscal year’s budget of $166.39 million. Garden Island.

The results of two studies regarding environmental health issues in Waimea that were funded by state and county agencies will be presented at an informational meeting this week. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust’s efforts to secure a state grant to set in motion a planning process to acquire the Coco Palms Resort for the public benefit. Garden Island.

The public is invited to attend a presentation this week by representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a Hanapepe levee project. Garden Island.

Molokai

Molokai has the highest unemployment rate in the state, but now there’s an economic bright spot on the island — a once-thriving coffee industry is making a comeback. Civil Beat.