Friday, March 29, 2013

Huge hula celebration gears up in Hilo, Korean tourists worry, GMO shoving match at Capitol, bill extends foster care to 21, Senate Judiciary mulls shield law, Honolulu council questions bus contract, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Merrie Monarch hula (c) 2013 All Hawaii News





Merrie Monarch is the hottest ticket in town, but there was a time when organizers couldn't imagine they'd ever fill the more than 5,000 seats— now tickets are gone by the end of the first day they're available to the public. Hawaii News Now.

The world’s travelers continued their love affair with Hawaii in February as visitor arrivals and spending grew.An estimated 675,517 tourists visited Hawaii last month, a 7.8 percent increase from February 2012. Star-Advertiser.

A loss of the South Korean market because of conflicts with North Korea would be devastating to the islands because according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, if something affects tourism, it impacts everyone statewide. KITV4.

A proponent of labeling for genetically modified foods accused the head of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation of harassment Thursday at the state Capitol after he put his hand on the lens of her video camera and shoved another protester into her. Star-Advertiser.

A confrontation between a group opposed to genetically engineered foods and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation was caught on video, with both sides accusing the other of starting the scuffle. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would allow foster care youth to voluntarily remain in the system until they turn 21 made it through its final committee vote Thursday and is headed to a House-Senate conference hearing. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's prison population has dropped 5 percent since July 2012, a figure that includes a 12 percent reduction in prisoners housed in Arizona. Civil Beat.

The Senate judiciary committee plans to decide next week whether to move forward with a bill to extend Hawaii’s shield law with changes that would limit its scope in protecting journalists. Associated Press.

The state attorney general's office urged state senators Thursday to remove bloggers from a law that protects journalists from revealing confidential sources, arguing that the provision is too broad and untested. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers want to develop underused school lands to raise money so the state can fix its aging inventory of educational facilities. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Senate judiciary committee has approved a bill aimed at regulating feral bird feeding. Associated Press.

Hawaii senators are moving forward a bill to require the state to post more information online. Associated Press.

When pumping gas or buying produce at the grocery stores, do you trust that you're getting what you paid for? An audit revealed some shocking details on how few inspections are being done in the state to ensure we are getting what we pay for. KHON2.

Hiring delays, lack of planning plague agriculture department, according to a new report from the Hawaii State Auditor regarding the Department of Agriculture’s Measurement Standards Branch. Civil Beat.

The recovery in Hawaii's construction industry is gaining momentum and is on track to continue through at least 2015, led by a flurry of new condominium projects in the pipeline and the expected restart of work on the Honolulu rail project, according to a report scheduled for release today by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is announcing nominations for the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission on Water Resource Management. Associated Press.

State roundup for March 29. Associated Press.

Oahu

The city could soon impose stiffer fines on homeowners who ignore repeated notices to clear weeds, trash or other waste from their properties, under a bill approved by the Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

City Council members raised questions Thursday about what some called the city's "complex" and "convoluted" relationship with the nonprofit firm that has run TheBus for more than two decades — and why other such companies can't competitively bid to manage the public bus system. Star-Advertiser.

Ulupono Initiative did a “Local Food Market Demand Study of O’ahu Shoppers” that showed nearly 74% believe it is very important that Hawai’i grow its own food.  According to the USDA, however, only 8% of our food spending actually goes to locally grown products. Hawaii Public Radio.

Since Macy's closed its store in downtown Honolulu last month, mum has been the word on any new tenant. But new plans for the space are drawn up, and all signs point to Walmart. Star-Advertiser.

Downtown Honolulu could be getting a Walmart. There's a possibility that the retail giant could take over the site formerly occupied by Macy's. KHON2.

A Kalaeloa business has agreed to pay $710,000 in fines for alleged water pollution violations at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor in what the Environmental Protection Agency calls the nation's largest Clean Water Act civil penalty against a ship repair facility. Star-Advertiser.

When Kirk Caldwell was running for mayor, his platform emphasized a focus on infrastructure, including filling potholes and repaving. Honolulu Weekly.

Hawaii
The state should maintain control of the Banyan Drive hotel properties and the Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea parks, lawmakers have decided. Tribune-Herald.

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille backed away Thursday from a resolution in support of a state bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana, but not before getting some of the discussion she said she set out to hear. West Hawaii Today.

State parks officials on Thursday made the case for charging parking fees at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area – but not without a barrage of questions and concerns being raised. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

While a Maui County vehicle-use policing program has been in place since July 1, only one department - the Department of Environmental Management - is in full compliance, County Council Budget and Finance Committee members learned Wednesday. Maui News.

Maui police -- some carrying assault rifles -- responded Thursday afternoon to Hoapili Hale, the 2nd Circuit courthouse located at 2145 Main St. in Wailuku. Police were called after a juice bottle containing dry ice exploded in the parking lot of the courthouse, creating a loud explosion at about 1:45 p.m. Maui News.

The 6th Maui Agriculture Festival returns to the Maui Tropical Plantation (MTP) in Waikapu on Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Maui Weekly.

Kauai

The Kaua‘i County Council had many concerns after hearing the same lobbying firm hired by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration to represent the county’s interests at the state Legislature had also been hired by Syngenta to lobby at the Capitol. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro on Thursday may have summarized best the desire of the council to work alongside the administration while coming up with the county’s financial blue print for next fiscal year. Garden Island.

Molokai

On Friday March 29, Good Friday, an important meeting is being called by the Pala`au Moku of the Aha Kiole O Molokai. A “Shoreline Management Plan” from Ilio Point to Pelekunu on the north shore of Molokai will be presented. Molokai Dispatch.