Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gay marriage now Hawaii law but faces court challenge today, newborn monk seal closes park, Kauai council mulls GMO veto override today, state stumbles into Obamacare, residents search for loved ones, offer aid in wake of Philippine disaster, no GMO conflict of interest for Big Island councilwoman, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

same-sex marriage, Hawaii, courtesy photo Governor's Office
Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie signs same-sex marriage bill, courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, weaving marriage equality into Hawaii's definition of aloha and religious liberty into the nation's rich tradition of freedom, signed a bill into law on Wednesday granting gay and lesbian couples in the islands the right to marry. In an emotional celebration at the Hawai‘i Convention Center's Liliu Theater, the Democratic governor made Hawaii the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to approve gay marriage. Star-Advertiser.

Starting Dec. 2, gay couples will be able to wed in the Aloha State. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act into law Wednesday during an invitation-only ceremony at the Honolulu Convention Center. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage in Hawaii, the state that kicked off a national discussion of the issue more than two decades ago. Now, the island chain is positioning itself for a boost in tourism as people take advantage of the new law and the state provides another example of the nation’s changing views on marriage. Associated Press.

At 10:51 a.m. HST, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, Hawaiʻi became the 15th state to legally recognize same-sex marriage, as Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law before an invited crowd at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. Maui Now.

Full video of same-sex marriage bill signing. KHON2.

With same-sex marriage legal in Hawaii as of Wednesday, the local wedding industry is gearing up for hundreds of same-sex ceremonies on the islands during the next several years. It's also looking forward to hundreds of millions more tourism dollars that likely will accompany those weddings, as a local economic study shows. Star-Advertiser.

As Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 1  Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the bill passed its final reading in the state Senate, opponents were promising a legal challenge to the new statute. Hawaii Reporter.

Same-sex marriages could start in less than three weeks, but a hearing at Circuit Court on Thursday could put that on hold. Opponents have filed a lawsuit that could order the state to not issue wedding licenses to same-sex couples. KHON2.

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the signing of the Marriage Equality Law, even as opponents continued to express disappointment, and prepared to challenge the new law in court. Hawaii News Now.

President Barack Obama praised Hawaii's state legislature Tuesday for passing a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the Aloha State. "I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. HuffPost Hawaii.

Did you hear about the special session drinking game? Every time key words and phrases were repeated during the Hawaii Legislature's marathon hearings and floor sessions on same-sex marriage, it was time to take a sip or a shot. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is one of only three states that did not provide data to the federal government on the number of people who have signed up for private health insurance through the online marketplaces created by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Health Connector still has not disclosed the number of Hawaii residents that have enrolled in the state-run online health insurance exchange, making it one of only three states that did not provide enrollment data to the Obama Administration. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii residents with ties to the Philippines and others are joining together to get donations and assistance to the country as soon as possible to aid victims of last week's Typhoon Haiyan, which left a trail of mass destruction. Star-Advertiser.

The AARP Foundation is hoping to raise $500,000 for the Philippines through its 'Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund'.  The organization will match every dollar up to that amount for a total of a million. Hawaii News Now.

Family members of state Rep. John Mizuno are among the missing in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. Star-Advertiser.

Verizon Wireless said Wednesday that it is providing free phone calls and text messages to the Philippines for its U.S. customers following Typhoon Haiyan last week. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's largest public pension fund, which has an unfunded liability of $8.4 billion, began the new fiscal year on a positive note as its return on investments rose 5.3 percent in the July-September quarter. The strong performance boosted the assets of the state Employees' Retirement System portfolio to a record $12.9 billion. Star-Advertiser.

Different types of possible tsunami debris are starting to wash up on the islands' shorelines. KITV.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to establish a control order allowing certain agencies to take without permit nonnative cattle egrets and barn owls in Hawaii, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and part of the Midway Atoll. West Hawaii Today.

