Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Judge strikes down Kauai GMO law, Honolulu running out of garbage to feed incinerator, state fights election lawsuit, crowd gathers to hear about lava danger, absenteeism, math and reading scores drop at public schools, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Katja Jordan King
Kauai anti GMO rally, 2013 photo courtesy Katja Jordan King
A federal judge has struck down a Kauai County law regulating pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agribusinesses, and the mayors of two other islands said the ruling could have wide implications for their counties. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge has struck down Kauai County’s ordinance requiring more disclosure from biotechnology companies about pesticide use and genetically engineered farming practices. The court ruling is a setback for the growing movement against biotechnology companies in Hawaii, where seed corn is the biggest export crop.Civil Beat.

Judge rules Kauaʻi pesticide law is pre-empted by state law. Kauaʻi residents and community leaders respond to a federal court ruling in the lawsuit brought by chemical companies against Kauaʻi's Ordinance 960: “This battle is far from over.” Hawaii Independent.

A Kauai County law requiring companies to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops is invalid, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in favor of four seed companies seeking to stop Kauai’s new law from going into effect in October. Associated Press.

A federal judge ruled Monday that Ordinance 960, a county law regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops, is pre-empted by state law and therefore invalid. Garden Island.

Monday marked a big win for 'big ag' companies on Kauai in district court. Judge Barry Kurren ruled Ordinance 960, which established pesticide free buffer zones, mandated environmental and public health impact studies, and established penalties for non-compliance, was invalid because state laws preempt county laws. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge ruled Monday that a Kauai County ordinance that requires large-scale agricultural operations to disclose the presence and use of pesticides and genetically-modified crops is preempted by state law and therefore unenforceable. KHON2.

A federal judge who struck down Kauai County’s GMO and pesticide disclosure law will also decide the fate of Hawaii County’s ban on most genetically modified crops. Anti-GMO activists pushed for both laws last year, and arguments that they are pre-empted by state and federal law proved to be enough to find Kauai County’s law invalid Monday. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Attorney General's Office in a court filing has asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the primary election. Associated Press.

The state on Monday asked the Hawaii Supreme Court to dismiss a legal challenge to the primary election filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that the lawsuit threatens to derail preparations for the November general election. Star-Advertiser.

With health care premiums and costs going up each year, Hawaii health plans could be subject to a 40 percent excise tax in 2018, says head of Family Health Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association boosted compensation for its chief executive Michael Gold by 19 percent to $1.3 million last year as the state's top insurer prepared to roll out Obamacare. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s elementary schools have significantly improved their attendance rates, according to the most recent results of Strive HI, the state Department of Education’s system for measuring student performance and growth. Schools across the board have also made strides in science proficiency. But math and reading scores are down from last year, while college-readiness, graduation and college-going rates have remained steady. Civil Beat.

After a decade of steady growth, the number of Hawaii public school students scoring proficient in math dipped slightly last school year while reading scores also slid — decreases officials say were expected as the state continues its transition to a more rigorous set of curriculum standards and as schools gear up for a new standardized assessment this year. Star-Advertiser.

The percentage of Hawaii public school students absent for 15 days or more dropped sharply last school year.Associated Press.

Chronic absenteeism in Hawaii public schools showed a significant drop last year, according to the Department of Education’s 2013-14 Strive HI Performance System Results. Tribune-Herald.

Newly minted U.S. Army soldiers marching in graduation ceremonies at Fort Benning, Ga., will soon be treading in the figurative footsteps of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, one of Hawaii’s best-known leaders. The parade field, adjacent to the National Infantry Museum, is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. West Hawaii Today.

Unlike a hurricane or most tsunamis, earthquakes hit with little if any advance notice.  But new technology is changing that. KHON2.

Oahu

After a major expansion, the city of Honolulu now says it's not collecting enough trash for its HPOWER Plant. And that shortfall could cost the city millions of dollars. The city is required to collect 800,000 tons of trash a year for the Campbell Industrial Park power plant, which burns garbage to produce electricity. But right now it's only getting 678,000 tons a year. The city has to pay operator Covanta Honolulu for the difference but so far, the company has not yet told the city what that amount will be. Hawaii News Now.

A Honolulu City Council bill that would potentially exempt a westside landfill from millions of dollars in city fees is generating pushback from the director of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, who says it gives preferential treatment to a single company and could result in a significant loss in city revenue. Civil Beat.

Five bills that would have major impacts on the homeless and others who spend considerable time on Oahu's sidewalks will once again take center stage at the Honolulu City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee meeting Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

City to hold public meeting on homeless bills. KITV4.

New results from the first month of the state's color-coded inspection system show an improvement in the number of restaurants receiving a green "pass" placard. Hawaii News Now.

More than a dozen protesters joined the Sierra Club Hawaii outside Hawaiian Electric Co.'s Ward Avenue headquarters Monday, a day before HECO submits its plan for making the transition to clean energy with the Public Utilities Commission. Star-Advertiser.

The chairman and chief executive officer of a major Hawaii employment firm has stepped down after being arrested for allegedly hiring a prostitute. Matthew Delaney, a co-founder of The Hawaii Group, is no longer involved in day-to-day operations, the company announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Lofts @ The Collection sold out Saturday. A&B Properties Inc.announced Monday morning that the second phase of its condominium development, consisting of 54 units, sold out in a little over half a day. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Hawaii Island public safety officials asked Monday night for Lower Puna residents to remain vigilant as scientists continue to track a lava flow that is now within 2 miles of a populated subdivision. Tribune-Herald.

Members of the Puna community faced many challenges the night of Tropical Storm Iselle.  One was, the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant at Leilani Estates shut down, causing a release of geothermal steam that some people say caused them distress. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Puna Community Medical Center’s plan to bring emergency room facilities to Pahoa took a major step forward Friday with the granting of a 65-year land lease. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the lease request for a 5-acre state-owned parcel on the mauka side of Highway 130. Tribune-Herald.

The attorney for a Kona artist who sued an online publishing company said Monday a settlement reached last week was “amicable.” West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at UH Maui College hosts a pau hana discussion with experts at Green Building Hawaiʻi this Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Maui Now.

Maui Job Corps marks 50th.‘Wonderful alternative’ to traditional school. Maui News.

Kauai

When people in Kauai took to the streets last year to protest against GMO crops, police monitored the demonstrations. But officers weren’t dressed in battle uniforms, and didn’t ride on armored vehicles carrying military-style weapons to confront the crowd. And for the most part, the events went off smoothly. Garden Island.

Pflueger's sentencing in Ka loko dam breach case delayed a third time. Retired auto dealer James Pflueger was scheduled to be in court Thursday, Aug. 28, to be sentenced in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his Ka Loko dam breached on March 14, 2006. Hawaii Reporter.

Lanai

Oracle Corp. billionaire CEO Larry Ellison, the majority owner of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, has added to his property portfolio on the Pineapple Island with a recent purchase of another condominium unit at the Terraces Manele Bay condominium, according to public records. Pacific Business News.