Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hawaii mourns death of Maui state representative, Honolulu council blocks bus money for rail, Aldrich named state librarian, huge Hoopili housing project advances, Maui council nixes county prosecutor reappointment, counties seek greater share of hotel tax, game commission shot down, REIT tax killed, more news from all the Hawaiian islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Rep. Mele Carroll, file photo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Former state Rep. Diana "Mele" Carroll, who was elected to six terms in the House of Representatives and was remembered for supporting issues of the underdogs, died Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii state Rep. Mele Carroll died early Wednesday after battling cancer. She was 50 years old. Fighting back tears, House lawmakers took a moment of silence to acknowledge their colleague’s untimely death during their floor session in the afternoon. A black ribbon marked her empty seat. Civil Beat.

The word “mele” in Hawaiian evokes a song or dance, but at a somber floor session of the Hawaii House of Representatives, “mele” was chosen as the Hawaiian word of the day to honor a former colleague. Hawaii Rep. Mele Carroll, who represented Lanai, Molokai and parts of Maui in the Hawaii House of Representatives for nearly a decade, died Wednesday morning surrounded by family, a spokeswoman for the House majority said. She was 50 years old. Associated Press.

The Hawaii House of Representatives on Wednesday announced the passing of former state House Representative Diana "Mele" Carroll. She died at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 18, with her family at her side. Hawaii News Now.

A black ribbon marked the vacant seat where Mele Carroll used to represent her beloved Maui. KITV4.

Former Maui state House Rep. Mele Carroll was remembered Wednesday as a tireless representative for her district, a great listener and for a calm and mellow demeanor that won over constituents. Maui News.

State House Representative Diana “Mele” Carroll passed at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 with her family at her side. At this time services are pending and will be announced at a later date. Hawaii Independent.

Former State Representative Diana “Mele” Carroll of Maui passed away at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, according to an announcement from the state House of Representatives. Maui Now.

The adult care home industry supported a bill Wednesday that would increase the number and types of facilities subject to having their state inspection reports posted on the Department of Health’s website. A House panel ended up scrapping the plan, but the industry’s willingness to support an expansion of the online posting of inspection reports represented a remarkable turnaround from two years ago when care home operators strongly opposed the idea. Civil Beat.

With state lawmakers in session weighing decisions on government spending, the state Department of Health sent out a message urging the protection of millions of dollars in tobacco settlement funds earmarked for smoking prevention programs. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii Senate panel is planning a confirmation hearing to take up Gov. David Ige's pick to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Senate Committee on Water and Land will hold the hearing on Carleton Ching's nomination on March 11. Associated Press.

The Senate Committee on Water and Land announced today that the confirmation hearing for the controversial appointment of Carleton Ching as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will be held on Wednesday March 11 at 10 a.m. in room 229. Hawaii Independent.

A bill moving through the Hawaii House would enable people to switch the gender identification on their birth certificates without getting gender-reassignment surgery. Instead, they would provide a statement from a licensed medical or mental health provider. The bill advanced out of the House Committee on Health on Wednesday. It now moves to the Judiciary Committee. Associated Press.

A bill to create a statewide game management advisory commission appears to be dead for this legislative session after missing a deadline to be heard by its second committee. The commission would advise the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on hunting matters and be responsible for developing a five-year game management plan, in addition to other duties. Tribune-Herald.

A state Senate panel has watered down a bill that sought to remove a long-standing income tax break for real estate investment trusts that own more than $13 billion worth of property in Hawaii. The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to amend Senate Bill 118 to ask the state to simply study the issue and report back to the Legislature in December. Civil Beat.

Hawaii ranks as one of the top states in the country when it comes to providing the most solar energy jobs per capita, yet the state lost about 400 jobs in this sector in 2014 when comparing the previous year, according to a new report. Pacific Business News.

Stacey Aldrich has been named state librarian to oversee Hawaii's system of 50 public libraries. Previously, Aldrich served as state librarian of California and as deputy secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries of Pennsylvania. Star-Advertiser.

The Board of Education announced a new State Librarian on Wednesday. Stacey Aldrich will take over the position, which was held by Richard Burns prior to his retirement in December 2014. Big Island Now.

Oahu

The proposed 1,554-acre Hoopili housing project cleared a hurdle Wednesday with a unanimous first-reading approval from the Hono­lulu City Council. Bill 3, D.R. Horton-Schuler Division's request for 11,750 housing units, would rezone what are now largely farm lands between Ewa and Kapolei, the largest residential project to be considered by the Council in at least two decades. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s lush agricultural past and increasingly urban future were juxtaposed on both sides of Punchbowl Street on Wednesday as City Council members at Honolulu Hale and legislators at the Capitol discussed the fate of farmland in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A new Honolulu City Council resolution directs that all federal "bus funds" be removed from the financial plan guiding construction of the island's cash- strapped rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council has voted to place city bus funds off limits for the rail transit project. Due to increased construction costs, delays and lower tax revenues, the price tag for the rail transit project has ballooned by $500 million to $700 million. Hawaii News Now.

The City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to remove $210 million in federal bus funds from the rail project's official financial plan. KITV4.

The Honolulu City Council is working to ensure millions of dollars used to maintain city buses and HandiVans will not go toward rail. Concerned about the financial struggles of the rail project, council members are making a move to protect funds for other services. KHON2.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz wants Honolulu’s 20-mile commuter rail line to get built, but he says it will be up to local officials to find a way to pay for it. The $6 billion project has a projected shortfall of up to $910 million, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been asking state lawmakers to increase taxes to bridge the gap. There’s worry that construction could come to a stop by this summer if new money isn’t found. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson says time may be running out to save Haiku Stairs as the Board of Water Supply prepares to set aside $500,000 to study the possible removal of the once-popular Windward Oahu attraction, which gives hikers sweeping views of the Koolau mountain range. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council is considering two bills to provide funding to maintain Waikiki Beach. Hawaii Public Radio.

A city councilman is trying to clean up the parks by keeping drug dealers out. KHON2.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council continued to push Wednesday for a greater county share of the short-term lodging tax, approving two nonbinding resolutions to send to the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

A recycling company is suing the county for $5.4 million, alleging it breached a contract for the removal and disposal of scrap metal from the Hilo and Kona landfills. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court by Honolulu attorneys James Bickerton and Steven Tannenbaum on behalf of Big Island Scrap Metal LLC, the parent company of Island Recycling and Atlas Recycling Centers. Tribune-Herald.

No more Hilo Hattie in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

A U.S. Forest Service plan to convert an old schoolhouse in Puuanahulu into a science and education center is off the table. Instead, the federal agency plans to pursue build-out of the facility at an old landing strip site located within the 38,800-acre experimental Puu Waawaa dryland forest. West Hawaii Today.

Homelessness on Hawaii Island is a challenging issue requiring creative solutions that combine compassion, sustained effort, collaboration of resources and knowledge, county Managing Director Wally Lau said during Wednesday’s Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise meeting. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Five Maui County Council members changed their votes to "no" on reappointing John D. Kim as Maui County's prosecuting attorney Wednesday after receiving distressed "phone calls and face-to-face" visits from former and current employees who criticized Kim's leadership. Maui News.

We look at what state and local government is doing to alleviate their employee parking in Wailuku Town. MauiTime.