Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Transgender birth certificates, out-of-state CPAs, home health care, cop camera bills pending in Hawaii Legislature, Ige appointments scrutinized, iconic "Uncle Robert" dies on Big Island, neighbor island shipping sluggish, Kauai Sheraton to be time-share, more government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Interior of Hawaii Capitol © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that aims to step up police accountability with body-worn cameras. Senate Bill 199 would provide a total of $2.7 million over the next two years to the state's four county police departments to buy cameras for officers and vehicles, if the state allocation is matched with county funding. Star-Advertiser.

The home care industry is using an elderly couple as the impetus for the state to relax restrictions on community care family foster homes, or CCFFHs, that could mean thousands of extra dollars a month for each operator. Civil Beat.

Two bills scheduled to be heard by a Senate committee Friday would authorize out-of-state certified public accountants without a Hawaii license to do business in the state, but both face opposition as some accountants say it will outsource jobs and result in lost CPA licensing fees for the state. Pacific Business News.

Obtaining a new birth certificate that changes gender identification could be easier under a bill at the Legislature. House Bill 631 would allow an individual to ask the state Department of Health to issue a birth certificate changing that person's gender designation by submitting "a statement from a licensed medical or social service provider attesting that the current birth certificate record does not align with the birth registrant's gender identity; and that in the provider's professional opinion the birth registrant's gender designation should be changed accordingly." Star-Advertiser.

The State of Hawaii has successfully completed the upgrade of an important, formerly-at-risk information technology system. Governor David Ige says initiatives like these are a part of long-term plans to improve government functions through increased efficiency via technology upgrades. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Nolan Espinda, the governor’s nominee to run Hawaii’s prisons and the State Sheriff Division has been on the job only six weeks but already he’s churned up the ire of shadow critics, whom I consider cowardly. They have been sending the same anonymous email to the governor, state senators and news reporters. Civil Beat.

Governor David Ige has announced the nomination of two deputy directors to his cabinet, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Hawaii Independent.

Sluggish economic activity on the neighbor islands resulted in volume at Young Brothers Ltd., Hawaii's largest interisland cargo operator, slipping 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: The Legislature has berated the University of Hawaii for lacking a plan to implement cost-saving measures. Now that UH has a long-term strategic plan for capital improvement projects — will the Legislature step up to the plate? Civil Beat.

Oahu

The cost to taxpayers to defend a former Schofield Barracks soldier accused of torturing his daughter to death has risen to more than $5 million, according to data released by the U.S. District Court in Hawaii. That does not include costs incurred by federal prosecutors who took him to trial. Star-Advertiser.

State bills would help rectify injustices caused by Honolulu’s “nuisance” laws. A brief rundown on three bills that would alleviate some of the unnecessary hardship inflicted upon our houseless citizens by city ordinances that target them unjustly. Hawaii Independent.

Lanikai is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but when it comes to parking, it can get down-right ugly. KITV4.

A $6 million grant to Punahou School, expected to be announced Tuesday, will be used to fund another decade of academic programming for a public-private partnership in its 10th year of grooming disadvantaged public school students for success in college. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The Department of Public Safety has placed Ruth Forbes, the warden at the recently re-opened Kulani prison on the Big Island, on unpaid leave in a personnel investigation, sources told Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii County needs to get a better handle on overtime, the use of county vehicles, fuel costs and excess paperwork, according to a report issued by the Cost of Government Commission. West Hawaii Today.

Robert Pookapu “Uncle Robert” Keliihoomalu Sr., an iconic figure in the Kalapana and Hawaiian communities, died peacefully Sunday at his Kaimu home. He was 75. Tribune-Herald.

Marine experts are tracking an adult humpback whale spotted off Hawaii Island with its tail wrapped in several hundred feet of strong synthetic line and dragging a big red balloon buoy. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The future of genetically engineered crops in Maui County remains uncertain. A US District Court judge has delayed the implementation of a ballot initiative that would put a moratorium on those crops. Many backers of the moratorium are frustrated with the delay—and they’re blaming the county attorney, Patrick Wong. Hawaii Public Radio.

While state lawmakers worked on bills to clear the way for public hospitals in Hawaii Health Systems Corp.'s Maui region to be operated by a private nonprofit corporation, Gov. David Ige said Thursday that the state's problems with public hospitals do not affect Maui in isolation. Maui News.

Kauai

The Sheraton Kauai could become a time-share property under a realignment announced by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide this week. Pacific Business News.

Three months after being chosen to manage development of an exclusive, member-only resort community in Princeville, Discovery Land Company has been hired by Ohana Real Estate Investors, LLC to reevaluate its plans for a large and controversial development project near Hanalei Bay. Garden Island.

Intra-state cargo volumes between Honolulu and six neighbor island ports were flat in 2014, increasing by just 0.5 percent against the previous year. According to the Young Brothers, Limited announcement on Monday, Kauai saw a 1.8 percent decline in annual cargo volume for the year, but was one of just two ports that saw a fourth quarter increase with 3.7 percent. Agricultural shipments increase 5.2 percent for the year. Garden Island.