Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hawaii feels shutdown sting, 3 of 4 congressional delegates refuse paychecks, Halawa prison guard admits to taking bribes, Hawaii Health Connector limps to life, Hawaii council advances anti-GMO bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The partial shutdown of the federal government rippled across Hawaii on Tuesday, from isolated atolls in the far northwest where the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is closed to the southeast where Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is turning away tourists eager to see the glow of Kilauea volcano's lava. Associated Press.

Federal employees in Hawaii slated for furlough closed out their work Tuesday and were sent home on Day 1 of the 2013 government shutdown. According to state figures, that group included 15,000 defense civilian workers alone. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz estimated that 25,000 federal employees in Hawaii could be laid off. Star-Advertiser.

If they are panicking over the federal government's shutdown, Hawaii's leaders here at home aren't showing it. While the state's congressional delegation is decrying the inability of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to agree on a budget deal, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expressing confidence that Hawaii will weather any looming fiscal storms. Civil Beat.

Three of the four members of Hawaii's congressional delegation are now working for free under a U.S. government that has been shut down. Effective Tuesday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is returning her salary to the U.S. Treasury. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz are donating theirs to a Hawaii charity. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's congressional delegation has weighed in on the recent government shutdown, and how talks in Congress will go forward. KITV.

Thousands of visitors in Hawaii are facing closed doors and locked gates at some of the state’s most popular visitor attractions at Pearl Harbor and other sites as a result of the federal government shutdown that began Tuesday. The shutdown has closed all national parks, as well as any hotels and attractions located within the national park properties. Pacific Business News.

Government shutdown: What's still running, what's not. Hawaii News Now.

What the government shutdown means for Hawaii. Hawaii Independent.

Tourism officials in Hawaiʻi are making assurances to visitors that many facilities in the state remain open, despite a federal government shutdown that went into effect at midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Maui Now.

Hawaii is starting open enrollment under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul without consumers being able to compare actual plans and prices. Chief Marketing Officer Rick Budar of the Hawaii Health Connector told The Associated Press on Tuesday that consumers will be able to apply for coverage, but insurers are still testing and reviewing rates in part to make sure they’re shown correctly within the system. Budar says he expects actual plans and prices to be up within the month, once they’re approved by insurers. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Health Connector — Hawaii’s tool to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act — is up and running as of Tuesday. That is, depending on who says so. Garden Island.

The state launched a $95 million electronic overhaul of the Medicaid eligibility system Tuesday in anticipation of thousands of new enrollees joining under the federal health insurance law, known as Obama­care. For the first time, residents are able to apply online for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. Applying online for other public assistance programs, such as welfare and food stamps, eventually will also be available as the electronic system is fully implemented. Star-Advertiser.

State education officials have consistently failed to comply with a scathing 2008 audit that called for them to improve and clarify the Hawaii Department of Education Hawaiian studies program, several teachers in the program told school board members Tuesday. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers aren't returning to work until Oct. 28 for a special session, but residents aren't waiting for answers. More than 2,000 Hawaii residents have contacted their legislators about two key issues — gay marriage and a molasses spill Sept. 9 in Honolulu Harbor, deemed by the Sierra Club as “one of the worst environmental disasters in Hawaii’s history.” Hawaii Reporter.

Oahu

Honolulu ranks second nationwide in the percent of workers dependent on a federal paycheck, according to data complied by The Washington Post.  Honolulu ties with Virginia Beach with 17.2 percent of the workforce employed by the federal government, including the military. Colorado Springs ranks first, with 18.8 percent of the workforce comprised of federal employees. Washington D.C. ranked fourth. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Metal Trades Council says more than three-thousand workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard received their furlough notices Tuesday. They were then sent home, not knowing when they can come back to work. KHON2.

Three weeks after a quarter million gallons of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor in what is likely the state's worst-ever marine environmental disaster, federal agencies involved in investigating the spill have essentially closed up shop. State officials who are leading investigations and studies into the spill say that the federal shutdown will not derail the multiple inquiries into the spill, but it could prolong them. Civil Beat.

Local tour company losing $50K a day from government shutdown. Hawaii News Now.

Shutdown causes confusion for some USS Arizona visitors. USS Oklahoma, USS Missouri, USS Bowfin and Pacific Aviation Museum still open. KITV.

One former Halawa Prison corrections officer has admitted to profiting from thousands of dollars of bribes by members of the state's largest and most powerful prison gang, while another former is accused of receiving thousands more in bribes from the group. Hawaii News Now.

The state Civil Defense said it received nine reports of sirens malfunctioning on Oahu during the regular monthly test Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

There is a battle brewing between cab drivers and hotels as the Honolulu City Council wants to mandate a flat fee for trips from the airport to Waikiki. Hawaii News Now.

Plans for a five-tower residential and commercial complex on the site of the former Kam Drive-In Theater, across from Pearlridge Center, will get a first airing before the city Planning Commission today. Destined by its sheer size to place a major footprint on the surrounding Aiea-Pearl City community, the project is being met with resistance from area residents worried about traffic, view planes and property values. Supporters, however, say it will bring badly needed housing and construction jobs to Oahu's urban core. Star-Advertiser.

With house break-ins and auto thefts seemingly on the rise in Kailua, residents are searching for answers to the problem and hoping City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro can offer some help. Kaneshiro will appear at a Kailua Neighborhood Board meeting set for 7 p.m Thursday at Kailua District Park's recreation center. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A bill that would ban biotech companies and the expansion of GMO crops on the Big Island has passed the Hawaii County Council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit committee.  Bill 113, introduced by Councilwoman Margaret Wille, passed with a vote of 6 to 2 on Tuesday and will now go to the full county council for review.  Hawaii County Council members Greggor Ilagan and J Yoshimoto opposed the bill. Civil Beat.

The Planning Department is calling the owners of an Ocean View swap meet back to the Windward Planning Commission to discuss allegations of a permit violation. West Hawaii Today.

Washington, D.C.’s political discord hit Hawaii Island right in the pocketbook Tuesday, with some of the island’s biggest tourist attractions shutting down after Congress failed on Monday to reach an agreement on federal funding. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A Maui County Council committee Monday decided to wait and see if the county auditor, who is still assembling his new office, will take up the Old Wailuku Post Office demolition controversy in a move that could put the investigation on hold until the new year. Maui News.

Haleakalā National Park is projecting monetary losses of $6,800 per day in entrance fees for each day that the federal government shutdown continues, officials said. The park hosts an average of 2,000 to 3,000 visitors each day according to information released by the National Park Service and the US Department of the Interior. Maui Now.

While usually open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, Haleakala National Park at the summit closed its gates Monday after Congress failed to meet an agreement over the government spending bill by its midnight deadline. Maui News.

The first regularly scheduled service of an Airbus aircraft into and out of Kahului Airport will be occurring on Hawaiian Airlines flights servicing Seattle beginning Dec. 8. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council will tackle a number of proposals tonight as state counties decide what issues they want to send to the Legislature for lawmakers to consider in January. In all, Kauai council members will weigh in on 16 proposals that could head the state’s way. Councilman Mel Rapozo, who is also the president of the Hawaii State Association of Counties, will be present a set of 14 proposals, mostly coming from other counties. Garden Island.

The federal government shutdown would affect Kauai in many ways although the primary federal agencies here, Civil Defense and the airport would continue operating. Garden Island.