Thursday, August 29, 2013

Man arrested in Gabbard threat, Abercrombie drafts gay marriage bill, general excise tax broad-ranging, a court win for special ed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii's average 4.35 percent general excise tax rate may be relatively low when compared with sales taxes in other states, but the GET's structure makes it a greater burden on economic activity than the headline number suggests, according to a report released Wednesday by the Tax Foundation. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday presented state lawmakers with a draft of legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Speaker of the Hawai'i House of Representatives, Joseph Souki, says that Gov. Neil Abercrombie will not be calling a special session on same-sex marriage anytime soon, but did not rule out the possibility it could happen before January, when the next regular session convenes. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday released the latest draft of a gay marriage bill and invited state lawmakers to offer feedback over the next week before he decides on a special session. Star-Advertiser.

State House Fails to Muster Votes for Special Legislative Session. Hawaii Public Radio.

Everyone, it seems, wants to put in their two cents on gay marriage. Extreme critics argue that it will bring huge moral costs. Others decry how much money it would cost the state in tax revenue — given that married working couples enjoy tax breaks — and increased benefits, such as health care coverage for married partners of state and federal employees. Civil Beat.

Authorities in the District of Columbia say they've arrested a man for making threats against Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Associated Press.

A man accused of making threats against Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has been arrested in Mexico. Hawaii News Now.

A GOP operative traveled to Hawaii this spring in an effort to make the Senate race there competitive. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent western regional political director Sarah Morgan, who managed Jeff Flake’s Senate campaign in Arizona last year, for a “campaign school” to train potential candidates and to meet with Hawaii GOP leaders. Civil Beat.

A federal appeals court gave Hawaii’s special education students a victory Wednesday by ruling the state must provide public schooling to disabled students up to age 22. Associated Press.

A Hawaii law that bars special-needs students 20 years of age or older from attending public schools violates federal law, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. Civil Beat.

Special education students will be able to receive a free public education for an additional two years beyond the state's cutoff age of 20 which violates federal law, according to a U.S. appeals court ruling Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Navy is moving ahead with plans to increase training between California and the Hawaiian Islands, rejecting concerns from environmental groups in both states about the impact of sonar and underwater detonations on marine animals. West Hawaii Today.
http://westhawaiitoday.com/sections/news/local-news/navy-advancing-pacific-training-plan.html

Hawaii regulators are re-examining a program that's designed to encourage the addition of more renewable energy projects in Hawaii called the feed-in-tariff, or FIT, program. Pacific Business News.

Have a passion for Hawaii's history and culture? Are you a strong leader who can cultivate relationships with public officials, professional groups and the general public? Want a six-figure salary and generous state benefits? If so, you might consider applying to lead the State Historic Preservation Division. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu's unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent in July, tying it for the 13th lowest jobless rate among 372 metropolitan areas nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department reported Wednesday. Honolulu improved from 21st place on the list in June when the city's unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply has come under fire lately for miscalculating up customers’ bills and responding to complaints in a timely fashion. It’s gotten so bad that Honolulu Councilman Ikaika Anderson — who’s running for Congress — has pushed to give the council more oversight of the semi-autonomous agency’s finances. Civil Beat.

A local activist says state's largest private landowner shortchanged the city $2 million in property taxes over a 16-year-period. Holly Huber said the city gave Kamehameha Schools a sweetheart deal on its 555 South St. property in Kakaako by allowing the $7.3 billion trust to pay residential tax rates instead of commercial rates. Hawaii News Now.

Water not regularly tested at Ala Wai Canal. KHON2.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn has sealed transcripts of a bench conference and a closed court session held Monday before she declared a mistrial in Christopher Deedy’s murder case. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Unlike five years ago, when Hawaii County almost got on the hook to buy a $125 million waste-to-energy incinerator with taxpayer money, garbage technology companies today are paying for their own facilities and assuming the risk of selling the resulting product, the county Waste Management Commission learned Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

The number of Hawaii County administrators who would receive pay raises has been cut by about half under a new plan before the county’s Salary Commission. Tribune-Herald.

The  Federal Public Defender’s Office has bowed out of the case of Justin Wade Smith, citing the effects of federal budget cuts on the office that provides legal counsel to many of the criminal defendants in U.S. District Court. Tribune-Herald.

We are still a year away from the 2014 Primary. But the Hawaii County Elections Division team is hard at work to make sure next year's elections run smoothly...and so it won't face problems that affected the entire state in 2012. Hawaii Public Radio.

Maui

The federal government is considering restoring wetland that once surrounded the royal residence of King Kamehameha III before the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom moved to Honolulu in 1845. Star-Advertiser.

‘Challenging and difficult’ as Waterfront closes doors. Maui News.

The Maui Ocean Center hosts a honu or turtle release this morning in West Maui, according to a company announcement. During the Holomua nā Honu event, six 2-year-old juvenile Hawaiian green sea turtles will be released into the ocean. Maui Now.
Kauai

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said Wednesday that its board of directors have approved the final version of its 2013-2025 strategic plan, which focuses on rates, cost-control and clean energy with specific targets to achieve. Pacific Business News.

Kapaa firefighters and a HAZMAT crew responded to Kauai’s Eastside Wednesday morning after a 100-gallon fuel tank containing an odorous liquid washed ashore. Garden Island.