Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hawaii House and Senate committee agrees on 'skinny' budget, Maui hospital privatization bill passes, sex trafficking, marijuana dispensary, nursing home bills still in limbo, Hawaii County mayor recall petition launched, Thirty Meter Telescope protesters get day in court, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol © 2015 All Hawaii News
House and Senate lawmakers announced they have reached agreement on a new, "very skinny" state budget that would limit general fund spending to about $6.6 billion in the year ahead, or roughly the same total as Gov. David Ige proposed in the draft budget he submitted to lawmakers earlier this year. Star-Advertiser.

A panel of House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday on the final draft of the overall state budget, but some big spending questions will be settled later this week. The conference committee unanimously approved a budget that is $4.3 million over Gov. David Ige’s initial request for fiscal 2016, which starts July 1, and $53 million under his request for fiscal 2017. Civil Beat.

While Hawaii lawmakers discuss extending the general excise tax surcharge to help pay for the over-budget Honolulu rail project, there’s only one bill still alive in the Legislature that would give low-income residents a tax break. Senate Bill 555 would increase the food/excise tax credit, which hasn’t been changed since it was established in 2007. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is the last state in the nation without a comprehensive sex trafficking ban, and lawmakers are trying to shed that distinction. A conference committee of representatives and senators is working on the final version of a bill to ban sex trafficking, but the proposal previously met with resistance from law enforcement. A new version was presented in a hearing Tuesday, and the panel postponed making a decision until Thursday. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that could keep married couples together on the one hand, but risks displacing Medicaid clients in favor of private-pay clients. Civil Beat.

As the haggling about medical marijuana dispensary legislation enters the home stretch in Honolulu, state Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, is advocating the “start small” approach. But at least one Big Island lawmaker on the House side indicates agreement might not be easy to reach on how many dispensaries there should be. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Legislature is passing a bill to ban powdered alcohol before the product has gone on sale in the state. KITV4.

When it comes to sex education in Hawaii, deciding how schools should address the subject is about as messy and confusing for the adults in charge as the topic itself can be for teenagers. Hawaii is one of just 10 states that does not mandate students be provided access to sex education or taught about HIV/AIDS in public schools. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A special tax credit established to help relocate maritime tenants on the Honolulu waterfront is poised to be expanded and sweetened in ways that some observers estimate could cost the state $20 million in the years ahead. Star-Advertiser.

Developer D.R. Horton polished its community service image Tuesday, two days before a potentially deciding City Council vote on whether to rezone 1,553 acres of Ewa farmland to build Horton's proposed 11,750-home Ho‘opili community. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu Community Correctional Center’s days could be numbered, as the city and state say it’s time for a new facility. KHON2.

A Honolulu City Council committee is looking into taking additional steps to lower homelessness on O’ahu, which increased by 4 percent over last year. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Health Department has fined two companies nearly $40,000 for illegal dumping in former pineapple field in Whitmore Village. Hawaii News Now.

An exclusive look inside Oahu's illegal street racing scene. Hawaii News Now.

A new survey found that 93 incubator technology companies, who are or have been tenants of Manoa Innovation Center, had a total economic impact of $213.7 million on Hawaii, according to High Technology Development Corp.’s annual economic survey. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

A Hilo man has begun collecting signatures on a petition to recall Mayor Billy Kenoi, who currently is being investigated by the state attorney general and is the subject of an ethics complaint for personal use of his government-issued credit card. West Hawaii Today.

During a relatively low-key proceeding, 21 of the 31 Thirty Meter Telescope protesters facing petty misdemeanor charges after being arrested on Mauna Kea earlier this month made their first appearance in Hilo District Court on Tuesday, with all but one receiving a refund for their $250 bail. Tribune-Herald.

On Sunday, the Tribune-Herald broke a story about a law group’s efforts to exonerate a co-defendant in one of Hawaii’s most notorious murders. On Monday, a key witness in that effort was dead.

The recent death of Hilo’s Dr. Djon Indra Lim highlights an ongoing shortage of cardiologists on Hawaii Island. For 40 years, Lim — who died April 15 at age 77 — filled a vital role in East Hawaii, and his loss is a major blow, said Hilo Medical Center Interim CEO Dan Brinkman. Tribune-Herald.

A rockfall from the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggering an explosion at the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea volcano on Tuesday. The explosive event occurred around 10:20 a.m., and hurled large fragments of molten lava onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, 280 feet above the lake. Big Island Video News.

Maui

An estimated 250 people showed up for a public meeting last night in which board members of the Maui Regional System of the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation discussed potential job and service cuts to deal with a projected $28 million budget gap. Maui Now.

Hawaii Health Systems Corp.'s Maui Region Board does not believe cuts to services, staffing and beds would allow Maui Memorial Medical Center to survive for the foreseeable future and stop it from bleeding money should a public-private partnership bill fail in the state Legislature. Maui News.

A panel of state lawmakers has approved a plan that paves the way for Maui hospitals to enter into a partnership deal. A conference committee of senators and representatives passed the bill late Tuesday. Associated Press.

Lawmakers passed historic legislation Tuesday that would allow Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Kula and Lanai Community hospitals to pursue a public-private partnership. Maui News.

State and House conferees approved of a bill on Tuesday that paves the way for the establishment of a public-private partnership for hospitals on Maui. Maui Now.

After years of unsuccessful tries, state lawmakers are poised to pass a deal that would eventually transform the Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other state-owned medical facilities into privately managed entities. Star-Advertiser.

A legislative conference committee made up of House and Senate lawmakers has finalized a bill that would allow a private entity to manage Maui County state hospital facilities in an effort to save the state millions of dollars in operating costs. Civil Beat.

Lower property tax and status quo water rates, along with higher user fees for the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course and Maui Bus, were part of the proposed budget presented by the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee chairman Monday. Maui News.

Kauai
Transportation Security Administration agents confiscated a non-metallic knife with a 3.5-inch blade that a man tried to pass through security at Lihue Airport. Garden Island.