Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Al Gore raises climate awareness in Honolulu, Schatz holds money lead over Hanabusa, Obamacare health exchange extends sign-up deadline, Oahu farm fined for labor practices, Hawaii County kills homeless bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Al Gore audience photo courtesy Sen. Brian Schatz
Climate change crowd, Brian Schatz courtesy photo
The man who was almost president graced Honolulu with his presence Tuesday and walked us through a "seminar of sustainability." By turns a university professor, a wry observer, a recovering politician, a joke teller and a Southern preacher, Al Gore fired up an audience of thousands at the Stan Sheriff Center to believe that global warming can be stopped. But it's possible only if each of us does our part. Civil Beat.

photo by Robert Olivier
Al Gore
Al Gore brought his inconvenient truth to Hawaii on Tuesday night, praising local officials for making progress on global warming issues but saying there's more work ahead. Star-Advertiser.

Even though the world faces melting Arctic sea ice, more violent storms and flooding, dying coral reefs, more droughts and wildfires, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer suggested in Honolulu on Tuesday that Americans shouldn't expect great solutions from the nation's capital. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz preserved his fundraising lead over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa during the past quarter, but both Democrats saw their donations dip as the competition for campaign money increased nationally. Schatz raised about $601,320 from January through March and has topped $4 million overall, according to his federal campaign finance report. Hanabusa raised about $427,860 during the past quarter and more than $2 million overall, her report shows. Star-Advertiser.

You know it's election season when politicians and political action committees start buying up ads on TV. In the past six months, more than $700,000 has been spent on political TV spots, public records kept by each local TV station show. Much of that has been spent since January, as campaign season kicks into a higher gear ahead of the Aug. 9 primary. Civil Beat.

Help to shape the agenda for the 2014 elections. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii environmental and cultural groups are raising the alarm about two bills in the Legislature that would make it easier for developers to get projects approved without undergoing the state’s review process for historic buildings. The measures, Senate Bill 2633 and House Bill 1678, limit the definition of “historic property” in state law and specify what types of residences need to go through the review process. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers began deliberations today on the state budget in a joint Senate-House conference committee.   The largest state funding outlay – about one-third of total spending – goes to Hawai’i’s public school system. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawaii Health Connector has extended the  initial grace period— which would have ended on Tuesday — given to individuals in need of extra time completing the enrollment application process for health insurance by a couple of weeks to April 30. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers are weighing whether insurance companies should be required to cover more treatments for infertility and to update a law that some say discriminates against unmarried women. The resolution (SCR 35) calls on the state auditor to study the social and economic impacts of the fertility-coverage proposal. Associated Press.

Beginning May 1, the cost of a state identification card and the documents required to obtain a driver’s license will increase. KHON2.

Russia's out and China is in. Two years ago it was the other way around. This year's Rim of the Pacific war games in and around Hawaii, from late June to early August, are expected to be among the biggest ever, with 23 nations and 25,000 people, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature:
April 16. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State briefs for April 16. Associated Press.

Oahu

Fat Law Farm, which distributes herbs and vegetables to Safeway, D. Otani Produce and a number of other stores locally, and is the main exporter of Hawaiian-grown basil to the U.S. mainland and Canada, has been fined nearly a half a million dollars by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour division for its treatment of its Laotian workers. Hawaii Reporter.

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, berthed at Coast Guard Base Sand Island, improperly discharged about 4,600 gallons of wastewater and sewage into Honolulu Harbor, the Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The state House on Monday approved a bill that would place new restrictions on the Hawaii Community Development Authority and increase public notice requirements for development projects in burgeoning Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

If the county moves ahead with the purchase of more than 1,200 acres of Ka‘u coastline, as the County Council’s Finance Committee recommended Tuesday, it will create the largest beach park in the state, Lehua Lopez-Mau said. West Hawaii Today.

Homeless bill heads back to drawing board. West Hawaii Today.

Not a single Hawaii County resident showed up for Tuesday night’s budget hearing. The Hawaii County Council held the hearing at the West Hawaii Civic Center, with videoconference sites in Hilo, Pahoa and Waimea. Council members adjourned the hearing, the first opportunity county residents had to weigh in on the administration’s proposed budget, within minutes of its 5 p.m. start time. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii News Now investigation revealed that Hawaii Community College failed to spend a majority of its student government and activities fees last year, leaving $173,000 leftover, alarming state lawmakers.  Those unspent funds are in addition to $245,000 in publication, recreation and campus center fees for which students said they got little or nothing.

It’s been about 10 years since a Volcano charter school has seen any renovations. But all that is about to change with the recent release of $618,000 to the Friends of Volcano School of Arts &Sciences from Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Tribune-Herald.

A former Big Island man accused of sexually abusing boys he fostered and adopted is shown fleeing a film crew in an online documentary published Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Recent letters to local media criticizing the Maui Humane Society's animal euthanasia practices and urging the organization to hire a new leader with a no-kill philosophy have led some of the nonprofit's board members and supporters to fork out their own money for a public advertisement to address those letters, a board member said Monday. Maui News.

A "Maui County Remembers" memorial fund has been established by Pulama Lana'i to provide financial assistance to the families of those who perished or were injured in the Lana'i plane crash on February 26, 2014. All funds will be allocated to assist crash victims and their families. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

NASA recently showed off a saucer-shaped Mars entry vehicle in California that is bound for Hawaii for a unique series of test flights starting in June. NASA previously said the Kauai flights will represent the first supersonic parachute tests for re-entry missions in more than 40 years. Star-Advertiser.

A rapid transit hub on Eiwa Street and office spaces in the now vacant Big Save building is what county officials are envisioning for the Lihue Civic Center as plans move ahead to redefine the busy area of town. Garden Island.