Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Supreme Court nominees named, GMO labeling bill advances, Monsanto ups Hawaii PR, airport screens for flu, school AC bill dies, unemployment at 4.5%, new buses for Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission has selected six nominees for a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. The commission says Gov. Neil Abercrombie will draw from the list to appoint the judge who will replace retiring Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr. The nominees announced Monday were selected from 16 applicants. They are: Derrick Chan, Jeffrey Crabtree, Craig Nakamura, Richard Perkins, John Tonaki and Michael Wilson. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie must now name Hawaii's next associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court from a list of candidates that includes four state judges, the state public defender and a private attorney. The state Judicial Selection Commission submitted the names Monday to fill the vacancy on the court when Associate Justice Simeon Acoba leaves late next month because of the state Constitution's mandatory retirement provision at age 70 for judges and justices. Star-Advertiser.

A GMO labeling bill passed the state Senate Health Committee on Monday evening but faces a tortuous path to get through the rest of the chamber. The bill would establish labeling requirements, starting in January 2015, on any food sold in Hawaii that contains or was produced with genetically engineered material. Star-Advertiser.

If Monday’s Senate Health Committee Hearing on a bill to require labels on genetically engineered food is any indication, the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Hawaii’s legislative session this year will be emotional. Monday’s hearing was the first time this session that lawmakers took up the GMO issue. The committee approved the bill, Senate Bill 2736, which would require labeling on all food that has genetically engineered material effective on Jan. 1 next year. Civil Beat.

A major seed company in Hawaii wants to improve its relationship with the community after two counties took a stand to regulate pesticide use and growth of genetically modified organisms. Monsanto Hawaii launched a new Web page, www.monsantohawaii.com, as a tool to inform the public about its agricultural practices. Community forums and more farm tours are also planned to respond to concerns, according to Vice President Fred Perlak. Star-Advertiser.

In a decision that strongly reaffirms beaches as a public trust resource, the Hawaii Supreme Court  has ruled the state must consider historical evidence when determining the shoreline. The opinion, released Monday morning, also reiterates the high court's 2006 ruling that vegetation may not be planted to manipulate the shoreline, which becomes the starting line for a building setback. Kauai Eclectic

An ambitious proposal that would have mandated air-conditioning in all public schools within the next five years was shelved Monday by a state Senate committee, which instead opted to have the Department of Education study the issue and come up with a strategy. Star-Advertiser.

A group of lawmakers wants to increase the state dental board’s regulation of dentists in Hawaii by clamping down on the ones who misrepresent themselves as certified specialists and legally requiring board approval of dentists who administer anesthesia and various types of sedation. Civil Beat.

Understanding Hawaii’s early-education initiative. Investing in our keiki through effective early-ed programs will save the state money in the long run, if the governor's proposal finds support in the legislature. The question is the overall quality of the program.  Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Senator Wants to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Drunk Cops. Civil Beat.

Minors, incarcerated criminals and illegal immigrants are represented in the 2012 Hawaii Reapportionment Plan. Military members and their “attached” spouses, as well as non-resident students, are not. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling, issued Jan. 21 in Kostick v. Nago, affirmed the constitutionality of the Reapportionment Plan, issued in 2012. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in December, compared to 5.1 percent during the same month in 2012, the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations said Monday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's seasonally unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent in December from 4.4 percent in November, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Monday. Despite the increase, the report painted an overall positive picture of Hawaii's job market. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: Jan. 28. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Hawaii lawmakers are responding to last year’s molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor by suggesting any fines or settlements the state collects for ocean spills be put toward restoring coral reefs. Associated Press.

A group of state legislators called Monday for several molasses spill-related fixes to Hawaii law. Their proposals come as the public continues to wait for more details on what caused last fall's devastating leak of the thick substance into Honolulu Harbor — and the full scope of the damage it wreaked on the marine life there. Star-Advertiser.

The latest arrest of a Halawa prison guard for alleged drug smuggling is renewing new calls for reforms. And one of the biggest advocates is the head of the prison system himself. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu airport has a program to screen and swab any passengers who appear to have the flu but they depend on the airlines to report it to them. KHON2.

Honolulu city councilwoman Ann Kobayashi has introduced a bill that would allow city officials to remove nuisances on a person's property, outside of a home. KITV4.

Hawaii

State and county officials are working with the federal government to get a five-year exemption from meeting security standards at Kona International Airport in order to reopen an international inspection facility that’s been closed since 2010. West Hawaii Today.

East Hawaii drivers might get a taste of Honolulu-style traffic beginning in March as a lengthy road reconstruction project reduces a stretch of Kamehameha Avenue from four lanes to two. The $13 million project will run from Ponahawai Street to near the Wailoa River bridge on one of Hawaii County’s busiest corridors. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The state Department of Transportation has completed a draft environmental assessment for a nearly $3.2 million project to protect the shoreline and Kahului Beach Road from eroding into the ocean. Maui News.

The Maui County Department of Transportation hosted a dedication ceremony today for the addition of 10 new buses to the Maui fleet. County Transportation Director Jo Anne Johnson Winer said the buses cost a total of $4.8 million and were acquired with 20% county funds, and 80% federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s competitive Administration’s competitive State of Good Repair grant. Maui Now.

Kauai

Lawmakers in both the Hawaii Senate and House are pushing for legislation that would prohibit outsiders from fishing around “The Forbidden Island” of Niihau. Kauai legislators, however, aren’t taking the bait. Garden Island.

A Maui-based attorney is challenging Kauai County’s attempt to obtain free legal services. The procurement protest, filed Monday by Lance D. Collins of Wailuku, alleges the county’s solicitation to defend Ordinance 960 in federal court, regarding pesticides and genetically modified organisms, includes unethical legal practices and violates state and county laws. Garden Island.

The state Department of Health and Kauai County are seeking public feedback on a plan for the expansion and continued operation of Kekaha landfill. Officials will hold a public meeting on the proposal Thursday evening at the Waimea Neighborhood Center. Comments may also be sent by mail to the landfill office, Kauai County's solid waste division and the department's solid waste branch. Associated Press.