Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hawaii Legislature convenes session with tight budget, Honolulu rail transit tax hike mulled, protestors seek GMO ban, pesticide limits, Native Hawaiian rights, Maui council wants exemption from Sunshine Law, Big Island mayor kills incinerator foe's contract, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy of Robert Harris
Hawaii House opening session, courtesy Robert D. Harris
The Hawaii Legislature has begun its 2015 session with plans to tackle a tight budget and issues including providing affordable housing and improving patients’ access to medical marijuana. The Senate and House opened their sessions on Wednesday morning. Associated Press.

After all the hoopla, the fanfare, the public protests outside and political speeches inside the Capitol as the 2015 legislative session opened Wednesday morning, people retreated to their offices and homes and went on with their day. Except for a dozen lawmakers and a few of the state’s top economists and financial planners. They went to the Capitol’s basement auditorium to talk about the realities that the legislators face. Civil Beat.

Hawaii state legislators convened their 2015 session Wednesday with a modest agenda that might create more public accountability — both for themselves and for Oahu's pricy rail transit project. Star-Advertiser.

The State Legislature officially opened its 2015 session today. Common themes of restoring public confidence in government and no new taxes were emphasized in both chambers. Hawaii Public Radio.

The 2015 legislative session began with pomp, circumstance, and talks of a potential tax increase. Hawaii News Now.

Opening day fanfare and speeches set the tone of the legislative session It's been almost a decade since the rail tax issue spilled onto the floor of both houses. KITV4.

The state House and Senate celebrated the opening day of the 28th Hawaii State Legislature with fanfare Wednesday. KHON2.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s 2015 Opening Day Speech

House Speaker Souki's Opening Day speech

Unsettling Moment During Senator Slom’s Minority Speech.

Opening Day Remarks for the 2015 Legislative Session by the House Minority Leader.

State Budget Director Wesley Machida warned lawmakers Wednesday the state budget could drop into a deficit if any new expenses crop up or revenues decline. Star-Advertiser.

On the first day of Hawaii's legislative session, lawmakers heard about a flurry of financial requests pouring into Gov. David Ige's office. State finance director Wes Machida said Wednesday at a finance committee hearing that requests for more than 1,000 new state government positions were made since Ige took office on Dec. 1. Associated Press.

Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim called for eliminating the state Land Use Commission during her remarks on the opening day of the 2015 legislative session. Civil Beat.

State senators and representatives convened the 2015 legislative session in their respective chambers Wednesday morning as groups advocating for Native Hawaiian rights and restrictions against genetically modified organisms protested in the Capitol rotunda outside. Civil Beat.

A potentially powerful coalition of groups demonstrated at the State Capitol Wednesday on opening day of the Legislature, hoping to pressure lawmakers to pass a law controlling use of pesticides near schools. Hawaii News Now.

Demonstrators and spectators made their voices heard at the state Capitol rotunda before the start of the legislative session on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, shared a positive outlook for Hawaii's economy this year Tuesday during a luncheon in Honolulu hosted by the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii has the fourth-highest number of millionaires per-capita in the U.S., according to a new study. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu


An unusual form of affordable housing on state land in Kakaako is one big step closer to getting built after a state agency approved the 84-unit rental project with lofts for artists Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

After KITV4 exposed the fact that the projected shortfall for the city’s $5.3 billion rail project is actually as much as $910 million, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said rail planners may have missed an opportunity to better explain the issue to the public.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate the completion of the first part of a project to modernize the Honolulu federal building and U.S District Courthouse. Gov. David Ige is among the officials who are expected to attend Thursday’s ceremony. Associated Press.

Katherine Kealoha said in state court Wednesday that the $23,976 she spent from a joint bank account she shared with her grandmother on the January 2010 inauguration breakfast for her husband, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, was money that was owed to her. She said her husband never asked her how much the breakfast cost because she handles all of the family's finances. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A local nonprofit whose director opposes Mayor Billy Kenoi’s plans for a waste-to-energy incinerator has lost its longstanding contract to educate the community about recycling. West Hawaii Today.

Cultural practitioners, environmentalists deliver Mauna Kea demands to Governor No further build-up on Mauna Kea, refusal to accept new UH lease top the list. Hawaii Independent.

As the most recent lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano showed no advancement on Wednesday, two Hawaii island legislators were preparing to propose several bills that they hope will reduce the ill effects of the so-called June 27 lava flow. Star-Advertiser.

Longs Drugs plans to reopen its Pahoa store next week, making it the first major retailer to return since the June 27 lava flow prompted several to evacuate last month. Tribune-Herald.

“They will never forget” France honors Big Island nisei soldiers West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Pot legalization, medical measures on the horizon. Maui News.

The state Department of Health has scheduled a public hearing from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 3 in Wailuku on proposed administrative rules for the medical use of marijuana. Maui News.

Opinon: Maui County Council Celebrates Opening Of 28th Hawaii Legislature With New Bill Attacking Sunshine Law. MauiTime.

Doug McLeod, former energy commissioner for Maui County, and his wife, Kandi, have formed an energy consulting services firm called DKK Energy Services LLC. Pacific Business News.

Kauai

A circuit court judge Tuesday ruled in favor of the County of Kauai and the Planning Commission in response to the county’s lawsuit against a Hanalei resident’s unpermitted boatyard operation. Garden Island.

Emergency responders make up less than half of a percent of the Kauai population.  More are needed. Garden Island.