Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hawaii unlikely for Obama library, bill seeks to make super PACs more transparent, Haleakala visitor center closes for repairs, Honolulu hotel employees try to unionize, state second in restaurant employees, Big Island mayor holds line on budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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New data released by the National Restaurant Association shows that Hawaii's restaurant workforce represents 14 percent of the state's overall employment — 88,700 jobs in 2015 to be exact — the second highest in the nation. Hawaii follows behind Nevada at 16 percent, and is ahead of Florida at 10 percent. Pacific Business News.

The foundation developing Barack Obama's future presidential library has commissioned polling in Chicago to determine whether residents support building it on the South Side, people close to the foundation said, in the clearest sign to date that the library likely will go to the University of Chicago. Associated Press.

A bill in the Hawaii Legislature would make it easier for voters to understand who is supporting and funding political action committees. The bill targets super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Associated Press.

Mandating the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel in Hawaii was supposed to revive the local sugar industry and make the state more energy self-sufficient, but those plans never panned out. Instead, motorists here have been burning imported ethanol for almost a decade, and some state lawmakers want to abandon the ethanol requirement. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii could formally establish a statewide public preschool program within the public school system under advancing legislation — but the effort is unlikely to see any boost in funding beyond 21 classrooms set up this school year. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers on Wednesday shelved a bill that would have let voters decide whether the University of Hawaii should remain semiautonomous. Senate Bill 637 proposed a constitutional amendment to remove the "exclusive jurisdiction" the university's Board of Regents has over the "internal structure, management and operations of UH." Star-Advertiser.

It's difficult to find anyone who agrees with Hawaiian Electric Company's recent move to block new rooftop solar systems from going online. KITV4.

Living Hawaii: Warning Signs — Many People Can Earn More Elsewhere. The high cost of living in the islands is almost never factored into how much employers will pay here. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Why Does the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Exist? OHA is a well-funded agency with a big and often misunderstood mission on behalf of Native Hawaiians. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A two-sentence state law to boost bicycle safety morphed this month to include a $500,000 grant for Honolulu to help run a vanpool program on Oahu. The evolution of Senate Bill 128 provides the latest example of Hawaii lawmakers shortcutting the legislative process, spurring some would-be supporters of the proposal to come out against it. Civil Beat.

Local developer and former politician D.G. "Andy" Anderson wants to expand Haleiwa's commercial core with more businesses and homes, but the project is drawing flak from North Shore residents. Star-Advertiser.

Unite Here Local 5, the union representing many Hawaii hotel workers, held a rally Wednesday outside the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. Aston workers are not represented by the union, and the rally was in support of winning union representation for Aston workers. Star-Advertiser.

Decriminalizing Homelessness: Bills Take Aim at City Policies. Hawaii legislators are considering several proposals aimed at helping homeless residents affected by Mayor Kirk Caldwell's "compassionate disruption" policies. Civil Beat.

What happens when UH-Manoa faculty, staff cross the line? KHON2.

Each year, the University Laboratory School in Manoa admits less than 60 new students, earning a reputation for being one of the toughest public schools to get into. But now, the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission says a legal opinion by the Attorney General's office has determined that the school's admissions policy is legally flawed. Hawaii News Now.

Waialua Estate Coffee Farms has been trying since December to meet quarantine requirements imposed by the state in an effort to contain the destructive coffee berry borer, the state Board of Agriculture was told on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Property values are averaging about 3 percent higher than last year, giving Hawaii County government enough breathing room to create a no-frills budget without having to resort to increasing property taxes. West Hawaii Today.

The land leases for Uncle Billy’s Hilo Hotel and the Country Club condominiums will expire next month unless the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approves an extension Friday. Tribune-Herald.

Residents of Puuanahulu are hoping to cut their monthly bills by installing a photovoltaic system to power their water supply. The initiative got an initial green light this week with the release of an environmental assessment that found the project would not significantly impact the landscape. West Hawaii Today.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers recently tested two drones in the waters off the Kohala Coast, hoping to someday being able to use the combined technologies to locate vessels and marine life in distress, conduct wildlife surveys and access hard-to-reach areas. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Haleakala National Park Visitor Center has been closed until further notice due to structural damage, according to a Feb. 25 National Park Service news release. MauiTime.

Funeral services for former state Rep. Mele Carroll will be held on Oahu and Maui. Associated Press.

A Maui mother is on a mission to raise awareness about a dangerous virus and to assure all newborns have a fighting chance at life. Krystyn Aguinaldo-Iokia helped craft “Kulia's Bill” or House Bill 782.  It's aimed to educate pregnant women about the dangers and risks of cytomegalovirus (CMV). Hawaii News Now.

Maui's increase in hotel occupancy, room revenue and room rates last year mirrored overall state increases in all categories, Hospitality Advisors reported Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Although the 11th annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon is still a month away, you might need a miracle to get a ticket. People have snapped up 1,050 tickets at $25 each, so the event at the Kilohana Luau Pavilion featuring Christian author Dr. Ravi Zacharias is technically sold out. Garden Island.

A senior engineer with the Department of Water has agreed to an age discrimination settlement with the county. Garden Island.