Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Raises for Hawaii principals, UH culls presidential candidates, attorneys call Kauai GMO opponents 'eco-terrorists,' hotel workers fight condo conversion, Mauii stream deal reached, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Earth Justice
Maui stream, courtesy Earthjustice
The state Commission on Water Resource Management has approved a settlement to a decade-long legal dispute that is expected to assure continuous flow of streams in an area of the West Maui Mountains, particularly Iao Stream. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time in more than a century, there will be a steady flow of water from mauka to makai in all four Na Wai Eha streambeds. Maui News.

A decade–long Maui water dispute has been settled. Over the past 10 years, Native Hawaiian and conservation groups have been caught in a legal battle with Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company and Wailuku Water Company over how much water the companies should divert from Na Wai Eha, or The Four Great Waters. These include Iao, Waihee, Waiehu and Waikapu streams. Hawaii Public Radio.

An arbitration panel has awarded annual 4.5 percent pay raises to approximately 850 Department of Education principals, vice principals and other school and district-level educational officers, the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii presidential committee has completed its work and will send a shortlist of names to the full Board of Regents on April 28, according to a UH news release. Star-Advertiser.

The House and Senate remain apart on what to do with the minimum wage. The House wants it to increase to $10 by 2018 but the Senate wants a $10.10 wage by 2017. The House also wants to increase the tip credit — the amount that businesses like restaurants can deduct from employees who rely on tips — to 75 cents by 2016, while the Senate wants to keep it at 25 cents. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Tom Brower hinted Monday at how the Legislature might amend the law that determines how much hotel tax money each of Hawaii’s four counties receives annually. Brower, one of the co-chairs on a joint House-Senate committee that is working on the bill, said the House is working on one of two possibilities: removing the cap in step increases or raising the cap. Civil Beat.

Parents are pushing the Hawaii Legislature to pass a bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, a move opposed by some insurers, who say it could lead to higher costs for people seeking coverage. Associated Press.

House and Senate budget conferees have agreed to a $50 million kickoff of a statewide program to provide financing for photovoltaic and other alternative energy initiatives. It is designed to make clean energy projects available for under-served community members, including low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters and non-profit organizations. Big Island Now.

Hawaii’s healthy citizens owe much to the state’s trailblazing health system and its long history of near-universal health insurance. Tribune.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 22. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A Honolulu City Council committee is planning to take up a measure on Tuesday that aims to protect hospitality jobs lost when hotels convert rooms to condos and time shares. Bill 16 would require companies to apply for a permit before transforming more than 20 percent of their hotel rooms to condo or time share units. Civil Beat.

Chinatown has attracted its share of hip restaurants, bars and art houses over the last decade. Now the lure of flexible office space and business support might attract start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs to the area. Star-Advertiser.

Construction of the Honolulu rail system is expected to spark a development boom along the transit corridor running from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center and a key element in the city's emerging transit-oriented development plans is supposed to be affordable housing. Civil Beat.

CBRE Inc. Hawaii, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the state, is cutting its office space in half at its headquarters in Downtown Honolulu. The “Workplace 360” model, which is currently being constructed in one-half of CBRE’s office at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower in Downtown Honolulu, will be a 100 percent free-address environment, where no one has an assigned office or workstation. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii
Prospects are good that a bill will pass this legislative session allowing experimental sustainability communities in Maui and Hawaii counties, following the appointment of a House-Senate conference committee and dismissal of ethics charges against the bill’s sponsor. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Monday the release of $3.3 million for a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility (ARFF) at Hilo International Airport. The amount was part of a larger release of $335 million for various airport projects around the state. Associated Press.

Hawaii County officials have asked a federal bankruptcy court to allow them to foreclose on $20 million worth of South Kona land. West Hawaii Today.

Three former Hawaii Community College student government officers say they were voted off the Hilo school's student council after trying to account for an estimated $1.8 million in student fees that have been collected over the past five years. Star-Advertiser.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is seeking a new lease for the former HGP-A geothermal test site. NELHA Executive Director Greg Barbour said the new lease would not allow for additional geothermal use on the property. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
A total of $305.5 million is being released for the planned Consolidated Car Rental Facility and roadway improvements projects at Kahului Airport on Maui, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced today. Maui Now.

A teenager who stowed away in a wheel well Sunday during a Hawaiian Airlines flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui was found to be in stable condition at Kahului Airport and was later transported to Honolulu for follow-up medical care, an ambulance company official said. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai’s biotech seed industry is asking a judge to nullify the county’s pesticide and genetically modified crop ordinance without going to trial. Plaintiffs Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Agrigenetics and BASF jointly filed a pair of motions last week seeking summary judgment in their legal challenge of Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491). Garden Island.

County residents can give their two cents on four bills seeking to generate more money for county services and reallocate future tax revenues Wednesday. Of those four proposals which will go before the County Council, three were pitched by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration this year and range from increasing landfill tipping fees to modifying county tax allocations for open space projects. Garden Island.

Jeff Davis, known commonly by his radio show host name, “The Solar Guy,” has announced his run for governor as a member of the Libertarian party. Garden Island.