Friday, April 25, 2014

Hawaii Legislature is down to the wire, state's first death penalty case since 1944 troubles rights groups, Chinese tourists seen as 'economic salvation,' ID, please, in GMO lawsuit, Sunshine Law exemption broadens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii lawmakers are confronting a deadline to pass the state budget, but they’re still deciding how to work out key issues that include a historic land-preservation deal and funding for a slew of nonprofits. Legislative appropriations committees have until Friday night to reach agreement on all aspects of the state’s $12 billion budget. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to carve out a new exemption in the Sunshine Law for county councils to get together outside their regular meetings. Civil Beat.

There were surprises Thursday as the clocked ticked toward a Friday 6 p.m. deadline for bills to advance to a final round of votes next week. Civil Beat.

Giving victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to seek justice, state lawmakers agreed Thursday on a bill that would extend a unique window to file lawsuits for another two years and include the state and counties among the potentially liable. Star-Advertiser.

A conference committee of state lawmakers passed House Bill 1926 Thursday to plug the legal loophole that lets police have sex with prostitutes. The committee, chaired by Rep. Karl Rhoads and Sen. Clayton Hee, also reached agreement on House Bill 1750 to combat revenge porn. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is taking Sen. David Ige to task over failing to put $40 million in the state budget to pay the state's share of a sensitive land deal with Turtle Bay Resort. Civil Beat.

The outcome of a decades-long battle to protect O’ahu’s North Shore from development will likely be decided on the last day of state budget deliberations at the State Capitol tomorrow.  Lawmakers have yet to decide on whether to fund the state’s portion of the offer to purchase the coastline property. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Department of Education supports the annual 4.5 percent raises an arbitration panel awarded to principals and other educational officers earlier this week, according to a statement released Wednesday by the department. Star-Advertiser.

US Senate race in Hawaii pits opposing wings of Democratic Party. Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s latest reports with the Federal Election Commission show he’s using his considerable cash advantage to keep him in front of voters while driving even more money to his campaign bank account. The senator, who’s locked in a tight race with U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, is spending his cash on media, polling, fundraisers and political consulting, among other campaign essentials. Civil Beat.

The civil rights compliance director for public schools across the state is under investigation for complaints that she conducted biased investigations and did campaign work for a gubernatorial candidate on state time. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley called China the "economic salvation" for Hawaii tourism but said the state is ill-equipped to handle the expected surge of tourists who are likely to come in future years. Star-Advertiser.

A majority of Hawaii residents support the installation of more rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, while also believing that Hawaiian Electric Co. is slowing these installations to protect its profits, a new poll says, although the state’s largest electric utility pointed out that its rooftop solar policies are not about the financial impact on the Honolulu-based company. Pacific Business News.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 25. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A federal jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday for the first person in the state to stand trial for a death penalty crime. Star-Advertiser.

The possibility that former Hawaii soldier Naeem Williams could face execution is troubling for some folks in a state where the death penalty has not been imposed since 1944. Star-Advertiser.

A Marine who admitted killing a prostitute in his Waikiki hotel room last year was found guilty Thursday of "murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act," a crime punishable by a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Marine Corps said. Star-Advertiser.

Residential towers in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard would be permitted to rise on eight large parcels -- or just two -- under competing proposed amendments to one of the most controversial bills at the Legislature this year. Star-Advertiser.

The City Council Transportation Committee is moving forward with plans to audit the Handi-Van program. But the committee also agreed to a request to delay the start of the audit to allow the impact of planned improvements to be assessed. Star-Advertiser.

For a second consecutive year, the rail project's top executive will receive a $35,000 bonus. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A Big Island papaya farmer will have to identify himself to continue as part of a lawsuit against Hawaii County’s registration program for genetically modified crops, Judge Greg Nakamura said Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Faced with a May 5 deadline to present his final budget proposal to the Hawaii County Council, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Thursday he’s crafting a spending plan that doesn’t take any increases in the county’s share of the hotel tax into account. West Hawaii Today.

Legislators in a joint conference committee opted Wednesday to include a $2 million appropriation in the state’s budget next year for Hilo Medical Center’s fledgling Primary Care Residency Program. Tribune-Herald.

The family of a man who died after being tased by a Hawaii Police Department officer intends to file a lawsuit against the department, their attorney said Thursday. -  West Hawaii Today.

A Hilo jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Hilo man guilty of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault in the shootings of two police officers Jan. 2, 2013. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

East Maui Irrigation Co. and The Nature Conservancy agreed on a deal that will add 3,721 acres of rain forest to Waikamoi Preserve, creating the largest private nature reserve in the state. Maui News.

A portion of the Hāmākua Ditch across the Kailua Gulch in East Maui broke on Thursday, April 24, resulting in a “mud plume” in the ocean near Baldwin Beach Park, officials at Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company said. Maui Now.

Kauai

In a recent online poll question, The Garden Island asked readers, “Who should pay the cost of rescue operations for people who are hurt or stranded on the Kalalau Trail?” Sixty percent voted for the hikers because they were being careless or not paying attention, while 35 percent said the state because it manages the trail.