Monday, March 23, 2015

Wind turbines planned in ocean off Oahu, Hawaii Tourism Authority wants more money, green sea turtle to remain protected, lead slows bridge repair, Kaho‘olawe records to be preserved, more grads college-bound, Honolulu racetrack bill revs up, state lags in budget transparency, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii green sea turtle, honu © 2015 All Hawaii News
The feds have denied a petition to take Hawaii green sea turtles off the list of threatened species. The honu news came Friday from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Civil Beat.

The threatened green sea turtles around the Hawaiian Islands will be managed separately from other populations under a plan floated Friday by federal agencies. But the status of Hawaii’s turtles as threatened under the Endangered Species Act won’t change under the plan, despite a petition for delisting by an organization of Hawaii civic clubs. West Hawaii Today.

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
© 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s green sea turtles should continue to be classified as threatened because its population is small and nearly all of them nest at the same low-lying atoll, federal wildlife agencies said Friday. Associated Press.

Federal wildlife officials propose keeping Hawaii's green sea turtles' threatened status under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it would continue to be illegal to kill or hunt them. Maui News.

More than 300 people are expected to attend a conference featuring more than 25 sessions and professional development training courses on rising sea levels and other natural hazards. The theme is "The Rising Pacific: Currents of Change and Solutions for Resilience." Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the agency tasked with marketing Hawaii to the nation and the world, says it needs more money to cover its expenses. The HTA is asking state lawmakers to allow it to increase its administrative spending by as much as 30 percent a year. Star-Advertiser.

Even as legislators consider more stringent regulations, the state Department of Agriculture hasn’t complied with a law passed in 2013 that requires it to post sales records for restricted-use pesticides on its website. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers hope that a proposed bill would encourage more of Hawaii’s youth to become farmers. House Bill 853 passed through the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Education and Judiciary and Labor during a hearing Friday, and would teach students and teachers how to produce some of their own food. Civil Beat.

Hawaii state senators are taking up a proposal to develop a system of medical marijuana dispensaries, which would give patients legal access to the drug nearly 15 years after it became legal in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Hawaii's Department of Budget and Finance last year launched a new website designed to provide a one-stop source for state spending and financial information, but the state still earned only a grade of "C" on the latest "transparency scorecard." Hawaii trails 42 other states in the annual report on how well states provide spending data online, conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers plan to tackle the state's troubled health exchange, public-housing issues and a slew of resolutions this week at the Legislature. Most of the action will be in committee rooms as lawmakers take up bills passed by the other chamber. Associated Press.

Opinion: One of the tax increase bills that is still afloat at our Legislature concerns the environmental response, energy, and food security tax, which we refer to as the barrel tax. This tax started off as the environmental response tax, imposed at 5 cents a barrel of imported petroleum product as a way to create a fund for environmental cleanup in case of an oil spill in Hawaiian waters. It was hoisted to its present rate of $1.05 in 2009, and the difference was used not only to shore up our general fund, but also to feed various special funds that pay for environmental conservation programs, energy and food security, and related activities. Civil Beat.

If HCR 90 passes through the House Committees on Education and Finance, it would ask the governor, Board of Education, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association to establish a minimum median teacher salary that would be adjustable to Hawaii’s cost of living. Civil Beat.

The state Ethics Commission will make public the detailed financial disclosure forms of members of 15 boards and commissions in June rather than next year. The powerful entities include the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Public Utilities Commission. A law that took effect in July makes those disclosure forms public, but the details could have remained confidential until 2016 because only short forms are required in odd-numbered years. Star-Advertiser.

After several years of stagnancy, the number of Hawaii public school graduates enrolling in college after high school has climbed amid efforts by the Department of Education to better prepare students for college and careers. Star-Advertiser.

Many Hawaii families have fallen into a cycle of debt precipitated by deceptively easy payday loans. The industry was legalized in 1999 when the Legislature passed a law exempting it from the state’s usury law, which caps the interest rate for loans at no more than 24 percent each year. Civil Beat.

Oahu

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, according to a published report. Pacific Business News.

Oahu car-racing enthusiasts have picked up some traction on a drive to finance a new motor sports raceway on the island after the demise of two track facilities in the past eight years. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Housing First initiative to provide shelter and related social services to the chronically homeless has achieved mixed results nine months after the Honolulu City Council dedicated $35 million toward the effort. Star-Advertiser.

On Friday, landowners, fed up with all the foot traffic for “Dead Man’s Catwalk,” asked various hiking websites to take down posts promoting the popular East Oahu trail and threatened further action if nothing was done. KHON2.

Martin Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman and President Barack Obama’s close friend, has been confirmed as the buyer of Hawaii beachfront estate known as the home of Tom Selleck’s 1980s television character “Magnum P.I.” Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Time to fix those leaky faucets. The less water you use, the more you’ll save, under a five-year rate plan to be considered Tuesday by the Hawaii County Water Board. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce is dusting off old plans to construct a cultural and education center in downtown Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

The discovery of lead in the soil below Umauma bridge near Hakalau likely will delay completion of the span’s ongoing $30.8 million rehabilitation project, state officials say. The lead, left from paint that fell into the gulch during past maintenance work, was found where new bridge footings need to be installed. Tribune-Herald.

A new courthouse and hospital for Kona are among more than $200 million in Big Island projects in the $2.2 billion two-year capital improvement budget passed Wednesday by the state House. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Police Department Assistant Chief Henry Tavares said a spike in property crime in downtown Hilo is related to the city’s ongoing homeless problem. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

This Saturday, the 2015 Maui County Republican Party Convention will take place at Pu’u Kukui Elementary School. Registered Republican delegates are welcome to hear a featured guest speaker, conduct party business and elect new Executive Committee officers. MauiTime.

The recent agreement restoring water to four Central Maui streams has some parties in an East Maui stream restoration case optimistic that a "just ruling" will come to them as well. Maui News.

After the worst coral bleaching event ever recorded in Hawaii last fall, environmental groups are rallying to bring more community awareness to help protect the reefs. Maui News.

The 12-acre Maui Arts & Cultural Center opened its gates nearly 21 years ago. Today, it can accommodate up to 270,000 visitors a year, spans 22 acres, and generates $4.35 million annually, on average, in revenue to community businesses. Pacific Business News.

Kauai

Kauai had the fewest applications for firearms of all state counties in 2014. But the number of applications on the Garden Isle increased for the fourth straight year — although county officials aren’t attributing that increase to a gun craze, but rather something that accompanies an uptick in population. Garden Island.

Kahoolawe

This year hundreds of thousands of historic documents relating to Kaho‘olawe will be published in an online database. Hawaii Public Radio.