Tuesday, April 29, 2014

RIMPAC heading to Hawaii, Lingle chairs Djou campaign, Maui to lower property taxes, pot minister gets 5 years, hotel tax downsized, Kauai to make ballot initiatives harder, hospital privatization fails, Hawaii County mulls raises, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

2012 photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
RIMPAC 2012 courtesy U.S. Navy
Twenty-three nations, about 40 ships, six submarines, hundreds of aircraft and 25,000 people are participating in this year's Rim of the Pacific war games in and around Hawaii June 26 to Aug. 1, the Navy said. Details until now have been few, but Navy officials released some of the specifics of this summer's iteration of the world's largest international maritime exercise. Star-Advertiser.

The state's four mayors and County Council leaders failed in their full-court press to get the state Legislature to lift the cap on their share of hotel room tax revenues Friday, but they walked away with $10 million more for their troubles. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would have authorized Hawaii’s semipublic hospitals to work with private partners won’t become law this year. Senate Bill 3064, sponsored by Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, died late Friday night, when officials failed to release it. West Hawaii Today.

A bill to name the ukulele the official state musical instrument stalled and died last week in conference committee because both houses could not reach an agreement. But there is still hope for passage of another measure that could do the same thing before the session adjourns Thursday. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers advanced a proposal on Friday to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by January 2018. Maui Now.

Office of Environmental Quality Control
Wooley
Jessica Wooley, chairwoman of the House Agriculture committee whom Abercrombie has appointed director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control, faces opposition from key legislators in the Hawaii state Senate. So does  Brian Tamamoto, appointed to serve on the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Civil Beat.

Hawaii environmental groups have launched a campaign to pressure state Senators to confirm House Agriculture Chair Jessica Wooley as the governor’s Director of ​the Office of ​Environmental Quality Control. Hawaii Reporter.

A $500,000 pesticide subsidy aimed at combating the coffee berry borer has made it through its last round of negotiations and is scheduled today for a final vote in the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

A cap on the salary Hawaii pays its schools superintendent would get a boost for the first time in 13 years under a bill — initially presumed dead for this session — lawmakers advanced out of conference committee Monday afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would have made it easier for residents of high-rise apartment buildings and renters to switch to solar was killed in conference committee on Friday. Senate Bill 2934 was a priority piece of legislation for clean-energy advocates. The measure would have allowed residents without roof space or those living in areas where Hawaiian Electric Co.’s electric grid can’t accommodate any more solar to still take advantage of solar energy. Civil Beat.

Hawaii ranks in the top 10 in the United States for solar energy with both Hawaiian Electric Co. and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative recognized for being leaders on both the solar megawatts rankings and the solar watts-per-customer rankings, according to a new report released Monday. Pacific Business News.

A state board has issued new rules for solar panel installation that will require journeyman electricians to do more of the work, which is expected to raise the cost of installing the systems. Associated Press.

Hawaii legislators will vote on a bill today that will make it a felony to post a photograph of an individual in the nude without their permission. Tribune-Herald.
copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Lingle © 2014 All Hawaii News

Former two-term Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is chairing Charles Djou’s campaign for Congress, the Republican candidate announced Monday. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Mark Takai has a status that no other candidate in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District can match. Takai is a combat veteran. Civil Beat.

There were 760 fewer visitors arriving in Hawaii each day in the first quarter of 2014 compared with a year earlier, and those who came spent a dollar less per day, as the tourism industry continued to lag behind last year's record numbers. Star-Advertiser.

The US Department of Education released a report on high school graduation rates across the country for 2012 on Monday. For the first time ever, the rate hit 80%. Hawaii beat the national average at 82%. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for April 29. Associated Press.

Oahu

The company contracted to oversee various construction projects at the University of Hawaii is suing the school for more than $4.6 million over complications related to two projects, including $2.8 million for costly delays to the brand-new UH Manoa Campus Center. Civil Beat.

Detractors have called it unaffordable housing, but a planned second tower of the 801 South St. condominium project in Kakaako has attracted an overwhelming number of buyers with moderate incomes. Star-Advertiser.

An undercover sting at a Keeaumoku massage parlor could wind up backfiring on Honolulu Police. Police arrested a 41-year-old woman at the VIP Lounge for prostitution back in February but only after the vice officer said he engaged in sexual activity with the woman. Hawaii News Now.

The state has agreed to settle three alleged abuse cases against Kipapa Elementary School employees for a total of $190,000. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Six county department heads and three deputy directors will get 5 percent raises July 1, but heftier pay hikes for the County Council, mayor and top managers are less certain, following action Monday by the county Salary Commission. West Hawaii Today.

A Big Island man who openly used his ministry to promote marijuana use has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for having 300 pot plants as part of a distribution ring. Associated Press.

The wife of a Hilo man who was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for having 284 marijuana plants called his sentence — and hers — “disappointing." Sherryanne “Share” Christie, the wife of Roger Christie, received a 27-month prison sentence for her role in what prosecutors described as a drug distribution ring. Tribune-Herald.

Bids to complete the Mamalahoa bypass came in slightly higher than Hawaii County officials had estimated they would. But bids for the second half of the project, building a new intersection at the Napoopoo Road junction with Mamalahoa Highway, came in slightly lower than estimates. West Hawaii Today.

Pohakuloa Training Area could see upgrades, including a runway capable of handling large air transports, under a bill aimed at enhancing the U.S. military’s operations in the Pacific region. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Budget and Finance Committee Chair Mike White today announced a proposed average 9% reduction to real property tax rates for the fiscal year 2015 budget. Maui Now.

As the costs of long-term care for seniors continue to climb, especially in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, officials with Maui agencies that deal with aging suggest senior residents take more preventative measures. Maui News.

Kauai

In the future, amending the Kauai County Charter via a citizen’s petition could be more difficult. On Monday, the County of Kauai Charter Review Commission discussed, and later deferred for one month, a proposal that would quadruple the number of signatures required to petition an amendment to the charter from 5 to 20 percent of registered voters. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was honored Monday by the Solar Electric Power Association as one of the nation’s Top 10 utilities for its delivery of solar energy. Garden Island.