Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Legislative session opens, Rep. Carroll resigns, Rep. Say residency challenged, Ige withdraws labor chief nomination, Iwase to head PUC, Hawaiian Electric to cut solar rebates, police kill 36 people from 1994-2003, NASA starts Big Island plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A new Legislature officially gets down to business Wednesday, working alongside Hawaii's new governor, as state lawmakers kick off their 2015 legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Legislature: A Guide to the 2015 Session. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige has withdrawn his nomination of Elizabeth Kim to serve as state labor director after learning that under the Hawaii Constitution any officer he picks must have resided in the state for the year preceding appointment, a key Ige adviser said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawai’i since 2000.  But many patients cannot grow or legally obtain marijuana for their own use.  This could change this legislative session. Hawaii Public Radio.

While Hawaii rents have soared, a tax credit for low-income renters has stagnated for a quarter-century at $50 annually per dependent. The legislative session that begins Wednesday will see an effort to raise the credit and extend it to renters who earn up to $60,000. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Family Advocates has appointed two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate James Duke Aiona as its interim executive director, “a change that will strengthen the organization’s ability to speak for families across the state,” according to a news release from the group. Civil Beat.

If it survives the legislative session, a new measure would change Hawaii's Promoting Prostitution law into a Sex Trafficking law that would be tougher on pimps. Advocates believe it would generate accurate sex trafficking statistics and could save those coerced or forced into Hawaii's sex trade. Hawaii News Now.

Disproportionate victims: the māhū prostitute. Discrimination forces many transgender women into prostitution to survive. But once in the sex trade, they are disproportionately affected by both violence and criminalization. Hawaii Independent.

On the eve of the 2015 legislative session, Hawaii officials were reminded at the annual Red Mass of the plight of millions of people mired in crisis around the world. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii police officers killed at least 36 people between 1994 and 2013, most of those in Honolulu, according to data from the Hawaii Department of Health’s Injury and Prevention Control Section. Cops also sent thousands more to local emergency rooms — sometimes with serious injuries — where treatment cost citizens and their insurance companies millions of dollars.Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige said Friday he has appointed Randy Iwase, a former state senator who ran for governor against then-incumbent Gov. Linda Lingle in 2006, to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and to serve as the commission's chairman. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Electric Co. said Tuesday it wants to double rooftop solar capacity while lowering the rate it pays solar customers for excess power, and state lawmakers said they'd like a say in whether to approve that plan. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is lifting constraints on its electric grids on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island that will allow a lot more rooftop solar to come online, utility officials announced at a press conference Tuesday. But the news, cheered by Hawaii’s beleaguered solar industry, was tempered by another announcement by HECO that it hopes to slash the amount that it pays rooftop solar customers for their electricity. Civil Beat.

Board of Education members took an energy consultant to task Tuesday for what they called a disappointing start to a renewable energy and efficiency program touted last spring as a cost-cutting measure to reduce electricity expenses at public schools. Star-Advertiser.

All four of Hawaii's Congressional representatives are Democrats so it's not surprising that they praised President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Members of Hawaii's congressional delegation stood behind President Barack Obama on Tuesday in his call for bolstering the middle class through tax breaks for working families, paid family leave from work and free community college. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

A group of voters has renewed its request for an investigation into state Rep. Calvin Say's qualifications to serve. Star-Advertiser.

An attorney for six residents of House District 20 has renewed a request to have the Hawaii House of Representatives rule on Rep. Calvin Say’s residency qualifications. Civil Beat.

A confusing and potentially dangerous crosswalk on a busy Oahu street prompted KHON2 to seek answers from the city, and we found the incomplete crosswalk is part of a larger issue.

The lawyer for Katherine Kealoha, wife of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, in state court Tuesday attacked the character of her uncle, who filed a lawsuit against her. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Marijuana dispensaries, an aquarium fishing ban, reforming the public hospital system, reapportionment, land use and hunting laws and creating pesticide buffer zones are among West Hawaii state legislators’ list of priorities. Capital improvement projects such as the Kona judiciary complex, updating Kona International Airport, the Hawaii Community College — Palamanui, North Hawaii irrigation systems and a Waikoloa library round out the wish list as lawmakers begin their regular legislative session today. West Hawaii Today.

Agriculture, elections reform and the first lava flow to threaten a town in more than two decades are among the major issues East Hawaii lawmakers will tackle during the session of the state Legislature that begins today. Tribune-Herald.

A community meeting on Puna Geothermal Venture’s plans to drill a new well ended with an arrest Monday evening. Roxanne “RJ” Hampton, 62, of Pahoa was charged with disorderly conduct after she began shouting at PGV representatives and others in the crowd at Pahoa High School cafeteria, witnesses said. Tribune-Herald.

Students from two Hawaii high schools are shooting for the moon, literally. The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems in Hilo announced Monday a partnership with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that will give the students an opportunity to develop a space experiment and send it to the moon’s surface. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Mele Carroll, state representative for East Maui, Molokai and Lanai, will resign from the state House on Feb. 1 due to health reasons. Maui News.

State Rep. Mele Carroll abruptly announced Tuesday, the day before the opening of the 2015 legislative session, she will resign from the House of Representatives because of health reasons. Star-Advertiser.

Representative Mele Carroll delivered today letters to Governor David Ige and House Speaker Joseph Souki announcing that, effective February 1, 2015, she is resigning from representing the 13th District in the Hawaii State House Representatives. Hawaii Independent.

Today Rep. Mele Carroll delivered letters to Gov. David Ige and House Speaker Souki announcing that on she is resigning as representative of the 13th District in the Hawai‘i State House Representatives on Feb. 1. Maui Now.

The state Department of Health began phone surveys of the public Monday for the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Maui News.

Kauai

With the flu season in full swing, public health care officials are bracing for more cases over the next few months but are so far seeing normal numbers statewide. Garden Island.

ReStore celebrates 22 years. Anniversary party for Habitat locale Saturday. Garden Island.