Oahu
The first of up to 3,500 houses for Castle & Cooke Hawaii's Koa Ridge project could be occupied by 2016 with the City Council's 9-0 approval Wednesday of the developer's rezoning plan. The go-ahead came despite lingering concerns about what opponents estimate will result in 7,000 more cars on the H-2 freeway, the loss of valuable agricultural lands and whether homes Castle & Cooke must set aside for lower-income families will be within their financial reach. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday paved the way for one of Oahu's largest development projects with the unanimous approval of Koa Ridge, a 576-acre community off of H-2 freeway near Mililani. The project would add 3,500 homes to the rural area, and promises to provide a thousand construction jobs as well as 1,600 more jobs at a planned hospital and other businesses. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu City Council today unanimously passed an open data bill that aims to make government more transparent. If Mayor Kirk Caldwell signs the bill it will essentially help to open up reams of government statistics and data in a format that can be manipulated to build apps, create visualizations of complex information and help citizens analyze government services. Civil Beat.

The alleged theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars at a Leeward Oahu homeless shelter has triggered an investigation by the state Department of Human Services. Earlier this year, the Waianae Community Outreach program sued its former program director Laura Pitolo, saying she signed checks to herself and family members and made dozens of unauthorized ATM withdrawals. Hawaii News Now.

The $262 million sale of Oahu real estate assets of Kaneohe Ranch Co. and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation moved forward Wednesday after one beneficiary settled a legal petition that raised concerns that the deal was being rushed and hadn't been properly vetted. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County Councilwoman Brenda Ford did not have a conflict of interest when she sponsored a bill banning genetically modified crops, the county Board of Ethics unanimously ruled Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Newborn monk seal
North Kohala’s Keokea Beach Park is being closed at 7:30 p.m. nightly to protect an endangered Hawaiian monk seal and its mother. Tribune-Herald.

The land ranges from sea level up to 2,500 feet, covering coffee farms and ranch land on 5,880 acres in Ka‘u. And it’s all for sale. Lehman Brothers acquired the properties earlier this year through a foreclosure auction, and recently began looking for a new owner. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A unit still photographer, who has worked on the sets of movies including "Legally Blonde," "Meet the Fockers" and "Remember the Titans" and is a former National Football League kicker, has been named the new Maui County Film Commissioner, the county announced Tuesday. Maui News.

Recent heavy rains and forecasts calling for more wet weather, prompted a cancellation today of the 20% voluntary water restriction that was in place for Upcountry water customers. Maui Now.

The proposed $220 million consolidated car rental facility for Kahului Airport moved one step closer to construction with the Maui Planning Commission approving a special management area use permit for the facility Tuesday. Maui News.

A&B Properties has amended a Wailea commercial-residential development to include a new hotel. Maui News.

Nēnē breeding and nesting season has started at Haleakalā National Park, prompting an advisory to visitors to obey posted speed limits and exercise caution while driving in the park. Maui Now.

Kauai

State Department of Agriculture officials Wednesday released details about a plan to put in place voluntary pesticide-use guidelines on Kauai starting Dec. 1. The announcement came a day before the Kauai County Council is slated to meet to consider overriding Mayor Bernard Carvalho's veto of Bill 2491, which calls for mandatory disclosures pertaining to large-scale pesticide use and farming of genetically modified crops. Star-Advertiser.

Less than two weeks after receiving approval from the Public Utilities Commission to begin charging new fees for old electric meters, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative validated a member petition submitted with the intent to reverse the commission’s decision. The additional charges include a one-time set-up fee — ranging from $50.64 for residential meters to $138.80 for commercial ones — as well as a monthly fee of $10.27 for customers who opt not to use a standard, wireless smart meter. Garden Island.

Even before Tyler Greene and Chad Waters decided to purchase the long-vacant Coco Palms Hotel in Wailua, the investment partners said they heard stories from many residents and visitors about their personal connection to the hotel. Garden Island.