Friday, January 16, 2015

Sex trafficking targeted in Hawaii Legislature, Japan prime minister may visit Pearl Harbor, Snowden plans live video at ACLU conference, GMO faces legislative stalemate, UH seeks $75M more, geothermal plant fined for hiding emissions, commission nixes Molokai affordable housing plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The government of Japan sought to tamp down a report by one of its major newspapers that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Pearl Harbor in the spring, 70 years after the war in the Pacific waged by Japan against Allied forces drew to a close. Star-Advertiser.

People who benefit from the illegal sex trade are expected to be the target of new laws this legislative session, including a measure that would get tough on those who solicit prostitutes. Civil Beat.

Hawaii: sex trafficking hub of the Pacific. Prostitution is a major industry in Hawaii, but with no sex trafficking laws on the books, the victims involved in the industry have no protection and no easy way out. Hawaii Independent.

Lawmakers blasted the University of Hawaii for lax oversight of the struggling Cancer Center, which officials have cautioned will run out of money in two years, in a wide-ranging budget hearing Thursday at the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

For some universities, even some the size of University of Hawaii, licensing revenue generates anywhere from millions of dollars to more than $100 million a year. By comparison, nine University of Hawaii patents were issued last year, generating royalty revenue of about $145,000. Pacific Business News.

The University of Hawai’i presented its two-year budget request, asking for a $75M hike, to a joint legislative finance committee today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Health Department Flaunts Law Calling for Online Access to Care Home Reports. Hawaii's program remains far from implementation despite an 18-month lead time to meet the Jan. 1 deadline to make inspection reports available online. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange, Hawaii Health Connector, has been under fire for being the most costly in the nation, and a new report from the Hawaii Commerce and Consumer Affairs Department shows the Connector won’t be fiscally sustainable until 2022. Hawaii Reporter.

The strong positions that Senate Agriculture Chairman Russell Ruderman and House Agriculture Chairman Clift Tsuji have taken on each side of GMO laws almost guarantee a stalemate on issues such as state preemption of county farming regulations, counties’ home-rule rights and just about anything dealing with GMO limits or labeling when the state Legislature convenes for its regular session Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii lawmakers will soon be getting an update about how utilities are dealing with solar connectivity issues. The briefing will be held at the state Capitol on Tuesday. Associated Press.

Bills in the Legislature would make it easier for tourist crime victims to testify. KHON2.

Officials representing the state’s four counties say they will come together to push for five separate bills when the state Legislature convenes next week. Garden Island.

Sam Slom, the Senate’s lone Republican, and minority staff have unveiled their priorities for the 2015 legislative session, which convenes Jan. 21. Civil Beat.

The U.S. government is considering extending to Native Hawaiians the same type of tribal recognition that many American Indian tribes have had for generations, potentially giving special status to more than 200 programs and securing lots of federal money, including nearly $14 million for health care, $32 million for education and $10 million for housing. The issue has reawakened distrust between moderates who generally support the idea and absolutists who want to see the kingdom rebuilt, even if it means chasing an all-but-unattainable goal — dissolving the state of Hawaii. Associated Press.

Edward Snowden, who publicized documents revealing U.S. government surveillance on a massive scale, will appear live via video link from Moscow at a forum in Honolulu on Feb. 14. Star-Advertiser.

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower on the run, will be speaking at ACLU Hawaii’s First Amendment Conference live via a video link from Moscow, Russia next month. Civil Beat.

The nonprofit raising money for President Barack Obama’s future library has picked up the pace of its fundraising, with up to $4.4 million rolling in during the final months of 2014, records released Thursday show. Associated Press.

The flu season has hit Hawaii suddenly with hospitals reporting a surge in patients. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Rental fees and other revenues collected at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park should go directly into a dedicated fund that would pay for improvements, the popular complex's advocates say. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Police Department hiring new dispatchers to take 911 calls. Star-Advertiser.

A study that was just released points out a list of problems with the Makaha's drainage system. One of those is the Makaha stream. When it's not kept clean, it gets clogged and the backed up water overflows into the community. KITV4.

Hawaii

The Hawaii Department of Health on Thursday fined Puna Geothermal Venture $23,700 for violations related to the release of poisonous gas amid Tropical Storm Iselle in August. Associated Press.

The state Department of Health has fined the Puna Geothermal Venture in Pohoiki on the Big Island $23,700 for emission and notification violations related to the release of hydrogen sulfide during Tropical Storm Iselle in August. Star-Advertiser.

With only days to go before the 2015 legislative session, three of West Hawaii’s state lawmakers discussed how they plan to champion West Hawaii priorities and those benefiting the island in general. West Hawaii Today.

Firefighters were battling two brush fires Thursday near Pahoa sparked by lava that had burned a combined 350 acres by the evening. The lava flow sparked both blazes, which were aided by strong winds and dry conditions. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Recognizing that its customers have been "enduring a high bill environment," Maui Electric Co. is forgoing the opportunity to seek an increase in base rates this year, meaning no change to those rates "at this time," according to a Dec. 30 filing with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai's scenic beauty as a popular backdrop among Hollywood producers is fueling a move to build a creative technology hub for filmmakers as well as the community. Star-Advertiser.

The County of Kauai is moving forward with plans to allow Kauai beekeepers to have their hives tested for the presence of pesticides and other threats, including the varroa mite and small hive beetle. Garden Island.


Molokai

The Molokai Planning Commission voted against a community plan amendment and zoning change Wednesday that would have allowed a 16-unit affordable housing project in Kaunakakai to move forward. Maui News.