Monday, March 17, 2014

Homeless feeding rules could leave some hungry, unions fight pension cuts, mayors lose hope for GET, 7 years to get permits, too much Roundup, Judge Wilson Supreme Court confirmation expected today, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Homeless feeding, courtesy Kona Visayan Club
In a move to help shelters feed the homeless, Gov. Linda Lingle's administration issued an emergency exemption in 2007 allowing groups to prepare food for the needy without having to do it in state-certified kitchens. Now that exemption is coming to an end, and some advocates are saying the new, tougher rules could have some unintended negative consequences for the homeless and those who prepare meals for them. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s most powerful unions are fighting legislation that would cut the retirement benefits of future public employees. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration maintains that the state must take steps to reduce the pension system’s $8.4 billion unfunded liability. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers questioned the head of Hawaii’s health insurance exchange Friday about how the agency plans to support itself financially, saying the state will consider giving the nonprofit money from its general fund if it can’t come up with a plan to sustain itself. Associated Press.

More than half of the $449.5 million in projected military construction for Hawaii was axed from the Defense Department's 2015 budget request, and some other programs are being reduced or eliminated as the Pentagon starts to roll out the latest round of cuts. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate is expected to vote Monday on the confirmation of Circuit Judge Michael Wilson to the state Supreme Court after the nominee emerged from a second confirmation hearing on Saturday unscathed. Star-Advertiser.

After a nearly six-hour hearing on Saturday at the state Capitol, the Senate Judiciary and Labor committee's unanimous decision that Mike Wilson be approved as an associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court remained unchanged. Civil Beat.

A state Senate committee voted to approve Circuit Judge Michael Wilson's nomination to the Hawaii Supreme Court for the second time, setting the stage for a vote on Monday by the full Senate. Pacific Business News.

It doesn’t appear that Hawaii’s mayors are going to get their chance to raise the general excise tax this year. But counties could still get more revenue from a bigger share of the transient accommodations tax. West Hawaii Today.

Is Updating Hawaii's Outdated Farmland Ratings Worth the Cost? Civil Beat.

Hawaii Pubic Radio's news team takes a week-long look at some of the issues involved in the debate about genetically engineered crops in Hawaii.

With assaults from two highly pervasive pests destroying iconic big island crops, the Legislature is working on bills that would send funding to reinforce Hawaiʻi's farmers. Hawaii Independent.

The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission will reopen registration on Monday to allow more people to sign up by May 1 so they can take part in forming a Native Hawaiian government. Star-Advertiser.

Legislature takes up high court nominee, wage hike, ukulele Associated Press.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 17. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Monday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration is creating a new city team devoted strictly to enforcing the controversial laws used to remove the property of the homeless and others that is placed illegally on city sidewalks and in Oahu parks. Star-Advertiser.

The vibrations from the Wai­ma­nalo construction site were so bad last year that neighbors found small cracks appearing in their outdoor retaining walls, interior surfaces, concrete pads and a few windows. Star-Advertiser.

Construction on Waikiki Landing, a planned commercial and entertainment center that is designed to redevelop the gateway to Waikiki and serve as the hub for boating and ocean activities at Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, will begin in May. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County may still get to manage Mauna Kea State Recreation Area after the idea failed to pass the state Legislature last year. Mayor Billy Kenoi said the county and state Department of Land and Natural Resources are in talks over transferring or leasing the 20.5-acre park off Saddle Road to the county. On March 28, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider authorizing DLNR staff to sign a memorandum of agreement with the county, he said. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County business owners, landscapers, farmers, homeowners and county workers are applying too much Roundup, a soil and water conservationist told senators Friday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island public schools are changing class schedules for the next academic year to comply with state laws requiring more instructional time for students. Tribune-Herald.

Cheesery, dairy to open on Big Isle. Tribune-Herald.

The Big Island Press Club has given the Democratic Party House District 5 Council the “dubious honor” of the 2013 Lava Tube award for its “behind-closed-doors handling of a special election naming three nominees to replace Rep. Denny Coffman,” according to a press release. Civil Beat.

Maui

Neldon Mamuad, a part-time executive assistant to Council Member Don Guzman, has filed a federal lawsuit against Maui County, alleging that his First Amendment right to free speech has been violated because he's been pressured to stop work on his MAUIWatch Facebook page. Maui News.

Some Maui preschools are already filled to the brim with reservations for next school year, when the state's new kindergarten age law takes effect and an estimated 800 late-born 4-year-olds in Maui County will need to wait another year before entering kindergarten. Maui News.

The county Department of Housing and Human Concerns is proposing the construction of a 61-unit affordable housing project in Pukalani. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s budget recommendations for the 2015 fiscal year include a $4 million increase to pay for employee raises. To help pay for the increase, the mayor is proposing to raise some taxes and fees. Garden Island.

Families still waiting for justice 8 years after Ka Loko Dam breach killed their loved ones. Hawaii Reporter.

It has been nearly seven years since Kauai Habitat for Humanity administrators submitted plans to build the first 48 homes in the second phase of the nonprofit’s Eleele Iluna subdivision. But the green light needed to push construction forward, in the form of county permit approvals, was only granted for next month — just in time to begin the six-month construction process for the homes. Garden Island.