Thursday, February 20, 2014

Raising the minimum wage, building prisons, lobbyist influence, UH president sought, Ethics Commission examines lawmakers' expense accounts, VA to allow water catchment loans, embattled Kauai police commissioner resigns, Maui college chancellor retires, Mufi may run, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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State House and Senate leaders have reached an understanding on raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour by January 2018 and expanding a tip credit to 75 cents, but an influential state senator wants a debate over the tip credit before signing off on the agreement. Star-Advertiser.

Public Safety Director Ted Sakai told lawmakers Wednesday that officials are evaluating 13 design-build proposals and alternative funding ideas submitted by private firms and partnerships hoping to help the state build new jails and more prison space. Sakai didn't offer up much detail on any of the proposals to a joint meeting of the state Senate and House Public Safety committees. Star-Advertiser.

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Hannemann
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said Wednesday that he would seriously consider running for governor as an independent if his allies collect enough signatures to get certified as a new Hawaii Independent Party. Organizers have until Thursday afternoon to collect the necessary 706 signatures from registered voters for a petition to the state Office of Elections. Star-Advertiser.

Lobbyists Test Another Path to Influence. Civil Beat.

Should state lawmakers spend taxpayer dollars to keep their aloha shirts clean and their suits pressed? What about legislators using public money to send flowers to the family of a friend who died? Or buying a birthday cake for a staff member? The state Ethics Commission began Wednesday to examine the way Hawaii’s 51 House reps and 26 senators spend their legislative allowances each year. The commission did so after receiving complaints from a couple of lawmakers. Civil Beat.

The state legislature wants the state administration to track body fat on children ages 2 to 18 years old. Senate Bill 2351 requires primary care physicians and pediatricians to provide an annual body mass index measurement to patients from age two to eighteen years and then tally that up and report the age and body mass index statistics to the Hawaii health information exchange. Hawaii Reporter.

State House leaders hope to meet privately with state Rep. Faye Hanohano to discuss how the chamber should respond to several complaints about her conduct. Among the options, according to House sources, would be for Hanohano to apologize; for House leaders to remove her as chairwoman of the House Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee; or for the House to censure her. Star-Advertiser.

Rep. Faye Hanohano is in hot water again over allegations of racially discriminatory behavior. Tribune-Herald.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs today announced it will resume its policy of allowing homes with water catchment systems for use as collateral for VA loans. Big Island Now.

What you need to know about the state regulatory entity responsible for addressing ethical issues involving legislators, registered lobbyists, and state employees. Hawaii Independent.

The University of Hawaii is advertising for a new president. The university said Wednesday print and online advertisements will appear in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Midweek and Pacific Business News in Hawaii. Nationally, the ads will appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Star-Advertiser.

State Senate leaders were upset after Hawaii News Now revealed that the state's new safety check program has a big problem: common household cleaners such as rubbing alcohol and nail polish wipe away the printing from new safety check decals.

Hawaii has the lowest number of Obamacare enrollments in the nation, through its Hawaii Health Connector, leading lawmakers on the House Consumer Protection Committee to consider a $15 million a year state funded replacement. Hawaii Independent.

The number of new motor vehicle registrations in Hawaii rose nearly 15 percent in 2013, according to a report from the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, which attributed the increase to low interest rates and strong affordability. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for February 20. Associated Press.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal to raise or begin charging fees for more than 40 permits and services tied to land use hit a snag at what was expected to be a final vote at a City Council meeting on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan to begin charging Oahu property owners $10 a month for trash pickup cleared its first hurdle Wednesday but appears to have a long way to go before it becomes law. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha could see another salary bump in the coming fiscal year. So too could his deputy and assistant chiefs.Civil Beat.

Honolulu Police have a new weapon in their crime fighting arsenal – and it pairs a camera with a computer. Police say the Automated License Plate Technology will help them in their fight against crime, but there are people who are concerned about their right to privacy. KHON2.

A bill moving through the state Legislature would require all Hawaii government agencies located near a planned rail station form a consortium to study how Honolulu’s rail transit project will affect the local workforce and housing. Pacific Business News.

For many Hawaii residents, the rural town of Wahiawa in central Oahu is just a place you drive through when traveling to the beaches on the North Shore or commuting to urban Honolulu. But Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is hoping to change all that. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Home rule was back before the Hawaii County Council Wednesday morning at the West Hawaii Civic Center. West Hawaii Today.

Native Hawaiian practitioner Kalani Flores recognizes Mauna Kea for more than its scenic views and pristine hiking opportunities. With a hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. today in Hilo’s Third Circuit Court, Ching and Flores visited the mountain to pay their respects. Tribune-Herald.

The State Department of Health has introduced new, more stringent regulations for food safety in commercial establishments.  Under the old rules, low income and homeless feeding programs were exempted from some of the provisions.  But that's changing, and it will have a direct impact on Hawaii Island. Hawaii Public Radio.

Maui

University of Hawaii Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto will retire this fall, after leading the Maui campus for more than two decades. Sakamoto, who is credited with pioneering distance learning opportunities across Maui County's three islands, will retire at the end of October, UH announced Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Beginning March 1, Maui Memorial Medical Center will be transitioning from a paper-based records system to an electronic medical records system that officials say will improve patient care and safety and could even earn the hospital about $4 million in federal funds. Maui News.

It's a racial rant that has been seen by more than a quarter of a million people.  A 21-year old man, with a criminal past, was caught on cell phone video unleashing racial statements against a Kihei couple and their friends at Kalama Beach Park. Hawaii News Now.

An adult humpback whale was freed of hundreds of feet of small gauge line during a successful disentanglement effort conducted this morning in waters off of West Maui, marine officials said. Maui Now.

Kauai

A Lihue man under federal investigation regarding gambling allegations has resigned his post as a Kauai Police Commissioner. Bradley Chiba is allegedly under investigation for illegal gambling. He was serving his fourth year as a commissioner. Garden Island.

Stella Burgess, a longtime South Shore resident, community leader and director of Hawaiian culture for the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, died late Tuesday night at her Koloa home with family and friends surrounding her. She was 61. Garden Island.