Thursday, May 2, 2013

Media blames senator for killing shield law, union bosses make big bucks, medical marijuana bill limits doctors, bill of rights passed for domestic workers, HMSA rate hike trimmed, safe place bill dies, tsunami debris removal grants announced, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The Legislature is holding its last session of 2013. Both the House and the Senate plan to meet this morning. They plan to vote on just a handful of bills, including proposals addressing the state's settlements with unions and unfunded liabilities for employee benefits. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a historic shift in how the state manages its medical marijuana program after years of failed efforts to reform it. House Bill 668 authorizes the transfer of the program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health. Civil Beat.

A coalition of Hawaii news media is blaming the state Senate for failing to extend a journalism shield law past its expiration on June 30. Associated Press.
shield law
Sen. Clayton Hee

Free-press advocates lamented the impending expiration of the state's news media "shield law," hailed nationally as a model for protection of news sources, and laid the blame squarely on Sen. Clayton Hee, the Senate's judiciary and labor chairman. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Judiciary and Labor Chair Clayton Hee is not known for his compassion, consistency or tolerance for mainland folk. This year, it was the media – not a particular person or judicial candidate – who was the focus of his ire. This followed an unflattering and brief but trashy story in a Republican blog during the 2012 election that used no sources when accusing Hee of misdeeds clearly in an attempt to influence voters in the November election. Hawaii Reporter.

A national organization representing local groups of nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers is praising Hawaii’s Legislature for passing a bill to create a domestic workers bill of rights. Associated Press.

Senate Bill 391 would have established a network of "safe places" for youth. The two-year pilot program would've made use of existing organizations such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club. But the measure, which was the state Keiki Caucus's top priority this year, died in conference committee Friday. Civil Beat.

There's a bill headed to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk that could help law enforcement keep tabs on gun registration and this is a proposal some Hawaii gun rights advocates are getting behind. KITV4.

The state Insurance Division has reduced Hawaii Medical Service Association’s proposed 8.6 percent premium rate increase to 6.8 perecent for small businesses renewing health policies in July, for an estimated 118,000 Hawaii consumers, a move it said would save businesses about $10 million. Star-Advertiser.

A national organization that has been ranking states’ educational policies and outcomes for nearly two decades dropped Hawaii’s grade this year in some areas, but noted significant improvements in others. West Hawaii Today.

At a time when many of their members are still struggling to find work, the heads of Hawaii's construction unions are taking home fat pay checks. Hawaii News Now.

Med School Puts Best Face Forward with in-depth report To Lawmakers. Civil Beat.

Former state Rep. Gil Riviere, who represented the North Shore in the House for one term before losing in the Republican primary last year, said he will switch political parties and become a Democrat as he tries to reclaim the seat next year. Currently, there are 44 Democrats and 7 Republicans is in the Hawaii House. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Neil Abercrombie, US Senator Brian Schatz, and State Senator Gil Keith-Agaran will be the featured speakers at the upcoming annual Convention for the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi on Maui. Maui Now.

State roundup for May 1. Associated Press.

Oahu

The ground breaks today on a sweeping four-year $739 million modernization of Honolulu Airport, starting with a new maintenance building for Aloha Air Cargo. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu prosecutor's office says that in the six-month period from October through March, there were 31 trials and 243 dismissals due to speedy trial requirements. That's one trial per eight dismissals. Victims advocates say those statistics are poor incentive for domestic violence victims to stick with their cases. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Wednesday he will use the newly enacted sidewalk nuisance law to keep members of (de)Occupy Honolulu from camping on sidewalks around Thomas Square. Star-Advertiser.

The city is cracking down on illegal dumping in Oahu neighborhoods. Inspectors can now issue hefty fines for bulky items dumped curbside days or weeks before collection, but some people are concerned about fair enforcement. Hawaii News Now.

A planned Kakaako condominium tower dubbed 803 Waimanu reserved for middle-income buyers will be a relatively tight fit for its location — too tight for residents in an adjacent high-rise who objected to the project at a public hearing Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

A local project is taking steps to ensure that excess produce gets to the people who need it the most. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council is asking the mayor to find $500,000 to bolster the Fire Department’s budget before summer begins. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii is fighting back against the coffee berry borer beetle. The pernicious pest has frustrated farmers in the Kona and Ka‘u coffee belts since its discovery in 2010, leading to decreased quality of West Hawaii’s famous black gold and many pounds of beans unharvestable. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

At least two Maui County Council members said Tuesday that they intend to seek small increases in the county's current property tax rates to provide more funds for nonprofit organizations and to upgrade needed county services and programs. Maui News.

The Hawaii Wildlife Fund has received a $20,000 grant from the state to help mitigate the possible environmental impacts of Japan tsunami marine debris in Maui County. Maui News.

A rally will be held on Thursday, May 2, to protest the planned lottery for placement in the Hawaiian language immersion kindergarten at Pāʻia Elementary School on Maui. Maui Now.

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. Inc. reported a net loss of $1.8 million, or 10 cents per share, for the first quarter, compared to a loss of $200,000, or 1 cent per share, for the same quarter in 2012. Pacific Business News.

A Lahaina boat captain was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines after pleading guilty Tuesday to negligent homicide and other charges in the death of a diver who was struck by an inflatable boat in waters off Lanai two years ago. Maui News.

Kauai

Fifty residents representing a handful of organizations showed up at the Kaua‘i County Council meeting Wednesday morning, asking for support on a bill against biotech companies that grow genetically modified organisms. Garden Island.

The Surfrider Foundation of Kaua‘i landed a $25,000 grant to help clean up Japanese tsunami debris washing up on Kaua‘i’s shorelines. Garden Island.