Monday, May 20, 2013

Abercrombie to sign seatbelt, cellphone bills; medical marijuana overhaul in the works; GOP says it will rise again; Caldwell demands budget cuts or tax hikes; Tarnas to head Hawaii County Dems; Kauai mulls vacation rental regs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Gov. Abercrombie with new Hawaii County Democratic Party Chairman David Tarnas (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Gov. Neil Abercrombie will sign two significant traffic safety bills into law Monday, one requiring all front- and back-seat occupants of a vehicle to buckle up. The other will establishes consistent statewide requirements for the use of mobile electronic devices while driving. Star-Advertiser.

Two bills approved this year by the Legislature are Hawaii's first steps toward handling medical marijuana as a health issue rather than a law enforcement problem. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii taxpayers have a heavy burden to bear when it comes to covering "other post-employment retirement benefits" for their public employees. The Aloha State leads the nation in per-capita debt for these benefits. Hawaii Reporter.

The state Department of Education is scaling back a move to provide extra learning time for students at struggling schools. Associated Press

Hawaii GOP: 'Republicans Will Rise Again' Civil Beat.

The private sector, not government, is driving the increase in jobs in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

State officials want to create a National Estuarine Research Reserve in Hawaii where scientists can study wetland ecosystems to help our coastal communities take better care of our seaside homes. Civil Beat.

In Hawaii’s crystalline waters, some cetaceans get all the attention — usually the charismatic humpback whales and spinner dolphins known for their stunning displays of acrobatics. West Hawaii Today.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has warned the City Council that it will need to cut spending or raise either property taxes or bus fares to balance the city's $2.09 billion operating budget. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama's nominee for transportation secretary has pledged a "seamless transition" of continued federal support for the city's elevated rail project, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said. Star-Advertiser.

In the 1920s, Walter Dillingham’s Ala Wai Canal project helped Waikiki grow into the business and tourist mecca that it is today, where high-rise hotels crowd the skyline and attract more than 4 million visitors a year. But it might have been Hawaii’s biggest mistake. Civil Beat.

A city employee or official on a business trip who incurs expenses for personal activities must pay for those expenses, the Honolulu Ethics Commission said in an advisory opinion issued last week. Star-Advertiser.

NBC's popular Today Show descended upon the Royal Hawaiian Hotel overnight, broadcasting live between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. just feet from the crashing waves of a lingering south swell that kept hundreds of fans on their toes—and even wet, at times. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Former state Rep. David Tarnas on Saturday took the helm of the Hawaii County Democratic Party, replacing Steve Pavao, who is stepping down after four years. West Hawaii Today.

According to the state Department of Transportation Airports Division, Kona International Airport has about twice the number of passengers that Hilo International Airport has. Pacific Business News.

The Hilo International Airport lost power for about 90 minutes Sunday, causing headaches for weekend travelers. Tribune-Herald.

The attorney representing two county elections workers suing former county officials for defamation is asking a 3rd Circuit Court judge to require the additional release of documents and information. West Hawaii Today.

The state Legislature's denial of $38 million for a College of Pharmacy building at the University of Hawaii at Hilo is expected to lead to the college being found "noncompliant" in one of 30 criteria for accreditation, a top school official said. Star-Advertiser.

Ambitious plans to build a three-story commercial building on the site of the Hilo Farmers Market were shelved when the Great Recession put a serious damper on the nation’s economy. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

With the state Legislature approving $3.6 million for preliminary work on the Kihei-Upcountry highway earlier this month, it appears the project is finally moving ahead, more than 30 years after the new highway was first conceived. Maui News.

What started as an unpleasant encounter between a family and a few kitesurfers at Kanaha Beach Park last month has escalated to a feud that has been a center of heated debate on local and social media outlets. Maui News.

Kauai

A resolution to establish a committee to investigate management and implementation of the transient vacation rental law stalled at the Kaua‘i County Council Wednesday, after stumbling upon potential legal issues. Garden Island.

The pre-World War II era Hanapepe Historical Building, which has served as the backdrop for several Hollywood films, is for sale on the island’s “biggest little town.” Garden Island.

One of the largest groups since the opening of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa in 1990 rolled in Thursday. Garden Island.

Lanai

The Lanai Community Health Center is planning to build a new $7 million facility in the heart of Lanai by the end of the year, officials said. Maui News.