Friday, April 4, 2014

Fear the frog: coquis invade Oahu, bill limits state liability on public land, Monsanto employees rally on Maui, Molokai, Djou runs for U.S. House, record firearm registration, Honolulu mulls banning sweepstakes machines, upgrades for military at Pohakuloa, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A key state House committee advanced a bill Thursday evening that limits the state's liability on public lands, relieving outdoor enthusiasts worried that litigation fears could lead to parks being shut down. Associated Press.

In a last-minute hearing Thursday, a key House panel passed a bill to protect the state in the case of lawsuits over accidents on public land. It was a surprise victory for fans of extreme sports in Hawaii, particularly rock climbers who have been frustrated by the state's decision to close all rock-climbing sites two years ago over liability issues. Civil Beat.

A bill establishing a framework to allow partnerships between the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and private health care providers is headed to a conference committee, after the House Finance Committee unanimously passed it Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi has ruled that a lawsuit brought by eight Native Hawaiian inmates alleging a violation of religious rights can proceed to trial. The ruling issued Monday by Kobayashi clears the way for a trial that could affect the way prison administrators handle Native Hawaiian religious practices. Star-Advertiser.

A record number of firearms were registered in Hawaii last year, prolonging a run of steady increases since 2000, the state attorney general’s office said in a report released Thursday. A total of 60,757 firearms were registered in 2013, marking a 21 percent increase from the 2012 record of 50,394, the report states. Associated Press.

Jason Bryant says there are two major factors driving an increase in Hawaii’s firearm registration: Individuals who move to Hawaii and bring their firearms with them, and the general populous that is increasingly interested in personal defense measures in this rocky economic climate. Garden Island.

Longtime state lawmaker Romy Cachola is facing a new investigation into claims that he abused his taxpayer funded car allowances. Hawaii News Now.

GOP candidate U.S. House HI01 Hawaii 1st district
Djou
Frustration over the obstacles faced by survivors of soldiers killed in Afghanistan seeking benefits during last year's federal government shutdown helped persuade former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou to enter the Republican primary for the seat he once held. Star-Advertiser.

As was widely expected, Charles Djou is once again running for Congress. Civil Beat.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrapped up the ASEAN defense ministers gathering Thursday, saying the group held "an extremely valuable meeting here in Hawaii." Star-Advertiser.

Six state health exchange directors, including the head of Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange, were grilled Thursday by multiple U.S. House committees trying to determine why the websites aren't working properly. Hawaii Reporter.

State roundup for April 4. Associated Press.

Oahu

State agricultural crews have been busy attacking invasive species on Oahu this week, capturing three coqui frogs and taking 1,000 samples from a newly discovered infestation of little fire ants in Waimanalo. Star-Advertiser.

Two crews from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture captured three coqui frogs last night in separate areas of Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

The Honolulu City Council is proposing to reallocate $41 million in the fiscal year 2015 capital budget to fund a range of projects. This would cut into some of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s top priorities, including his homeless initiative. Civil Beat.

Sweepstakes machines have been the target of numerous raids by Honolulu Police. Now there’s a new push to make the controversial machines illegal. KHON2.

State Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees voted Thursday to commission a master plan that will guide the agency in developing 31 acres in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard. Star-Advertiser.

So who's buying in Kakaako? The answer surrounding one of the most burning questions regarding Oahu's so called “Third City,” at least in one condominium, is mostly locals. Pacific Business News.

A new city law bans rainbow shower and monkeypod trees from being planted on city property. The city must plant indigenous or Polynesian plants, brought over to Oahu prior to western contact, at new or renovated facilities whenever “feasible.” Civil Beat.

A bottled water program at UH West Oahu is not gaining much support from state lawmakers. KITV4.

Hawaii

A new $29 million battle course at Pohakuloa Training Area has gone out to bid, and U.S. Army officials expect to award a contract by May 25. West Hawaii Today.

Days after announcing the selection of their first class of four medical residents, organizers of Hilo Medical Center’s Primary Care Residency Program got word that their request for operations funding had been thrown out of the state budget bill. Tribune-Herald.

A major technology overhaul for Hawaii County government will bring in 600 new desktop computers, 100 laptops and network and security upgrades. West Hawaii Today.

Citing a perceived lack of openness of process and failure to adhere to the state’s environmental rules, the Keauhou Canoe Club is taking legal action against the Department of Land and Natural Resources. West Hawaii Today.

A Circuit Court judge has rejected an attempt by opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope to overturn a construction permit issued by the state. Big Island Now.

Maui

The Maui County Planning Department expects to spend more money in the next fiscal year to accommodate overnight stays on Lanai for planning staff, instead of chartering late-night flights back to Maui. Maui News.

Hundreds of Monsanto employees turned out this morning to demonstrate their support for Monsanto and Hawaiʻi agriculture at rallies on Maui and Molokaʻi. Maui Now.

The county Department of Water Supply has begun issuing Upcountry water meters, a long-awaited announcement for hundreds of property owners who've been on a waiting list for years for water service. Maui News.

Kauai

A large crowd is expected to gather at Poipu Beach Park on Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., for a community-organized celebration to honor the late Stella Burgess. Garden Island.