Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abercrombie touts accomplishments, pushes minimum wage hike, preschool, keiki and kupuna programs in annual State of the State address; undersea electric grid aired, Hawaii council rejects outright GMO ban, Kauai tsunami maps updated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

2014 governors office courtesy photo
Abercrombie's 2014 State of the State courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared Tuesday that the state now stands on solid financial ground and is entering a new phase in which investments in early childhood education, a minimum wage increase, land conservation and tax relief for seniors are possible. Closing the book on the recession, Abercrombie used his annual State of the State address to mark the state's economic turnaround. The governor said a record $844 million budget surplus provides the state with an opportunity to take action. Star-Advertiser.

The governor of Hawaii began his fourth State of the State address Tuesday asking lawmakers to "set aside our political preoccupations" and reflect instead on public service and the concerns of others. Yet, the major theme in Neil Abercrombie's speech was that the state has an $844 million budget surplus and that "hard choices," "tough decisions" and "fiscally prudent decisions" made it possible. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday that Hawaii’s solid financial position will allow lawmakers to focus on such initiatives as expanding funding for preschool, providing tax relief for seniors and increasing the minimum wage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie used his State of the State address Tuesday to push for priorities that included tax relief for elderly residents, a minimum wage increase and state-funded preschool. The Democratic governor, during his fourth annual speech before lawmakers, also took time to tout the state’s recent accomplishments, notably concerning the state budget. Associated Press.

Governor Neil Abercrombie highlighted the state's $844 million surplus and pushed for tax breaks for seniors, along with raising the minimum wage during his fourth State of the State Address Tuesday morning at the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

In his fourth State of the State speech to a joint session of the legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed an increase to Hawaii's minimum wage, while also asking for support in setting aside more than 20,600 acres of land on the North Shore and Central Oahu. KITV4.

In his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie highlighted the economic turnaround, one of the reasons for the $844 million general fund surplus. KHON2.

"I realize this is an election year. Political agendas and ambitions are being formulated, but let us take children out of these equations," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. KITV4.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 State of the State speech on Tuesday was peppered with facts highlighting the progress that Hawaii has made under his administration. Given that it's an election year and Abercrombie is not shy about showcasing his accomplishments, Civil Beat decided to take a closer look to check whether the statements he made tell the full story. Civil Beat.

Text of the governor's State of the State speech.

Boost in Minimum Wage Is Only the First Step. Civil Beat.

A proposal to connect the electrical grids of Maui and Oahu with an undersea cable would save utility ratepayers on both islands an average of 6 cents a kilowatt hour over the life of the project by increasing the amount of renewable energy that could be tapped and allowing the two grids to operate more efficiently, a state officials said tonight at a state Public Utilities Commission meeting. Although the cable would cost an estimated $700 million to construct, it would result in a net savings to ratepayers of $423 million over the 30-year life of the project, state Energy Administrator Mark Glick said in a presentation at the meeting called by the PUC.  Star-Advertiser.

An undersea electrical cable between Maui and Oahu will save consumers more than $420 million over 30 years, a state official said. But critics said that consumers will bear most of the upfront costs. Hawaii News Now.

Castle & Cooke is not giving up its fight to build a wind farm on Lanai to power Oahu despite a plan to connect Maui and Oahu instead via an undersea cable. Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission held a hearing Tuesday evening at Farrington High School on Oahu to hear public comments on the Oahu-Maui connection, which would allow for the adoption of increasing amounts of renewable energy. Civil Beat.

Oahu
Oahu revelers may be able to light sparklers and fountains on New Year's Eve and Independence Day under a new proposal expected to be unveiled by two Hono­lulu City Council members today. Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Koba­ya­shi plan to introduce a bill today allowing sparklers and fountains to join standard firecrackers as items that can be set off via permits. Star-Advertiser.

Results of laboratory tests on drinking water -- conducted after Navy officials found a possible jet fuel tank leak last week at Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility --are continuing to meet federal regulatory Safe Drinking Water and State of Hawaii standards, and the water's safe to drink, according to a Navy news release issued this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of Ward Centers is preparing to open a public sales gallery soon for the first two of 22 planned condominium towers envisioned to transform 60 acres of Kaka­ako into a largely residential community called Ward Village. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

It was deja vu for the Hawaii County Council on Tuesday as it voted against a full ban on genetically modified crops while meeting in committee. The vote was the second time the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee had considered Councilwoman Brenda Ford’s bill. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Council members seemed at odds Tuesday on whether they’d rather have the state give the county back its share of the transient accommodations tax or allow it to raise general excise taxes. The discussion in the council Finance Committee ended with no vote, but it gave a glimpse into which council members preferred which mode of financing county operations. West Hawaii Today.

As chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment, state Rep. Mark Nakashima has already been hard at work crafting legislation to raise the minimum wage. So it’s no surprise that Nakashima, D-Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, lists a 75-cent increase in the hourly wage over three years as one of his priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Nakashima said he hasn’t yet had an opportunity to review a proposal promised by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, but he said there will be minimum wage legislation heard in his committee this year. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A Maui-based technology fund called mbloom LLC, the first early-stage fund of its kind in Hawaii, said Tuesday that it secured $10 million through a public-private partnership formed with Hawaii State Development Corp. and East Coast-based hedge fund Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission hosts a public meeting on Maui this week on the proposed Maui to Oʻahu Undersea Cable interisland transmission project to connect the electric grids on the two islands. The PUC is gathering input as part of its investigation to determine if the Oʻahu-Maui interisland transmission system, or grid-tie, is in the public interest. Maui Now.

Hawaii's C-minus grade on emergency care environment should not totally reflect on Maui County and Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is "always striving to improve" its services by investing in emergency preparedness, the hospital's top official said last week. Maui News.

Kauai

Two local legislators gave good reviews to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s State of the State speech Tuesday. Garden Island.

County officials announced that Kaua‘i's tsunami evacuation zone maps have been updated, replacing the maps from the 1990s. The updated maps are based on the latest technology, which utilizes bathymetric/ocean-floor mapping and computer modeling done by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Hawaii News Now.

As Kauai considers new restrictions against dogs that bark too much, some residents worry the rules could fuel arguments between neighbors. Associated Press.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has announced it is bringing together a host of top musicians from Hawaii with a Grammy-winning artist in celebration of the Garden’s 50th anniversary. Tickets to the Saturday, April 5 “Musical Legends in the Garden” are now on sale for the four-hour concert set in NTBG’s open-air Southshore Visitors Center in Poipu. Garden Island.