Friday, October 4, 2013

Honolulu sidewalk sleeping ban advances, prosecutor wants new prison, state preps for gay marriage special session, Health Department mulls liver failures, Applebee's may open island restaurant, Puna hot pond reopens, Maui fishing rules mulled, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A bill making lying down on city sidewalks illegal was given initial approval by the Honolulu City Council Public Safety and Economic Development Committee on Thursday despite concerns by members of the public and a city official. Star-Advertiser.

Religious leaders have met privately with state lawmakers to strengthen a religious exemption in a gay marriage bill, but they do not want to publicly undermine their main objective, which is to somehow persuade the Legislature to reject the bill in special session later this month and put the issue before voters. The scope of the religious exemption — and how it intersects with the state's public accommodations law — has been the dominant policy question tied to the gay marriage bill. Star-Advertiser.

In light of the upcoming special legislative session scheduled to start on October 28, a symposium on the religious exemptions to the proposed marriage equity bill will be held on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at the Hawai‘i State Capitol Auditorium beginning at 5:30 p.m. The symposium will broadcast live on ‘Olelo channel 49. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii State Salaries 2013: Pay Inches Up in Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers plan a briefing Wednesday to look into problems related to the Hawaii Health Connector services. Hawaii residents also are frustrated because the connector website has no information on the 95 medical plans that will be offered beginning Jan. 1, as Hawaii Health Connector previously advertised. Hawaii Reporter.

Some Hawaii residents are turning directly to health insurance companies to find out about plans being offered under the state's online health exchange. Associated Press.

Honolulu's prosecutor is proposing that the state build a new prison in an effort to reduce crime rates -- a proposal that drew applause from Kailua residents concerned about an increase in criminal activity. Hawaii News Now.

Does Hawaii need another prison? That’s what Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says would help curb crime including the incidents in Kailua. KHON2.

Statewide hotel occupancy growth is forecast to moderate in 2014, but room prices are expected to hold up and propel hotel, resort and retail transactions higher. Star-Advertiser.

State Rep. Karen Awana is in hot water with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission again. The Nanakuli Democrat faces an $8,500 fine for failing to account for 50 expenditures made by her campaign since 2011. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii is one of only 17 states that does not have a law that requires critical congenital heart defect screenings at birth. Now, Hawaii lawmakers say they will consider legislation in the coming year to require the test. Civil Beat.

Alerted late last month to a likely link between several cases of liver failure and the use of dietary supplements, doctors in Hawaii have since reported roughly two dozen more suspected cases from the past six months, the state's epidemiologist said. The onset of the most recent case came just days before a warning from the state Department of Health on Sept. 26, but Dr. Sarah Park said no new cases have developed since then. The number of suspected cases is now in the 30s. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for October 4. Associated Press.

Oahu
A Honolulu City Council committee Thursday advanced bills requiring stricter reporting of transactions by pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers even though they no longer include the most significant proposal: forcing all transactions to be filed electronically. City officials determined that such a requirement is against a state law that says the dealers can file either electronically or by paper. Star-Advertiser.

Juvenile assault and drug-related arrests on Oahu declined during the 2009-2010 school year when Hawaii furloughed teachers and canceled classes on 17 Fridays to save money during the economic downturn, a University of Hawaii economist said Thursday. The results confirm research by other scholars showing assaults by juveniles tend to drop when school’s not in session. Associated Press.

Capitalizing on the temporary closure of the USS Arizona Memorial and hoping to bolster its own government-shutdown drop in visitors, the Battleship Missouri Memorial today will launch a new tour from its own pier highlighting the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the Arizona. Star-Advertiser.

Applebee’s, one of the most talked about restaurant brands that has yet to open in Hawaii, will open its first establishment in Hawaii in the Pearl Harbor area, according to job postings on Craigslist. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Hawaii Island’s first commercial distillery could be operating in Keaau within a few years, after getting the nod Thursday from the Windward Planning Commission. West Hawaii Today.

The Hu Honua Bioenergy project was back before the Windward Planning Commission briefly Thursday. The commission voted 5-0 to adopt supplemental conditions submitted by Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC requiring the company to follow a final archaeological inventory survey completed in May rather than a three-year-old preliminary document. Tribune-Herald.

Parks officials announced Thursday afternoon that the “hot pond” at Ahalanui Park in lower Puna was scheduled to reopen at 7 a.m. this morning. The popular recreation area has been closed since Thursday, Sept. 26, to allow testing of the water after a Maui man was reported to have contracted a rare, flesh-eating disease after swimming in the pond. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County's public schools' enrollment grew by 211 students this school year, or 1 percent more than last year, according to a Department of Education announcement of official enrollment figures. Maui News.

An additional $10.7 million has been released by the state to move the Kahului Harbor Maui District Office from the waterfront to the historic Old Kahului Railroad Building. Maui News.

The state will hold several meetings in Maui County this month to discuss proposed new rules for Maui and Lanai fisheries. The Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday the changes would involve bag and size limits for popular nearshore fish, including goatfish, parrotfish and jacks. Associated Press.

Hawaii Pacific Solar LLC of Lahaina has been selected by Maui County to install photovoltaic panels atop county facilities at 18 sites on Molokai and Maui, according to an announcement. Maui News.

Kauai

A new nonprofit campground on eight acres of beach at Anahola Bay is open to the public. Developed by native Hawaiians from the Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association, Kumu Camp has been in the works since 2010. Garden Island.

The Lihue Airport is in line for $8 million in improvements. A key to the project is enlarging the boarding lounges where passengers wait for their flights. Garden Island.

A group of community organizations, including the Kauai chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, will host a one-day conference next week that aims to curb bullying incidents on the island. This year’s conference, titled What Goes Around Comes Around Doesn’t Have to Come Around: Be Someone’s Hero, will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, October 7 at the Aston Aloha Beach Resort. Garden Island.

Molokai

Air carrier Island Air is once again decreasing the number of flights the carrier offers to Molokai — this time to two per day, starting in November. Molokai Dispatch.