Thursday, March 26, 2015

NOAA expands humpback whale sanctuary, marijuana dispensaries fast-tracked, lava threat downgraded, census shows islands' growth, rail audit bill advances, Matlin named UH AD, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Humpback whale breaches in Hawaii, courtesy NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday proposed to expand the focus of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to include all the marine species within its boundaries. Star-Advertiser.

It looks like 2015 tourism is off to a slow start, with arrivals and spending below targets. Although visitor arrivals came back in February, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Wednesday that total visitor spending continued trending down, dropping by 4.3 percent from a year ago to $1.2 billion. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii could have medical marijuana dispensaries much sooner than initially anticipated — perhaps as soon as next year. On Wednesday, the Senate Health and Public Safety committees passed House Bill 321, the bill that would create medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers in each Hawaii county. Civil Beat.

A legislative committee has approved a bill related to the state's health exchange. But it removed part of the proposal that would allow the exchange to issue $28 million in debt financing. Associated Press.

Some state lawmakers want the State Capitol to reduce the hours its open to the public to increase security since homeless people are entering the building early in the morning and late at night. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu


More people left Oahu between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, than moved in, but births made up the difference and nudged the island's population closer to 1 million, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. Star-Advertiser.

A House resolution that would call for a state audit of Oahu's cash-strapped rail project is gaining momentum. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers, who are considering the extension of a tax hike to pay for Honolulu’s $6 billion rail project, want more assurances before they sign off. Civil Beat.

More than a year's worth of work to keep development off a big piece of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore avoided a serious setback Wednesday after receiving a life-sustaining vote at the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

The House Committee on Water and Land advanced a bill today to fund the state’s portion to purchase Turtle Bay Resort land for conservation. Hawaii Public Radio.

Twenty-two years after he beseeched the University of Hawaii athletic department for an opportunity to get his foot in the door, David A.K. Matlin was handed the keys to the place as its new director on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Sophina Placencia, 32, was arrested Wednesday for five felony theft counts for improperly diverting more than $200,000 in state funds from the Waianae Community Outreach for use by herself, family members and friends, said Attorney General Doug Chin. KITV4.

Hawaiian Electric Co., which flipped the switch on smart meters for 5,200 customers on Oahu as part of a pilot program late last year, has had fewer than 1 percent of customers opt out, the head of the Honolulu-based utility said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

When it comes to population increases in Hawaii County, more of us flew here than grew here, according to the latest data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Hawaii County’s population grew 4.9 percent, to 194,190 people, according to the data that tabulated births and deaths and estimated domestic and international migration between the 2010 census and June 30, 2014. West Hawaii Today.

With the threat level from Kilauea volcano downgraded Wednesday, Hawaii County will consider scaling back its lava flow updates and overflights that have been a nearly daily occurrence for the past six months, said Civil Defense chief Darryl Oliveira. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists on Wednesday downgraded the alert level for Kilauea volcano from warning to watch for the first time since warning levels were reached in September. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is downgrading the alert level for Kilauea. The observatory said Wednesday the alert level goes from warning to watch. Associated Press.

The world’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, is teaming up with NELHA-based Kampachi Farms on a venture to make open-ocean aquaculture commercially viable. West Hawaii Today.

The state Commission on Water Resource Management is chiefly concerned with how much water is available and how those quantities should be managed. But West Hawaii residents are just as worried about threats to water quality, judging from a scoping meeting held by CWRM in Kailua-Kona on Tuesday evening. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Arrivals to the island of Maui rose 3.5% in February to 195,624, according to new information released by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. Maui Now.


Kauai

A photovoltaic project at Hanalei Elementary School is set to resume after a change in contractors forced a work delay. Garden Island.