Monday, April 6, 2015

Medical marijuana dispensaries, super PACs, budget on Legislature's plate, no free trips for teachers, state investigating Lhaina boatyard, Ige mum on tax increase, Hawaii County mayor under investigation, NASA flying saucer to test parachute off Kauai, sandbar booze ban could be permanent, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Interior of Hawaii state Capitol © 2015 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Legislature is heading into its final month and lawmakers are making deals in hopes of keeping their most important bills alive. The committees that handle the money have thick agendas this week as they plow through every proposal that results in spending or revenue. Associated Press.

The state Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs (PSM) amended a House bill aimed at mitigating hazardous situations by inserting word-for-word language from a separate measure which sought to ease restrictions on news media covering events, such as the June 27 lava flow. And it did it to a bill sponsored by none other than the very House representative who refused to give the media access measure a hearing. Tribune-Herald.

New financial disclosure database puts latest government officials' disclosures on one easy-to-read website. Civil Beat.

Deadline Looms for Ige to Pick New DLNR Chair. With the Carleton Ching appointment behind him, the governor has until Monday to nominate someone else if the Senate is to confirm him or her this session. Civil Beat.

Teachers who organize educational trips for students should not travel free as chaperones, courtesy of the tour company, according to new advice from state Ethics Commission attorneys. The directive flies in the face of longstanding practice in Hawaii's public schools and quickly ran into resistance. Star-Advertiser.

Ten years ago frustrated Hawaii residents waved signs, held town hall meetings and raised a chorus to demand a war on "ice" — crystal methamphetamine. Today, while the problem doesn't make the headlines it used to, officials say crystal meth, or ice, continues to torment Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is shaking up the way Hawaiian Electric Co. makes money by limiting costs that are simply passed through to customers without appropriate regulatory scrutiny, according to public documents filed this week. Pacific Business News.

A local businessman with University of Hawaii athletics fundraising ties was arrested for theft and money laundering. Patrick Oki, age 45, was picked up by authorities just before 11 a.m. Sunday at the Honolulu International Airport. He’s the managing partner of PKF Pacific Hawaii, a company that provides auditing, accounting, and advising services. KHON2.

Police arrested the managing partner of local accounting firm PKF Pacific Hawaii on Sunday on suspicion of first-degree theft and money laundering. Star-Advertiser.

In our series this week “Trashing Paradise” we’ve been looking at a number of issues involving waste in Hawaii, and many of them differ from island to island. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

Hawaii Gov. David Ige isn’t saying whether he will approve or veto any extension of a General Excise Tax surcharge that is being earmarked for Honolulu’s $6 billion rail project. But he does acknowledge that he’s worried an estimated $910 million shortfall in construction costs will continue to balloon. And he’s not sure taxpayers should be penalized for potential mismanagement. Civil Beat.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is scheduled Monday to discuss a proposed draft of a bill that would instruct the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to engage in buying Alii Place, a 25-story building Ewa of the state Capitol on the edge of downtown Honolulu. The price could be close to $90 million. And that doesn't include the land under the building. Star-Advertiser.

The state is currently paying more than $10 million to rent private office space in downtown Honolulu. Some lawmakers believe money can be saved by buying a downtown high-rise office building. Hawaii News Now.

The electronic door locking systems for the state's largest prison have begun to fail after 28 years of use, and prison officials plan to replace them next year with a new high-tech, $9.9 million security system. The state plans to move about 250 inmates from Halawa Correctional Facility to a prison on the mainland early next year to clear out portions of Halawa so work can start on the replacement of the obsolete Hawaii locking system. Star-Advertiser.

For the last three years the state has banned drinking alcohol on certain weekends at Ahu O Laka, or the Kaneohe Sandbar. Now the time has come for the Department of Land and Natural Resources to decide whether to make that rule permanent. Hawaii News Now.

Developers of the 11,750-home Hoopili project in West Oahu say they are OK with being required to offer more homes at lower prices as sought by Hono­lulu City Council members. Star-Advertiser.

According to HPD records, Sergeant Anson Kimura was arrested and released Sunday on suspicion of second degree assault. The incident happened Friday morning when it is said Kimura shot a 40-year old woman in the torso at King's Sports Bar. KITV4.

A Honolulu deputy prosecutor and former state legislator has been arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Associated Press.

Hawaii

A state attorney general investigation and an ethics complaint are following this week’s revelations that Mayor Billy Kenoi regularly used a county-issued credit card for personal purchases ranging from a $1,200 surfboard to visits to Honolulu hostess bars.West Hawaii Today

Hawaii County finance officials had warned Mayor Billy Kenoi several times that his personal purchases on a county credit card were improper, but the spending practice did not stop until December 2013 when he charged $892 at a Honolulu hostess bar, the finance director says. Star-Advertiser.

A new sound study shows that the proposed Kona Motorsport Park won’t be a noise nuisance to its neighbors. The park, which has been in discussions for two decades now, won’t become reality until a number of hurdles are cleared. But Paul Maddox, president of the Hawaii Racing Association, said the study should help convince detractors who worry their peace of mind will be ruined by engine noise. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Councilman Greggor Ilagan has drafted legislation that he says will bring clarity to a county ordinance dealing with neighborhood watch signs. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The state has started an investigation into a Lahaina boatyard’s practice of collecting storage fees from boaters near the Mala boat ramp. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is investigating whether the owner of the Mala Boat Yard is allowed to collect rent from boaters under his revocable month-to-month lease with the state. Associated Press.

A Lahaina business is under investigation for collecting storage fees from boaters on land leased from the state near the Mala boat ramp for more than three decades. Maui News.

Haleakala National Park is celebrating the kick-off of a national public awareness and education campaign celebrating the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. Haleakala joins parks, programs and partners across the country to launch the FindYourPark.com website, marking the milestone Park Service anniversary in 2016. MauiTime.

Schools weigh attendance against risk of spreading lice. Maui News.

Kauai

A NASA flying saucer will be sent aloft by balloon from Kauai in June in a second test of braking technology intended for use in landings on Mars. Star-Advertiser.

A recent initiative completed by the Kauai Civil Defense Agency is a signage project that directs people along evacuation routes and guides them safely out of evacuation zones. Along island roads, 128 tsunami advisory signs were placed. Garden Island.

A Kauai man is among Gov. David Ige’s nominations to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. David Iha, Kauai County, will serve upon confirmation through June 30, 2017. Garden Island.