Monday, April 22, 2013

Hawaii Legislature debates minimum wage, agreement gives HGEA union 4% salary boost, lawmaker residency requirement fails to make ballot, Hawaii Island blogger gets $17,500 in police beating, blogger sues Maui County, Maui mayor vetos tax credit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

USGS Hawaii Volcanic Observatory
Kilauea lava, courtesy Hawaii Volcanic Observatory
The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory reported "vigorous lava flow" activity from Kilauea's Puu Oo crater over the weekend. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers want to create a homeland security office within the state Department of Defense to help prevent terrorist attacks in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Time is running out on a proposal that would increase the state's minimum wage starting in 2014. Lawmakers appear to agree on policy but still need to work out details if they hope to strike a deal before key deadlines this week. Star-Advertiser.

Beginning this week, Hawaii lawmakers will decide whether the lowest-paid workers in the most expensive state in the nation should be paid more for their labor. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, the largest public labor union in Hawaii, announced it has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the state and all four counties. KITV4.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) today announced that the union’s Unit 2, 3 and 4 negotiating teams, which consist of rank-and-file bargaining unit members, have reached tentative agreements with the state and county government employers for the contract period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have added a question to voters’ 2014 ballots asking whether should be stricter residency requirements for candidates who want to run for the state Legislature. Associated Press.

Tsutsui
With four months under his belt, Hawaii's first lieutenant governor from Maui, Shan Tsutsui, has made a smooth transition to a life of more attention - and protection. Maui News.

A bill that gives the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission new financial regulatory tools to drive clean energy infrastructure investment and reduce long-term rates has won final passage and awaits the governor’s signature. Pacific Business News.

Mental health advocates are cautiously optimistic about a proposed law that would clarify who can be ordered to get outpatient psychiatric help. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to funnel millions of dollars to private pre-schools as part of his early childhood learning initiative, which aims to better prepare kids for kindergarten. KITV4.

Some 50,000 intermediate and high school students at public schools statewide will start taking a four-hour college-prep test beginning Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed relaxing restrictions on sending Hawaii Sharwils, the state’s dominant commercial avocado variety, to the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 22. Associated Press.

Oahu

Plaintiffs, including former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, in a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the $5.16 billion Honolulu rail transit project have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite its decision on their appeal. Pacific Business News.

Philippine Consulate vandalized; flag ripped in half. KHON2.

Nearly 5,000 young people get in trouble with the law and land in Oahu's Family Court each year, but their cases are confidential by law so few people know who they are, how they wound up in court or what happens to them. Star-Advertiser.

Residents in the area of Schofield Barracks may experience periodic increases in noise, April 22 through April 26, as a result of scheduled training exercises. Hawaii News Now.

The city of Honolulu is offering $1.6 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations for programs that will serve economically and/or socially disadvantaged people or support public programs in the arts, culture, economic development or the environment. Star-Advertiser.
 
Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council has paid blogger Damon Tucker $17,500 to settle a lawsuit charging police officers roughed him up and damaged his equipment while he was shooting video of police responding to an early morning brawl outside a Pahoa nightspot. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is forecasting visitor arrivals will hit 8.5 million and visitor spending will total $15.8 billion in 2013. To reach that lofty goal or even surpass it, the state agency is focusing on improving the distribution to the Neighbor Islands, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management. West Hawaii Today.

Residents got a better look at the proposed widening of Kuakini Highway to four lanes as soon as 2017 during a public meeting held Friday in Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Firefighters and rescue personnel from around Hawaii Island converged upon the U.S. Army facility on Saturday for its first-ever Firemen’s Muster. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Mayor Alan Arakawa announced today his decision to veto Council bill #16*, which would have affected the Circuit Breaker tax credit for qualified homeowners. Hawaii Reporter.

Mayor Alan Arakawa has vetoed a bill that would change the county's "circuit breaker" property tax program. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa has vetoed the council’s bill that would have amended the County’s Circuit Breaker tax credit, according to announcement. Maui Now.

Despite continued talks among government officials of recent sequestration and looming budget woes, the economies of Maui County and the state are actually in pretty good shape, economists say. Maui News.

The publisher of an alternative weekly newspaper is suing Maui County, alleging he was harassed, assaulted and falsely arrested while filming Duane "Dog" Chapman for a story in 2011. Maui News.

Beginning on Monday, April 22, some bus stops in West Maui will be out of service due to HonokĊwai road repairs and related road closures. Maui Now.

Kauai

A small but vocal group, donning umbrellas, rain jackets and signs, rallied Sunday against AT&T’s proposed 80-foot cell phone tower in Kilauea. Garden Island.

Visitors to Kaua‘i used to stay an average of 3.4 days. They are now averaging 7.2 days on the island and this, say local officials, presents them with more time to enjoy the island’s beauty. Garden Island.

A project aimed at revitalizing an ailing watershed got a big boost Sunday from volunteers who braved flash flood advisories to battle a silent but deadly enemy. Garden Island.