Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Honolulu Zoo appeals to council, legislative power brokers direct bills, Kauai biofuel plant fired up, rail costs 'alarming,' prison guard misconduct, e-cigs spark ethics complaint, more government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Giraffe at Honolulu Zoo © 2015 All Hawaii News

Loss of accreditation could spell disaster for Honolulu Zoo. That’s according to zoo officials who briefed the Honolulu City Council Tuesday on the status of the zoo. KHON2.

How a Handful of Hawaii Lawmakers Quietly Shapes an Entire Session. House and Senate leaders can give bills a 'kiss of death' or fast-track them toward passage by choosing what committees should hear the legislation. Civil Beat.

An all-encompassing bill aimed at tackling the state's affordable-housing shortage has moved out of a key committee. House Bill 1354, introduced by Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kame­ha­meha Heights-Kalihi Valley) and co-authored by seven others, calls for allocating at least $225 million to various housing agencies with the goal of increasing the market's inventory of homes for low-income and homeless families. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers moved forward a bill Tuesday that would dismantle the recently established regulatory framework for building an interisland cable system to transport electricity from renewable energy projects such as wind, solar and geothermal. But a key lawmaker said the measure designed to derail such a system isn’t likely to ultimately pass the Legislature. Civil Beat.

A number of bills are advancing in the legislature that would outlaw the sale of electronic smoking devices and liquids to minors under the age of 21. Hawaii Public Radio.

Recent bad acts by Hawaii police are fueling a record number of police accountability bills at the Hawaii Legislature this year. On Tuesday, eight bills passed through Sen. Will Espero’s Public Safety Committee with little objection from him or his colleagues, some of whom have been calling for more oversight. Civil Beat.

Following a wave of alleged police corruption, criticism and missteps, a state Senate Committee on Tuesday passed an array of measures aimed at providing greater oversight of the Hono­lulu Police Department and law enforcement in general. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are looking for ways to increase oversight of the state’s police officers after reports of domestic violence by off-duty officers led to diminished trust. Associated Press.

A former prison guard is being sentenced for taking bribes from a Hawaii gang to smuggle drugs and cigarettes to inmates. Feso Malufau is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday. Associated Press.

According to the Department of Public Safety, 18 corrections officers were disciplined last year for various cases of misconduct, including a three-day suspension for erroneously releasing an inmate, a 30-day suspension for workplace violence and one officer who was fired for bringing in contraband. Two sheriffs were disciplined last year for assault of an inmate and failing to properly manage the assault. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering redefining what constitutes rape on University of Hawaii campuses by requiring UH to adopt a so-called affirmative consent standard for investigating sexual assault complaints. Star-Advertiser.

Three Big Island lawmakers have introduced legislation to give terminally ill patients access to drugs and medical treatment that have not received final approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The proposed bills — House Bill 882 and House Bill 92 and Senate Bill 585 — are part of a national movement, dubbed “Right to Try,” that has been gaining momentum. West Hawaii Today.

Opinion: If you need more evidence that our regulation of lobbyists is less than robust, consider the Hawaii State Ethics Commission’s most recent enforcement action. On Feb. 2, 2015 the commission announced it had levied fines against the Land Use Research Foundation, a prominent developer-backed advocacy group, and David Arakawa, the foundation’s executive director, for failing to comply with the state’s lobbyist law during the years from 2008 through 2014. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Which Lawmakers Are the First to Hold Fundraisers During Session? UPDATE Keeping track of of who is taking money since the Hawaii Legislature opened for business. Cha-ching!. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Despite holding monthly sessions on the best ways to keep costs from getting out of hand, the third-party contractor monitoring Hono­lulu's public rail transit project says that it's seeing "minimal" cost containment and calls the trend "alarming." Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell will sign Bill 62 into law on Wednesday, banning sitting and lying in four outdoor malls in the downtown business district, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. Civil Beat.

City officials are contacting roughly 10,000 retailers on Oahu this week to remind them about a major change that will be coming to checkout counters. Some businesses are already gearing up for the plastic bag ban that starts on July 1. Hawaii News Now.

A resolution urging Mayor Kirk Caldwell to develop a demonstration project exploring the viability of shipping containers for low-cost housing won a nod from the City Council Public Health, Safety and Welfare Committee on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The American Dream Is Broken for the Middle Class. The cost of living has eaten away at Honolulu residents' incomes, raising profound questions about many people's future. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A purveyor of electronic cigarette products has filed an ethics complaint against Hawaii County Council Chairman Dru Kanuha, saying Kanuha was unduly influenced by unregistered lobbyists and didn’t listen to constituents in two recent anti-smoking bills. West Hawaii Today.

The state Department of Transportation hopes to begin work on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project this summer. West Hawaii Today.

The owners of Hilo Lanes are asking $3.75 million for the shuttered bowling alley. The business at 777 Kinoole St. closed abruptly in May after operating for 54 years when its air-conditioning broke. Tribune-Herald.

Kauai

Green Energy Team LLC’s $90 million biomass-to-energy facility in Koloa is now hot. The 6.7-megawatt facility is located near Knudsen Gap and will provide about 11 percent of the island’s electricity, relying completely on wood chips. Garden Island.

Developers seeking to rebuild and reopen the historic Coco Palms Resort in Wailua have to wait at least another two more weeks before any decisions are made on their building permits. The Kauai County Planning Commission on Tuesday was unable to make a decision on the construction plans and building permits for Coco Palms Hui LLC. Garden Island.

County of Kauai officials say they will close the dirt parking lot that runs along Nawiliwili Stream and behind the Anchor Cove Shopping Center next week for a two-day pothole repair project. Garden Island.