Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hawaiian Electric, NextEra set public meetings; 80% tax posed for e-cigs; Turtle Bay deal in jeopardy; Pentagon mulls exhuming Punchbowl remains; lawmakers want hotel tax for beaches; Molokai ferry unpopular; UH to study Hualalai geothermal; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy NextEra Energy Co.
Electricity, courtesy NextEra Energy
Hawaiian Electric Co. and Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., which is buying the Honolulu-based utility for $4.3 billion, are holding a series of informational meetings across the state next month to talk about the planned acquisition. Pacific Business News.

NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric will be hosting 13 community meetings across Hawaii to discuss the companies' pending merger. The two companies announced in December that Florida-based NextEra plans to acquire Hawaiian Electric to expand clean energy in Hawaii. Associated Press.

State lawmakers are taking concerns about the pending $4.3 billion sale of Hawaiian Electric Company to Florida-based NextEra Energy to the House floor via a series of resolutions. Tribune-Herald.

News release: NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Companies to Host Open House Informational Meetings. NextEra Energy.

A state Senate committee Monday unanimously approved an overhauled bill that would levy an 80 percent sales tax on snuff, chewing tobacco, small cigars, loose tobacco and electronic cigarettes, with one company saying it would cripple Hawaii's young e-cigarette industry. Star-Advertiser.

Two State Senate committees will vote later this week on whether to advance a measure to set up medical marijuana dispensaries for nearly 13-thousand qualified patients. Hawaii Public Radio.

A bill in the state Legislature was approved by a joint Senate panel Monday that would set aside part of the transient accommodations tax to help fund beach replenishment. Star-Advertiser.

A bill to relax the state's annual motor vehicle safety check requirement on the neighbor islands has been rejected by key leaders in the state Senate and appears to be dead for the year. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would require a comprehensive financial, management and program audit of the Hawaii Department of Education will be heard Wednesday by a state Senate committee. West Hawaii Today.

The $10 million estimates for fixing the leaking, algae-plagued and occasionally stinky reflecting pools at the State Capitol are so high that state officials are asking whether they should remove the water from the ponds in a re-design. Hawaii News Now.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono have announced the formation of a federal judicial selection commission to help to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. The seat will become vacant following the retirement from active service of Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway on Nov. 6. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Neil Abercrombie — ‘I Am Who I Am’ The former governor is on the road ahead as a private citizen after a lifetime of public service. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Gov. David Ige is scrambling to save a "historic" arrangement to protect much of Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort from development after the $40 million taxpayer deal hit a snag over financing he helped arrange. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s plan to conserve 665 acres at Turtle Bay Resort may be in jeopardy after House lawmakers raised questions about a bill to extend the funding deadline for the $48.5 million agreement, which would require $40 million in state funds. Civil Beat.

Housing Program for Homeless Veterans Hits a Snag in Hawaii. Oahu’s tight housing market and landlords reluctant to take federal vouchers are keeping dozens of veterans from getting a place to live. Civil Beat.

The Pentagon is considering ordering the exhumation of nearly 400 sailors and Marines who died on the battleship USS Okla­homa on Dec. 7, 1941, and were buried as "unknowns" at Punchbowl cemetery, so they can be identified and returned to families. Star-Advertiser.

A Danish developer is planning to develop a major offshore wind energy project, which would include more than 100 turbines, in federal waters in Hawaii off Oahu’s northwest and southern coasts. Pacific Business News.

Oahu's homeless problem isn't really getting better. In fact, in some places it seems to be getting worse. KITV4.

Honolulu has been trying many options to get homeless off the streets and into shelters, but there’s no easy fix. Some refer to Kakaako as the third city, in the midst of a construction boom. But within this area is a growing community where, earlier this month, the count of makeshift shelters numbered 123. KHON2.

Hawaii

A University of Hawaii researcher has asked the state Board of Land and Natural Resources for a geothermal exploration permit to conduct a noninvasive geophysical study of the west rift zone of Hualalai, just north of Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Mayor Billy Kenoi on Monday took aim at projects needed on both sides of the island to move Big Island tourism forward. Speaking at a meeting of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii, Kenoi pushed for improvements along Hilo’s Banyan Drive and a renewed effort to make Kona International Airport truly international. West Hawaii Today.

A state Department of Education administrator in Hilo is set to receive $325,000 to settle a wrongful termination case against the state. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii regulators have denied Paniolo Power Co. LLC’s request to consolidate the NextEra Energy Inc.-Hawaiian Electric Co. acquisition application and the Honolulu-based utility’s new energy plan into one discussion, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

The state Attorney General’s Office is appealing a decision made last month to resume Medicaid reimbursements for a Hilo physician accused of fraud. Tribune-Herald.

While it’s not advancing, glowing or steaming, officials said Monday they were not yet ready to call the lower half of the June 27 lava flow dead. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for optimism. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu will be the speaker at the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Membership Dinner on April 14 at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu. Maui News.

Keopuolani Park near the playground area in Kahului was closed Monday morning because of a suspected unexploded ordnance found. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Maui Redevelopment Agency to discuss repairing Wailuku Municipal Parking Lot. MauiTime

Kauai

Kauai lawmakers secured over $60 million for projects across the island as part of the state budget passed by the House earlier this week. Garden Island.

Molokai

Dave Jung, President of the Lahaina Cruise Company, which operates the Molokai Princess, says the future of the Molokai ferry is in jeopardy as ridership is at an all-time low and more people choose to fly to Maui instead of taking the two-hour boat ride. Hawaii News Now.