Thursday, March 12, 2015

Senate panel grills Ching over DLNR post, House passes $6.5B budget, firearm registrations drop, Maui cancels GMO update, Hawaii council chairman cleared on ethics complaint, lawmakers raise money during legislative session, merger prompts rail contract cancellation, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

screen shot March 11 2015
Gov. David Ige, DLNR nominee Carleton Ching, Senate committee screen shot
Carleton Ching listened for hours Wednesday as dozens of unhappy environmentalists argued he is not qualified to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and its 900 employees. Star-Advertiser.

Nearly eight hours into a Senate committee confirmation hearing on whether to recommend approving the nomination of Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Sen. Sam Slom lobbed the Castle & Cooke lobbyist a classic interview question: “Why should we hire you?” Civil Beat.

A Hawaii Senate panel took up Gov. David Ige’s nomination of Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources, but decided after a nine-hour hearing that it still had too many questions for the nominee to take a vote. Associated Press.

Carleton Ching, Gov. David Ige's controversial nominee to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, went before the Senate Water and Land Committee today, amid heavy opposition. Hawaii News Now.

Governor David Ige's choice to head up the Department of Land and Natural Resources got an earful of criticism Wednesday. The confirmation hearing for Carleton Ching featured what one lawmaker called "unprecedented opposition." KITV4.

It’s been an all-day session at the State Capitol as senators begin to decide whether or not to confirm Gov. David Ige’s controversial nomination to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. For roughly eight hours before the state Senate Committee on Water and Land Wednesday, people testified for and against Carleton Ching as chairman. KHON2.

Live Blog: Carleton Ching confirmation hearing. Hawaii Independent.

A proposed budget of $6.5 billion in general funds was approved by the House Finance Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

For the second time in two years the Hawaii Legislature has failed to pass a measure that would set minimum training standards for law enforcement officers and create a certification process that would help keep bad cops off the force. Civil Beat.

The number of firearms registered in Hawaii last year decreased after several years of steady increases. The state attorney general's office said Wednesday about 48,000 firearms were registered during 2014. That's a 20.5 percent decrease from the previous year's record high of about 61,000. Associated Press.

Gun dealers in Hawaii say an ammunition shortage, especially for .22-caliber bullets, continues even as firearm permit applications declined in 2014 — the first drop for the islands in eight years. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General said Wednesday that firearm permits dropped significantly last year. Civil Beat.

The Department of Health has started posting on its website the inspection reports for community care family foster homes and adult day care centers, moving the agency into compliance with a state law. Civil Beat.

A cooling-off in visitor satisfaction levels from mostly international travelers, coupled with unfavorable exchange rates, could throw off industry growth enough to fall short of 2015 targets. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's tourism is looking at another strong year, but the state's largest industry is vulnerable to issues like the price of oil and currency valuation, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

It should be a swell happy hour at Ferguson’s Irish Pub in downtown Honolulu on Wednesday night. That’s where Hawaii state Reps. Richard Onishi, Bert Kobayashi, Takashi Ohno, Nicole Lowen, Justin Woodson and Richard Creagan will be. Suggested donations start at $50. Civil Beat.

Oahu
A multimillion-dollar rail contract is getting the ax because two companies, AECOM and URS, merged last fall. Both have rail contracts with URS paid $63 million to watch over the $99 million in various jobs AECOM is doing, including designing some rail stations and guideway sections. KHON2.

A bill aimed at cracking down on illegal vacation rentals on Oahu picked up a preliminary approval from the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday as did two other bills that would open up the number of residential properties that may include a second dwelling unit. Star-Advertiser.

As it turns out, the state Attorney General's Office did receive two complaints from the state Campaign Spending Commission in November about the 2012 mayoral campaign activities of the Pacific Resource Partnership's political action committee, despite assertions earlier this week from the Attorney General's Office that it was never given the cases. Star-Advertiser.

The military will briefly close most gates to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam while troops conduct an exercise. Base officials say the gates will close for about 15 minutes starting at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Associated Press.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Board of Ethics plans to investigate lobbying activity by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, even as it cleared County Council Chairman Dru Kanuha on Wednesday of any wrongdoing. West Hawaii Today.

A $55 million appropriation to build a new judiciary complex in North Kona has cleared the state House of Representatives. West Hawaii Today.

Legislation to fund salaries and equipment for ocean safety officers at the state beach advanced out of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Rep. Cindy Evans, D-Kohala, North Kona, said the proposal got a boost at the Capitol from a Hawaii County Council resolution calling for services at the increasingly crowded but often dangerous North Kona bay. West Hawaii Today.

Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems is building a “Lunar Sidewalk” project in Hilo. Fronting the tennis courts mauka of Lincoln Park on Kinoole Street, will feature three different slabs made from experimental volcanic basalt materials that one day could be used to build structures and pavement on other worlds. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A hearing scheduled for Friday to update council members on litigation arising from a initiative passed by voters to impose a moratorium on farming genetically modified organisms has been canceled by the Maui County Council's Committee of the Whole. Maui News.

A bill allowing the Maui region of Hawaii's state-owned hospitals to enter into a partnership with a private business passed the state House of Representatives Tuesday morning and is on its way to the Senate. Pacific Business News.

Civil Air Patrol pilots and former members called for the reinstatement of the now-disbanded 57th Kahului squadron during a heated town hall meeting on Monday at its former Kahului Airport headquarters. Maui News.

A preliminary allocation of $4,925,038 in federal funds have been announced for local educational agencies in Maui County. Maui Now.
 
Kauai

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday voted down a proposal that would freeze the real property taxes for qualified homestead properties that received substantial increases last year. Garden Island.