Monday, February 9, 2015

Ige looks to lobbyists to fill Cabinet, lawmakers mull medical marijuana dispensaries, 13 vie for Mele Carroll's Maui seat, National Guard leaves lava duty, cutting class time again, those darn albizias, more top government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Jan, 26, 2015 courtesy photo
Ige's Jan. 26, 2015 State of the State address, courtesy photo
Three of the people Gov. David Ige picked to head major state agencies were registered lobbyists for companies, organizations or clients whose interests likely will intersect with the departments they were nominated to oversee. Star-Advertiser.

Fifteen years after medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii, legislators considered a bill Saturday that would finally give patients the ability to legally obtain it even if they can’t grow it themselves. Civil Beat.

A bill in the state Legislature would give voters more information about who is spending money on campaign ads. The proposal would require super PACs and other noncandidate committees to file an additional campaign spending report earlier in the election cycle. Associated Press.

Hawaii Governor David Ige says the state is closely tracking the West Coast terminal labor dispute's potential impact here in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Dozens of Hawaii’s public housing projects have an immediate repair and maintenance backlog totaling an estimated $275 million. Over the next decade, that amount is expected to grow to over $820 million, more than the facilities backlogs for public schools and colleges combined. Despite that, Gov. David Ige recently cut the Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s budget request from $180 million to $5 million. Civil Beat.

A state program aimed at protecting and restoring Hawaii's beaches would get up to $3 million in revenues annually under a bill making its way through the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Affordable housing can be hard to find in Hawaii, and one lawmaker is trying to make it easier on families with Section 8 vouchers. Associated Press.

Starting Monday, inspection reports for developmentally disabled adult foster homes will be made available online for the first time. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers for a fourth straight year are considering dialing back the 2010 law that lengthened Hawaii's school day and imposed minimum instructional hours at public schools. Advocates of the law want to see minimum learning times preserved to ensure consistency across schools and help bring Hawaii in line with other states. But the state Department of Education says complying with the law is onerous for schools and the union representing teachers says it infringes on collective bargaining rights. Star-Advertiser.

After years of trying, advocates for children with autism are hopeful that the Legislature will pass a bill requiring medical insurance companies to provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment. Star-Advertiser.

A slew of bills pertaining to animal welfare has been introduced in the state legislature. Tribune-Herald.

After three years with no cases, 15 people in Hawaii came down with measles last year, and health officials worry that unvaccinated people are endangering themselves and others, including infants. Star-Advertiser.

Heavy rainstorms have become more numerous on Hawaii island over the past 50 years while becoming less frequent in Leeward Oahu and Central Maui, according to a recent study by a pair of University of Hawaii researchers who tie the phenomenon to climate change. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The Army is seeking public comment on a court-ordered environmental study that represents one of the last major hurdles before it can consider resuming controversial live-fire training in Makua Valley. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of a residence on Paiko Peninsula is accused of fiddling with state property and denying public access. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige has announced most of his selections for board members of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency that is in charge of managing land in Kakaako, Kalaeloa and Heeia. Civil Beat.

Home prices on Oahu soared in January, a traditionally slow month for sales, as the median price of a condominium hit a record $381,500, according to statistics released Saturday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

State legislators are taking dead aim at albizia trees in response to the devastation wrought by the invasive species following Tropical Storm Iselle. A total of nine bills directly targeting albizia have been introduced for the 2015 session, including identical companion bills in the House and Senate seeking $2.1 million to remove the most dangerous trees that remain standing near Hawaii Island roadways. Tribune-Herald.

With property lease secured, UH Puako Marine Center project is progressing. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii National Guard’s mission in Puna came to an end this week as the June 27 lava flow continues to show sluggish activity near its front. Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said he amended his request for assistance Monday allowing the withdrawal of National Guard soldiers, who were deployed since late October to help maintain security as the flow approached Pahoa. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Thirteen people have applied to replace District 13 state Rep. Mele Carroll. The 13 submitted applications to represent the district for East Maui, Lanai and Molokai before the deadline Friday night. Associated Press.

Thirteen candidates have lined up to replace state Rep. Mele Carroll - including an executive assistant to Mayor Alan Arakawa, Carroll's opponent in the last election, businesspeople and officials from environmental nonprofit groups. Maui News.

The Maui County Council approved the reappointment of Patrick Wong as corporation counsel in a meeting Friday that drew more than 50 testifiers, most of them critical of Wong's role in pending litigation involving the stalled initiative calling for a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Maui News.

Kauai

Developers who want to rebuild Kauai’s historic Coco Palms Resort must address concerns raised by the state Historic Preservation Division before any county permits are issued. Associated Press.

As a county official who oversees nearly 21 beach parks, two stadiums and 44 parks across the island, covering 487 acres, Department of Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo will tell you there’s a lot of ground to cover. Garden Island.