Thursday, February 5, 2015

Earthjustice to join Hawaii County GMO battle, House committees mull right to farm, home rule, pesticides bills, lobbyists fined for not filing, House to probe Rep. Calvin Say residency, bill would ban e-cigs, betel nut products at state beaches and parks, retailers prepare for West Coast shipping strikes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii County GMO rally © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii County won’t have to go it alone in its fight to regulate genetically modified crops on the island. The County Council, by a 6-3 vote late Wednesday, agreed to allow attorneys from national advocacy groups Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety to assist in the county’s defense of a lawsuit filed by Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association and other agriculture and biotechnology groups. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii House committee that deals with agriculture will take up bills that tackle pesticides and farming practices. One proposal states that counties should not be able to pass laws or regulations that restrict a farmer's rights. Associated Press.

The Hawaii House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection is holding a hearing Thursday morning on a bill that would block large agricultural companies from spraying pesticides near schools. Civil Beat.

The developer-funded Land Use Research Foundation and its executive director, David Arakawa, have agreed to each pay a $2,000 fine to settle charges for failing to register as lobbyists with the state Ethics Commission. Star-Advertiser.

High-level state employees have agreed to pay thousands of dollars in fines to settle allegations by the Hawaii Ethics Commission that for years they accepted free rounds of golf from top private firms who had business before the state. Civil Beat.

State health officials want the Legislature to bail them out for not meeting a statutorily required deadline to start posting inspection reports for adult care homes online beginning Jan. 1. And Gov. David Ige is looking to help accommodate them, despite saying on the campaign trail last year that he would ensure the deadline was met. Civil Beat.

A proposal to create a new inspector general's office that would have the authority to investigate administrative agencies for complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse or corruption got a cool reception from officials of several state agencies during a state Senate committee hearing Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Employees wouldn't have to give bosses the passwords to their social media accounts under a bill in the state Legislature. Associated Press.

State lawmakers are trying to make voting easier to improve record low voter turnout rates in Hawai’i. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Medical Service Association, which in August stopped selling small-business insurance on the Hawaii Health Connector, is opposing a bill that would force it to reverse that decision. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers want to make the state’s largest health insurer resume selling plans on the troubled state-run health insurance exchange after it withdrew citing technical problems. A bill calling for the move was introduced after Hawaii Medical Services Association, also known as HMSA, stopped selling plans on the employer side of the exchange. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s consumer advocate, Jeff Ono, has recommended that the Public Utilities Commission reject a petition by renewable energy groups to delay reviewing the sale of Hawaiian Electric Co. to Florida-based NextEra Energy until the commission resolves pending cases related to the electric utilities’ long-term energy plans and future business model. Civil Beat.

Bill proposes state-wide ban on tobacco in state parks. Would include electronic smoking devices and betel nut products as well. Hawaii Independent.

A proposal to enlarge the Hawaii Board of Education from nine to 11 members took at step forward Wednesday by gaining the approval of the Senate Education Committee. Civil Beat.

Matson Inc., one of the largest ocean shippers of goods to Hawaii, said Wednesday that cargo will continue to flow into the state, despite a labor contract dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Pacific Business News.

Costco and other retailers in Hawaii are stocking up in preparation for a potential cargo shipment lockout that could happen within a week due to a labor dispute on the West Coast. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii is ranked sixth in the nation for sustainable building design. That's according to the U.S. Green Building Council's annual ranking of top 10 states released Wednesday. Illinois ranked No. 1. Associated Press.

Taxpayers cover costly tab of Washington Place compound. KHON2.

Millionaires aren’t what they used to be, especially not in Hawaii. People who don’t pay attention to real estate markets might not know it, but the days of the million-dollar mansion in the islands are long gone. Today that kind of cash would barely buy this 1,100-square-foot eight-decade-old home in Manoa. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s top epidemiologist says the state is prepared to do “whatever is necessary” to protect the public from non-vaccinated residents who might contract measles. West Hawaii Today.

Opinion: Ige’s Department of Land and Natural Development? Governor Ige's latest DLNR leadership move is a serious blow to advocates for resource protection and the ethical and legal use of water and a boon for development interests. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: The Hawaiians — Building a Nation and the Road Ahead. The time has come to begin answering the difficult questions about what comes next. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Calvin Say
In what's believed to be an unprecedented move for the state Legislature, House leaders have decided to formally investigate whether to strip one of their own of his seat based on residency issues. House Majority leaders announced Wednesday that they've formed a special committee to consider the latest challenge over whether Rep. Calvin Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki) actually lives in the House district that he's represented since 1976, and thus whether he's qualified to represent it. Star-Advertiser.

A group of six state House lawmakers will be investigating whether Rep. Calvin Say actually lives in the Palolo district he’s been elected to represent for decades. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii House of Representatives is taking up a challenge that questions whether a member is eligible to serve. House Speaker Joseph Souki on Wednesday appointed a committee to consider the challenge. It was brought by six Palolo voters who say the former Speaker Rep. Calvin Say doesn't live in the district he represents. Associated Press.

The Hawaii House of Representatives is taking up a challenge that questions whether Calvin Say,  one of its longest serving members is eligible to continue holding his seat. KITV4.

The city is considering dressed-up shipping containers as a way to provide affordable housing on Oahu. At a news conference held Wednesday on Honolulu Hale's lawn, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he wants to work with Faith Action for Community Equity Hawaii, or FACE, and the City Council to find ways to address the housing crisis. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's fourth -- and biggest -- Whole Foods store is slated to break ground later this year on the bottom two floors of a 38-story condominium tower in Kakaako after a state agency approved the estimated $390 million project Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Exclusive, shocking allegations against Honolulu Police Department Officer. Hawaii News Now.

The defense in a civil trial against the Honolulu police chief's wife started its case Wednesday by trying to cast doubt on the credibility of the uncle suing her. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Traffic safety concerns, reduced property values and a lack of water — those concerns are topping the list for Puuanahulu residents who oppose a U.S. Forest Service proposal to locate a science and education center in their community. West Hawaii Today.

Lava rock left by the June 27 lava flow is being cleared from the Pahoa solid waste transfer station this week as Hawaii County prepares for the facility’s reopening March 1. Lava poured through the transfer station’s fence last November and pooled on a driveway used by garbage trucks along its perimeter before stalling. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Despite being one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana 15 years ago, Hawaii's laws regulating how patients can access the drug are still significantly flawed, a state Health Department official said Tuesday. Maui News.

Target will be opening the doors to its first Maui store - one of 15 the retailer will open across the nation this year - in the Puunene Shopping Center in Kahului at 8 a.m. March 4. Maui News.

Kauai

Residents and visitors looking to frolic in clean water should, in general, head for the ocean and steer clear of river mouths. Garden Island.

The Eastside is rocking and rolling with renewed vigor and life, and many are giving credit to the Royal Coconut Coast Association. Garden Island.

A house built from a shipping container was dedicated Saturday at the Kauai Community College in recognition of the student project “Hoouluwehi: Sustainable Living Institute on Kauai,” which is designed to provide students with experience in constructing sustainable housing. Garden Island.