Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hawaiian Airlines on time, fiscal watchdogs dispute Abercrombie's claims, Koreatown for Honolulu, Legislature mulls minimum wage, e-cigarette regs, massage therapists, vehicle charging stations; Hawaii County Dems to tighten elections, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaiian Airlines at Honolulu airport (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance of any U.S. airline in 2013, 93.3 percent, making it the 10th consecutive year the Honolulu-based airline led all U.S. carriers in punctuality, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie maintains the government is on strong financial footing, but fiscal watchdogs say because Hawaii’s unfunded liabilities are in the billions of dollars, the governor’s claims are grossly inaccurate. Hawaii Reporter.

So far this session, the Hawaii Legislature is working to make good on its promise to raise the minimum wage, something Gov. Neil Abercrombie supports. HB 2580 also eliminates the tip credit, the 25 cents employers can deduct from the wages of waiters and other employees who depend on gratuities. And it lets the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations adjust the wage in accordance with the Consumer Price Index beginning September 2017. Civil Beat.

Supporters of electronic smoking devices gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday for the third time in less than a week to oppose proposed measures that would highly tax, regulate or ban the increasingly popular products. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers consider new restrictions on e-cigarettes. KHON2.

Massage, spa and escort ads would be restricted under a bill Hawaii lawmakers are considering. The bill targets ads that use the words “massage,” “relaxation,” “escort,” “spa” or “body rub.” It says those ads cannot include physical descriptions or photos of the therapist except for the person’s hands, wrists and forearms. Associated Press.

A bill to impose fines for owners of parking lots who fail to provide a minimum of one electric vehicle charging station and exclusive space is advancing in the Hawaii Senate. Maui Now.

Hawaii's prison system is housing fewer inmates these days. Last year, the state saved $2.5 million by holding fewer prisoners on the mainland, and the state's inmate population decreased by 4 percent overall. A new report credits this to the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) that Hawaii implemented in 2012. Civil Beat.

Doctors, nurse midwives and lay midwives will have nine months to discuss reform of rules regulating home births in Hawaii, based on proposed amendments to several measures before the state Legislature this session. West Hawaii Today.

Beneath the sparkling blue waters of Waikiki's world-famous beaches, an unwelcome visitor called alien algae is killing native coral, chasing away the natural sea life and upsetting the fragile balance of the ocean's ecosystem. Three types of alien algae — Acanthophora spicifera, Gracilaria salicornia and Avrainvillea amadelpha — have formed strongholds around the famous South Shore swells, choking the reefs and overtaking some of the native algae that once grew. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

New condominium towers in Kakaako would be spaced farther apart and rise no higher than existing towers under bills that were advanced Tuesday by a legislative committee that also deferred more radical measures that included a one-year development moratorium for the urban Honolulu area. Star-Advertiser.

A State House Committee today passed 4 of the 7 bills introduced this session to restructure the Hawai’i Community Development Authority.  This following a day-long hearing Saturday involving many Kaka’ako residents who wanted the state agency abolished. Hawaii Public Radio.

Keeaumoku — or as some call it, Korea-moku — is known as Honolulu’s informal ethnic Korean neighborhood, a place to get delicious bibimbap from Sorobel restaurant or pick up gochujang at Keeaumoku Supermarket. A bill introduced by Rep. Sharon Har of West Oahu would set aside money for the state to officially designate the area near Kapiolani Boulevard and Ala Moana Shopping Center as Koreatown. Civil Beat.

Three Senate panels voted on Tuesday to move forward a bill to exchange state land in West Oahu with private agricultural land in central Oahu.  Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz has been advocating for the measure, Senate Bill 3065, as a way to preserve Hawaii’s farmland and help transform the rural town of Wahiawa into an agribusiness hub.  Civil Beat.

A state judge ruled Monday that the Honolulu Police Department must turn over certain disciplinary records requested by Peer News, which does business in Hawaii as Honolulu Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

A state judge said she’ll rule within three weeks on a request by a Honolulu newspaper and a television station to unseal transcripts of closed proceedings when she declared a mistrial for a federal agent charged with murder. Associated Press.

Hawaii

Allegations of a “rigged” election have been dismissed by local Democrats, who vowed Tuesday to create clearer rules governing the process of replacing state lawmakers who leave before their term is complete. At issue was the Dec. 27 District 5 Council election that sent three candidates to Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace former Rep. Denny Coffman, who resigned a year shy of the completion of his third term. West Hawaii Today.

Legal counsel acting on behalf of Thirty Meter Telescope Corp. will head to court at 8 a.m. next Thursday. The move comes after the TMT Corp. requested to file an amicus curiae brief, also known as a friends of the court brief, in the case involving six petitioners opposing the state’s approval process for issuing a permit for the construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes atop Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

Hunters working for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources are allowed to use suppressors, sometimes called silencers, on their rifles, the department’s chairman said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A controversial measure giving the Legislature more authority to determine what is a public trail cleared a key Senate committee Tuesday. But Senate Bill 2728, backed by Maui Sen. Kalani English, is particularly raising the eyebrows of a trail-advocacy group that has sued a Maui company over trail access. Civil Beat.

Maui County's administration wants to outlaw electronic smoking devices at all county properties where tobacco smoking is prohibited. Maui News.

Kauai

A review committee has rejected free legal services offered by attorney Teresa Tico to defend Kauai County against a lawsuit filed by three seed companies to block a new GMO and pesticide law. Kauai County solicited pro bono legal services concerning a lawsuit filed by Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics Inc., doing business as Dow AgroSciences. Star-Advertiser.

A review committee rejected an offer from a pair of attorneys to defend the County of Kauai for free in the lawsuit challenging county Ordinance 960 related to pesticides and genetically modified crops. The lone offer to provide pro-bono representation was submitted Jan. 27 by Teresa Tico, former head of the Kauai Bar Association, and Peter Schey, head of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. Garden Island.

Bird’s-eye view. NestCam gives world close-up look at Kauai albatross. Garden Island.