Friday, December 19, 2014

Ige tours Puna lava flow, Honolulu rail $700M over budget, state Supreme Court mulls gay marriage law, e-cig ban coming to Hawaii County, Kauai auditor sues county, environmental workers face job cuts, University of Hawaii wants $70M more, alcohol at Ward theater, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Governor's Office
Gov. Ige lava flyover, courtesy Governor's Office
Gov. David Ige toured the lava flow Thursday by air and on the ground. Ige also spoke at a community meeting Thursday night in Pahoa. Ige, while speaking with reporters, said it helps to see the flow with his own eyes. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday met with civil defense officials, stopped by area schools, and visited the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station where the public may view a cooling lava flow. Star-Advertiser.

The State’s Chief Executive paid a visit to the Puna district Thursday. Governor David Ige’s schedule included a briefing with Hawaii County Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira, a meeting in Kea’au with teachers from schools affected by the Puna lava flow, and a personal look at the lava flow. Big Island Video News.

Gov. David Ige made his first visit to Puna to see the lava flow first-hand Thursday as Hawaii County officials prepare to open a detour on Railroad Avenue. Hawaii News Now.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s gay marriage law, more than a year after same-sex couples were allowed to legally marry on the islands. Associated Press.

With legal opinion nationally shifting toward marriage equality, justices on the state Supreme Court on Thursday took a skeptical view of a state House lawmaker's challenge to Hawaii's marriage law. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens of state workers who protect our environment could lose their jobs because of something that's good for the environment. The state Department of Health says the funding to pay for workers who ensure Hawaii's drinking water is safe, investigate illegal dumping and respond to oil spills and other environmental disasters could run out in less than three months. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's economy is showing steady improvement, with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reporting a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4 percent for the month of November, falling from 4.1 percent in October. Star-Advertiser.

Groups affiliated with Pacific Resource Partnership, an advocacy group for union carpenters and contractors, were fined $3,100 by the state Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday for failing to report expenses and other information. The commission voted 4-0 to levy penalties on the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, Forward Progress and PRP executive director John White. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii System presented its 2015 to 2017 biennium budget proposal to state lawmakers Thursday morning, asking for an additional $35.5 million in general funds for the 2016 fiscal year and nearly $39 million for the 2017 fiscal year, in addition to the $405 million already appropriated by the Legislature for the current fiscal year. Pacific Business News.

University of Hawaii officials want state taxpayers to help the 10-campus system pay its electric bills and unfunded federal mandates like the gender-equity dictates of Title IX that they project will cost more than $70 million over the next two years. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii will wait until after the legislative session to decide whether to raise tuition in the fall, officials told lawmakers Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

An international team led by University of Hawaii scientists says they have set a record for observing the deepest fish during an expedition to the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. The scholars said Thursday they saw the fish more than 5 miles underwater. Associated Press.

Opinion:  Obama does not represent Hawaii. When it comes to the Obama Presidential Library, we're better off without it. Hawaii Independent.

Oahu

The transit system could cost as much as $700 million more than projected, and officials may push to extend a tax surcharge. Facing lagging revenues and soaring costs, Oahu's rail transit system — the largest public works project ever built in Hawaii — finds itself at yet another crossroads. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s $5.2 billion rail project could go over budget by as much as $700 million, causing Mayor Kirk Caldwell and top transit officials to seek more funds elsewhere. Officials blame lawsuit delays, a lag in tax collections and higher-than-expected construction bids. Extension of a tax surcharge may be sought. Civil Beat.

O’ahu’s 5.3 billion dollar rail transit project is facing harsh financial challenges and probably will not be built on budget or on time. Hawaii Public Radio.

It wasn't exactly the news rail supporters wanted right before the holidays, but after crunching all the numbers the cost for rail could come in $500 to $750 million more than expected. Hawaii News Now.

Consolidated Theatres filed an application with the Honolulu Liquor Commission to serve alcohol at its Ward location. The application cleared its first hurdle, but barely. KHON2.

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard said it plans to hire 731 workers this fiscal year, a significant boost for high-paying jobs at the state's largest industrial employer. The shipyard has 4,523 civilian workers and 462 military members. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County will likely start the new year as the only county in the state banning electronic cigarettes at parks, beaches and other public places. A 5-4 council majority late Wednesday passed Bill 302, prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere smoking traditional cigarettes is banned. West Hawaii Today.

The Leeward Planning Commission on Thursday joined its east side counterpart with a vote to place the approval process for PUDs with the commissions rather than solely with the planning director. West Hawaii Today.

The $80 million project to widen Queen Kaahumanu Highway is awaiting sign-offs from the parties that have a stake in how construction is aligned. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Island’s unemployment rate decreased for a third straight month in November, the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Haleakala National Park officials are warning drivers to slow down for nene, which are more active along Crater Road with the arrival of breeding season. Maui News.

Opinion: The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii elevated Christopher J. Benjamin, Alexander & Baldwin‘s President and Chief Operating Officer, to chairman of their Board of Trustees. Maui Time.

Kauai

The county auditor’s civil case against the County of Kauai is back in state court. Kauai County Auditor Ernesto Pasion, of Kalaheo, filed a complaint claiming common law retaliation of the Hawaii Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, negligence, and declaratory relief in 5th Circuit on Nov. 25, 2013. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council voted Wednesday to confirm Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s nomination of two-year Kauai resident Allan Parachini to the Charter Review Commission. Garden Island.