Tuesday, March 4, 2014

National parks visitors bring in bucks, marijuana decriminalization bill dies, building boom causes construction crane shortage, Kaui council passes dog barking bill, workaround averts silent tsunami sirens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
More than 5 million visitors to national parks in Hawaii spent more than $314 million and supported 3,723 jobs in the state in 2012, the National Park Service said in a new report. Released Monday, the report showed that national park tourism returned $10 for every $1 invested in the park service. Star-Advertiser.

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 5.1 million visitors to national parks in Hawai`i spent more than $314 million and supported 3,723 jobs in the state in 2012. Hawaii Reporter.

Last October was a tough time for visitors and locals who enjoy Hawaii’s national parks. They were closed during the 16-day government shutdown. A new report by the National Park Service estimates a nationwide loss of $414 million and 8 million fewer visitors. Hawaii Public Radio.

Find the full Hawaii National Parks report here.

What Bills Are Still Alive at the Halfway Point of Hawaii's Legislature? Hawaii lawmakers are expected to approve hundreds of bills this week ahead of Thursday's "crossover" deadline when House and Senate bills receive a final vote on whether they should pass from one chamber to the other for consideration. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers plan a fast-paced session of final votes as a major legislative deadline approaches. The House and Senate must pass most bills by the end of Tuesday to send them to the other chamber. Those that miss the crossover deadline can't become laws. Associated Press.

Juvenile offenders in Hawaii could no longer be sentenced to life without parole under a bill scheduled for a vote by state lawmakers. The bill up for a vote in the House on Tuesday would guarantee the possibility of parole to prisoners who commit first degree murder or first degree attempted murder before they turned 18. Associated Press.

A bill that would have made possession of an ounce of marijuana or less a civil rather than criminal offense is dead for the session. Big Island Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday released $96.6 million that will go toward improving Hawaii’s airports, including $50 million for the reconstruction of a taxiway and $35.7 million for a new commuter terminal east of the Diamond Head concourse at Honolulu International Airport. Pacific Business News.

Patent reform legislation that is backed by the Obama Administration and a coalition of Hawaii hotels and restaurants could hurt individual inventors and stymie innovation at the University of Hawaii, local patent lawyers say. The Innovation Act, which is up for consideration in the U.S. Senate just two years after the last major patent reform passed in Congress, is aimed at eradicating so-called patent trolls. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co. has recently sent out new rules to solar photovoltaic contractors to address safety and reliability concerns on circuits with high amounts of PV, including increasing circuit penetration levels, which could speed up the slowing industry. Pacific Business News.

About one out of every four households in Hawaii don’t speak English at home, according to statistics from Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Civil Beat.

State roundup for March 4. Associated Press.

Oahu

International Market Place has stood in the heart of Waikiki for 57 years, but Tuesday it will start to disappear as demolition work begins to clear the way for a new $350 million open-air shopping mall. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell summed up what the International Marketplace means to the community as "there's no more critical place for our visitors, and when it is redone, it's going to revitalize the heart of Waikiki". Governor Neil Abercrombie, also in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony, pointed to the economic impact. Hawaii News Now.

The USS Arizona Memorial has been selected as a design on a new Priority Mail Express stamp to be issued March 13, the U.S. Postal Service announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command plans to move into a new $82 million headquarters and lab being built at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — as the Pentagon and Congress look at restructuring the command and the possibility of moving it to the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the University of Hawaii Medical School disposes of hundreds of pounds of dead research mice each year into the city's sewers -- after cooking them and breaking them down into a soupy liquid.

Construction crews are getting ready to build one of the most challenging parts of Honolulu’s rail project over the H-1 Freeway near the Waipahu exit. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation released a rendering of the area with pillars as high as 35 feet on the freeway, taller than the ones being built in Kapolei. KHON2.

Stakeholders, supporters and opponents of a second 350-foot condominium-hotel tower on Kuhio Avenue are being asked to attend an open, informal meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday hosted by City Council Zoning Chairman Ikaika Anderson in the City Council's second-floor committee room at Honolulu Hale. Star-Advertiser.

So far this year, at least 10 of the mostly yellow tower construction cranes are busy building everything from a Walgreens store to high-rise condominiums in Honolulu. And at least eight more are expected to rise by the end of the year as part of a condo development boom in Kaka­ako. The demand is using up the local supply of 18 cranes and forcing the state's largest crane supplier, Morrow Equipment Co., to ship in more from the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A new report from the National Parks Service estimates its four parks here generated about $153 million in visitor spending in 2012. The parks — Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Puuhonoua O Honaunau National Historical Park and Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site — also recorded about 2.2 million visits annually. West Hawaii Today.

Using a little ingenuity, workers with Hawaii County Civil Defense and Hawaii Police Department managed to avoid a technical problem that might have resulted in the failure of multiple tsunami sirens during Monday’s monthly test. Tribune-Herald.

The historic Koehnen Building in downtown Hilo will soon open its doors for the grand reopening of the Mokupapapa Discovery Center. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Haleakalā National Park on Maui attracted 1,094,668 visitors in 2012, generating $64.4 million in spending, and supporting 736 jobs, according to information compiled in a new economic report released by the National Park Service. Maui Now.

Almost 1.1 million people visited Haleakala National Park in 2012, 14.3 percent more people than the previous year, according to a National Park Service report. Maui News.

Maui County is proposing to drill an exploratory groundwater well in West Maui that officials hope will provide a potential new water source to meet future demand. Maui News.

The Maui County Department of Housing and Human Concerns submitted a draft environmental assessment last month for a 64-unit, multifamily affordable housing project next to the Kulamalu Shopping Center in Pukalani. Maui News.

Kauai
The Kauai County Council passed a bill to assist pet owners whose dogs bark excessively, but also penalize those whose dogs become a continual nuisance. The council passed the bill 5-1 last week after it took up the topic in December saying something needed to be done on the noisy issue. Garden Island.

Waimea resident Arthur Brun has filed to run for a County Council seat in this year’s election. He becomes the third person to declare a candidacy for the seven-member governing body. Garden Island.