Friday, January 2, 2015

New faces lead GOPs in Hawaii Legislature, governor's administration, Honolulu City Hall, Obama library competition intensifies as Obama Hawaii vacation nears end, Puna senator seeks lava relief, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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House Republicans have organized behind Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang as minority leader for the upcoming legislative session. New Rep. Andria Tupola was chosen as minority floor leader, the caucus announced Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Just in time for 2015, Gov. David Ige has announced seven new members of his Cabinet. The governor named Col. Arthur “Joe” Logan from the Hawaii Army National Guard as adjutant general. Nolan Espinda, the warden at the Halawa Correctional Facility, is the new director for the Department of Public Safety. Carty Chang, an engineer from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, will serve as the acting director for department. Civil Beat.

Snorkeling and shave ice filled the first family's 13th day of their holiday vacation Thursday. President Barack Obama and his family began the New Year under mostly sunny skies as they left their rental home in Kailua for a snorkeling excursion. Star-Advertiser.

In the contest to host his presidential library, two public universities that serve needy communities are pitted against a pair of elite, private schools with seemingly endless money. Associated Press.

Two Chicago universities competing to host President Barack Obama’s presidential library are scrambling to address major concerns raised by the foundation picking the future site, with Chicago’s mayor stepping in to ensure his city stays competitive. Associated Press.

Medical marijuana production centers and dispensaries could become part of the Hawaii landscape as soon as 2017, under recommendations a task force is sending to the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

The Affordable Care Act's temporary payment-increase program for Medicaid physicians is set to expire nationwide on Jan. 1, but Hawaii plans to extend the primary care rate beyond Dec. 31, according a study released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Pacific Business News.

Bigeye Tuna Remains on Hawaii’s Menu — But for How Long? There's been a lot of talk among power players about dangerously declining fish stocks in the Pacific, but action has been insubstantial. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Incoming Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa will head the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, and fellow freshman Councilman Brandon Elefante will lead the remixed Business, Economic Development and Tourism Committee under new committee leadership assignments announced in a memorandum this week by Council Chairman Ernie Martin. Star-Advertiser.

A longtime city refuse worker alleges that employees at the Pearl City baseyard were allowed to drink at the workplace during holiday events. Hawaii News Now.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has released a request for proposals for a contractor to replace approximately 52,000 low pressure sodium (LPS) city streetlights with light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights.  A 2013 pilot project by the city demonstrated that retrofitting streetlights to LEDs provides significant cost savings, greater efficiency and increased visibility. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii

Legislation to provide insurance relief for Puna homeowners and emergency funds for Puna Community Medical Center and two charter schools are among the lava-related bills state Sen. Russell Ruderman says he will pursue this session. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A judge Wednesday dismissed all claims except one brought by a group of Maui Lani homeowners who sued over development of the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex. Maui News.

This was a year of great storms, both political and climatic. Maui Time.


Kauai

The calendar has turned to 2015, and County of Kauai officials are looking at the new year with a list of fresh — and sometimes ongoing — goals. Tackling drug use, citing a new landfill, creating more job opportunities, funding sustainable transportation alternatives and reforming the county’s real property tax system are just a few that individual officials say they want to tackle over the next year. Garden Island.

Kauai will host 900 of the world’s leading information technology specialists this week as they converge for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Garden Island.