Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Honolulu airport weak link in pregnant Chinese migration; medical marijuana dispensaries, pesticide disclosure, Maui hospital privatization bills advance; prison guard sick days out of control; rail costs skyrocket; Maui prosecutor retained, geothermal lawsuit continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Some pregnant Chinese nationals bound for "birthing houses" in Los Angeles to deliver their babies as U.S. citizens were instructed to enter America through Honolulu Airport, where custom inspectors were considered to be more lax, according to federal affidavits unsealed Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

With Clayton Hee Gone, Campaign Finance Reform Is Moving Forward. Among other measures, Hawaii lawmakers are advancing bills to address the influence of super PACs and other outside money. Civil Beat.

A bill that would create a statewide medical marijuana dispensary in Hawaii is moving on to the full House of Representatives. The state Department of Health estimates at least 13,000 people qualify for medical marijuana in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

On Tuesday, the full Senate passed a bill that would require agricultural pesticide users to disclose their usage of the chemical to neighbors sharing fence lines with their fields. KITV4.

Tokuda Shoots Down Pesticide Buffer Zones Bill Without a Hearing. Despite pressure from its supporters, the Hawaii senator refuses to call a hearing for a bill to require buffer zones around schools. Civil Beat.

Nearly half of the corrections officers at four prisons across the state called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday this year, a problem a key lawmaker called “disturbing,” prompting him to call for prison sick leave audit. All told, 251 guards at eight prisons called in sick on the day when families and friends gathered at parties statewide to watch the final football game of the pro season. Hawaii News Now.

There are two new Republicans in the State House of Representatives this session. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Public Utilities Commission is giving a seat at the table to all 28 interested parties who applied to be part of the agency's decision on whether to approve the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Inc. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has granted access to all of the entities that seek have a say in the acquisition application of NextEra Energy Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Co., which is currently being reviewed by the state agency. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has appointed nine new members to his administration who will serve on his communications team and in the departments of Health and Public Safety. The appointments, announced Tuesday, are not subject to Senate approval. Civil Beat.

Governor David Ige today announced appointments to his administration in the departments of Health, Public Safety and Transportation, as well as to his communication team. None of the appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Hawaii Independent.

Former TV anchorwomen Jodi Leong and Yasmin Dar have been appointed to Gov. David Ige's communications team and will help craft the way the governor's messages get out to Hawaii residents. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Each of the new bids opened Tuesday to build three West Oahu rail stations came in above estimates, indicating that transit officials have yet to pin down the true picture pertaining to how much the island's elevated rail system will cost. Star-Advertiser.

Officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation had known for months the city’s rail project was headed for serious financial trouble but didn’t fully share that knowledge with the public until last December.Civil Beat.

Turtle Bay Resort has settled a lawsuit with Keep the North Shore Country, bringing the resort one step closer to completing its $48.5 million conservation easement. The Senate money committee is taking up a bill Wednesday that would extend funding for a conservation easement that's taking longer than expected to complete. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration is now exploring the possibility of holding onto some of the city's affordable-housing projects and converting some units into permanent shelter for the homeless and those in low-income brackets. Star-Advertiser.

The Army is hosting a meeting in Waianae this week on a study related to Makua Military Reservation. The study assesses whether military training at Makua poses a health risk to those who eat limu or seaweed, sea cucumber and octopus caught in the ocean nearby. Associated Press.

Manoa neighborhood board to hear testimony about renovating Paradise Park. KHON2.

Hawaii

The dispute about nighttime well drilling at Puna Geothermal Venture remains headed toward litigation after a compromise proposed by Hawaii County Council member Margaret Wille failed to gain support from either side of the issue. Tribune-Herald.

VIDEO: Puna Pono Alliance Opposes Geothermal Mediation Measure. Big Island Video News.

Dozens of people came out Tuesday to support two nonbinding resolutions asking the county administration to seek long-term contracts to divert materials from the county’s two landfills. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. David Ige extended the emergency proclamation for the lava flow Monday until the end of the year. The proclamation initially was issued Sept. 5. The move grants the governor emergency powers to respond to the lava flow until Dec. 31. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council votes to approve Prosecutor J.D. Kim after bizarre hearing. MauiTime.

The state hospital system has been losing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, and frustrated state lawmakers Tuesday moved a step closer to authorizing a partnership between the state-owned Maui Memorial, Kula and Lanai Community hospitals and a private health care provider to try to finally curb those losses. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would allow the Maui region of the Hawaii state hospitals to enter a private partnership passed the Hawaii House of Representatives Tuesday morning and may continue to the Senate chamber after a final floor vote. Pacific Business News.

Former Maui County mayoral candidate Beau Hawkes, who was seen being Tasered as he ran from a police officer in a video that went viral, was sentenced Monday to a 30-day jail term for disregarding the officer's orders and driving away from a traffic stop last year. Maui News.

Members of the Sugar Cove Association of Apartment Owners have submitted plans to the state to protect their 4-acre Spreckelsville oceanfront property from erosion on a nearly 520-foot shoreline. Maui News.

Low sugar prices and rainy conditions led Alexander & Baldwin's agribusiness sector, which is predominately Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui, to suffer an $11.8 million operating loss in 2014, the company reported in its full-year and fourth-quarter earnings report released Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

A retired Kauai resident has pledged to match up to $100,000 in donations to pay for attorney fees and hire experts in Friends of Mahaulepu’s ongoing effort to stop a proposed dairy on Kauai’s south side. Garden Island.