Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Teachers union fights ethics law, PUC and Honolulu rail members love to travel, Maui mayor seeks 16% budget hike, Kauai to hike vehicle fees, Hawaii to hike water rates, $60k parking spaces at Waikiki affordable apartments, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

National Education Association convention 2014
Hawaii State Teachers Association at 2014 NEA convention, courtesy photo
The Hawaii State Teachers Association launched two legal actions this week to block enforcement of a new policy prohibiting teachers who are candidates for union offices from distributing their individual campaign materials in school mailboxes. Civil Beat.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that could make voting by mail the norm in Hawaii. The panel passed HB 124, which aims to boost Hawaii's low voter turnout and increase participation in elections. It would start with smaller counties and gradually build so all voters get ballots in the mail. Associated Press.

Despite a huge backlog of cases, members of the Public Utilities Commission combined spent more than 100 works days last year attending industry conferences on the Mainland and in Korea and Puerto Rico. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers Consider Funding Private Projects with State Revenue Bonds. Hawaiian Electric, renewable energy companies, a Catholic school and a racetrack owner are seeking more than $1 billion in special purpose revenue bonds. Civil Beat.

A state House committee signed off Tuesday on a series of resolutions related to the pending $4.3 billion sale of Hawaiian Electric Company to Florida-based NextEra Energy. Tribune-Herald.

Mistaken identity by eyewitnesses contributed to more than 70 percent of all wrongful convictions nationwide. Hawai’i lawmakers want to implement uniform procedures to improve the accuracy of these accounts. Hawaii Public Radio.

A resolution in the Hawaii state Legislature would task a state agency with creating an 18-person, volunteer working group to create a master plan to bring broadband to Hawaii’s resort areas. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's court system has improved the way it serves people with limited English skills, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The department announced Tuesday it is closing its review of the Hawaii Judiciary's Language Access Program. The department intervened in 2012 and provided assistance after receiving complaints about language assistance services provided by Hawaii's state courts. Associated Press.

Research done by scientists at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology paints a grim picture for the state's coastlines. Results of their data find that by mid-century, at least 9 out of every 10 shorelines in the state will be in retreat. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii firefighters fight for workers compensation benefits due to cancer. KHON2.

Oahu

As state lawmakers continue to weigh a rail tax extension, the House Transportation Committee is considering whether to request a state audit of the project — but rail officials might not be able to provide all the details committee members want to see. Star-Advertiser.

Between July 2007 and November 2014 at least $479,000 was spent on travel-related expenses for about 90 people, paid for from the rail transit fund, according to city budget data. Civil Beat.

While the Commodore Waikiki apartment complex is offering up a lot of affordable housing units, the same can't be said about its parking stalls. They're going for a whopping $60,000 a piece. KITV4.

An aged state building on prime real estate just a block away from the State Capitol that's been vacant for 12 years is finally getting renovated. The Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building, at the corner of King and Richards streets, was built in 1957 and needed renovations in 2003 when 300 state employees moved out. Hawaii News Now.

The developer of a planned resort in Ewa Beach is advancing its plan to shift around and expand hotel sites at the growing Hoakalei Resort. Star-Advertiser.

A decision on the fate of the shuttered archery range at Kapiolani Park should be made in the coming months, city Parks Director Michele Nekota said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

It's legal. But some say it's not right. A homeowners group in Kailua wants to keep people off their private street at night. But beach-goers worry about losing yet another path to a public shoreline. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Water rates would rise 3 percent next year, followed by 4 percent the following year and then 5 percent annually for the next three years, under a proposal floated Tuesday by the county Water Board. West Hawaii Today.

A Senate bill seeking funding to control albizia trees on Hawaii Island has stalled after failing to cross over to the state House of Representatives. Proponents of the bill say they were surprised by the failure of the measure, in light of the devastation wrought by the invasive trees following Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

Five tractor-trailers carrying heavy equipment slowly ascended Mauna Kea early Tuesday morning as construction of Hawaii’s Thirty Meter Telescope prepared to get underway. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County residents could see hikes in their water and sewer bills, trash collection fees and in the county's fuel and vehicle weight tax under Mayor Alan Arakawa's nearly $700 million county budget for fiscal 2016, a whopping 16 percent increase. Maui News.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii for the first time will be providing round-the-clock pediatric care at the state-owned Maui Memorial Medical Center. Star-Advertiser.

Kaiser Permanente today announced its plans to provide 24/7 inpatient pediatric care to patients at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Maui Now.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has concluded a new contract with Maui Memorial Medical Center to provide 24/7 inpatient pediatric care, according to an announcement Tuesday. Maui News.

Maui County is the healthiest county in Hawaii, followed by Honolulu and Kauai, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Pacific Business News.

Ocean Safety crews were assigned to patrol waters offshore of Kaʻa Point near Kahului Airport in Kahanā after sharks were seen feeding on a decomposing baby whale carcass. Maui Now.

Goodwill Industries of Hawaii has opened a new donation center on the mauka side of Kahului Shopping Center. MauiTime.

Kauai

To help offset the estimated $100 million needed to pay for road repairs and funding other initiatives such as The Kauai Bus, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his administration are asking the Kauai County Council to approve gradual increases to the county’s motor vehicle weight tax. Garden Island.