Friday, April 26, 2013

Hawaii tourism up, solar credits dim, shield law perforated, Maui seeks auditor, HGEA contract votes, no credit for teacher supplies, Hawaii Island smoking ban working after 5 years, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kona attractions copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii luau (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The number of visitors coming to Hawaii in the first three months of the year surged 7.1 percent to 2.1 million, but tourism officials said Thursday the industry’s growth will likely slow later in 2013. Associated Press.

A 7.6 percent increase in visitor arrivals and a 7.8 percent rise in visitor spending in March kept Hawaii's tourism industry ahead of last year's record numbers, but travel experts warned the growth rate could slow later this year. Star-Advertiser.

March turned out to be another month of growth for tourism in the state. The Hawaii Tourism Authority says overall visitor arrivals were up 7.6% compared to a year earlier, while visitor spending was up 7.8%. The number of tourists coming from Japan was also up—by a little more than four percent. And a growing trend for those Japanese visitors is a movement beyond Waikiki---searching for a more local experience. Hawaii Public Radio.

Key Hawaii lawmakers are deciding how to divvy up $30 million among several competing initiatives, including collective bargaining agreements and Gov. Neil Abercrombie's early childhood education initiative. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers are negotiating the details of proposals to allow the state to partner with private companies to develop some public land. Associated Press.

Consumers may soon be able to obtain low-cost loans to install solar and other alternative energy systems and then repay the loans through the savings on their electrical bills. Star-Advertiser.

A generous state tax credit that helped fuel the growth of solar but led to accusations of abuse would be reconfigured under a compromise pending before state lawmakers today. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association announced late Thursday that it would allow its unit of state professional and scientific workers to vote on a state contract offer even though it has not been endorsed by the union's negotiating team. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Growth Initiative, which would encourage entrepreneurs who might help diversify the state's economy, received a $6 million vote of confidence Thursday. State House and Senate negotiators agreed to provide financing next fiscal year for the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. to start the initiative. Star-Advertiser.

Citing a lack of funds, lawmakers Thursday killed a proposed tax credit that would have helped teachers offset their out-of-pocket classroom expenses. Star-Advertiser.

Some Good Government Bills Still Alive. Civil Beat.

A panel of Hawaii lawmakers on Thursday approved a new draft of the state shield law that removes protections for free newspapers and magazines and requires that newspapers must be printed in order to be covered. West Hawaii Today.

State lawmakers Thursday agreed to make permanent a law that offers journalists limited protection from having to disclose confidential sources in court, but bloggers and other nontraditional journalists would be excluded. The bill would also expand the exceptions to the law beyond felony cases and civil lawsuits that involve defamation. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii journalists are decidedly unhappy with the latest version of the state shield law that protects reporters from having to reveal sources and turn over unpublished material. Now, they just want it to die. Civil Beat.

A Honolulu resident and law firm have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Hawaii Medical Service Association of using anti-competitive practices to maintain a monopoly that has led to skyrocketing health insurance premiums for more than a decade. Star-Advertiser.

Colleen Hanabusa taking on Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate seems to have a lot of people excited. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A bomb scare halted operations at state Circuit Court, closed roads and shuttered area businesses for nearly five hours Thursday as police investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be harmless. Star-Advertiser.

It was business as usual at the Circuit Court and neighboring buildings by 1 p.m. Thursday, after a bomb scare caused evacuations and shut down Halekauwila between South and Punchbowl for hours during early morning rush hour. Hawaii News Now.

James Campbell High School wasn't built to hold thousands of students. Civil Beat.

More than 144,000 cars a day travel the H1 freeway between Middle Street and Ward Avenue so there really isn't a good time to close it but the state may not have any other choice. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu ranks #6 among American cities for its number of high-rises–472 buildings at least 12 stories tall–ahead of Philadelphia, Boston and Dallas. The thicket is about to get a lot thicker. Honolulu Weekly.

The impacts of sequestration on Hawaii’s most popular visitor attraction are actually benefiting some of its neighboring sites, including the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Pacific Business News.

The state is converting its antiquated departure lobbies at Honolulu International Airport into more modern facilities. Hawaii News Now.

A heavy downpour left Windward Oahu residents stranded Wednesday night. The Waikane Valley Stream spilled over into the road, shutting down Kamehameha Highway. KHON2.

Hawaii

It’s back to the drawing board for the county Salary Commission. After hearing from members of the public Thursday who were mostly opposed to proposed raises, the commission decided to do more work on the plan rather than implementing it in time for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. West Hawaii Today.

A 5-year-old tobacco use ban at Hawaii Island beaches and parks has made a noticeable impact on the quality of the environment at isle recreation areas, according to county officials. Tribune-Herald.

A $50,000 grant is headed to the nonprofit West Hawaii Community Health Center. The grant is aimed at supporting programs that focus on the treatment and management of chronic diseases in our community. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Gabbard Brings Cultural and Community Values to Congress. Maui Weekly.

New Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui plays an important role in Hawai‘i’s post-Inouye political landscape. Maui Weekly.

A Maui Family Court judge who was charged Tuesday with tampering with government records had submitted a letter that day saying she was retiring immediately, State Judiciary spokes­woman Marsha Kita­gawa said. Star-Advertiser.

Mimi DesJardins resigned as a 2nd Circuit Family Court judge Tuesday, the same day a complaint was filed in Wailuku District Court charging her with tampering with a government record, according to the state Judiciary. Maui News.

The application deadline for the newly created county auditor position has been extended to Tuesday, according to an announcement from Maui County Council Member Riki Hokama, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee's Temporary Investigative Group. Maui News.

State lawmakers are reportedly considering a $20 million appropriation for efforts to acquire Lipoa Point at Honolua on Maui, supporters said. Maui Now.

After years of lobbying from both community residents and lawmakers, it looks like Kihei will finally have a high school complex to call its own. Maui News.

Kauai

If you missed the deadline to apply for a homeowners exemption based on low income, relax. The Kaua‘i County Council unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that extends the deadline. Garden Island.

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.

Molokai

One of Molokai’s primary air carriers, Island Air, has made changes to their flight schedule that have raised concerns among local customers. The airline has cancelled all flights between Molokai and Maui, and as of May, will decrease flights between Molokai and Honolulu from five to three per day. Molokai Dispatch.