Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Obama to name Japanese internment camp a national monument, medical marijuana dispensaries advance in House, Senate to hear GMO labeling bill, school lunch prices could increase, Iwase popular PUC pick, Maui biogas project on hold, Galuteria owes $7k for declaring wrong residence, 160 acres on Oahu to be blanketed in solar panels, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy National Park Service
Old Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia, courtesy National Park Service

President Barack Obama will announce Thursday the designation of the old Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia as a national monument to "help tell the difficult story of the internment camp's impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict," the White House said. Star-Advertiser.

For more than half a century, what had once been Hawaii’s largest and longest-operating internment camp was ignored and forgotten. To the hundreds of Japanese Americans who had been forcibly confined at the camp, the experience was a source of shame and rarely spoken of until it was rediscovered by historians more than a decade ago. Tribune-Washington Bureau.

A bill that would establish medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers in Hawaii passed through the House committees on Judiciary and Health on Tuesday afternoon. Civil Beat.

A bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries across Hawaii — nearly 15 years after state leaders made medical use of the drug permissible — is still alive in the House. Star-Advertiser.

Michelle Tippens is one of nearly 13,000 patients in Hawaii who have conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana. But because there are no dispensaries in Hawaii, they’re left to fend for themselves, buying on the black market or growing it themselves. Associated Press.

The state Senate committees on Health and Agriculture will take testimony Thursday on a bill calling for the labeling of food with genetically modified organisms. Civil Beat.

Randy Iwase, whose nomination to head the state Public Utilities Commission was unanimously recommended Tuesday by a Senate committee, said it could take a year to 18 months for the commission to decide whether to approve the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Inc. Star-Advertiser.

There seems to be nothing but love for Randy Iwase. Gov. David Ige’s nominee to head the state Public Utilities Commission easily cleared a Senate committee hurdle Tuesday. He’s on track to be confirmed by the full Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Civil Beat.

Randall Iwase told state senators that if he’s confirmed as chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, he will make public input a priority when tackling the commission’s biggest issue — reviewing NextEra Energy’s plan to take over Hawaiian Electric. Associated Press.

The Governor’s nominee to head the Public Utilities Commission was unanimously approved by a Senate panel today. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Board of Education's finance committee Tuesday tabled a proposal to raise school lunch prices by 30 percent over the next three years and challenged officials to instead look at cutting costs and boosting student demand for meals. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Education is asking for an increase of 10 cents more for breakfast and 25 cents for lunch not just for next year, but for the next three years. KITV4.

Warmer temperatures and unstable conditions created by climate change could make it harder for Hawaii's native species to survive, while creating a opening for invasive disease-spreaders like mice and mosquitoes, state Health Department officials said Tuesday. Maui News.

ALTRES Office/Professional and ALTRES Technical, divisions of ALTRES Staffing, Hawaii’s largest human resources organization, announced today a significant spike in demand for office and technical professionals across all islands. While the state continues to experience unemployment rates at record lows, Hawaii’s available workforce is thinning out. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Gov. David Ige’s nomination of development lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to generate lots of heated reaction. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Hawaii Sen. Brickwood Galuteria owes the City and County of Honolulu more than $7,200 in property taxes and fees after improperly claiming a homeowners’ tax break on property in Palolo Valley for the past four years. Civil Beat.

About 200,000 solar panels may soon cover about 160 open acres of land laced with kiawe trees and brush that stretch from the edges of Kamaile Academy to the base of the Waianae Mountains. The 27.6-megawatt project is one of eight large solar farms planned for Oahu that are expected to break ground by the end of the year in order to take advantage of lucrative federal tax credits. Civil Beat.

Two plans aimed at making it easier for Oahu properties to have two living units, and a bill cracking down on illegal vacation rentals, will be aired by the Honolulu Planning Commission at a public hearing Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Building a 95-unit condominium in place of 19 homes on the slopes of Punchbowl didn't go over well with neighbors when it was proposed eight years ago. Now a revised plan with 140 condo units is raising even more opposition. Star-Advertiser.

Nasty weather over the weekend wreaked havoc on many parts of the windward side including one of Oahu's very popular and illegal hiking trails. Haiku Stairs, better known as the Stairway to Heaven, saw "extensive damage" according to Ernest Lau, Manager and Chief Engineer at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. Lau says that plans are being made to conduct an assessment of the "stairs" and they want to see if a landslide was responsible for some of the damage. Hawaii News Now.

In an effort to combat websites and blogs that have been driving people to the off-limits Sacred Falls State Park, the Department of Land and Natural Resources is stepping up its communication efforts about the consequences of trespassing. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii officials have long been warning people to stay away from Sacred Falls, a dramatic waterfall where a landslide killed eight hikers more than 15 years ago. Associated Press.

Hawaii

What if Hawaii Island residents owned their own electric utility? That’s the question being posed by a nonprofit group that filed on Feb. 11 a motion with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to intervene in the pending $4.3 billion sale of Hawaii Electric Light Co’s parent company, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HEI), to NextEra Energy. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative is seeking a seat at the table as the Public Utilities Commission considers the proposed merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries and NextEra Energy. Star-Advertiser.

Big Island business and community leaders have formed a nonprofit coop called the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative to explore taking over Hawaii Electric Light Co., a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Co. Civil Beat.

An Ocean View man who has become the poster child for the debate over the harvest of aquarium fish pleaded no contest Tuesday to tearing the regulator from the mouth of Maui reef activist Rene Umberger in West Hawaii waters last May. Jay Lovell, an aquarium fisherman of 30 years, received a deferred six-month prison sentence on the charge of second-degree terroristic threatening. West Hawaii Today.

More than 50 testifiers and three experts on aquarium fish collection kept a Hawaii County Council committee busy into the evening Tuesday, as council members pondered two bills attempting to regulate sea life collectors and set standards for transporting fish. West Hawaii Today.

Kulani Correctional Facility warden Ruth Forbes has been put on leave pending a review of allegations by employees at the facility, the state Department of Public Safety said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz will hold a town hall meeting today in Hilo. The meeting will last from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hilo High School cafeteria. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Electric Co. has decided to hold off on submitting to Hawaii regulators a power purchase agreement with California-based Anaergia Services for a proposed agricultural energy project that would generate up to 6 megawatts of biogas energy, according to a letter from the utility's president to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Pacific Business News.

The House Labor and Public Employment Committee on Tuesday passed House Bill 1075, which would allow the Maui region of HHSC — including Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital — to transition into a new private nonprofit under Hawai‘i Pacific Health, the state's largest medical provider. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of State Parks will close the Puʻuōlaʻi (Little Beach) area and a portion of Mākena Beach State Park in South Maui on Wednesday, Feb. 18, while DLNR staff and military ordnance experts conduct an investigation. Maui Now.

Heavy winds and rain Saturday knocked out power to more than 3,500 Maui Electric customers - and to a wastewater pump in Waiehu that caused a sewage spill. Maui News.

Kauai
Officials from Starwood Hotels and Resort say they intend to convert a portion of the Sheraton Kauai Resort into timeshares by the end of this year as a part of a larger proposal to turn the worldwide corporation’s vacation ownership arm into a separate, publicly traded company. Garden Island.