Monday, March 10, 2014

Legislature to tackle budget, Ige pushes gubernatorial bid, Hanohano speaks up, schools lag but some want school year shortened, senator seeks football over shearwater protection, Honolulu studies bike paths, judge blocks GMO law, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
With first crossover now past, the two chambers of the Hawaii Legislature heaped one another with bills last week — moving about 500 combined on Tuesday alone. The remainder of the session, which hits its midway point Wednesday, will begin with those bills grinding through another round of committee hearings on their way to becoming laws or castaways. Associated Press.

Here is the status of major bills at the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session. The bills that are alive have passed in at least one chamber of the Legislature. The bills that are failing were not approved by the state House or Senate by Thursday’s procedural deadline. Star-Advertiser.

State Sen. David Ige said Friday that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has sought to "politicize" the legislative session by blaming him for stalling tax relief for seniors. Star-Advertiser.

Polls offer a glimmer of hope for Ige. Senator seeks bid for governor, says he will win primary. Maui News.

Hawaii lawmakers have killed proposals aimed at raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21 and clamping down on smoking at beaches statewide. But they’re advancing bills that would restrict smoking and make it more expensive, continuing a trend in Hawaii to crack down on smoking in public places. Associated Press.

The rise of super PACs in Hawaii is an outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which said that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting politically independent expenditures made by corporations, unions and associations. Hawaii's super PACS have caught the attention of the Campaign Spending Commission. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s public schools aren’t rated the nation's best, according to a variety of national rankings. Apparently, many state lawmakers aren’t interested in the numbers. They say teachers and students should not spend more time in the classroom, and the superintendent should make more money. Hawaii Reporter.

State Rep. Bob McDermott filed an ethics complaint against Hawaii State Department of Education District Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi Thursday after she ignored his Feb. 28 letter requesting she halt the implementation of a new teacher training program. The program, Teaching Tolerance, was created by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama for K-12 English and history teachers nationwide. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii hotel sales reached a record $1.97 billion last year, and the blistering pace has continued into 2014, with another half-billion in estimated transactions in the first two months alone. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Bike advocates say that Oahu could be on the verge of a biking renaissance that ushers in not only safer conditions, but hopefully a lot more bikers. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has promised to make biking infrastructure a priority and plans to construct Oahu’s first protected bike lane along King Street, running from downtown all the way to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Civil Beat.

City housing officials say they will explain to City Council Budget Committee members Monday that more than $20 million being set aside for their Housing First initiative will help homeless families as well as individuals find permanent shelter. Star-Advertiser.

Dr. Christopher Happy, chief medical examiner, wins the title of being the City and County of Honolulu’s highest paid worker. He filled the long-vacant position in November at an annual salary of $250,000, salary data shows. Civil Beat.

Starting Monday the city’s going to start a sand replenishment project at Kailua Beach Park. KHON2.

The Navy says it will install more monitoring wells around its massive Red Hill fuel storage facility to make sure that leaked fuel that has contaminated the groundwater isn’t migrating toward county drinking water supplies, an environmental threat that state and county officials say is a growing concern for them. Civil Beat.

Station Aloha: A laboratory for studying the sea. Oceanographers gauge man-made changes. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds lined the street to oppose residential development in the waterfront area of Kakaako. The demonstrators said it's one of the last open spaces along the south shore, Kakaako makai, and it should be kept like that. KITV4.

A contentious plan to raise the Waikiki height limit for a second hotel-condominium tower on Kuhio Avenue to 350 feet cleared the City Council Zoning Committee on Thursday, but with a requirement that the developer increase the space between the buildings and add open space and other amenities. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County’s effort to register farms growing genetically modified crops was put on hold Friday. Hilo Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura granted a temporary restraining order in favor of John Doe, an unnamed plaintiff, two days after the deadline for farmers to comply with the county’s registration program. Tribune-Herald.

After criticism, state-wide media coverage, and an official letter of reprimand from House leadership, Puna State Representative Faye Hanohano returned to Hawaii Island where she gave her side of the story in an exclusive interview. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County has a new legislative auditor. The County Council, by an 8-0 vote, approved Bonnie S. Nims to the six-year post, which has been vacant more than a year. Nims, who most recently worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, starts May 1. West Hawaii Today.

The pending sale of 5,880 acres of land in Ka‘u is leaving coffee farmers anxious. The property, acquired by Lehman Brothers last year through foreclosure, includes the Moaula coffee lands, known for producing some of the best coffee in the state. Tribune-Herald.

Kohala Kai developers were finally successful Friday relieving County Council members’ trepidation over approving a public easement through the luxury subdivision after assuring them the historical Ala Loa trail would be protected. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui County Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa was recovering Friday at Maui Memorial Medical Center after she fractured her pelvis in two places on Wednesday as she was rushing from one meeting to another, she said Friday. Maui News.

Haleakala National Park is looking for "fit and enthusiastic" Maui residents to serve as trail stewards. Associated Press.

Kauai

A U.S. senator is asking for a reprieve from the county shearwaters settlement that would allow high school night football games again on Kauai. Garden Island.

Three incumbent members of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board of directors — David Iha, Phil Tacbian and Peter Yukimura — won re-election on Saturday. Pacific Business News.

Connecting the coastal path. New proposal calls for 1.2-mile route to bridge current segments. Garden Island.