Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hundreds of WWII remains to be exhumed from Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu rail tax advanced, Legislature passes bills during crossover, attorney general begins Kenoi investigation, raises for nurses, Kauai B&Bs fight new law, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, courtesy U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Pentagon announced Tuesday it will take the unprecedented step of exhuming for identification the remains of all 388 sailors and Marines from the USS Oklahoma buried as "unknowns" at Punchbowl cemetery years after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

The Pentagon said Tuesday it would exhume and try to identify the remains of nearly 400 sailors and Marines killed when the USS Oklahoma sank in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Associated Press.

A Major new mission from the Pentagon: dig up the remains of hundreds of servicemen buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. KITV4.

The House and Senate each passed hundreds of bills Tuesday, sending them back to their originating chamber often with big questions to be answered when it comes to funding. Medical marijuana dispensaries, the rail tax, public hospitals, transgender birth certificates, wrongful imprisonment, energy, bullying, mail-in elections and local food were on the long list of legislation that crossed over ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Some still resemble their original form. Others not so much. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers were busy Tuesday passing hundreds of bills that originated in the other house. The state Senate passed 135 House bills while the state House passed nearly 150 Senate measures. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers are tackling proposals that aim to fix the troubled health exchange, ban sex trafficking and prevent youth from smoking. Here's a sampling of the hundreds of bills that were passed on Tuesday. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Senate has approved a bill to establish a system of medical marijuana dispensaries nearly 15 years after the drug became legal in the state. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday. The next step is for senators and their colleagues in the House to work out their disagreements on how it should work. Associated Press.

A measure aimed at reining in Hawaii payday loans that can reach as high as 459 percent APR has been stripped of its new proposed cap of 36 percent, despite a legislator’s assurance that wouldn’t happen. Civil Beat.

Public opposition to Gov. David Ige’s nominations to the powerful board that administers the state’s water code is mounting ahead of a key legislative hearing Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Petition to reject Balfour passes 2,500 signatures. Ahead of tomorrow's WTL hearing on the nomination of Bill Balfour to the Water Commission, signatures continue to be added to an online petition urging the rejection of the inappropriate nomination. Hawaii Independent.

Nurses represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association overwhelmingly ratified a new two-year contract that includes raises of 4 percent per year plus "step movements" that allow them to move up the pay ladder into higher-paid classifications. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

A bill that would extend Oahu's rail tax has cleared the Senate, providing state lawmakers the chance to hash out its details — or even kill it — largely in closed-door negotiations leading up to conference committee meetings. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Senate on Tuesday passed a House bill that would extend the City and County of Honolulu's surcharge on the state's general excise tax for the rail transit project through 2027. Pacific Business News.

With Oahu's plastic bag ban just around the corner, retailers are stocking up for the switch. Island Plastic Bags in Halawa is helping customers prepare for the change at checkout counters that starts July 1. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

State Attorney General Doug Chin confirmed Tuesday that he is investigating Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued credit card. West Hawaii Today.

Embattled Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi promised to cooperate with a state attorney general's criminal investigation into his county-financed trips to Honolulu hostess bars and other personal expenses but does not plan to talk about the issue anymore. Star-Advertiser.

The Attorney General of the State of Hawaii will investigate Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi's use of a county-issued credit card, state officials said Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Former Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said a government official called him Tuesday morning and asked him if he'd sign an impeachment petition against current Mayor Billy Kenoi, who has apologized for improperly charging more than $30,000 in personal expenses on a county credit card. Hawaii News Now.

An omnibus ethics bill sponsored by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille proved too much to digest Tuesday for County Council members. The council Finance Committee postponed Bill 37, expanding the definition of family members for ethics purposes, changing how county contracts can be awarded to employees and how county facilities and employees’ time can be used for union-endorsed campaigning. West Hawaii Today.

A lawsuit seeking to stop Puna Geothermal Venture from drilling at night will go forward. Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura on Tuesday denied PGV’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Puna Pono Alliance and Leilani Estates residents Jon Olson and Hillary E. Wilt. Tribune-Herald.

As Mauna Kea Protests Grow, Some Hawaii Island Residents Worry About Jobs. Activists are calling for the removal of 13 observatories that support a $90 million industry on the Big Island that would grow appreciably with the Thirty Meter Telescope. Civil Beat.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed Hawaii County more than $1.6 million in costs incurred while preparing for the lava threat from Kilauea Volcano, but county officials are still hoping for another $10 million — and counting. Star-Advertiser.

There will be no speed humps installed on Nani Kailua Drive. Following a petition by some residents for the traffic-calming devices — and protest by others — Public Works Director Warren Lee has determined the roadway doesn’t qualify for the humps. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
Four men have been indicted in connection with allegations that a Speedi Shuttle manager received kickbacks while providing unauthorized payroll checks to employees during a nine-month period ending last year. Maui News.

Maui Economic Opportunity on Saturday celebrated the opening of its new 10-acre transportation facility in Puunene. Maui News.

Home sales on Maui were up in March despite a significant rise in the median home price to $627,500, according to new information released by the Realtors Association of Maui. Maui Now.

Kauai

Nearly two dozen other visitor accommodation operators on Tuesday asked county Planning Commissioners to craft solid permitting laws and procedures for their businesses. It is something that, they say, has not been clearly defined until now. Garden Island.

Groundbreaking for the Nawiliwili Road improvements took place Tuesday in the parking lot of the Kukui Grove Center, where improvements were underway, regardless if shoppers knew about the activity taking place. Garden Island.