Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hawaii governor signs preschool bills, medical marijuana bills to be signed today, Feds to set rules for Hawaiian Homelands, permit granted for Gene Simmons Maui restaurant, Honolulu council tackles smoking bans, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

preschool bill signing
Hawaii preschoolers sing before bill signing
Surrounded by preschoolers, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Monday that expands early childhood education. Even though it’s a far cry from what Abercrombie envisioned, he declared, “No other piece of legislation this year was more important.” The bill funds $1.16 million for administrative costs and $6 million in subsidies to help 900 children. Associated Press.

Hawaii moved closer Monday to providing universal preschool under legislation Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed that establishes a statewide school readiness program. Star-Advertiser.

universal preschool bill
Preschool bill signing
Governor Neil Abercrombie calls the 'school readiness' bill the most important legislation of the session. Parents in Hawaii pay an average of 640-dollars per month to send their child to preschool. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s first changes to its medical marijuana laws since their inception 13 years ago will begin with a bill-signing today, after the legislation survived a rather short potential veto list released Monday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. West Hawaii Today.

Legislative leaders say they plan to meet with other lawmakers this week but do not expect a special session to override any of the nine bills on Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s potential veto list. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie notified lawmakers Monday that he intends to veto just nine of the 293 bills they passed. Last year, he had 20 bills on the list and went on to veto 14. In 2011, his potential veto list included 25 bills and he vetoed 17. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday notified Hawaii lawmakers of his intent to veto nine of the 293 measures that passed the Legislature during this year’s session. Pacific Business News.

For the first time in nearly 100 years, the U.S. government may soon have formal rules for the federal law designed to put eligible Native Hawaiians onto homestead lots. The U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday notified the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands of its intent to establish rules related to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, which set up a trust comprising roughly 200,000 acres throughout the islands for homesteading purposes. Star-Advertiser.

On March 1, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for the formation of a Sequestration Impact Response Team to address nationwide federal spending reductions. The team is still trying to fill the 25 slots with people from government, the military, business and non-profits. Hawaii News Now.

The third National Climate Assessment aims to help federal, state and local officials to adapt to mounting environmental challenges that are likely to result from warming waters, higher average temperatures, more extreme weather, and rising sea levels. Civil Beat.

Hawaii falls smack dab in the middle of a list that rates overall child well-being across the country. Civil Beat.

While some analysts have compared the state’s growing unfunded pension and retirement benefit liabilities as a “tsunami,” overwhelming state taxpayers with an enormous debt, the comparison isn’t valid, says a new Senate Minority report. Hawaii Reporter.

Federal and state authorities are asking boaters to call in when they see dead whales floating at sea. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regional marine mammal response manager David Schofield says early reporting allows officials to locate dead whales and tow the carcasses away from the islands. Associated Press.

State roundup for June 25. Associated Press.

Oahu

Three bills designed to curb smoking in public places on Oahu will be on the agenda of the City Council Public Safety and Economic Development Committee today. Star-Advertiser.

A nonprofit group under investigation for possible misuse of federal grant money received nearly $30 million in contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense between 2000 and 2012. Opportunities and Resources, Inc., also known as ORI Anuenue Hale, runs a wellness center and workplace for elderly and developmentally disabled people next to the Dole Plantation in Central Oahu. Civil Beat.

Oahu nonprofit groups may now request as little as $25,000, instead of a minimum of $50,000, from the city's new Grants in Aid Fund, city officials announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Although Honolulu's new sidewalk nuisance law is more than two months old, enforcement won't begin until next Monday. The city was forced to delay implementation if Bill 7 until new administrative rules could be written. KITV4.

Aliiolani Hale, the 139-year-old downtown Honolulu building that is home to the Hawaii Supreme Court and the iconic statue of Kame­ha­meha I, is about to undergo nearly $3 million in repairs. Star-Advertiser.

A  plan by a geologist and former mineral exploration company chief executive to establish an organic cacao farm in Wai­kane Valley took a step forward with publication of a draft environmental assessment Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

Members of the public can provide feedback on the latest designs for three planned rail stations — West Loch, Waipahu Transit Center and Leeward Community College — during a 6:30 p.m. meeting today at Waipahu Intermediate school, 94-455 Farrington Highway. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the semiautonomous government agency overseeing the entire rail project, is holding the meeting. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

More than 50,000 of the state’s kids — or 17 percent — lived in poverty in 2011, up from 13 percent in 2005. Hawaii County, in particular, continues to have the highest child poverty rate, increasing from 18 percent in 2008 to almost 30 percent in 2011, according to statistics released Monday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Rock & Brews LLC, a California-based restaurant chain involving rocker Gene Simmons of Kiss fame, which has plans to open in Paia on Maui, is moving ahead as the state of Hawaii recently approved its special management area minor permit. Pacific Business News.

Camp Maluhia, the largest Boy Scouts of America camp in Hawaii, received $1.5 million from the state for facility improvements and repairs as part of $41.2 million in state funding for capital improvement projects released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on June 6. Maui News.

The Maui County law says sign waving too close to roads, crosswalks or intersections can distract drivers and become a hazard so there are space restrictions. But residents say it's not fair that the law is being selectively enforced. Kevin Olson's sign reads, "MPD spotter van ahead in the Times Super Market parking lot. Be smart." Holding that sign got Kevin Olson a $50 ticket. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

The Department of Water will hold informational meetings over the next few weeks to discuss the scheduled 11.2 percent water rate increase that will take effect on July 1. Garden Island.

A proposal to be introduced by the Kauai County Council Wednesday would mean a significant hike in dog-license fees — especially for owners of unneutered and unspayed dogs.Garden Island.