Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hawaii Democrats to let Ige, other candidates speak, supporters fret over ukulele bill, Maui bans smoking at parks, beaches, Honolulu bans sweepstakes gambling machines, Kauai mulls golf fees, Hawaii garrison tops in the Army, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The decision to name the ukulele the state instrument in Hawaii is proving more difficult than some lawmakers expected. Associated Press.

The National Conference of State Legislatures ranked Hawai’i number one for having the most interesting legislative proposal in the country.   It has nothing to do with the state budget … minimum wage increase or proposals to buy conservation land.  The number one topic in the national publication’s monthly magazine has to do with a bill naming Hawai’i’s official musical instrument. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii on Tuesday evening reversed course and agreed to allow state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, to speak at the party's state convention in May. Star-Advertiser.

Private school teachers typically make far less than their public school counterparts. That applies nationally as well as locally. The median public school teacher salary in the Aloha State is about $55,300 this year, according to Hawaii Department of Education spokeswoman Dara Young. Meanwhile, for a private school teacher it is roughly $48,700, according to Myra McGovern of the National Association of Independent Schools, an umbrella organization that collects compensation data from member teachers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation that would make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds in hopes of giving the state time to run a public education campaign about the change before the school year ends next month. Under Senate Bill 2768, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, kindergarten attendance would be mandatory for children who are 5 years old on or before July 31 preceding the school year. Hawaii's compulsory education age currently starts at 6. Star-Advertiser.

When the chair of the House Finance Committee dropped key provisions of a bill intended to further limit the legal liability of the state and counties for injuries occurring on public property as long as signs warning of dangerous conditions are property posted, some supporters of the measure responded by accusing Rep. Sylvia Luke of violating the conflict of interest provisions of the state ethics law. Civil Beat.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii has received the 2014 Army Community of Excellence Award as the top installation in the Army. Hawaii Reporter.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 23. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings, meetings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 23. Associated Press.

Oahu

The odds are looking good that sweepstakes gaming machines will be outlawed on Oahu after a Hono­lulu City Council committee Tuesday endorsed a proposed ordinance. Star-Advertiser.

House negotiators on a controversial bill allowing residential development in Kakaako Makai are signaling they may be willing to compromise. Rep. Cindy Evans told Sen. Maile Shimabukuro Tuesday at the State Capitol that the House wants "to move" on Senate Bill 3122 "and that definitely we need to find a solution." Civil Beat.

The 21-year-old woman accused of damaging a 130-year-old glass door at Iolani Palace two months ago entered a plea of not guilty Monday in Circuit Court to criminal property damage and burglary. Drew Paahau is scheduled for trial the week of June 23 before Circuit Judge Rom Trader. Star-Advertiser.

On Tuesday, Forest City Military Communities announced the completion of a decade-long military housing proj­ect to renovate and rebuild about half of the Navy and Marine Corps' more than 6,700 housing units in 36 neighborhoods on Oahu and Kauai as part of just such a public-private venture with the Department of the Navy. Star-Advertiser.

Walgreens plans to open its 19th store in Hawaii in Downtown Honolulu this fall right across from its biggest rival, CVS-owned Longs Drugs, a spokesman for the nation’s largest drugstore chain told Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

State officials are proposing two agreements to settle 11 of the 12 complaints against Dr. John D. Stover for medical and dental work. The pre-petition settlement agreements, filed April 15, will be sent to the state Medical Board and state Board of Dental Examiners for consideration. Tribune-Herald.

Changes to flood zone maps in South Kona could mean elevations of houses as well as insurance premiums. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of updating flood maps for several areas in Hawaii County, with South Kona and Waikoloa among the most recent areas. South Hilo will also come under FEMA scrutiny in the near future. West Hawaii Today.

Lincoln Ashida, the county’s top civil attorney for the past 13 years, is moving to the private sector. The longtime government lawyer is resigning at the end of the month to join the law firm Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris. Big Island Now.

A group of protesters gathered outside of Lincoln Park in downtown Hilo on Tuesday morning, sporting signs that read “Aloha not racism” and “Park for Peace.” Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A bill that effectively bans tobacco use at county parks, beaches and recreational facilities in Maui County, passed second and final reading today in the Maui County Council. Maui Now.

The chairman of the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee is not looking to make any "significant rate changes" or to do any "upheaval" to current real property tax rates - in contrast to Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget calling for an across-the-board 6.5 percent increase in rates. Maui News.

Kauai

It’s been eight months since the County of Kauai began closing Hanamaulu Beach Park at night in an effort to combat excessive vandalism, illegal activity and vagrancy. Garden Island.

For more than eight decades, the County of Kauai-owned Wailua Golf Course has been known as one of the more affordable pastimes on the island. But deciding fees for the golf course could change. The Kauai County Council is expected to decide today whether to put the issue on this year’s ballot for voters to decide. Garden Island.