Tuesday, February 11, 2014

They know about birthing babies, judge says police must release records, stiff e-cig tax mulled, hospital privatization advances, state picks up $5M baggage screening tab, Waikiki tile rainbow to be restored, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Dozens of mothers and their children crowded a hallway at the Hawaii State Capitol on Monday afternoon hoping to shoot down a proposal to increase government oversight of home births. The measure, Senate Bill 2569, creates a regulatory framework for people who help women give birth at home. Home births currently aren't regulated in Hawaii and advocates for the bill say that it would make such births safer for women and their babies. Civil Beat.

Legislation proposing to establish a home birth safety board to regulate midwives and providers drew passionate testimony Monday from both sides of the spectrum. Star-Advertiser.

A new bill in the senate aims at making licensing a requirement for home birth providers. Supporters say educational mandates for those who practice mid-wifery are long overdue, but opponents fear the bill will put an end to the practice. KITV4.

For nearly 20 years, Hawaii police officers who were suspended for misconduct have been able to hide behind an exemption in the state’s public records law that prevents officials from releasing their names and details of disciplinary actions. But on Monday, in a case brought by Civil Beat, Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled that police cannot be above the law when it comes to disclosure of their misconduct.

State lawmakers on Monday advanced bills that could heavily tax electronic smoking devices in Hawaii. People who sell the devices, also called vaporizers or e-cigs, turned out to hearings Friday and Monday to oppose the bills (SB2495 and SB2496). They said the devices help people stop smoking cigarettes and that high taxes could put their shops out of business. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would clear the way for public-private hospital partnerships in Hawaii is getting across-the-board support. Testimony for Senate Bill 3064, which was scheduled for a Senate Health Committee hearing Monday afternoon, shows representatives from a number of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. hospitals are in favor of the measure, which would allow nonprofit hospitals already operating in Hawaii to partner with the state-supported facilities. West Hawaii Today.

Previous measures have failed to get very far at the Legislature, but now that Washington and Colorado have changed their laws on marijuana, Hawaii lawmakers are given the idea another look. Civil Beat.

A bill that would remove the state’s general excise tax from groceries and medical services has stalled in the Legislature. Introduced by Sen. Sam Slom, Senate Bill 2169 would also make seeds and garden plants, as well as meals prepared for those age 60 and above, exempt from the GET. Big Island Now.

Of all the ants in all the world, Hawaii had to get bitten by this one. Hawaii lawmakers on Monday advanced a bill aiming to study and kill the little fire ant, a hard-stinging pipsqueak that threatens the state's economy and ecology. Associated Press.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: Feb. 11. Civil Beat.

State Land Board Chairman William Aila said he will seek fines against two people who damaged a front door of Iolani Palace and made their way into the historic building Sunday morning. Star-Advertiser.

KHON2 has exclusive video of two suspects arrested for vandalizing Iolani Palace over the weekend.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is currently considering his third appointment to the Hawaii Supreme Court. He received a list of six candidates from the Judicial Selection Commission on Jan. 27. Under the state Constitution a governor must make the judicial appointment within 30 days of receiving the commission's list. That deadline falls on Feb. 26. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Health will temporarily be without a director. Gary Gill, who Gov. Neil Abercrombie named as interim director after Loretta Fuddy died in a plane crash off Molokai in December, returned to his deputy director for environmental health administration post on Monday after the interim appointment expired. Star-Advertiser.

The number of discrimination complaints filed statewide increased in 2013, with retaliation as the most common suit against employers. Garden Island.

Scientists are using crittercams and crowdsourcing to bust myths about Hawaiian monk seals.  The incredible footage they're gathering from little cameras mounted onto the seals' backs are dispelling misconceptions many have had about the endangered species. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu
The state Department of Transportation is paying $5 million for a baggage screening contract at Honolulu International Airport that airlines used to pay for, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is visiting the Philippines. Caldwell's office says the purpose of the visit is to strengthen ties, promote business opportunities and renew sister-city relationships. Associated Press.

Come rain or shine, a rainbow always will grace the Waikiki skyline thanks to Hilton Hawaiian Village's $4.25 million commitment to restore the colorful ceramic-tile bands around the sides of its Rainbow Tower. Star-Advertiser.

There’s a proposal to install a zipline above an Aiea neighborhood, but not everyone is happy about it. The Aiea Neighborhood Board will take up the issue at its monthly meeting. KHON2.

Shares of Cardax Pharmaceuticals rose sharply on the first day of public trading for the Honolulu-based biotech firm. Cardax opened at $1.50 a share and rose as high as $3.25 a share before closing at $3.05 in the over-the-counter market. Trading volume was 5,200 shares. Star-Advertiser.

Sir Russell Coutts, CEO of Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA, which won the 2013 America’s Cup in one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, will be the keynote speaker at a Hawaii Coast Guard Foundation event in April. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Legislation seeking an environmental study of Keauhou Bay, the creation of an ocean management recreation area and a moratorium on new commercial vessels permits in the area is likely dead. House Bill 2226 was considered Friday during a joint hearing with the Committee on Land &Water and Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs at the state Capitol. West Hawaii Today.

The state House Committee on Higher Education will hear a bill today proposing funding for the Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program. The program, administered by Hilo Medical Center and Hawaii Health Systems Corp., is viewed as an important tool to help address the Big Island’s growing doctor shortage. Tribune-Herald.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the state’s Clean Air Branch to modify or reissue an air pollution permit for the proposed Hu Honua Bioenergy facility in Pepeekeo. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Home Birth Bill in Senate Prompts Demonstration on Maui. Maui Now.

Kauai

Authorities are investigating the poisoning deaths of five pets in a Kauai subdivision but say it's unclear whether they were intentional. The four dogs and one cat were poisoned Jan. 25 in Kalaheo using paraquat, a highly toxic pesticide used to kill unwanted plants, state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi said. Associated Press.

The Anianiau is one of six Kauai forest birds found nowhere else on Earth, restricted to the high elevations of Kokee and the Alakai Swamp. Garden Island.

Rising for justice. Red flags aim to raise awareness for domestic violence. Garden Island.