Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hawaii House and Senate conference committee works on budget, Honolulu voters oppose transit tax, Ige intervenes in Maui hospital privatization plan, Thirty Meter Telescope protests continue, Board of Education mulls expanding sex ed, Kauai dairy foes raise money as lawsuit nears, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy of House Majority Communications
Conference committee mulls budget, courtesy House Majority Communications
Lawmakers from Hawaii's House and Senate have begun negotiating how the state will spend its $26.3 billion budget over the next two years. Members of the House Committee on Finance and Senate Committee on Ways and Means held their first in a series of conference committee meetings on Tuesday, and announced parts of the budget where they were able to reach agreement. But most major decisions will be brokered over the next two weeks. Associated Press.

A joint panel of House and Senate lawmakers have finished their first day of work in conference committee resolving differences between each chamber’s draft of the overall state budget for the next two years, expected to come in at roughly $26 billion. Civil Beat.

Is Collecting Taxes a ‘War Crime’ in Hawaii? It is if the state is still an occupied kingdom, as some are arguing. Civil Beat.

The state Board of Education is considering expanding its long-standing abstinence-based sex education policy to include lessons on contraceptives, disease prevention and various skills to help students “make healthy decisions about sexuality and relationships,” while still emphasizing abstinence. Star-Advertiser.

The Legislature on Tuesday sent a bill to Gov. David Ige that says state policy is to ensure the use of liquefied natural gas does not slow the development and use of renewable energy sources. The bill does not include a penalty if the use of LNG is found to slow the adoption of renewable energy. Star-Advertiser.

Legislation designating the ōpe‘ape‘a or Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinerus semotus) as the official state land mammal “flew through the Senate, glided through the House of Representatives, and will land on Governor Ige’s desk in the attic of the Capitol Building for his signature” Wednesday afternoon. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige is expected to sign into law a bill four years in the making that would bestow the Hawaiian hoary bat with this one-of-a-kind designation. The goal is to recognize and raise awareness about the efforts to save this imperiled and uniquely Hawaiian critter, also known as the opeapea. Garden Island.

Three areas at risk from climate change on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island will get special attention from federal agencies to help protect reefs and shorelines and prepare for rising sea levels, the White House and three agencies announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Dan Price, the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, made international headlines last week when he told employees that he will increase the company’s minimum wage to $70,000 for his 120-person company — including the company's 10 workers in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.


Oahu

Most Honolulu voters don’t want lawmakers to extend Oahu’s 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge to help pay for the city’s cash-strapped 20-mile commuter rail line planned from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, according to the latest Civil Beat poll results.

Efforts to repair and restore the ironwork fence and walls surrounding Iolani Palace are underway. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the palace and grounds will remain open during the work. Associated Press.

Federal Judge Alan Kay issued a $4.25 million judgment Tuesday against the United States for a botched bariatric gastric bypass surgery for weight loss on a healthy woman at Tripler Army Medical Center in 2010. Star-Advertiser.

The new Aiea Public Library was touted as a state of the art, energy efficient building, but it may not be as “green” as the state says. KHON2.

The 9th Mission Support Command (Pacific Army Reserve) on Tuesday unveiled new signage and conducted a groundbreaking for the newly designated U.S. Army Reserve Daniel K. Inouye Complex at Fort Shafter Flats. Star-Advertiser.

The annual Point in Time Count for the island of Oahu was released Monday and it shows homelessness is still expanding. KITV4.

Hawaii
Mayor Billy Kenoi will present his proposed $434 million budget to the Hawaii County Council today but will not be able to answer questions regarding use of his county credit card for personal expenses, a spokesman said. Tribune-Herald.

Members of the Hawaii County Council agree, for the most part, that it is not the council’s responsibility to involve itself in the controversy surrounding Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued credit card for personal expenses. Tribune-Herald.

There was a silver lining in the lava flow emergency that threatened Puna during the past months — an unexpected financial boost for local contractors large and small. Tribune-Herald.

More than 300 people protesting the planned Thirty Meter Telescope marched across Honolulu on Tuesday, delivering demands to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Gov. David Ige and the law firm representing the developer of the massive $1.4 billion project on Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds of residents marched to the Hawaii State Capitol on Tuesday to urge the governor to stop the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, a Big Island mountain that many Native Hawaiians consider sacred. Civil Beat.

So many people showed up to comment on the Thirty Meter Telescope at Thursday’s University of Hawaii Board of Regents meeting in Hilo, that the board is scheduling a second meeting in Hilo on Sunday to finish public comments. Civil Beat.

Maui

Gov. David Ige reached into the internal workings of the Legislature on Tuesday to persuade House lawmakers to delay a vote that could have positioned Maui’s state-owned hospitals to be transformed into a private nonprofit entity. Star-Advertiser.

In an unusual move, Gov. David Ige has intervened in a controversial proposal that would pave the way for the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, which lost more than $43 million last year. Civil Beat.

After announcing a staggering $28 million dollar budget gap for Fiscal Year 2016, the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation’s (HHSC) Maui Region is organizing public meetings to take public input on the imminent service and position cuts and to start the reduction in workforce processes. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has intervened in a legislative plan to allow Maui's regional hospitals to be taken over by a private entity. Associated Press.

Gov. David Ige on Tuesday intervened in legislation that would allow Maui hospitals to enter public-private partnerships — an initiative that could break the waves for a similar partnership at Kona Community Hospital. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. David Ige intervened Tuesday just as a controversial bill was set to pass the State House that would allow privatizing the financially struggling Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other smaller hospitals. Hawaii News Now.

The Maui region of the quasi-public body that runs Maui Memorial Medical Center has called a public meeting for Tuesday to discuss cuts in services and personnel to meet a projected $28 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Maui News.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has awarded Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Inc. the $327 million contract to improve roadways and build a consolidated car rental facility at Kahului Airport on Maui after rescinding a contract that had been awarded to Honolulu’s Nan Inc. Pacific Business News.

A Maui minister is behind bars and charged with sexually assaulting a young child. Dennis DeRego fainted in court Tuesday afternoon during a bail hearing while his attorney asked the judge to let him out of jail on supervised release. Hawaii News Now.

West Maui, West Hawaii and Heeia watershed on Oahu have been identified as sites that may be adversely impacted by climate change, and the federal government plans to partner with state and local agencies to develop a plan to make those areas more resilient. Maui News.

Opinion: the County of Maui has been quietly “surveying” about Maui residents on whether they’d like to see the 3-Can curbside recycling project expanded island-wide. MauiTime.

Kauai

A community group opposing the proposed south side dairy says it has raised enough money to hire experts to assess the environmental impacts the project could have on the area. Garden Island.